More Details of Georgetown Park Mall

GM came into possession of a flyer that Vornado is circulating to retail brokers whose clients may be interested in opening a restaurant in the renovated Georgetown Park Mall. The flyer is the first relatively concrete document GM has seen that reveals what is likely going to be the shape and makeup of the mall; and it’s not pretty. (GM reached out to Vornado for confirmation of the information contained in the flyer, but did not receive a response).

The flyer is requesting proposals for two restaurants to be located along the canal. The first would be along the southeast corner of the building, near the Wisconsin Ave. bridge, and the other would be at the southwest corner, adjacent to Dean & Deluca. Both spaces have a ton of potential (particularly the second one) but that’s not the thing that jumped out at GM the most.

The flyer confirms what GM has been hearing for a long time: that a primary tenant in the new mall will be the budget clothing store T.J. Maxx. The flyer also shows that the space will be shared by HomeGoods, which is a sister store of T.J. Maxx that sells budget home wares, like sofas and rugs.

The store will have an entrance along M St. but will primarily be below grade (much like the Bed Bath & Beyond in Gallery Place).

The flyer also shows an expanded J. Crew.

GM also learned that while the flyer doesn’t show it, one of the other primary tenants will be a Michaels arts and craft store.

Essentially, when Vornado is done with it, the bulk of the mall will have been converted into a couple big box stores that have all the charm and destination-appeal of Rockville Pike.

GM hates to say he told you so, but…:

GM predicts that all they want to do is gut the property, put in three or four large tenants (whoever they can sign, GM doubts they care much) and turn around and sell it. It would come as no surprise that they’re not interested in the long haul seeing as they’re simply acting as an agent for the mall’s actual owner: Angelo, Gordon & Co. This firm specializes in distressed properties, an investment strategy that normally involves buying a property cheap, tarting it up and turning around and selling it for quick buck.

Sadly, we’ll be the ones stuck with the outcome long after Vornado and Angelo, Gordon & Co. cash their check.

Maybe the restaurants will redeem this whole project. It could happen, but given Vornado’s bland suburban taste in tenants so far, GM is afraid we’ll end up with an Olive Garden and Cheesecake Factory…

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30 Comments

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30 responses to “More Details of Georgetown Park Mall

  1. JMW

    GM – Nice job with the scoop on this. Couldn’t agree more, filling the space with just a few budget big box retailers would be an enormous disappointment, and really sad for Gtown in particular because there is potential to do something great with the space. Also agree it would be nice to have restaurants on the canal, but this is a minor concession. (Though have you seen the canal lately? looks and smells like a swamp – cleaning up the canal, building commercial space and activity around it (like so many other world cities with canals), is another Gtown dream that I’m afraid may not happen in our lifetimes if ever.

  2. Horrible….if I wanted to live on Rockville Pike, I would live on Rockville Pike

  3. RobRob

    From the sound of it, you’ll be lucky to have even an Olive Garden or Cheesecake Factory. Neither one of those tenants will be too excited about being stuck on the canal without much major street frontage.

  4. Guest

    Between the Nike store, the perpetually “GOING OUT OF BUSINESS” $99 suit shops, terrible tourist-trap restaurants, and this news, Georgetown is becoming ghetto.

    I suppose that’s a return to its historical roots though.

  5. RNM

    What is so bad about businesses moving into Georgetown? Seriously, you don’t like them, don’t go to them. I walked past archaic dying places like Little Caledonia for years, but never begrudged their right to try and do business here. I imagine the market research folks at TJ Maxx have done a little research and think they can make a go of it there, and if they can…then clearly there was a demand. And maybe those real people, who shop at real stores will stop and have a meal or wander a bit. Plus, it helps make Georgetown a more walkable, liveable area…something I thought GM would like.

    The underlying issue is that much of the resentment about what is going in there sounds like sour grapes and elitist (in the bad way) views about what kind of stores people should want to be around. I know everyone in Georgetown is very wealthy, shops at only the finest stores, lives only the fabulous life…but maybe if you got the log out of your own eye about the “riff-raff” who shop at stores like TJ Maxx, then you could see clearly. And people wonder why the old canard myth about Metro survives?

