Friday Question of the Day – Is Target a Good Fit for Former ESPN Zone Space Downtown?

11th and E St, NW

The Washington Post reported:

“Target is considering opening a store in downtown Washington, at 11th and E streets NW, in space once occupied mainly by ESPN Zone.

The building, 555 12th St. NW, is for sale. A new owner has not been named, and it is not clear whether whoever buys the building would want the rather ubiquitous red Target symbol stamped on the bottom of it.”

Do you think a Target would do well in this location?

I still think a B.B. King’s Blues Club would be a better fit…


85 Comment

  • Suitably safe and boring. The tourists will love it. They bring some revenue into this city, might as well throw them a bone.

    • You mean people who live in the city wouldn’t like to go to that one, vs. the clustf*ck that is the Columbia Heights Target. Or is it just relegated to tourists?

      • Chill out. You’re arguing about Target.

      • Serious question. I see this type of comment all the time about how people hate the Columbia Heights Target. I live in the neighborhood and go there a fair amount and I’ve never had a problem. Is it that I don’t go right after work?

        • I live a few blocks away from the CH Target and to me, it’s a combination of a few important things: it’s typically very crowded, merchandise is disorderly and the staff members are typically not very helpful or motivated. I work downtown and would absolutely shop (perhaps exclusively) at a different Target if I was able to do so.

          • I’ve been at the CH Target numerous times and never felt it was any more “crowded” or “disorderly” than any other Target I’ve been in. I like it just fine. Maybe if all the people who complain stop going there, it’ll be even better. Faster line for me. LOL.

          • pretty much every Target I’ve ever been to has been disorderly with unhelpful staff. This one is very crowded though.

          • They’re the typical snobs who want the world to be some sort of fantasy suburb, forgetting whgat the one where they grew-up was like.

        • Same — what’s the problem? I’m there once a week. It’s fine. Actually, it’s great it’s so close to where i live.

          • I go to the CH Target almost every day. Super happy it is there. Dtaff are friendly and helpful. Lines are usually quick, except now and then when they inexplicably have only a few lanes open at predictably busy times. Biggest gripe is that certain things are out of stock for weeks on end sometimes and shelves are often disordered.

        • It’s the dirtiest target I’ve ever been to, and there are just way too many people! And the shelves are almost always empty. But seriously, the carts, they have a layer of black crud on them that is foul and disgusting!!

          • The black crud on the shopping carts actually has a surprisingly simple explanation once you think about it. The carts at this Target never get rained on in the parking lot (as the lot is actually a garage) so they never get rinsed down. That’s what all carts would look like if they lived indoors 100% of the time.

        • I think it is the lack of inventory that bothers me. That is more an issue of a lack of resources for the city as a whole.

          • Yes, the carts are cruddy – but aside from that I’ve found the staff generally helpful and the lines fairly quick (except for the Sunday pre-college shopping mayhem.) I shop there a couple of times a week and have never seen it “disorderly” or “dirty” etc. I actually find it one of the only places in DC where all sorts of people from all classes are mixed, and I almost always have conversations with people.

          • I periodically shop at the Target near my job in Rockville. Things are no more likely to be in stock there than at CoHi. My past experience is that Targets often have long lasting out of stock problems.

        • I’m with you. I usually go on Saturday, one of the busiest days, so it’s always crowded and a little messy, but the staff is fine, the lines move quickly, and I’ve never had any problems.

      • Yeah, I don’t really see Target as a tourist mecca. Don’t most people have Target in their hometown? Sure, tourists might stop in for some things, but I think their main business would be from people who live here.

    • you think people are coming to DC to go to the Target? So they can lug fitted sheets and bulk paper towel purchases back to their hotel room?

      They do have Targets in flyover country.

    • Why would tourists go to a Target?

      • Because folks ALWAYS forget something when they go on vacation. Multiply that by tens of thousands of tourists, add in commuters grabbing something on the way home and you have a business. I doubt that the people who bought tiny condos in Penn Quarter will be a significant part of their business.

