The Business Preservation Assistance Program (BPAP) helps preserve DC’s culturally vital small businesses to avoid displacement as neighborhoods gentrify across the District.
- DC is ranked first in intensity of gentrification (https://ncrc.org/gentrification/)
- The sharp escalation of property-related costs leads to involuntary displacement, closures, and out-migration of small businesses
- Economic vitality impacts include persistent vacancies, job loss, and reduced neighborhood services
- Cultural and historic preservation consequences include dilution of place identity, cultural homogenization of neighborhood commercial corridors, and disproportionate impacts on business owners of color
The BPAP Response
BPAP explores innovative strategies through piloting projects to develop replicable solutions to rapidly gentrifying urban neighborhoods across the country, including:
- Convert small business tenants to property owners through mixed-use redevelopments with affordable groundfloor commercial condos so that legacy businesses can remain in place
- Curate small business tenancies to reduce landlord risks and create opportunities for start-up, pop-up, seasonal, short-term, or limited credit history tenants
- Create new classification for small business property owners and landlords with small business tenants to reduce property-related costs and incentivize the inclusion of small business options
- Establish a Landlord-Tenant dispute mediation system to support COVID-19 recovery for existing tenants and sustainable revenue for property owners
In partnership with government, community, for-profit, and small business stakeholders, District Bridges is working to develop actionable strategies to preserve legacy small businesses and neighborhood commercial spaces as we rebuild and recover from the pandemic. The success of BPAP pilots will provide step-by-step guidance for replication in both District communities as well as similar
urban neighborhood commercial corridors across the country. Applying these promising strategies will not only ensure small businesses continue to contribute to economic recovery through tax revenue, job
creation, and entrepreneurial growth. It will also protect cultural identity, generational wealth building, and delivery of valued commercial services for District residents for years to come.