For 30 years, Ivan Hall has worked among the chorus of chimes, cuckoos and the ticktock of clocks in his watch and clock repair shop on 11th Street N.W.
Those sounds, however, will be stilled in a few weeks for Hall, 57, who has been confined to a wheel-chair since age 17. The city must move him out of his shop by May 31 to make way for the Washington Convention Center, but neither Hall nor the city has found a new location that would satisfy the needs of his disability.
Hall's problem is a paradox of progress.
"I told my wife the other day, what the heck am I going to do if I don't work," said Hall, slumped to one side in the cane-backed wheelchair he works from. "I just don't want to turned out on public assistance. That would kill me."
To expand the city's tax base and lure more economic activity to the city, District officials last year voted for a convention center that meant many small businesses would be displaced.
Althogether 70 businesses in the three-block area southwest of Mount Vernon Square must move, according to Newt Whitaker, chief of the citys business resources division. Fifteen have been relocated since the city began sending out notices last October.
The first group of businesses, in the 11th Street and I Street corridors where Hall works, must leave by May 31. So far 8 of the 20 shops there have been relocated, and 3 other store owners have given the city written commitments that they will be gone by then.
Although the area is deteriorating, many businesses have survived there for years on the low rents and high volume of walk-in customers. Relocation for progress is not new. It happens in many aging cities searching for new life. But it is unusual in Hall's case, Whitaker said.
Hall who has been "bummed up," as he calls it, from arthritis and poor medical treatment, said he beat all odds by wheeling himself to school and learning to repair watches and clocks. He worked out of several locations in Washington until 1949 when he found his shop on 11th Street.
Hall's new place must have no steps, a bathroom on the same floor and preferably no other floors.
The city's Housing and Community Development Department is charged with helping relocate the businesses. It has referred businesses to 133 sites in Washington, 40 in Maryland and 14 in Virginia, Whittaker said. Some people don't want to move away from the clientele they've built up for years. Others can't afford higher rent. Both apply to Hall.
Hall's landlord charges him the same rent he did in 1949- $125 a month, Hall said, "My son drove me around and we called 25 to 30 places. The cheapest place I called was $750 a month. Most of them were $900, $1,200 a month," Hall said.
The city has given Hall two referrals so far. One was property for sale at 1329, 11th St. NW. The asking price is $70,0000, Whittaker said.
But Hall said that area is too dangerous. "I have to stay in a good area, Hall said. People would be afraid to bring their stuff in."
The other referral exceeds Hall's $300-a-month budget limit for rent, Whittaker said.
Another problem, is that other businesses around him will be moving and he is afraid to be left alone on the block until he is relocated. He is afraid of being the target of vandals, vagrants and arsonists.
"I'm getting kind of desperate," Hall said.
The city pays up to $500 to businesses to compensate for the time and travel in searching for a new location.
A displaced person in also eligible for moving expense from the city and reassembling of equipment, Whittaker said. CAPTION: Picture, Ivan Hall in his repair shop downtown at 807 11th St. N.W., surrounded by clocks By Fred Sweets-The Washington Post