    Seriously, Cady’s Alley and its high end furniture/decor places is beloved but a consumer level home goods store is bemoaned. A high end paper store is appreciated, but a major supplier of arts and crafts supplies is bemoaned. A pricy boutique is loved, but a major clothing retailer that sells to a much larger and more diverse market is bemoaned. That is the problem. Some of you are just way too full of yourselves. If you wanted this place to be something else, how about you pool together all that fabulous wealth that you must have to fund the “look down your nose” attitude on those who dare shop at a large commercial store and instead of griping about economic realities just buy the space. Maybe if you drive every store out of business it will be easier to take lanes of traffic away from the streets, limit parking and build the compound walls that seem to be so desired. If you live here, you live in a city. It is not a gated compound, though there is one just up the road. Business come and go, luckily people come and go too.

  6. RNM

    On a more upbeat note…it will be nice to have another dinning establishment back in the space on the east end of the mall along the canal. I remember the old Tex-Mex place there 20 some years ago.

  7. Actually the Michael\’s will be much appreciated, as DC has no other craft shops that I can think of. I don\’t quite see how T.J. Maxx and HomeGoods fit into Gtown\’s customer base, but who knows. Hopefully they won\’t ruin the scale of the streetscape. Too bad Lanier never won control, but c\’est la vie. (And I\’m still angry at Jack Evans for blocking the widening of M St\’s sidewalks!)

  8. Don Brodka

    I love how the knee-jerk reaction is that Georgetown is too upper-class and too ritzy for a TJ Maxx.

    First, residents of 20007 aren’t the only folks who shop in Georgetown. Second, there are TWO universities within either walking distance or a short bus ride and a THIRD a short car ride away. I have a feeling TJX Companies is very well aware of the demographics of the greater Georgetown area and isn’t really concerned whether the Ben Bradlees and Robert Allbrittons of the world shop there.

    One final point. It’s interesting that no one complained when H&M moved in. Their price point is the same as TJ Maxx. Except they’re “trendy”, so I guess that’s OK.

    Settle down, folks. It’ll be good to have businesses in that behemoth rather than empty hallways.

  9. CDL

    TJ Maxx does seem like an unlikely fit with the company it will share with M Street couture, but the author is too kind to compare the likes of Georgetown with Rockville Pike. Yes, the Pike corridor (County and Rockville segments, both) needs improvement and is in fact undergoing redevelopment and urbanisation as you read, but by no means does it have the character, history and activity that M Street enjoys. A few affordable fashion/homeware stores on the corridor shouldn’t change that.

  10. PK

    I completely agree with RNM. Sure these aren’t creative stores and I would have preferred something unique like an Eataly but as a mom to two young girls, I am delighted that a Michael’s Craft Store is coming here. I also love Home Goods and dare I say TJ Maxx. I’ve lived in Georgetown and Palisades for 9 years now and I just don’t shop on a regular basis at All Saints or Relish or the other high-end furnishings stores. I think a good mix speaks to all kinds of people and it is better than an empty, irrelevant mall!

  11. asuka

    Rockville Pike? My stars! I don’t think you really hate to tell us so; you seem to do it quite often.

  12. DSC

    I’ve cut and pasted your telling quote that your personal agenda is once again seeping into your reporting. I’ve worked to bring tenants to GPM and the Vornado professionals based locally and in NYC are consummate professionals (unlike you) and vet very carefully whom they’ll seriously consider. I know this first hand. You clearly know nothing relevant about the commercial leasing process. “GM predicts that all they want to do is gut the property, put in three or four large tenants (whoever they can sign, GM doubts they care much)”

  13. J.A.

    People of Georgetown. Quit your whining! This mall has been a disaster for many years. It’s about time to have good stores that will bring in traffic. before you complain about TJ Max and Home Goods, perhaps you should focus your energies on those $99-suit fronts that are perpetually going out of business.

  14. Melanie

    seriously. Anyone paying rent to live within walking distance of the new TJMaxx can’t afford to shop at the ridiculous stores on M street!

  15. JMW

    I get a chuckle out of the sanctimonious criticisms of the ‘elitist’ Georgetowners who only want ‘pricey boutiques.’ Who ever said this? And in defense of GM, I don’t recall him ever promising not to provide personal opinions – ‘DSC’ here seems a bit out of line with the personal attack on him (and sounds perhaps like an agent or customer of Vornado?) I for one have no interest in seeing more ‘pricey boutiques’ – I’d like more (or one!) inexpensive restaurants with great food, small independent bookstores, (or I would even take B&N back), a hardware store (yes in addition to glover park of which I am a big fan), a housewares store (ok will take ‘home goods’), ideally mostly independent shops where the business owner actually stands behind the counter – I realize this is not the reality of most retail these days but I think I speak for many in saying there is value in retail diversity and independent ownership. This is why we don’t want to see the space filled with anonymous big box retail. it has nothing to do with price-point – I prefer less expensive over more, but it seems like we already have enough cheap clothing stores, enough banks, enough restaurants with overpriced subpar food. And did Vornado talk to anyone in the neighborhood about its plans for filling-up the space? I’ve heard no evidence that it has. Sure it may not be realistic to hope for all this but this is what blogs are for…

