I GREW UP IN SHEPARD PARK, which was middle income, with Rock Creek Park on one side and a struggling urban corridor on another. After Atlanta, I came home, and I was greeted by D.C. with open arms. There was an outpouring of emotion.
I was very comfortable with [being] a role model, but every time I went to an elementary school in D.C. and had to walk through hallways where the ceilings were falling down or the windows didn't open or there were no computers, I was reminded of this decay of not only the physical infrastructure but also the social. You're like, Wait a minute, this is the same Georgia Avenue that I grew up in, and it hasn't changed.
The built environment was affecting the hope of those neighborhoods. [So] when we started the company [Jair Lynch Development Partners], it was to reimagine urban neighborhoods to instill hope. We realized that by putting back the assets that were lost -- quality housing, jobs, retail, recreation, educational assets -- we were giving neighborhoods the tools to grow on their own. That sets the stage for the social infrastructure to become cohesive again.
I was elected to be one of the eight United States Olympic Committee board members. We provide the technical, financial and emotional support [to athletes] so they can succeed. I take a lot of lessons from that work and bring it back to D.C. When you ask a young wrestler about where he thinks he can go, it's not much different from asking a neighborhood, "Where do you think you can go?" We ask, and then we try to come up with something great.
Jair Lynch Development Partners has completed 1 million square feet of residential, commercial, retail and institutional projects in the District, Lynch says. Lynch also was a member of the executive committee for the Washington area's 2012 Olympic bid.
PHOTOS: Current Photography by Keith Barraclough, 1996 Photograph by John Gaps III/Associated Press; AUDIO: Whitney Shefte WEB EDITOR: Amanda McGrath - washingtonpost.com