We’ll be hearing soon about new retail at 4250 Connecticut Avenue. We’ll be invited to enjoy a few movies at the UDC amphitheater this summer. And Van Ness Main Street has come out of a difficult year in a “solid” financial position thanks to what its executive director called the community’s “unwavering support.”
The main street is going through its audit, said Gloria Garcia at the VNMS virtual annual meeting on May 7th. “One of the audit questions was, ‘Why has individual support gone up so much?'” Garcia said. “Because when there’s a crisis, our community steps up,” was her reply.
Garcia said VNMS has already raised $55,000 in 2021 to support its efforts to promote and support small businesses between Van Ness Street and Nebraska Avenue, which surpasses the fundraising total for 2020 by $9,000.
“It’s amazing the spirit of community that came out of what was a very difficult situation,” said Barbara Lardy, the president of Van Ness Main Street. “People looked to the Main Street as a way to get involved and make a difference.”
Here are some other highlights from the meeting:
New Van Ness retail
While three businesses closed last year in the pandemic, four (Muchas Gracias, Rosemary Bistro Cafe, Viet Chopsticks and Pill Plus Pharmacy) opened, and two more are on the way – a second outpost of Shemali’s Lebanese market at 4483 Connecticut Avenue, and AllCare Family Medicine at 4340 Connecticut.
In addition, UDC President Ronald Mason said that new retail leases at 4250 Connecticut Avenue would be going to the Board of Trustees for approvals soon. While he did not share any specifics, “I’m sure you will be well pleased,” Mason said, about the retailers coming to Van Ness.
Mason also spoke of “an interesting project” in the works. The university is hoping to create a memorial and visitors center at the UDC athletic center to honor Edwin B. Henderson, a UDC alum and “the father of Black basketball.”
“We’d like to make it a destination, Mason said.
Movie nights at the UDC amphitheater
Van Ness Main Street and UDC are joining forces to host “Movie Night at the Park @ UDC Amphitheater.”
The films will be shown on six Wednesday nights in June, July and August. And a seventh movie night on Friday, September 24th will coincide with Art All Night festivities at Van Ness, provided grant funding for the annual arts event comes through. Reservations will be required, but free. The lineup and registration links are coming soon.
The Spirit of Van Ness
E. David Luria, a Forest Hills neighbor and the founder of Washington Photo Safari was the 2021 recipient of the “Spirit of Van Ness” award.
Luria came up with the idea of supporting neighborhood restaurants by leading food photography safaris at each one. He approached Van Ness Main Street with the idea and a partnership was born. Luria taught one such class on Saturday, May 15th at Acacia Food & Wine, and donated his share of the proceeds to VNMS.
A lot of ‘thank yous’
Thanks went out to past VNMS President Sarah Cumbie, outgoing and incoming board members, and to Cherie Lester, compiles the vibrant and informative Van Ness Main Street newsletter each week. (If you aren’t familiar with it, you should subscribe. It’s great.)
And thanks went out to the community of donors and volunteers that has kept Van Ness Main Street on solid footing during what Garcia called a rewarding but challenging time. You can donate to the VNMS Growth Fund here. And write to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about volunteer opportunities.
Forest Hills Connection is a program of Van Ness Main Street (as of 2021, so that came up too!).