Bloomingdale's said yesterday it has ruled out building a department store in revitalized downtown Washington, despite considerable courting by the District government.
A downtown store "is no longer under consideration," said Jim Sluzewski, public relations manager for Bloomingdale's parent company, Federated Department Stores Inc.
Although Federated usually does not comment on plans for new stores, Sluzewski said the company decided to break its rules and respond to queries given the publicity about its recent negotiations with city officials and downtown developers. Under consideration for a store site was a block bound by 12th, 13th, F and G streets NW.
"Over the last year, there have been a number of discussions, but the fact is plain and simple that the requirements" the company needed to open an economically viable store "were just never met," Sluzewski said.
Developer Nathan Landow yesterday accused Bloomingdale's of making "unreasonable offers and demands on developers as well as on the District for concessions that are not economically feasible."
Among other things, Landow said, Bloomingdale's was seeking a "reduced rent much less than we feel they can afford to pay."
Sluzewski, however, said the company did not believe it was "unreasonable. The offer just didn't meet our own internal requirements. We were very interested in getting a deal made. It was just one of those situations where a deal wasn't able to be worked out. . . . "
Landow said he and his partner, developer John Akridge, now are looking at other alternatives and still hope to lure a major retailer to their site. District officials declined to comment on their plans and hopes for the site in which one corner is owned by the city government.
Failure to lure Bloomingdale's to the city represents a sharp blow to the city's efforts to lure a fashionable, trendy retailer to downtown. Although the city has courted Bloomingdale's previously, it was more optimistic this time around, given the concessions it was offering.
Under a deal worked out last summer, the District offered Landow and Akridge extra construction rights -- permission to build an extra 110,000 squre feet of retail and office space -- if the developers, in turn, would pay at least $2.5 million to Bloomingdale's to get the chain to build a store in the center, which was to have a three-story Bloomingdale's store, with two levels underground. Another 40 to 50 retail shops were planned, with an entrance connected directly into the Metro Center subway station.
The center, which would have been across the street from the new Hecht Co. store, would have been the latest in a string of major retail and office face lifts in the city's old downtown, an area that until recently many retailers had bypassed in favor of the more affluent and populated suburbs.
Bloomingdale's, however, reportedly was seeking a $6 million incentive to open here.
Landow said yesterday that the key difference between the developers and retailer centered mostly on rental fees. The two sides were between $4 million and $5 million apart, he said.
Landow said he is trying to lure to the site Alexius C. Conroy Co. of White Plains, N.Y., a partnership of three major shopping center executives: Alex C. Conroy, the former president of Cadillac-Fairview shopping centers in the West; Melvin Simon, the Indianapolis developer who is building at Pentagon City in Arlington; and Simon's brother Herbert.
With all three executives having extensive contacts among retailers, Landow hoped they would be able to entice a major new store downtown.