        • Yeah, I’m thinking of the last time I went to a Target…. it was three years ago when I was traveling and needed a razor and some wrapping paper (which I guess you can get at a grocery store or CVS, but Target has been prices and selection usually).

        • Tourists buying toothpaste and mascara aren’t going to pay Target’s rent. (And people buying $500,000 condos probably don’t look to target as a primary home decor source).

          • Uhm, excuse me. While I did not pay 500K for my condo, I did purchase something that I like and saved years for. And believe it or not Target in the ‘burbs, in Columbia Heights, and online have good deals for home decor. Do I furnish my whole place with it? No. But when asked where I bought something, I am happy to say -at Target!

            PS, the best time to go is in the mornings between 8-10AM – it’s like your own personal Target.

          • First, I have no problem with people in $500 K (or less) condos, so please don;t get that impression. I may own one myself someday.
            And I do shop at target, though mostly for inexpensive things like trash cans and table lamps. I’m just suggesting that the primary target for Target is the more budget-conscious shopper (not that the affluent can’t be budget conscious, mind you) rather than the more upscale types who are likely to make big purchases where they can get nicer stuff.

          • Someone with a condo isn’t necessarily affluent. Lots of house poor people in DC.

        • There are also people who live in other parts of the city that would be closer to this Target than the one in Columbia Heights. I live on the Hill and I would welcome a closer Target. I also think you’re way off on the people who live in Penn Quarter-a lot of them would shop at Target, for home decor and other things. Target does sell paper towels, toilet paper, pet supplies, etc. that most people need.

          • I agree. I live on H St and I absolutely hate going to the CH Target due to traffic and thus never go. I’d be much more likely to go to one in this location.

          • Another Hill resident who would probably go to this Target occasionally. I haven’t been to one since I moved here because the current locations aren’t terribly convenient.

  • If they can make it work, by all means. From what I remember from ESPN Zone, it seems more fit for a large format restaurant/bar. The rent must be super high, so probably only a large corporation would make it there I think.

  • BB King seems even less plausible than ESPNZone, which would have had appeal to the happy hour and tourist crowds. DC is not a classic blues town–the heritage here is Carolina blues which is very different from the Delta/Chicago brand. this would be too niche tourist.

    Target would draw pedestrian traffic all day long and complement the retail that has been turning the old F Street corridor into a retail downtown again, including the TJMaxx nearby. The space is a little small for a Targte but still might be enough of a draw to bring in stronger retail and maybe more restaurants.

    • “DC is not a classic blues town”

      BB King’s in Manhattan books WAY more musical genres than just blues. And DC is about as much a blues town as NYC, if not moreso, since there are probably as many African Americans living in DC as in NYC (both cities are losing their AA population rapidly, but NYC at a faster rate, from what I hear)

      • And when I say “African-American”, I am (perhaps unreasonably) excluding Caribbean and African communities and referring to descendants of American slaves, the “traditional” definition of African-Americans. Obviously if you add in Caribbean and African communities, the black (not African-American) dwarfs DC’s.

      • The 2010 census puts the Black population of New York City at 2,088,510.

  • I think it would totally work. Target’s already done “city target” in Chicago on state street–it’s smaller than the DCUSA target, but it still has a decent selection of stuff and the convenience for everyone working in the area is great.

  • No. It needs to be a supersized WALGREENS

  • Needs to be a Homegoods

  • Is there parking nearby (not totally familiar with that area)? Many Targets need ample parking near them, as people that shop there tend to buy too many things that can be easily carried off by hand. Just a thought.

    • No thank you.

    • That’s what they thought in Coumbia Heights so the city spent a bundle to build a large garage which is very much underused. Good Mero access seems to be as valuable as parking. In any case, 555 12th and the buildings around must have garages.

  • I’m curious about the overall size of the space since this says “in space once occupied MAINLY by ESPN Zone”.

    • Retail broker CBRE has a great diagram of the site online (google the address, 555 12th St NW). There’s 12,000′ vacant on the ground floor and 47,000′ on two basement levels, but they’re also soft-marketing the 32,000′ that Barnes & Noble rents on the ground & second floors. B&N would love to shed at least some of that upstairs space, which is pretty woefully underused these days.

