Market development in emerging commercial districts is very difficult, especially if you have limited experiences with those kinds of audiences which likely is the case for Michael Landrum. (Wilson Blvd. in Clarendon is nothing like Minnesota Avenue SE.)
The funny thing is that I was talking about this general problem with Suzanne yesterday, after we re-reviewed the commercial districts in Arts District Hyattsville (when did Pulte Homes buy EYA out of the residential development and why haven't I read anything about it?), Mount Rainier, and along 12th Street NE in Brookland.
The issue is the tension between being a business recruiter and proponent of your commercial district versus recognizing that business owners put up their own (and investors) money and if they fail, they destroy value. Not to mention that if they fail it doesn't help your commercial district market itself to other proprietors.
While I never wrote about it, I thought Michael Landrum of Ray's was crazy to open that restaurant, unless he got a lot of financial incentives to do so--including free rent--and I don't think he did.
(A lot of what happens in emerging commercial districts is that people with either or both limited experience or limited funds open a place that ends up being "deficient" in terms of its offer and value equation, and they fail. This only makes it harder to trigger revitalization in the commercial district overall.)
And I write about these issues in the occasionally updated post about "Richard's Rules for Restaurant-Based Revitalization
," which discusses the essentiality of restaurants to commercial district revitalization. They provide a reason for people to re-sample a commercial district, as well as allow people to stay longer because they can catch a bite to eat and/or go to the restroom.
For commercial districts in that lack population density, neighbors have to become proponents-frequent customers in order to generate the kind of revenue necessary for success. That's why general cuisine at good price points works best.
Relatedly, the Post
also has a piece about the high value aspirations of the Golden Triangle Business District in DC's central business district, "Golden Triangle BID hopes recruiter will add luster to retail offerings
." Apparently, they aren't happy with Dress Barn, which is in a high rent location and obviously has been doing well enough to remain in that location for a couple decades, because it doesn't have the image positioning that they are looking for.
As I have argued elsewhere, retail mix planning is a process with multiple phases. You work with what you have, and you strategically plan your mix of retailers, services, and attractions by daypart and day of the week to maximize customers throughout the day and into the evening.
Think of Dress Barn as an asset, because they are one of the few apparel retailers even present in the Golden Triangle at the moment, and work forward.