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Washington Business Journal Says “DC USA makes last-ditch pitch to high-end retailers”

by Prince Of Petworth February 25, 2008 at 11:57 pm 42 Comments

Thanks to Marco for sending me this article a few days ago. I was a bit slow on the trigger and DCist posted about it earlier today. The article says “When the 540,000-square-foot DC USA retail complex opens March 8 in Columbia Heights, it will still have nearly 80,000 square feet of retail to fill — including 25,000 square feet that developers want to reserve for higher-end retailers. Banana Republic and Coach have been mentioned as examples, although no deals are in the works.”

Interesting. What do you guys think about this? Would you like to see some high end retail go into DC USA in Columbia Heights?

  • Parkwood Person

    I supposed I’d rather see a couple high end retailers rather than say, a Ross and a Marshall’s, but Coach and Banana Republic?? Eh. If they’re bringing in “high end” I’d rather see something more interesting or not as incredibly easy to find anywhere else. Maybe I’m naive, but I just don’t see anyone getting too excited about having a Coach store within walking distance. Maybe a kitchen store so folks with all of their viking ranges in 400 square foot condos can buy some kitchen bling?

  • MKing

    How about some local boutiques like those on U Street or Adams Morgan? I like the kitchen store idea – although Target has a lot of that stuff – but a Table Sur that also has cooking classes and demos would be fun. A book store would be nice too.

  • Anonymous

    ooh, yeah a good kitchen shop is what this city needs anyway. Sur La Table, all the way. but Coach? who goes to Coach anyway? And who wraps up an afternoon at target with a Coach purchase? It just doesn’t go.

  • Sean

    I would like to see an outdoors store such as REI or EMS.

  • SM

    I saw this story and lots of comments that people would really like to see a Borders or other bookstore. Seriously, I cant’ think of a decent bookstore north of U St and east of Rock Creek Park — correct me if I’m wrong!

    I still hope they get the organic grocery store.

  • Fonzy

    Do they think Columbia Heights is Freindship Heights? Give me a break. Who can afford that shit anyways? I guess if you siphon off DC’s tax money, then yeah!

    Let’s get some real shops that real people shop in. People want to find deals IN the city, not continue to drive to the burbs for them.

  • Parkwood Person

    I second the idea of a bookstore too. I know that a lot of people don’t want big chains, but if you have to have them, they might as well be of the book store variety, no? I admit, I kind of enjoy the gigantic big box book/cd stores.

    I was also thinking today- are there any music stores in DC? I’m not a musician, so I’m most likely just not aware of them, but where do people around here buy guitar strings and rent trumpets for Jr. High Band etc???

  • Anonymous

    id love a world market, trader joes, and a cool book store/cafe like tryst or bus boys.

  • Tom

    Why not an Olsson’s? They’re a local business but offer a big bookstore-like experience, and I don’t think they have a branch near there.

  • Olsson’s would be a wonderful addition. Count me in on that!

    But trying to bring in a Nordtrom’s? Come on, that’s preposterous. Target makes so much more sense.

  • richard

    Olssons!

  • SM

    Love the Olsson’s suggestion

  • Golden Silence

    I supposed I’d rather see a couple high end retailers rather than say, a Ross and a Marshall’s. . .

    I actually like Ross and Marshall’s. I’ve found a lot of good things there for decent prices.

    After seeing the previous post about the independent women’s boutique, it’s ironic that DC USA is striving to be, as someone upthread stated, another Friendship Heights. I’ve never felt comfortable in any of those stores. The vibe is “look, but don’t touch.”

    My only concern is the out of control kids that like to congregate at these malls. Having pricy boutiques will keep those kids away, but is it really worth it to price out the residents (the ones who’ve been here from the get-go, not the new condo dwellers)?

  • My suggestion is to move the downtown Olsson’s, which has to compete against Barnes & Noble and Borders, up to Columbia Heights!

  • Anonymous

    i love marshall’s….why do you want to pay full price for towels and other gadgets for your home?

  • Nathan

    “My only concern is the out of control kids that like to congregate at these malls. Having pricy boutiques will keep those kids away, but is it really worth it to price out the residents (the ones who’ve been here from the get-go, not the new condo dwellers)?”

    A better question to ask is if it is worth catering to the residents that have been here for years. Col. Hts owes its rebound to the new residents that have come to the area. Not the old residents that let things spiral downward for 20 years.

  • Anonymous

    also…ive read posts (on other blogs) about people complaining that ross and marshall’s attracts the “wrong crowd”…that angers me so much. fyi – there’s a tjmaxx in friendship heights and a marshall’s in silver spring.

    the are you bought/live in is a diverse in socio-economic status…if you’re not happy with that you should have moved somewhere else.

    who needs a coach? seriously.

  • Katie

    I love the Olsson’s idea! I have been wandering to Idle Time on Columbia because I can’t find anything closer in the other direction. It’s a good store, but one in the new building would be great.

