Georgia Avenue took a step toward revitalization yesterday with the groundbreaking of a $28 million residential and retail project.
The mixed-use development called Residences at Georgia Avenue is one of three real estate projects the D.C. Council hopes will attract new business and housing to the corridor between downtown Washington and the Maryland suburbs.
"Georgia Avenue is a place of great hope and inspiration," D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said during the ceremony.
The project at 4100 Georgia Ave. NW results from a decade of planning and legal wrangling to redevelop the area along the street, which consists now of primarily low- and middle-income residences and small stores.
"This was the biggest used-car outlet on Georgia Avenue," Mr. Fenty said as he stood in the vacant lot where a seven-story building will stand.
Two other mixed-use projects — Georgia Commons at 3910 Georgia Ave. NW and Park Place being built over the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metrorail Station — are key components of the city's redevelopment plans for Georgia Avenue. They also would consist of housing and retail business.
When completed near the end of 2008, the Residences at Georgia Avenue would be one of the largest mixed-used projects on Georgia Avenue in the past two decades, covering 94,443 square feet.
The building is designed for 72 apartments with 11,515 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, which will be used by a Yes Organic Market grocery store.
"This project will bring much-needed affordable housing, healthy shopping alternatives and jobs to the Georgia Avenue-Petworth neighborhood," said Adrian G. Washington, principal in the Neighborhood Development Co., which is the developer and is headquartered across the street from the Residences at Georgia Avenue.
The Georgia Avenue corridor is one of 20 neighborhoods Mr. Fenty and the D.C. Office of Planning have targeted for attracting more retail business to Washington, instead of letting suburbs get the shoppers and their sales tax revenue.
Other neighborhoods showing signs of progress toward more retail are along H Street, East Capitol Street and the historic district of Anacostia.
Heavy automobile and pedestrian traffic, with major employment centers at Howard University and Washington Hospital Center, make the area ripe for revitalization, city officials said.
"We have a few things in the pipeline," said Leila Finucane Edmonds, acting director of the Department of Housing and Community Development, referring to additional projects for Georgia Avenue. "We hope to see much more retail here."