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A once vibrant commercial corridor in Ward 4 that saw its heyday in the years following World Ward II but declined in the 1980s during D.C.’s drug epidemic could become a center of economic activity again.
Mayor Muriel Bowser is kicking off a revitalization project for Kennedy Street NW this morning in the ward she used to represent as a councilmember, targeting an area plagued by decades of divestment. The goal, the administration says, is to “improve safety and security and promote multimodal transportation” along the hardest hit component of the corridor, which stretches one mile from Georgia Avenue NW to North Capitol Street. Complicating that vision are a few urban realities: Kennedy Street lacks easy access to a Metro station, many of its storefronts are vacant or blighted, and it hasn’t sustained the kind of foot traffic other commercial corridors in the District have.
Earlier this week, the D.C. Council initially approved legislation that would establish an 11-member advisory committee to guide city planners on Kennedy Street’s would-be renaissance. The committee would consist of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, the Office of Planning, the Ward 4 councilmember, two area business owners, residents, and other officials. Per council rules, the bill must be approved one more time before being sent to the mayor for signing. D.C. has had what’s known as a “small area plan” for the street on the books for several years.
This isn’t the first time the District government has tried to jump-start the local economy along Kennedy Street NW. But with a group of advocate-residents closely watching the multi-million dollar project—plus more people moving into the neighborhood—the life of the corridor could finally change. For example, plans include streetscape improvements.
“Our goal isn’t to make another H Street,” neighbor Myles Smith told City Paper about the community’s hopes for the commercial corridor in 2014. “Our goal is to send the signal that natural growth can happen.”
Prepping for the kick off of the Kennedy Street Revitalization project in Ward 4. pic.twitter.com/aYmMNtK1ND— DDOT DC (@DDOTDC) October 21, 2016