- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Urban Land Institute told the District that it needs to spruce up and fund street corridors to develop retail there and create livable neighborhoods.

The District Department of Transportation asked the ULI, a nonprofit group that researches city land-use, to study 22 miles of six corridors — Pennsylvania Avenue Southeast; H Street Northeast and Benning Road Northeast and Southeast; Martin Luther King Avenue Southeast and South Capital Street; Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue Northeast; Minnesota Avenue Northeast and Southeast; and Georgia Avenue Northwest and Seventh Street Northwest.

The department has committed $100 million in public funding to revive the corridors through its Great Streets project, which was announced in Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ State of the District address in March.

The ULI was approached to help the transportation department determine where to put the funding.

The institute’s team of public developers suggested that the District revitalize the streets and sidewalks, create local revenue by sending parking fees back to the neighborhoods and streamline local leadership and decision-making.

The institute found that the existing corridors have authentic “main streets” that could draw shoppers if the storefronts were improved, the streets were cleaned and shoppers felt safe.

“The town center concept of retail is replacing the enclosed malls,” said Terry D. Foegler, president of Campus Partners, a neighborhood revitalization nonprofit group outside the Ohio State University, and a ULI panel member. “These kind of main streets have advantages with regard to what people are seeking in retail.”

Mr. Foegler said retailers in the targeted corridors need to clean up their spaces to be successful.

“Cluttered signage, iron gates and graffiti doesn’t feel safe,” he said. “It says fear, and it says crime. The appearance and design of private property is really critical.’

The ULI said quality of life would improve with access to quality grocery stores and shops.

The transportation department is starting the improvement projects by redoing sidewalks in the Belleview neighborhood on South Capital Street and improving the H Street Northeast streetscapes, said Karina Ricks, the Great Streets program manager.

Tourism councilbrings the money

The World Travel & Tourism Council’s April meeting here is expected to bring $2 million to the District in the form of hotel, restaurant and tourist spending, said William A. Hanbury, president and chief executive officer of the Washington, DC Convention & Tourism Corp.

The international meeting of tourism groups, cities and private companies, which is expected to draw 800 attendees, is meeting in the United States for the first time in its six-year history.

Coming down the pike

The Rockville Town Square on Rockville Pike, which was torn down in late 2004 despite local residents’ disapproval, has booked its first 10 tenants in the rebuilt complex. Federal Realty Investment Trust has signed Starbucks Coffee, Primo Italiano, Taste of Saigon, Lebanese Taverna, Sushi Damo, Gifford’s Ice Cream, Chevy Chase Bank, Hair Cuttery, the Papery and CVS drugstore.

• Retail & Hospitality runs Mondays. Contact Jen Haberkorn at jhaberkorn@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-4836.

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