Best Reminder that D.C. is Still a Suburban Town at Heart

Tract Housing at Fort Lincoln
The last parts of the Fort Lincoln New Town, a legacy of Lyndon Johnson-era urban renewal, finally broke ground this year, after 40 years of changes and delays—and they look precisely like the kind of thing that would have been built 40 years ago. That twenty-first century interest in “density” and “mixed use developments” with main streets and pedestrian life? Take a hike, pal. Or, rather, drive on out of here!

Don’t get me wrong: The Costco, Marshall’s, and other stores coming to the new mall in Fort Lincoln will be a boon to the city and to the surrounding far northeastern neighborhood, whose elderly residents have long had to cross the District line for groceries. But the configuration, a two-story strip mall backed by 2,500 parking spaces, is better suited to Gaithersburg than D.C. Tellingly, few civic leaders are complaining about the suburban style, or that the project entails paving over a 42-acre wetland. Nearby, more trees have been bulldozed to make way for 334 uniform-looking townhomes and condos clustered around a cul-de-sac.

More housing and retail are always welcome in the District. It just would have been nice to design them more like the town that D.C.’s becoming, not the one it used to want to be.