Fri. Oct. 25, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C.—The DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) unveiled the DowntownDC Foundation at the “Toast to Franklin Park” event on Oct. 23, officially introducing potential supporters to the mission of the organization.
“As Franklin Park prepares to close for renovations and we enter into the second year of operating the Downtown Day Services Center, this Foundation launches at a pivotal time for the DowntownDC community,” said BID President & CEO Neil Albert.
The Foundation, a 501(c)(3), seeks to elevate the work of the BID in four key areas: the renovation and management of Franklin Park, which the BID will operate upon its reopening; homeless services, including those offered through the Downtown Day Services Center; public space revitalization in parks and plazas through public art and other means; and events and community programming.
“The DowntownDC Foundation will enable the BID to realize some of its most transformative projects and effect greater, more meaningful and longer-lasting changes to DowntownDC,” said Foundation Executive Director Rachel Rose Hartman. “We are seeking to build relationships with individuals and organizations who share our vision of making DowntownDC a world-class and inclusive destination for residents, visitors and workers.”
The event, sponsored by Gensler as well as Planet Word, Riverdale International Inc., MRP Realty and additional sponsors, hosted 125 guests and was held courtesy of Hines in the Penthouse of One Franklin Square overlooking Franklin Park. The park is a U.S. National Park Service (NPS) site that is being renovated by the District of Columbia and will be operated by the BID.
NPS Superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks Jeffrey P. Reinbold at the Toast to Franklin reflected on the night’s potential significance for Franklin Park. “I have a feeling we’re going to look back at this in a couple of years and say ‘this was a pretty important moment in the history of that park,'” he said. “It is partnerships like this and philanthropic support that brings that vibrancy, that life—for visitors, for residents and for office workers—that on our own we could never do. Reinbold noted the plans for a restored and interactive fountain, a children’s garden and a café as elements that are possible through public-private partnerships and support for Franklin Park.
DC Department of Human Services (DHS) Director Laura Zeilinger also gave remarks at the Foundation unveiling related to the Downtown Day Services Center, which opened in February 2019 to serve individuals experiencing homelessness during the day when area shelters are closed. The Center is funded by a grant from DHS and operated by the BID.
“It’s not just a place where people can come off the street and get a meal, it is a beautiful, welcoming space designed for individuals to feel cared about and supported,” Zeilinger said at the launch event. “There are case management rooms and the goal is for people to come in, no matter how they’re coming to us, to get connected to the array of services that create a meaningful pathway out of homelessness and back into housing.”
The Foundation is governed by the following board of directors: Neil Albert, who serves as Chairman; Vice Chair Gigi Webb Murphy of Gensler; Treasurer Lionel Lynch of JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Secretary Lars Etzkorn of Lars Etzkorn Law PLLC; Sean C. Cahill of SCahill LLC; Bonnie R. Cohen, consultant; Rafael Etzion of Metro Shipping LLC; Ann B. Friedman of Planet Word; Gregory Leinweber of Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington DC; Timothy R. Lowery of Hines/CityCenterDC; R. Donahue Peebles III of The Peebles Corp.; and Stan Wall of HR&A Advisors Inc.
For more information on the DowntownDC Foundation, its mission and to find out how to donate, please visit www.downtowndcfoundation.org.