Lance Kodish: Looking forward to FoBoGro

How many times in your GW career have you heard a fellow student criticize the food options on campus? As a graduating senior, my answer to this question would literally be in the thousands. Despite constant complaining from those of us who actually fund the school’s operation, neither our administration nor the Student Association has made substantial changes. J Street is as barely tolerable as it was in 2006, prices have continued to rise at GW staples like Carvings and GW Deli, and few additional options have been introduced outside of the Marvin Center.

Yet one of GW’s own has decided to tackle this problem. Former SA President Kris Hart has invested tens of thousands of dollars to reinvigorate the building formerly known as Foggy Bottom Grocery. After a long wait, Hart’s operation, called FoBoGro, is finally slated to open this month. This news is long overdue, and FoBoGro should be a welcome site for the average GW student who is forced to spend money at the same three or four eating establishments every week for eight consecutive semesters.

The West End Citizens Association, though, raised objections to the opening of the new business. According to the transcript provided by the District of Columbia Alcohol Beverage Control Board, which is the entity that overheard complaints brought about by WECA, “the filed protest issues are whether the Applicant’s substantial change request for extended hours, expansion of operations from one floor to three floors, and the addition of a take-out deli would adversely affect peace, order, and quiet, as well as… cause a significant decrease in residential property values.”

In reality, the opening of FoBoGro will not increase the noise on campus. The store will not play any music and, as we all know, many of us will drunkenly roam the streets with or without the existence of FoBoGro. In addition, the opening of FoBoGro will actually increase residential property values, not decrease them. The new business will bring revenue into the local community through tax collection on food, alcohol and tobacco sales. As such, the D.C. government can reinvest the money in social services, which will increase local property values over time. In addition, the improved building will boost property values, as its previously dilapidated condition made that section of F Street look terrible. Now that the building has fresh windows, improved siding, level floors, and a clean paint job, it will only increase the value of the surrounding buildings and townhouses.

This is exactly the kind of alumni leadership we need on this campus in tough economic times. Hart has not only provided jobs for students desperate for extra cash, but he has also stimulated the local economy through construction and infrastructure spending. Many of GW’s most famous alumni leave our school, go on to much bigger and better things, and are never seen again on campus. Hart, on the other hand, actually cares enough about our community to not only stay here well beyond his graduation date but also solve real problems faced by our student body.

It is undeniable that the Foggy Bottom area has changed drastically with the expansion of our school in the past 20 years. As a result, older members of our community have often been dismayed about the increase in students living on campus. Yet, these citizens need to understand that neighborhoods go through changes all the time. In the end, the opening of FoBoGro will rid our community of an eye sore that has lasted for two years, provide a much-needed new dining option and grant first-hand business training for students right here on campus, all of which are positive developments for our school and for the community as a whole.

The writer, a senior majoring in international affairs, is a member of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity.

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