The H Street Northeast corridor has plenty of new bars and restaurants that draw evening crowds, but the area is low on daytime foot traffic. A new grant program is intended to change that by boosting the corridor’s retail options.
In the past, we’ve written about the $1.25 million grant program and about some fears that businesses catering to newer and wealthier clientele would benefit rather than longtime businesses. The grant was made available to new or existing businesses, as long as they weren’t restaurants, bars, liquor stores, hair salons or barbershops.
The first round of winners were announced Wednesday morning. They include Bikram Yoga Capitol Hill, H Street Care Pharmacy and Wellness Center and The C.A.T. Walk Boutique, all of which opened along the corridor between 2006 and 2010. That may lead to easy charges that the program is benefiting newer businesses over older ones. But also winning a grant: Stan’s Inc., a clothing store that has been in D.C. since 1947 and on H Street since 1978. DCist reports that owner Leon Robbins will renovate the store and expand its clothing line using the $85,000 award.
Stan’s is one of H Street’s last remaining clothiers, stores that have operated on the corridor in the aftermath of the 1968 riots. These stores cater to an older, African-American male clientele. But they’ve suffered setbacks in recent years: the recession, streetcar construction and demographic changes. In 2010, Robbins told the Washington City Paper that his business has been declining since 2000. “Customers are richer than before,” Robbins said. “My customers used to only own the shirt on their backs, that’s why they had to look so good.”