Maggy Baccinelli authored the following post.
The rejuvenating H Street N.E. Corridor offers rich opportunities for new retail businesses in home furnishings, office products, health and beauty, fashion, food, and family services, analysts told more than 60 real estate and development executives at the 2012 Retail Summit sponsored by H Street Main Street on Friday, October 19.
Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells described H Street as being uniquely positioned to take advantage of the “experience economy” trend, the concept that today’s customers seek out, not just products, but pleasantly memorable shopping experiences.
“H Street’s cultural history, tradition and sound building infrastructure allow it to build its economy on creating an experience,” he told the standing-room-only crowd. “’The ‘sum is greater than its parts’ is no more true than on H Street.”
H Street Main Street (HSMS), a nonprofit dedicated to business development on the corridor, organized the event to reveal recent market research findings, and update investors on key projects that are already in motion. The Summit was held at HR-57, a restaurant and jazz club at 1007 H Street, named for the U.S. House of Representatives resolution that designated jazz as a national treasure in 1987.
HSMS Executive Director Anwar Saleem said the group’s goal is to continue attracting local businesses that add culture, flavor, and character to the corridor.
HSMS consultant Lauren Adkins of Adkins & Adkins Consulting reported the results of a comprehensive research project aimed at identifying the types of retail businesses likely to succeed on H Street. The project involved an online survey which elicited responses from 772 residents of the broader H Street community during June and July 2012, followed by qualitative discussions with a focus group of 25 residents who met three times in August 2012.
Analysis of the findings, Ms. Adkins reported, showed that respondents favor H Street retail expansion in six niches:
- 41 percent said restaurants are still the most important business type to bring to the Corridor, but they want more menu diversity, a greater range of prices from low to high, and more options to purchase take-home meals.
- Furniture and hardware options, with nearly half of the focus group having purchased a piece of furniture or household item within the preceding month, and 39.5 percent of survey respondents reporting buying furniture elsewhere in the District.
- Office products and services, with 7.1 percent of respondents working exclusively from home, and 7.9 percent working within four blocks of H Street.
- Interest in a day spa on H Street was strong among focus group participants, suggesting expansion opportunities for the corridor’s existing hair care and beauty salons.
- The prospect of additional clothing stores also generated excitement in the group, and survey respondents ranked clothing options for women and men as the seventh and eighth recruitment priorities, respectively.
- Businesses to support families were also strongly advocated, a marker of growing demand for toys, children’s clothing and recreation businesses in the area.
Ms. Adkins noted that several H Street establishments have adapted their businesses to response to the consumer demands reflected in the survey. For instance, the Star & Shamrock Tavern, 1341 H Street, includes a deli counter that sells take-home food, and Dynamic Wellness, a shop offering health-promoting preparations at 402 H Street, recently expanded to include the Khepra Raw Food Juice Bar, which sells eat-in and take-home foods.
Among survey respondents, the No. 1 request (62.7 percent) in the food category was a grocery store – a need that will be satisfied in just five more months. Guy Steuart of Steuart Investment Company told the group that the 42,000-square-foot Giant Foods store currently under construction at 360 H Street will open in March 2013. The supermarket occupies the ground floor of the six-story 360° H development, which includes 215 residential apartments.
Developers Jair Lynch of Jair Lynch Development Partners and Trent Smith of the Insight Property Group discussed their companies’ plans for the 600 block of H Street. The Lynch firm plans to redevelop the south side of the block for residential, office, and retail use. Insight has acquired major segments of the north side of the block – currently occupied by a Murry’s Food Store and the H Street Self-Storage facility – and plans wholesale redevelopment, potentially including a 40,000-square-foot, window-lined health club.
Lending DC Government support, Keith Sellars, President and CEO of the Washington DC Economic Partnership, reported that since 2005, residents within a one-mile radius of the Corridor spent $19.6 million on retail purchases. The Partnership is the marketing arm of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
Robert Summers, deputy director of the Department of Small and Local Business Development, touted H Street as a model for development and said that since 2005, 180 businesses opened on H Street, creating more than 2,000 jobs. Stressing the importance of working collaboratively, he said, “Continuing to come together like this and forge partnerships will help make H Street a destination place.”
MATERIALS PROVIDED AT THE 2012 H STREET NE RETAIL SUMMIT: