The intersection of Falls and River Roads — an area known as Potomac Village — has long been the community and cultural nexus of Potomac. Long before there was a Starbucks, two gas stations and a bevy of banks, there was a post office and blacksmith’s shop that sat at what back then was the crossing of two major dirt roads.
Times have changed, and continue to do so. Potomac Village offers a range of shopping and meeting venues, but as rents have increased in the Village, the number of locally-owned stores has decreased. Stores such as Rocky’s Video, La-De-Da, a small crafts store, and Flaps Restaurant closed, and some units have remained empty for months on end. More often than not they have been replaced by national chains, particularly banks.
"I think we’re losing our sense of community by moving to all big corporations and things like that but I don’t think we really have a choice in that," said Adam Greenberg, the owner of Potomac Pizza and the president of the Potomac Chamber of Commerce. "It’s really the landlords dictating that, which is dictated by their mortgages and things like that. It’s just out of control."
Not that all change is bad. Walgreen’s recently became the Village’s first 24-hour store, while across the street Rite-Aid is set to expand into the old Flaps space and Giant supermarket just underwent a facelift.
The Village has gotten more walkable, as well. For years residents complained about the lack of sidewalks in and around the village, but Montgomery County’s Department of Public Works and Transportation has installed long stretches of sidewalk leading to and through the village in recent months.
"It was actually a nice addition, it was something that’s been needed for a long time," said Greenberg. Still, Greenberg said that he hopes for a return to a Village with a more local feel, but he knows that that is something that will be determined by the market and those who set the rates for rent in the Village, not the average Potomac resident.
"I don’t think we really ultimately have a choice," said Greenberg.