Since January, 2003
 (a random before-and-after moment)
December 7, 2008
May 24, 2015 
4th at Water St., Looking Northwest (see more)

A press release went out this morning with the news that so many residents and office workers have been waiting for: the initial list of restaurants that will be opening at the Yards, along with confirmation that Harris Teeter is coming to the building at 401 M Street.
At the Foundry Lofts apartment building currently heading toward completion, there will be a Potbelly, plus Kruba Thai and Sushi, from the operators of Teak Wood Thai and Sushi, Regent Thai, and Galae Thai and Sushi. Both are expected to open in the first quarter of 2012. (Pre-leasing of the residential units is expected to begin in August, with move-ins starting in October.)
The Boilermaker Shops, the 1919-era building nestled between the Foundry Lofts and the US Department of Transportation, will have a number of different offerings:
* There will be Buzz Bakery, a full-service bakery, coffee shop, and "dessert lounge," plus an as-yet-unnamed craft brewery, both operated by the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, the people behind the Evening Star Cafe, Vermilion, Rustico, Tallula, EatBar, Columbia Firehouse, Birch and Barley, and ChurchKey.
* Austin Grill Express, a "casual, funky Tex-Mex restaurant drawing on the experience of Austin Grill to deliver a unique menu and environment."
* BRB ("be right burger").
* Huey's 24/7 Diner, a "classic diner experience." (But will it actually be open 24/7?)
It's expected that Huey's, Austin Grill, and BRB will open in the fall of 2012, with the others in "late 2012."
And, at the 401 M Street residential building (the only one of the three buildings that is 100 percent new construction), a Harris Teeter will be coming to the ground floor, which has been rumored for a number of years but is now finally confirmed. The press release says it will open in 2013, though for that to be the case, they need to start work on the building pretty much, um, now.
More as I get it, and you can read the official press release for additional details. For more on each project, see my Foundry Lofts, Boilermaker Shops, 401 M, and main Yards project pages, or see the official Yards web site. Especially don't miss the photos from the interior of the Boilermaker Shops, which is a space very much unlike anything else in DC.
UPDATE, June 2012: Because this post is linked to in so many places, it's necessary to update that in late June 2012 it was revealed that Austin Grill Express and BRB would not be coming to the Boilermaker Shops after all. However, Willie's Brew and Que sportsbar had been announced as another tenant in late 2011.
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B in DC says: (6/27/11 9:09 AM)
Woo hoo! Great to have some news on this.


FourthandEye says: (6/27/11 9:26 AM)
This is great. I thought the 880 NJ Ave scaling back was a bigger let down than most of you but a haul including a Harris Teeter, 24/7 diner, bakery, brewery, etc at the Yards is outstanding.


Jaybird says: (6/27/11 9:29 AM)
Congrats on getting the area's third Buzz! The one in the north part of Old Town is very popular and well run.


F says: (6/27/11 9:39 AM)
I'd like to think there's still room for a Whole Foods somewhere in Near SE. They'd be an excellent complment to HT's and should easily be able to justify the store based on the new apartment buildings, townhouses and office buildings being built in the neighborhood


JD says: (6/27/11 10:13 AM)
Should also mention that there will probably be restaurants in the Lumber Shed as well. And other retail beyond restaurants in the Boilermaker Shops.


Bruce says: (6/27/11 11:39 AM)
Yes, this is outstanding news!!


Ryh03001 says: (6/27/11 11:40 AM)
Did they announce a date for when construction will start on the boilermakers shop?


JD says: (6/27/11 11:42 AM)
No, but I've heard that the timeline will be about 10 months for exterior construction before handing off to the tenants for their own buildouts, so it shouldn't be before too much longer to meet the first Fall 2012 expected openings.


David Garber says: (6/27/11 12:13 PM)
Construction at Boilermaker should start in next 30 days, with the Harris Teeter apartment building getting started by end of year.


MJM says: (6/27/11 12:55 PM)
No more Safeway for me! This should be a message to the Half St folks to get their plans moving because the money is flowing into the area - feels like 2007/08 with all the positive news. If I were Akridge/Monumnet I'd be coming up with tenants real quick.


Charles says: (6/27/11 1:38 PM)
Absolutely tremendous news for the neighborhood. I cannot wait for the opportunity to "buy local".

One open issue - With Forest City effectively leasing the second floor of the old lumber shed, financing should be very easy. I wonder if/when they will announce their plans for the building.


jwg says: (6/27/11 3:32 PM)
All sounds great! Now I just have to hope I get a job in this area for 2012 and beyond (post grad school) so we can still be here when all of this arrives :)

And F, I'm with you on the Whole Foods hope...


JD says: (6/27/11 7:21 PM)
JWG, I'm sure Teeter and the restaurants will be hiring. ;-)



F says: (6/27/11 9:50 PM)
The Austin Grill Express appears very different than Austin Grill. The "Express" is much smaller, along the lines of what you'd find in a shopping mall.

