D.C.’s ‘Third Place’ problem


What made Barnes and Noble a particularly great Third Place was that it offered Georgetowners and visitors alike a place to escape from the heat or the cold (or just the crowds), but you didn’t have to pay anything to use it.

Herein lies the dilemma. Whatever purpose Barnes and Noble serves to the community, at the end of the day it’s still a business. And like all businesses, it needs to make money to survive.

This all reminded me of the “Bubble Boy” episode of “Seinfeld.” Jerry and Elaine go to eat a diner in upstate New York, Elaine proceeds to order a glass of water, and after some back and forth, Jerry finally says:

You can’t just have water. ... This is not like a park bench where you just come in and sit down. It’s a business.

When it comes to third spaces, you can’t have it both ways, but this is especially true in D.C., where the overhead cost of doing business is extraordinarily high. Topher notes that the retail space Barnes & Noble is vacating is going on the market for $65 per square foot.

Over on 14th Street, Lydia Depillis calculates that the space soon to be vacated by Miss Pixies will go onto the market for $80 per square foot. This is by no means pocket change, and any business willing or able to pay such prices needs to have incredible revenue flow.

[Continue reading Rob Pitingolo’s post at Extraordinary Observations.]

Rob Pitingolo blogs at Extraordinary Observations. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

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