by Chuck Schilke
Co-Chair of the Van Ness Main Street Economic Development Committee

For some time, the Van Ness Main Street Community Economic Development Group has wanted to impress upon investors, property developers and others that Van Ness invites investment and development that improves the quality of life in Van Ness, Forest Hills and Wakefield. The open letter that appears below, and which has been approved by the VNMS Board of Directors, invites investors, developers and others to engage with these three communities in the Van Ness Main service area Street.

The letter points out that Van Ness is almost certainly more receptive to investment and development than most other DC neighborhoods, which VMNS says is a real comparative advantage for Van Ness. VNMS essentially seeks to increase the amount of investment and development in our community, which all of us who live here know provides an exceptionally high quality of life for a wide range of people. Yet past planning has not taken full advantage of the possibilities offered by Van Ness.


As Van Ness gradually transitions from a quasi-suburban, car-oriented location with a 1950s feel to a contemporary, walkable urban community with a more 2020s vibe, the private sector can work with the Van Ness community to improve considerably the public realm and the quality of resident life.

In addition to posting the letter here in Forest Hills Connection (which is an affiliate of VNMS), we are posting the letter on the VNMS website, so that it is available to the general public on an ongoing basis.

Van Ness is open for business

An Invitation to Conversation and Collaboration on Commercial Real Estate

Van Ness Main Street (VNMS) runs from Van Ness Street, northwest to Nebraska Avenue, northwest, on both sides of the busy Connecticut Avenue, northwest corridor. The VNMS Open for Business project welcomes renovation and development in favor of an enriched commercial density and a diversity of businesses. We invite you to meet with us to discuss this exciting initiative.

Why Van Ness Main Street?

Van Ness, Forest Hills, and Chevy Chase, DC are thriving residential neighborhoods with a wide range of housing options for people of all ages and incomes. Van Ness’ main street neighbors value commercial development that supports activities of daily living as well as community, cultural and recreational engagement.

Van Ness is the “Northwest Node” – the middle cluster of five commercial real estate clusters that punctuate Connecticut Avenue west of Rock Creek Park Van Ness offers large buildings, both residential and commercial, an abundant area of tenants and zoning flexibility to encourage optimal building development.

Residents of Van Ness Main Street neighborhoods enjoy its distinctive combination of suburban, urban and parkland amenities.

Van Ness Main Street is unique in its confluence of cultural and educational institutions: the University of the District of Columbia and the School of Law; American University’s WAMU Radio Broadcast Center; Howard University School of Law; The Levine School of Music; The Whittle School; Edmund Burke School; The Sheridan School and the embassies of 22 countries. Destination retailers and restaurants include Politics and Prose, Bread Furst, Uptown Market, Sfoglina, Muchas Gracias, Comet Ping Pong and I’m Eddie Cano.

Van Ness Main Street businesses are resilient. During the pandemic, five businesses closed and five more opened. Four stores are expected to open in 2022 and 2023.

VNMS Neighbor Statistics

Van Ness Retail Strategy, HR&A, February 2018. " data-medium-file="" data-large-file="" loading="lazy" class="lazyload" data-sizes="auto" data-srcset=",0 75w,,0 100w,,0 150w,,0 240w,,0 320w,,0 500w,,0 640w,,0 800w,,0 1024w,,0 1280w,,0 1600w" data-src="" alt="" width="1236" height="670" class="size-full wp-image-41716" srcset=" 1236w, 800w, 175w, 768w, 740w" sizes="(max-width: 1000px) 100vw, 1000px" data-recalc-dims="1"/>

Source: Van Ness Retail Strategy, HR&A, February 2018.

Van Ness is truly open for business. Please contact [email protected] to discuss your future in Van Ness, Forest Hills and Wakefield.

Forest Hills Connection is produced by volunteers and supported by you. We appreciate your support – financial and otherwise. Here’s how to donate.


Atlanta Ranked Top Investment Target Among Global Real Estate Investors


HOAs and lawmakers consider taking action against real estate investors

Check Also