Sunday, November 27, 2005

There Goes the Neighborhood

Quick, grab Bill Euille and alert Alexandria’s Democratic machine – the Republicans are in the ‘hood!

Public Opinion Strategies, called by The New York Times "the leading Republican polling company," is moving uptown from leased space at 277 S. Washington Street. The firm bought the former Firehook Bakery building at 214 N. Fayette for $2.7 million in October and received BAR blessing in early November for renovations.

Public Opinion Strategies currently represents seventeen U.S. Senators, ten governors, and over 50 Members of Congress. Partner and co-founder Bill McInturff conducted the polling for Senator John McCain's presidential campaign and, with Democratic pollster Peter Hart, is co-director of the NBC News/Wall Street Journal National Poll.

This move demonstrates that the square block bounded by Queen, Cameron, N. Payne and N. Fayette is a viable commercial corridor that, after 100 years, can readily attract low density, low impact, high operating margin businesses like consulting firms, accountants, and lawyers.

The Growler delivers a sharp jab in readers’ ribs to remind them that during the Queen Street kerfuffle, William Cromley and his attorney Duncan Blair tried to frighten the neighborhood by claiming that if 1210 Queen Street remained commercial it could only attract businesses like dry cleaners that would generate far more parking demand than his residential condos will.

Yep, the Growler is sleepless these days, worrying about how 77 U.S. Senators, Members of Congress and Governors are going to find parking places around here.

No, this event just shows that profitable firms that create low parking demand can and will be attracted to Parker-Gray. These businesses don’t generate intense parking demand because they offer professional services at widely dispersed locations (like polling), or at their customers’ sites.

With yeasty businesses like these investing in Parker-Gray and with the possibility of a growing residential condo glut in the Washington metro area, Mr. Cromley may be sorry he didn’t compromise with the neighborhood and opt to stay commercial at 1210 Queen.