Apr 7, 2023 - News

Three ways D.C. is reimagining Chinatown-Gallery Place

Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

D.C. wants to rejuvenate Chinatown-Gallery Place, starting with creating more inviting spaces for pedestrians and accelerating office-to-residential conversions.

Why it matters: The neighborhood is a magnet for visitors, thanks to Capital One Arena, museums, and restaurants. But it has struggled since the pandemic with less foot traffic and some empty storefronts.

The big picture: Here is what Chinatown could look like if ideas shared in a Downtown DC BID report become reality:

A rendering of 7th Street features cyclists, a bus on a bus lane, and people dining outside on a streeterie
7th Street concept. Photo courtesy Downtown DC BID

7th Street NW

  • This is the neighborhood’s main drag, and expanded sidewalks are envisioned to allow more outdoor dining, showcases of public art, and extra room for arena crowds.
  • Interim improvements can be modeled on Georgetown’s use of streeteries.
  • Limiting vehicle traffic with bus + bike + truck lanes, with pick-up and drop-off zones for cars.
F Street rendering is shown with a wider sidewalk and plaza and mixed biker-pedestrian-motorist roadway
F Street concept. Photo courtesy Downtown DC BID

F Street NW

  • Expanding the plaza outside the National Portrait Gallery would create one giant plaza for concerts and gatherings.
  • Narrowing the roadway and adding traffic calming measures — like a cobblestone street. It would create a woonerf, the Dutch concept for a “living street” that slows traffic down to better welcome pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists.
An 8th Street rendering shows an expanded sidewalk plaza area with people sitting and walking through a park
8th Street concept. Photo courtesy Downtown DC BID

8th Street NW

  • The above option would create a woonerf with widened sidewalks for a plaza and park space.
  • The narrower roadway would maintain vehicular access for garages and buildings.

What’s next: The Downtown BID will work together with local businesses to advocate for the changes.

  • Their first initiative is asking the mayor and D.C. Council to increase D.C. police and private security presence in the area to combat public safety concerns.
  • The BID will seek funding from the District Department of Transportation for street improvements.

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