A coffee shop & bakery.  A pub or restaurant. A bookstore. Fine dining. A brewery. 

Those were the top ideas suggested by neighborhood residents in the recent Community Survey that was conducted in January. On Thursday afternoon, several members of the Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street board and their community partners met at the Shepherd Park Library to take a “deep dive” into the survey data and begin the process of creating a vision for the neighborhood commercial corridor.

How We Feel about Georgia Avenue

Dionne Baux, Director of Urban Programs at the National Main Street Center, was the facilitator for the session. Earlier in the day, Ms. Baux, Paul Ruppert, who is the new Executive Director of the Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street (UGAMS), and others toured the corridor and met with business owners, community members, and stakeholders.  The goal was to gather information and create a strategy that highlights market opportunities for existing businesses and identifies gaps that new businesses might be recruited to fill. 

Asked about the process after the meeting, Councilmember Brandon Todd said, “I am proud to have secured funding for the Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street, a critical partner in our effort to revitalize the Georgia Avenue retail corridor from Missouri Avenue to Eastern Avenue. I look forward to working with Paul Ruppert and the community to support our existing businesses, and attract new retail.”

212 residents completed the survey, which was a strong response.  UGAMS had the second most responses out of the six Main Streets currently being established in the city.Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street | popular storesIn addition to their top desires, the survey offered respondents a chance to highlight their challenges for the corridor.  Unsurprisingly, “Store Variety”, “Buildings in Need of Repair”, and “Crime” were the top reported issues. Though most residents recognized the tremendous potential of the area, other words used to describe the business corridor included, “rundown”, “old” and “traffic”.

The most popular current establishments on the avenue are Safeway, Target, Ledo Pizza, Walmart and CVS, among others.

Distinct Areas Within the Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street

The Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street is a two-mile-long, mainly low-density commercial corridor. As a result of the tour and preliminary research, Ms. Baux recommends that we segment the corridor into three distinct “nodes”, which are identified as follows:

Eastern Avenue to Fern Street NW

Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street Eastern

The stretch of Georgia Avenue between Eastern Avenue NW and Fern Street is anchored by the new Target and hosts a wide variety of businesses, from quick-service restaurants like Ledo’s Pizza and Moh…moh…licious to Health and Beauty stores like Kuku’s Beauty Supply.

Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street | Walter Reed

Walter Reed Historic District

The portion of the Main Street adjacent to the Walter Reed Development will have its own unique opportunities and challenges.  Coordinating with TheParksDC master developer to ensure that amenities offered on the campus will complement businesses within the wider community will be key.

Aspen Street to Missouri Avenue NW

The area of Georgia avenue from Aspen Street NW south to the intersection at Missouri is home to many ethnic restaurants like Richie’s Café and is anchored by the Walmart.

Upper Georgia Avenue Main Street | Aspen Street

Who We Are

A critical step in this exercise is identifying exactly who we are as consumers.  One of UGAMS’s goals is to create and enhance retail and service spaces that meet the needs of people who already live here.  Doing so will increase the likelihood that people who can walk to the corridor will use it on a regular basis.

Ms. Baux shared an initial market segmentation study for the corridor within a half-mile radius of the center of the Main Street (the center point is roughly located at the Motel 6 near Aspen Street). Information was gathered from the cutting-edge Tapestry Segmentation study published by Geographic Information System firm ESRI.  Here are the five market segments that were most prevalent.

City Strivers

These high-density city neighborhoods are characterized by a relatively young foreign-born population who have embraced the American lifestyle yet retained their cultural integrity. To support their lifestyle, City Strivers residents commute long distances to find work in the service, healthcare, or retail industry. Their hard-earned wages and salary income goes toward relatively high rents in older multi unit buildings, but they’ve chosen these neighborhoods to maintain ties to their culture. Single parents are often the recipients of Supplemental Security Income and public assistance, but their close-knit community provides the invaluable support needed while they work. City Strivers consumers are bold in their purchasing decisions; they seek out deals on branded clothing, sometimes indulge in restaurants and personal services, and splurge on their cable TV package.

City Lights

City Lights, a densely populated urban market, is the epitome of equality. The wide-ranging demographic characteristics of residents mirror their passion for social welfare and equal opportunity. Household types range from single person to married-couple families, with and without children. A blend of owners and renters, single-family homes and town homes, midrise and high-rise apartments, these neighborhoods are both racially and ethnically diverse. Many residents have completed some college or a degree, and they earn a good income in professional and service occupations. Willing to commute to their jobs, they work hard and budget well to support their urban lifestyles, laying the foundation for stable financial futures.

Laptops and Lattes

Laptops and Lattes residents are predominantly single, well-educated professionals in business, finance, legal, computer, and entertainment occupations. They are affluent and partial to city living—and its amenities. Neighborhoods are densely populated, primarily located in the cities of large metropolitan areas. Many residents walk, bike, or use public transportation to get to work, a number work from home. Although single householders technically outnumber couples, this market includes a higher proportion of partner households, including the highest proportion of same-sex couples. Residents are more interested in the stock market than the housing market. Laptops and Lattes residents are cosmopolitan and connected— technologically savvy consumers. They are active and health conscious, and care about the environment. 

Golden Years

Independent, active seniors nearing the end of their careers or already in retirement best describes Golden Years residents. This market is primarily singles living alone or empty nesters. Those still active in the labor force are employed in professional occupations; however, these consumers are actively pursuing a variety of leisure interests—travel, sports, dining out, museums, and concerts. They are involved, focused on physical fitness, and enjoying their lives. This market is smaller, but growing, and financially secure.

Urban Chic

Urban Chic residents are professionals that live a sophisticated, exclusive lifestyle. Half of all households are occupied by married-couple families and about 30% are singles. These are busy, well-connected, and well-educated consumers—avid readers and moviegoers, environmentally active, and financially stable. This market is a bit older, with a median age of 43 years, and growing slowly, but steadily.

Do you see yourself or your neighbors in these profiles? If not, let us know in the comments below or directly via email. We want to hear your voice.

Bottom Line

The next steps in this process will be to develop a strategy to enhance the economic vitality, promotion, design and organization of our existing businesses, with short-, medium-, and long-term goals in mind.  A separate vendor will also conduct a survey of the businesses themselves to collect their input.

Mr. Ruppert, in coordination with the DC Main Streets Program of the Department of Small and Local Business Development, will be out in the community, meeting people and learning more about the opportunity. 

We need your ideas!  If you have thoughts about how to improve our neighborhoods’ commercial corridor, please share them with Mr. Rupert at paulr@nonprofitadvancement.org.