Since 1984, The Development Corporation of Columbia Heights (DCCH) has participated in the development of several commercial projects for the betterment of Columbia Heights. The Nehemiah Project, the headquarters for the multi-service Latin American Youth Center (LAYC), the Tivoli Square renovation, and the 500,000 square foot DC USA retail complex have been our most noted developments. In 1991, after years of underdevelopment in Columbia Heights, DCCH received a grant from the Meyer Foundation to create a master plan for bringing home ownership and retail businesses back to the neighborhood. The 18,000 square foot Nehemiah Retail Center was the result. It opened on Belmont and 14th Streets in 1995 and brought neighborhood serving businesses such as a convenience store, a bank, restaurant and laundromat. The project was the first development to begin to replace the businesses that were destroyed in the 1968 civil disorders, after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Also in 1995, DCCH and the Latin American Youth Center were awarded a grant and loan from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation to acquire and gut 1419 Columbia Road, NW. This property, a 29,000 square foot, 3-story building, became the headquarters for LAYC and was rehabilitated into office and program space. Founded in the late 1960s and incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1974, the Latin American Youth Center serves multicultural youth with a comprehensive set of social services, educational and work skills, advocacy programs and residential programs.
DCCH completed the LAYC headquarters for the organization and began to work with the Horning Brothers to transform the dilapidated Tivoli Theater into the new, mixed-use Tivoli Square located at 14th Street and Park Road NW. The Tivoli Theatre was built in 1924 at a cost of $1 million and was until its closing in 1976, one of the most elegant movie houses in Washington, D.C. It was also one of DC’s segregated theaters. On May 13th of 2007, the historic location was then completely converted into a mixed-used project full of diversity. It houses a Super Giant, the Gala Hispanic Theatre, sit-down restaurants like Nori Asian Bistro and Rumbero’s Cuban cuisine, ground floor retail, office space and 40 condo units named Tivoli Towns of which 20 percent were set-aside for low-and-moderate income households.
In June of 2006, DCCH, Grid Properties, Gotham Inc., and Joseph Searles broke ground for the 500,000 square foot DC USA retail complex. Replacing an empty lot and a dilapidated building, DC USA now houses notables like Target, Best Buy, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and Marshall’s. In addition to these major retailers, DCCH worked to provide 15,000 square feet for local businesses at a discounted rent. Over 800 neighborhood jobs have already been created and up to 1,200 jobs are expected.