In February of 1941, the structure that is now called the Washington Coliseum first opened its doors to the public. At that time, the site was called Uline Arena and it primarily functioned as a stadium and indoor ice hockey rink for Washington, D.C.’s professional athletic teams. In fact, the adjacent building was originally an ice manufacturing warehouse, which inspired the owner to build the largest indoor ice rink in the country. The arena hosted a wide variety of professional sporting events, from boxing to basketball, and was home to the Washington Lions, the Washington Capitols, and the Georgetown Hoyas. The Uline Arena saw some of the world’s greatest athletes get their start and make sports history, including International Boxing Hall of Fame member, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Hall of Famer Red Auerbach, Head Coach of the Basketball Association of America team, the Washington Capitols. In 1960, after a transfer of ownership, the Uline Arena was officially renamed the Washington Coliseum, and continued to serve as the District’s premiere venue for a rich variety of cultural, political, and musical events. In 1953, more than 11,000 of the city’s most prominent figures celebrated the inauguration of President Dwight Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon. Perhaps the most famous and culturally significant event to occur at The Coliseum was in 1964 when The Beatles performed their very first concert in North America. More than 8,000 fans were in attendance for the 40-minute concert that is considered the starting point of the “British Invasion” that dominated popular culture during the 1960’s. In 2007, more than 60 years after its opening, The Coliseum was placed on the “National Register of Historic Places” in recognition of its significance as the setting for important historical events.
The Coliseum (Jobs Fund 10) combines striking and original architectural design with a highly desirable location within one of D.C.’s most rapidly developing neighborhoods, referred to as NoMa (North of Massachusetts Avenue). Over the past ten years, private developers have invested over $6 billion to revitalize the 35-block NoMa area. Recent developments include 13 million square feet of new office space, with 32 million square feet in the pipeline. The Coliseum is ideally situated within the NoMa neighborhood, right across the street from a highly-trafficked metro line that not only provides transportation to the site, but also passes directly alongside the building, making it a daily sight for morning commuters. Just five blocks south of The Coliseum is Union Station, one of the busiest train stations in the country, as well as a shopping destination for D.C.’s many tourists.
EB5 Capital’s personal history with The Coliseum began in the Spring of 2014, when our underwriting and due diligence team started talks with one of Washington, D.C.’s most prominent and successful real estate developers, Douglas Development Corporation (DDC). Douglas Jemal, the President and Founder of DDC, purchased the property in 2004 and held onto it for a decade before finding the right opportunity and partnership to work on redeveloping a building with such a unique history and physical structure. At this time, EB5 Capital was already planning to partner with DDC on another downtown D.C. project, called 1000 F. This project had similarities to The Coliseum, as it also involved the redevelopment of a historic building into a mixed-use office and retail space. With this in mind, DDC and EB5 Capital were tentatively planning to partner on both projects and market The Coliseum and 1000 F simultaneously.
However, when national clothing retailer American Eagle signed a lease to occupy the ground-floor retail space at 1000 F, the entire timeline for the project advanced very quickly and jumped ahead of The Coliseum. As we continued to raise funds for 1000 F, DDC engaged in talks with potential tenants for The Coliseum. With its barrel vault roof and concrete arches, The Coliseum’s unique architectural design made it especially desirable to companies seeking an innovative and cutting-edge space to complement their brand. One such company was REI, the nation’s leading specialty retailer of outdoor recreational gear and sporting goods. Founded in 1938, REI now has over 135 stores nation-wide, and achieved record annual sales of over $2 billion in 2013. The Coliseum’s 70,000 square feet of retail space situated in a prime downtown location proved to be the ideal spot for REI to launch its fifth flagship store – REI’s first location in Washington, D.C. and its largest store in the country. In January 2015, REI pre-signed a long-term lease to occupy 70%, or 51,000 square feet, of the retail space. With an anchor tenant officially committed to the site, EB5 Capital proceeded to formalize the final components of the deal in preparation for releasing it to the market in March 2015.