Washington Post: Barnes & Noble to Open Store for Catholic University in Northeast D.C.

September 04, 2013

Published in the Washington Post

There are few sure bets for bookstores these days but college campuses remain one of them.

Bookseller Barnes & Noble said Wednesday that it will open a 14,000-square-foot new store in Brookland in 2014 that will serve as the college bookstore for the Catholic University of America.

The store will serve as an anchor for the university’s Monroe Street Market project, a $200 million mixed-use project that is under construction on nine acres adjacent to a Red Line Metro station in the Brookland neighborhood.

Barnes & Noble has been the college’s bookseller since last year, but the new stand-alone store will feature two levels, a Starbucks and Catholic-branded gear in the middle of a new artist-themed development on the university’s south campus. The store will face Monroe Street between Michigan Avenue and 7th Street in Northeast.

Catholic president John Garvey said in a press release the deal “represents an exciting continuation of a positive relationship that our University has enjoyed with this major bookstore company.”

The project is a rare chance for Barnes & Noble to expand at a time as online book sales continue to gut its book store business, an industry overhaul that brought down top competitor Borders two years ago.

Barnes & Noble has had to rethink strategy in recent years. Once heralded for its foresight in developing the Nook tablet, sales of the device and the company’s e-books have fallen so far that Barnes & Noble announced this summer that it will stop producing them.

William J. Lynch Jr. resigned as chief executive in July and last month company chairman Leonard S. Riggio ditched a plan he had floated to buy the company’s 675 stores from the company, which would have essentially divided it in half. The head of the Barnes & Noble retail division recently sold some 400,000 shares of stock in the company for about $6 million.

College campuses have provided a rare respite and in Brookland — a leafy neighborhood in Northeast D.C. that has seen little retail additions in years — it will have a college campus and a neighborhood nearby all to itself with hundreds of new residents.

The project is set to bring 720 apartments and 45 townhomes to the neighborhood, as well as a college main street with 83,000 square feet of street-level retail, 15,000 square feet of artists’ studio space and 850 below-grade parking spaces. It is being developed by a partnership between Catholic, D.C. developer Jim Abdo, the Bozzuto Group of Greenbelt and Pritzker Realty Group.

“Barnes & Noble College is very excited to anchor the new Monroe Street Market development project in Washington, D.C.,” said Max J. Roberts, chief executive of Barnes & Noble College, in the release. “We’re confident that The Catholic University of America Bookstore will be an outstanding addition to Monroe Street Market and will offer students, faculty, alumni and local residents an exceptional shopping experience and first-class customer service.”