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Old 02-20-2014, 04:47 PM
 
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So I went to Merrifield a few weeks ago and was shocked to find several iterations of DC or Arlington restaurants/stores had opened stores there (matchbox, Teds, Angelika,etc) in what appears to have been a hastily thrown together car-centric strip mall anchored by a Target. Granted, there's a metro station about .75 miles away, but it's in the middle of an interstate and not exactly integrated into the community. Despite the relative chaos of the area, the shops and stores were full and the area seemed pretty vibrant for a cold January afternoon.

Contrast that with the Carlyle area at the western edge of Old Town, sandwiched between the King Street and Eisenhower metro stops. There, you have a pretty well planned urban area that was built with walkability in mind. Everything is made of brick and in a similar attractive architectural style, public transit is about as good as you'll find anywhere in NoVa outside of the Rosslyn/Ballston corridor with bus systems (including a free trolley), capital bikeshare stations and two metro stops.

The odd thing about Carlyle is that despite 6000+ residents and probably another 4K daytime workers, there are relatively few dining and shopping options (unless you count the Hoffman Town Center next to it). There's a couple of restaurants, but it's mostly lunchtime sandwich places like Jimmy Johns or Pot Belly. You walk through the brick sidewalked streets and see huge empty glassed fronted stores that are ready to go had they had a tenant to fill them.

The only things I can theorize about the relative vacancy in the area are:
  1. It's not the only game in town. Given the proximity of the extremely varied restaurant and shop options in nearby Old Town, people don't need to go there unless they live there. Contrasted with Merrifield, Merrifield is a town center with relatively little near it except homes and strip malls along 50. Even if it's just a slice of urbanity, it attracts people from a ways away (see the Reston Town Center)
  2. The developers are unwilling to come down on the rents to spur economic activity. Speaking with a restaurant owner who had been there since the beginning, he mentioned that the developer that owned most of the PTO buildings had never done anything but office buildings before, and had no experienced in Mixed-Use residential/commercial. He also said that the companies that originally opened were promised that their customers could use the parking garages for free in the evening, but that never came to fruition.
  3. The city has some sort of policy or policies in place that have setup an artificial roadblock

I think things will eventually pick up and it'll be just fine, it just seems like there's something holding it back at this point. I'd like to hear other people's theories or opinions on what is the cause, or what may need to happen in the future for things to change.

Last edited by CrystalCities; 02-20-2014 at 04:48 PM.. Reason: fixing title
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Old 02-20-2014, 04:50 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
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Simple: low-income teenagers frequent the Eisenhower complex. Restaurant and retail chains know that affluent people by and large won't go there. Ballston Common Mall sees the same phenomenon.
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Old 02-20-2014, 06:05 PM
 
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Mosaic isn't a strip mall, and it has things that aren't in DC or Arlington currently, the Angelika Film Center being the prime but not only example. It also has decent, free parking and proximity to a fair number of people with plenty of disposable income, most of whom already live in Fairfax and, accordingly, don't filter everything through the lens of those who believe the world ends at the Ballston station of the Orange Line.

Can't speak to the Carlyle complex, but the reasons for the appeal of the Merrifield complex aren't really that complicated.
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Old 02-20-2014, 06:45 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
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It's funny: We live a 2-minute drive from Ballston Common Mall (which has free parking) but never, ever go there. We're probably 20 minutes to Mosaic but have been there many times. Same for Shirlington. And Mazza Gallerie (20-25 minutes on a weekend).

To be fair, Ballston is (unlike those) an indoor mall--and even if it were more upscale, those just seem so tiring, unscenic, and bewildering. (We don't go to either of the Tysons malls, and Tysons II is more upscale than anywhere else.)
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Old 02-20-2014, 07:07 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlingtonian View Post
Simple: low-income teenagers frequent the Eisenhower complex. Restaurant and retail chains know that affluent people by and large won't go there. Ballston Common Mall sees the same phenomenon.
The Hoffman Town Center has basically no spillover in Carlyle, which is one of the reasons I don't count its retail as a part of Carlyle's. It's also improved dramatically in the last 5 years and would completely empty out if PG could ever actually build some sustainable retail. If your theory were correct, you wouldn't have the few decent restaurants that are there (Delias and Ted's). The movie theater and maybe the Cold Stone are the only places that really attract the "low-income" teenagers, and even now, I'd put them at a fairly low percentage of the total visitors at this point.
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Old 02-20-2014, 07:08 PM
 
27 posts, read 29,665 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JEB77 View Post
Mosaic isn't a strip mall, and it has things that aren't in DC or Arlington currently, the Angelika Film Center being the prime but not only example. It also has decent, free parking and proximity to a fair number of people with plenty of disposable income, most of whom already live in Fairfax and, accordingly, don't filter everything through the lens of those who believe the world ends at the Ballston station of the Orange Line.

Can't speak to the Carlyle complex, but the reasons for the appeal of the Merrifield complex aren't really that complicated.
Mosiac is basically somewhere between a strip mall and a town center. I mentioned Angelika because I thought there was (or will be) one opening soon in "NoMa" (god I hate that name).
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Old 02-20-2014, 07:23 PM
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlingtonian View Post
Simple: low-income teenagers frequent the Eisenhower complex. Restaurant and retail chains know that affluent people by and large won't go there. Ballston Common Mall sees the same phenomenon.
Good point. Eisenhower is just a short bus ride away from a lot of lower-income apt complexes on the West End and Rt. 1.
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Old 02-20-2014, 07:31 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrystalCities View Post
The Hoffman Town Center has basically no spillover in Carlyle, which is one of the reasons I don't count its retail as a part of Carlyle's. It's also improved dramatically in the last 5 years and would completely empty out if PG could ever actually build some sustainable retail. If your theory were correct, you wouldn't have the few decent restaurants that are there (Delias and Ted's). The movie theater and maybe the Cold Stone are the only places that really attract the "low-income" teenagers, and even now, I'd put them at a fairly low percentage of the total visitors at this point.
All I know is that a lot of folks avoid Eisenhower for that reason, and Eisenhower is either the closest retail to Carlyle or nearly so. (I'm not sure where Hoffman is.) I used to work on John Carlyle Circle, before and during PTO was being built, and I never saw anything other than office buildings and condos. As an office worker, that was OK, because King Street was a short walk away.
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Old 02-20-2014, 08:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlingtonian View Post
All I know is that a lot of folks avoid Eisenhower for that reason, and Eisenhower is either the closest retail to Carlyle or nearly so. (I'm not sure where Hoffman is.) I used to work on John Carlyle Circle, before and during PTO was being built, and I never saw anything other than office buildings and condos. As an office worker, that was OK, because King Street was a short walk away.
The "Hoffman" Town Center is that mid-90s shopping center next to Eisenhower Metro station that has the 20+ screen movie theater and the other restaurants on the crescent shaped strip mall. The majority of the Carlyle Area is closer to the King Street Metro and the head of Old Town than there.
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Old 02-20-2014, 09:05 PM
 
Location: DMV
10,136 posts, read 11,644,663 times
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Originally Posted by The Dissenter View Post
Good point. Eisenhower is just a short bus ride away from a lot of lower-income apt complexes on the West End and Rt. 1.
A lot of kids from PG like going over there when I was younger. Until they recently opened up the movie theater in Oxon Hill, it was the closest movie theater for parts of southern PG. With that said, people still do not go to the new theater so I would imagine, they get quite a few Marylanders.
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