The Washington Post

Wal-Mart invites local business to join it on Georgia Avenue

Shoppers walk from a Wal-Mart store in Mexico City last year. (EDGARD GARRIDO/REUTERS)

Today is the deadline for small retailers, local shop owners and other entrepreneurs to apply for space alongside the world’s largest retailer in what could be its first D.C. store.

Wal-Mart is building a 106,000-square-foot store on Georgia Avenue Northwest and although the chain has long been accused of putting smaller shops out of business it is offering space near its Georgia Avenue store to local merchants interested in leasing about 1,800 square feet. A second space is about 880 square feet and could be combined with the first.

The brick-clad store is currently under construction at 5968 Georgia Ave. and the space for a local retailer, as displayed in this flyer by Wal-Mart’s broker, KLNB, is on the northern end of the building directly adjacent to Wal-Mart’s entrance. There is also the opportunity for sidewalk space, which could work for a restaurant.

Why is Wal-Mart leasing part of its space to someone else? Spokesman Steve Restivo said in an e-mail that including a local business in the company’s plans was not required by the wide-ranging community benefits agreement to which the chain and Mayor Vincent C. Gray agreed more than a year ago.

He said the company has been on the hunt for a partner since last year. It certainly wouldn’t hurt the company’s image as it plans to open its first stores in the District later this year to have a local partner at the ribbon-cutting. D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser, whose Ward 4 includes the store, reminded constituents in her e-mail newsletter as the deadline approached.

“We know our stores are often magnets for growth and development and our preference is to have a local business be part of the Georgia Avenue redevelopment,” Restivo said.

Restivo said there had been conversations with multiple prospects for the space but he and John Meyer, principal of KLNB Retail, declined to share any names. He cautioned that if the company can reach terms with a local company it will have to fill the space with a national chain.

“If there is not enough interest from area retailers or restaurants, we would then focus on a national brand tenant,” Restivo said.

Follow Jonathan O’Connell on Twitter: @oconnellpostbiz

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.

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