More than 100 guests applauded the accomplishments of the Georgetown Business Improvement District at its 20th anniversary celebration, held on Tuesday, June 11, at Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place at Washington Harbour.
The longest standing ovation was given to the 13 members of the Clean Team. All agreed, it seemed, that the Georgetown BID, including its Clean Team, has made a positive and visible impact on Georgetown — and that the BID had grown more professional.
When the BID began in 1999, it used slogans like “clean, safe and accessible” or “clean, safe and friendly.” At the anniversary meeting, Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans recalled the exploding manhole covers of 20 years ago or so. (It should be noted that in 1999 Georgetown already had a cleanup crew, run by the Doe Fund, known as Ready, Willing & Able.)
Evans gave his classic stump speech, declaring that now is the golden age of Georgetown. He also noted that Metrorail will eventually put a station in Georgetown, because the agency will need to construct a second tunnel under the Potomac River.
At the meeting, the presentation — which included two videos about the BID and the town — listed its top three game changers: the C&O Canal, reconstructing and programming alleys and establishing Georgetown as an interactive public arts destination, of which the annual “Glow” festival in December is a key part, said Georgetown BID CEO Joe Sternlieb.
As for the financial report of the group, BID treasurer Greg Casten of Tony & Joe’s outlined fiscal 2018:
Total Revenues — $4,028,952
Total Expenses — $4,149,139
Program Expenses — $3,484,108
General BID Operations — $665,031
Change in Net Assets — $(120,187)
Net Assets, Beginning of Year — $2,774,797
Net Assets, End of Year — $2,654,610
Lauren Boston, the BID’s communications director, presented the BID’s “brand refresh,” with the tagline: “A story in every brick.” “The logo features an anchor star, a distinct architectural element that represents Georgetown’s history, beauty, and longstanding status as a destination in DC. The logo’s rectangular shape evokes the shape of bricks, street signs, and historical markers— suggesting a sense of place and time unique to Georgetown,” according to the BID. Its website will boast a new design this summer.
Also enjoyed in Georgetown, thanks to the Georgetown BID, is an increase in street furniture – mainly chairs and tables – along the waterfront and the C&O Canal towpath and in front of some stores.
Some ideas haven’t gotten off the ground, particularly the gondola. It has seen, however, as a magnet for publicity. Gateway signs for Georgetown are taking longer to process and approve, although some greenery will at last be added to the K Street ramp into Georgetown, adding some much needed softening to that concrete industrial-like entrance point.
Now with a new five-year plan about to be presented, the BID is quite optimistic about the future of D.C.’s oldest neighborhood. For Georgetown 2020-2028, the framework remains simple and direct: “Preserve What’s Great, Fix What’s Broken, Create What’s Missing.” Even the number of empty storefronts did not highly concern the professionals on the BID’s staff.
“The empty stores that seem so ubiquitous and numerous up and down Wisconsin Avenue in particular only comprise about seven percent of the total businesses in Georgetown,” Jamie Scott, the BID’s director of planning and economic development, told The Georgetowner after the meeting. “And most of those we now have viable active plans for the future.Many have settled or are negotiating contracts, have plans before the Old Georgetown Board for improvements, are actively restructuring for new businesses about to move in. Those are the things you don’t see, but we know about the empty storefronts.”
Moving into the future, the BID is asking Georgetown businesspeople and residents: if they had one improvement that could be made to Georgetown, what would it be? “One way streets,” said Tom Birch, a former advisory neighborhood commissioner (among other community organizations he has headed). “Especially residential streets going south and north of M Street, especially 29th Street.”
There are 12 employees on the BID team, headed by Sternlieb. The Clean Team numbers 13, with Surin Edouard Jr. at the lead.
On Wednesday, June 19, the Georgetown BID will face a recertification renewal hearing before the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development. “In the District of Columbia, business improvement districts must be recertified every five years after submitting a new five year work plan to the Mayor,” according to the BID. The hearing for the Georgetown BID and two others will be held at 12:30 p.m. on June 19 at the DSLBD Business Center at 441 4th St. NW, 8th Floor.
Look for more about the Georgetown BID in the June 19 Georgetowner.