The Shay – An Evolved Style of Life
The Shay and Atlantic Plumbing are six buildings that were acquired and developed simultaneously all within two blocks of one another. Due to their proximity and unique location on the fringe of a developing neighborhood, a significant retail master-planning and merchandising effort was necessary in order to achieve the rent and sales targets for the multifamily units. At just over 1.5 million square feet there was significant value to be added through creative retail efforts. A number of innovative planning, development and leasing strategies were implemented:
We first focused on the local market. At the time, the restaurant scene was booming but we knew we needed something different to set this neighborhood apart. Retail had lost any real home in DC. Georgetown – the traditional shopping and retail area – had lost sway with new emerging markets who focus on consumers, yet as rents quickly escalated, developers picked the low-hanging fruit retailers who couldn’t gain a foothold. So we began studying markets around the country and were inspired by hip new developments that blended both food and retail, such as Union Way in Portland, Westside in Atlanta, Hayes Valley in San Fran.
We took this retail centric approach and began to merchandise towards select retailers that were driving trends. Our new retail “anchors” were only 2,000 square feet, but they held enormous brand power amongst the growing trend of online retailers beginning to pursue brick and mortar. These were Warby Parker, Steven Alan, and Aesop. Convincing these brands to come to a neighborhood that had no retail was no easy feat but it was accomplished and set the groundwork to fill the remainder of the spaces in the project. We leased our restaurants last which got us a 50% premium over the then market rents. Due to our retail leasing efforts we were able to secure best-in-class restaurants, and then attract additional retailers.
We leased to the first ever urban format Landmark theater, which was custom designed at 10,000 square feet with six screens for an urban prototype which is now being rolled out across the country. Warby Parker’s sales surpassed their Georgetown volumes and have caused them to approach their national strategy entirely differently. Finally the retail effort culminated with the lease of a 50,000 square foot Whole Foods, the closest Whole Foods to an existing unit anywhere in the country outside of Manhattan.
Because this was a new neighborhood we developed innovative strategies for supporting the retailers and driving residential rents and sales. As far as we are aware it was the first ever effort by a Landlord to develop a social media brand for a neighborhood – @dcitystyle – which was then utilized to direct traffic to special events, retailer sales, and apartment rentals. Apartment rents exceeded the then market average by over 30% reaching top of the market per square foot numbers. Similarly our condos projected at $600 per square foot broke $900 on average. Creative architecture, public space planning, master merchandising retail, best in class building amenities, and maintaining the character of one of DC’s most distinct neighborhoods led to a series of buildings that redefined an entire submarket of Washington DC.