If you heard that urban redevelopment in some Washington, D.C., neighborhoods was being spurred by Walmart, you might think it was a joke: Walmart, with its leviathan stores in the outer reaches of sprawl? But in a bid to crack urban markets, Walmart is piloting new, smaller store designs on infill sites, which sometimes integrate other uses and often connect with public transit. Its first two D.C. stores—out of an eventual total of six spread around the city—opened late last year. The third is now under construction in Fort Totten, a neighborhood a few miles north of the city’s downtown.
Fort Totten Square, designed by Hickok Cole Architects, is a sharp departure from the retailer’s usual formula. Hickok Cole is placing 345 residential units above a Walmart that, at 125,000 square feet, is hardly small, but is a step down from its “supercenter” format, which averages 180,000 square feet. On top of the Walmart, four stories of apartments will wrap around two large courtyards, one with a swimming pool. At the northeast corner of the site, smaller stores and restaurants will occupy another 10,000 square feet. The Fort Totten Metro station, offering access to three subway lines, is a five-minute walk away.