Puerto Rican Mayors Tour Shaw
On Friday evening, July 2, Shaw Main Streets gave mayors from three cities in Puerto Rico, Yauco, Utuado and Guayanilla, a tour of Shaw at the request of Main Street America’s National Main Street Center. The mayors were in DC visiting federal government agencies and members of Congress and wanted to see an example of the Main Street Four Point Approach to commercial revitalization in operation.
Shaw Main Streets Executive Director Alex Padro welcomed the eight-member delegation at Grand Cata Latin Wine Shop. The shop, which specializes in wines and spirits from Spain and Latin America, is owned by a Puerto Rican and a Chilean proprietor, and is an example of a successful Shaw Main Streets business.
Because the mayors came from the southwest of Puerto Rico, a notable coffee growing area, the group next went to Compass Coffee’s flagship store on Seventh Street, where District Manager Jessica Hubbard gave the group a tour of the operation.
After sampling some of Compass’ coffee drinks and discussing the prospects for statehood for both Puerto Rico and the District, the group moved on to dinner at Qui Qui DC (www.quiquidc.com), the new Puerto Rican restaurant on the second floor of The Passenger. Chef/Owner Ismael Mendez was grateful for the group’s patronage and asked all to sign his Puerto Rican flag-draped autograph wall after enjoying a delicious dinner of authentic island dishes.
Shaw’s U Street Parking provided two chauffeur-driven black Cadillac Escalades to transport the group to City Market at O Street for a visit to that award-winning mixed use development. From City Market, the tour investigated the commercial activity on Seventh and Ninth Streets, ending up in Little Ethiopia, where the visitors witnessed Shaw’s vibrant nightlife before returning to their hotel.
Ninth Street Businesses Briefed on Proposed Cycletrack
The DC Department of Transportation (DDOT) briefed Ninth Street businesses the afternoon of July 7 on their plans for a installing a protected, two-way bicycle track along Ninth Street from Florida Avenue all the way to downtown. The briefing was set up by Shaw Main Streets to give owners an idea of what DDOT planned and its potential impact on their operations. The briefing, held at DC9 on Wednesday afternoon, July 7, was largely attended by businesses from the 1900 block of Ninth Street.
George Branyan, project manager for the cycletrack, started by noting that DDOT got their first notice that the Ninth Street cycletrack had been approved when the Mayor’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget was released. The new budget also calls for 20 miles of new protected bicycle lanes in the next two years, putting some pressure on the timeframe for the project.
The audience asked why Ninth Street was chosen for a cycletrack. Sixth Street met some of the criteria for a track to downtown, but it had more turns that would be dangerous for bicyclists. Also, the churches along the street objected to the loss of parking. A cycletrack on 11th Street was considered too far west for a route to downtown.
Given the tight traffic and parking situation on the 1900 block, the business owners could not see how they could continue receiving deliveries and customers with a new cycletrack. One owner noted that the busiest time for the block was between 11:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m., and that no one was likely to use the cycletrack at 3:00 a.m. The owners asked if the track could start south of the 1900 block. The answer was no, since the Ninth Street track had to connect with a yet to be completed bicycle track on Sherman Avenue. Could Ninth Street be converted to a one-way street to alleviate some of the pressure from the loss of one traffic lane? Branyan replied that the creation of one-way streets has fallen out of favor in traffic planning circles, and that a study of such a conversion would add 18 months to the project.
The position of the business owners was summed up by “Mama Tutu” Belay, a long-time property owner in Little Ethiopia. She noted that they had invested in the 1900 block of Ninth Street when no one else was interested. They turned the block into an economically vibrant area, contributing a considerable amount of taxes to the District’s Treasury. Now the District wants to threaten this by creating a nightmare on the block by taking out a lane of traffic. She concluded: “there is nothing in this [cycletrack project] for us.”
Shaw Businesses Get Recovery Support
In order to help businesses in their efforts to resume normal operations postpandemic, Shaw Main Streets (SMS) has distributed $30,000 in Small Business Recovery Grants using funds provided by the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development. The 22 grant awardees were selected based on applications submitted by SMS service area businesses in June. The businesses, which each received at least $1,000, were ABT Liquor, American Ice Company, The Brixton, Calico, Climaxx Bar and Restaurant, The Columbia Room, The Dabney, DC9, Echo Park, FishScale, Inizio Salon, Kouzina Angelinas, La Jambe, Maxwell Park, Miller Copying Service, A New Image by Acia Salon, Pizza D’oro, Red Toque Kabob, Roasted Boon, Seylou Bakery and Mill, Tiger Fork, and Wanda’s on Seventh.
French Street Holds Summer Salad Competition
The French Street Neighborhood Association (FSNA) held its annual Summer Salad Days competition on Saturday afternoon, July 24 in the French Street Park. The event, which has been held by the association for a number of years, solicits salads from neighborhood residents, which are judged by a show of hands to pick winners in categories like most attractive salad and best tasting. This year’s crop brought a diverse group of salads featuring shrimp, corn and potatoes. Winning salad makers got prizes from a number of Shaw merchants, including San Lorenzo restaurant, Unconventional Diner, Chercher Ethiopian restaurant and Compass Coffee.
FSNA President Gail Hansen concluded the event by noting that the large brick wall that bordered the park might get a new mural. The mural design, by noted muralist Aniekan Udofa, would reflect the history of the French Street neighborhood. It will have to go on aluminum panels, rather than painted directly on the brick, due to historic preservation restrictions. The proposal for the mural has been submitted by Shaw Main Streets to the District’s Art and Humanities Commission for a grant. Hansen also introduced the incoming FSNA President Elizabeth Stevens.