A group of upper Northwest residents last week agreed on a series of goals that will guide final plans for transforming the dowdy neighborhood shopping area along Georgia Avenue into an attractive commercial district featuring gourmet shops and boutiques and no sexually oriented bars.
The agreement on the goals came at a meeting of about 60 neighborhood residents last Wednesday night. It was the latest step in the proposed revitalization project, which was launched last year as part of a larger community protest against four neighborhood bars featuring nude dancers.
While a citizens committee continues to plan for the renovation with city assistance, Russ Simmons of the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, who attended the meeting, said the District currently has no money to finance the face-lift for the commercial area between Walter Reed Hospital and the District line.
"Every single questionnaire in a community survey I got back mentioned go-go places as a business the people did not want in this community," said Thomas Jennings, a nine-year resident of the neighborhood and member of the Shepherd Park steering committee that recommended the guidelines.
Last year residents began protesting against such businesses, alleging that they attracted transients, prostitutes, crime, drugs and derelicts to their otherwise tranquil family neighborhoods. Some residents said they also were concerned because neighborhood children frequented several fast-food restaurants located near the go-go bars.
Absent from last week's meeting were the businessmen who own the bars. Some of them attended a public meeting on the issue last September that attracted 300 angry residents.
Other goals for the renovation project include improving "the appearance of existing structures through a program of rehabilitation," reducing traffic congestion at the intersections of Georgia and Eastern avenues and Georgia and Alaska avenues, and developing adequate parking within the commercial area.
"The entire corridor suffers from inadequate amounts of street parking," said John Hall, president of Mark Battle Associates, a consulting firm hired by the city to help the community. Hall said that most businesses must be updated or replaced. Some public improvements also are needed, he said, including curbing, sidewalks, trees and lighting.
Real estate broker Norris Dodson of John R. Pinkett, Inc., at 7713 Georgia Ave., said, "Some of us have not realized our dreams, perhaps, because of the limited parking."
Earlier this month citizens groups successfully challenged the renewal of a liquor license to Sparky's Georgia Tavern, 7331 Georgia Ave. NW, one of four neighborhood establishments offering sexually oriented entertainment.
The city's Alcoholic Beverage Control Board denied the license renewal June 10 but Sparky's remains open without the right to sell liquor.
During the 1970 recession, restaurant owners along Georgia Avenue, looking for a way to beef up profits, began offering nude dancing at night.
The steering committee, created after the September meeting, will work with private consultants and city agencies to draw up a draft plan of sites recommended for redevelopment. The plan is scheduled to be reviewed by the community in September.
The intersection of Georgia and Eastern avenues is also a priority for redevelopment because it is the entrance to the city from Maryland. On one corner sits a Gulf service station, on the other an Exxon station. The Shepherd Park Restaurant, which has nude dancing, is next door to the Exxon.
"There is no sense of when a person is coming into the city," said Clifton Henry, an urban planner who worked on a private study of the area. While the study, which was initiated by Jarvis, showed that 60 percent of all commercial space on upper Georgia Avenue is "obsolete, not reflective of retailing in 1982," it also predicted a well-financed redevelopment program could lure shoppers back to the street.