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Façade Improvements Initiative Underway for Adams Morgan Businesses

By Alice Higgins*

[Note: Photographs accompanying this news story in the print edition can be viewed in the full PDF copy in the Current & Back Issues Archive.]

During late Fall 2008, AdamsMorgan MainStreet completed a storefront improvement program with façade fixes for public visibility. The idea is to complement the funds that landlords or businesses have already spent by design oriented front façade improvements. “Sometimes just an exterior paint freshening or an entryway painting creates a more positive storefront improvement,” said Executive Director Janet Lugo-Tafur.

Sidewalk deck areas are also a good place for a visible spruce-up. An example of this type is Meze, located at 2437 18th Street. Although the interior and general exterior looked good, the deck area seemed faded and lacked “punch,” said Lugo-Tafur. AdamsMorgan MainStreet painted the exterior front deck with an antique red brick concrete paint, and then removed the rust and painted the railings. White paint accents the curlicues and white posts alternate with the dark navy which matches the existing awning.

“It improved the entire look and created a more welcoming exterior for Meze,” enthused owner Yavuz Bolukbasi, who could not be more pleased. “We have been in Adams Morgan for seven years, offering quality food and live music, so this design improvement from MainStreet was most appreciated.” AdamsMorgan MainStreet credited The Black Squirrel restaurant for the idea, which had done a similar exterior rail treatment.

The retail businesses of Crooked Beat and Visions at 2318 18th Street received a facelift with exterior painting, including the stairway. Crooked Beat’s bright red and white exterior really stands out now and its basement entryway is more welcoming as well. “Attracting customers to a basement entry can be more difficult,” said Lisa Duperier, MainStreet’s president, “therefore, coordinating exterior colors and also painting the basement steps can assist a retail entryway.”

Owner Bill Daly expounded, “Crooked Beat has struggled with water leakage and damage to inventory, so this facelift by AdamsMorgan MainStreet was very helpful and customer friendly.” Although Crooked Beat is expanding its online sales, it is important that when people visit DC or seek out his unique specialty items, they are able to come in and browse and discuss the details or special orders.

Also appreciative is Bardia Ferdowski of Bardia’s New Orleans Café at 2412 18th Street. “The exterior repairs, paint improvements, new pigeon guards, and entryway improvements make both Bardia’s and next door’s Beauty Tu You look better, he explained. Bardia’s is owner-operated and managed with Bardia, himself, on premises almost all of the time the restaurant is open. This special MainStreet facelift adds to the inviting informal and comfortable style of his restaurant. To complement and add to what MainStreet has done, Bardia plans to continue now with another facelift by painting the exterior awning.

“We want to continue this program in 2009 and are currently seeking sponsors for the façade program. This is one additional tool for assisting and encouraging independent small businesses to remain or to locate here,” said Duperier. The funds for these improvements came in a grant from reStore DC, part of the city’s Department of Small and Local Business Development and DC Main Streets program; however, this grant is not available for 2009. Additionally, Duperier further noted, “We would like to develop a program which could address any vacant storefronts awaiting rental or renovation.”

Project manager Risikat “Kat” Okedeyi noted the receptiveness of Adams Morgan businesses. “A project of this type is very labor-intensive and takes time, but the end result is extremely gratifying,” she said. “Adam Morgan, with its large number of indie businesses and small storefront areas is a prime candidate for a façade program.”

* Alice Higgins has volunteered with Adams Morgan MainStreet for two years working on promotions and Adams Morgan Day where she sponsored the Childrens ID program. An agent with New York Life, Alice lives nearby in DC and spends much time in Adams Morgan.

Copyright (c) 2009 InTowner Publishing Corp. & AdamsMorgan MainStreet Group. All rights reserved.