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Remember the Shops at Dakota Crossing retail development in Fort Lincoln, which was supposed to break ground last December, and then in May, and then in August? Well, developer Cell Bernardino told ANC 5A last night that he’s now hoping to start site work in November. The holdup, he says, was the wetland permit from the District Department of the Environment, which environmental groups had opposed (for damn good reasons).

Bernardino might have a bigger stresser to lose hair over, though. In promotional materials and news coverage, the developers have consistently touted three big box tenants: Costco, Shoppers Food Warehouse, and Target. But while Costco has signed a lease for one of the planned big box spaces, Shoppers Food Warehouse is still wavering. Target has pulled back as well, as part of what Bernardino called a national move to “reassess” its retail strategy (it already bailed on Skyland).

That’s, um, not good news for a development that’s just about to clear a bunch of trees and lay down concrete pads.

Bernardino remains confident that somebody will take those spaces, saying that retailers usually “fall all over themselves” to be close to a Costco. It’s not going to be Walmart or Lowe’s, though, because they’ve got a spot down the way. It won’t be Home Depot, which already has a location in Ward 5. It could be Kohls, which has been looking around for a spot in the District. What else is out there? As Jonathan O’Connell pointed out, not much.

Still, Bernardino says they’re going to go ahead with site work, trusting that leases will come together in the nine months that will all take. If they don’t, we might have cleared a bunch of wetlands for nothing.