Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The Future of the Rhode Island Avenue Shopping Center
The Rhode Island Avenue Shopping Center at the edge of Edgewood is an homage to suburban shopping centers in the city and was built in the late 1980s. I met part of the Vanguard Realty Group at the DCBIA Met Branch Trail project volunteering and thanks to my favorite DDOT employee I was able to talk to him in length about the shopping center and the changes that are coming to it and the community. I was surprised to learn that while most of the attention has been about Safeway leaving and the center needing a new grocery store, especially from the seniors, the rest of the center is fully leased. Here is the listing for the empty Safeway space.
Here are the current tenants of the center:
Judy's Beauty Supply
Neighborhood Legal Services Program
New Vision Photography Program, Inc.
The truth is that Safeway left our neighborhood with a year left on their lease. I would like people to take that in, as well as, the condition of the store and conclude that Safeway was not going to invest in the Edgewood community. When people were protesting Safeway leaving and wanting the City Council to intervene I was very confused. I shopped there occasionally because it was quick to walk to, but besides the location the only thing it had going for it was a few really great employees.
What's next for that space? The Vanguard Realty Group is actively trying to lease the space and was in talks with a discount grocery store and a discount retail store last time I checked. I have put in a call to see if there are any updates and will let you know as soon as I do. I was told that whatever moves in it will not happen until Spring 2011. They are looking for a store that will sign a 10 year lease and that is complicating matters. Most of the stores in that center have about 8-10 years left on their leases except for Forman Mills which has about 12 years.
You may be wondering why the length of the leases matters so much and that is because all of this is background to my questions about the future of the center. If you attended any of the Rhode Island Avenue Great Streets meetings you would know that the plan suggested extending roads into this shopping center and making it more urban and pedestrian friendly. Given the current lease terms it looks like the development of this shopping center will not happen for another 8-12 years. While I am sad to report this I will say I do feel more positive about the shopping center and their plan for growth. The owners of the shopping center and the leasing agent have been very active in the community. They have allowed for the creation of community murals, an entrance to the Met Branch Trail, volunteered with DCBIA community improvement day on the trail, been supportive of hosting an Edgewood Farmer's Market, and are excited about the pedestrian bridge from their center to the metro. They have also stated that they would be open to developing the center one half at a time if Forman Mills is the only one left with a lease.