Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Begging for big boxes


Photo by christine592 on Flickr.
Wegmans at Walter Reed?: DC officials are courting Wegmans for Walter Reed. Would Wegmans build a store that helps create a walkable neighborhood, or will it just be another cookie-cutter massive-parking supermarket? (Examiner, RPUS, Jonathan O'Connell)

Outlets a good fit for transit-poor megacomplex?: National Harbor will get an 80-store outlet complex. National Harbor's initial business plan had called for some federal offices but they failed to get any because of the lack of Metro access. (Post)

Mixed-use or move out?: Montgomery planners propose two new zone types to allow shorter mixed-use projects between suburban neighborhoods and major centers. But a former councilmember would rather everyone who likes the mixed-use parts of the county move out and turn everything back 50 years. (Examiner, JUTP)

Brown considering tax switcheroo: Kwame Brown is considering a last-minute switch of the income tax increase to a tax on out-of-state bonds. That would probably hit more retirees (who have savings) versus younger residents with high incomes. (Post)

Metro to investigate excessive force: Metro Police Chief Michael Taborn has ordered an investigation into alleged excessive force by two officers who arrested a man outside the U Street station. Ward 1 Councilman Jim Graham wants Sarles or the Board to take additional action. (WUSA)

Metro still running reds: A day after Metro reviewed rail safety procedures in response to operators running red signals, another incident occurred in the Shady Grove yard. The TOC says Metro has been forthcoming about the incidents. (Examiner)

Peds struck in hit-and-run: A husband and wife were struck while crossing the street on Viers Mill Road in Montgomery County, killing the woman and critically injuring the man. The driver fled the scene, was later apprehended, then released. (WUSA)

Maryland may exclude Keolis: Maryland lawmakers will require SNCF to disclose more records about its role transporting French Jews in the Holocaust if its subsidiary Keolis is to bid on the MARC Camden and Brunswick lines. Holocaust survivors are pleased but it could leave Maryland with no operators willing to bid on the lines. (BBC, Post, Matt T.)

Bike bits: Dr. Gridlock says drivers "at least slow down" for stop signs, excusing the many drivers who don't stop. (WashCycle) ... Fill out a quick survey about different types of bike infrastructure to help out a transportation systems graduate student.

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Erik Weber has been living car-free in the District since 2009. Hailing from the home of the nation's first Urban Growth Boundary, Erik has been interested in transit since spending summers in Germany as a kid where he rode as many buses, trains and streetcars as he could find. Views expressed here are Erik's alone. 

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Have you seen the grocery carts at Wegmans? They're the size of a Mini Cooper. Good luck lugging that on the bus.

I'd be interested to learn whether this is an actual pitch or just an attempt by the government to generate buzz. Wegmans business plan has been focused on the outer suburbs for decades now. This would be a major about face, akin to Ikea going urban.

by monkeyrotica on May 24, 2011 8:38 am • linkreport

Commit a hit-and-run and you get released? Gotta love good old Montgomery County / Maryland justice.

by Martin on May 24, 2011 8:43 am • linkreport

Better idea: Just sue the French for losing the war. Clearly, it is all their fault.

by charlie on May 24, 2011 8:55 am • linkreport

I will be absolutely floored if Wegmans can create any sort of urban store; they're very, very good at building their big box, but have shown no desire to adapt that design for another context. That's why they haven't put one inside the beltway yet.

by Chris S on May 24, 2011 8:58 am • linkreport

I can't see something as enormous as Wegmans working at a site like that without some serious down-scaling. And if it's a lot smaller, then what's the point?

by Ron on May 24, 2011 9:05 am • linkreport

This Keolis thing is ridiculous.

Keolis is majority owned by SNCF, and it was founded in the late 1990s, long after the Holocaust. During the Holocaust, in case anyone forgot high school social studies, France was occupied by the Nazis. Taken over. Under their complete control. It makes sense, then, that a corporation owned by the French government may have ended up being used for what the Nazis wanted it to be used for. In the decades since, obviously, France has been free from the Nazis and so has SNCF.

Why don't we react like this when Volkswagen, founded by the Nazis, bids for a contract? What about IBM, which built the technology the Nazis used to keep track of prisoners? Do we put the same demands on them when they bid for a government contract?

