Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Dupont Loses Its Luster

From The Washington Business Journal:

Dupont Circle is what some call a mature market. This, I think, translates as "washed up."

The area remains attractive because of the tourists. However, tourists think of it as a desirable place to go because it's supposed to be kind of local, kind of wild and crazy.

Then they get there and have nowhere to go but Starbucks, Subway and Johnny Rockets. About as crazy as it gets is a few people not using sunblock in the circle itself, a ratty little park with a fountain smack in the middle of a lot of traffic.

This may please some, but not someone looking for wild and crazy, a taste of something different from home. Read the full article here.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder if Logan Circle will be next. As property values rise so do property taxes. The rising cost of doing business in Logan Circle will also shut out the small businesses that are now helping bring about our revitalization. Hamburger Mary's was first (major rent increases)and I read that Ben's Chili Bowl is paying twice what it did a few years ago in taxes. If something isn't done every growing neighborhood will meet the same fate as Dupont.

Chris K. said...

Hamburger Mary's owner decided not to renew his agreement with the franchise - instead he chose to bring about a more upscale, independent establishment to the neighborhood: Dakota Cowgirl.

I'm actually glad that they are no longer affiliated with a national chain.

Anonymous said...

How funny. Dupont is being downgraded because of all the franchises and it was our very own ANC that asked that the owner of the former Haumburger Mary's open a franchise and not an independent (see Dining, Washington Blade on 11/11).

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the business owners that did not take the precaution of purchasing their buildings when prices were low or signing a very long lease will be priced out of the neighborhood. The free market system works that way. If we were the owners of the buildings that are now (probably for the first time) able to rent them out for market rates most of us would do it. I think it would not be a good move for the city to become involved in commercial lease negotiations or terms.

I also think it is very hypocritical of the residents of Logan Circle to complain about franchised establishments in the neighborhood. How many of us patronize Starbucks, Popeye’s, Caribu, Storehouse, CVS, Whole Foods, Hamburger Mary’s and many other franchised or company owned businesses in our neighborhood?

Anonymous said...

BTW - even Logan Hardware is affiliated with ACE...

John K said...

"I think it would not be a good move for the city to become involved in commercial lease negotiations or terms."

I disagree. As the article points out, the city could and should do something to make sure that prime retail locations in destination neighborhoods are not snatched up by boring businesses like banks or silly businesses like Johnny Rockets. There just is not that much retail space in DC, regardless of the neighborhood. We can't afford to have more Starbucks, more Subways, etc. if we want to continue to be a vibrant city.

Anonymous said...

Have you been to China Town lately? It seems to fit most people’s idea of vibrant (now sure if it fits yours) and they have managed to do it with many franchises and company owned businesses.

I would be more interested in seeing what we could learn from what they have done to re-vitalize their neighborhood than to try to get the city government more involved in how to plan our development.

One business that brings in people on a daily is a “first run” movie theater. Logan Circle would certainly benefit from having one. Perhaps we can persuade one of the local churches to sell to Regal or AMC?

Anonymous said...

"I read that Ben's Chili Bowl is paying twice what it did a few years ago in taxes."

Are you impying that the city, which means all of us, subsidize the tax bill of a privately owned business?

My taxes go up every year. Should I go running to the city and request that they lowered because I use to pay less? Or that some other entity should subsidize my taxes?

I would love to see how that would work.

John K said...

I think what Chinatown has done is atrocious and would cry if that kind of development came up here. Is it better than blight? I guess. But we can do better by protecting and patronizing the businesses we have here and working to attract new ones that are original and actually add something to the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

How would you go about “working to attract businesses that are original and add something to the neighborhood”? Tax incentives? I do not see much else the city can offer and there is nothing the neighborhood can offer other than to promote the area in general.

Who decides which are the businesses worth keeping/attracting? The DC Council, the ANC’s, the residents?

Would you cite some examples of business you consider worth keeping or attracting?

Anonymous said...

What about Chinatown makes you cry (metaphorically speaking)?

John K said...

"Would you cite some examples of business you consider worth keeping or attracting?"

Home Rule, Candida's, Viridian, Vegetate, Ben's Chili Bowl, Go Mama Go, Bar Pilar, etc. etc. These are all places you can't find anywhere else. I'm no urban planning expert but there are things cities can do to prevent what may or may not be happening in Dupont. I know that my hometown of Newark, DE has (or at least used to have) a ban on fast food on its Main Street. I think the North Shore neighborhood in San Fran has done the same thing.

As for the tax issue, I know of mant jurisdictions that have provided property rax relief for groups like the elderly that they don't want pushed out of their homes. I would hope that if what's happening now were threatening our city's small businesses like ben's (or poor families, for that matter) that the city council would try to do something about it.

John K said...

"What about Chinatown makes you cry"

The movie theater was much needed but I don't know that we need all of the chain restaurants. I guess their catering to the suburban crowd that comes into the city for MCI Center events. Whatever. I just don't think that's what we need up here. What makes me cry (and I was exaggerating, of course) is the fact that whoever planned the development ignored the whole Chinatown thing, just like all of the new development on U Street ignored (for the most part) the history of that neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

"Are you impying that the city, which means all of us, subsidize the tax bill of a privately owned business?"

I know of one subsidy in place already - it's called the Homestead Deduction

Chris K. said...

Chinatown makes me cringe a bit too. There is no need for a 20 foot sign that says "CLYDES" to be anywhere in this city.

The thing is, it's not really Chinatown. It's Clarendon-town, and that's a shame.

Anonymous said...

Have you noticed how many of the Chinese restaurants that have been there for years are now gone? It's a shame.

Anonymous said...

I have lived within the boundaries of Logan Circle (as defined by the LCCA) for several years. Those boundaries are: S (North), Mass (South), 9th (East) and 16th (West). Unfortunately there are some very big gaps in the services that are available within those boundaries that require that I venture to Dupont, Chinatown, Georgetown or the suburbs.

I am hoping that businesses will come into our neighborhood to fill these gaps and I have no preference as to weather they are locally owned or part of a chain:

Movie Theater (first run)
Shoe stores
Clothing Stores
Department store (Target/Wal-Mart type)
More Restaurants
Spa/Nails etc.
Full service bookstore (Barnes & Noble size)
Supermarket (Whole Foods does not have everything and Giant is really run-down)

If everything I needed was within walking distance of my home I would not shop anywhere else and I am sure many other people would do the same. Sales tax/business income tax revenues would increase and there would be new jobs created which would increase personal income tax revenue.

Anonymous said...

As far as Ben's Chili Bowl goes why they have not franchised it is beyond me. They have name recognition and a loyal following. We would certainly eat there if they opened up on 14th!

Anonymous said...

and while we are fantasizing: an upscale 24/7 diner!

Rich said...

I'd settle for a Denny's at this point ;-) The local, independent businesses don't cut it when it comes to 24 hour dining. Even 7-11 is better!

Anonymous said...

mmmm..... diner.....

what is it with anyplace other than ny metro in terms of being able to go to you know... the diner.... it doesn't need a name... it's just... the diner...

dl004d said...

So what if it has become Clarendon-town? Why should people have to go out to Clarendon to get a Clarendon-like place? (That is, what's wrong with a strip of restaurants and shopping? You'd rather have boarded up buildings and be forced to drive out to Virginia?)

Anonymous said...

I'd like a neighborhood restaurant like Dupont Italian Kitchen. I told the owner that he should open one on 9th St. and name it it "Logan Italian Kitchen"! There are too many fancy places and not enough casual inexpensive options.

Rob Halligan said...

Part of the reason Dupont is hurting is because Logan is doing so well.