Right now the Entertainment and Sports Complex in Southeast D.C. is the biggest and most noticeable redevelopment along the old, but massive, St. Elizabeths Hospital campus.
And with more change to come over the next few years, D.C. is working to pick up the pace in Ward 8.
On Monday, ground was broken on a 22,000-square-foot community-led “interim” retail space near the new arena: Sycamore & Oak. Eight Ward 8-based businesses — including restaurants, retail outlets and artistic spaces — will be housed there as part of the District’s efforts to continue their growth.
“We need more places for people to visit, to dine, to buy the goods that they want for their families,” said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “We know that we can do it here. We’ve seen it in other places, and we know that we will see it in the great Ward 8.”
The eight businesses are:
- Black Bella
- Congress Heights Arts and Cultural Center
- Chris Pyrate & Friends
- LoveMore Brand
- Our Armoire
- Paradyce Clothing Company Inc.
- Salon On The Ave.
- The Museum
“When we do projects like this, not only are we transforming places, we’re transforming people,” said Bowser. “This transformation is underway but it hasn’t happened by accident.”
Keyonna Jones, who runs the Congress Heights Art and Cultural Center, less than a mile away from the arena, said she is a proud Ward 8 resident excited about what the new space will do for area artists.
“A lot of us are still growing in terms of being small businesses and going to the next level,” said Jones. “This gives us a brick and mortar, actual retail space, to expand our business and move forward.”
The retail spot she’s opening here will be an extension of the nearby art gallery, while also offering framing services.
“We’ll also be an incubator for other creators. We’re going to bring other creators that have their small businesses and have an incubator inside of an incubator,” said Jones.
“Anything that the makers or craft makers that are in [Southeast], whatever they have we’ll be selling it in our stores.”
Jones said she’s “really excited” about what’s on the way.
“There’s been so many negative connotations that come from Southeast,” she said, “so I’m really happy to be in a moment where this is all beauty and everybody can see it.”