Updated: Jan. 24, 2019 at 2:26 p.m.
A D.C. real estate company is taking the first steps to revamp The Shops at 2000 Penn into a modern market with a new entrance on 21st Street and handfuls of new vendors.
MRP Realty, which signed on to develop the retail complex in May, proposed plans to upgrade the interior and exterior of 2000 Penn to mirror Eastern Market, a public market space in Capitol Hill. Project leaders said the renovations – which include a name change to “Western Market” – will “elevate” the quality of the space and cut down on rent costs for vendors.
Lauren Kowall, MRP Realty’s vice president of acquisitions and investments, presented the company’s plans at a Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting last week to garner feedback about the designs from commissioners.
Kowall said the site was initially called Western Market and was one of three public markets that were part of the L’Enfant Plan – a design developed by former Mayor Pierre L’Enfant who intended for D.C. to have a Western, Center and Eastern Market. Western Market was built around 1802 before moving to 21st and K streets until it closed in 1961.
“Our plan of 2000 Penn is to bring back Western Market to its original home, and that has framed our retail plan for building the market into the retail concourse that’s there today,” Kowall said.
MRP plans to install a “curtain wall” system made out of glass, which will be connected to the CVS Pharmacy and the other vendors of The Shops at 2000 Penn. Customers will be able to enter the building on 21st Street, she said.
Kowall said MRP plans to update the building to “preserve and enhance the nature of the property” and its history in the District by working with the D.C. Historic Preservation Office during the renovation process. The company plans to keep some of the complex’s brick walls and other historic infrastructure while removing aspects parts of the building that have been added over the years.
She added that the new site will cut down on space for individual vendors, allowing more retailers to pack into the complex while paying lower rents. Kowall said vendors have historically struggled to pay or fallen behind on their rent, causing rapid turnover in the building.
“By creating a destination market with a bunch of small tenants where their rent payment is much lower, and they only have to support about 500 square feet, we think this will truly be a successful public space and it’ll appeal to everyone in the neighborhood,” Kowall said.
Kristian DeMeo, MRP Realty’s director of marketing and communications, said the company plans to repaint parts of the building, add an office lobby for the non-retail office spaces, install an entrance on 21st Street, add new storefronts and create a market with retailers and food vendors.
She said MRP plans to deliver on the “initial phases” of the repositioning project in 2020 but declined to specify what the initial phases entail.
DeMeo said the company has been working with current vendors to “mitigate the impacts” of construction but did not specify how the renovations would affect vendors.
Alicia Knight, the senior associate vice president for operations, said GW has been “briefed” by MRP on “multiple occasions” as the company has developed its plans for the properties. She said officials are “particularly pleased” with the retail space and the proposed entrance on 21st Street.
“We believe that the new additions to the space will enhance the overall campus experience for our entire community,” Knight said in an email.
James Harnett, a junior and ANC commissioner, said he is excited to see MRP Realty renovating a building that is central to the Foggy Bottom Campus. He said he has shared the MRP’s plans with more than 40 student leaders, all of whom have been excited about the project.
“I know GW has worked for years to try to revitalize this building, and it has never really been a success,” Harnett said at the ANC meeting last week. “I think that this is a strategy that really will bring a needed community amenity to this neighborhood.”
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
One of Lauren Kowall’s quotes has been updated to better reflect what she said at the ANC meeting. We regret this error.