H Street businesses anxiously await D.C. streetcars

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – In the last three years, 82 new businesses have been attracted to the ever-changing H Street Corridor in Northeast D.C.

City leaders say it’s all because of one thing — the streetcar.

“The potential and the promise of the trolley was the number one reason that people talked about coming to H Street,” Anwar Saleem, a representative for the H Street Corridor told D.C. councilmembers on Wednesday. “We are really able to sell H Street from the potentials of the trolley.”

That’s the thing — potentials.

Right now, there is no streetcar running on any street in the District, let alone H Street in Northeast. Plans call for an eventual 37-mile network of streetcars, criss-crossing the city.

DDOT’s Streetcar program is expected to be rolling on H Street next year, however there are still challenges.

D.C.’s Office of Planning just released a study, touting the positives of the streetcar.

From the study:

The streetcar system would increase existing residential property value by $1.0 billion to $1.6 billion. Most property values would increase 5% to 12%, with values likely to rise even higher in areas that have many prime redevelopment sites. The strongest growth in demand for both existing and new development would occur adjacent to downtown:

  • U Street/Logan Circle/Florida Avenue/NoMa/Howard University/western Rhode Island Avenue
  • H Street/Benning Road
  • Buzzard Point
  • Capitol Riverfront
  • Other significant increases in demand would occur in Downtown Anacostia, Washington Hospital Center, Takoma Park, and Georgetown

“The streetcar would stimulate residential market demand, translating into increased value for existing housing, new investment of new housing construction and the rehabilitation of some of the existing housing that we have,” D.C. Office of Planning Director Harriet Tregoning told the Council.

But there are also negatives to talk about — like the streetcars potential impact on traffic. The study says that there is already limited space on roadways, in a region choked by traffic.

“The streetcar may require allowing parking on only one side of the street, dedicating sidewalk space for shelters, or reducing travel lanes for motor vehicles,” says the study.

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