Just Say No To Parkmania

Here’s a truly terrible idea from DCMetrocentric implying that it would be nice to see the currently undeveloped blank spot of land in downtown DC that used to contain a convention center turned into a park.

It’s maddening to see this large parcel of vacant land standing basically vacant as a surface parking lot. But the location is already very close to Franklin Square which is a park (and not doing much of anyone much good) and also to the quasi-park of Mount Vernon Square. What ought to go on the site is exactly what’s planned to go there — buildings! Full of people and stuff!

What I think the inability to get something built there actually does is illustrate Keynes point about the irrationality of major investment decisions. If you take a deep breath and think about the long view, obviously there will be a market for office buildings in the middle of downtown Washington. Every other office building in downtown Washington has worked as an investment, there just don’t happen to be any office buildings on this particular patch of land yet. It should be a no-brainer. But when leveraged bets on highly speculative real estate investments cause a giant global banking panic, suddenly financing dries up for even really banal ideas like “there shouldn’t be a vacant lot surrounded by huge, busy office buildings in a very expensive city.”

Note that this would have been a better example for my anti-park crankier than the example I actually used.