This is one of the larger properties on the business strip to hit the market recently, and it offers the advantageous combination of being located close to the Metro and outside of the historic district (meaning there are fewer restrictions on redevelopment). If the eventual purchaser follows in the footsteps of most commercial property owners in the neighborhood, he/she will hold it vacant indefinitely, speculating that at some point in the future the redeveloped property will command the high rents that it would need to justify the development costs and still turn a profit.
Before this week, I had heard the term Crowdsourcing, but then all of a sudden it got tons of hype, specifically as it relates to having neighborhood residents identify a preferred retailer for a site. Elahe Izadi thinks it's classist; Richard Layman thinks it's stupid; I just think it's fun.
So, based on absolutely zero reality, here are four hypothetical options for this site. They range from optimistic to pessimistic, and each has impacts associated with it that should be taken into consideration.
A) Redeveloped with Busboys and Poets restaurant on the ground floor and three stories of subsidized rental apartments above. Creates jobs and slightly increases property values (and taxes) for homeowners in the surrounding neighborhood, but also raises commercial and residential rents. Increases traffic and night-time noise, and makes it more difficult to find street parking within a few blocks of the site.
B) Redeveloped as a Five Guys restaurant and a bank on the ground floor, with three stories of commercial office space above. Creates a number of retail jobs for neighborhood residents, but most office jobs will already be filled by people from across the region. Increases traffic on Martin Luther King Jr. Ave and Howard Road during the morning, lunch-time, and afternoon rush hours.
C) Existing building reused as a Wendy's restaurant with drive-through window. Increases traffic slightly throughout the day and creates some entry-level jobs. No impact on property values, and does not increase rental rates in nearby homes or lease rates for neighboring businesses. What good is a fancy restaurant if I can't afford to eat there anyways?
D) Site remains vacant and parking lot is used informally by patrons of nearby businesses. No impact on traffic on Martin Luther King Jr. Ave, and lack of development prevents rents from increasing for residents of the surrounding neighborhoods. I like the neighborhood exactly how it is, and I don't want any changes that will attract new residents or increase my cost of living!