Community Connections Puts Its Building at 8th and Penn Avenue SE Up for Sale

The Community Connection Building at 801 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE.

Community Connections Puts Its Building at 8th and Penn Avenue SE Up for Sale

by Larry Janezich

As first reported by Daniel J. Sernovitz of The Washington Business Journal on Tuesday, Community Connections at 801 Pennsylvania Avenue, has put its building on the market.  According to Sernovitz, the commercial real estate broker Avison Young has listed the 65,000 square foot property which is currently assessed by the city at $18.8 million.

Community Connections, founded by Helen Bergman, MSW, and Maxine Harris, PhD, in 1984 is the largest not-for-profit behavioral health provider in the city, serving more than 3,000 annually.  In addition to behavioral health, they provide homelessness/housing and outpatient addiction services. They acquired the former furniture store for their headquarters in 2006 for $12.5 million.

The WBJ reports that a spokesman for Avison Young told them that the gentrification has caused many low-income residents who were clients of the non-profit to relocate, which led the company to seek an outlet in another part of the city.  Or maybe they just decided to cash in on one of the most valuable properties on Capitol Hill.

The WBJ article reports Avison Young got 50 inquiries within 90 minutes of hinting the property was coming to market.  There is substantial ground floor retail space which, in addition to Community Connections, includes a Dunkin’ Donuts as well as a Yes! health food store, the latter fronting on Barracks Row.

Given the trends of investment and development in the area, odds seem to favor mixed use residential/retail for the building’s future, though there are other options.

One nearby group of businesses which some say will benefit from a new owner for the building are the those in the 400 block of 8th Street, which – rightly or wrongly – point to Community Connections as a source of a diverse collection of street loungers and panhandlers which has contributed to the perception of this part of Barracks Row as a “troubled block.”  Community Connections has sought to participate actively in the community to engage any of their clients who might be a habitué of the block.

The building is directly across 8th Street from the Eastern Market Metro Plaza – scheduled for a $21 million makeover due to break ground in December.


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3 responses to “Community Connections Puts Its Building at 8th and Penn Avenue SE Up for Sale

  1. WE

    That’s big news. While CC did try to engage with their client community, neighbors can reasonably wonder about the success rate of efforts to mitigate externalities.

  2. John

    Community Connections talks a lot about engaging their client community, but they don’t seem to do it very well. Just witness the spike in business and public drunkenness outside of JJ Mutts on the days that assistance payments are made to Community Connections clients.

  3. Victoria Sherk

    Engaging people with significant mental illness is very challenging, particularly with the common co-morbidity of substance abuse. Unless you have attempted yourself to assist such an individual in your community, I would discourage judging the efforts of those who do. As an person who was raised in the 1970’s and 1980’s in this community, in fact around the block on E St., I certainly do not miss the impact of poverty and addiction had on the community. I also though think it’s important to recognize that the influx of affluent residents has driven out prior residents of the community, many of whom depended on this organization for support.