  • Parkwood Person

    I do like Ross and Marshall’s (great bargains on luggage!) I just don’t want a Ross AND a Marshall’s. To me, they’re the same.

  • esteban

    Bring in the Banana Republic!!

  • dcdude

    “Col. Hts owes its rebound to the new residents that have come to the area. Not the old residents that let things spiral downward for 20 years.”

    What a stupid thing to say. As if your higher income and taste for overpriced organic produce is going solve this city’s problems. Typical yuppie mentality…

  • Golden Silence

    Not the old residents that let things spiral downward for 20 years.

    But not all the old residents let things spiral down for 20 years.

  • richard

    People, it’s just a freakin’ mall. Get over it. There’s more to life.

  • ontarioroader

    I highly doubt Olsson’s will be coming to CH any time soon. They’re closing down stores in the area. Additionally, a lot of their sales were cd’s, which is a dying medium – many more people are buying music online [itunes/mp3’s] these days. As for books – the big box Barnes & Noble or Borders rule that game. Unless your going to specialize like Politics & Prose in Cleveland Park or Reiters [tech/science books] on K street things aren’t looking good in that realm.

    I’m still curious as to how these places are going to deal with crime in the area. This has got to be the highest crime neighborhood any of these big chains have moved into. I wonder if they’re prepared for the loss prevention nightmare it could turn out to be.

    I’ve been around here almost 20 years though, so I guess I’m part of the problem [//sarcasm] What a jackass statement Nathan.

  • DCer

    DCDude.

    He was right and you are wrong.

    You can apologize now or apologize later, but when my block saw one after another grandma die and her grandkids had to freeload off other relatives, suddenly the block flipped from noisy, beer-can-strewn and a barely tolerable place to be turn into a place where people plant flowers between the sidewalk and street and kids can ride bikes.

    Your indignation is 180 degrees misplaced. Grow up.

  • DCer

    who needs a coach? seriously.
    ——

    I bought my girlfriend a coach bag back in the 1980s/90s. Not my thing now, but it had its day.

    Anyone hoping for a bookstore must give that up. Do you buy books at amazon? Ok, I do too, that means I don’t buy them in bookstores. end of story. It’s cheaper to have them mailed to my house than for me to browse through shelves.

  • DCzSlimmest

    Someone, please define what a “yuppie” is. The label is thrown around quite a bit. Are yuppies simply people with an education, a good job, and own property? I personally think anyone who enters into the whole “yuppie” debate should preface their statement with their city of origin, and whether they own or rent in the community. Owners vs. renters is most likely what all this boils down to.

    Owners, rightfully so, want their largest single investment to increase in value — I do. Expectations otherwise are naive. Investment in the community, coffee shops, cafes, good restaurants all play a role.

    Obviously a Coach store is absurd, but no one from this board (even the “yuppies”) has suggested such. All I’ve heard is that the addition of a Ross with Target and Marshalls already on board is excessive. All true. Ross adds nothing, and in fact is viewed by the funky boutique owners (who we ALL want) as a bit of a mess.

    Instead of showing sour grapes towards the upwardly mobile (you know, the ones lining DC’s tax coffers), sit down with a DC native and have them paint you a picture of DC during 80’s and 90’s. I’d start by describing the infamous “Celebrity Hall” at Georgia and Morton (I grew up across the street) and finish with my story of being shot at by an unknown attacker who shot a guy 5 ft away from me. My testimony sent him to prison, and years later was asked to testify again against his entire gang who had already killed 5 witnesses scheduled to testify against them. I’ll take “yuppies” any day.

    signed,
    Black native Columbia Heights resident and homeowner

  • sara.h

    this is my first time posting here, though i’ve been reading for a while.

    i think that DC USA is a complete cluster. Marshalls and Ross are the essentially the same. Target is not much different, except that in addition to cheap clothes and stuff for your house, they also sell toilet paper and potato chips.

  • dcdude

    DCer & DCzSlimmest,

    My attack on “yuppies” above was aimed at comments by nathan that essentially argued that development in the neighborhood should cater only to the newly-arrived upwardly mobile, because it is they, not older residents (like yourself) that are bringing about positive change in the neighborhood. This is mind-numbingly ignorant and unbelievably arrogant. The positive change we see today is due in large part to the efforts of many long-time residents who have fought for decades to get the city’s attention on problems such as crime, lack of services, and crumbling infrastructure in this neighborhood. Not until things started to turn around did most outsiders deem the area “safe enough” to move here. But once here, some newcomers like to believe that they are saving the world by doing essentially nothing. They think their mere presence is bringing about positive change, when in fact, their presence is the result of positive change instigated by others. Instead of fighting the good fight, the think that their good lot in life and their conspicuous consumption is enough to solve society’s ills. And what’s worse, they think they should be rewarded for it! This is typical “yuppie” mentality. Instead of showing proper respect for the efforts of those that came before them, these people see themselves as modern-day pioneers, taming the land by wresting it from the clutches of the unenlightened savages. It’s colonialism in a bottle. Manifest Destiny all over again. I’m not saying all newcomers fall into this category. Far from it. But those that do, really piss me off.

