Amid complaints from Shaw community leaders, the D.C. Chamber of Commerce presented a $100,000 proposal last week to aid businesses in a three-block area on 7th Street Nw -- port of the so-called "riot corridor."
Under the proposal, presented at a meeting of the Physical Planning Committee of the Shaw Project Area Committee [PAC], businesses in the 1500 through 1700 blocks of 7th Street would be eligible for chamber grants of up to $2,500 each to be matched by guaranteed bank loans. The funds could be used only to improve a business' building.
Funds for the project are part of a grant from the U.S. department of Housing and Urban "development to the D.C. Department of housing and Community Development. The Chamber of Commerce has been chosen by the city to use the funds in revitalizing part of the 7th Street area.
Any funds left over, a chamber official said, would be used to repair sidewalks, plant shrubs, provide consultant services to merchants and develop a brochure about services available in the area. In addition, the chamber plans to enlist the aid of the Shaw PAC, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and other community groups to get rid of trash in the area.
The proposal brought immediate objections from some community leaders.
"They haven't done anything for the business man since the riots, and now they come in with a meager $100,000," said Samuel Fields, an ANC commissinor representing part of the Shaw area. "You can't even clean up the sidewalds with that."
However, Arthur Henderson, prooject director for the chamber, and Charlles Louis, development, coordinator for the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, defended the proposal.
"This thing is to get the ball running, "said Louis.
Charles Fields, director of economic grant from the U.S. Department of
Charles Fields, director of economic development for the people's Involvement Crop., a non-profit agency involved in helping minority business development, said he believed any improvement in the area would attract businesses and help keep otuer businesses in the neighborhood.
But ANC commissioner Samuel Fields disagreed with the chamber's proposal. "They should make a demographic study and have several funding agencies to help revitalize the area, "he said.
Henderson and Louis said they expect the chamber and the city to work out details of the proposal soon.
In other business, the committee considered a proposal to develop a community business center on the west side of 14th Street between V and U streets NW, and approved plans for a $3.5 million dential health center at 14th, R and Riggs streets Nw.
Under the business center proposal, the city Department of Housing and Community Development would sell the entire parcel to a developer, who would be expected to establish an office and retail complex on the site. The site is owned by the city.
The plan calls for moving the Parent and Child Center [PCC], a day care facility, from its present location at 2002 14th St. Nw. That proposal brought sharp objections from some committee members.
"Developers don't give a damn about them and the service to the community," charged Winston Lewis, a member of the committee.
Louis, of Housing and community Development, said the department had considered rehabilitating the PCC building and selling the remainder of the site to a developer. However, he said, the department decided the rehabilitation, estimated to cost $1.2 million would be too expensive. Instead, he noted, the department has offered to provide $450,000 in relocation funds for the PCC.
After the discussion, the PAC representatives voted to ask the Redevelopment Land Authority [Rla] to delay action until a community meeting is held to discuss the proposal. The RLA mut give its approval to the project.
PAC officials said later the community meeting had been set for 6:30 p.m. July 11 at the PCC.
The proposal for a dental clinic and dental manufacturing plant passed the committee easily, despite the fact that there already are three large dental clinics in the Shaw area: Howard University; Show Dental Clinic, 1707 7th St. Nw, and Upper Cardozo, 3020 14th St. Nw.
The developer of the clinic, Dr. Eddie G. Smith Jr., said the clinic would benefit persons over 21 who are ineligible for Medicare dental benefits. He said he plans to manufacture dentures, which then will be sold at the clinic for $50 to $60. He said he also plans to train Shaw residents to work in the manufacturing part of the business. All proposals for the buiness center and the dental clinic must be approved by the Shaw PAC board and the RLA.