Local Business: What’s in Store for 2011?

by Borderstan.com January 3, 2011 at 5:00 am 2,614 2 Comments

From Tom Hay

The proliferation of new businesses over the past few years continues to be one of the major stories in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area. Moreover, the fact that most are locally-owned, small businesses adds to the sense of community cohesion.

Read Borderstan’s 14 business profiles of 2010; list at bottom.

The opening of Room & Board at 14th and T Streets NW was an exception, while Point Chaude Cafe & Crepes (with one downtown location), Toucan Boutique on 9th Street NW and Well Built on 14th Street NW were more the norm in 2010.

District Condos 14th Street NW Logan Circle

The District Condos development on the west side of 14th Street NW between S and Swann Streets gets underway this year; completion is scheduled for 2012. (Luis Gomez Photos).

What Kind of Businesses in 2011?

Perhaps the big business story in 2011 for the neighborhood will be what kind of new businesses open, particularly on the 14th Street NW corridor — rising rents make it increasingly difficult for certain types of retail to flourish. With higher revenues, restaurants and lounges are often better able to pay the rent, Estadio and Masa 14 being good examples.

This reality was recognized in 2010 when the DC Zoning Commission approved having up to 50% of store frontage space on the 14th and U corridor be eating/drinking establishments. The previous percentage for this area — part of the arts overlay district — was 25%.

A few of the food and beverage businesses in the pipeline include Pearl Dive restaurant in the 100% Mexico (closed) location, Peregrine Espresso in the former Flowers on Fourteenth (moved a few doors south) space and several dining spots coming to the northeast corner of 14th and U.

I predict in 2011 we will see more resident opposition to new or expanding restaurants and bars along 14th Street. Case in point is the already mobilized group of 30 residents protesting Pearl Dive’s liquor license.

What About the Arts Branding Project?

Speaking of the arts overlay district in the 14th and U corridor, what will happen with the DC Arts District branding project? The banners are up on U, 14th, 15th and 9th Streets NW. The project was funded by a $200,000 Neighborhood Investment Fund grant with the contract going to contractors via the MidCity Residents Association, Cultural Tourism DC, Logan Circle Community Association and the Constance Whitaker Maffin Memorial Fund.

Several graphic design firms collaborated on the design of the banners, with the final design by Julia Ames, owner of Spoolia Design. No word yet on future plans for the DC Arts District and it remains unclear how long the banners will remain in place in certain locations.

More Condos

New condominium construction appears to be having an early spring. After years of an unprecedented number of new units being built, the start of many projects came to a halt a couple of years ago, victims of the recession, tight credit markets and cautious developers.

This fall saw signs of movement along 14th Street, notably the unveiling of District Condos, a 125-unit building at the former Whitman Walker site at 14th and S Streets NW, which will also include ground floor retail.

Vincent Gray Administration

Will the business climate in the neighborhood change now that Vincent Gray is DC’s new mayor? Last month Gray announced he would not be keeping Department of Transportation head Gabe Klein — under whom we saw more bike lanes, the Circulator bus and the start of a streetcar system for the city. Also out is Linda Argo at Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. DCRA is the agency responsible for business licenses and building permits and it had made great strides in customer service in recent years.

Gray also appointed Ronald Collins to head the Office of Boards and Commissions. Collins held the post during the Anthony Williams administration (1999-2007) and the position assists the Mayor’s office in selecting members for the Zoning Commission, Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and the Historic Preservation Review Board, all of which handle issues of importance to businesses and residents in our neighborhood.

New ANC Commissioners

DC’s Advisory Neighbhorhood Commissions (ANCs) technically do not have regulatory or approval powers, but they can smooth the way or put up roadblocks for businesses. We will see some new faces on the three ANCs in the area: ANC 1B, 2B and 2F. Aaron Spencer won a three-way race for 1B02 which includes the east side of the 14th and U Streets intersection. He defeated incumbent Peter Raia and Tucker Gallagher. In 2B-Dupont Circle, Kevin O’Connor ran unopposed for the 2B02 post, which is on the western side of Dupont Circle.

Over in ANC 2F-Logan Circle, Emily Barton takes the 2F02 seat (she ran unopposed) while 2F04 and 2F05 are vacant and will have to be filled by special election early this year. There were no candidates on the November 2 ballot for either of these seats and the DC Board of Elections and Ethics was unable to fill these seats from write-in votes on November 2.

Commissioners represent approximately 2,000 people in single-member districts and are elected every two years. ANC 1B has 11 members, 2B has nine and 2F has six commissioners.

2010 Neighborhood Business Profiles

From Tom Hay

From Cecile Oreste

From Borderstan


Subscribe to our mailing list