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Gateway Market plans inward-facing retail

Gateway Market is a proposed development at the corner of Florida Ave and Morse St NE, a vacant lot next to DC's largest active food wholesale market, Florida Market. Frozen Tropics and Richard Layman object to the project.

Photo by bankbryan on Flickr.

The comments on Layman's article highlight the conflicting points of view. On the one hand, this site is currently empty, and near the New York Avenue Metro, a perfect spot for a nice condo building with some shops. On the other hand, it's also at the entry point to the Florida Market. With noise and smells of food and trucks rumbling by at all hours, will building residences next to the market bring future citizens who will lobby to get rid of it?

DC should maintain its industrial areas and help them to thrive, as they support businesses around the city. Can they grow and change without disappearing? Can they coexist next door to new condos?

Whether you support the project or not, according to Frozen Tropics' recap of the Zoning Commission hearing, the project proposes inward-facing retail for the block. That's a terrible idea. Facing retail in toward an atrium permanently prevents it from contributing to a vibrant street. Maybe Florida and Morse aren't the best streets for a stroll today. But they won't ever be if this building fills an entire block with blank walls.

Look at GWU, with building after building of inward-facing retail. While a lively university is operating inside the walls, a visitor strolling by might wonder, where are all the people? We don't need more buildings like that.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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I brought up the subject of urban industry at CNU a few years back and while a lot of heads nodded, I've heard little response.

New Urbanists talk about the first place (home) and a lot about the third place (the places we chose to hang out instead of malls), but very very little about the second place (where we work).

While urbanism works great for the percentage of people who work in offices connected to traffic, it just gets ignored for the great mass of people who work in blue collar jobs.

I just moved out here from South Bend Indiana, where Studebaker used to be. Looking at old photos of the factory, the neighborhood butted right up against the plant's buildings. Today this would just be unacceptable.

I say that we must look at making industry exist with housing, we've done it before, and unless we want to condemn our blue collar workers to cars and bussing, we have a duty to make jobs that are within walking distance.

by Boots on Jun 9, 2008 9:06 am • linkreport

Following up, I just now read the NYT article on rural working class people spending 20% of their incomes on gas. How is separating places of work from workers a good thing?

Certainly it affects rural and small towns the worst, as they have been the ones most affected by suburbanization and the centrifugal forces caused by cheap gas. Hopefully there will be a reverse centripetal force now, and small towns will return to being functional communities with real industrial and urban hearts.

by Boots on Jun 9, 2008 9:51 am • linkreport

Ever been to Eatzi's, before it closed?

Two-sided retail (with an atrium or inner parking lot entrance and a sidewalk entrance at the opposite end) may not provide the ideal shopping-flow-chi that marketting wants, or the ideal truck loading bay that shipping wants, but it's damn attractive if your store can manage it.

by Squalish on Jun 10, 2008 4:56 am • linkreport

Squalish: a rear parking lot entrance is fine, but not an atrium that encourages people to walk between stores on the inside. That's because we want to maximize "eyes on the street" by having the people strolling between shops actually on the street. Two pedestrian frontages just split the eyes.

If you do have a parking garage or a surface lot under or behind the building, then it's fine to have a back entrance to the stores so people parking can go into the stores directly.

by David Alpert on Jun 10, 2008 8:11 am • linkreport

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