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No new tenants yet for Georgetown Park

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Two years after buying the Shops at Georgetown Park at a foreclosure auction, the new owners are juggling prospective tenants to anchor the refurbished mall when it reopens.

Vornado Realty Trust, which manages the mall and owns it in partnership with Angelo, Gordon & Co., a New York investment firm, plans to bring in a half dozen big name retailers to fill the brick mall at Wisconsin Avenue and M Street NW, according to Mitchell N. Schear, Vornado/Charles E. Smith president.

A possible deal for a Target store didn’t pan out, Schear said. Bloomingdale’s, with its SoHo concept, is still interested in opening there, after committing to the mall before it changed hands.

And, according to a source familiar the discussions, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the owners have not made them public, other stores have shown interest as well, including Lord & Taylor, T.J. Maxx and Michaels, the crafts retailer.

Schear said no leases have been signed yet, and declined to say which retailers were most likely to commit. “There is this constant, active puzzle that the team has been working with, with an eye on the right variety for the operators, for the customers and for the owners,” he said.

Most tenants have closed up shop, but a few remain open, including J. Crew, Anthropologie, H&M and Washington Sports Club. Vornado inked a deal with Nike to open in the former Barnes & Noble space down the block, at 3040 M St. NW.

City officials have discussed the project as a possible candidate for subsidies, by way of between $50 million and $70 million of tax increment financing, in which the city would sell bonds to be repaid by future tax revenue.

A Bloomingdale’s spokeswoman declined to comment. But Council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) said Bloomingdale's representatives told him and Mayor Vincent C. Gray at a retail convention in Las Vegas in May that no subsidy would be required.

“They were excited about going to Georgetown Park and didn’t need TIF money,” Evans said. “It was clear as can be.”

Keith Sellars, president and chief executive of the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership, said Bloomingdale’s had been interested in the site going back five years or more. “They love that market, and I think they would do really well,” he said.

With other parts of the city struggling, a subsidy for Georgetown would be a political long shot. The city’s debt cap limits the District’s borrowing, and a request for $35 million to finance two downtown hotels has gone nowhere.

Vornado, based in New York but with large holdings in the Washington area, is planning to sell stakes in three New York area malls and in other retail properties it owns nationwide.

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