It’s a question we at Forest Hills Connection often ask ourselves: Was change in our neighborhood this constant before we launched our little site in 2012? Or is this something entirely new? In 2015, it sure seemed like it was the latter.
The changes this year and in years to come have roots in years of work by DC’s Office of Planning and by ANC 3F’s Van Ness Vision Committee, formed in 2013 to help bring Van Ness’s potential to the attention of the District’s developers and businesses. With extensive feedback from neighbors and property owners, they’ve developed complementary visions for the Van Ness of the future. The end goal: to make Connecticut Avenue near the Van Ness Metro Station a more welcoming place, one where people want to gather to dine, shop and socialize, and one where businesses want to set up shop to serve those people.
UDC architecture students also presented their ideas as to how they’d enliven Van Ness.
Some of this potential will be realized next year, when UDC’s student center opens on January 20th and Park Van Ness opens to tenants – retail and residential – in the spring. Broad Branch Market’s owners are opening Soapstone Market and a popular Italian-style restaurant group is opening a pasta-focused restaurant.
Other efforts are farther down the road. The building housing the Wells Fargo bank and Potbelly was sold to a developer that specializes in mixed-use projects. The owner of Van Ness Center purchased the Calvert Woodley building next door. Neither property owner is saying yet what they intend to do with each site. Perhaps 2016 will bring answers.
Not all the changes are being welcomed by the neighborhood. Chick-fil-A wants to open a restaurant at the Burger King location. Objections include the founders’ politics, but the one more likely to hold up Chick-fil-A’s plans is its desire to keep the drive-thru.
The group that has been working all this time to promote this more vibrant Van Ness will have more resources to do so. The Van Ness Vision Committee evolved into Van Ness Main Street, and has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the District.