Artist rendering of the Skyland Town Center (Courtesy of Rappaport Company)
Artist rendering of the Skyland Town Center (Courtesy of Rappaport Company)

Ward 7 residents are enthused about the five new service stores and new residential housing that will be a part of the Skyland Town Center project located in Southeast.

“This has been a long time coming,” said former Ward 7 advisory neighborhood commissioner Villareal Johnson. “I like that they are adding new restaurants for people to eat and new housing. I think this is a sign of a changing community. Everyone should have access to a good quality of life.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled the new eateries and housing on March 24 for Skyland. The new shops are Roaming Rooster, its fourth location in the District; &Pizza, its 10th location in the city; Maizal, a South American eatery with its first presence in the District; Mezeh, a Mediterranean-influenced restaurant which will open its second location in the city; and Tropical Smoothie Café will have its third location in the District.

In addition, the mayor announced residential leasing at The Crest, the first residential units to open in Skyland, a 290,000 square-foot building. There will be 263 homes, a mixture of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, a fitness center and courtyard pool and grills. Bowser said of the 263 housing units, 53 will be reserved for people earning up to 80 percent of the median family income and 26 are set-aside for workforce units, housing priced for middle-income service workers, such as police officers, teachers and nurses, in close proximity to their jobs.

The Skyland upgrade comes as the District struggles to emerge from the economic recession caused by the coronavirus pandemic and Ward 7 continue to press city officials for more retail and dining options.

Bowser said bringing new amenities to Ward 7 is the result of a partnership between the ward’s business sector, the District’s business partners, community builders and developers and the D.C. Department of Planning and Economic Development.

“I look forward to continued groundbreakings and I look to all the ribbon cuttings even more,” the mayor said.

D.C. Council member Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) said, “Today’s announcement of the additional amenities coming to Skyland Town Center is the result of decades of hard labor.”

The announcement came as Lidl Stitfung & Co., a German-headquartered grocery retailer, has agreed to serve as an anchor to Skyland and businesses such as Chase Bank and Starbucks have made commitments to the project. Already operating on-site are a CVS Pharmacy, Like that Barbershop and Skyland Nails and Spa.

Tiffany Brown, an advisory neighborhood commissioner for district 7B02, said the addition to Skyland will bring shoppers and new residents to the Alabama Avenue SE area.

“I have lived alongside this project for 24 years and I am glad things are beginning to come up,” Brown said. “I really like that we will have more food options and may have new residents come in. I don’t see the new residents as a sign of gentrification but of progress for the neighborhood.”

W. Earl Williams, the former president of the DC Citizens Federation and a civic leader in the nearby Hillcrest neighborhood, thanked the Skyland developers — W.C. Smith and Rappaport — for staying with the project through the years.

“These developers have been wonderful,” Williams said. “They could have walked away and they didn’t. People who live in Wards 7 and 8 don’t have to cross the [Anacostia] River for quality dining and housing.”

James Wright Jr.

James Wright Jr. is the D.C. political reporter for the Washington Informer Newspaper. He has worked for the Washington AFRO-American Newspaper as a reporter, city editor and freelance writer and The Washington...

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