Merger creates Washington Harbor District Alliance

Published 10:44 am Thursday, April 15, 2010

Contributing Editor

Washington’s City Council endorsed a new organization that is focusing on improving the city’s Harbor District, but the new entity has some familiar faces.
The Washington Harbor District alliance is the product of the merging of Downtown Washington on the Waterfront, Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association and Citizens for Revitalization.
Ross Hamory will serve as president of the new organization. Beth Byrd will serve as its director. Chris Furlough, who was selected to lead Citizens for Revitalization, serves as the WHDA Board of Directors’ vice president for economic restructuring.
“I’d like to bring that (merger) up before the council and ask for your endorsement,” Hamory said to the council during its meeting Monday.
The WHDA mission is to “serve as a facilitator and catalyst to renew, restore, rebuild and revitalize the downtown business district, while improving economic conditions, encouraging tourism and preserving historical buildings and their significance,” reads a document presented to city officials and the media at the meeting. That was DWOW’s mission.
Mayor Archie Jennings termed the merger as an “appropriate” step in development of the city’s central business district.
“Calling this group the Washington Historic District Alliance reflects both the City Council’s recent decision to name our historic downtown business district and waterfront the Harbor District and the inclusive nature of he process we have used to get to this point,” Furlough is quoted as saying in the document. “The work of the C4R committee and DWOW has been successful because both have been inclusive in their membership and outreach. To make our harbor district a vibrant place to live, work, shop and visit we need an organization which brings everyone together to work (toward) these goals, and that is what this merger does.”
The document notes that downtown merchants agreed to be represented by Mac Hodges, who was vice president for promotions in the DWOW organization. Hodges is now affiliated with WHDA.
In 2008, the city the city charged Citizens for Revitalization with reviewing two previous studies of Washington’s downtown/waterfront area to help develop a new revitalization strategy for that area. The group was tasked with taking several elements from each of the studies and combining them into a new strategy for how best to use the downtown/waterfront area.
That strategy was adopted last year, and efforts to implement it in phases are under way.
The merger is a result of DWOW and Citizens for Revitalization determining that C4R’s planning work had been completed and the challenge facing the group was to effectively implement the strategy. The merger creates the appropriate entity to implement that strategy, according to WHDA officials.