The REI Flagship Store Embodies D.C.’s Love of The Urban Outdoors

Many D.C. locals know the barrel-roofed Uline Arena as where the Beatles played their first North American concert in 1964, after appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show and whipping millions of American teens into a frenzy. But the building—used for a mix of sports and other events during its mid-20th-century prime—has witnessed a lot more history than that.

President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1953 inaugural ball was at Uline. Rudolf Nureyev danced there. Malcolm X and Elijah Muhammad spoke there. The Washington Lions hockey team and Washington Capitols basketball team both played in Uline, known from 1960 onwards as the Washington Coliseum.

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Look Inside the Massive New REI Coming to NoMa

In little more than a month, REI, the outdoors retailer, will open a 51,000-square-foot flagship store right across the street from the NoMa Metro station. That’s the location of the former Uline Arena, which hosted the Beatles’ first-ever US concert in 1964 and, more recently, a parking garage.

A lot’s changed. On a tour of the site, set to open October 21 with a three-day block party, REI revealed some of the upcoming features of its fifth-ever flagship, including community spaces, an “adventure station” for local outdoor-trekking advice, and an in-store La Colombe coffee shop.

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Inside D.C.’s new REI and La Colombe

In 1941, the Washington Coliseum was constructed in the Northeast quadrant of Washington, D.C., or more specifically NoMa. It was the site of the first U.S. concert by The Beatles as well as the Uline Arena, which hosted ice skating, circuses, and other events. Later, it eventually served as a parking facility.

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Take a peek inside the construction of the REI flagship at Uline Arena

Outdoor retailer REI will open a flagship store in the District on Oct. 21, and the team behind its buildout is making progress at the one-of-a-kind site: the historic Uline Arena.

The project in Northeast D.C.’s NoMa neighborhood at Third and M streets NE will transform the storied venue where The Beatles had their first U.S. concert into the home of REI’s fifth flagship store nationwide — a 52,000-square-foot, $35 million lease from Douglas Development Corp.

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