14 August 2006

Washington Post: Life Around Dupont Circle Takes a New Turn

One of my greatest fears concerning the future of our neighborhood/local commercial districts/corridors such as the Vieux Carre Royal/Decatur Streets, Faubourg Marigny Frenchman Street, Lower Garden District Magazine Street, Garden District/Irish Channel Magazine Street, Jefferson City Magazine Street, Carrollton Maple and Oak Streets, and Mid-City North Carrollton Avenue is the transformation from being home to mostly locally-owned businesses to the location of primarily national, traditionally suburban or mall retail chain stores. I had this concern before KTMB, but even more so post-KTMB and given the alledged "pro-business" stance of OUR MAYOR (tm), I think there is reason for concern. These often-time long established, locally-owned and operated businesses play a significant role in the unique character of New Orleans. Once we lose such businesses, they are gone--and we take another step towards becoming Non Orleans, otherwise known as Dallas. No, thanks.

Here's what's happening in the Dupont Circle area in Washington, DC--exactly what I don't think we want to happen in New Orleans . . . . Notice how one of the local merchants believes "the beginning of the end" for Dupont Circle started as soon as Starbucks deemed the neighborhood--and it's demographics--worthy of their latte.


TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Local Business, Vieux Carre, Urban Planning


At August 14, 2006 9:54 AM, Blogger Zihuatanejo said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At August 14, 2006 3:22 PM, Blogger mominem said...

Interesting, I got the same comment earlier, I haven't approved it yet.

In other news the Time Picayune is reporting that the plan for Eastern New Orleans comes out pretty much as I expected,

Eastern N.O. plan returns area to its roots

"The plan calls for three major bicycle paths, each stretching at least five miles; landscape buffers between homes and businesses; a French Quarter-style mixing of commercial and residential properties at most major intersections along the interstate; a revitalized Lincoln Beach; a family entertainment district; an open-air, pedestrian-friendly town center for Eastern N.O. plan returns area to its roots."

At August 14, 2006 5:31 PM, Blogger Schroeder said...

I'm starting to get a little annoyed by this zihuatanejo dude. He seems to be going around to everyone's blogs, not offering thoughtful remarks, but pasting in the same poorly-written blurb, advertising another forum that contributes nothing to our community, in the same way that a dog goes around the neighborhood urinating to mark places.

At August 14, 2006 7:35 PM, Blogger John Blutarsky said...

Starbucks has Lattes? I thought they only had whip cream mocha frapichinos at the low low price of $6.50.

At August 15, 2006 12:49 PM, Anonymous Puddinhead said...

I've always been a little bit of two minds on this subject. I'm all for patronizing the local mom & pop's, when it's not hugely more inconvenient or greatly more expensive than getting the same product from a national store. But am I expected to boycott all national stores for which there is any possible local alternative? To what extent am I expected (and is it to my benefit) to "subsidize" the corner store by paying more for something than I can find it at the big guy? I know it's in my interest to do this to some point...but where is the line drawn?
Usually the big nationals have become big nationals for a reason--somewhere along the way they discovered a successful marketing strategy that a greater amount of customers found appealing when compared to their competitors approach. Sure, there's the whole thing about businesses getting so big that they forget about the things that made them successful in the first place. But usually if they're still reasonably successful after their growth it's because they're still doing something right--offering a huge selection, lower prices...something. And before you paint me with the "Walmart" brush, no, I'm not real crazy about what happens to small businesses because they can't compete with Walmart. And I'd like it a whole lot better if there were ANY pressure at all put on them for any unfair business practices they may engage in. But I think we run the risk of slipping right into the dreaded "elitist" role if we complain too much about fellow citizens who balk at paying a substantial amount more for items in order to buy them from the corner store and begrudge them the opportunity to buy a "cheaper" (not to mention less expensive) version from the mass marketer.

At August 16, 2006 11:50 AM, Blogger Mark said...

