What goes around comes around: chain stores vs. traditional commercial districts in DC
In 2002, DC created the Main Streets program to support revitalization of traditional commercial districts such as H Street NE,, 14th and U Streets NW, and Barracks Row--8th Street SE. The program was a reasonable try but for a number of reasons, it hasn't worked very well (the biggest problem is that the power of the potential network of multiple commercial districts as a training and expertise and development platform was never adequately leveraged).
Barracks Row Main Street urged the DC City Council on Tuesday, November 30th to maintain the funding provided in the original FY2011 budget for both the Main Street Clean Teams and DC Main Street operating funds. This amount was $1.6 million for the DSLBD and Main Street operating and business retention funds and $600,000 for Main Street Clean Teams. These programs, which rejuvenate and restore run down and deteriorating commercial corridors are revenue generators for the District of Columbia, returning many more dollars to the DC Treasury as compared to the minimal investment in the Main Street Programs.
Tip Tipton, President of BRMS, and a member of the Board since its inception testified to the dynamic changes his program has accomplished. Buildings have been renovated enhancing their value and the tax revenues to the City. Businesses and restaurants have attracted more residents to the Capitol Hill area where home improvements are booming. This growth has contributed to the development of a stronger tax base for the City, both in real estate taxes and income taxes.
Tipton further noted, “Tourists are coming by the busload from places like the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center, spending their dollars in our neighborhoods. And, with increased traffic by Metro and car, Metro and parking revenues are increased by visitors to the area. The Marine Barracks on Eighth Street has taken notice of our improvements and increased activities at the Commandants House and at the Barracks itself, again bringing more outsiders to our City, all spending their shopping, entertainment and food dollars with us in the District of Columbia rather than somewhere else.”
In his testimony, Martin Smith, Executive Director of Barracks Row Main Street concluded: “Investing in Barracks Row Main Street is investing in a renewable income source with quantifiable returns.” Main Street leaders from across Washington presented to the DC City Council’s Committee of the Whole on Tuesday evidence that a reduction in funding of Main Street programs results in an actual increase in the deficit through reduced sales, property and wage taxes produced in these commercial corridors if this funding is reduced or eliminated.