Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Capitol Park Tower Addition May Start Construction Later This Year

Over the past several months, the owners of Capitol Park Tower at 4th and G streets have made improvements to the common areas of the building, such as a new lobby, hallways, gym, bike storage, and lounge. In addition, the units now have new windows, appliances, countertops, and fixtures. About 95% of the interior improvements have been completed. These improvements follow the purchase of the property by UIP and Perseus Realty in 2013 and are part of the agreement made with the tenants association during the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) process. Despite the fact that Capitol Park Tower received historic designation for the 289-unit building and landscape in 2014, the next phase of improvements is an addition to the property. 

View of north building addition from I-395.

At last week’s ANC 6D meeting, Adam Peters from Perseus Realty presented plans for a 295-unit addition. The rental apartments, designed by WDG Architecture will include units ranging from studios to 3BR units. About 24 units will be set aside as affordable housing under Inclusionary Zoning (IZ). A seven-story building is planned to the north of the existing building where the covered parking area is now located and a four-story building is planned on the east side of the property where the pool is now located, closer to Capitol Park II Condominium. An entrance to the new west wing of the property will be located on 4th Street near the I-395 underpass. 

New north building with an entrance on 4th Street.

In his presentation to the ANC, Peters explained that several components of the original landscape plan as designed by Daniel Urban Kiley have been lost or altered, including trees, shrubs, and the pool. The development plan intends to reuse many landscape elements – for instance, the canopies used to cover the parking garage will be repurposed as covered walkways between the existing building and the addition. Existing sculptures will be repositioned throughout the property. The development team intends to restore some of Kiley’s original landscape plan, including trees bosques and shrubs that were removed or died since they were originally planted. 

Courtyard features parking canopies reused as covered walkways.

New amenities include two rooftop swimming pools, community room, fitness center, vegetable garden, playground, and a green roof on the original building. A total of 310 below-grade parking spaces will be built beneath the addition – the surface parking located on the G Street side of the building will be replaced with landscaping. All of these amenities will be available for residents of the entire property to use. 

Although the proposed development is by-right, Capitol Park Tower is a historic property so the ANC will vote in a future meeting on whether to support the development plan before the owners go before the Historic Preservation Review Board. Construction is expected to begin by the end of 2015 and last about two years.

Renderings courtesy of WDG Architecture

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

View at Waterfront Revised PUD Gets ANC Support

At Monday’s ANC 6D meeting, representatives from Mill Creek Residential Trust and SK&I Architecture presented plans for the development of two apartment buildings on the parking lots of The View at Waterfront apartments on 6th Street. A modified PUD has been filed for this project earlier this year – the original PUD was approved several years ago under a previous owner, but several changes have been made. The height and density of the project have been reduced, resulting in a change in building materials from concrete to wood-frame. Also, the number of apartment units and parking spaces have been reduced. In addition, the number of bicycle spaces has increased and the distance between the new and existing buildings has increased. Below is a summary of the major changes to the design of the buildings: 

Building Height 
  • Old PUD: 112 feet 
  • Revised PUD: 85 feet 

Floor Area Ratio (FAR)
  • Old PUD: 4.35 
  • Revised PUD: 3.40 

Number of New Units 
  • Old PUD: 324 units 
  • Revised PUD: 260 units 

Parking Spaces 
  • Old PUD: 569 (0.98 spaces per unit) 
  • Revised PUD: 290 (0.56 spaces per unit) 

Courtyard Space Between New and Existing Buildings 
  • Old PUD: 51 feet 
  • Revised PUD: 57 feet 

The north tower will be on the K Street lot and the south tower will be on the M Street lot. Ground floor retail with 20-foot ceilings will be located in the south tower at the corner of 6th and M streets, ideally a restaurant. The south tower will also have a cut out on the top of the building for a large rooftop entertainment area where residents can gather and get a view of The Wharf. Meanwhile, the north tower will have loft units and a two-level gym. 

The ANC commissioners voted unanimously to support the revised PUD application, which will go before the Zoning Commission on June 11. The current development timeline calls for construction to begin around mid- to late April 2016 and exterior work on the north and south towers to be complete in December 2017 and March 2018, respectively. Construction is currently scheduled to be completed by November 2018.

Renderings courtesy of SK&I Architecture

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

King-Greenleaf Playground Progress Photos

The new King-Greenleaf playground is coming along nicely compared to how it looked back in March. The play surface has now been installed, as well as new landscaping and sidewalks. It now looks almost ready to open! With rising temperatures, it would be nice if the splash park opened soon. Below are some progress photos of the playground and splash park that were taken last week.

