T-2 Days to REI – Check Out the Ridiculously Awesome Conversion from Parking Garage to REI Flagship Store at the Uline Arena

by Prince Of Petworth October 19, 2016 at 9:25 am 67 Comments

2nd, Delaware and M Street, NE

We’ve been paying modest attention to the new Flagship REI coming to NoMa. Well it almost here so I thought it was time to pay proper attention. Let’s just get it out of the way – the space is SICK. Absolutely sick. Dope. Dope sky. Mint. Fresh. And definitely funky fresh. While I took a million pictures this is a good example of a place you really got to see in person to fully appreciate the transformation. Let’s not forget what the space looked like before (after its heyday):


And now it is simply a jaw dropper. I took a tour of the 50,000+ square foot space and here’s a taste:


All the details on the opening festivities here.

Approximately a million more photos after the jump.




From an email:

“CallisonRTKL’s historic renovation of the Uline Arena in NoMa has unearthed fascinating artifacts from its storied past.

The design of the REI Uline flagship highlights the grandeur of the original architecture, celebrating what the structure once was and its significance to the community. Here are three historic elements from the building to look for:

  • Barrel Vault Rib and Column
    Customers can see an original barrel vault rib and column in REI’s internal courtyard. REI went to great lengths to excavate the space and bring the outdoors inside. Look up to see some of the original paint.
  • Concrete Foundation Blocks
    Because the space didn’t provide the height that REI needed to sell such items as kayaks and canoes, the floor was excavated down five feet. The excavation unearthed the original concrete foundation blocks, exposing a rich history and adding to the architectural character of the space. You can find these foundations blocks along Delaware Avenue perimeter of the store.
  • Basketball Court Flooring and Arena Seating
    The original basketball court flooring from the arena was reused as wall cladding and wraps around the Adventure Station. Affixed to one of these walls are rows of original wood seating, also salvaged from the arena.

CallisonRTKL was responsible for the architecture, interior design and historic renovation for the new REI flagship.”

Updated clarification from an email: “The base building architect responsible for the Historic Preservation and Architecture of the Uline Arena was actually Antunovich Associates who works with Douglas Development on several projects. The Interior design of the flagship REI store was CallisonRTKL.”


Adventure Station to be staffed (7 days a week) by a National Parks Service employee who can answer all your questions and give suggestions about local hikes etc.




















Oh yeah there’s a La Colombe too:


Note all the bike racks (more outside frame of photo):



From MPD:

“The following street closures are from approximately 8:00 am to 12:00 pm:

Delaware Avenue, NE, between L Street, NE and M Street, NE”

  • That Man A

    Store looks awesome, love the old show posters
    will be biking down on Saturday for sure

  • Lion of LeDroit

    Be still my yuppie “trapped in an office all day but daydream of saying f**k it all and escaping into the mountains” heart

    • anon&confused


    • LedroitTigah

      you are me. I told a friend the other day that I wanted to move to maine and write crime novels and go on hikes (basically, I want to be Jessica fletcher).

      • Bloomy


  • siz

    REI & developers have done an astounding job with this. fantastic addition to the area.

  • MoldieOldie

    before being a parking garage it was the first US venue to host The Beatles.

    • That Man A

      exactly, i imagine thats why the beatles poster is included

    • Ben

      And before that it was a hockey ring for the Washington Lions. Lots of history!

  • Ashy Oldlady

    What makes this location a “co-op”?

    • Ben

      All REI’s are “co-ops.” By paying a onetime membership fee, you get 10% back on all non-sale purchases in the form of an annual dividend.

    • REI customer

      They sort of re-branded a while ago; it’s what they call themselves now.


    • PetworthforRent

      REI is a co-op. They reintroduced the word co-op into their logo because people didn’t realize they were a co-op.


      • Anon

        Makes me feel so much better to shell out $500 for that jacket!

    • Anon5

      REI is a co-op because it is member-owned. Each member gets one voting share and can elect the board of directors. REI happens to be the largest co-op in the United States.

  • anon

    Oh my god the bike racks!!!! Now that’s how you do it!

  • anon

    From the looks of the building last month, I honestly didn’t think it would be done in time. I’m very impressed and am looking forward to checking it out this weekend!

  • kd21

    There’s a typo in that god-awful spin on The New Colossus. Too bad, looks pretty nice otherwise!

  • paulcotton

    just take my my money. go on, REI, just take everything i’ve got.

  • stacksp

    Used to park in this building when I was working at 131 M a couple years ago. I have not walked down that way to see the transformation yet.

  • lm

    “yearning to breath free” … eeek someone needs a copyeditor on that sign


    Looks great, and nice to have an REI in the city now. Two questions:

    1) why a coffeeshop inside the store? La Colombe is a personal favorite but just seems peculiar to use some of the space for a coffeeshop.

    2) What’s REI’s bikeshop like compared to buying a bike from a local store like Bicycle Space or Citybikes? I’m probably going to buy a new bike soon and curious to advantages/disadvantages (I’m already an REI member if that factors in at all).

    • The store is over 50,000 square feet – the coffeeshop is about 500 square feet.

      The bike shop will be comparable – it has a huge staff dedicated just to bikes including repairs.

      • INWDC

        So the coffeeshop is small in comparison to the overall footprint. Thanks for the info!

        • Tsar of Truxton

          The longer people stay in your store, the more likely they are to spend money! Does the La Colombe have an entrance from the street or is it only through the store?

          • Anon

            I’m guessing that it does – look at all that fencing between the coffee shop and the store.

          • It does have a street entrance as well, allowing for earlier/later hours than REI.

