Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Cambria Hotel & Suites Reportedly to be Built in Buzzard Point

A Cambria Hotel & Suites will be built in Buzzard Point on Half Street, less than two blocks from Audi Field according to an article in the Washington Business Journal. The WBJ story states the site is on the northwest corner of the intersection of Half and Q streets, which currently contains nine rowhomes that will be razed for a nine-story, 154-room hotel by Kouza Cos, partnering with Choice Hotels International. Planned amenities include a rooftop bar, gastropub, a 2,500 SF multi-function space, and a fitness center. With a planned opening in 2020, construction will likely begin sometime later this year. 

This would be the second Cambria built in the District and the first hotel in the Buzzard Point neighborhood. A hostel/hotel concept was planned by Carr Hospitality a block away at a taxi repair shop site on the 100 block of Q Street in 2010, long before a soccer stadium was contemplated for the neighborhood, but that project has been stalled. In addition, a hotel could potentially be built on a site controlled by D.C. United, adjacent to Audi Field. 

The planned hotel is across the street from the USA Motors site at 45 Q Street that was put on the market last year by the Zupancic Group and Ian Ruel & Josh Feldman of the Feldman Group, the same group who helped broker the sale of the Cambria site. Since then, 45 Q Street was removed from the market. The Cambria site also on the same block as a planned affordable housing project to be built at the Shulman Liquors site at the corner of 1st and Q streets. Currently, Q Street ends prior to South Capitol Street, but with the new Frederick Douglass Bridge project, a new traffic oval will be created with a connection to Q Street.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Ground Broken for New Douglass Bridge

A ceremonial groundbreaking ceremony was held on Tuesday for the new Frederick Douglass Bridge at the site of the new bridge in Buzzard Point. Mayor Bowser, DDOT Director Jeff Marootian, DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, Congressman Steny Hoyer, DC Council members Charles Allen and Trayon White, and Federal Highway Administration DC Division Administrator Chris Lawson were all there and spoke about the project’s benefits. Bridge construction will last about four years with completion scheduled for 2021. Below are some pictures from the groundbreaking event.

DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton
Construction crane at foot of bridge
Mayor Muriel Bowser

Congressman Steny Hoyer (MD)
Chris Lawson with FHA DC Division
DDOT Administrator
Jeff Marootian
Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White
Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen

Ground is officially broken 

On the way to the ground breaking ceremony, I walked by the construction site of Audi Field, which is still on schedule to open by mid-July. A topping off ceremony was held last month and since then, work has begun on installing the facade of the stadium.  Infrastructure work continues on the roads around the stadium, including Potomac Avenue, which will receive new sidewalks, gutters, trees, and street furniture. Earlier this year, Half Street south of Potomac Avenue reopened to traffic where similar improvements were also made to that street. 2nd Street south of R Street remains closed to traffic as work will be done on that street to create a bike lane and other improvements.

New street lights on Half Street
Beginning of work on stadium's facade

View west of stadium from Half Street
New sidewalk on Potomac Avenue
Street furniture on Potomac Avenue

Monday, February 12, 2018

Mardi Gras Parade and Fireworks Tomorrow

If you weren’t able to make the trip down to New Orleans, there will be a Mardi Gras parade tomorrow along the Wharf Street promenade at District Wharf, starting at 6pm. The parade will begin at 7th Street Park and proceed northwest towards District Square, complete with floats, live music, and bead-tossing. The parade will be followed by a dance party and wine & beer garden at District Pier. A fireworks finale will mark the conclusion of festivities at 8pm. Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Update: Below are some pictures from the Mardi Gras parade:

Douglass Bridge Groundbreaking Tomorrow

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held tomorrow for the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge project. Construction equipment has been arriving on site over the past couple of weeks. The new bridge will be constructed about 100 feet to the west of the existing span and will include six vehicular lanes, bike and pedestrian lanes, as well as two new traffic ovals on either side of the bridge on South Capitol Street.  On the west side of the span, the traffic oval will connect South Capitol Street, Potomac Avenue, and Q Street.  The design of the bridge was updated in recent months with three above-deck arches, two piers, and four pedestrian overlooks. Construction of the new bridge coincides with the 200th birthday celebration of the bridge's namesake Frederick Douglass as well as the Year of the Anacostia. During construction, the current bridge will remain open and the new span should be complete by 2021. 

