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Washington Business Journal: Monroe Street Market Pays Off for Brookland

June 03, 2013

The 1 million-square-foot Monroe Street Market has yet to welcome its first tenant, but the project is already paying dividends for the community.

The District on Friday announced it would provide grants of up to $5,000 to businesses along 12th Street NE for storefront improvements (more information here). The grant money comes from a $25,000 contribution from the developers — Abdo Development, Bozzuto Development and Pritzker Realty — part of an extensive and expensive community benefits package negotiated in 2009 to secure support for its planned-unit development application.

The storefront grants are meant to increase customer foot traffic and sales, stimulate private investment and “brand the Brookland commercial district as an attractive, safe shopping destination,” according to the Department of Small and Local Business Development’s notice of funding availability.

The Monroe Street Market community benefits package included $210,000 in various cash contribution and project-related promises, and that does not include a commitment to realign a pair of intersections — Seventh Street and Michigan Avenue NE, and Michigan Avenue and Monroe Street — or to construct an arts/flex building of primarily community space.

“It wasn’t like our arms were being twisted,” Abdo President Jim Abdo told me. “We wanted to bring amenities to the table. It’s a very active communtiy in Brookland, and we wanted to be good neighbors.”

Abdo said Monroe Street Market, a $200 million project now majority owned by Bozzuto and Pritzker, will create a destination and a sense of place, “putting Brookland on the map.”

According to the Monroe Street Market website, the first residential tenants will move-in next month, in the Brookland Works building. The apartment building sits atop 27 studio spaces reserved for a diverse collection of artists — woodworking, sculpture, fabric, possibly even trapeze, and along an arts walk and plaza that leads to the Brookland Metro Station.

In addition to the $25,000 storefront improvement grant, here's a list of the monetary contribution Abdo offered as part of his PUD application:

- $50,000 for aesthetic improvements to the Monroe Street Bridge.
- $25,000 to engage a “reputable third-party retail consultant” to study the retail needs for Brookland and Edgewood.
- $35,000 to Trinity College and $40,000 to Catholic University for Ward 5 student scholarships.
- $40,000 to install a “sprung floor” in the Monroe Street Market Arts Flex Building to accommodate dance classes and recitals.
- $15,000 to the Next Generation Youth Program.
- $45,000 to the HELP Foundation in support of a fatherhood/career development program to be administered at the Luke C. Moore Academy.