Georgetown and Dupont Circle have already established themselves as prime retail hubs. In fact, retail space is difficult to find in those prime neighborhoods. And now downtown's East End is emerging as a destination for unique retail and entertainment. “Retailers and developers are becoming more inventive and creative with their use of space and choice of locations, particularly in these three neighborhoods where traditional contiguous space is hard to find”, says Lake, of Madison Retail. “The very unique mix of entertainment, arts, sports, theaters, and cultural venues makes downtown a place unlike any other,” Bradley adds. “In many ways we have no competition.”
Downtown D.C. is home to numerous museums of history, art and culture, as well as four live performance theaters. The MCI Center (Map No. 10), for example, hosts more than 200 evenings of concerts and sports events each year. Built in 1996, the arena has served as a catalyst for downtown's revitalization. Ticket sales for the Washington Wizards have blown away expectations as the city anticipates the return of Michael Jordan to the NBA. Not to be outdone, the Washington Capitals have seen season tickets sales for hockey games triple since the team lured Jaromir Jagr away from Pittsburgh in July. “Downtown should be awash with sports this winter. The restaurants are anticipating a crush.” says Claire Carlin, the special events producer for the Downtown DC BID.
D.C.'s revitalization efforts have sparked 4.2 million sq. ft. of new downtown development, and that activity is grabbing retailers' attention. “I think the D.C. retail market is exceptionally strong,” says Herb Miller, chairman of D.C.-based Western Development Corp. The momentum started with destination entertainment, sports and cultural uses, and has been followed by destination restaurants and brand name retailers. The next wave sweeping downtown D.C. will be the introduction of international retailers, Herb Miller adds.
Western Development and the John Akridge Companies are courting big name retailers for their $225 million Gallery Place project (map, #9). Located on 7th Street between G and H Streets, the 640,000-sq.-ft. mixed-use project is expected to open in 2003 and will include 200,000 sq. ft. of retail.