by Mary Beth Ray
President, Van Ness Main Streets, Inc.
Get ready for a new vibe at Van Ness!
The Van Ness Vision Committee has become Van Ness Main Streets, Inc., and the first meeting of its board of directors took place Thursday, June 18th. The charter board includes a broad range of stakeholders in Van Ness, with representatives from UDC, WAMU/AU, B.F. Saul, Bread Furst and Acacia Bistro, which hosted the launch, as well as residents who live in the area’s homes and high-rises. Our legal counsel (pro bono) is Adam Tope of Akin Gump LLP, who also chairs ANC 3F.
Board members (see the full list below) bring a wealth of experience and backgrounds in fields as diverse as law and hospitality, design and development, community organizing and communications, real estate and academia.
The Van Ness Vision Committee originated two and a-half years ago under the auspices of ANC 3F with the goal of making Van Ness more beautiful and more economically vibrant (see what they’ve been up to here). The committee has met more than 24 times, and its subcommittees have led a variety of activities (with no budget!) including two design charettes, two “meet and greets” for developers and business owners, a daffodil planting, a jazz evening, and holiday caroling.
As outlined in the committee’s recent report, the committee has worked with merchants, commercial property owners, UDC, Fannie Mae, WAMU/AU, numerous DC agencies, and neighbors to connect our community and envision a beautiful, sustainable, culturally programmed area that is also economically thriving. The committee has received invaluable advice from Dupont Circle Main Streets, Barracks Row Main Street, and the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development’s Main Street Program.
The board hopes to get word on June 30th as to whether the DC Council confirms its earlier vote supporting a $200,000 allocation to establish a Van Ness Main Street. Our Ward 3 Council member Mary Cheh was instrumental in getting this funding in the budget with support from Council member Vincent Orange. With that allocation in place, the newly formed Van Ness Main Streets, Inc. can apply to the Department of Small and Local Business Development to run the new Van Ness Main Street. Funds will be used to hire an executive director, schedule events and programs, enhance our streetscape with plants, banners and attractive signage, and improve our promotions of Van Ness to support existing merchants and entice new development.
Board members are unpaid, making a commitment of one to three years each, with staggered terms. The charter members are:
At Thursday’s board meeting, we ratified the articles of incorporation, which were filed in the office of the DC Superintendent of Corporations on March third. We adopted bylaws, elected officers, voted to establish a bank account, and meet other legal and managerial duties. The four operating committees of the Van Ness Vision Committee will continue to serve: operations, economic, design and promotions/events.
The corporation will apply for 501(c)(3) status, and as a nonprofit we will be depending on the support of members of our community. If you would like to make a donation (or a donation in kind), please contact Mary Beth Ray, board president, at firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be many ways to get involved, so stay tuned to the Forest Hills Connection for how you can help put the vibe back in Van Ness!