Bloomingdale’s to Come to Georgetown Mall

Originally posted in Washington Post on Thursday, September 11, 2008
Written by Ylan Q. Mui

Bloomingdale’s announced plans yesterday to open a store in the Shops at Georgetown Park in the next three years, providing a boost to a shopping center that had become overshadowed by its trendier neighbors.

The high-end retail chain, which is owned by Macy’s, said the three-level, 82,000-square-foot store is expected to be completed in August 2011. It will be modeled after Bloomingdale’s concept store in New York’s SoHo neighborhood and carry select men’s and women’s contemporary apparel and accessories.

“Georgetown Park really needs a shot in the arm of having a great anchor,” said Herbert S. Miller of Western Development, which owns the property and negotiated the deal. “We have a chance . . . to turn it into the highest fashion and trend center in the whole Washington area.”

Developers have long been on the hunt for a department store to anchor Georgetown Park. The mall has upgraded its tenants in recent years with retailers such as chic boutique Intermix and fast-fashion H&M. However, it faces increasingly stiff competition from Tysons Corner and the new row of luxury retailers in Chevy Chase.

Miller tried to lure rival Nordstrom to the shopping center, meeting with representatives from the Seattle-based company during an annual retailing conference in Las Vegas last year. But the deal would have cost the city as much as $20 million in so-called tax increment financing, which allows the city government to sell bonds that are later repaid by the development’s taxes.

The Bloomingdale’s deal would not be as expensive for the city, Miller said, but he did not give a specific number. He said improvements are needed for the mall and store site, walkways along the C&O Canal and security.

Miller said he has broached the topic with Deputy Mayor Neil O. Albert, who oversees planning and economic development, and D.C. Council member Jack Evans, whose district includes Georgetown. A spokesman for Albert’s office said the city has not committed to any financing plan.

Miller began courting Bloomingdale’s about a year and a half ago, flying to New York to visit chief executive Michael Gould and scoping out the SoHo store. Miller said Gould recently stayed with his son at the Four Seasons hotel in Georgetown and fell in love with the neighborhood.

“It just validates that D.C. is an international market,” said Keith Sellers, senior vice president for retail and real estate development at the Washington D.C. Economic Partnership.

Bloomingdale’s opened its third store in the Washington area in Chevy Chase two years ago. It also has locations in Tysons Corner Center and White Flint Mall. Those stores are much larger than the one proposed for Georgetown and carry home furnishings as well.

The Georgetown store will be one of only two locations in the country modeled after the SoHo store. The other will be in Santa Monica, Calif., and will open in 2010.