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Groundbreaking Marks Start of Shops at Dakota Crossing

Barrington M. Salmon | , W Staff Writer | 2/15/2012, 12:28 p.m.

Michele V. Hagans' years-long effort to create a large-scale retail development took an important step to becoming reality when Hagans, a number of elected officials, businesspeople and members of the community took part in a groundbreaking ceremony at the construction site on Ft. Lincoln Drive in Northeast.

Among those at the February 2 groundbreaking included Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.); Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D); Victor Hoskins, deputy mayor for Planning and Economic Development; D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown; Councilmember Vincent Orange and Brian Monday, regional president for TD Bank.

When the project is completed, The Shops at Dakota Crossing will boast a 430,000 square-foot retail center, which will be anchored by a Costco, Shoppers Food Warehouse, and Marshalls. The rest of the space will be home to local, regional and national retailers.

Hagans, managing partner of Fort Lincoln Retail, LLC - the joint venture team developing the project that includes CSG Urban Partners and Trammell Crow Corporation - represents an economic renaissance for Ward 5 and the District.

"This has been a long time coming," said Hagans, 62. "This is the vision I had in the 1990s."

Hagans, who is also president of the Fort Lincoln New Town Corporation, said she expects Costco to open its doors in November of this year and the other stores will follow. She said she is in negotiations with another major retailer but declined to name the company until a deal is completed.

All along, Hagans said, the original master plan envisioned a town center with one million square-feet of government office space.

"After my father's death, I saw this as a great retail site so we changed the master plan to include retail. This is really my vision. Development was always my father's (goal) and I kind of stepped it up. This has some fingerprints of mine," she said with a chuckle.

Hagans elaborated on what it means for the city and community.

"This will have a huge impact on the city and attract dollars inside and outside of the city," she said. "We will start a new trend and reverse old regional shopping habits: We are working not only to keep D.C. dollars in D.C., but also to increase the inward flow of suburban dollars generated from the thousands of commuters who pass by this location on a daily basis."

The shopping center is located just inside the District line by South Dakota Avenue, N.E. and very close to Route 50 and I-295.

Bob King, a longtime Fort Lincoln resident and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, exulted over the prospects of the project finally coming to fruition.

"I've been an ANC commissioner for 29 years and I spent 25 of those years supporting the project," he said. I've guided this along with Michele Hagans through zoning, (the concerns of) residents, getting and losing anchor (stores). The groundbreaking was a heck of a day for me. Dr. Martin Luther King used to ask, "How long? Not long. People would ask me, How long? Not long!"