Monday, January 30, 2012

Connecticut Ave. Gets Even Better Looking Around Its Middle.

Connecticut Avenue, the heart of Washington D.C.'s business and retail district, is about to get even better looking around its middle. According to the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District, the initial 300-foot stretch of the median which runs from K Street to L Street, may soon gain another 600 feet, or three more blocks, running from L Street to Jefferson Place, beginning this spring.

The lower stretch of Connecticut Avenue is already home to some of Washington's swankiest hotels and businesses, including Marriott's Renaissance Mayflower, Brooks Brothers, Tiny Jewel Box, Burberry and Thomas Pink.

But the BID and the City are seeking the median improvements as way to position Connecticut Avenue as a grand retail destination on par with Fifth Avenue in New York and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, said Leona Agouridis, executive director of the Golden Triangle BID.

"The street-scape creates part of the environment and enhances what's already here. We just need to tell the story to potential retailers," said Agouridis, who said some retailers along her section of Connecticut Avenue are averaging more than $1,000 per square foot in sales ($600 per square foot is considered respectable) and wants to use the median and other sidewalk improvements in the pipeline as a way to attract further best-in-brand names to the avenue. "We may not be on their radar screen right now, but hopefully they'll sit up and take notice," she said.

The attention District thoroughfares are getting around their middle is fairly recent. After the streetcars ran their last revenue runs in 1962, the middle stretch of most major arteries were paved over, either creating a impromptu center-turn lane (pictured, right) or a raised strip with grass that went untended. The flat asphalt medians sometimes became a place to park cars on the weekends, but did nothing to contribute to green space or lessen storm water runoff.

That began to change after the Golden Triangle BID back in 2008 got a grant from the District Department of Transportation to help plan and build an initial median along Connecticut Avenue starting from K Street. RMA Inc. was chosen as the architect. That stretch, which began construction in November 2010, was just completed last September at a cost of $397,000. The Golden Triangle BID will pay for the operating costs of maintaining the landscaping, as well as the lighting of the 12-foot wide median. Agourdis said the design for the second phase of the median is complete and the contract for construction should go out to bid shortly. Completion is expected in 2014, according to the BID.

Following in the footsteps of Connecticut Avenue, several other median strips around the city are getting a boost. The Downtown DC BID recently partnered with The National Museum of Women in the Arts to bring colorful sculptures to the 1200 block of New York Avenue.

Dupont Main Streets last year also received $85,000 from DDOT to make over a separate 600-foot long stretch of Connecticut Avenue's median between R and S.

The South Capitol Street project, (pictured, left) will also include landscaped medians in its plan for a grand avenue makeover.

Washington D.C. real estate redevelopment news.


Anonymous said...

Honestly, this is terrible news for traffic which should be the primary concern in that area. By creating a "hard" median you eliminate the ability of numerous cars to make illegal Us and lefts and rights as needed depending on what horrors await you ahead.

Also, those hard medians make it much harder to see jay walking pedestrians and time your "roll" appropriately.

And if you happen to see a parking spot on the far side of the street... no dice.

Bad development to extend... I know it's just 600 feet, but that could be a brutal 600 feet for traffic.

I'll take function over aesthetics every day of the week.

Anonymous said...

also.. don't forget bikers losing the center median too.

Anonymous said...

"...a grand retail destination on par with Fifth Avenue in New York and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills"--are you kidding me? And rents that are getting $1,000/sf? Is that why Dress Barn is going out of business? And Talbots left?

The shopping scene in DC is dismal and embarrassing. The amount of high end shops is laughable. Even in Georgetown, much less in Dupont. And looking for some place unique? There are a few on 14th St.

The majority of shops in DC can easily be found in any suburban mall. And probably in a nicer space with a bigger selection.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3 again, I meant $1000 in sales per sq ft is crazy. Unless it was the Apple Store. In which case that would be really low I'd imagine.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, what will our Third World taxicab fleet do if the median prevents drivers from making sudden U-turns from the right curb lane all the way to the opposite curb lane?? Guess they'll be on the horn to complain to their political buddy, Mayor One-City.

Anonymous said...

Haters gonna hate. Go trees!

Anonymous said...

@Anon 5:31 - this is really all about function, not aethestics. Keeeping cars from making illegal U turns, bikes out of the center and onto the right side where they are easily seen, and keeping pedestrians from jaywalking instead of using the crosswalks is safer for everybody.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous #1 must be one of those third-world taxi drivers that cut people off (it happened twice to me in the past week); pull illegal u-turns; block lanes to pick up or drop off passengers; and, drive jalopies that smell like third-world slums.

The median is beautiful AND functional, and befitting of improvements to the public realm to spur private investment. Kudos to DDOT and the GT BID, which will bring its stellar level-of-service to keeping the median well-maintained.

Tom in Michigan Park

Anonymous said...

more more more
screw the traffic and illegal u-turners.

Anonymous said...

Awesome news! Its about time they spruced up Connecticut Ave like this. I moved here from Chicago where North Michigan Ave has beautiful raised planted medians for its entire lenghth. And for the record, Michigan Ave evolved into the Mag Mile when they created a special business district which slowly started making these kinds of changes.

This is a good start. It won't happen over night, but if they keep it up this could become a swanky strech of shops over the next 10 years.

Anonymous said...

The tree medians will block the view of the monument at Farragut Sq. The city should preserve its view corridors down its main avenues.

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