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The other day I got to explore the massive Pentagon City Mall. Figuring out (a) where the parking lot was; and (b) how the parking lot connects to the mall were difficult enough. The real issue with that place is navigating through the hordes of tour-bus kids. On a Tuesday night, there must have been thousands of pasty children running around, plastic badges clipped to their shirts or worn on lanyards. They cued up six or eight deep around the escalators, raced around the food court, and bombed the store devoted to ballcaps.
Many of them hovered around the store simply called “America!” This is a store devoted unconditionally to the U.S. of A. and still apparently believes George W. Bush can sell T-shirts, if not a troop surge. Don’t these kids watch South Park? Or this?
All this got me thinking: I get why the kids end up at the mall. It’s massive, safe, and air conditioned. It has that sprawling food court that can deal with hundreds of kids all at once and allow for a relatively stress-free dining experience (unlike, say, California Tortilla in Chinatown after a Hoyas game). But why stick them in a mall, an experience they’ve surely had in Des Moines, Altoona, or wherever. Why not keep these kids and their dollars inside the District?
What about converting the old convention center space into a depot for these kids? Give them a food court. A library, even! There’s enough space in that lot. What do y’all think? Do we want their money? Or do we want to keep them lining up at America!?