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Leggett Announces Nighttime Economy Task Force

by Aaron Kraut — May 9, 2013 at 5:30 pm 151 5 Comments

Bethesda Row, Flickr pool photo by AmyMarieMooreCounty Executive Isiah Leggett today announced the group of people who will examine the county’s perceived lack of nightlife and come up with recommendations for improving its nighttime economy.

Heather Dlholopolsky, a land use lawyer and member of the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce Board, wil chair the Task Force.

The Chevy Chase Land Company’s Miti Figueredo, a former County Council and Executive branch staff member, will be on the Task Force. So will Bethesda land-use attorney Erica Leatham, Bethesda Row marketing rep Vanessa Rodriguez and Tommy Joe’s bar and restaurant owner Alan Pohoryles.

County Councilmember Hans Riemer (D-At large) has said the county must improve nightlife in part to pursue milennials who are increasingly headed to neighboring jurisdictions to live and work. Riemer will be a non-voting member of the Task Force along with Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Valerie Ervin and Nancy Floreen.

Leggett said the Task Force will seek to answer the following questions by November. Its first meeting is May 20:

What kind of mix of business, entertainment and arts would make a vibrant and attractive urban center?

How do we attract businesses in defined geographic areas that appeal to multiple generations?

What are the national trends and models on nighttime economy?

How do we develop local models to enhance the County’s nighttime offerings in its urban centers?

Leggett said the initiative’s first phase will focus on Bethesda, Silver Spring, Rockville, Germantown and Wheaton.

“This initiative reflects my vision for a 21st century Montgomery that is innovation-driven, transit-friendly, connected, and multi-generational,” Leggett said in a release. “A thriving nighttime economy is an opportunity to enhance Montgomery’s attractiveness to all generations, businesses and visitors.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/tomasbridle Tomas Bridle

    I can provide the solution to this in four words:

    More bars. Less cars.

  • MrBethesda

    My suggestions:

    1. Ease up on the requirement that any place serving drinks must have 50% sales in food. To meet this goal is tricky as the drinks have to priced low enough so their total does not overtake the food total. But then you can’t raise the food prices too high either or you’ll drive customers away. It should be the other way around: Raise the price of drinks and lower the price of the food. Maybe make the food requirement only 25%.

    2. Turn the parking meters off after 6 p.m. It is really UNfriendly to get a $40 parking ticket at 9:30 on a Tuesday night in a block where yours is the only parked car. Seems to me the county hands out tickets only to have enough revenue to pay for the people handing out the parking tickets. If they shut down the parking meters after 6, there would be no need of people to hand out tickets. My group of 6-10 used to meet once a month at various Bethesda restaurants until we began to get parking tickets after 9. After a few of these we just met someplace outside Bethesda.

    As far as trying to convince people not to use their cars, this doesn’t take into account the fact that Bethesda does not draw from just the neighborhood. Because (a) it is very safe and (b) has a large number of restaurants (c) concentrated into a small area, many (most?) restaurant patrons come from elsewhere, even Virginia. If they find Bethesda unfriendly to cars, they will not come.

    • Leigh Byrnes

      I agree that parking does deter people from going out in Bethesda. However, when you look the layout of most popular going out places, they are highly walkable and metro accessible. I think people should be encouraged to use public transport and walk, especially if they will be going out drinking.

      Bethesda would have to cultivate more of a bar scene. We need more happy
      hours, more drink specials, more diverse and swanky bars vs loads of
      chain restaurants. The task force also needs to address what brings millennials to Bethesda, where they live, and should lobby for measures like affordable housing.

    • MechanicalTurk

      You hit the nail on the head with #2. It is ridiculous to have metered parking until 10pm. I have friends from VA, DC, and other parts of MD that would come to Bethesda more often if parking wasn’t an issue. Metro is a good alternative unless you are coming from nowhere’s vill Maryland where a lot of my friends are from.

  • rorojo

    The task force sounds like its median age is 48.

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