If you build it who will come?

This week’s focus has been strategy for the available commercial space at City Vista.

A reader sent me an email of a more provocative tilt. I’ll paraphrase since I didn’t have a chance to ask his permission to print. The basic message was that businesses should be selected carefully so that they don’t attract an undesirable crowd. You often hear this argument related to nightclubs patrons but it’s a little less PC to be anti-youths. Specifically his biggest concern was that the teenager loitering at Gallery Place (700 block 7th St NW) does not migrate to City Vista. He went on to outline his reasons including the fights, noise(shouting), trash, and a general hostile environment.

At PSA 101 West forums I have heard the first hand discussions from residents about the juvenile loitering and crime. It’s an ongoing issue that many residents find to be a nuisance. The police can break up the fights but otherwise have little to enforce as congregating in public space is not against the law.

Is there much risk for a teenage loitering migration to City Vista? My impression is that the biggest draws for the teenagers to Gallery Place are the movie theatre, fast food and the visibility of the area make it a “place to be seen”. Seems to be an entirely different ball of wax. This would come more into play when considering an entertainment anchor for Jemal’s future development.

However make no mistake that the retail choices draw certain clientele. Signing on a fast food tenant like Mickey D’s will draw in a different clientele than a wine bar or Thai place. I know in my high school days we regularly made late night runs to the Taco Bell drive thru although I’ll never be able to relate to just hanging out in front of a fast food place for hours like it’s some kind of party. =)

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  1. 1

    Anonymous says

    That’s an ambitious goal that businesses “should be selected carefully so that they don’t attract an undesirable crowd.” How do you do that exactly? How do you tell a business, such as MickyD’s, that they didn’t get in because they “undesirable crowd”? That’s an express ticket to racism charges. These youths are black; you can’t win on something like this.

    As stated on the blog, there are no loitering and congregating in public laws in DC, and there never will be. If it means these youths destroy businesses in the process, the District government does not give a dog damn.

  2. 2

    fourthandeye says

    I’m with you anon 13:03. This is a sensitive subject that presents more opportunity to lose an argument than to win. I still figured I’d give it a whirl to gauge people’s impressions…

    At the end of the day I think Lowe Enterprises is going to sign a restaurant tenant that has a little more synergy with Busboys than McDonalds. But it should be interesting to see how it all plays out. The poll for October (up later tonight) will ask people what they hope to see.

  3. 3

    Anonymous says

    @17:10, you probably don’t have a lot to worry about anyway. There’s got to be a lot more than just a MickyD’s or something like to to attract the marauding youths. It’s too far out of the way from the metro to be worth their while to walk over there and create havoc. Why should they? They’ve got everything they need at Gallery Place: each other to beat up and plenty of innocent people to harass. By comparison, it would be slim pickings over there! I’m just grateful that I don’t live on 7th Street.