On Tuesday, District officials and developers broke ground on what will become a first class restaurant on the historic site of the former Billy Simpson's House of Seafood and Steak. The District originally sought proposals for the site in April 2008, selected a developer in September 2008, and in March 2009 the property was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The development team, Donatelli Development and Mosaic Urban Partners, is working with the Hilton Brothers, known for their restaurants Gibson and Marvin in the U Street corridor, to bring the new retail to the Petworth community.
According to Rachel Preston, an Advisor at Mosaic Urban Partners, the project is fully financed. Preston said the team has begun interior demolition and the project could be ready as soon as this summer.
A press release from the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development's office said the historic restaurant operated in the 1960s and 1970s and was an "oasis" for leaders of the Civil Rights movement as well as home to the political forum "Round Table 9."
The development team also won the right to develop on another plot of land at 3825-3829 Georgia Avenue, in the form of a small residential building of approximately 12 units with ground floor retail. These developments continue the trend for the neighborhood, also home to Donatelli's Park Place built on top of the Georgia Avenue/Petworth metro station.
When the new yet-to-be-named restaurant opens it may just breathe new life into the "up-and-coming" neighborhood, much like U Street (where the restaurateurs currently operate) and Columbia Heights (where Donatelli's projects changed the face of the neighborhood). That, at least, is the hope.