The Barnes & Noble will occupy this space along Monroe Street.
The Barnes & Noble will occupy this space along Monroe Street.

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The Cornerstone building, left, will be home to the new Busboys and Poets.

To someone who moved away from Edgewood more than four years ago—-someone like, say, me—-the neighborhood has become nearly unrecognizable. Where a fenced-in field once lay vacant, the Brookland Works complex now stands, two bustling apartment buildings straddling a studio-lined Arts Walk. Along Monroe Street NE, the triangular Portland Flats building nears completion, while workers build out the spaces that will soon hold a Barnes & Noble and apartments at the Cornerstone.

Taken together, the three developments comprise the first phase of the Monroe Street Market project, which is quickly transforming the area around the Brookland-CUA Metro station. Technically, the development, which is privately financed to the tune of more than $200 million, is on the Edgewood side of the tracks, though developers Bozzuto and Abdo Development chose to plaster the more marketable Brookland name on the side of one of the Brookland Works buildings.

The east side of the Brookland Works building features small patios for the artist studios and hallway windows. No apartments face out this way because of the adjacent railroad tracks.

The Brookland Works building opened in July after two years of construction. It has 152 apartments, about three-quarters of which are leased, and 27 artist studios. Underneath are 108 parking spaces: 17 for artists, and 91 for residents. (The full first phase will include about 650 parking spaces.) Studio apartments like the one below, at 514 square feet, start in the mid $1,600s.

Studios feature mini stoves and dishwashers. Artsy wallpaper not included.

Most of the amenities in the complex will be in the Cornerstone building. Brookland Works has a small gym, meeting room, and soon-to-be art room. Given the space constraints, the lobby doubles as a kind of living room.

The common room at Brookland Works.

The two halves of Brookland Works line the Arts Walk, with artist studios on either side that house everything from furniture makers to spoken-word artists to a tool library. Rent for the studios ranges from the lower $400s a month to the upper $600s. At the corner of the Arts Walk and Monroe Street, the owners of Meridian Pint are opening a restaurant and bar with about 50 outdoor seats.

The future site of the yet-to-be-named restaurant/bar from the owners of Meridian Pint.

The Arts Walk leads to a small plaza directly adjacent to the Metro entrance. The fountain can be shut off and used as a stage for performances. The screen behind it will soon be home to green vines.

The tower next to the plaza will display promotional information about Brookland Works and associated events.

Opposite the Arts Walk from the Meridian Pint-esque bar is another retail space, which will be filled by a combined fitness center and cafe that has at least one other location in the District. Sports Club/LA, Vida Fitness, and MINT sound like leading candidates, but spokespeople for both Sports Club/LA and MINT say they don’t have plans to open a location at the Monroe Street Market. Vida’s owner didn’t respond to a request for comment.

A future Vida Fitness?

The Edgewood Arts Building sits on a site that I remember as a dumping ground for old tires and couches. It’s been in use for about a month and serves as the temporary home for Dance Place, whose normal building is undergoing renovations. Large glass sliding windows open the space up to an outdoor patio.

The Edgewood Arts Building has 2,200 square feet of open space.

The Portland Flats building, whose 100 apartments started leasing two weeks ago, will have the biggest units. The building is slightly more upscale, with a “more boutique hotel kind of feel,” according to Bozzuto’s David Raley. Construction will finish in early November, and studios will start in the mid $1,700s. Retail will include &pizza and Potbelly. The Cornerstone building, to be completed in January and February, will have 310 apartments. It’ll feature the most amenities, including a large gym, which will be open to residents of all three buildings. It will also hold the new Barnes & Noble that will serve as a campus bookstore for Catholic University and will include a Starbucks.

There are five to seven retail spaces in the first phase of the project that have yet to be announced, including a large restaurant, which will be announced in the next two weeks, as well as as dry cleaner and a bank, says Bozzuto’s Mike Henehan. Henehan expects to start a second phase of the Monroe Street Market project in three or four years. That phase may include a supermarket, which neighbors have been asking for.

Photos by Aaron Wiener