And what do these people think will happen when we demand Keolis reveal its role in the Holocaust? Will we discover that Keolis is secretly a neo-Nazi front group? That Keolis is planning another Holocaust? Probably not.

by Tim on May 24, 2011 9:10 am • linkreport

Wegmans isn't just another suburban supermarket. It's a Wonderland of food.

by ksu499 on May 24, 2011 9:12 am • linkreport

Is that Veirs Mill Road intersection and unmarked crosswalk? Is pedestrian right-of-way in an unmarked crosswalk a federal law, or only a DC law?

by m on May 24, 2011 9:18 am • linkreport

@m:
The unmarked crosswalk law is not a federal law. However, it is a law in DC. It's also the law in Maryland, where the accident happened.

by Matt Johnson on May 24, 2011 9:25 am • linkreport

+1 Tim.

This fiasco is going to send the message that it's not worth doing business in America.

by andrew on May 24, 2011 9:26 am • linkreport

SNCF has claimed (for decades) exactly the argument Tim is making, and they might be telling the truth. However, after France was liberated, SNCF continued to seek remuneration from France for the cost of transporting Holocaust victims. SNCF supposedly billed France and/or Germany for third-class (seated) tickets, yet transported everyone in cattle cars. The Maryland bill would finally tell us if payments like this were attained and what they were used for. These two (potential) facts suggest that SNCF's role in transporting Holocaust victims was willful, but no one yet knows what really happened.

I think Maryland's bill does a good job of just requiring the evidence, something SNCF has been very reluctant to provide. There is a good chance that SNCF will comply, because they want Keolis to have this business. SNCF has only just recently apologized for their role in the Holocaust. See this January NYTimes article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/26/world/europe/26france.html

Yes, that really took more than 60 years.

by funInSun52 on May 24, 2011 9:32 am • linkreport

Wegmans is fantastic. Really great products, at prices that don't feel ridiculous, like a certain Austin-based supermarket.

And they treat their staff very well.

A gay buddy of mine recently got paid time off from Wegmans to attend his partner's fathers funeral. Even though he'd only been there about three months.

Truly a class act.

by Hillman on May 24, 2011 9:32 am • linkreport

@ Outlet: (from WaPo link):“National Harbor not only has high visibility and easy access to major highways, it is also minutes away from three international airports,”

True. And how is this different from the outlet malls in Potomac and Arundel Mills? Or the ones in Leesburg and Queenstown for that matter?

And WTF do airports have to do with outlet shopping? Do you seriously think people are gonna fly in and shop at an outlet? Well, sorry, in that case you're gonna loose from Pentagon Fashion Mall, Leesburg and Arundel Mills.

“Our residents have yearned for diverse shopping opportunities for years.”

Don't want to be rude, but as for outlet malls, they've had them in virtually every neighboring county.

by Jasper on May 24, 2011 9:39 am • linkreport

the Nazis did not just kill the rail engineers and workers that failed to comply with orders - they killed their whole families as well, as threatened. It was a huge number of rail engineers who resisted and were killed. At the time the entire French national-industrial complex was under Nazi command.

Anyway Keolis has nothing to do with SNCF other than that SNCF bought them recently.

This whole think is stupid because now MD won't get any decent bids for rail service. Obviously our lawmakers didn't consider the quality of rail service to be the pressing issue that it actually is.

by Lee on May 24, 2011 9:40 am • linkreport

@Martin:

Uh, yeah. They let him out. Had to. Something called the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. Look up the Bill of Rights. Something about bail. It's been affirmed by the Supreme Court. Even Maryland Courts have to respect it.

by Mike S. on May 24, 2011 9:41 am • linkreport

Metro Police Chief Michael Taborn has ordered an investigation

That investigation can be done in 1m57s that the video is long. No need to take any statements full of lies. Send the cops to a month of sensitivity training and a month of latrine duty - in a wheelchair. After those two months, both cops will have to write a public apology to the victim and explain their lack of compassion in terms of their troubled youth.

by Jasper on May 24, 2011 9:51 am • linkreport

Yes, SNCF continued to seek remuneration from France for the cost of transporting Holocaust victims. Otherwise they were going to go out of business, and the workers and families would have been totally screwed. This would not be the only time railways in France needed a bailout of some kind. Fuel, food, and resources in France were all insanely expensive at the time and people were starving and homeless. They had to take care of all the worker's family survivors - children and widows that came out of hiding etc. Also if they had gone under there wouldn't have been any real transportation in France - it's not like they had cars and highways as an alternative. there wasn't really any alternative except riding pre-war bicycles on dirt roads that were already abysmal before they got wrecked by tanks and bombs. The French government has already provided all this information, and many people in France can still remember it.

