More Shops, Less Restaurants in Penn Quarter

Once upon a time, F Street leading into Penn Quarter used be a bustling corridor of shops. Unfortunately, that vision is a distant memory. While posing a threat to Georgetown with a wide variety of upscale restaurants and entertainment options, F Street is still failing to attract high-end retailers.

In 2003, the arrival of H&M was hailed as a major revival to the corridor. Zara, West Elm, and Madame Tussauds followed suit and occupied different parts of Woodies building. Guess opened a store at 1155 F Street. And this year, Forever 21 will replace West Elm which closed its doors for business.

The Internationalist envisions a major thoroughfare of retail activity on F Street leading into the heart of Penn Quarter. Think a la Regent Street in London or Canal Street in New York. An Apple store could have provided further regeneration of the area. After its store designs for Georgetown were being rejected, Terry Lynch, an architecht of Penn Quarter’s revival, sent a letter to Neil Albert, deputy mayor for economic development and urged him to “immediately engage Apple in other locations.” But the folks over at the Old Georgetown Board ultimately accepted Apple’s design on a fourth attempt.

Times are tough, but D.C’s economy is strong. And landlord’s in Penn Quarter will have to make an extra effort to attract more retailers and less restaurants. We already have enough of the latter.


4 responses to “More Shops, Less Restaurants in Penn Quarter

  1. we’ve often thought that F Street could become a shopping corridor like it used to be in earlier times. unfortunately, DC doesn’t have the residential density that London or New York have but give it some time. F is for fashion, right?

  2. It would be great to see DC redevelop downtown retail. Unfortunately, I think it will be tough to do. As was pointed out, DC itself is relatively small and would need to attract suburbanites (even the Upper NW suburbanites) downtown to thrive. Unfortunately, it seems like the classic chicken and the egg problem. Suburbanites won’t come downtown to shop. The is nothing to justify the hassle of getting there. Meanwhile retailers won’t open due to the lack of business.

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