Big Development Coming to Rhode Island Ave breaking ground in 2017


From a press release:

“MRP Realty, developers of commercial, residential and mixed-use real estate across the Mid-Atlantic region, along with B&R Associates L.P., announced today the two have formed a joint venture to redevelop the shopping plaza known as Rhode Island Center into a thriving, multi-phase, mixed-use environment.

The first phase of the joint venture between MRP Realty and B&R Associates will include building approximately 345 residential apartment units and 47,000 square feet of retail. The project plans for a retail-activated plaza oriented to the Metropolitan Branch Trail and the new pedestrian bridge, providing access to the Rhode Island Avenue metro station. The joint venture recently retained KLNB for retail leasing, and is targeting a health club as the lead retail tenant for phase one. The architect for the residential buildings is SK&I.

“The original project was much lower in density and more geared towards auto and industrial use,”said Ryan K. Wade, founding principal of MRP Realty. “The new development will tap into the new Metro connection and the Metropolitan Branch Trail — for both cyclists and pedestrians — while still providing sufficient parking but at a level that reflects the range of transportation options.”

The architecture of the redevelopment will respond to the industrial heritage of the neighborhood and the existing industrial buildings running along the Red Line through Northeast Washington, D.C. During redevelopment, the joint venture will extend the street grid through the site and introduce a new retail main street that will run from Fourth Street NE and terminate at the public plaza in front of the Rhode Island Avenue Metro entrance. A new curb-less road will form a unique public space and create an opportunity for special event programming.

Additional plans for phase one include improving the Metropolitan Branch Trail by relocating it underneath the existing bridge to the Metro, creating additional green space along the trail and opening up the pedestrian bridge to the public plaza. By extending the cycling infrastructure from the Metropolitan Branch Trail to Fourth Street NE, bike lanes will have a dedicated, grade-separated trail improving cyclist safety. At its completion, the final product will include up to 200,000 square feet of retail to include a full-service grocer.

B&R Associates, the original developer of the shopping center over thirty years ago, will remain an active participant on the development team.

“We looked at a number of different options, including an outright sale, but the opportunity to remain involved with the project through a redevelopment joint venture with MRP received strong support from the families involved with the original development,” said Brad Bernstein, managing general partner of B&R. “We are all excited to get this project moving forward, and we intend to bring increased vitality to the immediate area at Rhode Island Avenue Metro.”

The joint venture has filed a planned unit development application for height with the city and is seeking stage two approval for phase one of the project which will aim to break ground in 2017.”

38 Comment

  • More big boxes. I guess it’s better than what’s there now…

    • brookland_rez

      Definitely an improvement. I think the boxes look fine.

      • +1. Could not be happier about this eyesore being redeveloped.

        • brookland_rez

          But where will the community get cheap clothes and crappy processed foods?
          Just kidding, but on a more serious note I do hope some kind of store like Target does move in. NE DC needs a place like that, and right now that Big Lots does fill a need. I shop there when I don’t feel like trekking over to the Columbia Heights Target or out to Hyattsville.

  • I wonder how this is going to impact development at Rhode Island Row and the nearby “Rhode Island Plaza”

    • brookland_rez

      It will bring a lot more traffic to the restaurants there. As for Rhode Island Plaza, you know it’s going to go at some point, but I suspect the lower hanging fruit, like the Auto Zone, and the dumpy strip mall across the street from this will go first.

      • The RI plaza changed hands about 3 years ago, though, and apparently some of the businesses there appear to be moving out. A sign that something is imminent, perhaps? If so, I hope they re-grade the site – they’ll never get much foot traffic the way it is now.

        • brookland_rez

          You’re right, I do recall that. A number of businesses have moved out, but they put up a for lease sign and recently filled one of the spaces with the Mattress Discounters. So it looks like they’re still interested in keeping it going.
          I agree, the site needs to be completely regraded. We definitely need that Home Depot though. It’s one of their busiest stores. Maybe a more urban design that incorporates a parking garage instead? I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an urban style Home Depot.

          • Do you think we still need the HD with the Lowe’s under construction at Ft Lincoln? I always find that Lowe’s has a much better, more organized selection than HD so it will probably be my go-to for big projects. And Annie’s should be great for paint and everyday things.
            Oddly, I saw a Home Depot last time I was in Manhattan. I think they sold mostly appliances, but still. It was crazy.

