Face-Lift Projects Planned for Northeast D.C.

By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 29, 2007

Two major projects near the Fort Totten Metro station will help to revitalize the area into a mix of housing and retail, say developers on one of the projects and neighborhood activists.

The Dakotas at Riggs Road and South Dakota Avenue NE, across the street from the Fort Totten Metro stop, will be a $300 million project on 9 1/2 acres with 900 condominiums and apartments, a grocery store, restaurant and such other potential tenants as a coffee shop, a dry cleaner, a bank and a florist.

"We're building a large-scale mixed-use project that's going to serve a retail-starved neighborhood and build moderately priced housing at a transportation hub," said Andrew Schwartzberg, principal of Jack Sophie Development, a Rockville-based developer.

The condos will be priced from the high $100,000s for a studio to the high $300,000s for a two-bedroom unit with a den. The project is being developed by Los Angeles-based Lowe Enterprises, Jack Sophie Development and Ellis Denning Properties of Rockville.

The developers have met with community groups and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission to discuss their plans and hear from nearby residents. Many residents say they don't like having to cross the border into Maryland to buy groceries and want a store in their neighborhood.

"The community is very interested in having a good project come to the neighborhood to spruce up that intersection and bring positive changes," said Muriel Bowser, an advisory neighborhood commissioner for the area. "We don't think our residents should have to patronize the stores in Maryland.

"We want to have convenient amenities for our residents in a more pedestrian-friendly project," she said. "We think if they're able to attract quality retail to that intersection, that's exactly what we want." She said her group plans to continue working with the developer "until we come up with a plan that everybody's happy with."

Rodney Foxworth, president of the Lamond-Riggs Citizens Association, said his group has "worked closely with the developers to understand their project and provide community input."

The Dakotas project is planned for an area that is now home to check-cashing storefronts, a discount store and a barber shop in a mostly vacant strip mall, the developers said. Jeff Miller, a senior vice president at Lowe Enterprises, said the Dakotas project will bring "something fresh to complement the residential we're delivering and the neighborhood that's already there."

Beside the Metro stop, Clark Realty Capital is building about 300 apartments that will include a pool, fitness center and 5,000 square feet of retail.

"It's located near a mass transit hub, and it's in a rapidly revitalizing neighborhood," said Tracey Thomm, a development executive for Clark Realty's project.

"We see it as a catalyst for new economic development in the Fort Totten area, and we wanted to be part of the revitalization of this neighborhood," Thomm said.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company