10 Responses to “The Mediocre Mile”


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  1. Shipsa01

    Isn’t the new development on L between 4th and 5th also going to have large “Meridian style” driveway?

  2. Disgusted in DC

    Well, the “mediocrity” sure beats Mass Avenue in the mid-to-late 80s, where is was scary to even drive down the street in the daytime with doors locked – the glass is 3/4 full as far as I am concerned. I’m sure there will be more ground floor retail once the national economy improves and investment in residential/commerical real estate comes back from the dead.

  3. anonym

    no, the new building on L will have only one entrance from L street to their courtyard.

  4. FourthandEye

    @Shipsa01 – I have mentioned concerns to Tommy Wells office about the proposed Steuart/Paradigm project on L Street. Tommy emailed me personally that he will ask Steuart to come into his office to review the design.

  5. chris

    I agree with Digusted in DC. The area is a lot better than it was a couple of years ago. We need to be realistic. This isn’t NYC or Paris with 70,000 ppsm. (Although, I wish it were). There simply isn’t the market demand to support retail on all the major avenues. The area should focus on creating a lively little retail hub on 5th and K streets. Mass Ave and New York Ave are always going to be West End Highway not Broadway.

  6. The thing that developers dont seem to get is that when you put the retail in, EVERYONE wants to live there. People want to walk out the front door and have the cafes & shops to go to. Its why they are moving here. City Vista is staring them in the face, a huge success. I know massive real estate investment is a huge risk but this seems really obvious.

  7. tod

    The developers understand that retail attracts tenents. It is just that they are being realistic about market conditions. A single apartment building can’t support retail all by itself. The cafe and shops down below need to attact customers from the rest of the city to be successfull. If every new building has ground floor retail you are simply going to saturate the market and be left with empty retail spaces.

  8. FourthandEye

    No, every building cannot have retail. The idea is the prominent streets should. K Street has a retail overlay. So does two blocks of 5th Street. Mass Ave from the Convention Center to Union Station is prominent enough that it should have had one.

    I think the renovation of 425 Eye Street office building supports the argument that the Mass Ave developments a block to the south did not build enough retail. That renovation has converted nearly the entirety of the ground floor (~30K sqft) from office to retail despite being a less visible street and having less than ideal ceiling heights for retail (10ft instead of 14+). If there had been a commitment to better planning, the developers of recent construction on Mass would have met that retail need on the more prominent street with ceiling heights tailored to current preferences of retailers.

  9. I’ll just add this: standing out in front of safeway for an hour it is unbelievable how many tourists go by. tourists! The foot traffic is already there, it can only improve imho.

  10. Jason

    Developers shy away from mixed use residential/retail buildings not because of insufficient demand for retail. I believe they do not want to take on the extra overhead and effort that comes with designing a building for multiple uses. For instance, if a building is to have *substantial* retail then it will often need to provide separate facilities for retail loading and/or retail parking. For security reasons residents do not want their parking mixed in with the retail parking for the general public. Also, providing an extra 4ft of ground floor ceiling height for the retail, with DC’s hard cap on building height, can often mean sacrificing another floor of apartments.