  16. Jen

    By and large, independent stores can’t thrive–or even survive–with the rent prices M Street property demands. Why not put in big box stores? The rest of M Street has already turned into a high-end strip mall.

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  18. Mr. Georgetown-1981

    I want to be able to smoke cigs and dine at Benihana, oh the good ole days. TJ Maxx and Homegoods have no place in Georgetown, certainly rockville and tysons corner. The only good thing about TJ Maxx is I go there yearly for cheap boxers and socks. Restoration Hardware sh*ts on homegoods. gross, how poor. Georgetown is becoming a commercial real estate disaster, shame on you all for chasing away all the small businesses.

  19. Pukey McPukerson

    Schmucks, why dont you go ahead and put in a metro stop and instead of new restaurants go with a Shoe City and Forman Mills. Stay Klassy Vornado.

  20. Angie R

    I am personally tiered of the “everyone gets an award” mentality of this city. The Georgetown market has catered to an exclusive community for many years. Residents of Georgetown purchased homes in an exclusive market. Boutique stores pursued opportunity in Georgetown successfully for years. By watering it down and giving everybody a piece, the value of these properties will decline and the boutique stores will be forced to go elsewhere. The fact is, exclusive markets exist, failure to maintain the strength of these sectors will only lead to big box stores on every corner. I shop at big box stores. And as much as it would be a convenient location, I would much rather see the preservation of small boutique businesses in Georgetown.

  21. RNM

    If an “exclusive market” (whatever level of pomposity that means) really existed…it would thrive or at least survive. The bottom line is clear…if you make money, you get to play another day. If you don’t, then you are pulled from the game making the way for someone else.

    I do find it funny that someone thinks so highly of Restoration Hardware…it is just a lifestyle store. It is selling the illusion of some lifestyle, aspirational…yet mass market. It may be a step up from Home Goods but they are creatures of the same ilk. Oh and Benihana even sold out the location in GPM, but great example of a once trendy now tired and dated restaurant concept…it was cool in the 1970s.

    Granted some of the changes are industry based…the bookstores are not coming back any more than the furriers that closed a century ago when people changed technologies. And even there it comes down to cash…the small companies used to struggle against the big boxes. Hechingers put lots of small hardware stores out of business, then got blindsided by Home Depot and got put out of business by an even bigger fish. Bricks and mortar costs a lot…if you don’t have economies of scale it is hard to compete. Even if you have economies of scale on your side and a national presence in certain businesses it is impossible to survive for long against the medium we are debating this on. Most of my shopping arrives at my house in brown cardboard boxes with an Amazon logo on the side, and free two day shipping. Technology is a game changer.

    People still like to touch clothing, try things on…even if they go home and order it online later. Same goes for a lot of home goods, which is why big box stores are starting to slim down realizing that in essence they are becoming less a store and more of a display arena. Touch, try out…see if you like it, then buy it online for less. You also can’t easily replicate a dinning experience in the online world, so restaurants that attract a good customer base have a good future. Try getting a reservation at Minibar or check out the line nightly to get into Little Serrow, and like it or not the parking lots outside of an Olive Garden are filled.

    It all comes down to cash. The ultimate judge on the failed businesses is that for whatever reason (mismanagement, maleficence, poor product, etc…) if they made enough money they would last. The businesses that we loved of the past are gone because there isn’t a market for them today. The businesses that are here are here because there is a market for them today. Sometimes the incessant complaining about how Georgetown is changing comes down to people not liking change. The only constant in life is change. In thirty years, will any of the current businesses still be here and going strong? Some may survive by adapting and changing…others may last as their aging and dying off customers keep coming back for the romantic ties to youth they hold…but most will be gone. Don’t like the current crop of stores, give it time.

  22. Josh

    Sorry Georgetowners, but you can’t eat your cake, and have it too!

    It’s the Market Stupid! In this day and age is is nearly impossible for independent stores to compete with the likes of Amazon and other big box stores, in the end it is all economics. You can complain and moan all you want, but the reality is that big box corporate stores like target are the only ones who can afford to open in a location such as this.

