Businesses all over the country are struggling with the economic fallout of COVID-19. Declining traffic and sales are hitting immigrant businesses especially hard. NPR’s Eliza Berkon reported on the effects of the pandemic on the Eden Center in Falls Church, a hub of the Northern Virginia Vietnamese community since the decline of Clarendon’s Little Saigon in the 1980’s.
Professor Morton is quoted in the article:
“Clarendon in the late ’70s and ’80s proved to be fertile ground for this nascent immigrant community. The neighborhood stores had lost much of their business, as shoppers flocked to the Parkington Shopping Center in Ballston or elsewhere, says Elizabeth Morton, an urban planning professor at Virginia Tech’s Arlington campus. (Parkington would be redeveloped as Arlington’s first modern mall, Ballston Common, in 1986.)
‘The traditional kind of Main Street walkable center — which now we planners are desperately trying to re-insert into an urban environment — was sort of falling out of fashion,’ Morton says. ‘And that was only exacerbated by the Metro.’
While construction of the Clarendon Metro stop tore up the area around Wilson Boulevard in the 1970s, building owners offered short-term leases that were ideal for refugees with entrepreneurial ambitions, Morton says. But years later, after the station opened in 1979, development boomed, rents rose, and many of Little Saigon’s business owners found better opportunities at the Eden Center, named for a shopping center in Saigon.“
Graduate students and faculty from Virginia Tech’s Urban Affairs and Planning Program are documenting the history of longstanding, or “legacy”, businesses in Arlington County. Our study to date has focused on businesses established at least 25 years ago in two areas: the Lee Highway corridor and the Green Valley neighborhood.
The website for our pilot project includes an interactive map of 13 businesses and a collection of oral histories of business owners in both areas. These stories are also the basis for the “The Local Shop” radio series produced by VT graduate student Valeria Gelman, available from WERA 96.7. Finally, the oral histories will be permanently housed in Arlington’s Center for Local History.
We are continuing to broaden our collection of oral histories. If you would like to SHARE YOUR STORY of a longstanding business, please contact us. Interviews typically take about 45 minutes and can be conducted at a site of your choice, such as a library, community center or your local business.
Excited that my panel proposal has been accepted for the 2020 National Planning Conference. On April 27, 2020 we’ll be sharing the results of a study of legacy business initiatives across the US and sharing experiences of leaders in the field.
Legacy Business Initiatives: Emerging Directions NPC208088
Learn about three new legacy business initiatives that seek to document and promote the independent, quirky, long-standing enterprises so essential to neighborhood character and community identity. Hear the results of the first national study of legacy business programs across North America.
April 27, 8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Location: 361 Pardis Saffari | Shanon Miller, AICP | Wesley Regan | Elizabeth Morton
Historic preservation is a key component of sustainable urban development and an essential investment strategy (and design opportunity) for cities across the world. Historic districts are indeed some of the most exciting contexts in which to explore the ways that environmental, economic, social and cultural qualities come together to produce thriving and resilient communities. Planners and urban designers in any city, and notably the DC metro region, will need to know how to evaluate and respond to existing historic context while accommodating new development. This course will provide an overview of the theory and practice of historic preservation, with a strong emphasis on its relationship to contemporary and local case studies.
We will cover issues such as: methods to evaluate architectural character and historic significance; the design review and regulatory processes for historic districts; historic preservation economics and financial incentives; and innovative methods for documenting and promoting the stories of underrepresented groups. The final weeks of the class will focus on the role of historic preservation in initiatives to promote community equity, sustainability and resilience. The class will include at least one site visit.
Privately-Owned Public Spaces Field Project (UAP 5634) – Thursdays
Although local governments set policies and requirements for desirable public spaces, in Northern Virginia many of these important community assets are ultimately built and maintained by the private sector. But how do these amenities (usually provided in exchange for increased density) ultimately benefit the public? Do people actually know about them, and are they welcoming to all? What makes a site a great public space?
In this class we will work with Arlington County (and possibly Alexandria) stakeholders to document and assess privately-owned public spaces (POPS) in the National Landing area. The class will involve significant field work (much of it during class time) to photograph spaces, create an inventory of site characteristics, and analyze how the spaces are used and by whom. Following an exploration of essential urban design characteristics, and a review of POPS initiatives by other cities across the world, students will develop proposals for in-depth exploration of various facets of local public spaces.
Students will have a valuable opportunity to interact with local planners and designers, along with some of the developers and community groups involved with creating plans for new public spaces in the National Landing area.
Yesterday, City Design & Development students were treated to a panel about the urban design profession. Thank you Thor Nelson, Senior Urban Designer for DC Office of Planning, and Yasmine Doumi (MURP ’16), Development Manager for Weller Development Company, for speaking with us!
Yesterday, students in the City Design Principles and Policy seminar got a tour of the transformation of DC’s Union Market district. Many thanks to Geoff Sharpe for taking the time to give us first hand perspectives on the integral role design and placemaking plays in EDENS’ upcoming plans for the neighborhood.