The point of this exercise is to limit competition for bids on the rail contracts, which is not going to help with improving service.

by Lee on May 24, 2011 9:52 am • linkreport

@Jasper:

I agree, the bit about the major airports is suspect (at best). But I think this will be a boon for that part of the county nonetheless, transit-non-availability notwithstanding. I live just across the river in the Mount Vernon area, and National Harbor is maybe twenty minutes' drive away from me. Potomac Mills is the next-closest outlet center, and that's maybe forty minutes' drive, on a good day. Now, am I a big fan of outlets? Not particularly - I'll go, if I'm in the area and if I need something (there were a lot in my college town, which was a boon for cheap shoes and bedding, for instance. Though come to think of it...) But I suspect they'll be able to draw a lot of people from both southern PG County and southeastern Fairfax County. It's not hard to get there from the Wilson Bridge - even if there WAS Metro access, it's more convenient for people who live in my neck of the woods to drive there. And I can't speak to options in Maryland, but at least on the Route 1 corridor we're at a loss when it comes to cheap shopping. So I have a feeling that this project will do well...if it's marketed properly.

As to Metro to National Harbor: I think it would be a great idea, but I've never said anything about it because, to be blunt, I'm not at all familiar with the lay of the land on that side of the river. Doesn't look like it would be too hard to do, though - and maybe extend the line down into Fort Washington?

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on May 24, 2011 9:53 am • linkreport

Big box retail is a necessary evil to get DC sales taxes. But there's no tax on groceries so DC's enticing WalMart & Wegman's is just destroying the sweetheart deal we have from Safeway & Giant. Also there's no need to squander our prime large mixed-use urban development parcels on either; they both get masses of customers wherever they are situated. Put them where no one else would locate. (This would require a tiny bit of actual planning).

I've always thought an Aldi/Trader Joes every few blocks is what DC needs for convenient cheap walkable groceries.

I have to admit I would enjoy seeing a Wegman's close to a WalMart run the WalMart out of business, which it would. WalMart has it's claws deeply enough into DC politicians now that it won't allow any Wegman's or Aldi's which are well-proven WalMart grocery killers.

by Tom Coumaris on May 24, 2011 9:54 am • linkreport

The tax-free status for out of state municipal bonds has been on the books since before home rule. People make their investment and life choices based on laws and rules. To switch those rules, without at least grandfathering the existing condition is poor public policy.

Of course, one wouldn't expect more from Kwame Brown. I hope the other Councilmembers tell him that this is unacceptable.

by William on May 24, 2011 10:00 am • linkreport

@Lee I do not believe that the same SNCF management that was attempting to kill workers for insubordination was just a year later wanting to be paid just so that its workers "and families" could be fed. In general, I find your argument that management of a company has the best interests of its workers and passengers at heart quite naive.

It is unfortunate that Keolis has become a pawn between Holocaust survivors and SNCF, but SNCF has not been willing to frankly disclose its involvement in World War II and there simply is no easier way to do this with such weak international courts.

Wikipedia documents much of this rather nicely: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SNCF#Role_during_World_War_II The proposed legislation would allow for much more authoritative documentation to be available to the public.

by funInSun52 on May 24, 2011 10:03 am • linkreport

@Mike S., WUSA says that the driver was released, not released on bail. He may have paid bail, but he may also have been released on recognizance -- we don't know yet.

(Also, note that the Eighth Amendment does not require all detainees to be offered bail, merely that any bail offered cannot be excessive.)

by cminus on May 24, 2011 10:03 am • linkreport

This entire Holocaust industry is run by lawyers. You are limited by what you can go after in Germany -- there was an international agreement -- so you go after bit players. Disgusting.

by charlie on May 24, 2011 10:04 am • linkreport

So admittedly I'm a tad biased since I spent 6 years working for them (and got a nice scholarship from them too!) but Wegman's can indeed do smaller stores. Around here they've been doing massive stores because they're destinations that people will go to. Back north where they started most of the stores are much much smaller and yes some of them are located in cities and are walkable (my brother lives near one of these).

