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Work Begins On 419-Unit Mixed-Use Building Coming To H Street

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Gary Rappaport
Rappaport CEO Gary Rappaport at a groundbreaking in 2016

Rappaport and WC Smith's redevelopment of the H Street Connection is officially underway, as Mayor Muriel Bowser joined the companies to mark the start of demolition Wednesday morning. 

Thirty years ago, when Gary Rappaport was just getting into the real estate business, his company teamed up with J. Gerald Lustine, whose family still owns a 50% stake in the project's retail, to build a strip mall that provided a food market, drugstore, clothing store and bank to the underserved H Street community. 

Today, the H Street corridor is coming to life, and the development team is tearing down the old strip mall to build an eight-story, mixed-use building.

"I feel a little sadness, this is the only project I've developed and later demolished," Gary told a gathering of Rappaport employees and others involved in the project. "I guess I'm growing older."

Rappaport WC Smith H Street Connection

The finished mixed-use project will have 419 apartments, including 40 affordable housing units, over 44k SF of retail, rendered above.  The $201M project is expected to deliver in 2019. 

Lustine Gary Rappaport Muriel Bowser Chris Smith H Street

Rappaport and Gary Lustine (left) brought in WC Smith as a JV partner for the project, which received $11M in financing from EagleBank.

With the recent opening of the H Street streetcar, WC Smith CEO Chris Smith (right) says now is the time to invest in the H Street corridor.

"It's pretty exciting to continue this rebirth of H Street that started down at Union Station and is stretching to Benning Road," Chris told Bisnow.

Mayor Muriel Bowser H Street Connection

Mayor Bowser said the streetcar has been "outperforming our wildest expectations," since its February opening. With the new public transportation, she says more shoppers and restaurant-goers are choosing H Street as the place to be.

"This is going to be wonderful looking forward to what the next 18 months will bring," Bowser said. "We have seen tremendous investment from the city and private companies here on H." 

Mayor Muriel Bowser H Street Connection

Bowser has such high hopes for the project that she wanted to get it started right away. After touting the jobs the project would create, Bowser decided to give one of the construction workers a break. 

Mayor Bowser demolishing H Street Connection

Taking a hands-on approach to city development, the mayor operated the machinery, with a little help from the professionals. Together they tore down the "Dana Jewelry" sign on the center of the strip mall, marking the start of the project's demolition