    • Anon

      This guy…

    • near ne

      honestly, i’ll prob stop in for coffee frequently before work since it’s next to the metro and there isn’t anywhere i can get morning coffee nearby (coming from 7th & L street).

    • anon

      REI is completely rebranding their house bike line for 2017 – Novara will become Co-op Bikes. I suspect this will result in a year-end sale and some stylish mid-level bikes next year!

    • Anon5

      Regarding bikes, the main advantage is getting a 10% dividend on the purchase price. Granted, that’s not a huge advantage as Performance Bikes does the same thing, and often does 20%-back sales.

      The other advantage is that you can take your bike for a free tune-up within 6 months of purchase at any REI location, and they have locations nationwide.

  • Near Northeast

    Still sad they didn’t put in a climbing wall. Other flagship stores have them!

    • GBinCH

      Seriously! I would love a good indoor facility in DC. I’m tired of going to Virginia, although its not that bad nwo that the gym in Crystal City is open.

    • kt

      dang, you’re right, that would have been cool.

    • pjl35

      Especially given the inner courtyard space (which I didn’t know was going to be there)…seems like they could’ve used a similar type of space for the wall.

    • trebek26

      At the run through they said they didn’t have one due to liability issues and also they aren’t used that much for the space they take up in other stores.

  • Marty

    is there any parking?

    • stacksp

      Park at Harris teeter and walk over, the lot a block over, or park on the street. Not hard finding a space in that area.

    • Ashy Oldlady

      There almost has to be some kind of dedicated parking. Though it would be pretty funny to watch people trying to load up that new kayak or pair of skis on their bike.

    • Adam on Hanover

      There’s a parking garage on the south end of the office building/old chiller plant attached to the REI. I’m not 100% sure it’s going to be for customers, but I’d be surprised if it isn’t.

    • Ann

      You can see a parking ramp from 3rd Street, but I’m not sure whether it’s for the REI or the office space. Either way, it didn’t look complete yet.

    • dangerous dave

      There is a parking garage attached to the back, although I’m not 100% that it’s finished

    • Marty

      just looked it up on their site, and it says this:
      Parking Directions
      Parking for REI can be found in the onsite garage accessed by turning North onto Congress street from L street between 2nd St NE (also called Delaware Ave NE) and 3rd St NE. An elevator in the garage connects directly to REI.

      • Congress Street was previously a tiny, dead-end street. Home to Union Kitchen and an auto mechanic. Trucks have to back out because there’s no space to turn around. I’m interested to see how being a garage entrance is going to change the street.

  • palisades

    That Adventure Station thing is awesome. Love the include of NPS folks.

    • palisades


    • emvee

      How can I get the job of that NPS person? My dream job is planning outdoor adventures.

  • Anon

    Holy shit!!! They have a ski shop!!! That I can walk to!!! In D-freakin-C!!!

    • SkiBum


    • pjl35

      Same! I desperately need to get mine sharpened/waxed before I use them this winter. Hallelujah.

  • Tsar of Truxton

    Does something like this impact property values in a similar manner to say a Wholefoods?

    • Anon

      In short, yes. All development impacts property values.

    • d

      I would guess not, because it’s more of an occasional destination store for most people unlike a grocery store. But it certainly won’t hurt.

  • Jon

    I wonder if the site where stage for the Beatles first performed in the US will be recognized? Or is it just a bit of floor udder the camping supplied aisle.

    • Anon

      I hope they saved the urinal used by John and Paul! Now THATS history!

  • kapitolhill

    Was finishing a ride last night and cruised by to see the construction process. Was surprised to find it open! Got turned away though, as it was a family and friends event? Strange, because plenty of people walked in with no tickets/invite.

    Something I noticed though… Parking on Delaware Ave next to REI is going to need signs and enforcement. It was a complete mess. One van was practically parked in the intersection, and as you went down Delaware – cars were haphazardly parked, causing traffic to drive over the center line.

    • maxwell smart

      “Parking on Delaware Ave next to REI is going to need signs and enforcement” – as if there is enforcement anywhere else in DC.

  • Pixie

    Shut up and take all my money REI.

  • Epic Fail

    Looks like they have a VW Type 3 Station Wagon (or “Variant”) as part of the store display. These were manufactured between 1961 and 1973. Nice touch!

  • Emmaleigh504

    Needs more flare.

  • Michael Dowd

    Great job on site selection, store layout, creative displays and all sorts of other interesting stuff. You all are to be congratulated especially the head honcho.

  • JH

    I went to the family & friends event, was sent one ticket in the mail for both myself and my boyfriend. We didn’t have to show it as we knew the folks at the door. There was also a list inside, if you forgot your ticket or it didn’t arrive, so that is why you probably saw folks getting in without a ticket. The space is SICK!!! Take all my money, REI!!! I have to give management kudos for hiring Deaf employees, and those fluent in ASL, and there were also plenty of floating ASL interps at the event. Lots of traffic from Gallaudet, lots of attendees and staff chatting away in ASL. Nice to see that REI recognizes the community and realizes that people with disabilities like to do outdoor “stuff” as well! Going back tomorrow with my blind friend who loves to hike and kayak. Very excited about this inclusion and a large employer like REI making sure to hire qualified staff with disabilities. I work in the disability field in the Fed Govt, so this makes me smile. Let’s hope they keep it up into the regular opening hours on regular days. The coffee shop wasn’t open yet and the elevator should be fixed and running by tomorrow. Still, had a great time and 25% off my entire purchase was nice :) got snowshoes and compression socks.

    • JH

      I also saw cars in the parking garage as of last night but not sure who was parked in there. But, it is operational.

  • The courtyard area transformation is really something! Here’s a pic a couple of weeks ago while construction was wrapping up: https://flic.kr/p/MZRK7r


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