          • brookland_rez

            Maybe. A lot of contractors use that Home Depot and parking is definitely needed for their trucks. But at the same time it’s not a very good utilization of land to have a giant parking lot next to the Metro. Ft Lincoln where the Lowe’s is is better suited for that given that the closest Metro is miles away. But given how busy the Home Depot is I sort of saw the Lowe’s as relieving how busy it is and providing much needed competition so that the store improves.

        • I loathe that Home Depot. I live 5 minutes away and I drive out to the Lowes in PG County.

          1) Better Selection
          2) Helpful staff
          3) Not harassed by receipt checkers who watched me check out and then demand to see my receipt/items
          4) Isn’t a cluster F to get in an out of

          • brookland_rez

            I agree with all your points. I still use it because it’s so damn close and I know enough to know what I need before I go in so I don’t need helpful staff. A trip to the Hyattsville store takes me 15-20 minutes vs. 5 minutes.

          • The Lowes in Largo??? You must have a lot of free time on your hands cuz that is far. Or I guess you REALLY hate the RI Ave HD

          • HaileUnlikely

            There’s a Lowes in New Carrolton, about 3 miles east of PG Plaza.

        • I’m not sure if the senior residence building going up behind the Bank of America is going to help or hurt the grading/integration issue.

  • For people who own houses in Edgewood, they’re about to get rich…

  • Rhode Island Center is in Edgewood — NOT Brentwood. 🙂,_D.C.)

  • I wonder what is going to happen to the massive Mt. Calvary church plunked right in the middle of the development.

    On a different note hopefully they make some improvements to the traffic patterns from 4th ST NE to 12th ST NE as it is already way to over congested the way it is now.

    • The church owns that property and the adjacent school, and it seems well-attended, so I would guess that they are more likely to stay than if they rented. With any luck they’ll consider adding some curb appeal – the buildings are looking pretty ratty.

    • The church is not in the middle of the development, technically it is outside the development. The church owns a bunch of land fronting Rhode Island Ave (including to the land on which the church itself sits) and so the development will just be built around that land.

    • brookland_rez

      The owners of Mt Calvary have pledged not to sell from what I understand, at least according to one of my neighbors who goes to church there. Maybe for the right price they would sell, or maybe it will remain as a legacy of the area’s past.

      • They have a lot of real estate along RIA. I’m sure it won’t be cheap if they wanted to sell. Seems like the space could be better utilized.

      • Pledging not to sell is one thing, but when reality hits hard and their congregation cannot find parking because the parking lot at Rhode Island Ave center no longer exists, they will probably reconsider. Also, I don’t like that the church congregation causes traffic when they park their cars along Rhode Island Ave, at the bridge, (and jaywalk!!!). When the sidewalk under the bridge is widened (according to the streetscape masterplan), and no-parking is enforced, they will probably reconsider their not-selling position. I have nothing against the church, but DC is changing, and the changing real estate market will dictate. I hope they realize this. Their current arrangement is just not sustainable.

    • brookland_rez

      Also the McDonald’s and gas station aren’t part of this either.

  • Architecture. So. Boring. OMG

  • I think they went public way too soon. The neighbors have already grabbed their pitchforks and are in full revolt. It’s got everything you need for a full fledged development shit show in dc: whites bitching about too much parking, blacks bitching about too little parking, whites bitching about too much affordable housing, blacks bitching about not enough affordable housing, whites bitching about the wrong kinds of stores, blacks bitching about losing access to the affordable stores that are there.

    Sure not all the whites and the blacks are moving in monolithic groups and the generalizations aren’t fair to everyone… But there are enough that fit into these categories that I think it’s going to get really complicated. It’s like McMillan, except with the fake history.

    • *without the fake history…

      And I should add, blacks and whites all screaming about traffic.

      They disagree on so much, but goddamn it they agree that they don’t want it!!!

      • brookland_rez

        Everyone I know in my neighborhood that I’ve shown the plans to, black, white, whatever, is in favor. Everybody I know thinks the current arrangement is an eyesore.

      • Don’t let the vocal NIMBYs fool you, Brookland_rez has it right. Most people who live nearby are in support. The ones who would oppose someone putting a flower pot in their window just yell loudly.

  • Big box apartments may look ugly, but what is there now is truly bottom of the pile. That Foreman Mills is the store that time forgot. If we could get the liquor stores to go too, it would be even better!

    As a resident of the area, I am cautiously optimistic.

  • By the way, does anyone know what’s under construction behind the Bank of America at Rhode Island Place, to the left as you enter the Giant/Home Depot shopping area?

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