I was surprised to see an article on Washington City Paper's website today about the Wheaton Redevelopment project being headed up by B.F. Saul. I wouldn't say there was any earth-shattering revelations in it, but I was disappointed to read that there really aren't any provisions to support existing small businesses in our neighborhood once the redevelopment is under way. While I understand that a private developer isn't obligated to provide assistance to existing small businesses affected by their project, I am disappointed that the county has not assumed more of a leadership role in this.
So, what's up, Montgomery County? Where's your leadership in this project? A major part of the feedback during the community meeting the other week was directly related to maintaining the small business community that makes Wheaton unique. How are any of those concerns going to be addressed if B.F. Saul doesn't plan on doing anything about it? The county needs to step up now and make sure a framework is in place for maintaining the uniqueness of our neighborhood amidst the redevelopment process. Don't get me wrong, the development is Silver Spring is a success in many ways. But other than the restoration of the AFI, the rest of the redeveloped area of Silver Spring along Ellsworth (edited 12-14-10) is a pretty generic place that could have been plopped down in just about any town in America. I think Wheaton will be worse in the long run if we lose the unique businesses that define our community.
Oh, and I was offended about article writer's jab about restaurants here needing to hire English speaking waiters to attempt to lure 'gringos' into their businesses. I have eaten at many ethnic restaurants in Wheaton and have never had the slightest problem communicating with the waiters in English. Also, while I know that Wheaton has its share of crime, I've never heard about the prostitution rings that the writer claims some restaurants are using to boost their income. Geez.
I will also put a plug in for Sergio's, which was featured pretty prominently in the article. They're serving my favorite hispanic food in Wheaton right now, and I have been surprised at how empty it always seems to be. Check it out sometime!