Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Redefining Retail

CREW hosted lunch in the Rotunda of the Ronald Reagan Building with a noted  panel of professionals covering all aspects of retail, including trends and projections for the future. Our panel was led by Heather Arnold, Director of Research and Analysis for Streetsense, who provided a thorough and informative examination as to the drivers of retail developments. Esteemed panelists included: Avis Black, Director of Real Estate for Safeway, Inc.; Chris Donatelli, President of Donatelli Development; Inc.; and David von Storch, Founder and President of Urban Adventures Companies and founder of Capitol City Brewing Company, VIDA Fitness and 901 Restaurant.

Heather imparted to the audience a deep dive into the Great Neighborhoods initiative within the District and spoke about the factors that make retail development in a specific location successful based on the research undertaken by Streetsense.

Avis Black, the grocery anchor and “big box” retailer for the panel spoke about the in-store changes being made to many Safeway locations including “lifestyle elements”, expanded organics, and seating areas with Wi-Fi. Ms. Black also highlighted Safeway’s recently completed projects in Virginia - Falls Church; in Washington, DC - Chinatown and Georgetown; in Maryland - Bethesda, Olney, Kent Island; and highlighted others in the works or nearing completion - Wheaton and Upper Marlboro (Maryland); Alexandria (Virginia) and the Petworth neighborhood (Washington, DC).

Chris Donatelli gave the owner/developer perspective to retail development and spoke about how retail helps to make his residential projects a success. His examples included projects at the Ellington, Park Place, Kenyon Square and Highland Park. He spoke about retailers’ desires to be in dynamic neighborhoods and the transit-oriented development projects being a real asset.

Finally, David von Storch, a neighborhood retailer, spoke about “lifestyle retail” including the demographics and factors that he considers to locating his businesses like VIDA Fitness and Aura Spas, for which he has 5 locations already open and 4 more underway. He also spoke about his project incorporating a fully-integrated lifestyle center at the Navy Yards, which will open within the next year.