Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Oh Bloomingdale!

My first blog. Ever.

I am an open-house-slut...meaning if it is open, I will enter. My husband and I happened to be in Bloomingdale for just such an opportunity and fell upon four people (the ‘keeper’ of this blog, his fabulous artist wife, the brain and brawn behind the Bloomingdale list serve, and a sophisticated sassy Brit). How lucky for us.

We moved to Bloomingdale in 2004. We have lived in DC for 21 years and this is our first home. We claim to have moved here in order to walk to work...but the reality is that we stumbled into Bloomingdale. In those frenzied days, we had two minutes to act on an as-is fixer-upper. And so we did. We have counted our lucky stars since.

We wondered what it would be like to live in this clearly, a neighborhood. Our neighbors are young and old, black and white, straight and gay, economically advantaged and economically challenged, artistic and not. We invited them over for dessert. At the end of the evening we sat back and sighed contentedness. Phew.

It has been almost 4 years. And now I want to let everyone know what a good neighborhood this is...and at the same time, I want to guard against being too discovered. But really, I would like to see the abandoned and boarded up buildings on North Capital rediscovered. Imagine, just a mile from the Capital of the United States of America! And yet it feels like a thousand miles.

So, my thought in writing here is to generate discussion. What might it take to bring the abandoned buildings on North Capital to life? I wish to keep my focus on the abandoned, boarded buildings. My ideal would be to purchase a small building (say the ‘Bobby Fisher Memorial Building’ 1644 N. Capital Street.)

Here are a few ideas. And I would love to hear your feedback.

1. Form a neighborhood LLC to purchase a building. As neighbors we have a vested interest in seeing these buildings restored and reopened. The building could be cleaned up, restored, a business opened and proceeds used to purhaps buy the next abandoned building. The goal would not be so much to make money (though certainly, we do not want to loose money) but rather to see the neighborhood improve.

2. Court deep-pocket investors. On a whim, I emailed some of the better-known developers in DC...people with deep pockets. I invited them over for coffee and to walk with me around the neighborhood to see all the possibilities. I do not wish to see our neighborhood developed into a tourist spot, but what if one of these individuals was the lead in purchasing and renovating one building...would that encourage others? No one responded. Yet.

3. Set-up a partnership between the architecture school at Catholic (or any area school...maybe even highschool) to work with existing business owners to energize their facades so that they actually look like the thriving businesses they could be. It would help the owners, it would help the students, it would help the neighbors and it might encourage others to invest.

Think about it.

And so. Here lies my first blog. Ever.


  1. I like all the ideas. anything to get the area booming. It is undiscovered lil haven but it could be soo much more!

  2. I second that, I like all of the ideas too. I think if you were to get a few more supporters you should think about scheduling a neighborhood meeting at Big Bear to further discuss these ideas.

  3. These are some great ideas. Getting a retailer on board would obviously be a great help - maybe a deli or small, unique restaurant - someone willing to take a risk to be 'on the edge'. It is also worth looking into public funds available - and let's not forget we have a civic and business association that could be leveraged. I have lived on Randolph Pl for almost 6 months now, and unfortunatley I can count on one hand the number of times I've walked over to North Capital to buy something. For a road that well traveled and located in an area where incomes are rising - seems like an opportune place to create a unique retail district. I'd be very interested in helping.

  4. I like all your ideas too. Number 1 is something I'd like to get involved with. I would love to start or be involved in starting a yoga/dance studio in the Bloomingdale/Eckington neighborhood.

  5. I think you are absolutely on the right track. The residential development is screaming for parallel commercial development. Your idea for a neighborhood LLC is a good one (I term it a community partnership). Imagine if 100 of us invested in a cleaners together. We would have 100 customers for a service that most of us need and are probably paying for elsewhere. I also believe that we need an upscale bar or pub. As progressive residents we need to be more visible in the evening and night hours. To do that, we need venues for to patron in the evening and night hours.