This observation from the owner of Glen’s Garden Market in D.C. about closing its Shaw location is interesting (boldface mine):
Neither local nor national businesses have a strong track record at The Shay, a high-end, mixed-use development in “North End Shaw” (as the developer tried to label the neighborhood), where 645 square-foot studios start at $2,500 a month. Glen’s is just one of several recent retail casualties. In the past year, Chrome Industries, Kit and Ace, Steven Alan, Frank and Oak, and Bucketfeet have all shuttered. Soon womenswear company Argent will also lock up shop to make way for DC’s first Korean barbecue restaurant, which was announced today.
“I think Shaw was super hot two years ago, and then it never delivered on its own promise,” says Vogel. She says there aren’t enough people walking through the doors to sustain a business like Glen’s. “We’ve had developments like The Wharf that’ve drawn people away, and there were changes in our political system that changed the constituency of our communities. The bubble kind of passed over.”
I’m not exactly sure what “changes in our political system that changed the constituency of our communities” is referring to–I’m not being snarky. Is it that, with Democrats out of power, movement into Shaw stalled? (Really, I don’t know what that means).
I think another problem is that Shaw, especially that part of Shaw, is that it’s just not that dense. I wouldn’t have thought focusing on Dupont Circle would be the way to go, but Dupont Circle has a lot of density (many of the individual blocks are >60,000 people/sq. km). Shaw and LeDroit Park don’t get that dense. Can’t maintain a business, particularly a speciality one, without a large customer base.