Site Will Begin as an Interim Retail Village Intended to Create New Opportunities for Artists, Lifestyle Retailers, Restauranteurs, and Entrepreneurs in Congress Heights
(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser celebrated the groundbreaking of Sycamore & Oak, a new community-led temporary development located on Parcel 15 in Congress Heights. This mass timber structure, designed by world-renowned architect David Adjaye, consists of a 22,000-square-foot Interim Retail Village (IRV) that will incubate retail and food concepts that originated in the community and provide job opportunities to neighborhood residents. In addition, the site intends to create new opportunities for artists, lifestyle retailers, restaurateurs, and entrepreneurs in Congress Heights. The IRV will open to the public in December 2022.
“We are building the community that Ward 8 deserves at the St. Elizabeths East campus,” said Mayor Bowser. “This campus is coming to life right before our eyes – a place for people to live, to have fun, to work and find new opportunity. When it opens, Sycamore & Oak is going to be a beautiful new destination for our city and an incubator for local talent.”
Sycamore & Oak, named for its location at the corner of Sycamore and Oak Drive, will be next to the Entertainment and Sports Arena (ESA), within walking distance of the Congress Heights Metro Station, and will serve as an incubator for local businesses and provide more than 100 job opportunities for neighborhood residents during the interim retail activation. Guided by the community’s desire to see local and diverse retail options, the following businesses – all owned by residents of Wards 7 and 8 – are the first to have been offered spaces:
- Black Bella
- Congress Heights Arts and Cultural Center
- Chris Pyrate & Friends
- LoveMore Brand
- Our Armoire
- Paradyce Clothing Company, Inc.
- Salon On The Ave.
- The Museum
Businesses were selected after an extensive application, interview, and evaluation process assisted by members of the community, the Department of Small and Local Business Development, and retail experts. In collaboration with the Congress Heights Community Training and Development Corporation (CHCTDC) and LeGreg Harrison, founder of The Museum, the eight businesses will be part of the “Incubate The Eight” program – in addition to physical space within the retail village, participants will also have access to a range of benefits, including low-cost space, marketing support, and entrepreneur network development. This collaboration is an exciting step in transforming Parcel 15 into a thriving community space for start-up, accelerator, and scaler stage business owners.
“With the interim retail venue construction now underway, local entrepreneurs will be able to share their ventures with the community at Parcel 15,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio. “Aligned with Mayor Bowser’s vision for the St Elizabeths East Resilence Campus, this activation at Parcel 15 sets the tone for the full project emphasizing equity, sustainability and exceptional design.”
The IRV is constructed from FSC-certified, sustainably harvested mass timber. It will be the largest free-standing structure of its sort in the region and will demonstrate the flexibility, economy, and sustainability of this ancient building material in its new, high-tech form.
“The design of the Interim Retail Village is a response to rigorous dialogue, consultation and engagement with the incredible Congress Heights community,” said David Adjaye, Founder and Principal at Adjaye Associates. “Predicated on themes of wellness and social health, this aspirational interim development will be a space for entrepreneurship, social gathering and cultural programming.”
The permanent Parcel 15 site development will serve as the gateway to a revitalized St. Elizabeths East campus, eventually providing mixed-use commercial, retail, hospitality, open public space, and residential development that leverages the ongoing public and private investments in the neighborhood.
“Congress Heights boasts some of the city’s most beautiful landscapes and views, a unique history, as well as a strong arts and local business community that has contributed so much to Washington, D.C.’s overall cultural fabric,” said Dan Tangherlini, Managing Director at Emerson Collective. “We are honored to work closely alongside Mayor Bowser and her team, neighborhood leaders and residents of the community to realize a first-of-its kind mixed use development, which will set a higher standard for affordable housing, job creation, sustainability and community equity.”
The transformation of the St. Elizabeths East campus started with the R.I.S.E. Demonstration Center and Gateway Pavilion and was followed by Mayor Bowser’s opening of the Entertainment and Sports Arena (ESA). The ESA was the first project completed in the St. Elizabeths East Campus Redevelopment since 2018, followed by the Residences at St. Elizabeths East, the second major completion in the redevelopment efforts. Other projects include:
- The Residences at St. Elizabeths East;
- 750-space parking garage located behind the ESA;
- New 801 East Men’s Shelter replacement facility;
- District Towns at St. Elizabeths East townhome project;
- A new Whitman-Walker Health facility; and
- The Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center, GW Health – opening in 2024.
In July 2021, Mayor Bowser also announced a new District of Columbia Public Library to replace the Parklands-Turner Neighborhood Library.