Adams Morgan Pedestrian Mall

Night Train attended a December hearing on whether to grant a $46m tax abatement to Beztak Properties, Brian Friedman of Friedman Capital, Ian Schrager and Marriott for the development of a proposed 10-story hotel in the distinctive 4-story neighborhood of Adams Morgan. At that hearing, the two main reasons given in defense of this gift were that the hotel would bring more day-time foot traffic to Adams Morgan while increasing the area’s economic vitality and tax base.

(A special note: the proponents of the hotel were not talking about just any foot traffic; they wanted us to know that the quality of the clientele they would bring to the area would be higher than those of us who currently patronize businesses along 18th St.)

There was also some discussion of creating local jobs, though neighborhood commissioners raised concerns about how those promises would be enforced. Either way, the discussion of the project’s impact on the wellbeing of the Adams Morgan community was limited to economic arguments.

We have an alternative proposal to increase daytime foot traffic and economic vitality in Adams Morgan:


Make 18th St. from Florida to Columbia a Pedestrian Mall

We have seen how dramatically such efforts have reinvigorated communities and businesses in places as diverse as downtown Charlottesville, VA; Boulder, CO; every major city in Europe; and one of the liveliest neighborhoods in Shanghai, Xin Tian Di.  Times Square in NYC is even creating a car-free zone.

The benefits of these projects have not been just economic, of course; in addition to increasing foot traffic and economic vitality, they have also strengthened the social fabric and very character of their surrounding neighborhoods in many intangible ways.

This particular proposal has been seen before, on the Adams Morgan community listserv in 2009, albeit with some concerns about how to divert bus traffic and emergency vehicles (though, we’re sure that parking, buses, and a range of other concerns could be worked out easily with the eager willingness City Council Member Jim Graham and his colleagues have shown in working with developers to bend zoning laws and height restrictions to make this hotel development possible).

Mr. Graham, in order that we may grant you the premise that you are fighting hard to win tens of millions of dollars in tax abatements for the developers of this hotel because you are deeply interested in hearing the best ideas our collective creativity can garner to benefit the wellbeing of the Adams Morgan community, would it be possible to see a comparison made of the impact on day-time foot traffic and economic vitality of Adams Morgan of the proposed hotel versus an 18th Street pedestrian mall?

If you have the means to do so, we dare you to extend your comparison to include either project’s impact on the wellbeing of Adams Morgan.



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