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You could be canoeing in the C&O Canal as early as this summer

A preliminary design for a dock that would allow boaters to enter the C&O Canal

In a few months, kayak and canoe users could be paddling up and down the C&O Canal, if a plan hatched by the Georgetown BID, public interest collaborative MakeDC and the National Park Service comes to fruition.

It's a simple plan - just putting a dock on the C&O Canal about a half-block from the Key Bridge Boathouse - but one that could be the start of something much bigger.

Maggie Downing, destination manager for the BID, noted at a community meeting Tuesday night that the design for the dock goes before the Old Georgetown Board "for what I hope will be its final approval" Thursday. 

Paddlers who wish to use the dock will have to rent a boat at the Key Bridge Boathouse, which up til now has rented boats for use on the Potomac, then portage the short distance to the C&O canal. If demand warrants it, the Park Service would explore the possibility of adding rentals to the dock.

This is the first of many initiatives in the Georgetown 2028 plan pertaining to the 2/3-mile of C&O canal that passes through Georgetown. Other plans include widening the sidewalk on the towpath (from 2.5 feet in some places to up to 10 feet) to improve pedestrian access, repairing the deteriorating Lock 3, and bringing back the popular boat tours. The BID says it will begin fundraising to repair the boat very soon.

Meanwhile, the BID is also working to turn some of the vacant office space fronting the canal into retail, which would lengthen the hours that the canal feels lively and used. "The market conditions that make us think that was a good plan still exist," said Joshua Hermias, the BID's economic development director. In other words, rent on M Street is still rising, making streets south of M--including the areas facing the canal--an attractive place for retailers and restaurants seeking better deals. In the past year or so a new hotel with a restaurant facing the canal opened, as well as the Ministry of Fashion boutique.

"Those market conditions aren't going away," Hermias said. "As we make lots of investment into the canal, every intervention we do makes it more attractive."

Read more articles by Rachel Kaufman.

Rachel is the managing editor of Elevation D.C. She also covers tech, business and science for publications nationwide. She lives in Brookland.
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