Speaking on his home turf Saturday, as Veronica Davis reports, Mayor Vince Gray dropped some not-terribly-surprising news: It appears that Target has bailed as a prospective anchor tenant at the still-unbuilt Skyland Town Center, and the developers have sent Walmart a letter of interest in locating there instead. Even if Gray is able to nudge forward the litigation that has kept Skyland in a deep freeze for years, the Rappaport Companies need a big box to take the 129,000-square-foot space—and if Target’s not interested, that doesn’t bode well for other retailers (there’s already a Safeway across the street).
A Rappaport spokeswoman confirms that they are in “preliminary discussions” with Walmart.
If the deal goes through, what would that mean for Walmart’s intentions to locate at its first proposed Ward 7 location, at Capitol Gateway on East Capitol and Southern Avenue? Almost certainly nothing—they’re far enough away that both could survive. Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander hadn’t heard about the company’s intentions for Skyland, but does understand that their ambitions aren’t limited.
“I do know that they would be interested in coming to as many sites as possible with this new urban model,” she told Housing Complex this morning. “Overall, all things being equal about jobs and wages and community benefits, the Capitol Gateway looks like it will be a go.”
There has been no organized resistance to the Capitol Gateway site to date (it will have to go through a planned unit development process with the Zoning Commission). Like Capitol Gateway—and unlike the Georgia Avenue location—the intersection of Good Hope Road and Alabama Avenue has little in the way of neighborhood retail that would be threatened by the always-low-prices superstore. However, it is surrounded by the higher-income Hillcrest community, which might react differently to the idea of a Walmart in their neighborhood.
UPDATE, Wednesday, 10:45 a.m. – Walmart spokesman Steven Restivo says nothing has been signed yet. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw lots of similar rumors over the next couple of weeks given the number of developers, landlords and brokers we’re talking to,” he notes.