The store that I worked at was suburban but Wegman's partnered with the local transit agency to get one of the few stops in the area at the store and also to provide parking as part of a park and ride to downtown. I have no doubt that if Wegman's decided to build a store in DC it would be well done and appropriately scaled.

by Craig on May 24, 2011 10:08 am • linkreport

@Tim-There's no real evidence that IBM or Thomas J. Watson colluded with the Nazi's in exterminating Jews. Germany during the 30's was a boon for IBM, no doubt, and Watson even travelled to Berlin to give a speech in '37 as President of the International Chamber of Commerce (World Peace through World Trade). IBM did, however, provide data processing equipment to the US military at only 1% profit during the war (how many companies take only 1% profit today???)

Full disclosure: I'm a proud Endicott, NY'er (birthplace of IBM), and graduate of Thomas J. Watson elementary school.

by thump on May 24, 2011 10:10 am • linkreport

@charlie

Actually, what's pretty disgusting is the fact that it took SNCF until 2010 to apologize for its actions. Regardless of whether the company was coerced, forced, etc. to do the work, refusing for 60 years to apologize for the company's role is pretty pathetic.

by MLD on May 24, 2011 10:14 am • linkreport

The proposed new tax on out of state bonds can, and probably will, backfire. Other states probably will respond by taxing DC bonds, driving up lending costs for DC.

by goldfish on May 24, 2011 10:14 am • linkreport

@Tom C: isn't that an Aldi going up near the Starburst on Bladensburg Rd?

by Froggie on May 24, 2011 10:15 am • linkreport

SNCF has contracts with the Israeli government. If the Israelis are satisfied with SNCF's disclosures on the Holocaust, I see no reason why the state of Maryland shouldn't be.

by Phil on May 24, 2011 10:20 am • linkreport

@ MLD; please. Nations might apologize. Corporations? As I said, this is just being run by greedy lawyers.

Isn't Aldi, well, owned by formers Nazis?

by charlie on May 24, 2011 10:24 am • linkreport

Well, if SNCF should be held responsibly for its role in the Holocaust, shouldn't all of France be held responsible for its roles in World War II and the Holocaust? Shouldn't all of Germany be held responsible? Being taken over by the Nazis apparently isn't enough of an excuse for SNCF, so why should it be an excuse for anyone else?

Also, anyone who profited from slavery should be held responsible for that. Barack Obama should have to personally pay fair market value to families of former slaves for the time he has lived in the White House, since it was constructed largely by slaves.

by Tim on May 24, 2011 10:32 am • linkreport

Thank God the French don't remember the 75,000 civilians we killed by bombing them.

by charlie on May 24, 2011 10:37 am • linkreport

@ funInSun52

"I do not believe that the same SNCF management that was attempting to kill workers for insubordination was just a year later wanting to be paid just so that its workers "and families" could be fed. In general, I find your argument that management of a company has the best interests of its workers and passengers at heart quite naive."

NO, it was not the "same SNCF management". The management you speak of during the war was literally the Gestapo, commanding rail workers at gunpoint. This was obviously not the "same management" after the war ended.

Sensible people held the Gestapo accountable for what happened with SNCF - not the SNCF management. As Phil pointed out, the Israelis are satisfied with SNCF's disclosures. For the state of Maryland to try to limit SNCF's ability to bid on contracts makes no sense except to unreasonable people. To limit Keolis' bids is just absurd and stupid.

by Lee on May 24, 2011 10:49 am • linkreport

@goldfish, other states are unlikely to respond by ending tax exemptions for DC government bonds, because they've already done so. Currently, DC and Indiana are the only states that grant tax-exempt status to out-of-state government bonds.

by cminus on May 24, 2011 10:54 am • linkreport

@Lee

The gestapo was not SNCF management during World War II. SNCF's most recent apology makes that clear.

Maryland is just tying Keolis' hands until SNCF discloses whatever information it has. No lawyers from the "Holocaust industry," just information that will be both freely available and accessible to the public. It's a game, but that's politics. In my mind, this legislation works well for Holocaust survivors, the descendents of victims, historians, and is a chance for SNCF to finally come clean. That SNCF apology was made for no other reason than to let Keolis do business in California. Now that Maryland has its chance, I'm glad its asking for something of actual substance from SNCF and not just empty platitudes.

