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Closing the Gap

Residents stymied in search for androgynous khakis.

Shoppers at the Potomac Village shopping center may have noticed some moving trucks on April 30. The GAP store there ceased operations.

“They just decided they didn’t want to renew their lease,” said Elie Pisarra-Cain, Potomac resident and a partial owner of the property.

The center’s management company, Randall Hagner, Ltd., is currently seeking a new tenant. “We’ve had a few prospects that have come close,” said George Voris, senior vice-president for Randall Hagner.

Although a nearby property which now houses the Imaginarium sat empty for approximately one year, Voris is optimistic. “We have a feeling that it’s going to go soon,” he said. “We have no other vacancies.”

The space is 3,840 square feet, and while the rent is negotiable, Voris says it is in the range of $60 per foot or $230,000 per year. “Even though the economy in general has been rather rough, the retail market has remained strong, particularly in Potomac,” Voris said.

Like much of Potomac, space costs more than in other parts of the region. David Cravedi of the Ezra Company commercial realty says he looked at properties in Washington’s affluent Cleveland Park neighborhood that lease for $50. “That was on Connecticut Avenue,” Cravedi said.

Space in Bethesda would also lease for about $40-50 according to Susan Arrowsmith, a principal at Asset Strategies commercial real estate. Arrowsmith estimates that other parts of the county such as Silver Spring might lease for as little $20.

“Potomac has such a finite amount of space, $60 sounds about right to me,” she said.

Although the management company is not in active negotiations with a prospective tenant, some hope that the store goes to a smaller operation.

“I would much rather have mom and pop stores,” said Adam Greenberg, a member of the board of the Potomac Chamber of Commerce.

Smaller, locally owned businesses are more in keeping with the character of the town, Greenberg said. “Hopefully, they’ll be able to find a local person to open something there.”