Alley Chat

Thursday, June 8, 2006

This time last year, Cady's Alley developer Anthony Lanier touted his Georgetown strip as Washington's "Design Center West," with 16 home furnishings shops under lease to his company, EastBanc Inc. By February, two of them -- the Ambiente Collection and Hollis & Knight -- were gone.

Andre Haugaard, president of Ambiente Collection, says he was "disappointed" to leave, but Georgetown was too distant from a store of the same name he owns in Raleigh, N.C.

Hollis & Knight went bankrupt. The smart, multilevel space was Cady's closest thing to one-stop shopping, with locally exclusive furniture lines, swatch books from top fabric houses, rugs and ready-made silk window coverings.

Lanier contends all is still thriving along the once-derelict 3300 block of M Street NW, which parallels Cady's Alley in the rear. The upmarket destination includes three German kitchen stores, two bathroom fixture and tile shops, and several home furnishings retailers, including his original anchor, Baker Furniture.

"What happens is, if you come up with a new idea you have a gestation period when some people do well and some don't do well," Lanier says. "That's not just us, but all of Georgetown."

Lanier still hopes to attract a designer fabric shop, high-end mattresses, carpets, art and "maybe a Williams-Sonoma for kitchen stuff." Part of the Ambiente Collection's space will become a cocktail lounge, he says.

Meanwhile, former Hollis & Knight co-owner Cris Barrett is selling rugs at Gore Dean a few doors from his old store. Owner Deborah Gore Dean also snagged many furniture collections Barrett had carried.

Annie Groer

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