Starbucks’ return to Union Station touted as sign of revitalization

Starbucks will return to D.C.’s Union Station this fall, two years after closing its Union Station store.(Credit Rexmark)

Starbucks will return to D.C.’s Union Station this fall, two years after closing at the location, citing, among other things, safety concerns.

Starbucks is one of several new retail leases at Union Station since New York-based Rexmark took over retail management at Union Station in 2022. Other new leases include Raising Cane’s and The Halal Guys, both of which are currently open.

Starbucks’ new Union Station location, which will be bigger than its previous one, will open in September.

“The reopening of Starbucks is undoubtedly a milestone. It is just one facet of Union Station’s remarkable revival. We are doubling down on our commitment to providing a premier destination that reflects the dynamic spirit of our nation’s capital,” said Michael Rebibo, founder and managing principal of Rexmark.

While the number of new tenants committing to Union Station is, so far, not large, it may mark a turnaround.

Following the onset of the pandemic, dozens of food service and retail shops closed at Union Station, due to the dramatic drop in commuter traffic and rising concerns about crime and safety. By 2022, half of its commercial space was vacant, according to Bloomberg News.

Rexmark said foot traffic at Union Station is up 92% from 2022 levels now. About two dozen restaurants, fast food and fast-casual vendors are currently open.

Since taking over management at Union Station, Rexmark says it has increased security, upgraded cleaning and lighting, and has deployed “station ambassadors” throughout the station to enhance the level of hospitality.

Despite the accomplishments that Rexmark touts, its stewardship at Union Station may not last. It has filed an appeal to halt the transfer of retail leasehold operations through eminent domain directly to Amtrak.

On Wednesday, a federal judge ordered a delay in the plan to transfer operations to Amtrak until the end of the month.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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