3600 block of Georgia Avenue, looking north from Lion’s Fine Wines and Spirits.
Earlier this year, the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) initiated a process to hire a consulting team to study to see if lower Georgia Avenue would benefit from a Main Street Program. DC Main Streets is a comprehensive program that promotes the revitalization of traditional business districts in the District of Columbia.
At the October 12th meeting of the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force a member of the consulting team, Jon Stover, was in attendance and gave an update of the Main Street Feasibility Study. In short, the study will recommend to DSLBD to initiate a Main Streets program on Georgia Avenue. At the meeting, Stover gave an overview of the highlights, and also cautioned that even though a Main Streets is recommended, DSLBD will still have to make a determination themselves.
The area recommended for the Main Streets is Georgia Avenue with Florida Avenue as the southern boundary and Upshur as the northern boundary. This is a 24-block stretch of Georgia Avenue, which is longer than what is normally taken on as a Main Streets, but not excessively so. But, because of this in part, it is also recommended that this area be organized as two smaller areas that wrap up to one central head. In this case, Kenyon Street would be the dividing line between the northern half and the southern half.
Main Streets are typically funded with DSLBD providing 50% of the funds and the remainder coming from the organizing efforts and management that takes charge. In this regard, Stover indicated that there is one significant risk factor for Georgia Avenue, which is that currently there is no preexisting entity or organization that has a history of fundraising for the community. That doesn’t mean that there can’t be one, and we surely need one, but one doesn’t exist at this time. Because of this, part of the recommendation is that the funding for the initial year be $75,000 instead of the normal $200,000, with subsequent annual funding amounts increased as the organization gets up and running. This approach isn’t typical, but there is precedent for it and it has been one successful way to get this up and running.
The one risk factor aside, the other indicators strongly suggested that Georgia Avenue was ready for a Main Streets program. There is support from the community and local businesses and everyone wants to see Georgia Avenue thrive.