First of all, kudos to The Georgetown Current for breaking the story that the owners of Georgetown Park mall reportedly are wooing Target, one of the nation's biggest big box emporiums, and may be close to signing deals with them and Bloomingdales. The good journalism behind it is about the only part of the story I find appealing. Nothing against Target, but it does not belong in Georgetown. And Bloomingdales? Don't be fooled. This will not be the useful department store Bloomies, but a so-called "Soho concept," which is essentially useless except for trend fashion. It is all style and no substance.
A Target in Georgetown will do to the small business owner what the mall itself committed in the first place -- retail homicide. It will finish off many of the sole proprietor stores and cut deeply into the well-being of several of the chains, particularly CVS and Safeway. Georgetown is not the 14th Street corridor, where a bounty of big box stores revitalized a neighborhood that was essentially bereft and without definition, dating back to the riots of 1968. Georgetown--up until the last 15 years--was all about definition, as in quaint, charming, unique, interesting, special. Developers have been trying to kill that aspect of the commercial area since the mid-80s,when the mall opened with the force of a small business wrecking ball. Georgetown let the mall happen.
It started off well enough, with legit stores and an actual genuine high end department store, Garfinckels. But that moment didn't last and it has been a downward slide ever since. Which is why I wonder if the problem isn't the mall itself. Before the community compounds the problem by bringing in a Target (to be followed, I'm sure, by similar stores), maybe the overseers should stop the cycle of destruction. Maybe the mall itself should go.
Think about it. Malls in general are a last century folly. Humans are tired of them. Many malls are depressing, crime-ridden, aggressively unattractive, anti-neighborhood. I go to Tysons (as rarely as possible) and see the mall fatigue in the faces of the shoppers, who wander in laps back and forth, eyes glazed, because either they've spent too much money or are reminded they no longer have money to spend. The stores are the same the same the same the same wherever you go. It is brute force monotony. The fact that Vornado's big plan is Target and Bloomingdales underscores that the company is bankrupt in the department of original ideas. They think in the past, not the future.
What if Georgetown Park got taken down? Would that be so awful? I don't think so. As I said, it would stop the cycle of failure and destruction. In its place could go new stores and apartments, based on a more modern concept, in keeping with the general architectural integrity of Georgetown. I know that integrity is slipping away, but there's still time for rescue. It was a handsome block before the mall. It could be a handsome block again. Perhaps with a central plaza, open to the sky and the air, with stores, cafes and dwellings, a Georgetown public square. Imagine?
I know mine is likely a minority view. The typical way to solve problems is to add more problems. It is the way the nation deals with debt. It reminds me of what a sailor friend said about knots. Boaters who don't know how to tie them tend to tie lots of them. That, in a sentence, defines the current ownership of Georgetown Park.