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More from Our Retail Summit

Washington DC Retail

Creating a sense of place is a must for new retail-heavy projects, says Rappaport's Mike Howard (with Starbucks store development guru Joseph Gibbs), so having a gathering place like a restaurant to anchor something new will continue to happen. At our retail summit yesterday, Joe said that while Starbucks is hard at work on redesigns for high-volume locations (including a few in DC), nothing can replace good old-fashioned customer service, especially in a world where many people can buy everything they need online.

David M. Schwarz's Michael Swartz (with Tanger Outlets' Christi Wallace) says that while Millennials will put up with public transportation and long trips to get to a cool retail project, getting them to lift their heads from the smartphone once they've arrived is a challenge. Creating a satisfying design and experience is a must, he says. (If only there were some way to make the real world look like the one people are capturing in their Facebook photos.) Christi says Tanger's National Harbor location tries to get interactive through online deals and touch-screen maps.

Anchors away? While retail is a major component of the mixed-use projects popping up along Metro lines in the DC area, traditional anchors like department stores aren't the big draws anymore, said Cushman & Wakefield's Dave Dochter. Since consumer patterns have changed (in large part due to online shopping), restaurants, movie theaters, and even health clubs are the new generation of anchors, Dave says.

Before the event, we found MOI's Debbie Sachs and Foulger-Pratt's Greg Gouldin. Debbie says MOI is providing furniture services for Hines' new space at CityCenter, as well as Forest City's new digs down at The Yards.

We also ran in to Nats corporate hospitality rep Greg Foscato and Art Display Co's Jerry Watkins. Greg tells us excitement is in the air down at Nats Park (where Jerry's firm installed the scoreboards), due to the additions of hard-throwing Doug Fister and manager Matt Williams.

Grabbing a quick coffee before heading in to the panels: ECS Mid-Atlantic's Nicole Andrews, Metropolitan Engineering's Elsa Escobar, and Aerotek's Robert DeSana and Devin Lubking.