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Mixed-Use Development Planned For Northeast D.C. Shopping Center

A 2018 rendering of Cedar Realty's plans for the East River Park shopping center at 322 40th St. NE

One of a handful of low-rise, car-centric shopping centers remaining in the District is now being tapped for a redevelopment that will add new housing to Northeast D.C. 

Cedar Realty Trust announced Tuesday it acquired a 99-year lease with a purchase option for the Senator Square Shopping Center at Benning Road and Minnesota Avenue NE, across the street from the Safeway-anchored East River Park shopping center it bought in late 2015. 

The Port Washington, New York-based investor now plans to move forward with entitlements for a redevelopment of the East River Park property that will include multifamily above retail, Cedar Realty Chief Operating Officer Robin Zeigler tells Bisnow

Zeigler said Cedar is beginning the entitlement process now and hopes to break ground within the next one or two years. She said it is too early in the process to provide specifics on the number of units planned for the property. The East River Park site, consisting of 265K SF of land area, is zoned MU-7, allowing for buildings up to 65 feet tall. A rendering on Cedar Realty's leasing brochure, which Zeigler said is an accurate depiction of their current plans, shows a six-story project on the site.

East River Park is anchored by a Safeway grocery store and also includes a CVS Pharmacy, Citibank, Shoe City, U.S. Postal Service and a new Uber driver-support hub. The time remaining on those tenants' leases varies, Zeigler said, so Cedar could redevelop the property in phases to accommodate the existing retailers. She could not disclose when each lease expires or which portion of the site would be redeveloped first. 

The Safeway-anchored East River Park shopping center on Benning Road NE

She said Cedar is committed to having a grocery store at the property for the long term, because the company understands the importance of maintaining food options in the underserved Ward 7 area, but she said Safeway will not necessarily remain through the future redevelopment. 

"It will involve a mixed-use development with housing and retail," Zeigler said of Cedar's plans for East River Park. "Ward 7 is currently a food desert and has not historically had all the resources some of the neighboring communities have had for years, and so we see part of our redevelopment plan to bring some of those retail and resources to that area."

Directly across Minnesota Avenue from East River Park, Senator Square includes Dollar Tree, Weltman's Liquor Store, Cricket Wireless, Adventure Dental, Subway, Beauty Zone, DTLR and Rainbow Shops. 

Cedar has not yet solidified its plans for Senator Square, but Zeigler said she sees it as part of the long-term redevelopment vision. In the near term, Cedar plans to host events at East River Park such as an "Art All Night" program and an Uber Greenlight Hub community open house. It also has a mobile art gallery on display from Aug. 11 until Sept. 29.

"We think the combination of those two shopping centers makes a positive impact on Ward 7 and allows us to provide better services as we look to redevelop East River over time; it allows us to do what we're doing at East River and take that across the street into Senator Square," Zeigler said. 

The properties are less than a half-mile from the Minnesota Avenue Metro station, and they sit on the Benning Road corridor where the planned extension of the D.C. Streetcar would run. On the other side of Benning Road, Donatelli Development in 2014 built the Park 7 project, which includes 376 units and 200K SF of retail.