Capitol Riverfront BID Approved for 5-Year Renewal
Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have been in operation in the District since 1997 and eight BIDs are currently fully functional with a ninth BID approved for operations in the historic Anacostia commercial district. The Capitol Riverfront BID was approved by the Executive Office of the Mayor and the DC Council in the summer of 2007, so we have just celebrated our fiveyear anniversary and the approval of our application to be renewed for another five years of operations.
It is hard to believe that we are embarking on another five years of management activities and strategic planning initiatives here in the Capitol Riverfront. I want to thank our BID Board of Directors for their vision and confidence in the idea of establishing a BID for the neighborhood. I also want to thank my dedicated team who have helped grow the organization and its operations with me – they are talented professionals who are committed to our vision of a high density, mixed-use, transit oriented community on the Anacostia River…a new city within the city.
But I really want to take a moment and publically thank our Clean & Safe Team members who began operations in the neighborhood in late September of 2007. For five years these “Men in Blue” have been out in the public realm six days a week keeping our streets, sidewalks and parks clean, free of trash and debris, and safe. Our BID Clean & Safe Team Operations Manager, Leon Johnson, has done an outstanding job of building a team that has very much improved the cleanliness, look and feel, and safety of our public realm. Most residents and businesses of Capitol Hill are familiar with these teams and what they can accomplish through the example set by my colleagues at the Capitol Hill BID. However, I would like to reiterate the tasks our team members undertake in their day-to-day activities:
- Trash and debris pick-up in the public realm, including emptying and re-bagging of trash cans throughout the BID
- Cutting of grass in the parkways and edges of vacant lots from April through October
- Planting of flowering bulbs in tree boxes and planter beds
- Raking/bagging leaves and snow removal from sidewalks and intersection crosswalks
- Greeting people and answering questions at both Metro entrances
- Assisting residents, visitors and employees with a variety of tasks –recovering lost items, giving directions, changing tires, answering questions about the neighborhood, and more
- Power washing sidewalks for stain and gum removal and removing hand bills and graffiti
- Cleaning up illegal dumping in some of the more remote areas of our BID
- Cataloguing and submitting problems in the public realm to the Mayor’s Hot Line or the DDOT service request line
Our Clean & Safe Teams have made enormous progress in establishing a baseline of Clean & Safe in the Capitol Riverfront and this success has been confirmed through our BID’s annual public perceptions survey. Our first survey in 2007 asked a variety of questions regarding the quality of the public realm and the results were a realistic assessment of those conditions.
- Do you consider the Capitol Riverfront clean or very clean – 6% replied yes.
- Do you consider the Capitol Riverfront safe or very safe – 6.1% replied yes.
What a difference five years of Clean & Safe operations have made in the reality and perceptions of the neighborhood! Our 2011 survey indicated that 91.2% of all respondents felt that the neighborhood was clean or very clean, and 76% of all respondents felt that the neighborhood was safe or very safe. While we still have work to do, these most recent survey results confirm the hard work that our Clean & Safe Teams do throughout the BID.
Our team also has a partnership with the District’s Department of Employment Services whereby we utilize participants in their “First Offender Program”. We work with these gentlemen for 6-week periods to provide job training and they leverage our resources in the busiest months. Over the 5 years we have hired 13 of these men and three have won the employee of the year award given at our Annual Meeting and General Membership Luncheon.
We have also expanded the role of our Clean & Safe Team when we agreed to provide maintenance services and operational oversight of Yards Park. For the past two years, two Clean Team Members have been assigned to Yards Park to provide the same “public realm” services and ensure that it remains a high quality and enjoyable public park and community gathering space.
So what is on the agenda for the next five years of our operations?
Clean & Safe Programs – we will expand our coverage to include Sundays, with longer hours on weekdays and Saturday. We will also increase coverage in certain activity centers as they are fully developed and functioning.
- Transportation & Access –we will continue to advocate for the street car line being implemented on M Street, SE/SW with access points north to Union Station and downtown, while advocating for funding and construction of the South Capitol Street bridge, memorial ellipse, and the urban boulevard.
- Public Realm –we have hired a firm to prepare an Urban Design Framework Plan for our neighborhood that will make recommendations on connections, a hierarchy of streets, gateways and underpass treatments, connections to the river, opportunity sites, community amenities, and streetscape and landscape systems. We will also work with the Canal Park Development Association for a successful opening of Canal Park and its ongoing operations, maintenance and programming.
- Economic Development –we will continue to market and promote the Capitol Riverfront as an investment opportunity and the smart location for office tenants, retail stores and restaurants, and residents.
- Marketing & PR– we will continue to position and brand the Capitol Riverfront and its opportunities in the regional market so that the region will understand where we are, what we are, and what our vision will be at build-out.
- CommunityBuilding– we will continue to promote our riverfront and world class parks as places for special events and community building for individuals and families from across the region, as well as an opportunity for recreation on the river.
- Infrastructure – we will continue to monitor future and ongoing infrastructure projects such as the CSX VA Avenue Tunnel Project and the DC Water Long Term Control Plan for their impacts upon our neighborhood and the adjacent neighborhoods of Capitol Hill and the SW Waterfront.
We at the Capitol Riverfront BID hope you have enjoyed seeing our neighborhood evolve and grow over the past five years. The next 5-years will be pivotal for our neighborhood with the opening of Canal Park in November of 2012, 10 new restaurants opening over the next 12-14 months, the opening of the new Harris Teeter grocery store and a 30,000 SF health club in the 1st quarter of 2014, and the construction of an additional 1,000+ units of housing.
Once again, many thanks to my board of directors, our Clean & Safe Team members, my talented BID staff, and all of our property owners and stakeholders for supporting our journey over the past five years. And thanks to the District Government for approving our 5-Year Reauthorization and Business Plan, we look forward to collaborating with numerous agencies over the next 5 years as we implement the vision and grow the neighborhood.