Bold, modern new design envisioned for Hecht building

(WJLA) - What everyone saw coming into Washington over the past 50 years was neglect and despair.

This stretch of New York Avenue has had a tough go of it, with traffic nightmares, loitering and more than a few eye-sores.

Now, the iconic Hecht's warehouse building hopes to breathe new life and be the "gateway" to D.C.

"It means a good amount of pride to be able to transform one of the district's really fine gems of historic architecture," said Kevin Sperry, architect.

Here, ABC7 got a first look inside this highly anticipated project, that stretches nearly six blocks.

"The glass block kind of makes the building what it is," Sperry explains. "And the columns on the inside are something really special, and will serve as a community center for tenants."

Sperry said this project has a special, historic significance for him.

"Just being a part of the history of this building, you really transport yourself back," he said.

Douglas Jemal is developing the project, and this week, received a lifetime achievement award from the D.C. Preservation League for rebooting many parts of the city, including this, his latest vision.

"Thousands and thousands of people have walked through these doors, worked here, supported their families here," Jemal said.

"It's got character, and it's got soul. It will be the lynchpin of the New York Avenue corridor," Jemal predicts.

For more information, visit the Hecht Warehouse District website.