Friday, June 16, 2017

Lottery on June 22 for Affordable District Wharf Apartments - Sign up Today!

Today is the last day to sign up online to be entered into the lottery for the affordable units available at Incanto and The Channel apartments. There are 47 affordable units available at Incanto and 153 at The Channel, each at different affordability levels, including 30% and 60% Area Median Income (AMI), and workforce (100% and 120% AMI). The lottery will be held on June 22.

Rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Community Meeting Planned for The Bard

About a year after withdrawing their PUD application, the developers of The Bard at 6th and I streets are preparing to submit a revised application. A community meeting is planned on Thursday, June 22 at 7pm at Amidon-Bowen Elementary (401 I Street). The project's latest design, which is now five stories tall, will be revealed at the meeting.

Old rendering courtesy of Shalom Baranes Associates

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Designs for Final Phase of District Wharf Filed with City

As expected, Hoffman Madison Waterfront submitted a stage two Planned Unit Development (PUD) application in May for the third phase of development at District Wharf and details are now available. Back in March, representatives from the development team indicated that they would be submitting an application for Parcels 6 – 10, as well as three water buildings, parks and piers. One major change from what was approved during the stage one PUD process for the entire project is the addition of hotel use to Parcel 8. Originally, only residential and office uses were approved for the parcel, either with ground floor retail. Below is a description of each of the parcels and public spaces in the final phase of development. 

Parcel 6 & 7 

These parcels are located to the east of 7th Street Park and will contain an approximately 539,000 SF office building, including about 34,000 SF of ground floor retail. The building was designed by SHoP Architects and will rise 10 stories to a height of 130 feet. As designed, the building will be contemporary in style with two glass towers connected by a “belt-level” on the second floor. The second level will contain office space as well as a large oval opening called the Oculus. On the ground level, there will be a north-south pedestrian connection between Maine Avenue and Wharf Street. In addition, an east-west service corridor will provide loading access for the building and allow for ground floor retail on all four sides of each office tower and along the service and pedestrian corridors. Two winter gardens will be incorporated into the design – one on the northwest corner facing 7th Street Park and the other on the south side facing Wharf Street. 

Parcel 8

ODA has designed the Parcel 8 building, which will include about 26,000 SF of ground floor retail, 79,000 SF dedicated for a 116-key hotel, and 266,000 SF for a residential building with 235 units (115 will be market-rate units). The remaining 120 units will be reserved at different levels of affordability, including 30% of Area Median Income (AMI), 60% of AMI, and workforce housing. Parcel 8 is designed in a U shape with the open portion of the building facing the Washington Channel. On the north and east “bars” of the building, residential uses will be built, while the hotel will occupy the west “bar.” The east “bar” will be set back at each floor to provide terraces for residents while the west “bar” will do the opposite so each successive floor will cantilever over the lower floor. A covered alley will run in the middle of the building on the first floor, allowing pedestrian and vehicular access, as well as providing for retail entrances on four sides of the building. The design of the building will allow for a large landscaped courtyard facing Wharf Street and the Washington Channel, containing a pool and other amenities for the residential building. The hotel and residential lobbies will be accessed from Wharf Street and will be located on the ground level. 

Parcel 9 

Designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects, Parcel 9 will contain an 82-unit condominium building with about 16,000 SF of ground floor retail. All of the units in the condo building will be market-rate. Its positioning gives the building great visibility for travelers coming west on M Street and due to its proposed height of 130 feet, it will be the tallest building on the east side of District Wharf so boat passengers will see it as they travel north on the Washington Channel. The building is also next to M Street Landing, one of the larger planned open spaces in the Southwest Waterfront redevelopment. There is a curve to the building, which complements the design of Arena Stage located just to the north. 

Parcel 10

Parcel 10 steps down in height from the other parcels in this phase to 60 feet. Designed by Morris Adjmi Architects, the building is planned as an office building with about 60,100 SF of space and 16,200 SF of ground floor retail. Seat steps will be built onto the podium of the building to allow for views down Wharf Street. 

Water Buildings

In addition to the five parcels, there are three water buildings planned for a variety of uses. Water Building 1 will be located adjacent to Parcels 6/7 with a maximum height of 34 feet containing 11,900 SF of space dedicated to retail and maritime uses. 

Water Building 2 will be located on the Wharf promenade next to Parcel 9. It too will be two stories tall with a maximum height of 34 feet. Retail/service uses will be located on both floors of the building, but terraces will be incorporated on the second floor to afford views of the Washington Channel and District Wharf. 

Meanwhile, Water Building 3 is located to the east of Parcel 10. This building will be slightly taller than the others at 38 feet and will contain about 5,000 SF for use by the live-aboards at Gangplank Marina. 