Condition of playground in March.
Condition of playground last week.

Splash park back in March.

Splash park last week.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Wharf Wins "Deal of the Year"

The Washington Business Journal awarded The Wharf with “Deal of the Year” in its annual Best Real Estate Deals series. The mile-long, billion-dollar plus development project was more than a decade in the making and construction of phase one finally began in March 2014. The first phase will include three apartment buildings and two condo buildings with more than 800 housing units, two office buildings, three hotels, Wharf Hall, retail, four piers, parks, and a new St. Augustine’s Church, along with a new waterfront promenade. 

Construction is humming along these days. According to the WBJ article: 
Roughly half of the mile-long, 25-acre project area is now excavated. There are 70 dump trucks running four trips per day, 10 tower cranes and dozens of workers on site, with many more to come. 
The massive District Pier is nearly finished, which will stretch from Maine Avenue into the Washington Channel. Meanwhile, piles are being driven for the Transit Pier and test piles have been driven for the Market Pier. Repaving of Maine Avenue should be complete later this month. 

The new condos and St. Augustine’s Church building are the furthest along – construction is above ground and the elevator shaft is several stories in the air. Delivery is scheduled for spring 2016, over a year before other components of the first phase of development are supposed to come online. 

Next on the list to deliver in 2016 will be Waterfront Park and new lighting for the Case Bridge. A blue stripe will run along the northbound bridge and will be visible from The Wharf. The lighting scheme is more subdued than originally planned, due to input from the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. If you want to keep track of the construction progress at The Wharf, construction cameras have been set up at different vantage points. 

In Other Wharf News: Jenny’s Asian Fusion restaurant has completed its relocation to the former Channel Inn café space and has reopened as Jenny’s at the Wharf. The café serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

King Ribs is back! After getting his business license, Bufus Buchanan’s King Ribs stand is now open at Gangplank Park.

Below is a list of upcoming free events at Gangplank Park, including two events this weekend – The American Odyssey Relay Race on Saturday and the Running of the Chihuahuas on Sunday.

Renderings courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Capitol View's Cafe Phillips Changes Name

Over the weekend, storefront signage was changed at the corner of 3rd and E streets for Café Phillips deli, which is now known as Sandwiches by Phillip. Three of the five former Café Phillips locations across the city have made the switch to Sandwiches by Phillip. The 3rd and E Street location opened in June 2011 on the ground floor of the Capitol View office building. The other retailer in the building is Pizza Autentica, which also opened in 2011.

Old Cafe Phillips sign.

Friday, April 24, 2015

International Spy Museum Renderings

Although it appears that plans are moving forward to bring the International Spy Museum to L’Enfant Plaza, the deal is not done yet. In an email to SWTLQTC, Matthew Blocher from JBG stated: “It is important to note that we are in discussions with the Spy Museum, though contrary to the reports in various media sources, we do not have a deal at this point in time. We are very excited about the possibility of the Spy Museum coming to L'Enfant as we believe that it would provide an incredible amount of energy to this area of Southwest, similar to their impact when they opened in the Penn Quarter.” 

Nevertheless, a revised concept plan for 900 L’Enfant Plaza was presented to the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) on April 16, which included a six-story building facing 10th Street that would be used as the new home of the Spy Museum. Behind the museum is a courtyard and office building. Previously, 900 L'Enfant Plaza was planned as strictly an office building. Below are some additional renderings of the proposed museum and office building, designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, that would be located in the plaza. 

In a letter to developer JBG dated today, the CFA stated their support for the idea of the International Spy Museum to move to L’Enfant Plaza and general concept. From the letter: 
They commended the project team on the planning and design of the building and site, expressing support for the concept of projecting the museum’s west facade into public space for this particular program and location. 
However, the Commission has concerns about the positioning of the proposed buildings and some design elements. The development team will need to go back before the CFA with a revised concept submission. 

If the International Spy Museum relocates from Penn Quarter to L’Enfant Plaza, it could serve to draw people south from the National Mall on their way to The Wharf. The addition of 600,000 to 700,000 annual visitors to the area (the current number of visitors to the Spy Museum) would help transform this office-heavy area of Southwest and dovetails with the SW Ecodistrict Initiative, which calls for a better mix of uses, including museums, residential, and hotels. 

