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Fenty plays matchmaker

By Jonathan O'Connell

LAS VEGAS -- Dozens of retailers and their representatives contacted the city to schedule meetings at the International Council of Shopping Centers convention here with Mayor Adrian Fenty or his staff in the booth. A non-comprehensive list: Wal-Mart, Target, The Fresh Market, Regal Cinemas, CVS, Autozone, Trader Joe’s, Shoppers Food Warehouse, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Walgreen’s, Chipotle and Burlington Coat Factory.

Fenty, in turn, has a menu of sites that he and his team can pitch. In an interview most of the way through a day full of meetings Monday, the mayor mentioned a litany that he had discussed that day: Skyland Shopping Center, Penn Branch Shopping Center, Fort Lincoln, Fort Totten, City Center, Rhode Island Station and Poplar Point.

So where are there serious matches – which discussions are real? “I think Costco is high on the list,” Fenty said, referring to the Fort Lincoln project for which his staff this spring scheduled and then canceled an announcement. “I think a Target on the same site is high on the list, as well as hopefully some other big box east of the Anacostia River as well.”

Wal-Mart has been looking in D.C., having joined the D.C. Chamber of Commerce in recent years. Fenty took a Wal-Mart meeting and said it’s “amazing how many of the businesses are adopting the quote-unquote urban model” – something Wal-Mart has been looking to do. He made no commitment to help though.

Overall the mayor was very positive, partly because of the success of non-traditional format stores in D.C., such as the Whole Foods in Logan Circle (with parking on top) and the Target in Columbia Heights (which is two stories and features a shopping cart escalator). “From what I can tell, the interest from some of the bigger boxes and some of the blue chip retailers in the city is even dramatically improved from last year,” he said. More in Capital Business Monday.

By Dan Beyers  |  May 25, 2010; 9:53 AM ET
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