Richard takes another look at the New Town issue and muses generally about groups from outside coming into remake an area. He mentions H Street, and the fact that many of the new places generating the most press are associated with Joe Englert in one way or another. Richard is in no way comparing the revitalization on H Street, which I think is far more organic, to the New Town plan. Just for the hell of it, let's compare the two:
What was there before (or what is there now in the Florida Market)?
H Street: some existing and new businesses, some construction, and lots of vacant building (I believe the Argonaut was the only Englert place to move into an occupied building).
Florida Market: lots of thriving, if sometimes "gritty," family owned businesses that cater to both wholesale and retail buyers. Vacant spaces are rare.
How did/will the outside buyer obtain the properties?
H Street: Mr. Englert & his associates purchased the buildings one by one like any other buyer. No existing businesses were forced out.
Florida Market: The New Town proponents own some of the land, but would need the city to give them lots of land, and also seek to force existing businesses out (they even requested eminent domain power to do so, and you know my feelings about bogusness of the right to return stuff here).
How did/will the outside buyer attempt to work with the existing businesses/neighborhood?
H Street: By talking to surrounding businesses, and residents. Also, hiring some neighborhood residents to work in the establishments. Renovating vacant buildings to house the new businesses.
Florida Market: By trying to force out the existing businesses (even if they are given the option to move to the new digs the rents will undoubtedly be much higher because this is new construction). By avoiding talking to residents in the areas most affected by the change. Who cares what existing residents or business owners think as long as you've got the cash and the Counsel votes, right?
What will the area look like once the plan is "complete"?
H Street: The new businesses will be open, they'll generate a little buzz and hopefully attract more businesses and patrons to the area.
Florida Market: The uniqueness of the area will be gone (we'll pretty much be bulldozing much of the area), and some vendors might return. We might have a hotel, probably a bowling alley, maybe an outdoor arena, probably some kind of community center, and also some housing, about 20% of which will be "affordable."