Foggy Bottom community members and students will be able to swing by new vendors at The Shops at 2000 Penn for a meal and drink by the end of the calendar year.
MRP Realty, the real estate company that manages The Shops at 2000 Penn, first presented plans to the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission last January to open a food market – called Western Market – in the building. Tim Hill, the vice president of investments at MRP Realty, said construction on the food hall began late last year, and the final product is slated to include a mix of sit-down restaurants and food stalls, some of which may accept GWorld.
“It’ll be a blend of different kinds of operators here and different sizes, some full service from stores that you walk up and grab food from, so we really like the diversity here,” Hill said.
He said MRP has been working with Westbrook Realty to plan the Western Market renovation since the company acquired the building in 2018. Hill said MRP does not have a set opening date but plans to open the food hall by the end of the calendar year.
Hill said the hall will include inside and outside open seating, and he plans to add an entrance on the west side of the building, where CVS is located, so students can access the building without passing through CVS.
He said the renovation process has required construction workers to board up the interior of the building while construction takes place. Hill added that he hasn’t noticed a downturn in foot traffic to the building since the walls were boarded up.
“When we planned for temporary construction walls to go up, we planned those with our current tenants in mind to make sure that they maintain their business and stayed open, to keep themselves healthy as a business and sales healthy,” he said.
He said the founders of the bakery Elle have confirmed they’ll open a concept of their cafe in Western Market. He said Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls and Shouk, an Israeli-inspired restaurant, have also confirmed they’ll open locations in Western Market.
He said the food hall will have to include “diverse” food options to cater to both students and corporate employees who work at offices in The Shops at 2000 Penn.
“There are other locations that you could be in where you plan more for residential, you plan for schools or you plan for office, and in this case we’re fortunate enough to have all of those,” Hill said.
Businesses within the complex have historically struggled to retain space in the building, citing high rent costs and low foot traffic as reasons for closure.
Three shop owners at The Shops at 2000 Penn said the renovations have not majorly impacted business, and they hope the completed Western Market project will ramp up business for their shops.
Daniel Kramer, the managing partner of Duke’s Grocery, which opened in the complex in May, said sales have increased since opening despite the construction surrounding the store. He said he plans to open an “express window” outside the restaurant when the scaffolding is taken down to ease the take-out process.
“Take-out business is up, and so is business overall; that applies to GWorld sales too,” Kramer said in an email. “The reception from the Foggy Bottom and GW communities since we opened has been great, and we keep getting busier.”
He said the restaurant wasn’t open at this time last year, so he can’t accurately judge how business has fluctuated since renovations began, but he looks forward to the completion of the renovation project.
“We are excited to be the anchor restaurant and bar of this whole development, with full service seating outside on the patio, inside our walls and also in Western Market itself,” he said. “The Shops at 2000 Penn will be a year-round, seven-day-a-week destination. It will be good for all involved.”
Aliyah Woodland, a manager at Chipotle, said the restaurant has been dirtier since the renovations started, and Chipotle employees have had to clean the restaurant more frequently. Woodland said the construction within the building has not impacted foot traffic to Chipotle, and she does not anticipate any fluctuations to the store’s customer base when the renovations are complete.
“We have the same customers, which are a majority students,” Woodland said. “I don’t think it’s going to make a big impact.”
Bindaas general manager Frances Nepomuceno said foot traffic into the restaurant has decreased since construction inside the building began, but he expects business to boom when construction is complete.
“I think hopefully it will bring more traffic to the area and into the building,” Nepomuceno said.