    This mall has been a desolate and mostly empty place for some time now, and despite this I’m sure rent there does not come cheap. Not to sound like a broken record, for the stores within that mall there is minimal street frontage – which results in less foot traffic for stores inside. Since small independent boutiques live and die by foot traffic, it’s simply not a sustainable model for many independently stores to populate this mall

    What would the Georgetown NIMBYERS prefer? An empty shuttered mall to remind them of the grand days when Georgetown was once great? or a chance to revitalize an underutilized space and attract more shoppers Georgetown.

    Regardless of what happens, the truth is that most people prefer a cheaper store with more options to an expensive boutique. In a perfect world every store would be independent and Georgetown would be populated by an array of them offering a diverse set of goods, however economics is the hard reality that many people forget.

  23. hmm

    A tragedy. Such a terrible tragedy.

  24. hmm

    But then again. Let’s face it: besides the Co-op (and even that’s questionable)…. oh, and that fantastic little boutique in Cady’s Alley that used to sell menswear (even by the likes of Dries van Noten) but stopped because DC men (read: the general population of DC) are so tragically unstylish… oh, and the Alessi store too – so besides those places, I’d say that TJ Maxx and Homegoods and Michael’s would fit in perfectly along perhaps the most boring “high-end” shopping street on the east coast.

  25. laugh

    as much as i would love those stores to come closer to where i live and work…. it does kind of tarnish the georgetown ‘image’. but on the same end – who cares? i hate georgetown for many reasons, and none of them are for what stores are there (mainly the people, the tourists, the ‘pretending to be wealthy but really have no money’ set that lives in homes they cant afford to give the appearance of wealth/status/whatever. no one cares about you.) michaels will be a great addition (although, sorry paper source!), as will tj maxx (sorry h&m, urban, etc), and homegoods (restoration hardware, and those way out of everyones price range furniture stores down m). plus those obnoxiously wealthy people arent even dining or shopping in the places in georgetown anyway. its too beneath them to be seen walking past a johnny rockets or chipotle or any of those clothing stores no one goes into on wisconsin. we all know that. and i agree that it is a totally boring shopping street. often too crowded, too loud, too many students. its just a hassle.

  26. Dave

    Not sure why the assumption is Gtown has to be either exclusively high end or low end retail. Look at Friendship Heights – TJ Maxx and Loehman’s seem to get along fine with Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, and Sak’s. People like retail variety – what they don’t like is an empty mall.

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  28. The problem with Georgetown is … Georgetown! The people who nixed the Metro are now turning their backs on the ugly and long-range dysfunctional modern buildings going in, who happen to be the same people who held up the remodeliong for years so their could get their hands opn the project.

    These will ultimately affect ALL of Georgetown and not in a nice way.

    The proposed installation of an adolescent-themed suburban-style bowling alley on Wisconsin and M is not in anyone’s best interest, least of all the developers and owners.

    Having suffered for months the most atrocious noise and vibrations, a resident wonders that it took so much work for Vornado to convert once-beautiful Georgetown Park Mall into a suburban big-box experience. They must be desperate or clear out of ideas.

    Prior to construction, a professional walk-thru showed that much of the existing could have been salvaged with about 10% of the structural work these good people have, and are, investing in the poor place. I wonder how realistic are their proformas.

    Nir Buras

  29. As wonderful as this blog is, there is no place to edit or review a comment before posting.

    The comment should read:

    The problem with Georgetown is … Georgetown! The people who nixed the Metro are now turning their backs on the ugly and long-range dysfunctional modern buildings going in; for years they also turned their backs on delays in remodeling Georgetown Park Mall so now, when a bowling alley is proposed for it, they couldn’t care less. Apparently it isn’t in their back yard.

    These will ultimately affect ALL of Georgetown and not in a nice way.

    The proposed installation of an adolescent-themed suburban-style bowling alley on Wisconsin and M is not in anyone’s best interest, least of all the developers and owners.

    Having suffered for months the most atrocious noise and vibrations, a resident wonders that it took so much work for Vornado to convert once-beautiful Georgetown Park Mall into a suburban big-box experience. They must be desperate or clear out of ideas.

    Prior to construction, a professional walk-thru showed that much of the existing could have been salvaged with about 10% of the structural work these good people have, and are, investing in the poor place. I wonder how realistic are their proformas.

    Nir Buras

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