Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


1. I had a letter in the Washington Business Journal in response to the article "Food Desert" making the point that people do have access to supermarkets, but often over the DC-Maryland line, but that such access still needs to be considered.
Signs of Change Line the Shelves -
Washington Post graphic.

2. The new Congress Heights retail development, which includes a Giant Supermarket, is single use development, just like the Rhode Island Place development in Ward 5. See "Long-Awaited Ward 8 Giant Opens This Week" from the Express blog and "Signs of Change Line the Shelves," subtitled "Grocery Arrives In Reviving Ward" from the Post.

3. I mention this because Shawn calls our attention to this article from the Post, about losing grocery stores in Brooklyn due to redevelopment, "Groceries Grow Elusive For Many in New York City," subtitled "With Rents Soaring, Stores Are Being Demolished for Condos."

This is the flipside of the problem in DC. See we waste land. Single use development doesn't work well in cities. Mixed use does. There is nothing to prevent supermarkets from being redeveloped on the ground floor, with housing above in Brooklyn or in DC.

But a quick solution, would be to require a conditional use permit to redevelop a grocery store. That would allow the Planning Office to require mixed use and maintain the supermarket use. Hey give a bunch of tax incentives, abatements on the housing part, and it becomes financially doable.

See this article from the San Francisco Chronicle, about the Harvest Urban Market on the ground floor of an affordable housing development in San Franscisco, "A SOMA complex with a coffee shop and lively mural proves that affordable housing doesn't have to be ugly housing."
Harvest Urban Market
SF Chronicle photo.

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