The International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual meeting is an event at which ideas can evolve into conversations, and conversations can evolve into negotiations, sometimes over the course of years. It is not a place, typically, where leases are actually signed.
Which brings us to Wegmans.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray met earlier this year with officials from Wegmans, the Rochester, N.Y.-based grocery chain that inspires intense excitement among some shoppers and which has became a sort of social mecca after one of its stores opened in Prince George’s County last October. Gray held another meeting with company representatives Tuesday at ICSC in Las Vegas, something a Washington Examiner article pointed to recently.
The meetings show that the chain has interest in the District, but it isn’t easy for Wegmans to enter D.C. because the chain wants at least 120,000 square feet and at least 800 parking spaces, which is hard to find in the city. It could potentially be had, however, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where the city is set to acquire property that includes around 1,200 existing underground parking spaces that front along Georgia Avenue NW.
D.C. does not have control of Walter Reed yet, and Gray has not announced a plan for how to pay for millions of dollars of infrastructure improvements there, so the Wegmans idea, like a lot of those at ICSC, is about something that is at least years away. But Ralph A. Uttaro, Wegmans senior vice president of retail development, walking into the meeting with Gray, said Walter Reed, “looks like something that might be interesting to us at some point.”
Other than that, he said, there wasn’t much to add.
“We really don’t like talking about sites until there’s really something to it.”