According to a story in the Washington Post Business Section, two different developers have purchased property in the Rhode Island Place shopping center. While the shopping center is probably best known for the Home Depot, it is a separate entity and was not involved in any purchases. Once parcel of land purchased is called the Brentwood Shopping Center, and currently contains the TJ Maxx, Foot Locker, Radio Shack and CitiBank and equals 57,529 square feet of retail space. I wouldn’t get too excited about it being transformed into something new soon though, as an earlier WaPo article about the property noted that the spaces are fully leased and those leases would have to expire or be renegotiated to even begin something new. Another developer purchased the property that contains the Giant supermarket. Again, it appears that the developer isn’t looking to make major changes there soon either. Personally, I avoid shopping the Giant as much as possible. So, while this news may be kind of a nothingburger, it was still interesting for me to learn that 1) the retail properties are broken out this way 2) investors are interested in RIA even if it is long-term. I am guessing that the level of success of the Rhode Island Row development may dictate how quickly these other developers move on making changes. Quite frankly, what is really needed is an overhaul of the whole retail and parking layout. For a location directly on the Metro, it is not pedestrian friendly at all, not to mention the vast, impervious waste of space that is the parking lot. We will keep our eyes on things and keep you updated.
(Hat Tip: Friends of Rhode Island/FoRIA)
The newest entrant to the Rhode Island Shopping Center – Big Lots! – has arrived. The actual “Grand Opening” is Friday November 16th at 9:00 am, but they opened their doors yesterday. One door down from the massive Foreman Mills Store, and just in time for the Holiday Season, I ventured to check it out. I had been to a Big Lots! once, a long while ago, so I had an idea of what it would be like. I checked out the weekly circular on line before I went: $20 kitchen appliances like Croc-Pots, $8 pyjama pants, $299 recliners, hmmmm, not too excited. I’m kind of anti pac-rat, so I don’t buy much “stuff”. But, since they advertised holiday decor, which I am big on, I figured it is worth a look. I’ll be honest, I went with low expectations.
My first impression upon walking through the door was – wow! – so bright, clean, well-organized and stocked to the brim. (If you shopped at The TJ Maxx when they first opened then you will remember how sparsely they stocked the store at first.) The store is definitely bigger than I thought it would be, and I was encouraged by the amount good brand-named products. It has a bunch of departments – Home, Furniture, Food, Seasonal, Toys, Pets, Automotive, Electronics, – you get the idea. So, basically it is like a smaller, slightly lower quality Target, without a clothing section. I think this store is a good reflection of the collective market in our neck of the NE woods. It is way higher in quality than Foreman Mills, and the staff was clearly well trained and super polite. I can see just about everybody shopping here. Quite frankly, I don’t see why anyone will need to leave the neighborhood anymore to go to a Target or Walmart type store. No, it isn’t Pottery Barn. But, what an incredible leap forward it is from the run-down Safeway (with metal detectors at the door) that occupied this space 3 years ago.
Big Lots! is located at 524 Rhode Island Avenue NE Suite C. They are open Monday – Saturday from 9:00 am – 9:00 pm. and Sunday 10:00 am – 7:00 pm.
Last week we asked that the community help out with testifying to secure funding for improvements to Rhode Island Avenue NE under the Great Streets Program . This Thursday, November 8, 2012, the avenue was well represented at the DC City Council’s Committee on Economic Development and Housing hearing. I testified along with community leaders and organizations, and guest blogged about it for the Friends of Rhode Island (FoRIA) website. We will keep you up to date on any developments.
Rhode Island Avenue NE and North Capitol Street were designated “Great Streets” a number of years ago. So what does that mean? The Great Streets Program is a long-term effort to “transform nine under-invested corridors into thriving and inviting neighborhood centers”. The central idea is to use public actions and tools to spur private investment. For example, H St. NE is one of these Great Streets, as well as parts of Columbia Heights. So, great news then, right? Not really – there was never any funding set aside for RIA and North Capitol St. Enter our new Councilmember McDuffie and CM Brown. They have introduced the Retail Incentive Amendment Act of 2012. The purpose of the bill is to insure funding for Great Streets projects within Ward 5. We need this legislation to pass if we are ever to get our fair share of funding for things like infrastructure improvements. The hearing for this bill will take place on Thursday, Nov 8, starting at 11am. So, how about taking a stand and testifying on behalf of RIA and North Capitol Street? “But Shani”- you say – “I’ve never testified. I have no idea what to say!” No worries. Sign up to testify via the good folks at the Friends of Rhode Island Avenue (FoRIA) and they will follow up with all the information you need on how to sign up to testify, what to expect at the hearing and what talking points to mention during your testimony. You can do this. “But Shani”- you say – “I have a job/kids/etc.! I can’t make it to the hearing!” Ok then, how about submitting written testimony? FoRIA will help you out with that too. When it comes to how government dollars are invested, things don’t happen by accident – the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
This is turning out to be a terrible crime week for our neck of the woods. Reader JD passed along this story about a home invasion and assault at the nearby Rhode Island Row apartments. The assault happened Friday, several news outlets covered it Wednesday, and I have looked around and have not found any updates since then. So, I am assuming the suspect is still at large. MPD has released surveillance video footage of a suspect, which you can see here. Police are asking that if you know anything about the case or recognize the man in the photo above/video please contact police at 202-727-9099 or text a tip to 50411. According to NBC 4 Washington:
A 24-year-old woman remains in critical condition after being beaten, kicked her and stabbed by a man who forced his way inside her apartment Friday…She was stabbed and slashed numerous times, including on her face.
Very chilling. Our prayers go out the young lady and her family/friends and our thoughts are with the residents of Rhode Island Row Apartments. Let’s hope they find the person who did this crime soon.
The Friends of Rhode Island Avenue, the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the DC Department of Housing and Community Development are hosting their first Fall Fest celebration on Saturday, September 22nd, noon-4pm, on Rhode Island Avenue NE between South Dakota Avenue NE and 20th St NE.
The celebration will be an annual event to bring together residents and local businesses and showcase the great potential of Rhode Island Avenue NE as a great small business destination. Several local businesses are already signed up to sponsor the party including Art Enables, Rita’s, DC Brau, and Lace.
This celebration is a short walk for Brooklanders and has a lot of significance for the neighborhood, as business development along Rhode Island Avenue NE will directly improve the retail and amenity establishments available.
(Hat tip to Rhode Island Avenue NE Insider for the story.)
The City Paper and the Rhode Island Avenue NE Insider are reporting that Douglas Development maybe preparing to develop the rather dilapidated warehouse properties they own just off Rhode Island Avenue along the Metro.
If I remember correctly, the first I heard of this development was via some chatter on the Brookland Yahoo! listserv in May and June. I believe this development was also discussed at an ANC 5B04 meeting recently. The photo to the left was taken from the City Paper article. While I am certainly not against transforming blighted buildings into housing, I am not exactly enthusiastic about this development yet.
First, why apartments? Between the recently completed Rhode Island Row development and the recently approved 901 Monroe development, it seems like our corner of the city is getting a lot of new apartment space as opposed to condominiums, rowhouses and single family homes. Secondly, it appears that the plan calls for an awful lot of flat parking lot and really no green space to speak of. The City Paper article indicates that Douglas is in the very early stages of planning, so there should be time for the community to address these issues.