It has taken too long to get to this point.

by funInSun52 on May 24, 2011 11:05 am • linkreport

Wegmans at Walter Reed?

Just curious: why do we need big box stores in DC? They're close enough to drive to, and land is cheap in the burbs. There's the argument that there's lost revenue to be captured, but we could make the same argument for other inappropriate uses: why not a giant Six Flags -style theme park? Seems unfair that DC residents should have to drive way out to Maryland to ride roller coasters! How about a massive wind farm? Think of the tax revenue!

Other ideas:

Motor speedways?
Advanced particle accelerators?
A sprawling, multi- square-mile auto graveyard?

Or maybe we should just concentrate on the things that cities do well, and that contribute to the fabric of urban places.

by oboe on May 24, 2011 11:09 am • linkreport

@oboe:

A motor speedway? Why not? Seems to work for Monaco:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monaco_Grand_Prix

I don't know about you, but I'd pay money to see Formula 1 cars attempting to navigate Dupont Circle.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on May 24, 2011 11:13 am • linkreport

re: Hit and Run

The driver fled the scene, was later apprehended, then released.

Well, of course he was. It's pretty obvious that all you need to do is say "I wasn't paying attention" and there's no obligation whatsoever to stop, much less provide aid to someone you've driven over in your car.

For all the sturm und drang over the incredibly rare incident of a person on a bike hitting someone on foot and leaving them severely injured, one thing you don't ever see is the perpetrator caught and pleading, "Ah! I thought I hit a deer!"

by oboe on May 24, 2011 11:13 am • linkreport

@cminus, if your assertion is correct, then DC should tax all state bonds except Indiana.

by goldfish on May 24, 2011 11:26 am • linkreport

@Ser Amantio:

I don't know about you, but I'd pay money to see Formula 1 cars attempting to navigate Dupont Circle.

No, you misunderstand me. Simply closing the streets to traffic and holding a Grand Prix will not bring sufficient long term revenue. This is small-time thinking.

We must raze Dupont Circle and erect something similar to the Talladega Motor Speedway in its place. If we want to keep DC tax dollars in DC, it's high time we stopped letting the suburbs, exurbs, and rural Southern states poach these economic opportunities.

If, for some reason, the various issues cannot be worked out, we should consider simply converting the Circle itself into a velodrome. And before we hear from those who say the areas cyclists are already being pandered to, I would point out that the utility of a modern velodrome goes far beyond bicycling events:

by oboe on May 24, 2011 11:41 am • linkreport

re bonds

As I understand it, the problem is that DC is too small a jurisdiction to offer the different terms and instruments that other, larger, jurisdictions can provide to their residents on a tax-free basis.

So there are at least two issues: 1) the competitive disadvantage District residents have to access DC only bonds on a tax-free basis and 2) the fear, once again that seniors who rely on consistent tax law are being threatened with having their lifelong financial planning mitigated so the Councilmembers can fund other segments of society.

by William on May 24, 2011 11:46 am • linkreport

@goldfish, as a native Hoosier I'd love to see that happen, but the judiciary tends to get shirty when states play favorites in their dealings with other states.

by cminus on May 24, 2011 12:19 pm • linkreport

@oboe:

Just curious: why do we need big box stores in DC? They're close enough to drive to, and land is cheap in the burbs.

Damn right. Get those Best Buys out of here!

Other ideas:

Motor speedways?
Advanced particle accelerators?
A sprawling, multi- square-mile auto graveyard?

How about a hyperbole factory? Would save you some driving...

by Bob See on May 24, 2011 12:26 pm • linkreport

@ oboe

All DC residents dont have cars to get to the stores in Maryland and Virginia. How do you suppose those who have no cars get to these locations in Maryland and Virginia.

Lets take alook at Wegamans, Walmart, Sears, Kmart etc

Wegmans

Largo how does one get to it via transit

Walmart

Landover Hills is easy but the transit A12 and T18 plus rush hour W4 are slow and create long distances to travel back to DC

Va same as Landover Hills location

Germantown no one from DC is going there unless have to

Clinton what buses go there ?

Sears

Montgermy Mall is easy to get to but requires train plus bus from DC

White Oak requires long bus ride

Alexandria requires train then bus

Landover Mall site requires train to Addison RD, Capitol Hgts, Landover or New Carrolton then long bus ride plus long walk

Kmart

None near metrorail station will require to take a bus from a metrorail station no matter which you go to.

by kk on May 24, 2011 12:32 pm • linkreport

How about a hyperbole factory? Would save you some driving...

