- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A developer signed a deal with IHOP to open the first nationally known, sit-down restaurant in Ward 8. It’s a major coup for the community, which has long been trying to attract name-brand retailers and restaurants.

Jackson Investment Co. LLC, a D.C. developer, plans to open the pancake house in the Shops at Park Village — at the former Camp Simms site — at Stanton Place and Alabama Avenue Southeast.

IHOP still has to complete a final review of the lease, but an IHOP spokeswoman confirmed yesterday that it signed a deal with a franchisee to open three locations in the District over the next five years.

“We’re very excited to have the first IHOP in the District of Columbia,” said Matthew Ritz of William C. Smith & Co., which is developing the Shops at Park Village. “We’re constantly trying to meet the retail needs of the community in providing a family-oriented sit-down restaurant.”

Keith Sellars, vice president of retail and development at the Washington, DC Economic Partnership, a public-private partnership responsible for bringing development to the District, called the lease a milestone for development in that area of the city.

“People in Ward 8 will finally have a place for sit-down table service,” he said.

Ward 8 has a smattering of fast-food restaurants and mom-and-pop shops, but no major table-service restaurants. Developers said that national names haven’t had the confidence to enter the neighborhood because they think residents don’t have enough disposable income to support them.

The IHOP deal is a sign that this may be changing.

“It’s evidence that retailers think they can prosper there,” said Jeff Epperson, of Urban City Ventures LLC, which is leasing Poplar Point Place at Suitland Parkway and Howard Road in Ward 8.

He said national big-box tenants have shown interest in the site.

About 1 million square feet of retail is planned for Wards 7 and 8, according to the Economic Partnership. That is spread among several projects, including the Shops at Park Village, Poplar Point, Skyland Shopping Center on Good Hope Road Southeast and the Capitol Gateway Marketplace on East Capitol and 58th streets Northeast.

Albert “Butch” Hopkins Jr., president and chief executive officer of the Anacostia Economic Development Corp., called the IHOP’s establishment a major coup for Ward 8 because it’s the franchise’s first D.C. location.

“It’s a boon for the neighborhood,” he said. “They say that when Starbucks comes to a neighborhood, you know you’ve arrived. I guess if you get an IHOP, you’ve arrived.”

Mr. Hopkins said he expects the restaurant to be successful.

“One of the things we are desperately in need of is sit-down restaurants, whether breakfast, lunch or dinner,” he said. “IHOP is around the clock. I think they’re going to be very successful.”

The IHOP is expected to open in the spring, Mr. Ritz said.

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