With Williamsburg’s newest supermarket scheduled to open this week, Midtown Row is closer to taking shape.
Earth Fare will celebrate the grand opening of its store at 208 Monticello Ave. on Wednesday. The health food grocer is the latest tenant to join Midtown Row, the new name for the jointly redeveloped Williamsburg and Monticello Shopping Centers.
The properties are owned by Broad Street Realty, a Bethesda, Maryland-based real estate firm that purchased the two shopping centers in 2017 with the vision of redeveloping them together into a shopping, residential and entertainment hub.
The vision was met with some resistance from the community, but after review it was welcomed by Williamsburg officials and City Council, who approved Broad Street’s redevelopment request last fall. Now Broad Street is moving ahead with its plans to redesign the shopping centers.
“We couldn’t be any more pleased with where we are at this point in time,” Broad Street CEO Mike Jacoby said.
The most noticeable change so far has been to the former Monticello Shopping Center. Earth Fare now sits between Nawab Indian Cuisine and the future site of Peninsula Ace Hardware, which is moving across Monticello Avenue to its new home this summer.
The store frontage of Earth Fare has been redesigned, with a dark-paneled face and a bright green roof towering over the brick building behind it.
Soaps and Suds, FedEx and City Nails are also locked into the roster for the former Monticello Shopping Center.
What’s to come
The most visible changes might not be seen until next year, but once they occur they will be difficult to overlook.
The next step in the redevelopment plan will begin with the construction of four five-story buildings that will mix retail and apartments in what is now the Williamsburg Shopping Center.
“You should see some things happening in the first quarter of 2019,” Jacoby said.
Two of the buildings will face Monticello Avenue, forming a ‘T’ with two more buildings running perpendicular to Monticello Avenue and alongside Midtown Row’s main street.
The buildings will hold a combined 240 housing units on floors two through five, and the first floor of each building will host retailers and restaurants, which have yet to be announced.
Jacoby said he expects the buildings will be completed and tenants — both residential and commercial — will begin moving in early in the summer of 2020.
Each building will have its own external look, showcasing different external materials and color palettes as approved by Williamsburg’s Architectural Review Board.
A two-story, 218-space parking structure will be constructed to support both residents and customers.
The construction of the new buildings will mean the demolition of some, but not all, of the older structures in the Williamsburg Shopping Center.
Food Lion will remain in place because the store has a long-term lease in place. The ABC store will also continue in its current location, and Marshalls will move into the same building.
The current Marshall’s location, and the storefronts facing Monticello Avenue, will be demolished.
Sal’s by Victor will still operate in its longtime spot next to the ABC store, but Jacoby said it will open up to a community green in what is now the parking lot. He added Broad Street plans to “program” the green with weekend events.
As Peninsula Ace Hardware moves to its new home, the building it now occupies will be made into a food and entertainment structure.
“Our hope is to make it a more food-oriented, community-oriented, multi-tenanted experience,” Jacoby said. “Probably a combination of a restauranteur, a coffee purveyor, and probably two to four other smaller food purveyors — something akin to kiosks, a food hall.”
Parking will be in front of Food Lion and the new Marshalls. Midtown Row will provide about 950 parking spaces total, according to Williamsburg Planning Commission documents.
The city will also redesign Monticello Avenue in the coming years.
Jacoby said every square foot of real estate in the Monticello Shopping Center is either under lease or will be soon, as letters of intent have been signed, he said.
There are many possible configurations for the bottom floor of each of the residential buildings, Jacoby said, and Broad Street can divide the available space to meet the needs of their commercial tenants.
While Broad Street is not yet ready to announce any more tenants, Jacoby hinted the real estate firm has ambitious goals for Midtown Row.
“We’ve been talking to several brewery concepts, both local and elsewhere,” he said.