D.C. Business Owners Say Streetcar's No Silver Bullet, but Could Spur Growth

With D.C.'s first streetcar since 1962 about to begin service (any day now), how are business owners along the corridor holding up?
rockcreek / Flickr

D.C.—on a still undisclosed date, most likely this spring—will soon have a streetcar for the first time since 1962.
 
The first part of the line to open will run east from Union Station, stopping at the intersection of Oklahoma Avenue and Benning Road, just west of the Anacostia. D.C. is testing the system now, though there's still no official word on an opening date.
 
A city-funded study says that building all eight streetcar lines would increase existing property values by $5 to $7 billion and spur $8 billion in new development. And while construction of the first line has snarled traffic and temporarily turned visiting H street into a logic puzzle, business owners along the first upcoming line are generally positive.
 
Blair Zervos, owner of H St. Country Club at 1335 H St. NE, tells Elevation DC that despite the growing pains, the addition of streetcar service will be a net gain for the neighborhood.
 
“Ultimately, I think it’s good for us,” Zervos said. The main question he gets from customers about the streetcar has to do with the streetcar’s accessibility to the street--like where it will be in relation to bike lanes and parking. Many customers live in the neighborhood and walk to the bar, others take the X2 Metrobus down H St. or walk from Union Station. Zervos himself lives above the bar.
 
“Of course people want a metro stop that’s kind of down in the heart of H St., or at least goes out to Benning and Bladensburg road, so the trolley kind of solves that.
 
“In our opinion, we’re actually going to see a lot of people we wouldn’t normally see who wouldn’t normally take public transportation to the area,” Zervos said. “It’s going to draw a crowd just because they’re curious and want to ride it and see it.”
 

Full Story: From Union Station to Benning Rd.: What's the streetcar's business?

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