Retail spaces "too big" or College Park population too small?
One of the main arguments for more student housing in downtown College Park is that there simply aren't enough people in the area to support all of the stores, bars and restaurants in the area. College Park's three-block business district is a revolving door of store closings, where new retail options open with great fanfare and close within a few months.
It's therefore not surprising to hear what Mark Srour, who owns local bar Cornerstone Grill and Loft, told the Diamondback about what some bars do to survive:
Here we are today; the building's sitting stagnant. A great clothing store like Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, Old Navy—
somebody like that would be a great fit for that building," Srour said. "It's just too big of a place to have a bar because, unfortunately, you have to let all the underage people in just to survive. That's why that building is kind of cursed, I guess. It's just too big.
He's talking about Thirsty Turtle, which lost its liquor license last month due to a stabbing and a reputation for serving underage customers. As I wrote last month, Turtle and other bars in College Park need people within walking distance to get business. When the majority of those people are under 21, you're not going to discriminate.
Of course, even if the building that once housed Thirsty Turtle was turned into an Urban Outfitters or another clothing store, it might still have a difficult time staying open. There just aren't enough people living in downtown College Park to make it work, and the area isn't enough of a destination to draw shoppers who'd arrive by car. You need more people to justify the retail, and more retail to make the area a destination.
Having more stuff to do is a goal I'm sure everyone in College Park supports, whether you're a student, a permanent resident, on the University administration or the City Council. Unfortunately, they may not all agree that more student housing is the first step to getting there.
- Rent in our region is expensive. Does that mean it's unaffordable?
- Think you know Metro? It's whichWMATA week 91
- The Obama administration says zoning is at the heart of some huge economic problems
- On Thursday, the WMATA board heard about why Metro keeps catching on fire. Then on Friday, Metro caught on fire.
- Adams Morgan could get more housing and preserve its plaza, too. But it probably won't.
- How Barcelona gets bicycling right
- This square in Philadelphia is everything DC's Franklin Square could be