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Metro's Green Line Has Been Business Boon For D.C.

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Advocates of the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood have conducted a study that shows that Metro's Green line has brought prosperity to many areas along the line.
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Advocates of the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood have conducted a study that shows that Metro's Green line has brought prosperity to many areas along the line.

Some business leaders in D.C. say Metro's Green line has become one of the most powerful economic engines in the region. The success -- and continued expansion -- of the U Street NW corridor, may be the best example.

 At Ben's Chili Bowl on U Street NW, the sausages are sizzling and the restaurant is packed with people hungry for half smokes. But it wasn't always that way. Manager Maurice Harcum says construction of the Metro station across the street once made Ben's feel like a ghost town. 

"It was less than a sidewalk to walk on out front," Harcum says. "So a lot of people weren't coming in because it was a thin board to walk on and a big hole in the ground."

But once the Green Line was up and running, business picked up. Now, he says, it's better than ever. 

"People were scared to travel to U Street," Harcum says. "But now with the Metro being directly across from us, we have an advantage that other people don't."

In fact, a new study by the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District says the Green Line has spurred significant development in the District and Maryland.

"There's been more housing concentrated over the past decade along the Green Line than any other corridor," says Michael Stevens, executive director of the BID.

The study also found an increase in jobs along the Green line, based on building permits and occupancy rates, near the Columbia Heights, Gallery Place, Southwest Waterfront and Navy Yard stations. 

"We're seeing jobs like insurance, banking, engineering, and professional services like accounting and media cluster along the line," says Stevens.  But he says there's room for more growth, especially in the riverfront area, where many projects stalled during the recession. 

"While it kind of went dormant for a while, it's getting ready to ascend again," he says. 

Stevens and the BID want to see Metro add rail cars to serve a growing number of riders, retailers should set up shop in developing neighborhoods and the city should invest in infrastructure along the Green line.

"We have to continue to invest to ensure the future development," he says. With some more investment, he says, growth along the Green Line will stay on track. 

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