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, March 24, 2017

Crystal City Business Improvement District promotional video

In updating the previous piece, I came across this promotional video from the Crystal City BID.  It might be a little too fast and jumpy for me, but it definitely puts forth the image of Crystal City as being well-located, very much transit-connected, with a lot happening, plenty of retail amenities, events, and walkability, in short, an interesting place to live.

(Oddly, it doesn't say much about it being a business center in its own right.)

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At 8:40 PM, Blogger Bill said...

I was in exile from the DC area for a few years, but when I visited I always stayed in Crystal City. Weekend hotel rates are great, the location is great, and its close to my old neighborhood and connections. Both transit, parking, and bike trails are perks. There are surprising little parks throughout, and the underground is endlessly fascinating and mysterious. There is food, drink and amenities to be had at any time of day. It has a way to go still, but it is transitioning from a daytime office district that is a dead zone after hours to more of a round the clock place. The Techshop and arts/crafts studios are fascinating, and there seems to be a nerd following that hangs around at all hours. One night I was out walking home at around 2 AM and passed by the volleyball courts, which was packed with players and spectators of all stripes. Women in bikini tops and shorts, women in hijab, and just a great mix of people that made me appreciate the diversity and ambition that this region offers. The next morning I went out to get breakfast and heard what I thought to be thumping north indian pop music. I go to the next block, and sure enough, newleyweds are posing for photos on horseback, and the wedding party and gathered crowd are loving it. I wish I had bought real estate in or near Crystal City several years ago.

At 1:01 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Great story. Thanks for sharing.

... yes about housing. There is a bungalow rich housing district abutting Crystal City too.

I have to say that I have learned a lot observing what the CC BID has done. I was skeptical when Angie Fox was hired, not because she didn't know what she was doing, but because I was so close minded about the potential (I worked in Crystal City 1992-1993).

Besides having those basic building blocks around (which you discussed), they've been very creative in building an identity through programming.

At 12:56 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

1. yes the BID has been excellent. then again they need to.

2. Buying RE as a investment there has occurred to me. AS a place to live it is very undervalued. As a place to work it seems to me stilll over-valued.

3 As I said using the new JPG-CES as a benchmark for the larger DC CRE market is still valid, and a lot depends on CC.

To tie in with your point on PG county though, the problem with CC is a terminally uncool, despite all the BID tries to do.

At 3:37 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Ahh, don't fall into the same mistake that I made wrt the announcement that Angie Fox was hired.

Terminally uncool is in the eye of the beholder. There are plenty of people in the market who aren't shaped by their previous perceptions (cf. this is a mistake in framework I had to slough off wrt Detroit; when people would write stuff, say stuff, do projects, I would think 'but it's nothing like I remember back in 1966'. I had to give up that way of thinking, and only think about it forward.)

e.g., with PG, the new Whole Foods is opening April 12th. PG doesn't have to be great for everyone or everywhere. As long as it is great in the Rte. 1 corridor, it can build on that.

And year by year, Crystal City is becoming more cool. It's not Clarendon, and they should focus on developing a couple assets like the ones that are there (e.g., Clarendon Ballroom, etc.).

Yes, it's not for me, and probably not for you, but there are many micro-segments of the market that are fine with it. Not unlike Capitol Riverfront or SW Waterfront. I don't think I'd want to live there, but plenty of people do and like it.

At 3:39 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

wrt the point about JBG/CES as an indicator. Absolutely. They are selling off non-Metrorail centric properties, so they are doubling down on transit connectivity.

Maybe they figure it gives them double protection if the current Administration super f*s DC and NoVA non-defense agencies.

... not unlike how Fairfax County's CRE market is reshaping from automobile dependent locations towards Silver Line accessibility and centricity.

At 8:51 PM, Anonymous charlie said...

Yes, you're quite right about the eye of the beholder.

That said, I think the CC and Rt 1 corridors may have to wait until the generation of 2000 starts investing in adult life. I'm sure that they will think in 2025 that U and H st are full of old people.

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Well as I keep having to remind myself buildings are envelopes, a la JJ, and a building that looks dull on the outside (any of the buildings along Rte. 1...) can have cool uses and spaces inside.

Cool isn't by definition "a historic building." Although it helps a lot. e.g., Clarandon Ballroom, but then Bryant Street Bowl in Minneapolis or the Cinema place in Suburban Minneapolis that I mentioned show a way forward.

The trick is that building owners have to be flexible and that is still a conundrum.

... I went to the CNU conference I think in 2014 in Salt Lake City and I eavesdrop/participated in a conversation about a company with the in-foreclosure management job for Lake Forest Mall in Gaithersburg. He was talking to a guy from Australia on how to activate the parking lots etc.

I butted in and said you have very few of the antecedents required to activate successful that space. I said tear the damn thing down and focus energies on other places that already have those conditions. (Of course that does nothing for that particular property owner, but is better for the overall land use program.)

I noticed within the last week or two the building went into a second foreclosure.

OTOH, Rte. 1 in either Arlington or Prince George's is way better situated than the Lake Forest Mall.

At 9:40 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

... cf the conundrum of property owners/operators.

e.g., White Flint and Lord & Taylor. The thing is that WF and L&T are both right. WF needs to be redeveloped, but even so, a department store can still thrive in a new urban design setting. But WF is resistant wrt L&T (the courts said "too bad") and L&T could be more flexible, maybe extract a profit interest in the rest of the development if they are more forthcoming.

At 1:23 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

a semi-related example from Atlanta.

Here what makes a difference is proximity to the Beltline trail ROW. ... that being said, I don't know how well situated the properties are otherwise.


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