Keeping it Local: Retail Action Strategy Seeks to Capture Dollars for DC

Downtown, Washington, DC is booming with new housing, restaurants and retail shops. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being reinvested in the District’s neighborhoods. But each year, the District of Columbia loses more than a billion dollars in annual retail sales because our city still doesn’t enjoy a large enough share of the region’s retail market and too many of our neighborhoods are still vastly underserved. District residents shouldn’t have to leave the city to buy the goods and services they need. Therefore, the DC Office of Planning, in collaboration with the Washington, DC Economic Partnership, will soon launch a Retail Action Strategy aimed at capturing this lost retail revenue.

The Retail Action Strategy will capitalize on the District of Columbia’s economic revitalization and population growth by building on the current wave of new retail stores and restaurants. It will lay out a plan for extending and accelerating this success across the city. “We need to better understand our consumers, internal markets, regional competition and physical barriers to successful retail development in the District,” says Sakina Khan, Project Manager in the DC Office of Planning. “We also need to strategize on cultivating and retaining our local and independent retailers, attracting appropriate national brands, as well as enhancing our unique shopping districts, from Columbia Heights to Georgetown to Brookland and Anacostia. This is an ambitious undertaking, but the timing and the coordination between District government and the Economic Partnership is right.”

This year-long initiative will produce a citywide retail implementation strategy that will support retail retention, expansion and attraction, as well as accelerate the growth of dynamic retail centers that are fitting of a capital city. The Retail Action Strategy also seeks to foster entrepreneurship and creativity in retail and ultimately, to increase District retail employment and sales tax revenues. The District of Columbia should be a world-class retail capital, where local and independent retailers can thrive alongside national brands; where both our established and emerging neighborhoods are appropriately served by quality retail; and where the overall shopping experience—from improved storefronts and expanded product offerings to unique retail places—is as dynamic as the residents of this city.

The Office of Planning and the Economic Partnership are vetting proposals from consulting teams to perform retail and market analysis, land use, planning, urban design and zoning analysis. The winning consultant team will undertake the Retail Action Strategy study starting in spring 2007.

Posted Under: DC News