Eden Center Watches Doors Close One-By-One During the Pandemic

Businesses all over the country are struggling with the economic fallout of COVID-19. Declining traffic and sales are hitting immigrant businesses especially hard. NPR’s Eliza Berkon reported on the effects of the pandemic on the Eden Center in Falls Church, a hub of the Northern Virginia Vietnamese community since the decline of Clarendon’s Little Saigon in the 1980’s.

Professor Morton is quoted in the article:

“Clarendon in the late ’70s and ’80s proved to be fertile ground for this nascent immigrant community. The neighborhood stores had lost much of their business, as shoppers flocked to the Parkington Shopping Center in Ballston or elsewhere, says Elizabeth Morton, an urban planning professor at Virginia Tech’s Arlington campus. (Parkington would be redeveloped as Arlington’s first modern mall, Ballston Common, in 1986.)

‘The traditional kind of Main Street walkable center — which now we planners are desperately trying to re-insert into an urban environment — was sort of falling out of fashion,’ Morton says. ‘And that was only exacerbated by the Metro.’

While construction of the Clarendon Metro stop tore up the area around Wilson Boulevard in the 1970s, building owners offered short-term leases that were ideal for refugees with entrepreneurial ambitions, Morton says. But years later, after the station opened in 1979, development boomed, rents rose, and many of Little Saigon’s business owners found better opportunities at the Eden Center, named for a shopping center in Saigon.

The full story can be read on NPR’s website

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