City codes and technical zoning miscellany are not my cup of proverbial (or literal) tea. I don’t claim to know much about them. In fact, my most significant act of real estate development has thus far been the impulsive construction of blanket forts in my basement. Even in that case, I sidestepped my household zoning laws by failing to acquire the proper parental permission.
I have, however, read enough layman’s literature on basic economic principles to be fairly comfortable in my understanding of supply and demand. Businesses and services ought to pop up almost organically to fulfill clear consumer needs, right? Why aren’t DC areas in the process of gentrification following suit?
Sure, in a high-turnover city like DC, gentrification can happen rapidly. Many young under-earners are competing for a limited amount of low-rent space. But it seems to be that in certain rapidly changing pockets of the District of Columbia, business development has lagged way behind the population influx – and the rent surge hasn’t slowed, either. The result is that many of the current “gentrification hot spots” are charging more and more as young professionals are attracted to the area, and there are less and less neighborhood options for them.
Columbia Heights rent prices are now almost as high as those in Mount Pleasant or U Street Corridor. But has anyone ever set foot inside the CVS on 14th and Irving? It’s a human tornado every time. Lines snake down the aisles, and their self-checkout machines are constantly out of order. The same goes for Meridian Pint and Wonderland Ballroom – our two big local bars – which are slammed and without seating every time I go. Set foot in the Chipotle or Starbucks, and you’ll see what I mean – there is obviously a massive consumer demand in Columbia Heights that is not being met. Where are the new bars, pharmacies or eateries? Why don’t investors and real estate developers see this? What is the issue? When I go out, I barely ever stay in my own neighborhood – it’s too much of a feeding frenzy.
I see so many more new residential developments than ads for new businesses. That means that a seat in Meridian Pint is going to get tougher and tougher to get, so why the hell isn’t someone opening a new bar? Where is the invisible hand of capitalism that is supposed to do us a solid here?
Is it because DC is overregulated? Overpriced? Is this a problem in other neighborhoods? Am I inventing a problem that doesn’t exist?
Anyone out there feel like opening up a new bar in Columbia Heights? Or Shaw? Or Bloomingdale? Or Stadium Armory? I just want somewhere I can walk in and sit down.