We lived in the Oakwood Apartments across from Waterfront Mall when we lived in Washington in 1988 while studying Norwegian. It was a dump back then, the failed experiment in 1960s urban renewal. The Mall had few tenants, although I did appreciate the Blimpy and Roy Rogers. They went out of business a few years later until there was essentially nothing left but a CVS, Safeway & some used music stores. Perhaps most poignant was an escalator that went up to a non-existent second floor. They had great expectations at some time ago. But they plunked the place down in the middle of a crappy neighborhood that really couldn’t support a Mall. We were afraid to go there after dark and apparently so were most other unarmed customers not engaging in pursuits of questionable prudence or legality.
They tore it down a few years ago and started to build a new residential-commercial complex. Conditions have changed. There is now a metro-stop (Waterfront) and a more prosperous set of people has moved in around. It is the classic gentrification of anyplace within reasonable walking distance from a metro. You can see the new Safeway up top. Notice that the buildings are medium tall. It is illegal to build anything higher than the top of the Capitol. This keeps Washington’s skyline low.