REI coming to the Uline Arena – The Before Pictures

3rd and M Street, NE

Last week we shared all the details about the flagship REI coming to NoMa. I was also able to take a peek inside for some jaw dropping “before” photos – this will definitely rank as one of more spectacular transformation when complete:


Literally holes in the ceiling:


Pipes including some used to freeze the ice – plans are to dig 5 feet down:


Top orange line (about 20 feet up) will be the ceiling height for REI.


last remnants of stadium seating:


Coming in late 2016:


20 Comment

  • Hey hey, that ~25ft height won’t make for much of a climbing wall. 😉
    (I’m guessing they’ll have a higher entrance/lobby for the wall.)

    • Prince Of Petworth

      The decision on whether or not there will be a climbing wall hasn’t been made yet for this very reason.

    • emvee

      I would pay disgusting amounts of money for access to a decent climbing wall in the city. God I hope they do it.

      • REI won’t be your savior in this regard. Even if they do it, it would be too small to be your go-to urban bouldering gym. I’ve been waiting for a gym in DC for 12+ years and I’m a little floored no one has jumped at it. Maybe this will inspire someone like Brooklyn Boulders (now in Chicago) to locate adjacent and form a little urban-outdoors hot spot.

        • Unfortunately this is true. Most REIs with climbing walls – even the flagship of flagships, their Seattle location – only operate the climbing wall a few days a week, and it’s nothing like a climbing gym.

          • emvee

            Womp womp. I recently cancelled my Earth Treks membership because Rockville was just too damn far to get out there regularly, and I miss it so.

      • Results gym has a decent climbing wall.

  • A little history about the site, which is a historic place, music-wise for DC:

  • really cool – thanks for sharing. i also finally read the piece from your last post re: the arena’s history. had no idea re: beatles concert and eisenhower’s inagural ball being there. awesome. i can’t wait to see how it turns out.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Honoring the past
      Uline Arena, also known as Washington Coliseum and The Arena, has a rich history. Opening in 1931 as the M.J. Ice Company, its success allowed Miguel Uline to construct an adjacent 8,000 seat arena. President Eisenhower hosted his first inaugural ball at the site in 1953, and professional hockey and basketball teams entertained sports fans. The building is perhaps most famous as the site of the Beatles’ first United States concert after their Ed Sullivan Show appearance in 1964. With architecturally significant features that include a concrete barrel vault roof and structural concrete arches, the Uline Arena joined the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. In partnership with Douglas Development, REI will weave in salvaged objects into its store design.

    • Yeah I’m hoping they do some Beatle’s tribute/mural, etc. I’d come just to see that!

  • I guess I was holding out hope that someone might turn this into an ice rink again, so I’m a little sad. Still, the photos look amazing.

  • The upper levels are still going to be office space, right?

  • Would be cool if they could keep some of the stadium seating, but might not fit with the plans to create two floors.

  • jim_ed

    Hey Dan, out of curiosity, were you given a tour, or is this a new feature of PoPville urban exploring?

    • it was open as a parking lot for a long time. anyone could have gone in.
      and there was a play performed in there a couple of years ago.

  • Maybe they could get creative and build a shorter, but more varied climbing wall to reflect difficult real world climbs? I’m not a climber but it seems like a little innovation could really make this an attraction.

  • brookland_rez

    With that level of deterioration, I’m surprised the roof hasn’t collapsed. I wonder how much of the inside is going to be salvaged?

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