As long as your factory has over 250,000 square feet, a thousand spaces of "ample" surface parking, and is served by a spaghetti bowl of feeder infrastructure, you've got a deal!

Why let the exburbs get all that lucrative hyperbole tax revenue?

by oboe on May 24, 2011 12:33 pm • linkreport

@ cminus and oboe...

The right to be released on bail is a constitutional right, reaffirmed by the Supreme Court in the Stack decision, in which the Court states,
" This traditional right to freedom before conviction permits the unhampered preparation of a defense, and serves to prevent the infliction of punishment prior to conviction."
Bail can be denied only in a very limited number of circumstances, including - but not limited to - murder, and cases where the defendant poses a serious flight risk.
You are still innocent until found guilty in this country, and the courts have ruled that incarceration is a form of punishment. You can't deny bail except in the most extreme cases. Even if the accused has been driving a car! Or smoking!
Whether the guy in this case was released on his own recognizance is another matter. Letting someone out on personal recognizance in a case like this would be outrageous. But the "Maryland justice" being whined about had no damned choice but to offer this guy a way out of jail.
That's the constitution, and it applies in Maryland, and even to MLT's.

by Mike S. on May 24, 2011 2:01 pm • linkreport

@Mike S:

cases where the defendant poses a serious flight risk.

I think a guy for whom there is overwhelming circumstantial evidence that he fled the scene after running down a couple of pedestrians would fall under the definition of "flight risk."

He already ran away once in an attempt to evade responsibility for his actions; why not again?

by oboe on May 24, 2011 2:35 pm • linkreport

@kk,

And the carless suburbanites must make a long and inconvenient trek to get to Eastern Market.

What you're proposing is to turn the city into the sprawling exurbs so that we can provide sprawling exurban amenities to our citizens.

If you want to talk about the difficulty in inner city poor getting things like fresh vegetables, that's one thing. But that it's marginally more difficult for city dwellers to get to a K Mart than it is for exurbanites? Tough crap.

by oboe on May 24, 2011 2:37 pm • linkreport

@kk: The Landover Wegmans has no transit within a mile radius and I know of at least one worker who walks the 1.2 miles from the nearest bus to get there. Of course, this is PG County where transit is eighth fiddle. Why the private sector hasn't had someone operate a shuttle of their own from New Carrollton or Largo to cater to DC people a la the Ikea shuttle in Brooklyn amazes me.

During the week, the Fairfax Wegmans is a 15 minute bus ride from Vienna but during the weekend the most viable option is to take a rambling bus ride from West Falls Church to Reston back down to Fairfax. Did I mention there's a huge transfer gap between the two lines? Having planned it out, it's nominally longer to take the Green Line to the B30 to the Light Rail to Hunt Valley.

The planned Germantown (along Ride On 55, with a rerouting of Ride On 100 from Shady Grove doable) and Kingstowne (Fairfax Connector 231/232) locations are in much better transit situations.

by Jason on May 24, 2011 2:39 pm • linkreport

Can I assume we are going to present Wegmans with a 23 page list of demands before they can grace our fair city? Including a requirement that they not even ask job applicants about criminal history?

Or do we just reserve that sort of thing for just retailers named Walmart?

by Hillman on May 24, 2011 5:10 pm • linkreport

Interesting that federal offices didn't move to National Harbor because of a lack of Metro access but DoD plans to move to Marks Center...which has no Metro access.

by Mike Hawaii on May 24, 2011 5:56 pm • linkreport

Or do we just reserve that sort of thing for just retailers named Walmart?

Who's "we"? Is this the apocryphal "GGW Crew" again? If so, we'll take a show of hands at the bi-weekly meeting tonight and let you know.

My personal opinion is that Walmart and Wegmans should be fought through every legal means necessary. If they can't be stopped, DC should extract every concession it's possible to extract.

We're not dealing with benign entities.

by oboe on May 24, 2011 6:06 pm • linkreport

from the Wegman's story:

""Officials also plan to meet with Under Armour, Target, Home Depot, Bloomingdales, Wal-Mart, Lowe's and Michaels for sites like the Shops at Georgetown Park, NoMa, Capitol Riverfront and the O Street Market.""

Thrills.

