Rita’s, one of Woodridge’s few retailers.
Earlier this summer, we took a look at the unorthodox strategies used by Friends of Rhode Island Avenue (FoRIA) to draw retailers to their near-empty commercial corridor. Between flash mobs and a fall festival, Woodridge and Langdon residents are eager to fill the vacant storefronts on a stretch of Rhode Island Avenue, roughly between 16th Street NE and 24th Street NE (map), with exciting retail options.
Slowly but surely the efforts are paying off.
Happily for residents, a restaurant is finally coming to the strip. La Table DC will be opening up at 2212 Rhode Island Avenue NE early next year. The restaurant is a project from Oliver Friendly, a FoRIA member and owner of Eat and Smile Catering, a locally sourced catering company. La Table DC was originally Friendly’s “roving restaurant” that popped up in various locations; 2212 Rhode Island Avenue will be its first home. Friendly is currently in the permitting process for a full exterior and interior renovation (more info can be found here).
Taylor Gourmet’s 14th Street location.
Next, the popular DC chain Taylor Gourmet is apparently securing another outpost at 1811 Rhode Island Avenue NE. The owners will definitely set up a bakery in the space, and residents are hopeful that a full sandwich shop will open there as well.
Finally, Bikes of the World (BfW) is opening up a used bike repair and sales shop, dubbed a Retail Laboratory, or “R-Lab,” at 1601 Rhode Island Avenue NE. John Burg of BfW tells UrbanTurf that the organization, which has been operating since 2005, was looking for a place in DC to set up, and reading about FoRIA motivated him to reach out the group. Conversations led to them setting up a booth during the neighborhood’s recent fall festival.
“The community members, both young and old, were very supportive and even a few bicycle commuters who did not live in the area stopped to share their support since they ride along the corridor almost daily,” Burg said. The festival proved fruitful (one resident even offered up his storefront, the former location of Mr. Y’s Golden Room), and the wheels are in motion now to secure grants for the non-profit and start preparing the space. R-Lab will also be particularly community focused, and hopes to work closely with organizations like Montgomery County’s “Identity-Youth” and the Sasha Bruce Youthwork of DC. BfW plans on supporting a two-year initial start-up phase for R-Lab that may lead to a permanent installation. At that location, they are pleased to be the only bike shop in the NE corridor, keeping them from the competition that exists in NW.
In less concrete news, FoRIA chose Bloomingdale’s Rustik Tavern for their second Rhode Trip, an event where residents descend, en masse, on a desirable retailer in another neighborhood in the hopes of encouraging the establishment to come to their area. The event served to strike up a friendly relationship between FoRIA and the restaurant, and some suggestive tweets left residents wondering if Rustik may actually be interested in opening a second shop in their neighborhood.
Perhaps because of this and other as-yet-unknown developments, FoRIA President Kyle Todd sounded pretty optimistic about prospects for Rhode Island Avenue.
“I hope to have much good news to share with you in the coming months,” he said.
This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/rhode_island_avenues_retail_strip_starts_to_fill_up/6179
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