Wednesday, July 06, 2016
Louis Vuitton closes in Chevy Chase as wealthy exit Montgomery County (Photos)
noted a year ago that Louis Vuitton was opening a store in the posh new CityCenterDC development downtown, even though the high-end retailer already had a boutique at the Collection at Chevy Chase. "Will they continue to maintain their presence in Chevy Chase," Cooper asked.
And now we have the answer.
Louis Vuitton has closed at the Collection at Chevy Chase.
Customers are being directed to the Louis Vuitton collection available on the next block at Saks Fifth Avenue. But the closure, and a planned revamp of the Collection at Chevy Chase property aimed at staunching the bleeding of more expected departures, show more evidence of the exodus of wealth from high-tax and economically-moribund Montgomery County.
The policies of the Montgomery County Council are creating a massive influx of low-income, subsidized residents, and an outflow of wealthy residents to neighboring jurisdictions. What's surprising is that those residents aren't just going to Northern Virginia anymore.
According to the fascinating website How Money Walks, Montgomery County is hemorrhaging money to its neighbors. Now that Montgomery County Public Schools have been declining since 2010, according to a County Office of Legislative Oversight report and massive exam failure rates, other school systems may not seem like a step down for those being overtaxed here.
Surprisingly, Frederick County was the largest benefactor of the most recent expatriates from Montgomery County. Those folks took a whopping $1.8 billion in adjusted gross income with them to "Fredneck."
Montgomery residents moving to job-rich Fairfax County took $643.09 million in AGI with them, and likely slashing their commuting times in the process. $615 million went with Montgomery residents who fled to Howard County, which is led by a Republican county executive, Allan Kittleman.
Folks drawn to the horse farms, suburban subdivisions, and harbors of Anne Arundel County took $494.85 million with them. Republican County Executive Steve Schuh leads that county, which bills itself as "the best place to live, work and start a business in Maryland." Apparently, quite a few of your former neighbors agree.
And we haven't even brought up Loudoun County yet!
Of course, the Collection at Chevy Chase has its own flaws, although I've never believed having high-end shopping was one of them. After all, such retail is among the most sound investments, as economists note that the ultra-wealthy never curtail their spending on luxury goods even when the economy tanks.
What is hard to believe, is that a property literally located at a Metro station would not have a substantial residential component. The footprint of the former Chevy Chase Circle retail buildings at the very least should have been redeveloped with housing at a prime smart growth location. Instead, the development is essentially a really high-end strip mall, with an office building on top of one part of it. Not smart growth, and probably also not smart in terms of supporting retail and restaurant tenants.
Which is why I have to laugh when the County Council and their lackeys claim we have to have massive development at non-Metro locations like Westbard or Aspen Hill. Not only are there huge swaths of downtown Bethesda and Silver Spring that have yet to be redeveloped within walking distance of Metro, but here is a site at Metro in Chevy Chase with no housing at all!
What our incompetent leaders are doing, is essentially shifting the transit-oriented development out to non-Metro areas, and creating more sprawl and traffic. Not only has MoCo already met its projected population increase through the housing it has already approved, according to the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, but it is claiming there is pressure to build outside of TOD areas when there actually is no pressure at all.
Of course, as the numbers show, the high-end residential and retail customers are dwindling by the day. And once again this week, we have an example of how the real world of business operates differently from the political echo chamber of the Montgomery County cartel.
Politicians who created this mess claim there is "no mass exodus" of wealth, and keep on going the way they've been going (but may get a serious wake up call when term limits pass this November). They have no sense of urgency whatsoever about our dire private sector economic stagnation.
In contrast, business can't bluster and bluff its way out. Retailers have to profit to pay their rent. Business, as with Barnes and Noble cutting back hours in a moribund nighttime economy, is acting swiftly, and cannot stay open or keep doing something that isn't working just to make the County Council feel good.
So the doors have closed at Louis Vuitton.