06 July 2010

A Sad Day In District Development

There are more than a fair number of people who are pleased to hear that Wal-Mart is "expected" to sign a lease to open its first store within the District of Columbia. They tout that this will offer more employment in the city and more inexpensive (read: cheap) goods for those with lower incomes. They say that this is a victory for those who feel socially marginalized and who haven't been able to enjoy in the economic bounty that the District has been seeing. To that I guess I can't argue very much.

But I can't help but question whether it's a better deal than what was planned to be there before the economy went belly up.

See, New York Avenue NE is one of the worst roads in the District. It's supposed to be The Grand Gateway into our city from the north. Right now, it's a stretch of desolation, depression, and destruction. And it needs the kind of development that Arbor Place would have brought ... mixed-use development ... to help it become The Grand Gateway that has long been envisioned.

I can't for the life of me understand why housing couldn't be included into a Wal-Mart development. Surely apartments could be added on top of a Wal-Mart. Or surrounding an expansive parking lot of Wal-Mart. Or encasing a parking structure (or two) of Wal-Mart. Certainly, our city officials can find a way to work with Wal-Mart, the Schaeffer's, Abdo Development, and the financial institutions to make lemonade out of this proposed lemon.

Because, seriously, what would you rather see while driving into the District down New York Avenue ... this or this?

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