Staples Closing in Columbia Heights – Who Should Take Over the Prime Space?


Thanks to a reader for sending:

“Looks like there will be another prime retail spot opening up at DCUSA soon.”

Perfect world – who’d you like to see take over the space?


146 Comment

  • Whole Foods Market similar to the one near GW.

    • Yes, let’s drive the rents and property value even higher so what’s left of the locals will leave.

      • dcdon

        however, it would also cater to those folks moving in. There is nothing wrong with having a blend of retail. Currently, there is very little retail to appeal to people with a higher income. A whole foods is balanced out with the Giant, along with the many bodegas in the area.

        • HaileUnlikely

          People who buy million dollar homes in places that don’t have the retail they want don’t need expensive stores to cater to them. They can send their butler, whose actual job is to cater to them, to go across town to the expensive stores to buy their expensive stuff for them.

          • dcdon

            You do realize that buying a million dollar home does not make you a millionaire and they don’t have butlers. Whole foods is not an “expensive” store, it is a niche store. I don’t buy anything at 5 below, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be there Lets be more inclusive, shall we?

          • HaileUnlikely

            I was admittedly being a sarcastic jerk. I wouldn’t object to a Whole Foods. They actually have some excellent deals for less wealthy people too. (You are unlikely to find oatmeal less expensive than it is in the Whole Foods bulk bins anywhere!) I do think a place that sells upscale furniture and clothes would be a rather poor fit for the neighborhood, though.

          • I am far from a millionaire, and I frequently shop at Whole Foods. Yes, it is more expensive than most grocery stores, but I prefer the quality of the food and I find it worth it.

          • +1 Anonamom…

            We shop at Whole Foods and Trader Joes pretty much exclusively.

          • HaileUnlikely

            I had read through all comments here including those not in this chain about desire for more upscale stuff, and my comment above was more of a general reaction to all of those, not specifically this one about Whole Foods, and thus would have been more appropriate to place elsewhere rather than here. The sentiment that we need more upscale stores (generally) to cater to the wealthy newcomers does still turn me off, but that’s another rant for another place, not specifically a chain about Whole Foods.

          • NH Ave Hiker

            I agree HaileUnlikely, what’s wrong with the kinds of places that are here already?

      • the locals left hundreds of years ago.

        • dcdon

          From “The History of Columbia Heights” – Upscale development in Columbia Heights circa 1900, was designed to attract upper level managers of the Federal government, U.S. Supreme Court justices, and high-ranking military officers.

          Yes, the locals left a hundred years ago

          • Why stop counting at 100? Why not just go all the way back to the Native Americans at that point? Or do you only stop counting when people who look like you dominated (convenient fact checking you did there)? Lets just call it what it is a local is someone who was raised here from at least the age of 15 or earlier. Or has spent 10+ years as an adult… yes I pulled that out my ass in a similar vain as stopping US history at 1900.

          • not sure what you’re getting at. i was referring to native americans to show the absurdity of even having this divide between “locals” and anyone else who lives here.

      • How exactly do you determine who is and isn’t a “local”? What criteria do you use? And your view is what, that the stores in Columbia shouldn’t cater to the people who have been moving into the neighborhood over the last ten or so years (whether you like it or not, and clearly you don’t)?

        • I am concerned about the lack of diversity and affordable housing in this city. I am concerned about the lack of generational wealth that long term residents can’t pass down because they can no longer afford the property tax on their property. I am concerned about gentrifiers who have no appreciation for living in a diverse mixed community (race, class, age). Whole Foods is a representation of that.

          • Say someone owns a $400,000 home that all of a sudden becomes worth $600,000. With property tax rates at 0.85%, that’s an increase in $1700/yr in property taxes. But your property taxes can’t rise more than 10%/year, so can’t rise more than $340/year on a $400,000 home (and all that’s even ignoring the homestead act deduction). i don’t see how anyone can own a $400,000 home and not afford an extra $30/month in property taxes. there are a bunch of other arguments against gentrification, but lack of intergenerational wealth transfer isn’t one. take the windfall when it comes and sell if you can’t afford $30/month.

          • You have oversimplified by looking at a one year increase. Many in this city have purchased their homes for under $100k and 15 years later it is worth $600k or MORE. Meanwhile there has been no increase in their income and a major increase in the cost of living. That is a cost they simply cannot afford. The attitude of people saying tough shit is exactly why there is such a divide. “Our way is better, this is an improvement, Capitalism rocks! Let’s trample the community we moved into until it reflects my ideal!” is a horrible yet extremely familiar sentiment.

