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3-Minute Interview: Robin-Eve Jasper of the NoMa Business Improvement District

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Local,DC,People,Liz Essley,3-Minute Interview

NoMa is the rapidly developing area north of Union Station, brimming with new offices and apartments. A former administrator in D.C. government and a lawyer by training, Jasper has been the president of the NoMa Business Improvement District for the past year-and-a-half.

What's the story behind the name "NoMa"?

NoMa [North of Massachusetts Avenue] is a long-established neighborhood in the District of Columbia with a number of historic institutions that have been in the neighborhood for 100 or 150 years. But like many neighborhoods, it's gone through a lot of changes and was most recently a warehouse and industrial area that served Amtrak. When planning began in the 1990s to convert the area back to residential and office use, they were looking for a name -- that's when "NoMa" was established. The name before NoMa was "Swampoodle," which was what the Irish immigrants who lived here in the 19th century called the neighborhood.

The BID does things like plant flowers and bushes and host outdoor movies. Why?

Making a thriving neighborhood requires that everybody be engaged in the civic and cultural life of the neighborhood. The activities of the BID -- Summer Screen and music and greening the neighborhood and creating parks -- are all intended to improve that fabric of civic life in the neighborhood. And that benefits everybody.

What kind of transformation have you seen in NoMa in the last year-and-a-half?

We've had a number of new projects break ground. Probably most significantly we've seen a lot of people move into the neighborhood, a lot of young professionals. We've seen a new vitality that I think you can attribute to the new residential projects here. And we've also seen the way the retail in the core of NoMa is taking hold, and bringing people from all the established surrounding neighborhoods into the core, or into our events, in a really robust way.

?-- Liz Essley

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