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Business Improvement District

Remarks of Richard T. Reinhard Deputy Executive Director DowntownDC Business Improvement District The Pennsylvania Avenue Plan Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The section of Pennsylvania Avenue that stretches between the U.S. Capitol and The White House deserves to be one of the world's great streets, and a proposed plan has been devised to see that dream become a reality. In many ways, with events such as the quadrennial Inauguration Parade, it is one of America's greatest traditions. However, in many ways it isn't. The avenue lacks the day-to-day vitality of the world's grand avenues. Deferred maintenance has led to broken pavers, splintered benches, and unworkable fountains and skating rinks. The retail sector is stifled by a wide, somewhat barren streetscape. Regulations have squelched sidewalk cafes in an otherwise lively Downtown that, at last count, had 147 outdoor restaurant spaces. The Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation (PADC) did a remarkable job redeveloping "America's Main Street" between the 1970s and 1990s. Now, the federal government's Herbert Hoover Building refurbishment, Trump's Old Post Office redevelopment, Quadrangle's National Place plans and, some day, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's relocation, provide an impetus for us to take a fresh look at Pennsylvania Avenue again. In 1974, PADC listed 10 goals for Pennsylvania Avenue. The current governance structure has accomplished the following:

Number One - Reinforcing the physical and symbolic link between The White House and The Capitol Number Seven - Maintaining a sense of historic continuity and evolution through preservation

Remains to be addressed:

Number Three - Transforming the Avenue into an attractive and pleasant place for residents and visitors alike Number Four - Providing a mixture of cultural and commercial activities to attract a wide variety of people and activate street life

We would add that historic Pennsylvania Avenue, once sought after for office addresses, is currently facing robust competition from other parts of Downtown and the central city, and therefore may be losing its once competitive edge. The National Park Service's Pennsylvania Avenue plan's preferred alternative-of the avenue "as a colorful, lively, urban environment with simplified management and jurisdiction"-is what Downtown DC, our city and our nation deserve in making Pennsylvania Avenue one of the world's great streets. On May 17, the DowntownDC Business Improvement District in conjunction with the NPS and the DC Office of Planning, convened property owners and tenants along the street to introduce them to the proposed Pennsylvania Avenue plan. The attendees were enthusiastic about the preferred alternative and are willing to participate in making it happen. We would note, as important as issues such as design and development are, other issues like maintenance and programming are equally important. Pennsylvania Avenue from Louisiana Avenue to 15th Street is wholly contained with the boundaries of the Downtown B ID. The Downtown B ID and our 83 Downtown SAMs currently provide services to the

Avenue, but the area-including the parks along the Avenue-need more, much more. The Downtown B ID would like to playa crucial role in moving ahead with implementation of the NPS's preferred alternative. Currently, we are working in a partnership with NPS and the City by putting together a demonstration program to establish a productive joint venture leading to improvements to Franklin Park. We want to do the same with regard to Pennsylvania Avenue. Our initial conversations with NPS, the DC Government, the National Capital Planning Commission, the U.S. General Services Administration, and the Avenue's great institutions and private property have been extremely positive. While we should be aware of the costs of deferred maintenance, capital improvements, enhanced maintenance and first-class programming, we should not daunted by these costs, but rather work collectively to solve these concerns in intelligent and creative ways. The Downtown B ID supports the preferred alternative in the Pennsylvania Avenue plan and looks forward to becoming a full partner in its implementation.

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