First, how could the new owners welcome a retailer rejected by Lady Gaga?
OK, actually first is that it comes after Target withdrew from Skyland Town Center, the long-stalled retail complex planned for Ward 7. Now that community is probably stuck with a Walmart, while Target takes one of the highest-density, highest-income areas in the city.
The second is how stodgy bodies like the Old Georgetown Board will react to the neighborhood's first real big-box store -- sure, it'll be smaller than its average branches, and tucked away in the Mall's basement, but outward signs of its presence will be strictly confined so as to comport with the area's "historic character."
The third thing isn't what the move says about Georgetown, but rather what it says about Target: That the store would even think of opening a location without acres of parking. It came to DCUSA in Columbia Heights only on the condition that the city build a 1,000-space garage, which ended up being embarrassingly underused due to its proximity to Metro.
The other store it has planned for the District, a 136,000-square-foot location at Fort Lincoln, will share slightly fewer than 2,000 surface parking spots with a Costco and a Shoppers.
Parking in Georgetown: Decidedly more scarce, and not because there's a Metro nearby. There is some nearby though, in the Colonial Parking lot right underneath the Mall. Colonial isn't eager to let on how many spaces they have, exactly; when I called the company, they declined to specify the number, citing "strategy." And the Business Improvement District, which usually keeps track of such things, says it doesn't know either. Finally, another reliable source told me that there were "over 600" spaces in the lot.
That's better than nothing -- but it's pricey. So while Target is playing it safe with the demographics in the area, it's breaking from its established mold of pairing big-box stores with cheap, plentiful parking.
So is CB2, Crate and Barrel's mini-version now under construction on M Street, which will require people to carry pieces of furniture to their cars. We shall see how this grand experiment goes.
Georgetown-bound Target Thinking Different About Parking was originally published by Washington City Paper on March 10, 2011.