"Think of Rhode Island Avenue NE as a 'diamond' - a largely un-mined yet valuable investment opportunity."
So begins the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development's (ODMPED) Draft Rhode Island Avenue NE Economic Development Plan. Focusing on corridor's three-mile stretch through Northeast Washington, the report recommends "over $1.2 billion in new investments in housing, retail, office and public art" over the next 16 years for the surrounding communities of Brentwood, Brookland, Eckington, Edgewood, Langdon and Woodridge.
Developed under the auspices of the Mayor's Great Streets Initiative with contributions from everyone from the three local ANC 5 commissions to WMATA to the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, among many, many others, the "diamond" draft hopes to realize more than 3,000 new residential units, almost 600,000 square feet of office space and over 500,000 square feet of retail along Rhode Island Avenue by 2025 – the earliest of which could deliver by 2011. In doing so, they hope to lure residents and shoppers back from surrounding counties, in order “to capture a portion of the $1 billion in retail sales revenues (and jobs) lost each year to other jurisdictions.”
As such, the plan highlights several promising projects already in the pipeline for the corridor, though delayed “until further change in the economic market”: Mid-City Urban and A&R Development’s mixed-use, 274-unit Rhode Island Station project; the H Street CDC’s 170-unit Rhode Island Avenue Gateway; and, lastly, Republic Land’s 257-unit Brookland Square development (pictured). In total, ODMPED states there are “as many as 14 residential development projects planned or proposed…[that could] include over 13,000 residential units combined.”
Beyond merely underlining Rhode Island Avenue’s Grade-A potential for mixed-use development, the draft plan also delves into suggestions for sustainable building practices, public art installations, small business development, job creation, safety improvements and smart growth transit options – the latter of which includes a proposal for new MARC station at Eastern Avenue and Wells Street on the Prince George’s County border near Mount Rainier (though previously suggested alternatives, like a Rhode Island Avenue street car line, rapid bus transit service, or extension of Metro’s Yellow Line are no longer being considered at this time.)
As the “diamond” draft is broken down into four distinct sub-areas - 3rd to 12th Streets NE, 12th to 18th Streets NE, 18th Street to South Dakota Avenue, NE and South Dakota to Eastern Avenue, NE – residents are encouraged to peruse the recommendations made for their specific neighborhoods and submit comments to Great Streets Coordinator, Derrick Woody. ODMPED will hold an open forum to discuss the plan during the week of September 7th “to formally receive any other comments on the plan before it is finalized.”
This is the second such draft plan released by the Deputy's Mayor's office in as many months; in early May, they posted their proposed plans for redeveloping the Florida Avenue Market into "vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood."