Today, Mayor Fenty announced that the city had finally figured out what to do with the old convention center site: sell it to a giant luxury hotel for out-of-towners.

For a long time, as many readers know, a great debate raged about using the space to build a new central library. This library would essentially replace the historic MLK library. We wrote about the debate in a super cover story [which I can’t seem to find] and we ranted about the libary back in the day. Oh how the civic discourse flourished!

Well, not really. While this city desperately needs a new library, hearts and minds shifted towards retail! Yeah! Other cities have used a new library as a cultural hub. Instead, we will be stuck with MLK Memorial Library forever. I’m fine with keeping the hunk of modernism. But it would have been cool to actually get a real up-to-date library.

Of course, the new hotel will have retail on the first floor. And the city gets final say on which chain will get to move in (Ruby Tuesday or Five Guys? Fedex/Kinko’s or CVS?). It would have been a nice move if city officials went with the greater civic good instead of a luxury hotel.

The hotel benefits none of us. (Except for the 10.6 jobs given to District residents).

Fenty was in full hype mode when discussing the project. The Post reported: “It is time we start calling this place what it is, our City Center,” Fenty (D) said in a statement. “CityCenter DC is going to be a true retail and entertainment destination — the heart and soul of our dynamic new downtown.”

Say what you want about Mayor Anthony Williams‘ tenure. But at least he had the guts to propose a new central library. How can the soul of our new downtown be a luxury hotel?

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