In 2016, the Rosslyn BID launched its first-ever perception survey to get a sense of how people who live, work and visit here feel about the neighborhood. More than 900 individuals completed our brief questionnaire (read a summary of last year's results here). Overall, we were pleased with last year's findings: Most people cited Rosslyn's convenience as a top factor influencing their decision to come here. They said they loved neighborhood events, but expressed concern that Rosslyn didn't have places that were open late, which made it a less appealing going-out destination for many. Based on last year's findings, we've worked hard to dispel any misperceptions. To the extent we've been able, we've also tried to give people more of what they wanted, such as community events.
Nearly 1,500 people responded to this year's survey—a 78 percent increase from last year, which is great! Most survey respondents were between 21 and 29 years old (34%), and most came from a household size of two (41.7%). About 92% had a bachelor's degree or higher. The highest percentage of respondents reported a household income of $100K-$149,999 (25%). We noted significant increases in the proportion of workforce, visitor and non-visitor stakeholder groups, making for more evenly distributed responses than last year.
So, how are we doing? Here's what we found out!
Last year, we have to admit we were disheartened to read that (alongside positive sentiments such as "convenient," "clean" and "diverse") one of the top words people chose to describe Rosslyn was "boring." But what about Pub in the Park, Rosslyn Cinema, and places like Barley Mac and Quinn's on the Corner, we thought? What about the Marine Corps Marathon Finish Festival and the much-loved Rosslyn Jazz Fest, which had a record-breaking attendance of 10,000 this year?
As a result, we brainstormed new ways to share our events and dining options with you. We made it a priority to put out educational information about what restaurants are here, when they're open and what types of food they serve. We also worked to increase awareness of all of the amazing events that take place right here in Rosslyn.
Well, this year, we are happy to report that "boring" has dropped off the list of top ten Rosslyn descriptors. What did top the list? "Convenient," "growing," "fun" and "safe"! This suggests that people are noticing changes in Rosslyn and feeling good about them. And it's true that there's been a lot of fun this past year. We welcomed several terrific new restaurants (including Continental Beer Garden, The Little Beet and sweetgreen) and enjoyed some great new neighborhood events and activities, such as a revamped farmers market, which returned in spring 2017; the fall Rosslyn Harvest Fest, which brought live music and dozens of craft vendors to Central Place Plaza and Gateway Park; and Rosslyn CAFÉ, which transformed the Bennett Park Art Atrium into an active community space where people could enjoy food, drink and live music.
Last year, survey respondents believed that Rosslyn restaurants and businesses needed to be open longer hours for them to spend time here. This belief is a bit of a holdover to the old days of Rosslyn, when the neighborhood had fewer residents and was, indeed, a place that catered to the 9 to 5 weekday work crowd. Now, more people are living here (over 14,000!) and our nightlife is growing steadily, and has been for several years. There are plenty of places open late! Barley Mac, Continental, Heavy Seas Alehouse, Key Bridge Terrace, Kona Grill and Quinn's on the Corner have busy happy hours, regular special events such as tastings and viewing parties for sports (if you missed Quinn's lively scene during NFL playoffs this year, you missed out!); and delicious late-night menus. Survey responses suggest that more people are aware of these options and taking advantage of Rosslyn's nightlife.
Although, like last year, people said they wanted more shopping options in Rosslyn, particularly when it comes to grocery stores, we still saw a 5 percentage-point increase in the number of people who feel positively about shopping here. This was the biggest shift in perception of all areas of the survey. It may be attributed to the return of the weekly Rosslyn Farmers Market, which brought produce, meats, gourmet treats and pastries to Central Place Plaza, where people could pick up something fresh on their way to and from Metro in the evenings. The market ran from May to October, and will be back again this spring. It's also true that, in terms of grocery shopping, the best is yet to come! While we have Safeway in Upper Rosslyn and MOM's Organic Market just up the hill on Lee Highway, there are also plans to open a grocery store at 1401 Wilson and 1400 Key Blvd., a development that will transform an entire block in the heart of Rosslyn.
While there was a slight decrease in the perception of Rosslyn as a place to work (from 86% to 81% in agreement), the overall satisfaction with Rosslyn as a place to work has improved, with the greatest improvement coming from employees (up from 87% to 91% positive response). These changes indicate that overall, the public is starting to think of Rosslyn as more than just a place to work.
Thanks again to everyone who took our survey. Stay tuned this spring as we begin incorporating this data into our strategic planning process and brainstorm additional ways to enhance our community and meet your needs.
If you're interested in more details of the findings, you can find an executive summary of results here.