  • Target sells groceries, right? How many grocery stores are there in Federal Triangle?

  • I would much prefer either a Trader Joes or an organic/natural/high quality grocery store…

    • For real! You’d think that we upped the yuppie quotient high enough to warrant another TJ in DC. Jeeeez – what will it take?

      • There’s another TJs under construction at the condo development at 14th and U. Should be open sometime early next year.
        They are going to make a buttload of money!

    • I would give my left nut for a TJs in this location!!

  • What about a Dave & Busters?

  • I’m just not sure who would shop there and when. Target would seem more suited to areas closer to residential zones. Maybe people who commute into the city could pick something up there on the way home? Is that the idea? If that’s the case, then the ex-movie theater space in Union Station would seem to be a better location for that kind of business model.

    • There are a decent amount of condos nearby in Penn Quarter, as well as a lot of people living in the Mt. Vernon Triangle area. This would be closer than the Columbia Heights Target for people on the Hill, as well. This location would also be close to Foggy Bottom and I’m sure a lot of GW students would shop there. I mean, people from all over the city currently shop at the Columbia Heights Target, not just people who live in Columbia Heights. Another Metro-accessible Target (and on different Metro lines at that) will draw a lot of the people who currently shop at the Columbia Heights location.

  • Target or Uniqlo – and since we have a Target how about a Uniqlo.

    Plenty of blues/jazz options that we don’t need a soulless corporate version.

  • Good use. Anything is better than such a huge commerical space in the prime downtown district being empty for years.

    Target provides steady jobs, tax revenue and shopping / grocery options that are fine for most people.

  • Seems like a weird place to put a Target. Not a ton of residences near there and people at work don’t really need all things that a Target would offer. Tourists also don’t need all the goods of a Target. This place would be dead on the weekends.

    This would be better as a single sector retailer (I.e. clothing only, furniture only, etc) or some sort of restaurant. Hell, I think it would actually make more sense to subdivide up the space so two businesses could utilize it, perhaps one restaurant and a clothier (Zara?)

    • There are quite a few residences in Penn Quarter within walking distance. And a lot of folks who work downtown shop on their lunch hour…or whenever their boss isn’t paying attention (LOL).

    • I live near Eastern Market and Metro Center is my go-to place for most non-grocery shopping (usually clothing). It’s easy to get to from where I live (just 10 minutes on the blue/orange line, or a nice long walk if I’m in the mood) so it’s way more convenient than Columbia Heights, Georgetown, or any of the other spots where big retailers have accumulated. I could see going here to pick up whatever it is that people go to Target for, maybe enticing myself with a trip to the Portrait Gallery beforehand ;). Presumably since it’s a city-model Target most of the items will be sized to carry by hand.

      • Yeah, I’m not getting the argument that this is a bad location for a Target because there aren’t a ton of residences nearby. First of all, there are a decent amount, but, even putting that aside, this is a convenient location for a ton of people who don’t necessarily live within walking distance. Do people think everyone who shops at the Columbia Heights Target lives nearby? I live on the Hill and I go there regularly, however, were a Target to open here, I would go to this one regularly instead. I also think GW students would utilize this location.

      • I too think its a good location, clustered with other retail. Its good to see downtown slowly building back to a retail center again.

  • Personally, I think the area needs something upscale. A Bloomingdales or something. There’s a lot of money roaming downtown these days, what with the condos, the restaurants and the office space. Those people need a place to buy an Armani suit.

  • I think that area, which doesn’t have a ton of residential spaces, would be better served by more of a “destination” store.

    I do most of my clothes shopping in Penn Quarter, (so I can hit up my Anthropologie-Zara-H&M-Urban Outfitters-ATL glory loop), but wouldn’t want to lug a bunch of Target supplies home with me. If I was going to drive, I’d rather go to a less urban Target where I wouldn’t have to deal with downtown parking.

  • There are thousands of residences nearby and soon there will be hundreds more with city center opening. And, everyone in those residences prefers walking over cars.