What the heck do DC officials keep going to this shopping center convention in Las Vegas for every year? To "lure" more shopping center stores?

by Tom Coumaris on May 24, 2011 6:28 pm • linkreport

@Mike Hawaii

Very good point and also all of the Office Buildings, the two town centres, and the mall in Fair Oaks that have no access to Metro.

by terrence on May 24, 2011 10:54 pm • linkreport

Outlet centers aren't doing as well as they once did. A lot of the merchandise is made for outlets rather than being overstocks. This seems particularly true at "high end" outlets like Brooks Brothers. Others, like Calvin Klein tend to limit the discounts. Metro areas can't support as many of these malls as they do regular malls. We already have Leesburg, Potomac, Arundel and the one out near Frederick. I suspect there isn't room for much more.

by Rich on May 24, 2011 11:17 pm • linkreport

There's some dissonance when people advocate putting up apartments (or let's face it, on this blog, condos) and also big box stores. Living in the city and living in the suburbs are different in one main obvious way, to me: you have less space in the city. Less space to move, less space to store things. So these big box stores that encourage bulk buying and big bins of detergent are not getting it about city living, and neither are the people who advocate them. If you wanna advocate putting up high rise condos, then you should know that those people stuffed in them don't have the space to shop at Walmart and other stores that encourage bulk buying.

by Jazzy on May 25, 2011 6:29 am • linkreport

Jazzy:

Walmart has groceries, clothing, etc. A lot of things that don't require bulk purchases.

And unlike Costco a lot of their other purchase items are in what you would think of as 'regular' size portions.

by Hillman on May 25, 2011 6:51 am • linkreport

Oboe:

I was referring to www.respectdc.org

Their list if demands is quite entertaining. And quite selectively applied.

I'm particularly fond of the one that bars Walmart from even asking potential employees if they have a felony criminal record.

by Hillman on May 25, 2011 6:54 am • linkreport

Yes you can purchase single items. But don't fool yourself: big box stores are a suburban model store. Big aisles, big carts. They're for people with families in houses, predominantly. They're not conceived, built, stocked with city people in mind. People in the city need an entirely different retail experience than those models. The problem in Washington is, our retail is so atrocious that these big box stores look good only because it's *something.*

by Jazzy on May 25, 2011 9:28 am • linkreport

@Rich:

While I would agree that there's not room for MUCH more, I think that these outlets, in this particular place, will do reasonably well. They'll be able to pick up customers from at least half of the Route 1 corridor (between Fort Belvoir and Alexandria); Alexandria proper; potentially Arlington and Falls Church - all of that in addition to the PG County customers. The trouble with the other ones that you've described is that they're a bit of a drive away from the area in question. And it's like Jazzy said, in another context, just up the thread: "our retail is so atrocious that these big box stores look good only because it's *something.*" Retail along the Route 1 corridor is pretty...blah, at best.

Put it another way: "In a garden with no birds, a croaking toad is a nightengale", as Fyodor Chaliapin once said.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on May 25, 2011 10:14 am • linkreport

Has anyone been thinking one reason why some people like Walmart or any similar store is because you can purchase everything in one location which requires only one trip instead of traveling all over town/county to buy stuff ?

Compared to a typical store or even a mall which may not have everything that you need. Walmart pretty much carries the basics of every product category you could think of and has stuff that can not find in other stores unless purchased online.

by kk on May 25, 2011 1:25 pm • linkreport

Yes that is true, KK. At the walmart, i can get all manner of things for children, the elderly, food even, hardware items, paint, toiletries, aides. Everything. I load up my cart, check out, then put the bags in the cart again and walk out to my car where I load it all in the trunk.

That is what I do in the suburbs.

In the city, I just pop around my neighborhood or hit another if I'm visiting a friend. But the retail is bad. Anyway, I couldn't load up on as much stuff in a city Walmart as I do in suburbs. I don't have a car. Going to the Home Depot which I did recently was hellacious without a car.

And frequently city stores' selections pale in comparison to the suburb's. There are few things more useless than a city big box store that doesn't have what you need. In the suburbs at least, you just drive to the next one.

While I know what you mean, big box stores are not the urban model to which we should aspire. We can do much much better.

by Jazzy on May 25, 2011 2:15 pm • linkreport

@ Jazzy

I don't have a car and have never owned one; and I do as much shopping as I would do with or without a car.

