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There’s only five months to go until the Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital on 10th and Pennsylvania SE is supposed to have its soft opening, and organizers are finally starting to think about how the place might operate when it’s all finished.

The model backers are going for is something close to New York City’s 92nd Street Y—constantly buzzing with events, and a venue for high-profile speakers who’ll draw a crowd (which, if you think about it, doesn’t happen as often as it really could in D.C.). Ultimately, the Center will be open from 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m., with classrooms, rentable event space, a soundproof music practice room, a computer lab, and nonprofit offices (potential tenants are touring now). The adjacent old carriage house will also be a cafe, for which the Center needs an operator; a request for proposals is expected soon.

The $12 million project has been some eight years in the making, with funding cobbled together from a buffet of sources: $2 million from the federal government, $5.4 million from the city, $1 million in historic tax credits, $200,000 from the National Capital Bank of Washington, $250 from the Capitol Hill Community Foundation, and $970,000 so far in donations. They need $2 million more to finish—if you want to buy a chunk of fence, they’ll name it after you!

A second floor room with the floor halfway finished.
A nonprofit office on the top floor—they're strngely shaped, but cozy.
A window detail—just imagine you're in an old hospital.
The basement