Welcome to the first installment of The Dark Side of White Flint. This ongoing series will sporadically explore the side of urban renewal ignored by the local media.
Pick up any local newspaper, or visit news websites, and you'll get plenty of good news about the urbanization of the suburbs. A local official, who won office with six-figure developer donations, might pontificate about how he's going to modify your behavior in the new White Flint. A smart growth group might even give the new White Flint an award. Before it has even been built.
In reality, the White Flint Sector Plan gave away the store - and multiple tax breaks, one worth $72 million alone, even as taxes skyrocketed on the poorest in Montgomery County - to developers.
One thing we heard alot was that this was a 20-30 year plan. Reality again is quite different. Permits have been issued. Buildings are going up.
The destruction of White Flint Mall was years off, we were told.
Wrong again, and here - in this first installment - is the photographic proof.
I've heard much good news in the press, but no report of demolition having started at the mall.
White Flint Mall opened in 1977. It's not that old, and was always one of the nicest in the DC area architecturally.
File the demolition of White Flint Mall under "First World Problems." Many economically-disadvantaged towns and nations would probably love to have a mall like White Flint. To knock a relatively-new structure of this quality down is, frankly, hoggish.
Just within the last two years, a mall spokesperson claimed White Flint was 100% leased. Now much of the mall is vacant. Business was going well, and Lerner was profiting. But more profits were deemed essential, no matter the impact on small businesses or nearby residents.
A grand structure will fall, along with the dreams of many businesspeople, and another bland "town center" will rise in its place.
Contrary to rosy media coverage, success is not assured. Three JBG projects, and Federal Realty's massive Pike and Rose development, are likely to draw customers away from White Flint Town Center. Is the residential and customer base large enough to support up to 5 or 6 town centers - with expensive restaurants, boutiques, and entertainment prices - within less than a mile of each other?
Meanwhile the wrecking machines are carrying out the grim work of demolishing a perfectly-good building. Welcome to the dark side.