The usually tight-lipped Howard Riker, a vice president in Hines’ Washington office, said the Dallas-based firm is close to locking in artisan, prepared and other speciality food vendors for the market.
“Given the fact we have several hundred residents on site, we figured we should have some sort of substantial food offering,” Riker said. “With the size threshold of the project, it has been a challenge to bring in a traditional grocer. The area is well served by Whole Foods on P Street and Safeway nearby.”
Plans call for 10,000 to 11,000 square feet of space located near the cross section of 10th and H streets NW. Riker anticipates seafood vendors as well as gourmet charcuterie merchants to create a space similar to Dean & Delucca, but on the scale of an Eastern Market.
“It will be a mix of local, national and international vendors, who will occupy space ranging from 500 to 1,500 square feet of space,” he said.
Washington has welcomed its share of seasonal farmers markets over the years, but lately the city has become a prime site for year-round gourmet food emporiums.
South Carolina-based Edens is transforming part of the Capital City/ Florida Avenue Market into a farm- and chef-driven Union Market. Edens plans to host a James Beard Foundation dinner in June to kick off the firm’s redevelopment of the site, located along 5th and 6th streets NE between Florida and New York avenues.
For Hines, retail brokerage firm Williams Ewing Jackson, charged with a majority of the retail leasing at CityCenter, recommended dedicating a portion of the project for a food market, having created similar concepts at Grand Central Station in New York and Faneuil Hall in Boston.
As for the remaining retail space at CityCenter, Riker said he is a month or so away from announcing the first leasing deal and has several signed letters of intent. He declined to disclose names.
Riker did make it clear that he is talking to established retailers that are looking to roll out concepts with a limited amount of locations—think Ralph Lauren’s Rugby or J.Crew’s Madewell.
The VP also said the company has had discussions with Japanese retailer Uniqlo and British apparel chain Top Shop. Both stores are in expansion mode and have said that D.C is one of the top five markets on their list. Each store typically takes anywhere from 20,000 to 30,000 square feet of space.
“They are good examples of the types of tenants we’d like to have. We’re trying to create a complimentary mix of large format and smaller retailers,” Rike said.
Construction at the $950-million CityCenter is about a month ahead of schedule, with the first phase of development scheduled for completion in July 2013. The project will feature office, hotels, residential and retail.
Just last week, law firm Covington & Burling signed a letter of intent to move its global headquarters from Pennsylvania Avenue to CityCenter.