Developers buying stakes along Rhode Island Avenue NE

With apartment construction already booming in Columbia Heights and along U Street NW and H Street NE, developers are scooping up land along another urban corridor, Rhode Island Avenue NE.

Rhode Island Avenue NE has already seen some recent activity, as Bethesda-based Urban Atlantic and Baltimore-based A&R Development recently built Rhode Island Row, an apartment and retail complex that is pursuing eateries such as Chipotle and Carolina Kitchen.

But with public officials encouraging a more lively, urban feel for the corridor — including an arts district on the Prince George’s County side — a number of other developers have jumped in.

Acadia Realty Trust, a real estate investment trust based in White Plains, N.Y., bought Brentwood Shopping Center, a seven-acre plaza adjacent to the Red Line Metro station, for $21.7 million in June, according to land records. The property includes 57,529 square feet of retail, including TJ Maxx, Foot Locker, Radio Shack and CitiBank. (The Home Depot next door is separately owned.)

Previously, Acadia managed properties in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties, but nothing in the District and Northern Virginia.

Georgetown developer Anthony Lanier is also joining the fray. His EastBanc — developer of Cady’s Alley, the Ritz-Carlton and countless storefronts in Georgetown — continued its march into other neighborhoods of the District when it acquired the land beneath the Giant Food store on Rhode Island Avenue, next to Acadia’s storefronts.

In April, EastBanc bought an office and retail building above the U Street Metro station, 1250 U St. NW, for $18.8 million. A month later, it closed on a deal to buy the CVS at the intersection of H Street NE and Bladensburg Road NE for $6.1 million.

Lanier’s son, Philippe, declined to say how many years remained on Giant’s lease, how much the company paid or what EastBanc planned to do with the property. “At the moment we’re just happy owning the land,” Philippe Lanier said. He said the company was in no rush to redevelop there. “We got it at a price we were happy with. It’s a very secure lease,” he said.

On the Maryland side, the Mount Rainier City Council recently selected Bethesda-based StreetSense and District-based Neighborhood Development to build 210 apartments and 18,000 square feet of retail for a Gateway Arts District project.

Jonathan O'Connell has covered land use and development in the Washington area for more than five years.
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