Washington, DC

18th Street, NW looking towards Columbia Road

From a press release:

“Earlier this month, community leaders announced the creation of the Adams Morgan Commercial Development Coalition (AMCDC), an organization focused on the reimagination and the livability of the Adams Morgan commercial core as we come out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The AMCDC – consisting of neighborhood residents, commercial and mixed-use property owners and Adams Morgan business owners and employees – urges District of Columbia leaders to take bold action by empowering the Adams Morgan community to reinvent 18th Street. The AMCDC envisions a roadway used for additional outdoor spaces for pedestrian activity, neighborhood retailers and food and beverage establishments.

The AMCDC is focused on ensuring that Adams Morgan emerges stronger from this public health emergency, which has caused economic crisis in the food and beverage, hospitality and retail industries – sectors that are both crucial to the Adams Morgan micro- economy and make Adams Morgan such a unique place to live.

“Life in Adams Morgan has been flipped upside down. Our Coalition’s leadership will help our neighborhood rebound from this pandemic and we must make sure the Mayor and Council hear our voices,” stated Japer Bowles, Adams Morgan ANC1C Commissioner and AMCDC co-founder.

The AMCDC aims to improve business for 18th Street food and beverage operators and retailers by expanding the area in which they can conduct business while abiding by physical distancing guidelines. The immediate benefit of this action will be to create additional outdoor opportunities for businesses to generate revenue in a safer environment.

Furthermore, the AMCDC recognizes that this initiative – creating a pedestrian-oriented retail thoroughfare along an historic stretch of one of the District’s prettiest neighborhoods – will help differentiate Adams Morgan and benefit Columbia Road retailers and food and beverage operators as they experience a positive spillover effect from the enhanced safe pedestrian activity in the neighborhood.

The first activities of the Adams Morgan Commercial Development Coalition are the following:

1. Creating a 501(c)(3) organization that serves as a not-for-profit vehicle to assist in coalescing the community behind forward-thinking planning, livability and progressive economic development.

2. Engaging Perkins Eastman, a leading architecture firm whose practice was founded nearly forty years ago on the idea that design can have a direct and positive impact on people’s lives, as a planning consultant to work with the Coalition and other Adams Morgan community members on the Coalition’s first priority – the partial closure of a portion of the 18th Street roadway to allow for additional pedestrian, bike, food and beverage service and retail “sidewalk” sales.

“I am beyond thrilled about the positive feedback our Coalition has received throughout the Adams Morgan community. Now is the right time for a fresh approach and big thinking for neighborhood-wide economic development and livability, and we are pleased that ideas that were once thought of as too difficult to accomplish are quickly and decisively being reexamined and acted upon,” said Matt Wexler, Foxhall Partners Managing Partner and AMCDC co-founder. “The overriding objective of the AMCDC is to lift the entirety of the Adams Morgan neighborhood – residents, businesses and property owners alike – and the diverse nature of its founders and supporters will allow us to accomplish these goals. Our Coalition aims to harness some of the energy from the challenges that all of us are facing and work on a few big solutions to help all neighborhood stakeholders. The commitment of the Adams Morgan Commercial Development Coalition will not end with the re-opening of the neighborhood and eventual elimination of the coronavirus – we are dedicated to sustaining a community we love.”

Adds AMCDC co-founder and co-owner of Songbyrd Music House Joseph Lapan: “Adams Morgan has been my destination as a patron, resident and, now, business owner for 25 years. These recent months have been challenging in unimaginable ways. However, I am energized by the conversations our community has been having about how we might come out of this time strong and resilient and ready to safely bring vitality, employment, community and music back to our neighborhood. Personally, I stand with anyone who is activating around these goals and being part of a coalition that is attempting to do that is a no-brainer for me.”

The Coalition wants to acknowledge the leadership of Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and her staff, including David Meni, who have advocated for street closure provisions in recent Council legislation and are working tirelessly with Adams Morgan community members on advancing this pressing first AMCDC initiative.

Coalition founders include:

Lee Farmer, Adams Morgan resident and urban transportation expert
Bonnie Roberts-Burke, Adams Morgan resident and past president of the President of the DC Association of Realtors
Nick Roland, President of the Reed-Cooke Neighborhood Association
Steve Rozga, Adams Morgan resident and past president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Metropolitan Washington
Ben Sislen, Adams Morgan resident and co-owner of Abeille, a retail leasing consultancy Jim Steck, Adams Morgan resident and Member of Board of Directors of District Bridges Japer Bowles, ANC 1C Commissioner
Erik Bruner-Yang, owner of Brothers & Sisters and Spoken English
Cathy Chung, owner of Meeps Vintage
Bill Duggan, owner of Madam’s Organ and Adams Morgan commercial property owner Alisha Edmonson, co-owner of Songbyrd and urban planning professional
Joseph Lapan, co-owner of Songbyrd, Member of Board of Directors of the Adams Morgan Community Alliance, and real estate and economic development professional Vinnie Rotondaro and Rory Adair, owners of Grand Duchess
Stuart Biel, Adams Morgan commercial property owner and retail leasing expert Stephan Rodiger, Adams Morgan commercial property owner and Member of Board of Directors of the Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District
Jeffrey Schonberger, Adams Morgan commercial property owner and Member of Board of Directors of the Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District
Brian Friedman and Matt Wexler

Coalition community supporters include:

Michaela Wright (ANC 1C Commissioner), Christopher Jackson (ANC 1C Commissioner), Fiona Clem (Vice President, Reed-Cooke Neighborhood Association), Matt Bebawy (owner of FunkyPiece), Edward Williams (owner of GrowClub DC), Kim Sperling (commercial property owner), Reggie Elliott, Joaquin Hinojosa, Zack Gold and Patrick McAnaney.

More about the AMCDC:
Matthew Bell, Perkins Eastman’s Principal and a practicing architect, will assist the AMCDC in a community charrette process to plan for the 18th Street public space closure, incorporating design and urban planning principles. Matthew serves as a Professor at the University of Maryland’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, where he leads the urban design curriculum. Barbara Mullenex, Perkins Eastman’s Washington, D.C. Managing Principal, is also supporting the AMCDC’s efforts. Barbara serves as a member of the Board of Directors of several leading local organizations including the Federal City Council and The Economic Club of Washington, D.C. Perkins Eastman has master planned neighborhoods such as Battery Park City in New York and the District Wharf in Washington, D.C., both of which incorporate unique multi- purpose uses of public space.

Perkins Eastman will be assisting in developing a plan for the 18th Street roadway that contemplates social distancing requirements, table seating, nearby pick-up and drop-off zones, signage and safety measures.
Foxhall Partners has seeded the Coalition with initial capital, as have several Adams Morgan business and property owners, who are also AMCDC founders. Brian Friedman has also generously agreed to personally match new funds raised by Coalition supporters.

For more information, visit: www.imagineadmo.org


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