I don't have time to be going all over the city to buy things when I can go to one place and get everything I need and leave.

I go to wherever I can to get what I need with the shortest trip and cost. If that means going to a Walmart, Target or Kmart so be it.

I beg to differ about city big box stores not having a big selection compared to ones in the suburbs. Most stores are stocked via the demographics of the area. I have been to Walmart's all over the East Coast and Midwest some stores don't carry certain products due to the clientèle.

Go to a Walmart in White, Black or Hispanic area they all carry the same basic product but some different products that the demographic segment in that area purchases more.

City selections don't always pale in comparison to suburbs it can be the opposite also especially when looking for exotic fruits, vegetables or ethnic foods (African American, Halal, Kashrut, Hispanic, Asian, Ethiopian etc) and clothing brands (to see examples of this go to Macy's in Wheaton, PG Plaza, DC and Arlington)

In a city if the Big Box store doesn't have what you need you can take the train or bus to the next one. I have done this hundreds of times with the Best Buy, Target, Barnes & Noble and grocery stores. I would go to the ones in DC and if they did not have them travel to the next closest ones in DC or outside in Maryland or Virginia.

by kk on May 25, 2011 2:50 pm • linkreport

@kk,

I've got a Harris Teeter, a Safeway, Eastern Market, Barracks Row, Frager's Hardware, and H Street all within walking distance. I supplement that with Amazon Prime. I suppose in some manners of calculating it, it would be more "convenient" to be able to drive to WalMart once every couple of weeks, and get everything. But it's certainly not a requirement.

I think everyone who lives in 21st century America understands why having a WalMart, Lowes, Wegmans, and ten other mega-stores only a five minute bus ride away might be convenient. It's the downsides that most folks don't immediately get. Generally speaking, folks who live in the burbs love this type of development. People who choose to live in an urban environment don't.

by oboe on May 25, 2011 3:01 pm • linkreport

@Jazzy: What stores stock obviously varies by location. I sometimes shop in a Walmart in northern Wisconsin, which has fishing tackle, hunting gear, guns and ammo, water skiing & snowmobiling stuff. I don't expect to see much of that here.

And as a city person raising kids, I am often in Costco or Target loading up on stuff sold in large packages, and then driving back to DC to my really small house, despite my limited storage. I am attracted to the low prices.

by goldfish on May 25, 2011 3:09 pm • linkreport

@ oboe

What downside are you thinking of ?

1 local establishment going out of business so what this has always happen since the time people primarily lived on farms in the US back in the 1800's

2 Wages a person choose to work there not forced. If a job was lost due to new stores you could find work somewhere else Walmart is not the only place to work in any area. The new job may not be up to expectations or pay but its still a job.

BTW wouldn't Harris Teeter and Safeway be along the lines of a Big Box Store ? Everything you list after Harris Tetter and Safeway are small or local establishments why not shop at a local or small grocery store ?

by kk on May 25, 2011 3:13 pm • linkreport

If any of these big box stores could integrate with the fabric of a functional neighborhood I'd be less likely to fight them. The 'new' Harris Teeter's have; retailers like Trader Joe's have tried to do so as well. But the mega-stores can't: a mini-Wegmans is an oxymoron. It's like building a 4000 square foot Six Flags.

The problem I have is not so much the worker's rights--we lost that fight decades ago--but the fact that these things represent a cancer in the body of any urban entity. And they tend to metastasize. Like bad money, giant box store developments tend to crowd out other uses.

Everyone wants one at their convenience, but even in the suburbs no one wants to live with one.

by oboe on May 25, 2011 3:32 pm • linkreport

@kk,

Oh, forgot to mention:

BTW wouldn't Harris Teeter and Safeway be along the lines of a Big Box Store?

You could fit twenty Penn Ave Harris Teeters inside one of those exurban Wegmanns'

by oboe on May 25, 2011 3:34 pm • linkreport

@oboe

What about the Harris Teeters outside of cities ?

by kk on May 25, 2011 4:14 pm • linkreport

@kk: Suburban Harris Teeters aren't all that different from ones in cities. The Pentagon Row location is about the same size as the locations I've been to in the Charlotte and Raleigh suburbs. Their largest store in the chain is 75,000 square feet, I don't think the DC ones are that much smaller.

by Jason on May 25, 2011 6:14 pm • linkreport

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