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A Streetcar and Desire


Late last fall, Arlington, Virginia—the second largest city in the Washington, DC metropolitan area—cancelled plans that had been underway since 2006 to build a streetcar system. “I’m so glad we didn’t do what Virginia did,” muses Anwar Saleem, Executive Director of H Street Main Street, as a streetcar glides past the window of a café on H Street NE in Washington, DC.

A formerly vibrant commercial corridor, H Street is reinventing itself after several decades of decline. Back in 2002, the 13-block commercial corridor had a 30% vacancy rate. The street was poorly lit, in disrepair, and had issues with crime. At the time, Saleem recalls, “you didn’t walk through H Street. You ran through H Street.”

Today H Street has a dedicated Clean Team, a refurbished streetscape, a new grocery store, apartments, and more development on the way. What caused this transformation?

Read the full article: A Streetcar and Desire

This article was originally published in the Spring 2015 issue of Plan Canada magazine.

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