Thursday, February 17, 2011

Howard Town Center - Looking Toward 2015

After years of postponed deadlines, the Howard Town Center is hobbled by more delays. "We're looking at 2013 at best, though it could be as late as 2015," says KLNB Associate Jennifer Price, who is working on leasing. Howard Town Center is a mixed use concept that would bring a grocer, retail, and condos to a underutilized corner of Georgia Avenue near Howard University.

The hitch? Finding a grocery to anchor the space. "Everything is dependent on the grocer," said Price. "Until we secure one, we won't know how much square footage of retail space we'll have available for other businesses." Price says "quite a few" are vying for the space, but one thing is for certain: it won't be a Giant, since the O Street Market project knocks the store out of contention. Price projects that plans for Howard Town Center to firm up by May.

Howard Town Center at 2100-2146 Georgia Avenue is the proposed development of CastleRock Partners and Howard University to take the place of the Bond Bread building and offer 70,000+ s.f. of commercial property, a 45,000 s.f. supermarket, 300 to 450 residential units, and parking. All of this, says, Price, is dependent on the grocer, how much square footage it would entail and its architectural plans.

Perhaps one reason grocers are reticent to stake claim to the property is because of the new Safeway now planned for middle-Georgia Avenue and the Yes! Organic Market already up the street, in addition to the Giant slated for Shaw. Back in 2009, Philadelphia's Fresh Grocer was a top contender for the site; their corporate office confirms the location is still under consideration."The Fresh Grocer is very interested in and committed to new store development in the District of Columbia, especially at the Howard Town Center," said Patrick J. Burns, President and CEO of The Fresh Grocer. "We have been working with the investors and developers of Howard Town Center for years and are disappointed that the project has stalled. However, our interest in bringing a ground-up, state of the art Fresh Grocer supermarket to the Howard Town Center remains steadfast."

The script for Howard Town Center has a long and colorful backstory, which includes the 2006 land swap of the city-owned Bread building property for Howard's land at Florida and Sherman Avenue, for which the city will solicit bids for a mixed-use property that would include 300 residential units.

Earlier in its illustrious life, the Bond Bread building was wedded to the People's Involvement Corporation (PIC), a 30-year tenant. The non-profit was promised ownership of the property in a verbal agreement with Mayor Washington in 1965. When it was not granted, PIC sued in 2003 and lost, naturally, with the court concluding that "a mayor's written promises cannot be relied upon."

Trammell Crow Company was the initial developer in the projects early stages, but the university did not have control of the land until 2008, at which point the project was up for bid and Howard opted for CastleRock Partners' proposal in November of that year.

Washington, DC Real Estate Development News


Anonymous said...


Critically Urban on Feb 18, 2011, 8:59:00 AM said...

Any grocery store would be a great addition to that particular food desert--too far to walk to the O Street Market, too far to get to the Petworth Safeway, and too far to walk to the 14th St Yes!, but Fresh Grocer is probably not a great match for the area. I attended Penn in Philly where our main supermarket was Fresh Grocer, and I don't think I've ever felt more gypped by a store selling food in my life. The prices are exorbitant and the quality doesn't match them. I feel that a smaller Safeway, HT, or Trader Joe's would be a better fit, especially for students on a budget.

Anonymous said...

When they say they're looking at 2013-2015, are they talking about actual delivery or just groundbreaking?

Anonymous said...

Trader Joe's would be the best grocery store for that location.

Metro Investment Properties said...

I'm not sure that there needs to be a grocery store there. Of course it would be ideal, but if they can't get one does this stop the entire development. There needs to be some convenience retail there in additional other retailers for students. I imagine that Howard can't put a Walgreens there since they own the parcel with the CVS. What about a 7-11, Container Store? Dollar Tree, Hardware Store? I could even see a mid-priced hotel on the site with some collaboration with a local high school or university's hospitality program.

Anonymous said...

There absolutely needs to be a grocery store there. While there is a Yes! Organic at 14th and V, that is a 12 minute walk at minimum (could be up to 20+) from Howard to go to a small expensive and limited organich grocery store. For a real grocer you have to go at least 20+ minutes away. Now, this might not be so bad if this wasn't a college, but considering you have students there, I understand why Howard wants something closer. I live in the area and I do understand their desire to bring a grocery store to the area. I know a new safeway is coming in in Petworth, but I do think this location would be far enough away for the two to co-exist. A Trader Joe's would be ideal, but they are very finnicky about location. Whole Foods wouldn't be looking to expand so close to its other current location. I'm really not sure what other options there are, but hopefully the planners can come up with something - the east side of U St transitioning down to FL Ave has the potential to really blow up in the next few years.

Anonymous said...

What the f*** is wrong with this developer? 2015? Seriously?

I live across the street from the Linde development and feel this neighborhood is SCREAMING for more development, yet the Howard Town center folks sit on their hands.

Trader Joe's needs to go in there. And a gym. Then build condo. planning finished. get to work!!

Anonymous said...

They should REALLY work with Target or Walmart. One of their new format stores that sale groceries would be a great fit. Something similar to the Walmart grocery store in Alexandria, Va on RT 1. It is a little smaller than a traditional Walmart, but brings groceries into the mix of what Walmart normally sales.


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