When an art supply store went bankrupt and closed its doors at 3019 M Street NW in Georgetown in midsummer, landlord Richard Levy expected the spot to sit empty for a while. But he leased the space in just two months to Paper Source, a fancy Chicago-based stationery store.
The deal illustrates how the area's mix of retail tenants is changing from mom-and-pop shops to a blend of well-known chains, high-end clothing boutiques and luxury kitchen and furniture shops, according to developers, real estate brokers and retailers.
This luxury furniture store Baker in Cady's Alley exemplifies the type of stores that are interested in Georgetown.
(Bill O'leary -- The Washington Post)
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Metro Business: Coverage of Washington area businesses and the local economy.
"We're going through an evolution here," said Anthony M. Lanier, president of EastBanc Inc., a major developer of shops and condos in Georgetown.
Lanier is credited with sprucing up a strip along M Street, one of the neighborhood's two main streets, that was once a rundown collection of bars and stores and turning an abandoned parking lot into a high-end retail project called Cady's Alley.
"We're seeing the elimination of lower-priced bars. They're being converted to stores," Lanier said. "We're getting better tenants."
Those include stores such as Relish, a high-end clothier; Baker Furniture; and Bluemercury, a spa and cosmetics shop.
They come for several reasons. The area is one of Washington's most exclusive neighborhoods, full of 19th century houses worth millions of dollars. It has strong demographics plus several thousand college students within five miles. And it is a must-see for tourists, which generates lots of foot traffic, said Steven B. Greenberg, president of Greenberg Group, a Hewlett, N.Y., real estate adviser to retailers including appliance supplier Waterworks, shoemaker Puma,and clothiers French Connection and Levi Strauss & Co.
Marla Malcolm Beck, chief executive and founder of Washington-based Bluemercury Inc., with stores in Philadelphia and Princeton, N.J., opened her shop on Georgetown's M Street in 1994. After 1999, she said, four other cosmetic stores opened within the same block.
"Now when people think of beauty retail they come here as a destination and jump from shop to shop," Beck said. "It's the concept of a shopping mall, but it's open. You can shop, grab lunch, go to the movies. It's a destination for a day trip; it's not just shopping."
Nancy Pearlstein, the owner of Relish,a high-fashion designer clothing store in Chevy Chase, said she opened her second store at Lanier's Cady's Alley because he is careful about getting a mix of tenants that complement each other.