Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ugh: Urban real estate marketing makes me sick

I'm doing a little research into the whole project, so I won't go into detail about it right now, but I just downloaded the National Gateway brochure from their website after reading this story in the Post over the weekend.

They certainly aren't the worst of the bunch, but half the time, whoever has to write the dreck that appears on the marketing materials of the developers of condos and massive projects in DC likely flunked out of greeting card-writing school. I mean, haven't we all seen some really awful ones out there?

Have you seen these:

• The "eat", "sleep", "play" designation on the floorplans for new condo buildings are beyond annoying. "Boy, I can't wait to have some people over once I buy that new condo," said the hip urban single male. "Hey everybody, let's head into 'play' now that we've had some good stuff from 'eat'. Later, maybe one of you ladies will be lucky enough to make it back to 'sleep'. I mean, provided you want to either read or sleep, though, because those are the only options."

• Words that make me want to egg your building: "Distinctive", "Upscale", "Sophisticated", "Breathtaking", "Up-tempo", "Spectacular", "Dramatic", "Stunning". And FYI, I'm pretty sure the Allegro uses half of these on a regular basis.

• Claiming to be "just minutes from" Adams Morgan, Dupont, Downtown, Georgetown, and Capitol Hill, all at once. If you haven't seen this one on Craigslist, then you haven't been looking for an apartment anytime in the last...well...forever. Why don't you just go ahead and say "convenient access to The Moon."

• Once in the city and not doing the park and ride thang from miles away, 2 miles away does not qualify as NEAR the Metro. Believe me, I know a thing or two about walking to Metro.

• Anything that claims to now be "the most desirable address in Washington DC" makes me want to vomit. Not that all of us want to be president or anything, but you're pretty much not going to top 1600 Pennsylvania.


Here are some direct quotes from condo websites I've seen lately:
• "With such an array of combinations, you can make the lifestyle you envision a reality." Provided you have an eternal supply of cash, of course.

• "Columbia Heights is turning into the golden child for DC developers." Uh...are you selling to people or developers?

• "A dynamic atmosphere with a unique personality, the neighborhood boasts a rare and unique blend of commercial, residential and cultural experiences for its residents." blah blah blah blah blah

• "The _____ appeals to those who seek balance — balance between modernity and warmth." ?????

• "Convenient NW location - easy access to the White House, Capitol, Central Business District, C&O Canal, Potomac River, & Reagan National & Dulles Airports." Dulles? Really?

Anyway, so what got me all started on this was some blurbs from the National Gateway brochure:
• "The project will integrate over 185,000 square feet of restaurants, services, and shops in an architecturally significant streetscape that will define a sense of place rarely found in an urban location."

• "At National Gateway we endeavor to create a unique business environment, one in which sweeping views of the Potomac River, Washington, D.C. and a lush Center Park become part of the everyday landscape. And one in which the alignment of location, environment, access and visibility combine to create a vibrant mixed-use community that is more than a work place.” – David Cheek, President, The Meridian Group

• And lastly, "Setting new standards in urban design, National Gateway at Potomac Yard, Arlington Offers tenants an innovative mixed-use experience."
Whoah, dude, I have TOTALLY been craving an "innovative mixed-use experience". I have SO been trying to put words to the feeling I've had ever since I fell in love with the city. Jane Jacobs could have saved herself so much work if she had just latched onto that compelling sentence to describe the Village in NYC. Take that Robert Moses! "Don't infringe on our innovative mixed-use experience!"

As far as "setting new standards in urban design", I wouldn't count on it. And why bother, anyway? The old standards are actually pretty good.