The only place that looks like it'll have waiters is Huey's. The un-named craft brewery should too.

I hope there will be some more "sit down, waiter serviced" restaurants.


JD says: (6/27/11 10:04 PM)
Thai place at Foundry should be table service too?


thedofc says: (6/27/11 11:00 PM)
Awesome!


SBS says: (6/28/11 10:24 AM)
Fantastic news indeed! Also proof that some real estate developers actually "get it" with what appears to be a good mix emphasizing local restaurants. Other area developers continue to sit on empty space, not because people don't want to occupy it, but because the developer is impossible to work with. Thankfully Forest City is bigger and their footprint will determine the quality and character of the neighborhood to come. Making money by doing things right, with community in mind, not by squeezing each and every transaction to death, is the way to build a vibrant neighborhood. This is a great start, thank you Forest City for showing the others how its done.


Ben in SE says: (6/28/11 10:52 AM)
Dear Developer of CHT (of which I am a resident):

Please see above comment.

Thank you.



jenniferp says: (6/28/11 2:58 PM)
Whatever makes you think the building owners don't want to lease up their retail space? Just curious...


SBS says: (6/28/11 4:05 PM)
Because certain developers have had lots of interest from quality, qualified small businesspeople in an empty space that sits vacant in a neighborhood clamoring for top-notch local restaurants. A developer interested in community would have long ago filled empty space in this neighborhood. Some developers are petty. Just ask the Nats former mgr., Riggleman.


jenniferp says: (6/28/11 4:49 PM)
Actually all the Forest City tenants are very experienced with strong credit (I'm not sure about the Thai). It's also taken them five years to get enough tenants to start in what is a unique space and lcoation. Unfortunately retail has been pretty much dead for the past three years real estate wise. Also, in terms of office buildings it is way outside the norm for any retail to be filled before the office has significant occupancy. Retail is the most expensive in terms of build-out and the recent leases I've seen downtown are giving huge concessions to fill the space (ie five year leases at $35 NNN, but tenant improvement allowances of $125/psf). They also need lender approval for all leases (which unfortunately knocks out qualified small business people without a very strong track record in such or would require an onerous personal guarantee), with maybe the exception of Lerner.

I've worked for developers for the past 15 years (not one myself, I'm in acquisitions) and the petty comment is a little puzzling. I'm not quite sure what Mr. Riggleman knows about real estate. I used to work for the group that did City Vista and it literally took years to negotiate those retail leases. They also own a property with signficant retail space in Crystal City that has been an incredible and still ongoing challenge to fill (8 years later).

Who owns the retail at Capitol Hill Tower? It's a coop so do the residential owners own it or is a seperate condominium? I have access to a very extensive database and it looks like DC requires a sit-down restaurant in that space.

Believe me, I'm very anxious to see this retail fill up, I also realize the challenges we face. I'm tempted to pdf the survey I did of all the available retail in the neigborhood, but am pretty sure I can't. But if anyone has any specific questions about a space, what it's asking, who the broker is and how they would potentially divide, I'm more than happy to answer.

Of interest, it looks like the Blue Castle is trying to get that redevelopment started. The whole property will be available for retail (72,000 SF) and office on the upper floor in July 2013.


Ben in SE says: (6/28/11 6:03 PM)
The residential owners do not own the restaurant space in CHT; I wish we did. Since I moved in in 2007 we have heard a number of times that the developer was "close" to signing a restaurant tenant. I will let the empty retail space in our building speak for itself.


GaryRKarr says: (6/29/11 11:58 AM)
@jenniferp I think SBS was being a little facetious about Riggleman and real estate. Though perhaps that's a career he is going to get into now since he seems to have blown up his managerial career.


MJM says: (6/29/11 2:06 PM)
@jenniferp - what about the vacant space in 909 (corner of NJ and K) - I've seen the location info on-line but do you have anything different?


jenniferp says: (6/30/11 9:57 AM)
MJM - it looks like the remaining retail (3,754 sf) at 909 is slated for a restaurant as well. It doesn't seem to be widely marketed at the current time though for some reason. John Asasdorian was the broker at some point and may still be, but his website doesn't seem to be working to see if he has it listed there. I'm not sure what's going on at those apartments. JPI who built them no longer exists, but I seem to remember the actual equity was someone substantial.

I got SBS' comment was a swipe at Lerner after I posted - I guess I'm a little slow. Thing is, of all the developers/owners in the neighborhood Lerner is arguably the one most concerned about its long-term propects and getting it right. He doesn't buy/sell on a regular basis, but concentrates on developing high quality properties that he holds forever and is known to be pretty meticulous about maintenance and management. I can't speak to his actual personality. He has at least a couple more sites in the neighborhood, not to mention that baseball team I'm sure he plans on keeping is only a few blocks away.


