Sponsored: The Future of Georgetown’s Streateries & Sidewalk Extensions
By January 25, 2024 4 667•
By Joe Sternlieb
Georgetown BID President & CEO
The BID entered 2024 with a full agenda of projects to sustain the leasing momentum we’ve benefited from over the last year while planning for much-needed improvements in transportation, access, and beautification.
We know the community loves Georgetown’s outdoor dining scene that’s added vibrancy, safety, and comfort to our streets and sidewalks. Since the sidewalk extensions were installed, we’ve seen traffic accidents, including where bikes and pedestrians are hit by cars, drop in half while the numbers in the rest of DC are rising. We’ve seen street crime stay low as it has risen in the rest of the city. And we’ve experienced stronger retail leasing than any neighborhood in DC. But this has come at a cost. The jersey barriers and temporary composite decking around the streateries are inconsistent with our beautiful historic neighborhood and they need to be replaced. This is a top priority for the BID’s Board of Directors and staff in 2024 and we are approaching the issue from several directions.
First, we are hiring an urban design, landscape architecture, and engineering firm to help solve all the regulatory requirements new sidewalks must meet, including DDOT’s standards for safety, ADA, civil engineering (water shedding and movement toward storm drains), structural engineering, traffic flow, bus operations, and curbside management. We also need to work with the Old Georgetown Board’s aesthetic requirements. The goal in 2024 is to design one or more sections that can be piloted to test new concept(s). The pilot designs will also need to be flexible enough to meet the future recommendations of DDOT’s access and circulation study. DDOT is working with the community and BID to finalize its report this spring or summer.
Next, to get broad consultation and buy-in for new designs we are assembling a community working group with representatives from the ANC and Citizens Association of Georgetown. We have also asked DDOT to partner as co-designers, rather than just regulators, to get everyone pulling in the same direction. If we can pull this off, we hope to have pilot designs submitted for permits by this summer.
Finally, we are committed to improving the management of the existing extensions to look and function better until we have the approvals and funding to replace them. The BID has taken over maintaining the planters so they are more robust and attractive. We are enforcing higher-quality furniture standards. We are working with tenants, trash haulers, and DPW to remove trash bins that are being improperly stored on the decks. We are working with an industrial designer to test new bike and scooter racks to bring order to the chaos created by devices left all over the place, while deploying our Clean Team to move misplaced scooters and bikes and working with DDOT and the micro-mobility operators to enforce proper management. This spring we will be installing high-quality benches at the bus stops. And we will continue to experiment with pushing restaurant seating against building fronts to create better pedestrian clear zones.
It’s hard to overstate the positive impact the sidewalk extensions have had on the Georgetown commercial district or the negative impacts we would experience if the extensions were removed without a replacement solution. The BID’s goal is to move as quickly as possible to design, permit, and install new sidewalk extensions and we appreciate the dedication and commitment of our community partners to help make this happen.