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Real Estate

A New Retail Look for East of the River


East of the River is often considered DC’s final frontier and an area outside of “DC proper.” Booming development in places like Navy Yard and the SW Waterfront has now pushed back traditional boundaries and spread into neighborhoods like Anacostia and Congress Heights. The two eastern neighborhoods have big changes coming in the form of multiple major mixed use projects and new retailers entering the zone.

“It’s exciting news for local developers – this part of SE will no longer be a retail and restaurant desert,” said Gerard DiRuggiero, Principal Broker of UrbanLand Company. “There is going to be a renaissance of big box retail, niche national brands, and locally owned DC ‘craft’ businesses flooding in, creating a great environment for new smaller developments and infill projects. Developers will want to capitalize on the attention from homebuyers here as major projects get underway and become tangible.”

East of the river has historically been a giant residential zone with a scarcity of retail, grocery and restaurant options. Tangible change is occurring. Starbucks has committed to its first stand-alone location right near Anacostia METRO along with Busboys and Poets opening up this year. Chipotle will appear at The Shops at Park Village next to Giant on Alabama Avenue in Congress Heights.  The 50 acre site around The Shops at Park Village could become another retail destination as Alabama Avenue becomes an artery connecting upcoming new residential projects.

Skyland Town Center
This mixed use project is about 2 miles from Anacostia and Congress Heights METRO stations. WC Smith and Rappaport will be developing 500 apartments and 320,000 sq. ft. of retail. Construction is already underway on the first phase. The project has CVS as a 10,000 sq. ft. tenant, and sooner or later a major player will take the space that Walmart walked away from in 2016. They backed out of a plan to anchor this project as part of closing 150 stores in the US. The move had nothing to do with Skyland Town Center and everything to due with Walmart’s issues that year.  Developers of this project have been on the retail convention circuit and have been meeting with potential new anchors. “Something big” or several medium-sized big box retailers will take the space at some point.

St. Elizabeth’s East
Constructions begins this Summer on Phase 1 of the St. Elizabeth’s East development near the Congress Heights METRO. In Phase 1, 7 historic buildings will be converted to 252 mixed income apartments, followed by 100 townhomes, a 217,000 sq. ft. office building, and 38,000 sq. ft. of retail. St. Elizabeth’s is also the future home of the new NBA Wizards practice facility and Washington Mystic’s home game arena. This alone is a $65 million project that will draw supporting retailers to the immediate area.

Columbian Quarter
This is a five building project across the street from Anacostia’s METRO station. The site on Poplar Point overall is 6.2 acres and includes 1.7 million sq. ft. of office, 700 residential units and 50,000 sq. ft. of retail. Besides the much-needed 50,000 sq. ft. of retail in the neighborhood, the real story here is the office space. Columbian Quarter WILL end up the home of major employers – the project was in the running already for the new Department of Labor agency lease and was 1 of DC’s 4 proposed sites for Amazon HQ2. DC is ranked by outsiders as in the back half of the Top 20 final contenders, so it is probably not occurring, but it sure was fun being in the running!

“It is not just Southeast where this is occurring. If you head up a little north along the Anacostia River Park, you run into another boom that has spread east. There is currently a bleed of development and major future pipeline of projects  coming out from Benning Road, NE from the starburst intersection, H Street and Bladensburg Road, NE. Our 2nd regional headquarters and developer resource center is now open and operates from Bladensburg Road,NE, another strip where $700 million+ in development is starting to occur.”

Call 202.759.4114 for development assistance in SE or NE, or by email.

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