Epicenter of large-scale riots that erupted following Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1968 assassination, Columbia Heights had for decades needed a wholesale restoration and transformation to return the neighborhood to a vibrant urban community. While there were some advantages in terms of retail – dense foot traffic and abundant public transportation — developers were hesitant to invest in an area down on its heels.


BLTa took the site’s blank canvas, anticipating future expansion, giving form to a transit-based development with strong subway and rerouted bus access. We advocated for and achieved a 33% reduction in required parking, all located of below-grade.  The project features an architecturally distinguished design, uniquely urban in scale, encompassing  855K square feet on a single block within a 65 ‘ height limit. Most retailers boast direct street-level access, while national big box retailers including Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Best Buy, are entered through a 65-foot-high glass cylindrical atrium. Other tenants include a 40,000-square foot-Washington Sports Club and 15,000 square feet for small, minority-owned businesses.

Return on Design

DC USA opened 85 percent occupied with Target achieving its second-biggest spring opening week ever.  Metro ridership has risen at the Columbia Heights station more than 300 percent since the start of DC USA. The neighborhood has been transformed; 1,100 units of housing built or renovated; more than 1,000 jobs created and more than $12 million in annual tax revenue added to the District’s tax rolls. For the developer return, the retail unit alone appraised for $114 million, nearly double the $65 million total construction cost.

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