- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 24, 2001

LAS VEGAS Discount retail chain Kmart, already planning a new store in Northeast, is looking to build several more stores in the District, development officials said yesterday.

"Several other sites are under consideration," said R. Richard Walker, the Detroit developer who works closely with the Troy, Mich., retailer. "Kmart has identified D.C. as a market it wants to be in."

The chain wants to build two more Kmarts in the city and is looking at sites in Northeast and Southeast, said retail officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The discounter may add two more locations in the future.

Mr. Walker's firm, Graimark/ Walker, is developing a 112,000-square-foot Kmart at the Brentwood impound lot between Rhode Island Avenue and Brentwood Road in Northeast.

That 21-acre property near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station also will house a 118,000-square-foot Home Depot and a nearly 54,000-square-foot Giant Food store. Construction is expected to begin in the next several weeks with a simultaneous opening of all three retailers early next summer, Mr. Walker said.

"Washington is a big urban community … that is underserved," he said. "This was a unique opportunity at Rhode Island, because it was large enough to accommodate not just a Kmart."

Finding a site large enough for huge stores when developing in Washington and other urban communities is challenging, said Gary D. Rappaport, president of the Rappaport Cos. in Vienna, Va., which developed the shopping center along H Street, between 8th and 10th streets in Northeast.

The Brentwood development is expected to jump-start more development of big retailers in the District. The city has a lack of "big box" retailers and other quality retail in its neighborhoods.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams and a delegation of D.C. officials traveled to the International Council of Shopping Centers' spring convention this week to pitch the District to potential retailers. The District has a list of about 45 retailers it wants in the city, including Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and Bed, Bath and Beyond.

About 25 percent of deals in the retail industry are signed or conceived during the convention.

Planning of the Brentwood site began about two years ago. Once Kmart had signed on to the project, the other retailers fell into place.

"Kmart was the spark and impetus for other retailers to consider that site," Mr. Walker said.

Projects like the Brentwood site are exactly what the District needs, Mr. Rappaport said.

"Good development brings more development," he said. "Retail is a stimulus and a catalyst for a local community's growth and meeting the needs of that community."

Kmart has been focusing heavily on development in urban communities around the country. Mr. Walker is working with the discounter in other cities, such as Detroit and Newark, N.J.

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