Discount fashion retailer H&M opens Thursday in Old Town Alexandria, filling a space that has been vacant or under construction since Restoration Hardware closed in January 2012.
H&M is opening in an 18,000-square-foot space at 614 King Street NW, one of the larger retail spaces on a strip largely occupied by smaller, sidewalk-fronting retail.
Most of Old Town's restaurant and retail is still operated by independents, 80 percent in 2012, as Patch reported. Old Town is operating at a retail vacancy rate of about 3 percent, according to the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership.
Two large vacancies make up a big chunk of that: The food pavilion building on the waterfront at the end of King Street and 100 King Street, most recently home to Red Curry restaurant.
The food court-style pavilion, which has been empty since December 2011, is 9,000 square feet. The company that operated the food court is actively seeking a large restaurant tenant for the space rather than marketing it for several small fast-casual vendors, as was the previous arrangement.
The 7,800-square-foot space at 100 King has also been a bit of a thorn in the retail side of Old Town, with one local blog even referring to it as a "cursed" space. Red Curry closed at the end of 2012 after operating there for three years; a restaurant called 100 King operated there before that without much success, according to posts on local restaurant forum DonRockwell.com
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