“It was always ‘around the corner,’ ” said Robert King, who has served as the area’s advisory neighborhood commissioner for 29 years. “It was always, ‘It’s coming.’ Well, in the words of the late Etta James, ‘At last, at last, at last.’ ”
Trees and shrubs that covered the 44-acre hill on the eastern edge of the neighborhood — a spot visible to thousands of daily commuters coming into the District via Route 50 — have been cleared. In coming months, the skeleton of the Shops at Dakota Crossing will rise. The 430,000-square-foot retail center will be home to the District’s first Costco, a Marshalls department store and a Shoppers Food Warehouse.
Across from the $60 million center, Ryan Homes is constructing 314 townhouses. According to a sign at the sales center, more than 30 have been sold.
King said the shopping center will be a boost for the community of 3,000-plus residents, a mix of young professionals, seniors and families.
Stephanie Mwangaza Brown, who moved to Fort Lincoln in 2007, is looking forward to having shops, sit-down restaurants and maybe a bank close by. And although she worries about the traffic the new development may bring, she’s hopeful the center will increase the value of her townhouse.
The vision for New York Ave.
City officials see the development as an important visual anchor for their efforts to remake the New York Avenue corridor, a commuter artery traveled by 87,000 vehicles every day. With its mishmash of gas stations, fast-food joints and storage yards, the road is hardly the most scenic introduction to the nation’s capital.
But with Wal-Mart slated to open a store at New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road and a growing number of upgraded hotel offerings catering to budget-minded tourists and families, the character of the area is changing.
D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange (D), who represented Ward 5 for two terms before winning an at-large seat on the council in 2011, said he also hopes to bring a bit of Hollywood to the corridor. He envisions studios for film and television production headquartered at a long-vacant Hecht’s distribution center that was purchased by D.C. developer Douglas Jemal in 2011.
For now, though, the focus is on Costco.
Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) said the project will bring the kinds of amenities, shops and services that residents in other neighborhoods take for granted. With Costco as its anchor tenant, the center could also become a regional hub for shoppers from all over the area, Brown said.
“We lose about $1 billion in retail sales a year,” said Victor L. Hoskins, deputy mayor for planning and economic development. “Those retail sales are going to Virginia and Maryland. It’s fine that Virginia and Maryland have these stores, but people in D.C. really want to shop in [their] town.”