Shaw Main Streets is an award-winning commercial revitalization and historic preservation nonprofit organization that has facilitated the community-driven redevelopment of Washington, DC’s Shaw neighborhood since 2003. The organization has championed over $4 Billion in public and private development and the attraction and support of over 400 new, mostly small and independent businesses. Along the way, Shaw has become an internationally recognized destination known for award-winning restaurants, cocktail bars and entertainment venues, as well as African American heritage tourism.
Shaw Main Streets is made up of a network of dedicated Board Members and volunteers, college and university interns, and a paid executive director (the organization's only fulltime employee) who have been working to revitalize Shaw's historic commercial corridors. It is a 501(c)(3) organization operating a local program of the DC Main Streets program, funded in part by the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development. An accredited national Main Street program, Shaw Main Streets utilizes the National Trust for Historic Preservation's proven Four-Point Approach to revitalization. This is a time-tested and comprehensive strategy that addresses the variety of issues and problems that challenge commercial districts and has generated many billions of dollars in private investment nationwide since 1980.
Included in the many ongoing tasks carried out by Shaw Main Streets are: providing training, technical and financial assistance to new and established businesses in order to help make their operations more sustainable; cleaning up streets and sidewalks, planting flowers and trees, installing tree guards, and coordinating other streetscape improvements; facilitating the design and implementation of storefront renovations and signage improvements; organizing events to promote the neighborhood and businesses and attract visitors to the area (festivals, tastings, open houses, theme occasions); conducting surveys to determine desired and needed businesses; business recruitment and promotion; assistance with permitting, licensing and grant applications; commissioning and encouraging the installation of new public art, including murals and sculpture; advocating for the restoration and adaptive reuse of the neighborhood’s historic buildings and the renovation and construction of affordable housing; and researching and promoting the neighborhood’s rich heritage; and recommending public safety and infrastructure improvements.
Shaw Main Streets’ work has yielded great returns: new coffee shops, restaurants, art galleries, bars, yoga studios, pet stores, law firms, banks, bakeries, hair salons, boutiques, garden centers, tobacconists, and insurance agencies have all opened with direct support and assistance from Shaw Main Streets.
Shaw Main Streets founded the Art All Night DC festival in 2011, which has now expanded to 20 neighborhoods and over 100,000 attendees. The Shaw festival has attracted as many as 30,000 visitors over eight hours. The organization also piloted the Clean Team program that now operates in over 40 DC commercial corridors. Other annual events include Eat.Drink.Shaw. (formerly A Taste of Shaw), Shaw Open House, and Black History Month celebrations.
Notable historic and heritage preservation initiatives have included advocating for the restoration and reopening of the Howard Theatre and Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site; promotion of historic events, including the 1968 riots; and the interpretation of the Harmoneon, a lost 19th century African American cemetery.
Shaw Main Streets has been responsible for expanding the neighborhood’s public art collection, including sculptures and murals celebrating local heroes and sheroes. The organization has also supported the expansion of the DC Alley Museum, a series of murals in Blagden Alley.
Shaw Main Streets is the winner of the 2016 Great American Main Street Award and the 2015 Innovation on Main Street Award, both conferred by the National Trust for Historic Preservation's National Main Street Center. It is also the recipient of the District of Columbia Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation for Community Involvement in 2009.
Our Service Area
Shaw Main Streets' commerical corridors were established in 2003 as 7th and 9th Streets between Mount Vernon Square on the south and Florida Avenue/U Street at the north. As the commercial district developed over the years, the boundaries were expanded to cover the area bounded by Massachusetts and New York Avenues on the east and west of K Street at the south, 6th Street and Georgia Avenue on the east, 11th Street on the west, and Florida Avenue and Barry Place at the north, as shown on the map below.
Individuals can support Shaw Main Streets by making tax deductible financial contributions via PayPal using this link: paypal.me/ShawMainStreets. Businesses can become Small Business Supporters and Sponsors. Businesses can email [email protected] for more information.