Eric says: (6/30/11 4:29 PM)
Jennifer, does that mean for sure a restaurant is coming to that remaining retail in 909? Or is that what is being considered put there?


Boy, we need some shopping/clothes/hardware stores too..


MJM says: (6/30/11 10:01 PM)
Yeah just because they want a place to stuff your face doesn't mean they will get one. If they want to split the space and make two retails spots I'm interested.


SBS says: (7/3/11 2:34 PM)
Swipe at Lerner? Who me? LOL! The developer that wouldn't spare a little chump change ($2m) to put the parking garages under ground after the taxpayers built the stadium ($610m+) for his team, nah, that's not petty. His reasoning? He wants people spending money inside the stadium, so he told reporters. Seeing a world of entertainment just outside the stadium (once built) might mean fans will leave when the team isn't doing well. Or as he said in the Washington Post, "we really don't care about baseball, we're investing in the team to secure a good future for our grandchildren." He made that statement during the garage negotiations I believe, and I'm almost certain the future of his family was already well in hand. But yes, the remark above was facetious, I mean, a baseball manager with an .500 team and on an 11-1 run at the time really doesn't deserve a contract extension. Nope, it's that pesky empty space at CHT -- five years and counting now, so plenty o time to complete all those studies, eh Jen? --- and no, it is not owned by the co-op. They will see a fraction of a fraction percentage paid to their corporation once the developer finds a tenant willing to pay a rent he's willing to take. But his only connection to DC is the money he takes out of it, so empty space in a growing and bustling neighborhood clamoring for a decent sit down restaurant is nothing but numbers on a page. Gotta say Jen, nice of you to come to the Lerner's defense though, if only you could have helped them see the value in putting the garages underground as being something important to the community, as it was at the time. I'm a huge fan of how Forest City has announced their plans, weathered the economic downturn, assembled a first-rate list of restaurants (and you have nothing to worry about the Thai place as this company operates some of the finest in DC), and most importantly how FC communicates with and has as a priority, the people who will actually live, work and play in this new community. It's amazing how far a little honest communication goes to soothe people.


jenniferp says: (7/11/11 3:24 PM)
Sorry I missed all of this, haven't checked the page out in awhile. I only assume that CHT is requiring a restaurant in that space because the broker only deals with restaurants. DC has been known to require certain things along with site plan approval - dividing space has alot to do with column spacing and such. JD would probably know more about that then me. I did meet with the former point guy on Arlington planning last week and he said that except for the restaurants and the shops within Market Commons the rest of the retail in Rosslyn-Ballston isn't doing very well. Surprising considering how virbrant that area is, but does shed some light on how tough retail can be right now.

I'm trying to be non-confrontational, just my observations on what I notice for someone who has worked in the industry for a long time. I generally try to avoid mentioning it, but I also have a Master's Degree in Real Estate (obscure, but true) so I know quite a bit about land use and planning. I also believe five years later, they are still trying to sell out the units at CHT? So I'm not quite sure how you can say that there is a high demand of tenants clamoring to get into that space. Do you actually know of any that have been rejected? Didn't the dry cleaners finally open and promptly get robbed?

I highly dislike the above ground parking at the stadium. I think it was a mistake. I also think it was a mistake to put the metro above ground in Tysons. Forest City has a great reputation, but hasn't completed anything in this market yet - except for the Ballston Mall, and believe me I work in this area and there are tons of complaints about how that was tenanted. They also have no basis or carrying costs in this project, the land is owned by the government (I noticed that GSA was the applicant on the site plan approval change on M St) and have recieved additional federal support. I was just trying to point out that the retail interest we are getting in this neighborhood will gravitate towards that site for various reasons. Forest City specializes in public private partnerships, but still have the same return requirements as any other developer. They're not doing this for charity. DC is the strongest economy in the nation right now so I'm confident that this retail will start filling up. I guess I just don't understand where some of this anger is coming from.

I hate to make SBS through his/her computer across the room in rage, but I'm pretty familiar with alot of these developers in the area and would be more than happy if Lerner and Akridge (along with Forest City of course) would build-out the entire neighborhood.



JD says: (7/11/11 3:34 PM)
Just to weigh in on a point of fact, yes, the dry cleaner at CHT did get robbed the day it opened, but that was in 2007, and I think it can be stipulated from all sides that the neighborhood is a little bit different now.

Also, I have written so much about the stadium garages that I didn't feel like wading in again, but let's all remember that the city built the stadium, not the Lerners, and the city was under the threat of huge fines from Major League Baseball if the stadium didn't open on time for the 2008 season, with the mandated number of on-site parking spaces. It was felt that going underground would leave the project open for running into delays that could blow either of those requirements. And yes, the Lerners could have pitched in the extra money to get it done, but they didn't, and there really wasn't a lot of political will at the time it was all being argued to do anything that might jeopardize the opening date.


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