Interspersed throughout the promenade in the final phase of development are kiosks. From the PUD application: 
These outdoor kiosk structures are intended to serve as incubator spaces for small local businesses to try out their retail concepts on a low-risk basis. If successful, the kiosk operators will have an opportunity to move indoors, into one of the spaces reserved throughout of the redevelopment project for unique and local business enterprises. 
New marina docks will be constructed for the live-aboards at the Gangplank Marina. Other open spaces planned include M Street Landing, The Grove, The Terrace, and The Mews. If approved by the Zoning Commission, construction on the last phase of development at District Wharf could start in 2018. Meanwhile, the first phase of development is scheduled to open starting in October and the smaller second phase (including improvements to the Municipal Fish Market and Parcel 1 will be completed by next spring.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Apartments Begin Leasing at District Wharf

Pre-leasing began today for The Channel and Incanto apartments at District Wharf. The Channel is located at 950 Maine Avenue and is the larger of the two buildings at 501 units, but the average unit size is smaller – 667 square feet. In fact, several of the units are classified as micro units, with movable islands and other built-in furniture. Units have concrete floors (carpets in bedrooms) and exposed concrete ceilings, barn doors, open kitchens, and floor-to-ceiling windows in select units. Units on the 11th and 12th floors have upgraded appliances, fixtures, and flooring. While the units are smaller, the common areas are massive, highlighted by the Wharf Club, an elevated one-acre park/amenity space on the 6th floor. The open space is on the roof of The Anthem – the infinity pool on the roof has acrylic panels on the bottom that overlook the lobby of the concert venue. Other amenities include cabanas and deck chairs overlooking the pool, dog run, community garden, a grassy area for relaxation, bocce courts, grilling area, party room, library lounge, and a two-story fitness center. 

Outdoor gathering area
Fitness center

Lounge area
Studio apartment rendering

Infinity pool

Cabanas by pool area

Incanto is located at 770 Maine Avenue and contains 175 units. Unit finishes are more upscale, including European style cabinetry, white quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, Kohler fixtures, Bosch washers & dryers, plank flooring, and Elfa® closet systems. Project amenities are less comprehensive than at The Channel, but residents will be able to purchase membership to the Wharf Club. Amenities within the building include a fitness center, resident lounge with kitchenette, a landscaped courtyard with fire pit, and access-controlled bike storage. Both buildings have affordable units set aside at various AMI levels. Move-ins will occur at both buildings this summer. 

Exterior of Incanto

Lobby area
Elevator lobby

Unit rendering 1
Unit rendering 2

Renderings courtesy of Hoffman Madison Waterfront

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Reporters Building to be Redeveloped as Residential

Back in 2013, the National Capital Revitalization Corporation developed the SW Ecodistrict Initiative for a 110-acre area south of the National Mall and north of the Southwest freeway. One of the goals of the initiative was to create a sustainable mixed-use community by introducing residential and/or hospitality uses in the area, which has been dominated for decades by government agencies and other office users. Since then, Republic Properties has proposed residential uses for one of the planned buildings at The Portals and Douglas Development purchased the Cotton Annex on 12th Street, with plans to redevelop the historic building and adjacent parking lot. 

Next up for redevelopment is the Reporters Building at 300 7th Street, located across the street from the D Street entrance to the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station at Constitution Center. Urban-Atlantic has plans to redevelop the aging office building as a multifamily project by re-skinning the exterior and adding up to five levels to the existing eight-story building. This is the same developer that converted the former EPA towers at Waterfront Station to Skyhouse East and West (now known as The Leo and The Lex). The 300 7th Street project will include about 370 units, which will be mostly rental apartments with condos on the top floor of the building and retail will remain on the ground floor. Current retailers include a barber shop and Pizza Autentica, the latter which opened back in 2009.

The proposed development is by-right and does not need zoning approval. However, it does need to get approval from the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts and the project will be on the agenda for this month’s meeting. At last night’s ANC meeting, the commissioners voted 5-0-1 to support the project. The lone abstention came from Commissioner Rhonda Hamilton, who was disappointed that the project will contain 100% market-rate units – no affordable units are required since the development is by-right. 

As more details of the project are made available, including renderings, I’ll provide updates.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Two Waterfront Station Parcels Switching to Residential

Last month, Forest City Washington filed to extend stage one PUD approval for 375 and 425 M Street, two office buildings proposed at the southern end of Waterfront Station. It was anticipated that the extension request would be followed by another filing to change the proposed primary use at the two development sites to residential since the developer made their intention known at the February ANC meeting. That filing was made earlier this month. The developer is now proposing two buildings with 41,870 SF of ground floor retail, 38,110 SF of commercial space on the second floor, and a total of 605 residential units above. The East building (375 M) will contain 309 units, 21,930 SF of retail and 18,660 SF of commercial space; the West building (425 M) will have 296 units, 19,940 SF of retail and 19,450 SF of commercial space. A minimum of 8% of the gross floor area will be dedicated to households earning up to 60% of Area Median Income. Four of the affordable units will be 3-bedroom apartments. 