This is one of my favorite neighborhoods in DC. The last two visits we made we stayed at a Holiday Inn about five blocks away (with the kids, needed a pool) and at Drury's the time before that.

I even remarked to my wife on our visit 2 and a half years ago that Dupont Circle would be the perfect sort of urban neighborhood to retire to.

I am sadened to read that article.

Our case is slightly different. The national chains are not, buy and large, charging into NOLA. We simply don't have the traffic counts (feet or cars going by) that are the Holy Grail of national chain location. On my last visit to Riverwalk, I noticed that all of the stores that have reopened are the mom-and-pop, local retailers. None of the chains were reopened.

The real danger is long term. As local businesses fail and tourist traffic (and residents) return, the national chains may see a void they can move in and fill. Imagine Jackson Square and Royal, or Magazine and Carrollton lined only with national chain stores. How would this differ from one of the retail districts one finds in Orlando at Disney World?

Our representatives in Washington are ignoring the local small business person (and the mid-market renter). Neither is welcomed back by the Road Home or any other plan.

At August 16, 2006 1:29 PM, Blogger Seymour D. Fair said...


I agree--its a tough issue. The reality is that people in the 21st century United States expect to have Wal-Marts and Targets to buy cheap, mass-produced stuff and quite frankly the last twenty years or so has made it where you really don't have a choice to buy such things but at such national chains. In New Orleans' case, if these stores aren't allowed to build within the city then all of the sales tax money goes instead to Jefferson Parish . . .

At August 16, 2006 1:30 PM, Blogger Seymour D. Fair said...


Its the long-term future I am concerned with--especially in the Vieux Carre. The big boys are going to come in and mop it all up.

At August 17, 2006 11:23 AM, Blogger Zihuatanejo said...

You guys should really give me a chance here. I am only trying to get more people to join the various discussions there. And point out to you that a lot of people are already there. The more opinions and,(well thought out ones like yours) the better. Yes, I went around and posted similar comments to everyone I found on the rising tide conference (which I learned about there). I am new to the New Orleans online community because I live elsewhere. I will be moving back here which is our original home soon and wanted to get involved with community things early on.

At least check out the discussions there, and if you want know more about me and my intentions please email me.


At August 17, 2006 11:34 AM, Blogger Zihuatanejo said...

Z On chain stores:

These places are very efficient. But money you would spend there usually goes out of state and a very small amount goes to paying a few locals less than living wage. When I grew up in Houma the economy was great. There were a bunch of family owned gas oil production businesses that hired and paid local people a lot of money. A lot of family owned businesses that treated their employees like family. Now they have all been bought out and the these jobs pay a lot less.

The other thing to consider about a local business is how much the owner is involved with the local community. Does he coach a local youth team? donate to local charities? Take part in the community.

Finally when you spend money at a local store, that money stays in the community. There is no out of state headquarters. So local accountants, lawyers, designers, suppliers all get share in a network of local business. so you are not just subsidizing the corner store. You are subsidizing the local community.

So yes, those big-box chain stores are efficient and smart. They real efficient at sucking money right out of your economy.

At August 17, 2006 1:02 PM, Blogger Zihuatanejo said...

you guys can negotiate with chain stores and form the best win win you can. It is good to understand the difference but If you need them you can do what he town of Sunset did.

"I know we're just a little town, but we're used to fighting long odds," the three-term mayor explains of the city's scrappy, litigious history. "We will fight for our neighborhoods, and we will fight for our city -- and we don't care how big the Goliath is." --- Cowan steers the heavy Bronco toward Brodie Lane and turns south into the late-afternoon traffic, gliding past two large shopping centers -- the financial lifeblood of the community. These commercial developments may look like any other strip of chain stores, but not every town can lay claim to millions in annual sales-tax revenues -- Sunset Valley passed the windfall directly on to its residents and business owners in 1995 by abolishing city property taxes completely.


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