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Fenty, Tregoning Launch District's First Citywide Retail Strategy

Thursday, April 5, 2007

(Washington, DC) -  Mayor Adrian M. Fenty today announced the launch of the District’s first ever citywide Retail Action Strategy. The initiative - a key component of the administration’s 100 Days and Beyond plan - aims to recapture the more than $1 billion District residents spend each year on retail goods and services outside of the city.

“In order to become a world class city, the District needs to become a world class retail destination,” Fenty said. “The residents of this city shouldn’t have to get in their cars or wait for a bus and head for the suburbs every time they want to go shopping. The dollars are here, but the retail amenities need to catch up.”

While some of the District neighborhoods have benefited from an enormous amount of growth and development during the last decade, the economic benefits have not been spread equally across the city. Many neighborhoods, despite their substantial spending power, still lack convenient retail for everyday goods as well as nearby restaurants and entertainment destinations. The District’s downtown, while rapidly emerging as a premiere entertainment destination, still lacks the high-value retail clusters that are found  in other major cities such as New York, Chicago or London.  

During the next 12 months, the Office of Planning will work with the Washington, DC. Economic Partnership and a newly hired consulting team to produce a set of actions that will focus on retaining, enhancing and expanding existing small and local independent businesses as well as attracting new national brands. Their work will include a fine-grained analysis of about 20 District neighborhoods’ spending capacity and market potential.

The goal is to transform the District into a dynamic, regional retail destination; improve, expand and enhance neighborhood-serving retail; and grow the tax base and job opportunities, as well as add to the overall quality of life in the city.

“So much of what makes a world class retail city is already here,” says Harriet Tregoning, Director of the DC Office of Planning. “We have compact, walkable streets, a safe and reliable transit system, a bustling downtown and transit corridors lined with storefronts. We need a comprehensive strategy that leverages those assets. But the District is not a monolith. Washington is a city of diverse neighborhoods and our retail strategy should reflect that.”

Neil O. Albert, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, will lead the administration’s team of agencies in implementing the initiative’s actions. His team, which will include the Washington, DC. Economic Partnership and the Department of Local and Small Business Development, will work to tie the study’s findings and recommendations to the District’s current economic development programs including the Great Street Initiative and reStore DC.

The Office of Planning’s consulting team begins work on the initiative this month and will produce a series of reports over the course of the next 12 months.

The team is led by Economic Research Associates (ERA) and it includes the Jair Lynch Cos., a District-based real estate development firm and StreetSense, a retail brokerage.