Wal-Mart plans getting reworked by developers


A rendering of the more-modern design for the Wal-Mart planned for East Capitol Street. East Capitol is on the left; a private entrance to the development is on the right. (jstampfl)

After months of delays, Wal-Mart has three stores under construction in the District, and developers are re-working plans for a fourth and fifth store, on East Capitol Street and New York Avenue NE, respectively.

Of the three stores under construction, two are part of mixed-use projects the likes of which the retailer shied away from until a few years ago. Two are scheduled to open later this year.

At 77 H St. NW, the JBG Cos. is building a Wal-Mart on the ground floor of a brick-clad building with 300 apartments upstairs.

In the Northeast neighborhood of Fort Totten, the same developer is building a Wal-Mart along with 345 apartments. A groundbreaking in late January drew officials from Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s administration and the D.C. Council, a sign of how far the retail giant has come in making in-roads with city leaders.

But the chain’s original timeline — opening four stores in 2012 — proved too optimistic. The first store to open will likely be at the intersection of Georgia and Missouri avenues NW, where the chain and developer Foulger-Pratt are building a more traditional, one-level store that is scheduled to open at the end of 2013. The store on H Street NW, just off of North Capitol Street, could open about the same time, according to company spokesman Steven Restivo.


Reworked plans by developers, including the D.C. Housing Authorty, include offices and, shown here, apartments.

Restivo said the company would work with members of the city council to open hiring centers at each of the new stores. The company has pledged more than $3 million to train 2,000 D.C. residents over three years.

“We’re proud of our contributions to date, and look forward to soon opening our first store in Washington, D.C.,” Restivo said in an e-mail.

Expanding projects

Plans for two other D.C. Walmart projects are being re-worked.

On East Capitol Street, the D.C. Housing Authority and its partner, A&R Cos., submitted plans for a Wal-Mart-anchored project in August of last year, but — at the urging of the city’s Office of Planning — have broadened the project to take better advantage of the nearby Capitol Heights Metro station.

The new plans, submitted last week, call for a more modern design for the Wal-Mart store, a gateway to the Metro station, a mixed-use building with 283 apartments and a 21,000-square-foot office building.

Feras Qumseya, vice president of development for A&R (and a former city economic development official), said that even though there is almost no office space in the neighborhood, the office building was designed to accommodate health care facilities and would find suitors. “We believe ultimately there is a market,” he said.

Changes are also in the works for the project on New York Avenue NE, at the intersection with Bladensburg Road. The developer stumbled in trying to attract other retailers to join Wal-Mart but says he has regained his footing.

Developer Rick Walker had planned to build a 124,000-square-foot Wal-Mart atop a Lowe’s home improvement store; Lowe’s opted to instead open a store next to a Costco in the nearby Shops at Dakota Crossing.

But Walker said he has a signed lease from a replacement: Burlington Coat Factory, the discount clothing and furniture seller. Walker said Burlington will open a 65,000-square-foot store beneath the Wal-Mart, and he said he is considering other retailers to fill out the 320,000-square-foot project.

Walker said that his shopping center and the Costco project would create a go-to shopping district, just as the opening of a Target-anchored project did in the wealthier 14th Street NW corridor five years ago.

“We will be to Northeast and Southeast what the Columbia Heights area has become to Northwest,” Walker said.

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