Banana Republic Coming to Ward 5? Doug Jemal Says Yes

The Washington uber developer says some surprising tenants are coming to his Hecht Warehouse project in Ivy City.
Banana Republic Coming to Ward 5? Doug Jemal Says Yes

Updated Friday, August 29: Ari Gejdenson confirms his restaurant group, Mindful Restaurants, will open three places at Hecht Warehouse. In an e-mail, he says: “We’re in the process of wrapping up the lease and I’m thrilled that Mindful Restaurants can be a part of the exciting revitalization of Ivy City and the Hecht warehouse. It’s the most beautiful warehouse I’ve ever seen and, having grown up in NE, it means a lot to me that this historic building and it’s surrounding neighborhood will once again be a thriving part of our city.”

Unless you’re low on gas, have a fast food craving, or want to spend the night in a cheap motel, there’s not much to stop for along heavily industrial New York Avenue, Northeast. On Thursday, the city announced plans to attempt to rectify that. The five-year Ward 5 Works plan aims to adapt industrial land to encourage the growth of business, residential, and cultural areas.

It’s good news for Douglas Jemal, president of Douglas Development, who made an early—and sizable—bet on Ivy City, the small neighborhood just off New York Avenue, with Hecht Warehouse District. Housed in the building formerly used as the distribution center for Hecht’s department store, the project is slated to bring 350 apartments, plus retail and restaurants. By January’s groundbreaking, Jemal had lined up two retail tenants for the space: Mom’s Organic Market and Planet Fitness.

As it stands now, though, it’s tough to imagine, say, a Banana Republic or a trendy restaurant setting up shop there. But Jemal insists that’s exactly what’s on the way. During a conversation with Washingtonian earlier this week, the developer shared this list of tenants that he expects to open in the Hecht project: Banana Republic, Gap, Nike, Petco, Busboys and Poets, and three restaurants from the restauranteur behind Ghibellina (on 14th Street, Northwest) and Acqua Al 2 (near Eastern Market). We’ve reached out to Busboys owner, Andy Shallal, and Ari Gejdenson, owner of Ghibellina and Acqua Al 2, for comment, and will update if we hear back.

Construction of the retail space is scheduled to begin early next year—we’ll stay tuned. 

Find Marisa Kashino on Twitter @marisakashino.

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Senior Editor

Marisa M. Kashino joined Washingtonian in 2009 as a staff writer, and became a senior editor in 2014. She was previously a reporter for Legal Times and the National Law Journal. She lives in Northeast DC with her husband, two dogs, and two cats.