A few stores along Route 198 in Burtonsville are receiving new façades as part of a neighborhood improvement project sponsored by the county's Department of Housing and Community Affairs:
From the Gazette:
The county will spend up to $250,000 total on the facade improvement project, but it will probably not cost that much, Mahmud said . . .
“You need to take a long-term view,” [property owner Yoav] Katz said. “You cannot take a short-term view. We have been in the area a long time, and we are committed to the area, so we are taking a long-term view.”
Very few who shop or live in Burtonsville would say that Route 198 is an attractive street, so perhaps this project will help the community's image. And it's not surprising that property owner Yoav Katz, who once offered his land for a new Dutch Country Farmers Market when they were evicted four years ago, has agreed to participate.
I believe that small design interventions can have a big effect on a community. "The Turf" in downtown Silver Spring was an exceedingly simple design that dramatically improved its neighborhood. But I'm disappointed that three years after the big community charrette which was supposed to get people excited about Burtonsville again, all we'll have to show for it are minor aesthetic improvements.
Can all of the people quoted in this Gazette article truly believe that despite Burtonsville's many issues, this will draw people back, especially when they can take their money two exits north to Maple Lawn? Of course, this is the same Route 198 where shopkeepers insisted that sidewalks were a "waste of time," so perhaps this is the best we can hope for.
At least the façade improvements are going up in the heart of Burtonsville's "Restaurant Row, home to one of my favorite local hangouts, Soretti's. Lipstick on a pig it may be, but hopefully this small project can draw more customers to a business that definitely deserves them.