          • But DC *is* becoming far more diverse. In 1970, 3 out of 4 residents were black; now, we have a far larger proportion of whites and Latinos, with much more of a stratified income. Columbia Heights, especially, is probably the most diverse neighborhood in DC–and I enjoy living in Columbia Heights because I live walkable to hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants, upscale brunch places, a Salvadorean supermarket, and a Target, depending on my needs.
            Besides, cities are always changing. Let’s be real, the large art deco buildings throughout Columbia Heights weren’t exactly built for poor people. Neighborhoods boom, neighborhoods bust, and it’s not fair to freeze it in one specific time just because it suits a socio-racial narrative.

          • DM, you are referring to white flight (regarding the city being mostly black). Most communities change at the whims of the privileged, and thats the issue. How can people lack so much empathy. You are more concerned with arguing your point than gaining perspective. Also, those hole-in-the-all ethnic restaurants will fail to exist in a few years (with the families that live above them), the diversity you enjoy will be gone.. that is my point. I enjoy the city as it is now more than when I grew up here in the 90s and 00s. But I don’t want it to swing too far in the other direction. I value the diversity more than I value “Chocolate City” days, I just wish White gentrifiers appreciated too.

          • CapHillNative, ok, point taken. But to be fair, if the house price hadn’t risen, it’d be worth maybe $150k with inflation. If it jumps to $600k, then they would have the ability to pocket 500k ($350k more than otherwise). i just don’t see the problem in terms of wealth building.

          • numbersguy, if these people sell OR rent their home, where can they afford to live so that they can pocket this wealth? Not in DC, so away from their community and support unit? Maybe they also now need a car where they didn’t before, maybe somewhere the cost of commuting increases exponentially? It is much more beneficial for lower income families to hold on to their homes and allow their families to live in them for a cost equal to their low or non existent mortgage payments than to pay market rate rents anywhere in the area (including the burbs + commuting cost). Losing their homes (that their grandparents probably purchased and payed off) is a great loss of equity and stability.

          • dude, if someone can’t figure out how to navigate life to capitalize on a windfall of a couple hundred thousand dollars, don’t blame the rest of us for raising prices. nothing stays still, you always have to keep moving. the market is changing around them. you can’t hold it up or stop it, you have to work with it. and i’m a liberal leftie saying this.

          • “Liberal Lefties” are actually the worse, your view points are very conservative and unmoving. My conservative friends are actually more self aware of their blind spots and more willing to listen and learn. Liberals think they have nothing to learn from minorities or anyone else because they have “studied” the issue. The comments on this blog are proof of that. I would argue white liberals are a bigger detriment to minority communities than conservatives. The apathy harms the most.

          • Tsar of Truxton

            They can just refinance, pull money out to cover the taxes for years to come and probably lower their interest rate at the same time. Sorry, I also don’t feel bad for someone who has seen a huge increase in home value. The people who are hurt by gentrification is the long-time renters not the homeowners.

          • nice ad hominem rebuttal.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Fun thought experiment for anon, numbersguy, and anybody else struggling to grasp how rising property values and thus taxes could make it difficult to stay in your home: what will your property taxes be 15 years from now if you stay in your same home and your taxable assessment value continues to rise at a steady rate of 10% per year?

          • haileunlikely, in that hypothetical, my house would be worth at least $3m. so my tax assessment would be $0 because i would sell and find other opportunities for my millions of dollars.

  • laser tag

    • Although there is a new Michael’s coming to silver spring and another one coming west of the park (I believe), as the mother of an elementary-school aged child, I would love a Michael’s in Columbia Heights.

  • Oh man, that sucks. I actually use it fairly often and like the convenience. If it’s not the WF Market I would say an Old Navy would do quite well there

  • Realistically, a cell-phone store

    • Haha so true. Maybe break up the store and have 2 stores, one a mattress store and the other a cell phone store. Seems to be the only places that stay in business (somehow) in that area.

  • Planet fitness

  • NH Ave Hiker

    Damn, that’s where I would always return my amazon packages for UPS.

  • goaldigger

    Is the sq footage here more than the current Marshalls? If so, I’d vote they move and create a bigger and better store (or make this a Home Goods and have just clothes in the other store).

  • binntp

    Home Goods, World Market or a similar store that could best utilize a large space and sells home furnishings

  • maxwell smart

    someone has to say it: Trader Joes

  • Another gym because that WSC is the worst!!!

  • this whole retail center is marketed to a less affluent demographic. I suspect something like TJ Maxx will probably take the space. Or Big Lots or Forman mills unfortunately. Columbia Heights may have million dollar row homes but from a retail brokers perspective its perception and reality is very different.

