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Retail returns to Downtown Washington


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Retailers Finding A Market Downtown

D.C. Shopping Gets A Resuscitation

By Michael Barbaro

Washington Post Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 13, 2004; Page A01

In downtown Washington, once synonymous with the demise of urban retail, upscale men's clothier Jos. A. Bank has beaten internal sales predictions by 15 percent one year after opening. Hecht's is completing $15 million in renovations to its Metro Center department store. And developers are putting the final touches on a 275,000-square-foot shopping complex with five national chains.

After a series of false starts, the old downtown shopping district east of the White House is experiencing what store owners, retail brokers and city leaders describe as a retail revival, one that is slowly transforming a landscape dominated by restaurants, banks and cell phone stores.

In the past five years, nine national retailers -- including H&M, Jos. A. Bank, Barnes & Noble, and Borders -- have opened stores downtown, more than twice the number in the preceding five years, records show.

Developers and brokers credit the surge to pent-up demand for downtown shopping, a growing population of private-sector employees and an aggressive effort by city leaders to court retailers. "The retail tide is coming back in," said John Asadoorian, a retail broker in the city.

City leaders say there is still much work to be done, but the retail growth has begun to chip away at the perception of downtown as a sterile home for law firms and federal agencies that closes for business at 5 p.m. Gradually, Washington area residents are beginning to regard it as a worthwhile place to shop.

Downtown worker Gloria Gaskins, 43, lives in Lanham. But instead of darting for the suburban malls after work, Gaskins asks her 17-year-old daughter to take the Metro into the city to browse the aisles at Hecht's and H&M, the Swedish apparel retailer, which opened a store in the old Woodward & Lothrop building at 11th and F streets NW in 2003.

Retailers "put better stuff downtown," Gaskins said after leaving H&M with her daughter on a recent shopping trip.

^^This is only a small part of this article, which can be found at washingtonpost.com.

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