The Washington Post

Commentary: Adams Morgan isn’t

I was shocked to read in Capital Business an article calling one of the city’s most famous, lively and diverse communities “declining.” (“A deeper look: How the region’s walkable areas are faring,” Nov. 12.)

There are many adjectives one could use to describe Adams Morgan — which recently completed a $6.5 million infrastructure replacement program that made the utility lines, roads, sidewalks and traffic flow plans among the most modern in the city — but “declining” isn’t one of them.

In a very slanted piece (either without competing voices or any larger contextual framework), Christopher B. Leinberger is given free rein to state that Adams Morgan “emerged early as a go-to entertainment place and has made little progress since.”

While it is true that Adams Morgan began as a premier location for dining, shopping and entertainment, the assertion that there has been little progress in the neighborhood is simply not true — it ignores a vibrant reality captured by The Washington Post, among others. Leinberger claims that Adams Morgan has “relatively declining retail and office rents, no market support for an expanded strategy, and neighbors who are suffering from drinks and noise.”

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

Retail rents are not declining. Current lease rates are between $50 and $75 per square foot triple net. In the past year, there are more than 20 new businesses that opened for the first time. Mintwood Place, for example, was rated one of the best places to eat in The Washington Post’s fall dining guide by food critic Tom Sietsema.

Adams Morgan continues to improve, diversify and grow, in ways beneficial for the entire community, not just its businesses. Consider the following:

After six years of planning and neighborhood meetings, in February 2011 the District Department of Transportation embarked on the $6.5 million 18th Street Streetscape project — the largest public investment ever made in Adams Morgan. This critical infrastructure project was designed to revitalize and renovate Adams Morgan. The scope of work included, among other things, wider sidewalks, safer pedestrian crossings and bright new Washington Globe street lights to create a streetscape that is as appealing to those shopping during the day as for those mingling at night.

Recently, the Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1C agreed to support a 152,000-square-foot, $100 million-plus boutique hotel project at Champlain and Euclid streets NW. The 220-room hotel cements Adams Morgan’s status as a Washington neighborhood with extremely strong development potential.

Not to mention the numerous new condo buildings being built in Adams Morgan — Euclid and 17th Street — are on early sale and the WY 18 Condos at Wyoming and 18th Street NW have only four units left, not to mention the construction of the nine-unit Eden building at 2350 Champlain St. NW with spring 2013 delivery planned.

Kristen Barden is executive director of the Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District.

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