Retail Strategy for City Vista

Yesterday’s posting laid out details of retail space available for lease at City Vista. Word is that interest has really ramped up on these spaces since Safeway and Busboys and Poets arrived.

What types of tenants should be considered for the spaces? In the long term when the Triangle is closer to build out it should be able to support a variety of businesses that serve a variety of needs. In the short term, since new construction ground breakings have been MIA of late, City Vista’s retail (and 455 Mass) is all the Triangle will likely have now through 2010 or possibly 2011.

My belief is that selecting businesses that will increase foot traffic and eyes on the streets between 8pm and midnight should be a primary goal. It’s the only way the neighborhood is going to get safer. A florist or salon that closes at 7pm will not contribute the desired effect. We need businesses that will add more critical mass to the evening traffic Busboys, Results and Safeway will spawn.

Restaurants are the best candidate to foster late evening activity. Even the restaurant choice is cause for careful consideration. The plans should call for the inclusion of an anchor restaurant that will sustain business late into the evening rather than several tiny places that may stay open until 9 or 10 but turn dead after 8pm. With residences above it’s important not to choose restaurants that will turn into a quasi-night club after sunset. There may not yet be enough office density, and thereby lunch crowd, within the Triangle to support a small burger establishment like Good Stuff Eatery. These types of establishments have business models that depend heavily on both lunch and dinner traffic. A restaurant that closely replicates what one can already find in Chinatown/Penn Quarter isn’t a smart choice either as a more unique offering (like Busboys represents) is needed to pull downtown residents north of Mass.

Where does that leave us? Perhaps a mix of one anchor restaurant (~3000 sf), one small restaurant/cafe then after leasing is arranged for those it would be possible to infill with other types of businesses. Realistically the business models for the restaurants would be ones that can survive making most of their money after 4pm and on weekends but we also don’t want an establishment residents above will find to be a nuisance.

Do people agree with the rationale for restaurants? What restaurants would you propose that fit the criteria?

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  1. 1

    fourthandeye says

    Here’s an anecdote about safety that I couldn’t work into the main posting:
    On Monday night I walked over to City Vista at about 11:45pm to take a few more pictures of the empty retail bays for the blog. I figured the loiterers would leave me alone if I kept my distance. Nope, one sprinted over to try to sell me drugs while his buddy seemed to be taking a wide circular path to approach at me from my blind side (creepy). I said no thanks and walked away then he sprinted over to me 20 seconds later to beg for money. I won’t be taking one of these midnight strolls again anytime soon.

  2. 3

    Anonymous says

    One thing I would like to see is something like a Cactus Cantina-type mexican restaurant. Something that’s not super spendy (like Rosa Mexicana or Oyamel) but still a tasty tex-mex restaurant. Perhaps on the model of La Loma on Capitol Hill (before they expanded to include the next door building)?

  3. 4

    fourthandeye says

    @Anon 10:10 – DuMont appears to have only one small retail space at the corner of 4th & Mass. From the outside looking in the space doesn't appear to even be 900 sf. I doubt it could support much more than a small coffee shop. That would be a nice convenience for the neighborhood but it doesn't have the impact factor of City Vista or even 455 Mass.

  4. 5

    Anonymous says

    Cactus Cantina would be perfect. I think a Lauriol/CC clone would be perfect for the Penzance building. Or, pretty much any large retail space that needs a destination/anchor establishment (like the upcoming Riverfront retail pavilion)

  5. 6

    fourthandeye says

    @Anon 10:54 – I think a Lauriol Plaza clone would rake in dough at 455 Mass. It’s a great high visibility location with an expansive patio. The available City Vista spaces can support a few outdoor tables but probably not enough for a Lauriol Plaza type ambiance to be cloned.

    Penzance feels strongly that their office building at 455 Mass must have a “white table cloth” restaurant on site as potential tenants, such as law firms, require immediate proximity to fine dining. They came close to a deal with Lawry’s Prime Rib and will continue to seek a restaurant tenant of the same ilk.

    In the end with Penzance focusing on ritz and City Vista geared towards neighborhood serving we should end up with a good healthy mix.

  6. 7

    Tim says

    i’m betting one of the spaces goes to a bank. another to a dry cleaners.

    another late night restaurant would be nice. i think it can be worked in too, if the right owners come along.

  7. 8

    fourthandeye says

    Tim – The Safeway has a Bergmann’s cleaners and Chevy Chase bank has already started build out on their location between the Safeway main entrance and 5th Street Hardware. So those types of amenities are already in place. Hopefully the unfilled bays we’re discussing don’t go to redundant businesses.

  8. 9

    Anonymous says

    I’m with fourthandeye; a Lauriol Plaza would be a destination for hundreds and would rake in the dough.