Son of a… Eataly, God Dang It Make Up Your Mind, OK, Maybe Uniqlo is Still Thinking…

eataly
3rd and Massachusetts Ave, NW rendering via Property Group Partners

Well this is a bummer the Washington Business Journal reports:

“But several sources with knowledge of the deal say things aren’t looking good for Eataly coming to Capitol Crossing.”

Mario Batali stop toying with us!! Ok moving on, what about Uniqlo?

30 Comment

  • Long live Union Market…think its time for them to expand though. They should incorporate a farmers market at least on the weekends.

  • Snapple Store! We want a Snapple Store!

  • maxwell smart

    Not terribly surprising they would wait before committing to this location. It’s pretty hard to see how this development will really have the foot-traffic that would support anything of this size. Both locations in NY are in very tourist-driven locations and directly outside a metro station. Honestly, seems like a better fit for the SW Waterfront development.

    • +1, yeah, this development is too office dominated and far removed from the action of penn quarter. It’s hard to imagine this development ever being anything more than an office development with maybe 2 or 3 restaurants aimed at office workers..

      • Hm. Central seems to do very well and is arguably in office desolation. As do most of the restaurants in City Center. For some restaurants, people travel. Eately is probably one of those. It’s very close to the Capitol and with that comes all the wining and dining.

        • maxwell smart

          The difference here though is that Eataly isn’t a restaurant per se and I think a lot of the draw is in the spectacle of a massive indoor market with multiple food stands, etc. which really benefits from people happening to walk past it. Yes, sure, people will go out of their way because it will be a tourist(ish) destination, but it would benefit being somewhere less isolated. I tend to think of NoMa as the place I drive though to get to Union Station.

          • This isn’t NoMa. This is literally just a place that people drive through (just 395 at this point), so it’ll need to do some level of “place-making” one way or the other.
            .
            I haven’t been to Eataly in NYC, but from what I understand, it’s basically a more expensive Union Market, but for all-things-Italian. Union Market didn’t (and still doesn’t) have sufficient nearby foot traffic to drive its existence, but it seems to be doing very well at this point – even though it’s located in the relative middle-of-nowhere for most. I think Eataly shouldn’t have much trouble driving foot traffic if they know what they’re doing.

          • But by this same analysis, how do you explain the success of Union Market? Union Market “isn’t a restaurant per se” and “a lot of the draw is in the spectacle of a massive indoor market with multiple food stands.” Yet despite being away from Metro and in a location that’s unarguably far more isolated than Capital Crossing, it does extremely well.

          • maxwell smart

            Is Union Market successful? I have never been – it seems inaccessible and hard to get to.

          • maxwell smart

            Also, I don’t necessarily see tourists going out of their way for Union Market. I think Union Market’s success is from local, resident traffic. There is literally nothing else around it that supports someone visiting it.

          • Eataly is more reasonable and more interesting for a lot of things than Union Market, which just seems like pure hipster bait.

          • *** – that’s precisely the point. If Union Market can thrive as is (largely devoid of tourists, and as a perceived “hipster” Mecca to all the boring locals), Eataly shouldn’t have much trouble at Capitol Crossing. That seems like the most right down-the-middle play here.

          • One of my friends has a shop in Union Market and I think it’s a stretch to say that it’s thriving. Although the place is generally packed on weekends, it’s fairly empty for much of the work week and on days with bad weather. I wouldn’t say that it’s struggling — the shops mostly seem to stay open — but I doubt the vendors there get the kind of returns Eataly would want (and maybe need) to have to stay afloat.

  • About a week ago, a Uniqlo employee said they were still opening in Tysons Corner in the fall. Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/washingtondc/comments/4dlybe/still_no_uniqlos_in_dc_area/d1sfznr

  • FWIW, my reading of the article was not that Eataly *wasn’t* coming, but rather that there was no commitment at this time.
    .
    As others have pointed out, the business model seems to depend on there being a pretty good amount of foot traffic so it’s won’t just be a destination, but also a place where people go because they happen to walk by. At least the New York and Chicago stores are that way. And I’m not sure there is anyplace that’s really like that in DC.
    .
    Maybe the company is just waiting to see if the area develops in the way that it was promised? It very well could end up being both a destination and a great source of foot traffic, but it’s hard to say that while the building and a good part of the neighborhood around it are still construction sites.

