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Washington Post Gets Lazy on Downtown

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, January 02, 2006, at 12:20AM

Monday's Washington Post features an article on page A3 about Downtown's $10 Billion Remake. Taken as a whole John Pomfret's piece is largely the same as any of the other out of town articles written about Downtown redevelopment. This particular paragraph, though, just made me laugh.

At night, the area is desolate and its nightlife is more like a dusk life. The kitchen at the swankiest restaurant, Pinot, closes at 9. It is impossible to hail a cab because the police department refuses to allow random stops, but even if it did, most Los Angeles cabbies would not take short fares. Local redevelopment boards have hired their own security services and trash collection services because city services are stretched too thin. And the only way the city could persuade a supermarket chain to open a store downtown was to give it a $7 million subsidy; even so, it will not open until late 2007.

While those criticisms make for good copy, they're far from an unbiased presentation of the truth. And some are just flat out wrong (Hello? Washington? Downtown has no restaurant named "Pinot"). We'll take a closer look after the jump...

(I deleted the comment in which he did it since it was off-topic to the post, but my thanks to John Crandall for alerting me to this article.)

Late Night Dining

At night, the area is desolate and its nightlife is more like a dusk life. The kitchen at the swankiest restaurant, Pinot, closes at 9.

I'm going to give Promfret the benefit of the doubt and assume that "Pinot" is actually Cafe Pinot. I can't fathom how it would be Downtown's "swankiest" eatery, but that's his choice, not mine. The hours on the website list that dinner does indeed end at 9pm Sunday - Tuesday, but that it then goes until 9:30pm for two days, and until 10pm on the weekend. Not a big difference, but just evidence of very sloppy writing.

If you want to talk late night dining Downtown, though, it's irresponsible not to mention Pacific Dining Car and its 24-hour white linen service. Certainly other places stay open late, but when you really need to go fancy late at night there's nowhere else you're going to do better.

Taxis and the Police

Los Angeles has never been a place where you could hail a cab that just happened to be driving around. Sure, there may be rules on the books that make it illegal for even taxis to stop in no stopping zones, but were the taxi companies ready to support intra-Downtown travel I guarantee the City would accomodate. And there's good progress on that front. I fully expect that sometime this year you'll be able to hail cabs Downtown.

BID Clean-Up as Evidence of a Cash-Strapped City?

Right in the center of Washington, D.C., you'll find the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District. Their website tells me that their "Clean Team" pulled 70,243 trash bags out of trash recepticles in 2005. Is that because D.C. is "stretched too thin," or is it because, well, that's just what business improvement districts do?

Ralphs' $7 Million Subsidy

The CRA bought the land that the Ralphs will be on for $7.3 million, so Pomfret isn't technically incorrect here. But to say that $7 million was put into enticing a grocery chain Downtown is disingenuous. Above the grocery store Lee Group will be building 267 condo units. The CRA is involved in the entire project: the grocery store, the additional 10,000 sq. ft. of retail space and the housing component.

I don't know exactly how page A03 is presented in the Post, but I certainly hope it's not a regular news page. This writing leans far more toward the editorial than it does toward journalism.


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