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DC and Montgomery County Officials Introducing Legislation to Revitalize Friendship Heights

For Immediate Release

DC and Montgomery County Officials Introducing Legislation to Revitalize Friendship Heights

WASHINGTON, DC, FEBRUARY 23, 2023 — Councilmember Matt Frumin introduced legislation today to create the District of Columbia’s 12th business improvement district (BID), a further step in ensuring sustainable funding for a well-supported cross-jurisdictional organization in Friendship Heights. 

Next week, Montgomery County District 1 Councilmember Andrew Friedson will introduce similar legislation to create the fourth Urban District in Montgomery County. Together, the Urban District and BID will serve as two funding streams to support the Friendship Heights Alliance, a 501(c)6 nonprofit place management organization formed in fall 2021 to support the revitalization of the neighborhood. 

Since 2021, the Alliance has worked closely with Ward 3 Councilmembers Mary Cheh and now Matt Frumin, Andrew Friedson, and the Office of the Montgomery County Executive, and has also been heavily supported by property owners, business owners, and residents in the neighborhood.

Creating a cross-jurisdictional place management organization is unusual and complicated; there are only a handful in North America out of the 3,000+ place management organizations in cities and urban areas across the continent. However, forging strong partnerships across the jurisdictional line is one of the key reasons the Alliance was created. 

“Friendship Heights is on the cusp of significant change, and we know that ensuring the neighborhood thrives in today’s competitive environment is going to take cross-jurisdictional collaboration, careful planning, and extensive stakeholder engagement,” said Board Chair Jad Donohoe of The Donohoe Companies. Property owners including Donohoe are investing more than a billion dollars in various projects to redevelop and re-tenant properties in Friendship Heights.  

DC has long found success with the BID model, with 11 other BIDs already in existence; and Montgomery County has found success with the urban district model, with Wheaton, Silver Spring, and Bethesda as positive examples. By merging these two funding models, the Friendship Heights Alliance will have a sustainable funding base with strong business and government buy-in from both sides of the Maryland and District border. 

Place management organizations typically fund services that supplement those already provided by the government, such as economic development, business support and promotion, public realm cleaning and maintenance, placemaking and streetscape enhancements, neighborhood marketing, and more. 

“Over the past year, this organization has proven its value in spades, showcasing the impact of collaboration: improving stakeholder coordination for the entire neighborhood, enhancing the public environment, and promoting the existing businesses,” said Board Vice Chair John Ziegenhein of The Chevy Chase Land Company. 

The Alliance has worked closely with business tenants within the service area to shape programming and marketing efforts. “As a small business owner, this collective investment in marketing and revitalizing Friendship Heights makes business and community sense. Forming a BID will help ensure these efforts will be sustained as the neighborhood grows and changes.” said Nolan Rodman, an owner of Rodman’s Discount Gourmet.

The Alliance Board approved a Business Plan for the organization that seeks to:

  • Build cross-sector collaboration and partnerships to strengthen the neighborhood;
  • Create and care for more people-centered public spaces;
  • Support a vibrant business environment where people and places thrive;
  • Offer ample and varied community building opportunities; and
  • Create more venues for arts, culture, and local entrepreneurship.

The organization’s first year has been focused on many of these efforts, with a foundation on listening and community building. A four-month community engagement effort in 2022 focused on one-on-one meetings, focus groups, and a public survey taken by 1,100 people. This feedback directly informed programming for the neighborhood, such as: creative public realm activations to enliven and soften the public spaces; public-sector and development coordination; and an array of programs and events that brought thousands of people out to a pop-up gallery, a history exhibit, and the sidewalks of the neighborhood. The Alliance also worked with Jackson-Reed High School students to develop an exhibit on Fort Reno and the dismantling of Reno City; the organization is working on more public history projects.

The Alliance is governed by a Board of Directors, with regular feedback from an Advisory Committee comprised of community members and stakeholders. For more details on governance, budget, and more, view the full 2024 Business Plan here. 

About the Friendship Heights Alliance 

The Friendship Heights Alliance envisions a more vibrant, dynamic, and inclusive future for Friendship Heights, with diversity in housing opportunities and retail experiences, and a people-friendly public realm. This place management organization coordinates the community building needed to reinvigorate Friendship Heights, focusing on the commercial corridor along Wisconsin Avenue from Oliver Street in Montgomery County, Maryland, to Fessenden Street NW in Washington, DC. The Alliance is a 501(c)6 nonprofit created in 2021 to increase collaboration amongst property owners in both Maryland and Washington, DC, as development continues; focus on public space management and coordination; promote the neighborhood; and engage with residents and businesses. For more information or to get involved, contact, visit, or follow the organization on Instagram @FriendshipHeightsAlliance