Target and Bloomingdales Coming to the Mall?

Carol Buckley at the Current reported yesterday that the new owners of the Georgetown Park mall are in negotiations to bring in a Target and a Bloomingdale’s “Soho” store (the department store’s smaller more “hip” version).

The deal doesn’t sound final, but GM trusts Buckley’s source enough to be confident that deals are in fact near. One thing not mentioned in the article, however, is the effect of Anthony Lanier’s on-going litigation against Western Development over ownership of the mall.

In fact, as mentioned in the article, Bloomingdale’s already tried to bring a Soho store to the mall three years ago. That deal was called off because of Lanier’s lawsuit. Obviously enough has changed to the landscape for Bloomingdale’s to take another chance.

The irony in all of this is that back in 2009, Anthony Lanier gave a long talk to CAG about his vision for Georgetown. He said that he wants it to be true that the only reason you have to leave Georgetown is to go to the airport. And to that point he said that if he got ownership of the mall, he would seriously consider bringing in a Target and putting it in the basement. The idea being that having a Target in Georgetown means Georgetowners can avoid many trips to the suburbs, bringing the neighborhood that much closer to his dream. And by hiding it away in the basement, it doesn’t affect the historic feel of the neighborhood.

GM thinks there is a lot of merit to this. As the old complaint goes, there aren’t any hardware stores in Georgetown anymore (well actually, there’s one on 35th, but people ignore that when they’re complaining). And when they complain about hardware stores, it’s really just a stand-in for a complaint that not enough stores in Georgetown sell stuff residents need on a daily basis.

GM does, however, have a few concerns. The first is whether this would hurt small shops in the neighborhood. The second, which was also flagged by Buckley, is whether it would lead to an increase in auto-traffic. The idea being that people buy a lot when they go to Target, so they’re likely to drive there. For what it’s worth, the Target in Columbia Heights greatly overbuilt its parking capacity. The planners expected far more customers would drive than have actually done so. But Columbia Heights has a metro station and more population density, so it might not be a great comparison. (Also, there is no way they could fit a Target the size of the one in Columbia Heights into the Georgetown mall. It would have to be a much smaller store.)

Either way, there is obviously a lot to be determined here, but this could be a huge, huge change for the neighborhood.


Filed under Real Estate

4 responses to “Target and Bloomingdales Coming to the Mall?

  1. GeorgeM

    I think the current owners of Georgetown Park are making the same mistake as the owners of the Shops at National Place (which, like the original Georgetown Park, was an appealing indoor urban mall filled with unique specialty shops like Thornton’s English Chocolates when it opened in the early 1980’s) when they evicted most of the stores in favor of a giant Filene’s Basement. Now that mall is vacant and facing a bleak future as a retail outlet. A Target in Georgetown will be handy for Georgetown U students and their parents, but due to parking and other issues, is unlikely to be either an areawide retail destination or of much use to the local community. If feasible, it might be better to rip off the roof and turn it into an outdoor mall, perhaps a giant version of Cady’s Alley.

  2. GM

    Well I think Target would be pretty handy for non-students in the neighborhood too.

    Interestingly your open arcade idea was also pitched by Lanier. I think that’s a great idea, but I’m not sure it’s architecturally feasible. The condos and their common space are in the way. They could open a few holes to the sky, but I’m not sure it would be worth it.

  3. asuka

    Regardless of the tenants, the space fails as a mall for a variety of structural reasons that cannot be corrected. They should convert a few of the upper levels into more condos, keep the street-level shopping, and turn the rest of it into office space.

  4. Pingback: Vox Populi » National Pinball Museum moving to Baltimore

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