Streetscape plan will transform Adams Morgan, for better or worse

A step inside the Adams Morgan shop of florist Sefika Kurt is a sensory experience. As soon as you enter A Little Shop of Flowers, you see roses, hydrangeas and sunflowers stacked in plastic buckets from the floor to the ceiling and smell their sweetness. Soon you’ll hear the drone of jackhammers, too.

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Long story short

Bar-hoppers may have more incentive to walk to Adams Morgan after a streetscape project is finished in May 2012.

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The D.C. Department of Transportation will begin the Adams Morgan Streetscape Project on Feb. 22. The $7 million project will have construction crews tearing up sidewalks and pavement along 18th Street in the neighborhood for the next 15 months.

“They are going to spend so much money here and we are going to get so much mess,” Kurt said.

A native of Turkey, Kurt opened her shop in Adams Morgan 20 years ago and called the neighborhood her American hometown. But changes in the community have Kurt considering taking her business to another part of town.

In an area she thought of as culturally diverse, Kurt said storefronts have been taken over by bars and one jumbo-slice pizza place after another.

“That’s the only ones [coming] to Adams Morgan, and it’s sad,” Kurt said.

Bar hoppers may have more incentive to walk to the neighborhood after the streetscape project is finished. Construction will widen currently cramped sidewalks into 14-to 16-foot-wide thoroughfares.

DDOT leaders agree their plans will change the neighborhood's feel.

“We think this project could be a transformational project for [the] Adams Morgan neighborhood,” said DDOT program manager Muhammed Khalid. “Some of the businesses are doing well, some of them are not doing so well. We think by transforming this area with new streetscapes, new furniture, new roadway, new streetlights, it could be a transformation to the community.”

Peter Vail, who was making a rare visit to the neighborhood Tuesday night, said he wasn’t sure if Adams Morgan was his “part of town.”

“I haven’t visited here as much as I did in the past, when there was less activity at night. And by activity, I mean a lot of ruffians,” Vail said.

Although she lives and works in the neighborhood, Kurt isn’t sure Adams Morgan is still her scene either.

“Most local residents in Adams Morgan, they do not go out in Adams Morgan for dinner or drinking or dining,” Kurt said. “They go out of town, they go downtown, they go to Georgetown, but they don’t go to their local restaurants anymore.”

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