Mayor Bowser Launches Downtown Action Plan
By May 25, 2023 0 1117•
Mayor Muriel Bowser joined District officials and local partners to launch the Downtown Action Plan on May 24.
“Our downtown is beautiful and walkable. It has dozens of monuments and museums. It has restaurants and hotels. It also has offices, a lot of them; in fact, almost 90 percent of the space downtown is office space. So, we know what we need more of: more housing, more people, and more events and spaces that bring people downtown,” Bowser said.
“The Comeback Plan that we released in January provides a broad roadmap for getting there, but the Downtown Action Plan, which we’re launching today, is going to deliver concrete actions for bringing forth a truly reimagined downtown. We want everyone to join us in being part of D.C.’s comeback.”
“We have unleashed our creativity,” she continued. “Of course, we want to get our federal workers back, but we acknowledge that there aren’t going to be as many as were here before, and we still have to reimagine our downtown. And so I sometimes take the view that we’re going to do it with or without you — rather do it with you, but I’ve got to do it regardless.”
The event took place at a parklet on 1747 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, which was funded by the Office of Planning’s Streets for People grant program. The Streets for People grant program supports activations of sidewalks, alleys and curbside spaces in new ways.
In January, Bowser unveiled D.C.’s Comeback Plan, which sets six goals to achieve over the next five years, including adding 15,000 residents downtown and creating 35,000 new jobs in high-demand sectors. The plan outlines a three-pronged approach to the transformation and revitalization of downtown: fill the space, change the space, and bring the people. The Comeback Plan calls for the creation of a Downtown Action Plan.
As part of the launch of the Downtown Action Plan, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) will award a $200,000 grant to the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID), which, in conjunction with the Golden Triangle BID and Federal City Council, will develop a comprehensive, cross sector action plan for downtown recovery. The Action Plan will build on the goals and framework identified in DC’s Comeback Plan.
The first monthly meeting will be held on June 15, hosted by a Leadership Group Steering Committee. The committee will host a Vision Summit on July 13 that will include 100 national and local thought leaders who will work together to envision the future of downtown. There will also be opportunities for the public to engage in the Downtown Action Plan, including webinars and focus groups throughout the summer. Information about upcoming engagement opportunities, including webinars and focus groups, will be available at reimaginedowntowndc.com.
“We are excited to work together with our local community and national visionaries to determine what downtown D.C. looks like in the years ahead and chart a path to make this future a reality,” said Gerren Price, president and CEO of the DowntownDC BID.
“The world has changed, and central business districts are evolving,” said Leona Agouridis, president and CEO of the Golden Triangle BID. “There is a lot of good here that we are going to build on to reimagine a thriving and livable downtown that comes back even stronger.”
Throughout the month of May, the Golden Triangle BID has been hosting a free lunchtime music series featuring DC performers at different parklets throughout the BID. Last year, the Streets for People program helped bring approximately 110,000 people downtown to 104 activities.
During the event, the Mayor announced that more than $600,000 in Streets for the People grant funds will be awarded to six BIDs to support events like outdoor movie nights, fitness classes, concerts, and art activations.
The mayor highlighted the District Council’s support for two programs that will support the transformation of D.C.: the Housing in Downtown tax abatement program and the Festival Fund. In 2022, DMPED launched the Special Event Fee Relief Fund, now known as the Festivals Fund, with a $3 million investment that allows organizers of festivals and outdoor special events to apply to receive financial assistance that covers up to 100 percent of services incurred by the event. Current grants will support upcoming D.C. events, such as the National Barbecue Festival, the DC Wave Festival, and the World Culture Festival.
The mayor, who recently returned from the International Council of Shopping Centers, also called on the District Council to restore funding in the Fiscal Year 2024 Budget for the Food Access Fund, a critical tool for expanding restaurants and other food access points in Wards 7 and 8. The Food Access Fund increases equitable access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food by securing grocery stores and restaurants; supporting existing small businesses; attracting new businesses; increasing the District’s tax base; creating new job opportunities for District residents; and transforming designated emerging commercial corridors into thriving and inviting neighborhood centers, with priority given to locations in Ward 7 or Ward 8.
To learn more about resources and funding to support D.C. small businesses, visit obviouslydc.com.