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Spring Construction Set for Retail Complex

Costco Has Signed On at NE Center

By Debbi Wilgoren
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 6, 2005; Page DZ03

Construction of a shopping center in the Fort Lincoln planned community, which would be anchored by the District's first Costco discount store, is expected to begin by spring, officials involved in the project said.

The D.C. Council approved a $10 million construction loan in November for the Washington Gateway shopping center. The loan would be paid back over a period of years after the center is opened using part of the sales and real estate taxes that the project generates.

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In December, the board of the National Capital Revitalization Corp., which controls the land where the retail complex would be built, approved the terms of an agreement it will soon execute with the project's developers. "Everything can now take place," said Don Pross, senior development director for the NCRC.

The 375,000-square-foot shopping center would significantly expand the District's limited retail options. It would also represent partial fulfillment of a long-deferred goal at Fort Lincoln: the addition of retail offerings for what has been an overwhelmingly residential community.

Fort Lincoln is a Civil War-era military site that was converted to a youth detention center. In the 1960s, President Lyndon B. Johnson commissioned a team of urban planners to develop a prototype urban community that would grow to include as many as 25,000 residents.

The neighborhood was supposed to include a commercial downtown with offices, shops and light rail service. But the project struggled to get off the ground, and only a few subdivisions, with about 760 apartments and townhouses, were built.

The new shopping center is supposed to include a full-service supermarket and about a dozen other shops. Residents and developers are also hoping for at least two family-style restaurants.

Developers of the $57 million project said the location -- just inside the District line, bound by New York, South Dakota and Eastern avenues -- will draw tens of thousands of city residents and commuters from the eastern suburbs. More than $6 million a year in tax revenue is projected.

With the financing and development details in place, Pross said, developers must now secure building permits and continue negotiating with potential tenants. Costco has signed a detailed letter of intent saying it will anchor the project. Plans call for the store to open by summer 2006.

A 209-unit townhouse complex also planned for Fort Lincoln recently received final zoning approvals, Pross said. That construction also is slated for spring.

But an apartment building for senior citizens for which ground was supposed to be broken this month has been delayed because of a financing glitch.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company