Thursday, April 17, 2008

Introducing, Bloomingdale

Bloomingdale is on my mind. I am especially wondering what can be done to help N. Capital Street. I think we would all love to see improvement: a yoga studio, a bistro, a hardware store.... the question is HOW?

I started asking a lot of questions. Can neighborhood investors gather together to invest (with dollars and/or sense) in helping to improve N. Capital Street? My questions led me to wander around our blocks and introduce myself to some of the business owners, particularly in the block of N. Capital between Quincy and R St:

  • The liquor store on R and N. Capital NE has a constant stream of business. The owner of the liquor store lives above it with his wife. He also owns the building next door which had been for sale a few years ago. He has taken that property off the market because he has decided to develop it into condos...maybe a restaurant. He was very uncertain...and it sort of made me think there may not really be a plan. Perhaps he would be interested in selling?
  • The laundry next-door was vacant and no one was able to give me an answer on its would certainly make a great pizza place. Too bad we can’t talk the owners of Moroni Brothers (on Georgia in Petworth) into opening a second spot....or could we?
  • The Flea Market is owned by a couple and has been for four years. They have a fabulous spot.
  • and then there is the Firehouse. Sigh. What is happening to this lovely building?
  • SAVEMORE has been evicted....would make a fabulous deli/butcher shop.

In addition to wandering the blocks, I also met an investor who has restored/developed several homes and apartment buildings in the area: 20 R Street, NW; 314 V Street, NE to name two. We walked around the neighborhood together and I told him my ideas with the hope that he would say ‘wow...those are fabulous ideas, and I will underwrite them all’.

He did not say that. BUT, he is very interested in the neighborhood. He has a building which he is interested in, and wondered if the neighbors really would like to invest. My sense is that he has the capital to invest on his own...but I think if we, as neighbors, could have a hand in the investment, it might help in the creation of something really unique. What do you think? Are you interested? How are you interested?

What next? Do you know of anyone who might like to walk around the neighborhood with an idea to investing? Do you know anyone at FedEx or XM Radio who could introduce us to the community relations group?

Think about it. I will also keep thinking about it.


  1. did you see the washingtonian chat with joe englert a few days back? we need a bar in the area. i would volunteer 1st and seaton in a heartbeat, but it might not be the best idea, as i would be downstairs drinking like a fish...

  2. It might also be worth it to see how they got the area by Logan Circle developed. There's a ton of cool restaraunts and stuff over there, but it used to look terrible. I wonder if it was the Whole Foods that got that off the ground, or if it was a bunch of smaller things before Whole Foods moved in. Certainly a grocery store helps.

  3. matt,

    short story, there was a group of very civic-minded citizens (which bloomingdale seems to have plenty of) who lobbied for the fresh fields (now whole foods) to move in there. it was going to be located at the corner of 13th and V, where the newish rowhouses are now (and where the children's hospital used to be). that group of people was centered on the 1400 block of Q street, if i remember correctly.

    in addition, i think you can count studio theater as part of the reason why the area just west of the circle came back the way it did...

  4. imgoph,

    Thanks for the information--I didn't know that. So when it comes to infrastructure, what do you think would be the first step toward bringing a similar revitalization to N Capital Street? Would it take a Target/Bed Bath & Beyond combination, or could you do it with local business?

  5. in a post a couple years ago i listed Whole foods requirements:

    * 200,000 people or more in a 20 minute drive time
    * 40,000–75,000 Square Feet
    * Large number of college-educated residents
    * Abundant parking available for our exclusive use
    * Stand alone preferred, would consider complementary
    * Easy access from roadways, lighted intersection
    * Excellent visibility, directly off of the street
    * Must be located in a high traffic area (foot and/or vehicle)

    i believe there was an article in either the post or the city papers a few years ago about how a developer ( abdo?) actually lured whole foods with some large scale thinking. he moved the 7-11. lured in carabou and a number of other things. i cant seem to find the article. anyone?

  6. imgoph,

    why studio? its been there for a hell of a long time.

    by the time it got its additional space, that area had already taken off.

  7. honestly, i guess i picked studio as something representative of the arts community that has helped 14th street grow and is now thriving because of it. i know they did their big expansion in the last couple years after things had really hit their stride. i guess it was just the fact that they're recognized for being there for so long and for being willing to move into what was, at that time back in the 80s, a neighborhood that was considered a place to avoid...