Jonathan O’Connell of the Washington Post’s Capital Business column reports that the Carnegie Library building on Mount Vernon Square may become a Vistor’s Center.
The Washington Convention and Sports Authority, which oversees the city’s convention and tourism business, is negotiating an arrangement with the city and the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., to open a visitors center across Mount Vernon Place NW from the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
On the surface this sounds like an upgrade as it would bring more life to the square than the status quo. However this is less ambitious than the priority recommendations the Office of Planning devised during the initial phase of the Mount Vernon Square District project. Those priority recommendations included a restaurant with outdoor seating and flexible event space.
My question would be – is this the first baby step towards realizing the Office of Planning’s vision? Or will the Visitor Center and Historical Society stake claim to all the buildings space and preclude a more ambitious transformation of the square long term? I really hope it’s not the latter because a visitor center for buses to drop tourists off at is not going to engage residents. Amenities to attract residents are a critical component if the square to reach it’s full potential.