Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Preliminary Georgia Ave. survey results up: lots of newcomers, no chain restaurants please

The Lower Georgia Avenue Community Survey, which the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force undertook earlier in the year, has some preliminary results up -- almost 500 responses. Of course, this sort of survey isn't scientific, as people choose whether to take it or not, but interesting nonetheless. The results are posted here (and also below.)

In short, my main takeaways are: there are lots of young people and newcomers, they want more entertainment options, more independent restaurants and grocery stores, no chain restaurants at all, more bike lanes, and more after-school programs for kids and adult education. The whole survey was pretty interesting, however, and dealt with demographics, shopping, and a lot more.

Interestingly (and maybe obviously) most of the respondents have been in the neighborhood less than 5 years, with the largest group, fully a third, having only been in the area 2 years or less. In addition, most respondents are young, between 19 and 35, which probably means a lot of Howard and other college students responded, and surprisingly the respondents were almost 60% female. (Then again, you could argue that older folks who have been in the area longer would be less likely to do the survey.) About 46% were African American, 39% white, and only about 5% Hispanic.

People's opinions were interesting (and hopefully useful) as well. The survey was structured to ask people what was important to them and whether or not those things were present on lower Georgia Avenue. For entertainment options, which consisted of art galleries, bars and pubs, movie theaters and small performance venues, all were considered important, but only bars and pubs were considered available.

For food, the most surprising result was that fully 40% of people said national chain restaurants were not at all important to them, while grocery stores, independent restaurants and natural food stores were extremely important to most people. Let's hope that means more folks consider opening those kinds of businesses. A Yes! Organic Market or something like that would be great for lower Georgia Avenue, for example.

On housing, all kinds (artist, affordable, senior and market-rate) were important, but artist housing almost non-existent and senior housing lacking too. I agree there! It seems that almost every kind of public service can be improved, especially youth programs, adult education and parks/green spaces.

For retail shopping, the most important were considered to be book stores, gyms/day spas and pharmacies, and only a few of the many categories were considered available. Again, I hope that leads more people to open businesses on the street.

The last question was more general, about the streetscape. The first thing that stood out was that the largest response was that bike lanes aren't present. And amusingly, 7% of people said streetcars were abundant. I wonder where those folks are?

Those are my main take-aways, what are yours?

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