GW to help strategize for area’s retail growth

The University has teamed up with local business and community organizations to collaborate on Foggy Bottom’s retail development over the next five years.

Greg Snyder, treasurer for the Foggy Bottom Association who helped ink the agreement, said the partnership aims to support current businesses in the area and attract new retailers that complement existing ones based on neighbors’ preferences.

“We’ve just agreed to try to work together,” Snyder said. “We’ll develop more concrete plans to support existing business and attract more stores in the future.”

He said he wanted GW to join the partnership in particular because the University owns academic and commercial buildings with street-level retail, such as the block of shops along Pennsylvania Avenue. The University also plans to rent out space in multiple buildings now under construction.

The partners will host workshops for start-ups and businesses that want to expand, research where certain services are lacking in the area and work with local government agencies.

“GW has a history of working with neighbors on a variety of initiatives and we welcome opportunities to collaborate on areas of shared interest,” Senior Associate Vice President for Operations Alicia Knight, who signed the agreement on behalf of the University, wrote in an email.

GW, the FBA and the Washington Circle Business Association – a nonprofit that strives to develop business in the Foggy Bottom and West End neighborhood – signed the agreement in February. The Penzance Companies, which own the Watergate buildings, are also a member.

Snyder said the group would ask other large businesses and real estate companies to join over time.

A 2010 survey by the FBA found that residents largely disapproved of large chain stores.

“There was a definite preference to having the kind of retailers that would support residents’ day-to-day needs,” such as full-service grocery stores and reasonably priced restaurants, Snyder said.

The partnership does not set binding obligations, and has ruled out financial contributions as a requirement for membership.

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