  • NewBlogger

    I’d love to see a Trader Joe’s! The constant crowd down at the TJ’s on 25th and L should be evidence that there is a huge demand in the city.

  • Gurlnexdore

    I wonder if a community destination a la Busboys & Poets would work here? BB&P not only has a unique bookstore, restaurant, and bar, but it also strives to be a home & venue for community organizations and artists. I would love a place to hang out, congregate, share, play/listen to music & poetry, and eat cheap simple delicious nongreasy food in CH. Mayorga has music sometimes but isn’t laid out for it optimally. Maybe a venue like this could partner with community organizations to host youth activities so that the kids would have something fun & constructive to do (like arts) instead of just hang out? Well, a gurl can dream.

    I also like the music store idea. There’s one in Tenleytown & one in Cleveland Park that I know of, but it would be great not to have to head across town to get guitar strings & lessons.

    And a hardware store would be nice & very practical. Really, do we need more clothing stores???

  • reuben

    I too would love to see a bookstore up this way…..And I think DC Dude’s last post is
    eloquently stated, and right on the (oops) money.

  • Parkwood Person

    Wow- wouldn’t life be grand if we really could put people in self-contained little boxes?
    Perhaps Santa’s list of good little boys and girls vs. the bad?

    Gurlnexdore: YES! A hardware store! One that is small but sufficient, AND open on the weekends! Like a Logan Hardware of a Frager’s… only closer to home.

    Alas, with the current state of the real estate market, I think such stores would have a bleak outlook at best. But yes, we can dream.

    Signed,
    -a Caucasian Yuppie Homeowner who likes Starbucks (and is in one of them new fangled “interracial marriages”, thinks Whole Foods is a complete sham, and who has never considered herself a pioneer of anything…)

  • Anonymous

    ACE HARDWARE!! (new homeowner can only dream)…tired of driving to tenley, silver spring, and dupont (no parking!)

  • Just J

    Personally I would like a Staples or Office Depot, most of the other ones in the city have parking problems and I hate making that commute to the suburbs for simple stuff like Ink for my printer.

    I think the developers are better off keeping the space vacant for a few months rather than putting in a Ross. Once these big retailers see how much traffic Target brings in they will all be dying to get a lease.

    That Target is going to have no competition for 5 square miles, thats gotta be atleast 300k people!

  • poo poo

    check out columbia heights news.
    they state that REI is actively pursuing space there.

  • Anonymous

    isnt a staples going in already?

  • Mark

    Hey, anonymous, you can also try Pfeiffer’s on Mt. Pleasant. It’s small but friendly and it does seem to cover the basics for hardware.

    I am totally in the tank for an REI. I would love to see a Williams Sonoma or Sur la Table go in. Or a Storehouse Furniture, if it were 2005.

  • DCer

    My attack on “yuppies” above was aimed at comments by nathan that essentially argued that development in the neighborhood should cater only to the newly-arrived upwardly mobile, because it is they, not older residents (like yourself)
    ———–

    Perhaps part of my anger was that after living here 13 years everyone still calls me a “new resident.” I don’t think anyone has ever refered to me as a long-term resident. When I moved here I was a punk rocker in a t-shirt and jeans with an under-$20k job and the first weekend I was here, two young teens yelled at me that they didn’t want to see any more yuppies moving into the neighborhood. I laughed at them, I’m not a yuppie, I said, I’m still in college. “OHHH!” they shouted, “If you went to college then you’re a yuppie! That’s what you are! All college and sh*t.” That’s how I remember it anyway.

    So for me, and for the kinds of residents that DCSlimmest knows, I have a different sensibility.

    And DC Slimmest may note that I drove down to Celebrity Hall in 1985 to see a friend’s band open for Little Benny and the Masters, got freaked out, and drove back to Maryland.

  • “Do you buy books at amazon? Ok, I do too, that means I don’t buy them in bookstores.”

    Well that sucks for you. I’ve bought the occasional book from Amazon, but I love hanging out in bookstores to browse and see what’s available that I might like. If anything, I buy too MANY books from bookstores and get backed up on my reading. Not every component of my life has to be expedited and convenient. So, no, I’m not planning to “give up” on the idea of an Olsson’s–or any bookstore, for that matter–moving to Col Hts. Sorry to disappoint.

  • Anonymous

    i love when PoP has these “controversial” posts so fun to read reactions…nice job PoP!

  • DCer

    So, no, I’m not planning to “give up” on the idea of an Olsson’s–or any bookstore, for that matter–moving to Col Hts. Sorry to disappoint.

    ——–

    Great, then open one. Because the chains aren’t interested in doing so.

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