H St. townhouse gets major overhaul

A three-story townhouse located across from University Yard is getting a massive addition, a dramatic facelift and new tenants next fall.

The property at 2013 H St. – currently around 3,500 square feet – is being stripped down to its brick exterior to house the new HSC Foundation, a parent organization for local health-related nonprofits.

The structure, which was built in 1889, has been undergoing renovations since December 2009 and is scheduled to be reoccupied in fall 2011. It will be Gold LEED certified, a distinction given by the U.S. Green Building Council certifying that a building is environmentally friendly.

Despite the building’s age, the townhouse is not on D.C.’s list of historic buildings, but contractors plan to preserve the townhouse’s original facade, Jessie MacKinnon, a spokeswoman for the HSC, said.

Originally built as a private residence, the townhouse most recently housed the headquarters of the Action on Smoking and Health organization, led by GW Law professor John F. Banzhaf. Currently, the group does not plan to return to the building.

“[ASH was] there for many years and then the owners decided to do some reconstruction and we had to leave,” Banzhaf said.

At least part of the building will be a new home for the HSC, which bought the building rights to the house. It will host administrative and conferencing activities, as well as youth programs like the foundation’s Youth Transitions Initiative, which aims to help young people with disabilities as they transition out of high school and into college, vocational training or employment.

“The Foundation is developing the H Street building as a mission-driven building to house both our headquarters and the National Youth Transitions Center,” MacKinnon said.

The center – which will feature the addition of a large glass structure to the existing building – will be seven stories tall and nearly 30,000 square feet when complete. It will provide services to youths with disabilities and focus on youth leadership and development, MacKinnon said.

The building will not receive federal funding but will receive tax credits because of its community service designation.

MacKinnon also expressed excitement about the foundation’s close proximity to GW’s campus. The foundation’s president, Thomas Chapman, has served as a School of Public Health and Health Services professor and was chief executive officer of GW Hospital.

“We are especially pleased to locate the Transitions Center near the GW campus. Our organization has a long history of collaboration with GW, particularly the [Graduate School of Education and Human Development],” she said.

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