Renderings courtesy of the Commission of Fine Arts

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Southwest Rental Market Update

In Delta Associates’ recently-released First Quarter 2015 Mid-Atlantic Class A Apartment Report, it shows that rents in the Capitol Hill/Riverfront submarket (which includes Southwest) increased by 3.2% over the past 12 months, while rents in the city as a whole decreased by 1.3% as a slew of new projects entered the market. Stabilized vacancy in the area, which only includes projects that have reached stabilization (or 95% occupied), is at 3.6% - the lowest rate among submarkets in the District. 

Lex at Waterfront Station, which began leasing units in December, was about 20% leased as of March with a lease-up pace of 13 units per month. Sky House East, Lex’s sister building across 4th Street, reached stabilization in a year at a monthly lease-up pace of 18 units. The other newer project in Southwest, Camden South Capitol, reached stabilization 16 months after leasing began, or a 15-unit monthly lease-up pace. 

However, there are several projects under construction and planned for the neighborhood. There are four apartment projects under construction, including three at The Wharf and one at Waterfront Station, totaling 811 units. Two other apartment buildings are planned that may deliver over the next 36 months, including the St. Matthews site at Delaware Avenue and M Street and an addition to Capitol Park Tower at 4th and G streets for a total of 471 units. 

On the Class B apartment front, Delta’s First Quarter 2015 Washington Metropolitan Area Class B Apartment Report indicates that rents in the Southwest submarket are down 3.3% from a year ago, but over the past 5 years, rents have increased on average by 2.8% per year. Similar to the Class A market, vacancy is low – it is 3.5% in Southwest compared to the city-wide average of 4.4%.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Night Market Makes Debut Next Month

A night market called Market SW will begin operations next month at Waterfront Station. At February’s ANC 6D meeting, the developers of Waterfront Station mentioned that the asphalt lot facing M Street would be activated with temporary uses starting this spring, including a night market. Temporary uses for the two M Street lots were proposed in order to get ANC support for a two-year extension of PUD approval. The two sites will eventually become office buildings, but the office market is challenged right now and speculative construction is too risky. Meanwhile, an apartment building is currently under construction on the northwest parcel and the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development will soon release a Request for Proposals for the District-owned northeast parcel. 

Diverse Markets Management will operate Market SW. This is the same group that operates the Downtown Holiday Market, the Flea Market at Eastern Market, and has operated the market at the annual Southwest Fireworks Festival. Market SW is billed on its website as “an evening of arts, food, flea & fun live music + performances.” Market SW will be held on the Fourth Friday of each month from May to October. The first SW Market will be on Friday, May 29 from 4 – 9 pm. Below are the dates when the market will be activated this year: 
  • May 29 
  • June 26 
  • July 24 
  • August 28 
  • September 25 
  • October 23

Monday, April 6, 2015

Review of 'The Originalist'

The Originalist, written by John Strand and directed by Arena Stage’s Artistic Director Molly Smith, tells the story of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a polarizing figure that has been on the court since President Ronald Reagan nominated him during the 1980s. The play takes place during the 2012-13 timeframe and is considered to be historical fiction. Starring Edward Gero as Justice Scalia, the show begins with Scalia giving a talk at Georgetown University, where he is interrupted by Cat (played by Kerry Warren), an aspiring liberal grad that would like to become a clerk – for Justice Scalia. As the show progresses, it’s clear that the two are unevenly matched during their sparring matches – in more ways than one. While Gero’s performance as Justice Scalia is stellar, bringing gravitas to the role, Warren falls flat. Despite the uneven performances, The Originalist is a success due to Gero’s convincing portrayal of the conservative lion of the Court. 

The Originalist has been extended for an unprecedented second time. The show will now run through May 3 at the Kogod Cradle and will return on May 19, running through May 31. Tickets can be purchased here

Photo by C. Stanley Photography, courtesy of Arena Stage

Friday, April 3, 2015

Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival is Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the annual Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival from 1 to 9 pm. The festival is one of the signature events of the National Cherry Blossom Festival and is free. Due to the construction of The Wharf, the activities have shifted downchannel toward the Gangplank Marina Park. There will be three stages as well as events along the waterfront and in the Washington Channel. As in prior years, there will be food trucks, family activities, musical performances, crafts, and a beer garden. The festival will conclude with the fireworks spectacular at 8:30 pm. For more information, check the National Cherry Blossom Festival website.