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Buildings Don't Generate Income, People Do | Business

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Buildings Don't Generate Income, People Do

Ironically, 9/11 brought me back to Alexandria, because a month later, as a birthday present to myself, I kicked my now ex- husband out for the last time, giving a glimmer of positive meaning to an otherwise awful day. Once the marital residence was sold, I moved to the West End, where I have lived ever since. So it is somewhat momentous that I begin this blog just a few days after the Tenth Anniversary.

I currently live off Seminary, just east of the 395 Interchange, and have personally experienced the back up on that road while attempting to get on to the Interstate. Since the "grand opening," at least a two light wait, and the bulk of the scheduled BRAC employees have yet to relocate to Mark Center.

Which begs two questions: one of which is obvious, and well covered - what to do about all of that traffic which will be spilling over and affecting all of Northern Virginia? And the second, and less discussed, which is more specific to the City - just how is Alexandria going to recoup that "potential spin off revenue" its leaders projected as a justification for greenlighting the project? I have a few ideas.

One answer could be lunchtime trade. The cafeteria seats ONLY a couple of hundred; there are ONLY two eateries - Clyde's and Finn and Porter - in close proximity; and since the parking in the complex has been capped at ONLY 1,000 spaces, I suspect few will be moving their cars. Translation: a captive audience waiting to be tapped, DOD encouragement of brownbagging aside.
Rental properties in the area - on both sides of Seminary Road/395 and Beauregard Street - were bought up with the intention of attracting relocated workers, but that hasn't panned out. Many of them already own their own homes, or couldn't sell in this economy even if they wanted to. The apartments have only been superficially remodeled at best, and are increasingly "covertly" populated by 8(A), while noticeably awaiting a flip sale or a bulldozer. Why don't these landlords incorporate eateries into at least the first floors of their high vacancy buildings or convert some of them altogether to non-residential use? And with Blockbuster gone from "The Shoppes," Giant should expand its current square footage to include a salad bar and pharmacy, and if not, another restaurant could go into that space. Yes, it's a bit more distant from the complex, but still walkable. Ditto for the old Steak and Ale location, a foot bridge away.

And for heaven's sake, with one service station monopolizing the area, and touting high price fuel to boot, my second suggestion would be to put in at least one other competitor.

Maybe then the City would be able to afford some of the improvements made necessary by its prior, ill thought out, decision. Because buildings don't generate income, people do.