While the reverse may not be true, I imagine much of the readership of this blog reads Penn Quarter Living. Yesterday they had a post recapping recent news on the development bids for the 5th and Eye location. You can also find out more details at DCMud.
The PQL post sparked dialogue about the potential retail in each of these proposals. For the purpose of this discussion I’m using retail as a catch all term for restaurants, amenities and retail. On the one hand you have people that selected Mount Vernon Triangle for it’s proximity to Penn Quarter’s retail, the retail that will be at City Vista, and the potential for more retail as the neighborhood continues to be built out. The flip side is the Not in My Back Yard (NIMBY) contingent. They are opposed to anything that could possibly make noise within range of their units and would prefer that retail be instead located “down the street”.
I have a few thoughts on this subject I wanted to share. I will focus my comments with regards to the Boutique Hotel with Jazz club proposal. That seems to be the most polarizing of the proposals that we actually have any details on. I also don’t believe anyone arguing against a basic restaurant or cafe has a foot to stand on – this is downtown city living folks!
Any new venue could lack adequate parking to support it’s customer base and we’d be OK to veto it. Whether it be a Fitness club, Restaurant, Hotel, or Jazz club. Any venue could also implement something that would be genuinely distracting such as the enormous red neon Kenny Rogers Roasters sign in the Seinfeld episode “The Chicken Roaster“. But at this early stage I think the more interesting discussion is on the merits of the individual retail concept than speculating on fine implementation details that we don’t even know yet.
Nearly the entire Triangle is new construction. Presumably our new condos have more sound proofing than if we lived in decades old construction. A new jazz club would also be placed in a venue built for it’s specific use rather than clumsily stuffed into a property not originally designed for music. Moreover, the proposed Jazz Club is described in the DCMud article as a restaurant jazz venue, which is more similar to U Street’s Bohemian Caverns, than a big live entertainment venue like House of Blues.
Given that, I don’t believe noise from the venue is as big an issue for this specific type of club as some suggest. Also I don’t think this sort of venue lends itself to binge drinkers exiting at 2AM and yelling “I’m so drunk right now” while urinating in a tree box. It would be mostly people talking to their friends as they walk to metro or wait for a cab.
Perhaps on the 1st and 2nd floors may get some of this street noise. But you don’t buy a unit downtown on the 1st or 2nd floor if you can’t handle this. People pay premiums to live higher up the building. In this area we aren’t paying that premium for views as nearly every view will be obstructed in the near future by another 130 foot building. We pay the premium for the investment purposes and to be above taxi exhaust and street noise.
The District’s master planing for the Mount Vernon Triangle area designated that 5th street as the “5th Street Retail Corridor”. So retail IS coming. I could learn more about any of these proposals and become concerned but I think at the moment we should continue to be open minded. The community is not going to become more diverse and vibrant if we pass judgment hastily on anything that is different.