Jun 15, 2023 - Business

New retail and community space opens in Congress Heights

Photo courtesy of Dror Baldinger FAIA

A new open-air retail space for local entrepreneurs opened in Southeast D.C. on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The retail village, called Sycamore & Oak, is made up entirely of entrepreneurs from wards 7 and 8, many of whom are opening their first brick-and-mortar shops. It will also serve as an incubator to boost small businesses in the area.

Catch up fast: The 22,000-square-foot space is part of the ongoing redevelopment of the St. Elizabeths East campus, which includes medical facilities, retail, and housing.

  • The development began in 2018 with the opening of a new entertainment and sports arena.
  • It has since grown to include a men's shelter, a townhouse project, a medical center, and a new Whitman-Walker health facility.

Details: Thirteen businesses will bring everything from fresh food and clothing to fitness classes and a wellness center to the Congress Heights neighborhood.

  • Local business owners will also have access to an incubator program that provides technical and marketing support to scale up businesses, as well as a "chefs-in-residence" program for food and beverage operators who will be supported and mentored by the José Andrés Group.

What we're watching: The building is expected to be in operation for only three to five years, reports the Washington Informer, before it's disassembled and rebuilt elsewhere.

  • D.C. government is currently accepting proposals to develop another part of St. Elizabeths East that will serve as housing, office, and retail space.
  • Meanwhile, a design and construction team was just chosen for the new 20,000-square-foot Congress Heights Library, opening in late 2027.

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