Snarky Behavior

A New Development

June 19, 2008 · 1 Comment

Of all of the professions that would make me full of skin crawling self-loathing, I think real estate development would be tops.

I recently received a share from a friend’s google reader for Free Film Screenings in Washington.

“Great!” I thought, “News I can use!” But I was confused:

James Bond Film Festival:
Thursdays through August 28, catch a free Bond flick in DC’s NoMA
at the future site of the upcoming mixed-use development
Washington Gateway

“What the hell is NoMA?” I asked aloud. So I asked my friend Google what he knew about that. He referred me to his friend Wikipedia, who told me the following:

NoMa lies to the northeast of downtown Washington, whose northern
boundary has traditionally been defined as Massachusetts Avenue. As of
2006, downtown is largely built out; therefore, city planners expect
office development to spill over from downtown into NoMa. The area has
a potential for up to 17,000,000 square feet (1,600,000 m²) of
development, which would make NoMa larger than many other submarkets in
the Washington area, including Georgetown.

“Wow!” I thought. “That seems so organically conceived!” And sure enough, Wikipedia assured me that “The name NoMa was conceived by Columbia University professor Marc A. Weiss, a former advisor to Bill Clinton during the 1990s.”

Oh wait. [citation needed]

Not that it’s a particularly impressive or original concept name for a neighborhood (especially one that historically been called “Swampoodle”), and I’m all for mixed-use redevelopment (the institutional concentration of poverty and race in DC is well documented) but…


The use of SoHo-derived
nicknames to reclaim decaying urban neighborhoods and promote them as
edgy and artsy…I mean… yuck. It just rubs me the wrong way. It’s the kind of rebranding/redevelopment that is so phony and artificial, like a new neighborhood of used car salesman and born again Christians and K Street lobbyists all lumped together in one big community association.

Look, SoHo has character, and is a savior for those who forget how to pronounce Houston street. SoBe is totally Miami and fits like a glove.

To me, “NoMa” is married to Mia Hamm.

Categories: Opinion
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1 response so far ↓

  • Rohit // June 20, 2008 at 8:01 pm | Reply

    I totally agree. More often than not, it sounds extremely stupid. E.g., NoPa in SF, or north of the panhandle. What used to be a bum-infested shit hole within a stone’s throw of Haight Ashbury is now a trendy spot for SF yupsters.

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