Van Ness Main Street celebrates accomplishments

The Park Van Ness development brought apartments over retail space to 4455 Connecticut Ave. NW. (Brady Holt/The Current/April 2016)

Van Ness Main Street celebrated its progress at its annual meeting Saturday at the Soapstone Market, one of the neighborhood’s new businesses located in the Park Van Ness development at 4455 Connecticut Ave. NW.

The nonprofit’s core tasks include marketing Van Ness to potential businesses; advocating for greater regulatory flexibility for development in the area; improving collaboration with the University of the District of Columbia; and using the arts to create more opportunities for both local businesses and residents.

During the past year, the group created Jazz@VN, featuring local restaurants and local musicians; provided music and chefs for the university’s farmers market; coordinated the first Art All Night with popular fire dancers; hosted holiday caroling; created the first Northwest Arts Forum conference; and conducted a real estate and parking study. It also managed business facade upgrades at the corner of Albemarle Street and Connecticut Avenue and contributed funds to businesses for design improvements.

The nonprofit Main Street group was founded in October 2015. Unlike business improvement districts, Main Streets rely on voluntary contributions rather than mandatory tax payments, but the group said that various local businesses have contributed.

At Saturday’s event, the organization also recognized the chair of its organizing committee, Marlene Berlin, with a “Visionary Award” for her ability to come up with ideas for improving the area.