Retail has long held an important role in placemaking and the urban experience, defining neighborhood identity and perception for both its citizens and visitors. D.C. has cultivated a wide variety of urban retail districts, and micro markets within those areas, that are now integral to the real estate opportunity for other land uses in their neighborhoods. And the cause of a cause of a district’s rise (and sometimes fall) isn’t always clear-cut-did the place and demographics make the retail successful, or did pioneering retail and food concepts attract the right demographics to allow the place to thrive? How is the long-term sustainability of a retail district affected by the short-term desire to capitalize on being the coolest neighborhood? What happens when the rents that landlords expect to achieve quickly rise in response to the success of initial tenants? What other types of uses offer a substitute for retail’s role in placemaking and identity?
This panel will explore what drives the ebb and flow of urban retail and how modern placemaking strategies seek to combat and emulate the valuable eclectic nature of urban retail, using D.C.’s retail districts and mixed-use developments as case studies.