  • This area has always remided me of a mini-State Street in Chicago. Mid-range retail in a primarly office district. Just curious how dowtown retail works so much better in Chicago? I really don’t know enough about the city to compare. But, the State Street area shops can’t just be catering to neighborhood residences.

  • I was surprised by the Washington Post article’s sentence: “A concern for whoever buys the 12th Street building might be that Target’s presence would cheapen the building’s look in some way.”
    As I commented on the Post site: “Seriously? Target has quite a lot of cachet these days.”

    • The concern is – would Big Name Law Firm, who would presumably want to rename the buiuilding after itself, appreciate the Taget signs all over the Big Name Building. In that world, that would/could cheapen the look.

  • Although this area didn’t exactly strike me as an intuitive place to put a Target, I doubt that they’d be considering opening a store there if they hadn’t done the research and concluded that — between the influx of new residents and the daytime office workers — there would be a market for what they’re planning to offer.

    • austindc

      Right on. If Target can figure out that a woman is pregnant before she even tells anyone, you better believe they can pick profitable locations.

      I also don’t see any conflict with some big law practice owning the building Target is in. Just call it the Target Practice building.

  • I’d love to have a Target downtown! I work around the old ESPN building and it would be so convenient to be able to run errands before, after or during work. I hope it happens.

  • Does this building have an overabundance of parking that wouldn’t be completely filled by office workers from 9-5? Because I can’t picture Target putting a store here without it. It’s not easy hauling that 50″ flat screen and 32 rolls of Charmin on the Metro.

  • I think this Target would be fantastic. And to all the people saying “I don’t think there’s enough apartments nearby” you have to realize that makes this a horrible location for a lot of retailers (which may be why it’s been empty for so long) but does not matter at all to Target.
    Target is rarely the type of retailer someone would pass on the street and say “ohhh! what’s a ‘Target’? This looks interesting! Let’s go in!” – rather, Target is a destination retailer that people make a specific trip to go to. “What are you doing on Saturday? Oh, I’m doing some laundry and going to Target”. I have never lived within a mile of a Target but I have still shopped at them frequently all my life.
    Last point – I can absolutely assure you the majority of the suburban Target stores in the world don’t have a million people within a ten mile radius, but the company still thought it was a good idea to build them and they have proven to be profitable. Any Target in DC will be close to or over that figure, so it could also reasonably do well.

  • I think it would be really convenient. I don’t go to Target often because the Columbia Heights one is such a hassle. Both in terms of getting there and the time involved in navigating the crowd and checkouts. Since the neighborhood is such a dead zone after weekday business hours, most Metro Center stores (besides Macy’s and H&M, obviously) are a lot less crowded and more pleasant to shop in.

  • It’s actually a good location. People buying small items during the day and after work drawing residential areas from Foggy Bottom, Logan Circle to Shaw all the way over to NoMa and H st. If after work & weekend parking was avilable it could work well.

    • Yeah, I’m not sure why everyone insists that it needs a huge residential population to draw from, or scads of daytime parking. (For the record, there is a parking garage on site.)

      Metro Center is at the middle of the country’s second-largest business district (yes, larger than Chicago’s Loop) and second-largest rail network. Bed Bath & Beyond, Macy’s, TJMaxx, Nordstrom Rack, etc. have done just fine in downtown DC. Downtown is the only appropriate location for a Target for a substantial swath of DC, from Foggy Bottom over through the Hill, and spaces of this size (even if it’s not quite as large, and more vertical, and they might ideally want) don’t make it to market frequently.

  • YES. the end.

  • Definitely a Blues Club around the corner from my new condo would be ideal. And you can never have enough blues.

  • Blues Club Definitely. So many of the jazz joints are gone, why not a great blues club. Tourists can always go to their own Target.

  • I think it is a fantastic idea. With trump, citycenterdc and all the other things in development downtown, a store like Target is much needed and will do well.

    555 12st has parking but it is full to the brim during work week. This will certainly change when the major law firm tenant leaves in 2015, although presumably the next corporate tenant would want the law firms parking spots.

  • brookland_rez

    I would say so. There needs to be a place like that downtown to serve not only the tourists, but the residents who live down there.

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