What’s with all the Closings in Old Town Alexandria? (Open Thread)

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What do you think is the reason behind so many business closings in Alexandria, Virginia recently, especially the Old Town neighborhood? We have heard that in at least two (2) of the closings, rent was increased substantially. Are landlords betting big on the Waterfront Plan and the MGM Casino? What do you think?

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FP
Guest
FP

In my experience as a businessman there are a lot of reasons small businesses close and it’s not always obvious when they seem “successful” to outsiders. So, I can’t wonder why so many recently closed. However, in the end small business is about money. Money in the register keeps the doors open. As a store owner in Old Town and in historic Fredericksburg I can tell you the only key to keeping the doors open is people shopping with us. Putting on a coat and braving the winter winds instead of the mall. Saving your money and shopping for local… Read more »

SS
Guest
SS

I would really like to be a supporter of small and local businesses in Alexandria but the bottom line is I can’t afford it. I know the argument is personal service, quality product, etc but in truth I can get those online for less cost and I need less cost because I have a limited budget. For example, if I am going to buy a name brand toy, at a local toy store I might pay as much as a 50% mark up but I could buy it from Amazon for half the price , next day delivery and a… Read more »

Laura
Guest
Laura

Parking! Since the new after 7 parking in old town we haven’t been there ONCE. Previously we were happy to have dinner and get things in old town. Its cheaper for us to take hotlanes to tysons !

AP
Guest
AP

The parking issue is a major one. Since City Council increased the parking times until 9 pm plus Saturday’s we stopped going. We would much rather get in the car and drive up to Arlington where the meters stop at 6. We used to go out to dinner 2-3 times a week in old town but have since switched to new less taxing locals. Look what Justin Wilson and his city council cronies did by changing the parking restrictions in the Carlyle area. After PTO gets out on the weekdays and all weekend long the place is a dead zone.… Read more »

Gayle
Guest
Gayle

I’m a big supporter of small businesses, especially in Del Ray but also try to support Old Town too. Saturday went to visit two closing businesses, Hannelore’s and Why Not. There were such long lines in Why Not that it took quite a while to check out and I over heard the owner telling someone “if we had only had a fraction of this amount of business, we wouldn’t have had to close”. But the kicker was when I went to pay my parking in a garage a block away, I had not paid attention when I pulled in and… Read more »

CG
Guest
CG

Businesses close for many reasons, but as prior comment noted, the bottom line is the reason. Perhaps the business was too similar to others nearby, didn’t offer products shoppers couldn’t get somewhere else, or they didn’t market effectively. Perceived lack of parking is not hurting business in Old Town. Don’t want to pay the meters? Park in a neighborhood for 2 hours or less. Need to park longer than 2 hours? I’ve never paid more than $10 for a full day of garage parking across the street from the Waterfront, which is a steal in my view. There is only… Read more »

hm
Guest
hm

I love love love this!

Jay
Guest

I don’t know how true this is, but I’ve read that younger people spend on experiences versus things. Experiences include eating out a good meal. So we might start seeing even more food places. And they like health choices. Steak places are not as appealing as they used to be.

Why Not had a good run, no? I’d say they are a success story?

spookiness
Guest
spookiness

Lots of reasons. Changing retail behavior. Alexandria, Old Town especially, isn’t a particularly “cool” place. Old Town has an aging population that is past their years of big spending on stuff and kids. People put down “transient” populations, but to support a thriving commercial district, you need residential churn so that there is always a fresh set of newcomers who need stuff and are excited by being in a “new” place. Old town doesn’t really have that much of an apartment-dwelling, younger population, hungry to buy stuff, and to go out. The residents are old and established and also very… Read more »

AVA Resident
Guest
AVA Resident

I couldn’t agree more with everything you said. I recently went to a town meeting over the new ABC/Giant Development site. I was younger than every person there by about 40 years. The sad thing is it is my generation who is spending the money and looks forward to changing demographics.

spookiness
Guest
spookiness

I sporadically attended public meetings and workshops in Alexandria over the span of many years and eventually dropped out. You can name and count on two hands the same cast of characters who go to every one. The most maddening was a bus workshop in regards to potential routes and changes in and around Potomac Yard. This was 10+ years ago. Apparently transit isn’t to get people to and from work, its for getting seniors to the grocery store and their doctor appointments.

Cactus Tony
Guest
Cactus Tony

So if, as I’m led to understand based on some comments here, the overly restrictive and overpriced parking regulations are to blame, shouldn’t there then be a glut of open parking spaces due to everyone fleeing said oppressive parking policies? Yet every time I’m in Old Town, it seems that all of the parking spaces are as full as ever. I’m so confused! That said, wouldn’t it be great if one day there were other ways to get to and enjoy Old Town besides driving. Maybe like inexpensive bus service or even a free Trolley or something? Nah, that’s just… Read more »

SS
Guest
SS

Taking the DASH bus to Old Town even from 2 miles away can take over 40 minutes so imagine if you are farther away or taking a Metro bus and that’s just to get to the King St. metro. Transfer then to the Trolley and continue on.. I live in Alexandria a few miles from Old Town but rarely want to go to events or shopping there because of the too long trip via bus vs a much shorter trip driving but of course driving there is the parking hassle!

spookiness
Guest
spookiness

Or, horrors, on a bicycle.

Just Me
Guest
Just Me

Exactly! There are a number of ways to get to and around Old Town without a car.

trnsndnt
Guest
trnsndnt

While there are many reasons for this spate of business closings (the changing landscape of retail being a huge one) one can’t dispute that Old Town has become a toxic environment for small business. Over regulation, high rents and taxes, and the well known anti-development drum beat from our illustrious vocal minority, the CAVE people (Citizens Against Virtually Everything). Their constant carping about parking (when there are truly adequate resources both on street and in garage and surface lots has frightened city staff and created a parking policy deadly to small business while creating a huge perception problem that parking… Read more »

Cat
Guest
Cat

What’s happening on South Washington side ?

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