Monday, August 16, 2010

City Place Episode III: A (New) New Hope?

Remember a few years back when City Place was sold to retail developers Petrie Ross of Annapolis and we were anticipating all the great stores they were going to bring to downtown Silver Spring's second-rate shopping mall? Well, I think it is fair to say that in the intervening years our hopes for City Place's redevelopment failed to come to fruition and its Shitty Place nickname remains appropriate.

Now Petrie Ross has has unloaded the property, selling it for $22.8 million to Hutensky Capital Partners, a company that "specializes in the acquisition and repositioning of underperforming retail properties".

So what exactly does this mean for City Place? Could we finally see a positive shift in City Place's retail mix? Only time will tell. I'm not asking for much. At this point I'd be satisfied with a Gap or something.



38 comments:

Clancy said...

Poor downtown Silver Spring. Will it ever be rid of the City Place albatross?

Shouldn't that be "Episode IV"?

Anonymous said...

I have faith! It will get better! Or at least it can't get any worse....

Anonymous said...

We need a strong anchor store or no other stores will take a chance. Get rid of BCF and Marshall's and get a Macy's or Target.

Sligo said...

"Episode III" as in third owner... maybe there will be episode IV in another couple years.

Anonymous said...

It would be super nice to have a Target in shitty place. Then I wouldn't have to drive the 25 minutes to Wheaton or Cherry Hill Rd. I have to be really, really motivated to need something from a Target 30 minutes away.

Anonymous said...

Why not just head to Columbia Heights? Just hop on 14th Street and you're there much quicker than that. And there's a parking garage in the building. Or Metro/bus.

JS said...

"Repositioning," eh? Any chance of just repositioning the whole building somewhere out of the county?

Or - I've got it! Indoor skate park!

Anonymous said...

or a Michaels craft store...or an urban outfitters...or even an indoor mini golf in one of those vast empty spaces

AverageBro.com said...

A Walmart store makes all kinds of common sense. Anyone remember the Caldor store that was once in that building over near the "Silver Spring"? It was very convenient. Putting a big box store in CityPlace would be a major coup, and likely have a positive effect on the other merchants.

Of course, I can already hear the NIMBY and anti-Walmart factions foaming at the mouth. This would never happen in MoCo.

Short of this, there's no way this "mall" is ever going to be remotely functional. There is too much similar, competing retail in Wheaton/Rockville for us to get anything of that sort here, so folks should just give that idea up.

How about a "sports arena" that could serve as the long needed venue for county graduations and similiar ceremonies? Gut the inside of the building and build an 8,000 seat multi-purpose arena.

Are my ideas too far fetched?

Anonymous said...

Giant indoor skate park.
PROBLEM: SOLVED.

Anonymous said...

Um, somehow I don't think that the buyer is going to recoup its $22 million investment by building an indoor skate park.

I also don't think Target or Macys would go for another location so close to those that they already have in the area.

BTW, if you have a car, it's much faster to get to the Target in Wheaton than the one in Columbia Heights. Not even close to 25 minutes from DTSS to Wheaton; maybe 15 minutes tops.

Springvale Roader said...

Why not just ask, what do we need in DTSS? The list includes:

A good department store.
Decent clothing stores.
Kitchen supplies store.
Furniture/home accessories store.
Specialty food stores.
A tobacco shop.
Tech stores.

And the other usual stuff found in real malls.

Personally, I'd love to see an indoor rock climbing venue. Who wants to go to Rockville for that?

Anonymous said...

I just moved to downtown Silver Spring in June. City Place does stink! The only good thing is the girl at the eyebrow threading kiosk & Ben & Jerry's. We need a TARGET within walking distance. IT would be nice if they put real stores there and made it look like a real mall. Instead of being a disaster & waste of space in the middle of a really cool downtown setting!

Sk8ter Mom said...

Meanwhile, there may soon be empty space across the street from City Place:

American Apparel Bankruptcy Appears Likely

Anonymous said...

Well, at least The Hutensky Group specializes in repositioning retail centers just like City Place (small enclosed urban mall with lots of vacancies & underperforming tenants). Their Web site looks like it's from 1995, but hey, that doesn't mean they won't actually do something beneficial with the mall...ANYTHING would be better than what is there now. Hopefully they will embark on a holistic repositioning, rather than one tenant/space at a time.

Anonymous said...

I found this encouraging article on ChainstoreAge.com (now there's a trade mag that must be some compelling bedtime reading).

Hutensky Capital Partners acquires City Place Mall

Hartford, Conn. ( August 11, 2010 ) Hutensky Capital Partners said it has acquired City Place Mall, a 350,000-sq.-ft. shopping center in Silver Spring, Md., from an affiliate of Petrie Ross Ventures for $22.8 million in a three-party deal that included a discounted payoff of 100% of the property’s outstanding debt.

An affiliate of the seller will manage and lease the property and lead the redevelopment process.

“We were attracted by the property’s location in the central business district of Silver Spring, a vibrant urban area with proven retail performance,” said Brad Hutensky, HCP’s general partner. “However, like many properties today, the asset was overleveraged. By providing a big chunk of fresh capital, we were able to find a middle ground for settlement that the lender and borrower could agree to. The result is that we now own a debt-free property that can be redeveloped to meet its full potential.”

gingerR said...