    • Burlington Coat Factory

    • BBB hardly “less affluent”. It’s a real mix of things and ultimately mostly mid-market. Given the ludicrous rents, even people with good incomes don’t have tons of disposable income. Once the incentives for local business ran out, it’s gone straight to national retail and that’s not going to generate a lot of true high end retail. That will go to Gtown et al. Boutique stuff like Warby Parker clearly want boutiquey locations like Shaw.

      This Staples probably did target work at homes but there just weren’t enough. Never saw the kind of volume they had in West End and on 13th Street.

      Likely suspects would be Home Goods, Famous Footwear, perhaps another chain restaurant. The location is too close to U Street for TJs, the size isn’t large enough for WF–Foggy Bottom is quite large when you consider all the food service space.

      • maxwell smart

        I think a WF that is closer in size to Tenleytown or Bethesda (the one on River Road) that has a smaller hot/salad bar, smaller convenience produce (already cut and packaged) and smaller health/beauty.

    • Lots of house poor people buying recently in CoHi. Leverage, baby!

  • H&M please.

  • I hear DC’s first Wawa is considering a location there not sure if it’s there or another spot.

  • A grocery store that has fully stocked shelves and not-rotten produce would be killer.

  • Agree–World Market or a similar furniture store.

  • I’m not sure I ever noticed that there was a Staples there. Is it on the western edge of that strip along Irving Street? (Near Petco/Five Below?)

    • hammers

      Nope, it’s next to Modell’s/across from Chipotle

      • Ahh, OK — so, further north than the entrance to Target?
        (At DCUSA, I rarely go further west than the entrance to Panera or further north than the entrance to Target/Best Buy/BBB.)

  • How about a Hispanic supermarket? Seems like a great spot. A nice supermercado can be a really great place to shop.

  • Dave & Busters

  • I think the area is missing a legitimate sports bar, not the ones where you can fit 50 people but a BWW or something of that ilk. There are so many people living in that area, transient, probably follow their teams from back home, they’d make a killing during March Madness.

    • Not a huge fan of the chain but I think you’re right that a Buffalo Wild Wings would do really well in this location

      • There is Lou’s for sports but I think a brew pup like Blue Jacket would be great.

        • Lou’s is terrible. We were there to watch the fights this weekend and our server spent over an hour cuddled up in a booth with some dude and his friends. Our beer and water were empty the whole time.

      • It would do well, but if it was going to come to Columbia Heights they probably already would have: that old Ruby Tuesday and that aborted TGI Friday’s spaces on 14th and Monroe have been empty for years…

  • Egad

    Pinstripes Bowling or a World Market. Maybe Whole Foods can renegotiate and get some of the dedicated parking garage spots that it originally requested?

    • maxwell smart

      While I get this particular area might not have something like NR, I feel like DC has WAY too much down-market retail.

      • Nordstrom Rack is downmarket?

        • maxwell smart

          Is it not a store selling marked-down merchandise and/or outlet produced goods. Is it not the outlet for a department store. Then yes, it is downmarket.

          • I thought it was still a cut above Marshall’s and TJ Maxx. I’ve never been, though, so perhaps it isn’t.

          • Depends on location. The one in Pentagon City is a shithole with crappy merchandise strewn all over the floor, while the one downtown is decent.

  • maxwell smart

    Also have to be the one to say it (again) – Uniqlo. Which I know totally is not the right area of town, but hey why not?

  • Enough space for a costco?

    • maxwell smart

      Not sure I have seen an urban-concept Costco, i.e. without a vast parking lot and loading area.

      • So how are people going to take their goods home? A case of beer or a box of diapers and your hands are full

      • The whole concept is to buy in bulk. I don’t know how they’d get an urban-concept out of it. Unless you stop in for one or two things, you kind of need a car.

        • maxwell smart

          Yes, that was my whole point. Target, Walmart, etc have been able to tweak their offerings and layout to move into urban markets. I don’t see Costco really having a desire or need to make this shift. Most people are not going to Costco to buy 1 or 2 things, and even if they are, usually that 1 item is large. Not something you are going to carry home on the bus or metro.

  • andy

    OK, let’s think about this really hard. Things that are already in this building or nearby: fast food restaurants, fast-casual restaurants, “ethnic” restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, alcohol, banks, clothing, groceries, pharmacies, churches, housing, and a bilingual theater.

    What about a bookstore or a small movie theater that could fill up some of the dead space in the building? An Apple Store would be a big draw. Maybe we need city services like a DMV office. I bet an H&M would do really well.