    • maxwell smart

      I feel like they could have done reasonably well in Georgetown if they had taken the space Pinstripes moved into during the Georgetown Mall “renovation” – existing and high foot traffic in an area that already has a tourist draw.

    • Eataly would work in Gtown. It also would work at CityCenter and actually would be an upscale place that drew a lot of foot traffic, unlike almost everything else there.

    • I agree that Georgetown could work as a destination and a place with foot traffic. And City Center had possibilities too. I’m guessing that they couldn’t come to reasonable terms with the owners or didn’t like the available spaces or both. They’re sort of looking for a real estate unicorn — a giant space with a lot of foot traffic and “character”. So it’s not surprising to me that they’re having a hard time finalizing a deal.

  • I don’t get this towns obsession with Eataly….it’s not that exciting of a place IMO.

  • Could they have designed a more boring building if they tried. This feels like NOMA without the charm.. Ballpark, SW, UM all more dynamic retail locations. Union Market area will have all the elements for retail success….high density, authentic (historic) elements that will be retained, walkability, food oriented retail, interesting new architecture, multiple developers to keep the energy going.

  • I think Capitol Crossing would be an excellent location for an Eataly. Not only would it offer the square footage, but the area does (and will moreso once construction is complete) get a lot of foot traffic. Loads of tourists go to Union Station, the Mall and the Capitol, and the tourist buses go right by. In addition, the Union Station area is due to become more built up, with hotels to be added. Also, the foot traffic in the 3 office buildings and 1 residential building that will form part of Capitol Crossing will help create more foot traffic. NoMa residents, H St NE residents, Hill residents will also go there. I don’t really see what the naysayers are talking about …

    • maxwell smart

      Maybe in 15-20 years this will be true? It’s really hard to see now though. That area is basically a messy intersection of several roads and the only real reason to be passing through is to get to/from Union Station. Could it turn into something cool? Maybe. But it could also just turn into a cold, pedestrian free corridor of condos, hotels and offices (like most of downtown). I can see why they wouldn’t want to hedge their bets on a vision of something that may or may not pan out when they could continue to seek out existing, vibrant areas of town.

  • Eatalys strategy has been to locate in already established retail districts with lots of foot traffic. In DC that probably means: penn quarter/citycenter, georgetown and maybe Conn Ave/Dupont. Perhaps the old crime and punishment space in penn quarter or the books-a-million space in on Dupont Circle? I can’t think of any big spots in Georgetown. For as physically massive as DT DC is, it is suprisingly hard to think of locations that foot the bill.

    • Well, I guess only Eataly knows their business strategy. However, what you say above simply sounds like someone stuck in statusquo. DC neighbourhoods have been changing at a cracking pace and the Capitol Crossing segment of town has so much potential (and no, I am not getting paid by anyone to say this). Honestly, to think of an Eataly in boring old Dupont or over in Georgetown where there is no public transport and things feel rather stale, comes across as old-fashioned and backward-looking (in my view….).

      • Well, I can only go on their existing or proposed locations are:
        NYC- Madison Sqaure
        Chi- a block of Mich Ave
        Philly- Market Street in City Center near City Hall
        Boston- Boylston Street in Back Bay
        LA in Century City Mall

        In all cases these are established retail/hotel rich areas with lots of foot traffic. They all have that boom you’re in the big city feel (albeit LA’s is a mall). A few places in DC have that, but Capitol Crossing isn’t one of them. The development will basically be a 9-5 office park for trade associations. It is close to Galley Place, but not seemlessly linked via retail/urban streetlife.

        I don’t have any insights into Eataly, but this location would be a little off the beaten path compared to their locations in other cities.

      • maxwell smart

        “Capitol Crossing segment of town has so much potential” – Yeah, I stopped believing that when they first issued the above renderings. Those buildings place making does not make.

    • The original Eataly in Turin is actually in a pretty meh suburban part of town near the old Fiat factory that is now a mall. Sure, there’s some traffic via the mall, but it’s not exactly a central tourist hub. It can work many places.

  • I’d definitely prefer Uniqlo over Eately as I love their stylish, affordable clothes and I’m not at all a foodie — already more restaurants than I could ever go too.

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