Well I have yet to fill out the Bates Area Civic Association’s Straw Survey (see the Truxton site for the form). And as this is for North Capitol, I haven’t come up with much.
Now I know the kind of stores I like. I love bookstores, like Borders. I love Filene’s Basement. Other loves where I do spend money are Target, Whole Foods, Home Depot, various restaurants with wait staff, Giant (all over the DC metro area), and various farmers markets. Thing is there is already a Giant and Whole Foods in Shaw, the Target is going in at Columbia Heights, Home Depot is over in Brookland and well we tried a farmer’s market but it failed for many reasons. Simply said there isn’t the square footage available for a Borders or a Filene’s (besides crackheads would steal like crazy from Filenes) along North Cap.
Also I’ve thinking of the history of 14th street, which was sparked from the string of comments from my Bates meeting post. Though Whole Foods was a huge catalyst for the Logan Circle area, there were other, smaller businesses that were pioneers in the area before WF opened it’s doors, and it was still a while before chains, like Starbucks and Storehouse, ventured into Shaw after the 1st organically grown tomato was bought. Another thing about 14th Street, it helped that many of the buildings were larger former car shop that could be transformed into decent sized stores. Of course there are businesses that are in small buildings like Home Rule and the Garden District. Looking at an aerial map of North Capitol, the building stock looks to be townhouse sized, not large enough to house the businesses I would love to have. Sadly it seems some of those structures would have to be pulled down (or just keep the facades) in order to create space for an anchor business like Whole Foods or Target.
The other part of this train of thought focus on the businesses that are here. On 7th Street there is a dollar store. As far as dollar stores go, it is okay, but I don’t see it as a bad thing ’cause really sometimes you just need a cheap bowl. But what I wish is that the dollar store make the inside more visible. The most ghetto look a store or any business can have are dirty windows that are covered up with signs and whatnot that do not allow you to see what’s inside the store. The GG Store on NJ has that same ghetto look. Bright and open and welcoming is not the vibe I get and it doesn’t make me want to go it. But it doesn’t mean the store have to go, no, I just wish they spruced up a little. There are a long list of stores on 7th and Florida that in principle can serve the community but are in need of a serious, serious, commercial Extreme Makeover. For some it is appearances others it’s some operational changes (POST F*CKING HOURS OF BUSINESS & KEEP THEM!!!!) and for many it is both.
Development will also depend on what is going on around Truxton. I wonder if the ATF (or whatever fed agency going there) will get some business in the NYFAGU (NY Ave Station) area that service the people of that agency and XM Radio, besides the Methadone McDonald’s and the shady Wendy’s. Or if development moves up from North Capitol transforming the Sursum Corda area, what would that look like? And on the western front it is good to keep up and support positive changes on 7th and 9th streets.
But in the end I know what I don’t want. I know I do not desire to be in the middle of a major commercial destination. I would like businesses that serve the residents more so than passer bys.
When I think of neighborhoods I’ve lived in and the commercial health there are 2 that stick out. First is Hyattsville, MD. Not the whole of Hyattsville, but that section where I lived, where a few blocks over I had a Shoppers Food Warehouse, a bank, a Chinese takeout, a hair/nail place, and Ledo’s Pizza all in one strip mall. If I walked a bit further there was the Pho restaurant, the Asian grocers, the Pakistani grocers, the quickie mart and dollar store. The neighborhood was fine except no metro rail. Second was College Park, MD, where the College Park-UMD station is. At the time in its strip mall a short walk away was the WAWA, some eat in dining spot, the big discount clothing store, the pizza place, Mickey D’s, the CVS and the hair place. Around the neighborhood was Plato’s Diner, a Kinko’s, various local fast food joints, a tee-shirt shop, discount dry cleaners, Laundromat, and bookstore. In biking distance was the Smile Herb shop, a vegetarian eatery, Asian restaurant, bike shop, Town Hall Liquors, an Indian restaurant and another liquor store. And this is all before the recent new construction that has occurred in College Park in recent years. But the thing that got me out of College Park was it did not have a full fledged grocery store. I had to go to the Beltway Plaza for that.
…okay this is getting long. I’ll follow up later.