Thanks to Georgetown BID, you might see a park in the street
If you have the time (and money) to shop on M Street or Wisconsin Avenue, walking on those crowded brick lanes might soon become a lot more bearable. The Georgetown Business Improvement District is hoping to improve sidewalks in Georgetown’s shopping streets, as part of its 15-year plan presented last week.
Last year, the BID rented barriers to block off parking spaces off a section of Wisconsin Ave. where the French Market, an annual outdoor shopping event, was taking place, which effectively doubled the sidewalk’s width. The Georgetown 2028 plan includes proposals to permanently widen heavily-used pedestrian sidewalks and to create design standards for tree boxes, street lamps, and other sidewalk furniture.
“Wider, safer, more comfortable sidewalks make for a better pedestrian experience and encourage people to walk rather than drive,” Joe Sternlieb, CEO of Georgetown BID, wrote in an email to Vox. “This has health, economic, and social benefits for everyone who is walking on our streets – residents, visitors, students, and workers.” He is also confident that higher-capacity sidewalks will help boost retail sales in stores along the shopping district.
The 2028 plan states that temporary sidewalk-widening pilot projects will be implemented, but the BID does not have yet final plans as to where the pilot projects will be placed, nor when. “The BID will be looking for opportunities to pilot other sections of M Street and Wisconsin Avenue when appropriate,” Sternlieb wrote. “We will be applying for permits for the French Market again this year, and may apply to do additional blocks, or multiple blocks, during the summer and fall.”
In Sept. 2013, five Georgetown businesses, including one of Vox’s favorites, Baked & Wired, turned metered parking spaces into pop-up parks with outdoor seating and foliage for customers to enjoy. The 2028 plan also recommends that such temporary parklets be installed along commercial streets.
According to the Washington Post, the BID is considering arranging agreements with the University and other parking garage operators to address parking shortages, a problem that might grow as the BID repurposes the Georgetown’s roadside parking spaces.
“We have had very preliminary conversations with University administrators about renting the parking lot at the Canal Road entrance for discrete weekend events when it is generally not being used,” Sternlieb wrote. “We have also broached the subject with private garage operators who have facilities in the West End and Rosslyn. No agreements have been made yet.”
Photo: Courtesy Georgetown BID