We received a nice assignment in our office the other day. Boylston Realty Advisors hired us to help them find locations for Bob’s Discount Furniture in the Washington DC metropolitan area. Boylston is the exclusive representative of the New England based furniture chain.
Never heard of them?
In 2008 Bob’s was named furniture retailer of the year by Furniture Today magazine.
When we began talking about this assignment back in the fall there appeared to be plenty of choices when it came to prime locations. Expo Design Center, Circuit City, Linens and Things, Comp USA, to name a few, have all vacated big box stores in good locations over the past two years. There would seem to ample inventory.
Looks can sometimes be deceiving in commercial real estate. Just because a building appears to be vacant doesn’t always mean that no one is paying the rent. Home Depot, for example, continues to foot the bill for many of it’s now shuttered Expo Design Centers, including the one in Columbia, with years remaining on leases. Sometimes a retailer will hold on to a good location while it contemplates other potential uses for the real estate.
On the other hand, if the retailer went bankrupt like Circuit City, it’s a horse of another color. There are choices in prime locations but the retail landscape in the Washington, DC metropolitan area is anything but bleak. Since the beginning of the year there has been a marked increase in retail activity. One active party has been hhgregg, a Best Buy competitor. They recently leased a 350,000 square foot warehouse in Prince Georges County to service new the stores they are scouting out in the area.
Bob’s leased a 679,000 square foot warehouse in Hartford County last month. The Hartco politicos will be making a big announcement about that tonight in Annapolis.
These are all good signs of a rebounding local economy.
As much as the client will allow, I’ll write an occasional post about the assignment. Since it’s an assignment that will take us all over the region it will provide an opportunity to gauge the state of growth and development all over the Baltimore and Washington, DC area.
I’ll title it the Book of Bobs.