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2503Question of Adams Morgan Changing

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  • Adam Eidinger
    Jan 1, 2006
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      Dear Neighbors,

      In the message pasted below Disclexia notes that Adams Morgan is looking more and more like a Mall these days with national chains moving in ie: the closing of the historic Comet Deli this month to be replaced eventually by national haircare chain Bubbles http://www.bubblessalons.com/. I agree with the majority of people living near the Comet who wish it would be taken over by new management and preserved, yet its also the right of the owner to sell out to make the most money possible. With owners looking to make the most money, whether its rent or sale of property, the tendency will continue to be national chains moving in to A-M. Corporate power will rule the day as these chains can pour much more money into acquiring a site than say a new local business or even a local chain like the Austin Grill.

      Yet another factor in these chains coming to A-M is the willingness of people to buy from them, so the problem of the character changing toward "urban corporate malls" has as much to do with the people who shop at these places as the ambitions of these national chains. The chains are here precisely because A-M has character with the hope it might rub off on them. Is the Starbucks more attractive because Trist is down the street? Does Pizza Hit want a piece of Super Slices business? Or do people just buy coffee at the nearest location to work or home? Its probably a little of both. Ironically if the national chains manage to supplant the independent retail/restaurants that have local character they may actually undermine their own success here.

      In 2005 a handful of independent retail stores opened in A-M, but about the same number closed while a bunch of national chains opened and none closed.

      I Say Break the Chains!
      There are numerous groups that joined the Organic Consumers Association by declaring December "Buy Local Month" http://organicconsumers.org/btc.htm . But why not buy local all year round and keep your money in your community by frequenting businesses that are better connected to DC. If you haven't shopped at independent stores lately why not make it your 2006 resolution to buy local, fair made and while your at it, organic! Who needs Amazon.com when you got Idle Time books and Crooked Beat Records. Who needs Harris Teeter & Whole Foods when you got So's Your Mom and Yes Organic Foods. Don't forget the numerous independent restaurants you might want to drop in spend some dough at, because before you know it, they could be replaced by publicly traded companies that ignore local flavor (also international pallets). Don't torture your taste buds let alone the environment when you eat that factory farmed cheeseburger at McDees and BurgerDespot. Just say no to Hormone Pizza Hut and KFC's Antibiotic laced fried meat. I'll take the quick eats at the Astor for the same prices over those imperial chains.

      Living on Mintwood Place since 1999 I'd say its looking more like a GOP hood. Of course I don't know the political affiliation of everyone moving in and don't imply all Republicans are rich or senseless to local character, but an informal survey of the contractors working to fix the 5 tiny units across the street from my house that advertised starting from the low "$600's to over $1M" showed that everyone was sold to a wealthy Republican from outside the district. I was told that none of them are going to make DC their primary residence, but time will tell if that is true. I could never afford to buy my own apartment at todays prices, not even if it was half as much of its current value. I know many neighbors in the same boat. The pressure to leave DC for cheaper digs while cashing out the equity is huge. So I guess in the long term A-M residents are going to have to pay the price of the neighborhood's appeal. It reminds me of a paradise island somewhere in the tropics that is so beautiful that everyone wants to visit and by arriving in such great numbers they destroy the reef system and trash the place. For years A-M was in the shadow of Georgetown as far as nightlife. This helped it evolve with scores of local restaurants/businesses taking root. With the solidifying of A-M as the hot spot in town it is changing in ways that may forever destroy the character of a place that seemed to resist the monoculture of national chains for as long as I can remember. This paradise we found can stay that way if us locals work to keep it. Everyone be mindful of the consumer choices you make in 2006, they impact us all.

      Happy New Year,

      Adam Eidinger


      Message: 1
      Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2005 16:48:54 -0000
      From: "disclexia" <almccaskill@...>
      Subject: I might as well be living in a mall.

      I've lived in A-M for 15 years. It's starting to look and feel more
      and more like everything I specifically chose to avoid by choosing and
      staying to live in this neighborhood. Are any other residents starting
      to feel this way? If you go to other cities, they and their residents
      seem to value maintaining the unique and longstanding characters of
      their neighborhoods. Until recently, the balance between local, quirky
      and new, national seems great to me. Now, the mix seems to be growing
      disturbingly out of whack.

      Maybe, it's just a symptom of the City as a whole. It makes me sad and
      confuses me
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