Thursday, July 21

SoHo in DC?

DCist recently reported on the city council's plans for the site of the old convention center -- now a smooth expanse of fenced-in dirt. This being 2005, everyone is talking up a mixed-use (dare I say, "lifestyle") project. But the gov'ment wants something more than just another Clarendon Market Commons:

Those excited about having yet another potential Urban Outfitters location may have to cop their trucker hats elsewhere though, as the city has some interesting stipulations that may help prevent the place from becoming another Gallery Place-esque pseudo-mall. Rather than simply airdropping a chunk of Tyson's Galleria onto the vacant lot, the developers seem committed to building something at least somewhat unique as far as these sort of developments go.

In addition to a requirement for "an area devoted to 'open space programming' such as concerts, festivals, and other events," the plan reserves twenty percent of the residential space to "affordable" housing and, most interestingly, thirty percent of the retail space to "merchants with six or fewer stores in the United States."

I'm not exactly sure how you can legislate what retail mix private developers manage to cobble together, but perhaps the city should be talking to Federated. According to the Washington Business Journal, the chain's Bloomingdale's division is looking for a DC location to plant its hip new small-concept store:

Sources say Bloomingdale's would like to open a smaller store, of 20,000 to 30,000 square feet, aimed at the trendy and urban consumer. The mini-department store would sell a smaller-than-typical line of men's and women's apparel, cosmetics, shoes and accessories.

The prototype of this store recently opened in New York's SoHo shopping district. Others have even suggested a Logan Circle location for the outlet. In the end, however, Georgetown -- which has landed the lease for a new Barneys New York co-op -- may just win out. (Ugh.)