Look at who they have leasing opportunities with now:

http://www.hutenskygroup.com/lease2.html

I doubt Kroger's will go there - not enough parking, but maybe a Loehman's. They'd probably be in synch with the exisitng Marshall's and DSW around the corner.

Springvale Roader's list has already been there and failed, so generally I think it'll be dissapointing, but you never know....

Metro Rider said...

Marshall's is the best thing in that mall! I hope they don't get rid of it.

Springvale Roader said...

@GingerR:

Springvale Roader's list has already been there and failed, so generally I think it'll be dissapointing, but you never know....

True, but that was before DTSS rebirth and all the new condos and apartment buildings. Putting it bluntly, that was before the large influx of new residents with money. All those new members of our happy little community need to buy stuff, and right now, they're buying that stuff in Bethesda or Rockville. Methinks they'll buy it here, if it's offered.

Anonymous said...

I remember opening day of the brand-new city place mall back in 1992, they had ads running on all the metrorail trains throughout the DC area about the grand opening, every floor was jam packed with people roughly 35% was still vacant storefronts. It wasn't a very nice first impression for all the people from the area that came by for the opening. The Nordstrom Rack and Ross were the "anchors" but their selections were horrible. I guess it didn't help that the AMC 10 movie theatre brought in a lot of riff-raff from DC and PG. Does anyone remember the Mohammed Ali Rotisserie Chicken joint at what is now Taste of Morocco? Didn't they also have a Roy Rogers Express in the food court? Sigh!

Pat said...

Marshalls should stay, they actually have some pretty good deals sometimes. Blue Pearl Buffet always seems to be busy on the weekends. Burlington can go in my opinion. It's a shame that Discovery doesn't do a museum exhibit thing...that would go great in the rest of the mall space.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again. Another one of these episodic posts where every comment is another tedious and pointless list of stores that the commenter would like to see in DTSS. Like anyone that matters is paying attention, or it really influences the outcome. I’m sure we’ll go through this painful exercise in collective wish-lists again in a few months, when the next post about retail appears on one of these blogs.

Monkey said...

Aww is everything ok there snugglepuss?

Anonymous said...

Why not gut the thing and make it residential? It might change the makeup of Downe Towne Centre Towne if people actually lived there.

Easley Does It said...

Wow, I'd completely forgotten about the Muhammed Ali Chicken! Also, at some point, it was a Three Brothers Pizza. That wasn't bad.

I was there on opening day too. People who weren't living or working in SS then don't realize how exciting that was.

Anonymous said...

NO TARGET! I will not shop at a place that supports discrimination against gay men and women.

So that means no Wal-Mart either.

Give me a Meijer Thrifty Acres.

Patrick Thornton said...

Malls are inherently not good urban design. They are a suburban product. Now that DTSS is an urban area with many people living in apartments, condos and town homes, it's time to rethink the whole space.

City Place isn't big enough to be a real mall anyway. I would convert it to something else. It could easily be converted to a mixed-use residential and shopping area. The top few floors could be condos, while the bottom few floors could be retail. They could just extend the second floor area by all the restaurants on Ellsworth to include a new redesigned outdoor second level for City Place.

Or City Place could be redone to house office space. My guess is that City Place is structurally sound. All that would need to be done is a cosmetic makeover to make it look like the other buildings on Ellsworth.

I just don't see the solution to City Place to make it into a nicer mall. The solution is to make it not a mall.

Look at how successful Ellsworth is. The problem isn't the location. It's the whole concept of City Place.

I'm one of those newer residents to DTSS. I like the area, but I don't spend that much money there because there isn't anything that interests me. If I had to actually buy something besides food (DTSS has good restaurants), I'd have to go into DC, to Bethesda or even to NOVA. I don't own a car, so I'm not venturing off to some suburban mall.

Fixing City Place is the key to DTSS reaching its potential. That's a very nice piece of land by occupied by something utterly worthless that causes people to not want to come to the area.

Anonymous said...

How about another Port Discovery?

Anonymous said...

I am thinking giant aquarium here. Fill it up with water and throw in a few sharks, some corals, a random skateboarder or thug wannabee and call it a day. Install "chomps" from the Discovery blgd permanently on the exterior.

Anonymous said...

IHATEYUPPIES SAID...

Fix Shitty Place?

Ever heard of a wrecking ball?

-IHY-

Anonymous said...

I also hope Marshall's stays. If I have to choose between a vibrant, revitalized City Place and $12 jeans, I'll take the $12 jeans every time.

lilkunta said...

i too remember when shitty place was city place. the food court has roy rogers, dim sum, cookies, burger king. there was nordstrom rack, arcade, claires, deb.

it used to be fun.

C. P. Zilliacus said...

I recall in the mid-1990's when some of the usual suspects in the Montgomery County anti-auto and anti-highway industry (such as the Sierra Club and M-ICC) claimed that if the InterCounty Connector were ever to be built, then City Place and the rest of downtown Silver Spring would be destroyed in favor of a large mall at Konterra south of Laurel in Prince George's County.

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