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.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Another example of phasing: how commercial and entertainment districts can change over time

Yesterday I wrote the piece about the H Street commercial district in response to a screed that appeared in the Washington Informer about the changes happening there.

While I do agree that there are gaps in how the planning for the changes came about, resulting in under-formed provision of civic services and things to do that don't cost money, the reality is that cities change over time and the solution to disinvestment is investment, and that strategies that focus on keeping areas poor don't improve neighborhoods.

(To address What that means is that there needs to be a better focus on "community economic development," education and workforce development, etc., or the kinds of things discussed in Mihalio Temali's Community Economic Development Handbook; overview, review.)

So I suggested that commercial districts that are improving improve in phases, and in later phases it's more possible for retail to develop.

The Friday Weekend section of the Washington Post has a feature on what we might call "more upscale places" in Adams-Morgan, "What to do this weekend: Explore Adams Morgan."

Adams-Morgan became the more "downscale" weekend entertainment destination as Georgetown went more upscale. But over time, as the demographics of the area change, and as a new entertainment district is being created on H Street NE, Adams-Morgan has the chance and opportunity to reposition as well. This is seen in the greater variety of evening options now available there, as outlined in the Post article.

Similarly, for many years if not decades, Capitol Hill was derided as a place where it was impossible to find an upscale restaurant meal. Over the past few years, that's changed as well, as new developments, especially the baseball stadium, bring more potential customers to the area, and as 8th Street SE (Barracks Row) has developed into a small entertainment district destination as well.

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