Oct. 3, 2014

Community Celebrates Official Opening of Monroe Street Market

Ribbon Cutting
From left, Steve Strazzella, Toby Bozzuto, Tom Bozzuto, Jim Abdo, Mayor Vincent Gray, and Cathy Wood.

Hundreds of people gathered along Monroe Street Market's Arts Walk the evening of Thursday, Oct. 2, to celebrate the grand opening of the new community in Washington D.C's Brookland neighborhood.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony, Cathy Wood, Catholic University vice president for finance and treasurer, read a letter from President John Garvey, who was not able to attend the ceremony. "It has been extraordinary to see the southern edge of Catholic University's campus transformed over the last five years," wrote Garvey.

Wood presented bound copies of the letter to Tom Bozzuto, chairman and CEO of residential real estate company The Bozzuto Group, and Jim Abdo, president and CEO of Abdo Development, partners on the project who spoke at the event.

The celebration also honored Most Rev. David M. O'Connell, the 14th president of Catholic University and current bishop of Trenton, New Jersey by dedicating a plaza within Monroe Street Market to him. Bishop O'Connell played an integral role in the entire development process, noted Toby Bozzuto, president of The Bozzuto Group.

"While the plaza will bear my name - and I am so moved by this recognition - every time I think about this great neighborhood-Catholic University initiative, I gratefully remember all those who made it possible: all of you here present," wrote Bishop O'Connell in a letter read by Wood.

The Bozzuto Group has a history of working with institutions of higher education, explained Bozzuto, and Catholic University was committed to this project from the beginning.

Monroe Street Market spans five blocks of residences, restaurants, shopping, and art venues. The Arts Walk is an open-air pedestrian plaza marked by a tower and lined with 27 art studios.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray spoke to the crowd during the celebration, noting that the Arts Walk is unique in the District.

"You helped redefine this area of Brookland," Gray said about those who contributed to making Monroe Street Market a reality.

"I am just so proud to be the councilmember of Ward 5," said Kenyan McDuffie, a native of the ward he represents.

Arts Walk Tower Fireworks
Arts Walk Tower

Representatives of the organizations that had a hand in creating Monroe Street Market stood beside Gray as he held giant scissors, preparing to cut the orange ribbon to officially open Monroe Street Market. Gray suggested that they all spell out "Monroe" - when the crowd reached "e" Gray cut the ribbon.

University alumni Steve Strazzella and Andy Shallal, who are involved with Monroe Street Market, attended the celebration. Shallal, who graduated in 1974, is opening a new branch of his restaurant, Busboys and Poets, in the community. Strazzella, a civil engineering major who graduated in 1989, works for The Bozzuto Group.

"Getting to build on the very campus that you learned to build on, that is just about the coolest thing," Strazzella said.

People strolled along the pedestrian path and explored the arts studios, which feature clothing, paintings, photography, woodwork, and more. Many lined up to sample a beer from Brookland Pint, one of the new restaurants.

The celebration included a performance by Catholic University's Redline a Cappella. At the end of its performance, the group counted down to the special lighting of the Arts Walk tower. As the words "Arts Walk" lit up on the structure, fireworks and confetti shot into the sky.

Ajani Gibson, senior philosophy major from New Orleans and Redline member, said that being able to perform for the Monroe Street Market celebration was his favorite part of the evening.

"It shows that this community wants CUA to be an integral part," he said.