MLK Gateway to serve as a new epicenter of commerce, culture and technology with a vibrant mix of neighborhood-serving retail
by. Maya Nadeem | Maya@menkitigroup.com
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The Menkiti Group was joined by Mayor Muriel Bowser and city officials Wednesday to celebrate the groundbreaking of the first phase of the MLK Gateway, a project being developed by The Menkiti Group and Enlightened Inc. in partnership as MLK Gateway Partners LLC (MGP). Located at the corner of Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, MLK Gateway will become a catalytic center of commerce, driving economic opportunity in the heart of historic Anacostia.
“We are excited about returning Good Hope Road and MLK to the center of commerce in historic Anacostia. We believe this project is an innovative example of community-led participative development and serves as a model for how the public and private sectors can collaborate to drive neighborhood impact,” said Bo Menkiti, founder and chief executive officer, The Menkiti Group.
Phase One of the project includes a mix of uses and features the restoration of 14,000 square feet of ground-floor retail as well as 20,000 square feet of newly built office space. The project is anchored by Enlightened Inc., award-winning minority-owned information technology and cybersecurity firm that will relocate its nearly 150 district-based employees to a new headquarters at MLK Gateway. The building’s design embraces and incorporates the site’s existing historic facades and is a rich backdrop for new vibrant street-fronting retail.
“We are proud to be a part of the MLK Gateway Partners and to be a change agent for tech innovation, job creation and economic development for small businesses in Anacostia and beyond,” said Antwanye Ford, president, and chief executive officer, Enlightened Inc.
Phase Two of the project will include the construction of a new building at 1909-1913 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE with street-level retail and multistory office space above.
“Today, we are continuing the transformation of this historic neighborhood by revitalizing the gateway of the Anacostia business area,” said Mayor Bowser. “My Administration never gave up on this project because we know it will help us bring jobs, housing, and new amenities to Ward 8. We thank all of our community and private sector partners for making this project a reality.”
The Menkiti Group’s engagement around the community’s vision for equitable and sustainable economic development began over four years ago. Through meetings with dozens of community groups, The Menkiti Group was able to gain a greater understanding of the assets and needs of neighborhood residents and business owners. The long-standing vacant site houses two lots and four storefronts that will transform into retail, restaurant and incubator space to support local small businesses. Neighborhood-serving retail will provide a vibrant tenant mix and activate the site for the greater part of the day as well as provide jobs and pathways to opportunity for Ward 8 residents and businesses.
“MLK Gateway demonstrates what we can deliver when the public and private sectors work together to make big, strategic investments and use new tools like Opportunity Zones to support existing communities,” said John Falcicchio, interim deputy mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
“We look forward to bringing this historic corner of the Anacostia business center back to life again.”
The MLK Gateway is a model for public and private collaboration with partners including The Menkiti Group, Enlightened Inc., the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED), the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), PNC Bank, RMS Investment Group and City First Bank of DC.
The project was financed using a combination of $4.25 million in New Market Tax Credits and $3.3 million in Opportunity Zone funding, grant funding and senior debt. The Project is the first in the country to deploy a combination of both Opportunity Zone funding and New Market Tax Credit. The project also received a $700,000 grant from DMPED’s Neighborhood Prosperity Fund. Hickok Cole is the project architect and Consigli Construction Co., Inc. will serve as the general contractor.
The MLK Gateway project will stimulate sustainable economic impact in Ward 8. Enlightened Inc. will become the largest private technology employer to move east of the Anacostia River in four decades, further accelerating job growth in Historic Anacostia. Enlightened Inc. also plans to launch a technology incubator to groom growing tech firms to do business with the federal government and will run a cybersecurity training program to enable local residents to gain marketable information technology skills. MLK Gateway will be developed and owned by a 100% DC-based local minority-owned Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) team comprised of The Menkiti Group and Enlightened Inc.
“The MLK Gateway project is an example of what is possible when residents, the D.C. government and the private sector come together,” said Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie. “This project will not just revitalize this prominent intersection and gateway to Historic Anacostia, it will bring jobs with a new technology company, Enlightened Inc., and a small business incubator to provide training and expand residents’ access to greater economic opportunity.”
Bo Menkiti and The Menkiti Group were joined at Wednesday’s groundbreaking by Enlightened Inc. President and CEO Antwanye Ford, Mayor Muriel Bowser, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White, Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio and community members as well as representatives and partners of the project.
“It is in our company’s DNA to pursue our commitment to enhancing the fabric of life in America’s urban communities. We are honored to be standing today with others that share a similar commitment as we break ground on this project that brings to life the community’s vision for the future of the Anacostia neighborhood,” said Menkiti.
Reported on January 8th, 2020 | by Maya Nadeem | Contact 202.733.5456