​Amid bad retail news, new kids clothing store comes to underserved Ward 7

Washington Business Journal
by Rebecca Cooper
February 3, 2016

This year has already been a rough one for retail news coming out of D.C.’s Ward 7, with the announcement last month that Wal-Mart would not open two planned big box stores there, but there’s a glimmer of retail hope for the underserved part of town.

America’s Kids, a discount children’s retailer that sells clothing, toys and necessities including strollers and furniture, opened an 11,000-square-foot store Wednesday near the Minnesota Avenue Metro station on the Orange Line.

The store is in the Park 7 mixed-use development from Donatelli Development, which opened in 2015 with 376 apartments and 20,000 square feet of retail. The building’s residences are fully leased, and about 16,000 square feet of the retail space is spoken for, said CEO Chris Donatelli.

America’s Kids is affiliated with Young World, which has locations in the Iverson Mall in Prince George’s County and in Baltimore.

Donatelli expects the store will do well, given its proximity to the Metro and the concentration of families nearby, he said. He’s been encouraged by the leasing at the building so far, he added. Sala Thai, one of the only non-carryout restaurants in the neighborhood, opened last year, and a combination Dunkin’ Donuts-Baskin Robbins location opened in January. Donatelli is looking for another fast-casual restaurant and perhaps another neighborhood-oriented retailer to lease the remaining spaces.

“I think there’s an attraction to being right at Metro, and being in a new building,” he said. The location does have some retail parking, though Donatelli expects most customers to come on foot.

The area around the Minnesota Avenue Metro station has been targeted for retail development for several years, although change has been slow to come. In 2009, WDCEP identified the Minnesota Avenue-Benning Road intersection as the area with “more potential to become a neighborhood-serving, and perhaps even a regional” retail destination.

The majority of retail space is inhabited by quick-service restaurants, as well as a few soft goods and discount stores, including Payless ShoeSource and Foot Locker.

It’s still unclear what is to become of the two Wal-Mart-anchored developments that were slated to come to Ward 7, Skyland Town Center and Capitol Gateway, the latter of which is just a mile from the Park 7 project.

Rebecca Cooper covers retail, restaurants, tourism and the arts.