Does Ross & Marshall’s @ DC USA = Low-Rent Columbia Heights?

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Over on the Columbia Heights listserv there is a flame-tastic email exchange going on over the revelation that the DC USA retail center might be leasing space to Ross Dress for Less now that Whole Foods has pulled out.

That somehow the addition of Ross to a retail mix that includes Target and Marshall’s, both discount retail chains, will bring down the mall and the neighbourhood.

Or in RJ Mauch’s words:

I think most people would prefer NOT to see Ross and Marshals. We need that like we need another damn CVS in this city. Enough unless you’re interested in experiencing a Silver Spring City Place disaster, because that is where this headed with all this dumping of low-end retail junk.

The fine citizen of Columbia Heights want DC USA, the multi-million dollar retail extravaganza in the center of their community to be uplifting and diverse as it was in the past. Or as Adam Aaronson says:

The issue is that we are getting retail that isn’t best suited for the neighborhood, and that much of it is redundant – all the banks, all the drycleaners, etc etc. Marshalls and Ross are the same store. I’m sure if Safeway or Harris Teeter opened up across the street from the Giant, the uproar would be the same.

But would it? Could this really be an issue of class? Of the socio-economic desires of a “transitional” neighbourhood to have a Logan Circle effect with DC USA? A transformation of image (and residents) from working class to high class through retail establishments? I think I have to agree with batboy8686′s conclusion:

The debate about Ross Dress for Less in Columbia Heights REALLY comes down to peeps thinking they could make 10% annually on a real estate investment.

You have a Starbucks. You have some condos that have presumably sold. The anti-Ross campaign really comes down to people thinking they were going to move to Logan Circle – no more, no “less”.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs
And yet I think Columbia Heights should not be ashamed of this hope, this desire to increase property values through an increase in the demographic target market of DC USA’s stores. As Adam Aaronson continues,

First of all, anyone buying property is always in it to make money. That’s why you buy in the first place. Whether they want to sell in 2 years or twenty. Assuming you own a property, don’t you want to pull a profit?

Yes, Adam, I sure do. While I am not in Columbia Heights exactly, Petworth would love to have the third Logan Circle effect in DC with a revitalized Georgia Avenue, and we’ll take a high-rent DC USA in the mean time. Yet everyone directly involved, and the commenters that are itching to jump in, needs to remember Richard Layman’s advice:

In a similar thread months back I suggested someone organize a workshop in your neighborhood featuring Carol Felix and the other people who successfully recruited Whole Foods to 14th Street. It wasn’t letters and calls that made the difference, but a solid business case.

I am not a big fan of letter writing campaigns, as I’ve written before. To repeat, it’s the business case that makes the difference.

That it sure does. And that’s why CH residents should prepare for Ross, not Ralph Lauren, despite their (and my) dreams.

This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs

Married, mortgaged, and soon to be a father, Wayan Vota is in the fast lane to mid-life respectability – until the day his brood finds his intimate journal of global traveling and curses him with the ever-eternal reply “I’m gonna be just like you, Dad!”

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