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Things are looking up for middle Georgia Avenue, which recently got started on a Great Streets project that will upgrade plantings, lighting, sidewalk furniture, and signage between Otis and Webster Streets. DDOT’s website also has a similar project in the works for lower Georgia Avenue, but implementation is at least another year away. In the mean time, things are still looking a little sad and empty south of Otis Street, as illustrated by a list of empty storefronts compiled by the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force—24 of them within a 10-block strip. The task force has invited property owners to participate in their planning for a streetscape revitalization project, similar to the one slated for Sherman Avenue. It’s an important step: You can beautify the street all you want, but it’s still not going to be terribly attractive without people doing business.
One thing that could help liven up the corridor is a plan from Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser to bring back the vacant property tax, which had been scrapped last fall after complaints that it was too onerous for property owners who had legitimate reasons for allowing the property to stay empty. Her proposal would levy a tax of $5 per $100 of assessed value on vacant properties, as well as a $250 fee to register a property as vacant, and $10 per $100 on blighted properties. It’s expected to come before the Committee of the Whole at its next legislative meeting on Tuesday, June 15th.