    But come on. We know what everybody wants. Vaping supplies, a Planned Parenthood, or a gun store.

    • Let’s be real, Apple isn’t opening up next to Modell’s, Payless Shoes, and the perfume store thing. I would love an Apple store but for now it means a trip to Tysons.

  • Uniqlo or Topshop or an Apple store…oh wait that was my wish list for city center.

    • I Dont Get It

      Uniglo, Arby’s, mini-Wegmans. Happy Groundhogs Day!

    • maxwell smart

      Having a hard time imagining Topshop coming to DC, let alone Columbia Heights.

      • I would have agreed with your Topshop skepticism until a year or so ago when they opened one at Springfield Town Center – a mall anchored by a Target, a Macy’s and a JC Penny. Now it doesn’t seem so far-fetched. The fact that they bill that one as their ‘Washington DC’ location is super annoying!

  • A Buffalo Billiards or Penn Social type place would be great for that spot.

  • Michaels would be great!

  • A Halloween store that’s only open in January!

  • HaileUnlikely

    Goofy idea: a trial of an urban-concept IKEA. Basically just a showroom; might also stock a few smaller items. The gimmick could be that if you place your order in-store you can get it delivered much more quickly than the usual 2-3 weeks if you order online.

    • hammers

      I pondered the idea of an Ikea with just the stuff and none of the furnature, but I think BBB and Target cover that well enough.

  • hammers

    If we’re dreaming here, I’d like an art studio. Maybe something like Art Jamz or maybe more of an art/framing store that also has classes.

  • We need an Ulta or Sephora in that area. Or a Big Lots–so much great stuff there. Split it and put in a Apple store.

  • Let’s be serious, it’s just going to sit empty for a few years because of the absurd rent prices for that site.

  • This is just the beginning. Realistically, the growing retail vacancies in Columbia Heights aren’t going to disappear as long as Brianne Nadeau is in office. No retail operator is going to gift something to a district whose representative isn’t business friendly. Would you open a business where the representative was essentially anti-police? She voted to close the DCPD vice squad and most likely supports lenient sentencing for shoplifters.
    Would you invest a few million with her as your voice in city hall?
    Now imagine how homeowners feel.

    • Weren’t there major vacancies under Graham? (I think even more vacancies?)

      • Perhaps, but remember DCUSA opened at the height of the recession. All the major openings (including Petco, Staples, and DSW) occurred under Grahams watch. There have been no business developments since Nadeau took office in DCUSA or elsewhere in Columbia Heights.
        The growing consensus is that Brianne Nadeau doesn’t have our back.

        • I’m no fan of Nadeau — just not sure that any of the blame for DCUSA vacancies lies at her feet.

          • Certainly Staples didn’t close because of Nadeau. But the space will remain vacant as long as she is in office.
            The ideal politician recognizes that courting business increases jobs, taxes, and quality of life.
            Born of the Occupy movement, Nadeau has shown time and again that quality of life issues do not interest her.

        • Under Jim Graham 5 Below opened, Elwood Thompson never opened, Lane Bryant closed, and the Elwood Thompson space remains vacant since DC USA opened. Under Brianne the playground place upstairs and Chi-fil-a opened.
          To be fair to Brianne, DC USA opened years before she took office, so one would hope most of the major openings happened before that time. I’m still waiting for the something to fill the Elwood Thompson site. Also, there has been development at places on 14th just south of Florida since she took office (and the 7-11 on the north corner, I know, I know).
          I didn’t vote for Graham last time and my mind is not made up about Brianne’s performance, but let’s at least use accurate information to inform our opinions.

          • Okay, also Target, BBB, Best Buy, etc opened under Graham, but I was talking about things outside the initial rush. And wasn’t DC USA a lift by the whole council? Not just Graham?

    • The businesses that have failed were doomed already. RadioShack and Staples are no longer relevant businesses. These are not the only ones being closed.

    • Seems like Nadeau has done enough for you to disagree with, no reason to make up things like, “and most likely supports lenient sentencing for shoplifters.”

  • A daycare.

  • Old Navy – but the one up on Wisconsin is pretty easy to get to.
    Buy Buy Baby
    Indoor bouncy house
    Movie theater
    ice rink

  • Shoe Train of Potomac but here in DC, please

  • Total Wine.

    • and Spirits

    • I have mixed feelings on this – I think DC is severely lacking in a huge beverage store a la BevMo, but I’d be scared that it would put D’vines across the street out of business, and I dearly love that store.

      My vote is for a gym. WSC should go out of business, it sucks. Second choice would be a World Market.

  • a roller skating rink!!

  • Laser Tag/Arcade

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