Photo courtesy of Armature Works
Historically, Northeast Washington, D.C. has had a bit of a reputation for being the redheaded stepchild when it comes to D.C. neighborhoods. A primarily commercial and industrial area, Northeast lacks the amenities and retail that its sister quadrants enjoy; it doesn’t have a ballpark, zoo or any quaint shopping on cobblestone streets. For this reason, the area has long been overlooked by tourists and locals alike. But that’s about to change.
Over the last several years, private developers have turned their eyes to Northeast. With new mixed-use, residential and commercial developments popping up all over the area, the neighborhoods of Northeast are beginning to enjoy their own urban renaissance. With this is in mind, we took a look at a small sample of some of the blooming neighborhoods and major projects coming down the pipeline.
It’s hard to talk about growth in Northeast without touching on NoMa. Formally established as “Swampoodle,” North of Massachusetts Avenue has enjoyed a rebrand over the last several years. Private developers have invested more than $5 billion into the 35-block area, with the D.C. government committing an additional $50 million in 2013 for parks and public spaces.
Within the last five years, nearly 4,000 apartments have arrived in NoMa, along with an additional 1.3 million SF of office space and 360,000 SF of retail. With the space now available for people to live and work in NoMa, the NoMa Business Improvement District (BID) now has its eye on bringing in the amenities. Continued placemaking (or creating a community and neighborhood through public parks, restaurants, retail and other amenities) is an ongoing goal in its five-year plan, as NoMa BID aims to create and lease new restaurants, retail and continue to invest in transit.
REI’s new flagship store at the historic Uline Arena helps contribute to this vision. The recreational equipment store, which has established itself as the go-to authority for outdoor enthusiasts, is celebrating its grand opening on October 21st.
Trammell Crow Company, High Street Residential and Kochsmith Capital have also partnered to create Armature Works, a 2.43 acre mixed-use redevelopment which, at full build-out, with deliver 650 residential units, 50,000 SF retail, a hotel, 46,000 SF of open green space and a pedestrian tunnel that connects users directly to the NoMa-Gallaudet U Metro station.
North of NoMa proper is the neighborhood of Eckington, which was once home to Schlitz beer brewery and a biscuit factory. The neighborhood is about to undergo a dramatic makeover as JBG Companies and The Boundary Companies start construction on their new 3.1-acre mixed-use development ‘Eckington Yards’ next year. In true placemaking fashion, JBG and Boundary are transforming an area that is currently just a series of small commercial buildings into approximately 80,000 SF of retail, green spaces and 695 residential units. The developers are targeting the “maker” community (which includes distilleries, textile makers and other types of artists) as their prospective tenants for both residency and as tenants of their brick and mortar storefronts.
MidCity has owned the area along the Rhode Island Corridor in Brentwood for the last four decades, and as of next year its mortgage is officially paid off. MidCity is celebrating by starting construction on RIA, and impressive 20-acre community 1,760 residential units and up to 181,000 SF of commercial space, including a grocery store and retail. MidCity has committed that 22% of it’s residential units will be affordable housing, almost three times the DC requirement, with the first 200 units for seniors starting construction next year. EVP Michael Meers told Bisnow, “ More than anything we wanted to create a community of different housing types. From affordable rate housing to market rate housing, from a flat to two-over-two townhomes.”
Despite defeating the city’s plans for a six-lane highway going through Ivy City in the 1960s, the area never really evolved past industrial commercial space. The neighborhood does not have a metro and until recently did not have the retail or placemaking components that thrive in other DC neighborhoods. That was before Hecht Warehouse and Douglas Development came to play.
Douglas Development bought 30 acres of Ivy City in 2011 and has since opened Hecht Warehouse, a restored art-deco department store turned 350 apartments, surrounded by 350,000 SF of retail including Compass Coffee, Atlas Brew Works, Nike Factory Store and MOM”s Organic Market. Ivy City has enjoyed the vibrant and artistic community that have flocked to The Hecht Warehouse District, but Douglas Development’s plans for Ivy City don’t stop there. Next on the to-do list for Douglas is NewCityDC, a 15-acre mixed-use development that includes approximately 550,000 SF of retail, 422 apartments, 18 townhomes, a grocery-anchored shopping center with entertainment such as a movie theater and a dozen restaurants, and eventually a hotel. Portions of NewCityDC could deliver in 2018.