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.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Pay an incentive fee and Downtown Los Angeles will get a Trader Joe's

The Los Angeles Times reports in "LA booster club is cheesed off at Trader Joe's" that a Downtown residents association gave TJ's a lemon award because they continue to "refuse" to open a store in Downtown Los Angeles.

DC's second Trader Joe's opened a couple weeks ago at 14th and U Streets NW ("14th Street Trader Joe's has murals of U Street landmarks," Washington Post).  I don't know if the developer had to pay an incentive fee to the company, I doubt it, because as a single project they wouldn't have had the financial werewithal to do it.

But DC's first Trader Joe's came to the city only because of an incentive payment.  And it wasn't even paid for by DC, but by the Foggy Bottom Association, which received a large "grant" in return for the agreement to extinguish an easement on the old Columbia Hospital for Women, which had prevented the site from being further developed.  FBA took a big portion of that money (I always forget the exact amount), something like $1.2 million, and dangled it in front of Trader Joe's, which refused to come to the city without an incentive payment.

Allegedly, that first DC location one of the company's more successful stores on the east coast, and now they have many more stores in urban locations, including in Philadelphia.  And it makes them more likely to open additional stores in DC.

But sometimes, to get a company over the hump, you've got to put out...

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At 5:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"FBA took a big portion of that money (I always forget the exact amount), something like $1.2 million..."

It was $1.12 million out of a total $3.25 million--it would have been $5 million had HPRB under Boasberg not tried to queer the deal on behalf of GWU.

The remaining money was used to create a permanent, independent community grantmaking foundation--the FBA Defense & Improvement Corp.--which, among numerous other things, has funded the first three iterations of a biennial outdoor sculpture exhibit in the Foggy Bottom Historic District:

"...and dangled it in front of Trader Joe's,"

It wasn't "dangled" in front of TJ's. The community desperately needed and wanted a grocery store--and TJ's in particular--in that development and worked it out through the developer. The community also created a 200+ letter-writing campaign to TJ's asking the store to locate there.

"...which refused to come to the city without an incentive payment..."

Not quite true. TJ's just didn't get the urban concept, and took a lot of our suggestions with great skepticism. But we knew it would work and were willing to step up to the plate. Remember this was in 2002-2003 and it has taken the city more than a decade to bring in a second TJ's.


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