- The Washington Times - Monday, February 3, 2003

Tomika Hughey is trying to revitalize one of Northeast's main commercial corridors as executive director for the H Street Main Street and as an H Street resident.
Ms. Hughey, 31, plans to use her 13 years of experience as a transportation and city planner to help initiate volunteer-based programs along H Street, which include cleaning up street litter, promotional events to bring in more businesses and community-outreach activities.
"I've lived all over the Washington area, and as a planner I can tell when an area is just a neighborhood or when it's a community," Ms. Hughey said.
H Street is one of five Main Street public- and private-sector partnerships that the D.C. Office of Planning has started in the last year. The DC Main Streets program was developed to preserve historic commercial architecture, but later expanded as tool to promote economic development in the District.
The plan for H Street calls for 750 residential units, 300,000 square feet of retail space and 20,000 square feet of office space to be made available to the public within the next 10 years.
The H Street project has received a $126,000, five-year contract from the District's Office of Planning and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Ms. Hughey said additional funds will be raised through corporate sponsorships, private donations and fund-raising events.
The goal is to help re-establish H Street as a safe and attractive location for businesses and prospective residents, Ms. Hughey said. H Street, along with 14th, Sixth and other Northeast streets, was targeted by rioters in 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King. It has yet to fully recover.
"Most people drive by on H Street to get to the Capitol, but they don't see it as a destination for dining, shopping or entertainment, and we're hoping to turn that tide," Ms. Hughey said.
Her goals include improving public transit, renovating dilapidated and vacant buildings and increasing available parking in the corridor.
"There are a lot of things to improve, but merchants here have shown their willingness to help and it goes a long way in the process," she said.
Anwar Saleem, the H Street program founder and chairman of the board, said the board elected Ms. Hughey to the position for her "natural passion" and grounded experience in city planning, which included serving as a transportation consultant for the Federal Transit Administration.
"A problem we've had in the past is bringing people in with a lot of energy that burn out quickly, because this program takes a lot of work and patience," Mr. Saleem said.
Mr. Saleem said he was impressed by Ms. Hughey's easy relationship with neighborhood merchants when she served as a coordinator in Ward 6, including H Street, for D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams' re-election campaign.
"Tomika had the best package of a strong knowledge of city functions and planning with a talent for getting along with different communities and our merchants."
Ms. Hughey lives on H Street with her brother, Bryon Ellerby.


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