Over a huge crab cake out in the suburbs of Baltimore I respectfully disagreed with a table companion, Chick, over the baseball stadium and possible gentrification for the SE area. Chick, is a SE Capitol Hill resident, living in the shadow of the Capitol and eventhough I trust that he is a bit more familiar with the South Capitol/N Street area where the city plans to put the Stadium, I am doubtful that the stadium will bring the same turnaround as the MCI Center has done with Gallery Place/Chinatown. I pointed out some of the differences between the two.
For one, there is sort of nothing there. A porn store and a couple of clubs do not a ‘something’ make. Before the MCI Center there were surrounding offices and government agencies and 1 museum (now closed for renovations that will continue for ever). The restaurants that were put in to help serve the MCI crowds, are supported by the office/govt crowd during lunch.
Second, during the days when there is no baseball, what is it that would make the area a destination? The MCI center has concerts and horse shows and other functions when one of several teams isn’t playing a home game.
Third, RFK really didn’t do that much for the surrounding neighborhood, why will a stadium in SE make a difference there? Yes, I am aware of the whole waterfront plan that the stadium is supposed to link into.
For me it comes down to the fickle nature of market forces. There was something to work with in the area around the MCI center, before the Center. And then these things fed into each other, building on the other. The whole stadium thing seems to me built on the idea that people coming for baseball will come back when there isn’t a game or stick around. Yet there need to be businesses that serve the game attendees, but those businesses need to be supported when there isn’t a home game. And yes, there will be building offices, but will the people in the offices venture out into the neighborhood to support the business brought in to serve the game attendees?
By the by…. The Post reports that the real estate market for residential homes is cooling down. Maybe some of you might be able to buy before the decade is out.