Mall Moves Ahead With Radical Reshaping

Photo by Mr. T in DC.

The Washington Business Journal reported the other day that Vornado and Angelo Gordon are moving forward with the radical reshaping of the Georgetown Park mall:

The D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs awarded mall co-owners Vornado Realty Trust and Angelo Gordon & Co. demolition and interior renovation permits March 9 to break down the large sections of the mall’s mid area, according to public documents.

It’s interesting that the developers are moving ahead with interior changes despite the fact that their requests to change the exterior have proved fruitless, so far. Last year they tried to get approval to build large windows along M St. on the west end of the building. OGB rejected their plans. No further applications have been made since.

Vornado has been notoriously tight-lipped about its plans for the mall. In particular, they have not released the names of what tenants they’re hoping to bring in. But apropos to the internal construction, GM has heard that the approach Vornado is taking is to “de-mall” the mall. In other words, gut out the the interior space and create long shoe-box shape stores that go from M St. back to the canal.

On the one hand, GM thinks essentially replacing the mall with several large stores with streetfront facades is a good thing. Georgetown Park mall was always out of place in Georgetown and it was a futile attempt to try to beat the suburbs at their own game. Large interior-oriented malls don’t belong in a historic commercial neighborhood like Georgetown.

But on the other hand, the only tenants that will be able to afford those giant shoe-box shaped stores are big box stores. While GM would like to see a Target in Georgetown, he doesn’t want to see central Georgetown become dominated by 3 or 4 giant stores.

And from a different angle: yes de-malling the mall may be better than keeping it as is, but there are even better options. First among those are Anthony Lanier’s plan to open up the ceiling and create a European-style shopping arcade. Maybe that was unrealistic, but it was at least imaginative. GM doesn’t think there’s a lot of imagination behind shoehorning in a couple big box stores and calling it a day.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “Mall Moves Ahead With Radical Reshaping

  1. Dave

    Interesting — do others have additional detail on this? Will they change anything on the canal side or will that be the back of the big box stores? How will they renovate the interior without changing the exterior entrances?

    I wish Lanier would have gotten this project, allowing a more open concept that is better suited to Gtown. I suppose some big boxes are better than we have now though, which is nothing.

  2. They should turn the place into a Metro station with shops………..like in “Hugo.”

  3. I am going to miss those big skylights with the hanging lamps and planters!

    The new project will depend on the architectural details and the specific tenants. So, keep us posted!l

  4. andy2

    Maybe if they open up the south side to the canal – and let some more light in it can re-gain some vibrancy. Perhaps a mix of offices and retail also could help.
    Though I love the idea of a Metro stop there – especially with the park garage – a lot of the digging is already done!

  5. Maggie

    I’ll the massage joint….

  6. Georgia

    I love the inside- its reminds me of a park- which was the intention; therefore, if they are going to keep the name Georgetown Park they should keep the inside- just gut all the stores.

    I wish they would make the whole thing a department store like the ones in Paris!

  7. Pingback: The Georgetown Metropolitan Forgets its Own Birthday | The Georgetown Metropolitan

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