- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Washington area is the bull’s-eye for retailers who attended last week’s annual Mid-Atlantic meet and greet sponsored by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

JW Tumbles, a gym and learning center for children ages 4 months to 9 years, is scouting six locations to open in the Washington area by the end of this year and six more by the end of 2007.

The company opened its first Washington-area location in Arlington last year, and it’s already the company’s best-performing store in the country, Ash Robinson, vice president for business development, told retail and real-estate developers Thursday.

Blue Tulip, an upscale shop that sells cards, candles, gifts and party decorations, has signed a lease to open its first location in the Washington area at West Ox Road and Fair Lakes Parkway in Fair Lakes. The four-year-old chain, which operates nine stores in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, has plans to open five others in the area this year.

Rita’s Water Ice, a Bensalem, Pa., chain that sells Italian ice, cream ice, frozen custard and gelati, is among the restaurant chains eyeing the Washington area.

Rita’s has one location on Rhode Island Avenue in Northeast, but most of the chain’s shops are in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and parts of Maryland. The company is focusing on moving south and is looking for locations in Northern Virginia and the District.

At least two Chinese fast casual restaurants are looking for locations downtown near office buildings with high daytime populations.

Chin’s Asia Fresh, a chain with locations in Wisconsin and Minnesota, is scouting its first Washington-area site.

Chin’s dishes, which include lettuce wrap appetizers for $5.50 and stir-fry meals from $5.95 to $8, are made, or “wok’d” as they say, to order. The Bloomington, Minn., chain plans to open three locations this year and five to eight in 2007 and 2008.

Panda Express has about 10 locations in the Washington suburbs and is hoping for eight to 10 in the District.

“They like the entire metropolitan region but they like the city for the density,” said Keith Sellars, director of retail development at the Washington, DC Economic Partnership.

Saladworks, a fast-food chain that sells salads, soups and sandwiches, plans to open six to eight locations this year in the District and Maryland. Next year, it plans to target Virginia.

Saladworks, a Conshohocken, Pa., company, has shops in Union Station and Harbor Place in Baltimore, but most of its locations are in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

In other news …

• Vida Fitness, a fitness center and spa, leased 28,000 square feet of space in the Verizon Center at Seventh and F streets Northwest. Vida expects to open its first Washington-area location this summer.

• Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants Group LLC, the owner of Hotel George, Topaz Hotel and Hotel Monaco in the District, purchased the Holiday Inn Select on King Street in Old Town Alexandria. The chain and ING Clarion, a New York equity firm, will spend $22 million to upgrade the building into a 241-room Hotel Monaco.

The Hotel Monaco, the chain’s first hotel in Virginia, is expected to be open by mid-2007.

• Retail & Hospitality runs Mondays. Contact Jen Haberkorn at 202/636-4836 or [email protected]

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