The C & P Telephone Company yesterday signed a three-year lease for retail office space at 2900 14th Street NW, becoming one of the first major Washington firms to open offices along the 14th Street corridor since riots devastated the area in 1968.
The action by C & P was hailed yesterday by numerous city officials and community groups during a ceremony at 2901 14th Street NW, in abuilding which houses the city's 14 Street Housing and Community Development area office and the 14the Street Project Area Committee (PAC).
The signing of the lease marks another step in the revitalization of the 14the Street riot corridor, an area which already has about 1,000 units of housing nearing construction, under construction or completed. Several other development projects are planned, according to Lacy. C. Streeter, 14th Street area direcotr for the city's housing department.
In his remarks yesterday, D.C. Mayor Walter E. Washington said: "We have now destroyed another myth-the myth that says, "Don't go, business. to 14th Street because it isn't saft and it isn't profitable.' Well, C & P Telephone isn't going anywhere it isn't profitable."
Then, looking toward H.R. Crawford, the former U.S. Housing and Urban Development assistant secretary who now heads the management company which signed the lease with C & P yesterday, the mayor added, "H.R., it's a great day, because you can tell the bankers and I can tell the bankers that it's all right to come back here now."
The telephone company will pay about $24,000 a year tolease 4,000 square feet of office space on the ground floor of the Columbia Heights Village housing complec. Company spokesman Web Chamberlin said the space will be used as a retail office where customers may buy telephone equipment.
Columbia Heights Village was developed by Construction General of Silver Spring, and is managed by Edgewood Management Co., the firm for which Crawford serves as executive managementt officer.
C & P new "PhoneCenter" is to open in February, one of 10 such facilities scheduled in the Washington metropolitan area during the next year, Chamberlin said the company already has seven such local offices.
Bill Ellis, executive director of the 14the Street PAC, noted after the ceremony that the PAC "will be knocking on C & P's door strongly" to make certain that it and other new businesses help the community with its unemployment problems.
He als o said the PAC will make sure that some of the minority-owned firms in the riot corridor-who have "survived the holocaust of the last eight or nine years," are able to lease space in the Columbia Heights building.
In addition to the subsidized housing projects planned for the riot corridor, streeter said the city has put about $2 million into public improvements in the area, and, within the next six months, plans to spend another $2 million in the form of low-interest rehabilitation loans.
Plans for the 14th Street corridor also include a fire station at 14th and Newton Streets NW, and a 13-acre shopping center at 14th and Park Road with a new post office and which may include theatres, a bowling alley, groceries and banks.
Alexander C. Mitchell, owner of the Good Things variety store at 3000 14th Street NW and head of 14th Street Corridor Business Associates Inc., praised the telephone company move.
Mitchell said business in the riot corridor, during his two years there, has been "terrible, rotten . . . "We only stuck it out because we foresee a future for 14th Street to be what it should be."