June 7, 2021
DC Council Committee on Business & Economic Development
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20004
Re: Friendship Heights Main Street Program
Committee Chair McDuffie & Councilmembers Allen, Cheh, Gray & Pinto:
In 2015 Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3E supported the creation of a Main Street Organization for our Tenleytown Commercial area which was funded for and began operating in FY 2016.
The Tenleytown Main Street has in this ANC’s opinion been a great success in organizing and promoting our neighborhood’s businesses as well as organizing several annual events and creating working groups of residents that have created additional opportunities for members of our community to contribute to on-going improvements in our community. We believe the low vacancy rate in Tenleytown can in part be attributed to the success of our Main Street organization.
In comparison, prior to Covid our Friendship Heights commercial district was struggling and fragmented as half of the district is in Maryland and since Covid the situation has deteriorated dramatically: Friendship Heights has lost two department stores, a movie theater, and numerous other businesses, and much of our retail space is now vacant.
Historically the Friendship Heights commercial area has been considered by the DC Office of Planning a regional destination retail center, a designation that may no longer be appropriate considering the dramatic changes in the retail environment over the last 10 years.
Over the last 5 years ANC 3E has been engaged with the recently concluded and approved update to the Comprehensive Plan. Our ANC supported changes to the Future Land Use Map, which through Planned Unit Developments could see much greater residential density at several sites in Friendship Heights. 2
There are also opportunities in the near future to look at re-locating the Western Bus garage and to look at locating a DCPS facility in Friendship Heights.
Furthermore, ANC 3E is anticipating that funds for a DCOP initiated small area planning process for Friendship Heights will be included in the FY2022 budget, but we believe getting a Main Street up and operational in Friendship Heights as soon as possible can help to bridge the gap between the present and the future and, we hope, support and enable the survival of the existing businesses in the neighborhood.
For all of these reasons we believe the time is ripe for a Main Street Organization to be created for the Friendship Heights commercial area and respectfully request that funds be included in the FY 2022 budget so this organization can be up and running to engage both the business and residential community before the small area planning process begins. This will help maximize participation and, hopefully, lead to an optimal planning outcome so our commercial area can once again thrive.
Thank you for considering this request.
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, 3E04
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, 3E03
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, 3E01
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, 3E02
Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, 3E05