City Desk

Bad Georgetown Mall Slowly Dying

Georgetown Dish says a number of retailers at the Shops at Georgetown Park being asked to vacate the 300,000 square foot mall in a hurry (including the National Pinball Museum, which had already lost its lease and is hoping to win an extra game in Baltimore):

"What's the rush to get out? What's the story?" asked one resident, worried at the prospect of an empty commercial space that could attract crime. "It will take six to eight months to get any plans through the ANC. Meanwhile, Vornado has told us nothing."

One resident who had a storage area in the complex was told to clear out in two days.

Vornado also manages Springfield Mall, which Georgetown neighbors said has been plagued by crime.

While crime is a valid fear, the mall is already little more than a dark cavern these days. There's now talk of Target leasing space in the mall, presumably after some renovation. Lydia DePillis wrote about the state of the shopping center, and Georgetown itself, last year:

When the elaborate retail palace opened in 1981, it pulled in dozens of stores that relocated from nearby sidewalks—which, in turn, brought the incongruous souvenir shops that still eke out a living in the new commercial landscape to M Street, replacing the shops that moved into the mall. In the 1980s, busloads of Japanese tourists used to pull up to the mall, unload en masse to shop, pile back in the bus, and leave.

Now, though, local landlord Richard Levy estimates the building needs to spend more than it’s even worth on deferred maintenance. A big anchor retailer like Bloomingdale’s, which was put off by the ongoing litigation, may not be willing to pay the kind of rents that would pay that back quickly. And perhaps more importantly, a huge indoor mall, in the middle of a dense urban neighborhood, is out of step with what shoppers want.

Photo by Saikofish via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License

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  • Southeast Ken

    I forget about this mall. I didn't know it still existed.

  • Drez

    IMO it's a nice space that has for whatever reason never attracted the retail clients necessary to give shoppers a reliably compelling reason to go there.
    With the rise (return) of viable shopping in other areas of the city this mall just languished.

  • Anonymous

    I live nearby this place...other than a few stores like GNC and JCREW, the mall has nothing inside that is attractive enough to go there. All the shops are random. Perhaps the only reason I go there is the DMV. Although the inside is beautiful...that being said, I wouldn't want a Target there...Macy's maybe. Why not convert it to commercial space for business offices? Maybe a night club?

  • evandery

    I remember talk that the issue was that the Victorian look was dated, but I think it's quite beautiful and stylistically goes well in Georgetown. The deeper problem is the fact that urban shoppers don't want malls anymore; they want neighborhoods. Malls like this one sprung up in that brief period when everybody was abandoning cities and cities tried to suburbanize to compete. That's not necessary anymore. Baltimore's Inner Harbor mall is struggling too. Urban malls are just becoming a thing of yesteryear.

  • Miles

    Though I hate malls as a rule, this makes me a bit sad, because this was the mall I went to when I couldn't avoid going to malls. It has a beautiful interior design and wasn't frequented by idiots. Even back when it opened, however, it didn't have the type of stores necessary to make shopping there very practical, however. And yeah, the whole idea of Georgetown runs contrary to malls anyway.

  • yup yup

    Will definitely miss that DMV!

  • yup yup

    (oh, and the public restrooms. With Barnes & Noble also closing, where will people go - literally?)