Washington Post article

Luxury Retailers Agree to Occupy Chevy Chase Development

By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 24, 2005; Page E02

Chevy Chase Land Co. said yesterday that it signed six luxury retailers for a new $165 million office and retail complex that it will build along Wisconsin Avenue in Chevy Chase.

The retailers are Tiffany & Co., Cartier, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, MaxMara and Ralph Lauren. Their stores will be part of a 112,000-square-foot strip of one- and two-story storefronts to be called the Collection. The site in the 5400 block of Wisconsin Avenue, which is now vacant, sits between a Saks Fifth Avenue store and a now-closed Clyde's restaurant.

The developer said that Clyde's will reopen this summer and that most of the new upscale stores are scheduled to open in October.

"For all of these tenants, this was a chance to . . . be all together, with one luxury brand right next to the other," said Douglas M. Firstenberg, project manager for the Chevy Chase complex.

Jewelers Tiffany's and Cartier are moving to the development from smaller stores across Wisconsin Avenue. A spokesman said Tiffany's won't move until 2006, when its lease at 5500 Wisconsin Ave. expires. "Finally we'll be surrounded by other high-caliber stores," said Mirella Levinas, manager of the existing Cartier store.

Edward Hall Asher, president of Chevy Chase Land, a private real estate company, said the Collection is getting rental rates "as high as $150 a square foot," which would make it some of the highest-priced retail space in the region, according to brokers and developers.

Most of the stores lined up for the development already have a presence in the Washington area, many at Tysons Corner, although the developer said the Christian Dior store will be the first in the area. "Is it the most unique thing in the area? No," said John Asadoorian, president of Asadoorian Retail Solutions in the District, referring to the tenant lineup so far. "But does it put Chevy Chase on the map? Yes."

The Chevy Chase area is attractive to high-end retailers because the median household income is $102,131 a year, compared with the area's median of $69,515, according to research firm Delta Associates. In the past, such retailers often went to suburban malls because ample space was available quickly, brokers said.

Each of the retailers at the Collection is expected to offer the latest prototype of its stores, the developer said. For example, MaxMara will offer a sit-down restaurant along with women's fashions, according to Iraklis Karabassis, a consultant for Chevy Chase Land.

In addition to the new upscale tenants at the Collection, the abutting Chevy Chase Center will include a 200,000-square-foot corporate headquarters for mall developer Mills Corp. An additional 100,000 square feet is being reserved for neighborhood shops, including a pizza parlor, ice cream and candy store, a dry cleaner and two banks, the developer said, and those shops are expected to open in spring 2006. There will be 1,400 parking spaces, all but 250 of them underground.

The site was once part of a farm, then became a hunt club in the 1890s. Former Nevada senator Francis G. Newlands bought the land and built a shopping center in the 1950s. It was renovated in the 1980s and demolished in February 2004. Planning for the latest project started in 1995.

Across Wisconsin Avenue from the new project, New England Development is building a large office, residential and retail complex to include a Hecht's department store and Whole Foods Market at Wisconsin and Western avenues at the Friendship Heights Metro station.

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