Bringing a Grocery Store to Edgewood & Brookland: The Latest
Updated: Dec 27, 2020
Note: this was originally posted in January 2020. I've included more recent updates (as of December 2020) below. Below that, you can find the original post, which includes more background and details on the new Monroe Street Market building and a search for a grocery tenant.
December 2020 Update:
Still no new news on a potential grocer/market: the development team and retail brokers continue to seek a small-format grocer/market tenant for several of the retail spaces along the southeast corner of 7th and Monroe NE. For more on the history of the new building and the process of attracting a potential grocer, see below.
Residential units have started leasing. Residents will begin to move in in January. The fencing around the site has come down; landscaping is coming in, and workers are putting the finishing touches on the exterior of the building
Developers are still seeking retail tenants for the remaining retail spaces: (1) the retail spaces near Monroe and 8th Street, including a couple spaces in the new MSM building and tenants to replace Bike Rack & Fox Loves Taco.
The pandemic has probably not helped anything. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a drag on retail in general. I do not know for sure that this has slowed progress, but I would not be surprised if it did.
DDOT hopes to install a new Capital Bikeshare station this spring. Hopefully near the SE corner of 7th & Monroe (near the new building/future hopeful grocery store).
Rumors are fun but are also still just rumors. Negotiations for a large commercial retail space like this will typically be covered by a non-disclosure agreement, so it's unlikely that we'll hear anything 'official' until an official announcement is made. That said, grocery store rumors are more fun than many rumors I've come across as ANC, so go wild. Just be sure to take things with an extra grain of salt.
January 2020 Original Post
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There is perhaps no issue residents ask me about more (except for parking - parking is always #1) than whether and when we'll have a grocery store at 7th and Monroe NE. So here's some information on that. It's a collection of what I know, things I've heard, and educated guesses, with a dash of speculation.
What's the history here?
The Bozzuto Group, Abdo Development, and Pritzker Realty Group have been involved at various points and to varying degrees over the course of developing the entire Monroe Street Market project. Pritzker is leading the development of the final phase of the project - "Block E" on the below map - with Bozzuto leading the construction and management of the Market. Prtizker has retained H&R Retail to help lease the spaces.
One of the reasons Block E remained dormant until late 2018 is that the developers, in response to neighborhood demand for a grocery store, attempted to secure a lease with - and re-design the retail space for - a major grocer tenant. This didn't happen, for a couple reasons discussed below. By 2018, though, the developers decided to move forward with the originally approved plans (with minor modifications), and began construction in late 2018.
Why weren't developers able to secure a major grocery tenant?
Your educated guesses are probably as good as mine, but here's my take.
First, the total retail space in the original plans was too small for a major retailer - something like 16,000 sq ft, while many major grocers require at least double that - and the entire building is "L" shaped.
Second, while Edgewood and Brookland are thriving, growing communities, north and west of the Monroe Street Market is less densely populated (between the Catholic University Campus, Washington Hospital Center, Old Soldiers' Home Golf Course, Armed Forces Retirement Home, and, (sigh), McMillan.
Third, re-designing the space would have meant a more complex zoning approval process, delaying construction even further. So, in the end, a major grocery store at this space didn't work out, and developers shifted their focus to a "small format" grocer/neighborhood market.
So what's being built now?
Pritzker and Bozzuto are building "Block E" to include about 160 apartments, about 100 parking spaces (45 public/55 for tenants), and roughly 7 retail spaces that can be combined in different ways. There's a residential lobby on Monroe Street, with 5 retail spaces on the west (7th Street) side, and 2 retail spaces on the east (8th Street) side. See below!
Where does a grocery store fit into all this?
Most likely on the west side (7th Street, left) of the retail space, most likely on the corner, with the ultimate size "to be determined." The "Retail A" space is a little under 5,000 sq ft, while the full west side retail space - "Retail A" through "Retail E" is just under 15,000 sq ft. A grocery could theoretically occupy some of that space, all of that space, or some portion in between. Either way, the neighborhood is likely to have more than just a grocery store/market in the new Block E, which is a good thing.
Are the developers aware of neighborhood demand for a grocer?
Yes. Very much yes.
What's the construction timeline, and how close are the developers to securing a tenant?
Before I answer that, remember the First Rule of Anything Being Built Anywhere in DC (and probably elsewhere too): expect delays. Things happen. Sometimes very mundane & little things (like wonky WiFi) can delay something for a few days or a week. So, always hedge.
But: developers hope Block E will be "substantially complete" by September 2020 and hope units will start renting shortly thereafter. They are actively seeking retail tenants for the spaces - both in Block E *and* in the former Bike Rack/Fox Loves Taco spaces - and by actively, I mean not sitting by the phone hoping for a grocer to call. So...expect more concrete news between now and late summer 2020? Maybe? Hopefully.
That's all I have for now! Any questions? Comments? Feel free to reach out by email (5E01@anc.dc.gov) or call/text (202) 656-1324.