Forest City Washington, a development firm, unveiled plans to bring a Harris Teeter, Potbelly, Kruba Thai and Sushi, Buzz Bakery, Austin Grill Express, BrB, Huey’s 24/7 Diner and a new craft brewery to the Yards park, a community on the waterfront and near Nationals Park.
Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said it was the perfect backdrop to talk about his jobs and economic development agenda. Gray said creating jobs would be a priority during his successful campaign for mayor last year.
Reading from a teleprompter, Gray outlined his plans to meet his campaign promises.
Gray said he learned on the campaign trail that lowering the city’s unemployment rate was going to be difficult. “I was confronted with the harsh reality that there are too many residents wondering where their next paycheck will come from,” he said. “The cycle of joblessness can be a deep well of humiliation.”
Several people in the audience on the waterfront stood up in applause when Gray announced that Ballou High School would not be renovated but would be replaced with a new one. He said the city will invest in vocational programs there, particularly one involving Toyota.
On economic development, Gray said his administration would reassess plans for projects that may be resolicited or scrapped. “We know this is not going to be popular with some,” he said.
The mayor also said he was “reconstituting” the city’s Workforce Investment Council, a board that is supposed to oversee job development in the city. He is moving it out of the Department of Employment Services and into the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development to give the board “stature.”