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Marty Youmans, owner of the 52 O St. NW artist studios, confirms that a youth hostel will very likely be taking the place of the artist studios and residences whose occupants were given a soft eviction notice last week.

In an email sent yesterday to renters at 52 O Street, Youmans laid out his plan:

I am working with the city to permit a staffed, arts-oriented hostel for registered hostel members and short-term art students and interns.

[ . . . ]

As I mentioned in my more limited email to the first floor, this would be a big change at O St., the first of its kind since I bought the building in 2003. I’ve had a lot of questions about the commitment to O as a studios—never more so than these past few days. This development of the first floor is a measure that secures, rather than jeopardizes, O St.’s future as a permanent art studios.

“I just see it as a good, permanent, long-term duality of the building, where you’ve got an arts-oriented youth hostel on the first floor and art studios throughout the balance of the building,” Youmans says in a phone interview. “That’s permanent, versus selling out to condos.”

The hostel, he says, will be “truly affordable” for students and interns, in a way that’s “consistent with the affordability of that building.” He further notes that the hostel would enhance the day-to-day studio operations for artists rather than interrupt them. With a manned desk, for example, artists could receive FedEx packages at their studios, and mail sorting wouldn’t be so haphazard.

It remains unclear when Youmans will move forward with the changes. He plans to meet with residents and occupants at 52 O Street in February to discuss the plan. He says that he intends to move respectfully, as well as quickly—as the affected residents are all on month-to-month leases.

“Everyone in the building feels for people who might be losing these apartments,” Youmans says. “I want to tread real carefully.”

Photo by M.V. Jantzen, Creative Commons license