425 M Street
375 M Street

Perkins Eastman has designed the buildings, the same architect that designed Eliot on 4th. From the PUD application: 
The architectural design for the East and West M buildings has been revised to accommodate residential use, incorporate effective urban design strategies, engage the surrounding public spaces, and support the unique town-center environment created by the overall project. The proposed mix of uses and architectural design for the East and West M buildings will benefit the community, enliven the streetscape, and provide additional services for residents, employees, and visitors who live and work in the neighborhood.  
Above the third floor, each of the buildings opens up as a C-shaped tower that faces M Street. A south-facing courtyard is located at this fourth level, with access provided to individual terraces for units facing the courtyard and to a communal outdoor recreation space for building residents. The courtyard is elevated above the three-level podium of retail, office, and residential uses, which creates a pedestrian-scale street wall with vibrant retail storefronts that maximize transparency. 
Retail next to Metro plaza
Retail along M Street

Parking will be provided below-grade for both buildings, with entrances off of the private drives around the site, removing the need for curb cuts along M Street. A total of 363 parking spaces will be provided, split between the two buildings. The Capital Bikeshare station currently located on the west side of 4th Street will be relocated to the east side adjacent to the Metro plaza. 

Looking south on 4th Street
Originally, Waterfront Station was planned as mostly office buildings with a minor residential component. Over time, the plans were modified – first, the site where Eliot on 4th apartments now stands changed uses from office to residential. Now, the planned office buildings along M Street may now proceed as residential. The reason for the changes in use are due to evolving market conditions. The office market is not as strong as it once was, while rental apartments are now the preferred asset type. This new proposal will be brought to the ANC to garner their support; however, Chairman Litsky had concerns about the change in use when it was mentioned at the February meeting.

Renderings courtesy of Perkins Eastman

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Historic Designation Sought for Rowhomes

In response to the pending demolition of the rowhomes along the 1300 block of South Capitol Street and the unit block of N street to build a 200-unit apartment building, the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA) filed an application to designate the structures as historic with the District’s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). According to the application, the six “Coleman & Richards Row” homes on South Capitol Street were built in 1892 and the seven “Banes Row” homes were constructed in 1916. The Coleman & Richards Row homes represent the oldest working-class single-family rowhomes left standing in Southwest. Most of the “obsolete dwellings” in Southwest were demolished during urban renewal, but the area east of Canal Street, south of M Street, and west of South Capitol Street was spared since at the time, most of the buildings were fairly new and in good repair.

This is not the first time in the neighborhood that historic designation was used to halt or slow development. SWNA used the tactic in 2014 when the Southeastern University campus building at 6th and I streets was being demolished in preparation for development into “The Bard,” a mixed-use project with administrative and rehearsal space for the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) and multifamily rental housing. In that case, the neighborhood organization was able to get some concessions from the developer in exchange for withdrawing the historic application. Subsequently, the building was demolished and the site sold to STC. A Planned Unit Development was filed for the site in 2016, but it was withdrawn last summer after a backlash from neighbors over the proposed height and density of the project.

It was used again when UIP and Perseus Realty had plans to build on top of a parking garage at Capitol Park Tower, located at 4th and G streets. In 2012, SWNA filed an application to place Capitol Park Tower on the DC Preservation League’s endangered list. At the same time, an application was filed to designate the building and landscape as historic. After the building and landscaping received historic preservation protection, the developers needed HPRB approval before proceeding with their plans for an addition. Final approval was given in 2016, but construction has yet to begin on the project. 

Altus Realty Partners was expected to start construction on the South Capitol Street apartment project later this year with completion in 2019. Since a historic designation application was filed, demolition of the rowhomes and development of the apartment building will not be able to move forward until the HRPB makes a decision or SWNA withdraws their application.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Waterfront Park is Open!

A little more than a week after Waterfront Park opened to the public at District Wharf, I was able to get a tour with the landscape architect for the project. The park was designed by LAB, with the assistance of a group of 35 Southwest residents (myself included) who were selected by ANC 6D to serve on a committee to design the park through a series of charrette planning sessions. Elinor Bacon from Hoffman-Madison Waterfront convened the charrette planning sessions at the request of ANC 6D, which stipulated in its approval of the stage one PUD application that the park be built in the first phase of development and a public process was needed to help design the park. 

During the charrette process, the design elements most important to the participants were the following: 
  • More Green than Paved 
  • Quiet Areas - Garden Rooms 
  • Gardens 
  • Tree Preservation 
  • Innovative Children's Play Area 
  • Bocce 
  • Views Towards Hains Point and the Washington Channel 
  • Trees - Flowering, Shade, Fall Color 
  • Walking/Strolling Paths 
  • Interactive Water Features 
All of these elements are present in the park in some form or another. It was desired by the community for the park to be more tranquil than other area of District Wharf, since it borders existing residential complexes such as Tiber Island and Harbor Square. While some of the plantings have yet to take root, the fences are down and the park is open for everyone to enjoy. I took plenty of photos while on the tour:

Movable furniture will be added soon.
Dogwoods in bloom.

Tiber Island borders Waterfront Park.
Pergola and 525 Water in background.

Water feature near pergola.
Play mounds on upper portion of park.

Bocce court is still under construction.

Winding paths exists throughout.

Grassy area in upper area of park.

Winding path and river in the distance.

Road made of crushed oyster shells.

Storage shed.

Walls made of MD carderock stone.

Wetlands in lower area of park.