The groundbreaking ceremony will start at noon tomorrow. 

Renderings courtesy of DDOT

Sunday, February 11, 2018

I Street Church to be Redeveloped

Bethel Church DC360 at 60 I Street is slated for redevelopment. Cornerstone Development has plans to develop a 186,000 SF residential building on the church property. The site is located across the street from the Randall School site, which will be redeveloped by Lowe Enterprises and Telesis/Rubell into a modern art museum and residential project. 

Waterfront Academy is located on the second floor of Bethel, so as a result of the church redevelopment and the school’s growth, it is searching for a new home and has embarked on a $13 million fundraising campaign. Waterfront Academy is a dual immersion (Spanish and English) Montessori school with emphasis on charity and stewardship in the Catholic tradition. The school wants to stay in the SWDC area, where it’s been since opening in 2014. Before opening at Bethel, Waterfront Academy planned to locate on the 1200 block of South Capitol Street. 

According to a fundraising email sent by the school, the new space will allow Waterfront Academy to serve at least 135 students each year. The school will be modeled after the traditional Spanish colony and will feature a Chapel, Library, Teacher’s Lounge, Administrative Office Suite, Infirmary, Gymnasium, Kitchen, one Nido (Infant) Classroom, two Toddler Classrooms, three Casa (Preschool) Classrooms, two Lower Elementary Classrooms, two Upper Elementary Classrooms, one Middle School Classroom, and an outdoor plaza featuring an Urban Farm, Outdoor Classrooms, and Natural Play Space. 

Bethel Church DC360 is the latest house of worship to face redevelopment in Southwest. St. Augustine’s at 6th and Maine moved into its new space in 2016, adjacent to 525 Water condos that was developed by PN Hoffman. A few blocks east on M Street, St. Matthews’ long journey to a new home is months away from completion as construction continues on its new sanctuary and adjacent Valo apartment building by Trammell Crow. Riverside Baptist Church at 7th Street and Maine Avenue partnered with PN Hoffman to redevelop their site with space for a new sanctuary along Maine Avenue and an apartment building at the corner of 7th and I streets named The Banks. Over at Westminster Church, the congregation is finalizing an agreement with a developer to build a new sanctuary on the 600 block of I Street along with mixed income housing. One house of worship in the neighborhood that didn’t get redeveloped into housing is the Living Hope Church at 1200 1st Street. The building has been converted into Kadampa Meditation Center Washington DC Temple for World Peace and received a new paint job and signage in recent months. Although the old Friendship Baptist Church at Delaware Avenue and H Street was originally planned to be redeveloped as a condominium project, the developer changed course and leased the space to Blind Whino SW Arts Club. Land adjacent to the church building was slated to become a temporary housing facility for homeless families, but those plans were scuttled and the shelter will instead be built on the Unity Clinic site at Delaware Avenue and I Street.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Buzzard Point News Items

The Washington Business Journal reports that construction of River Point (also known as the former Coast Guard Headquarters building) at the tip of Buzzard Point at 2100 2nd Street is expected to start in the second quarter. Once the project is complete in 2020, the former office building will be converted to a 485-unit apartment building with about 60,000 SF of ground floor retail, most of it facing the Anacostia River. According to the article, targeted retailers include: “waterfront restaurants, retailers, a drug store, neighborhood amenities and a food hall.” Construction will start with gutting the office building to allow more light in the planned residential units.

DC United held a topping off ceremony last Friday for the construction of Audi Field. Fans got to sign the last beam to be installed on the structure. The team’s first match is scheduled for July 14.

Across the street from the stadium, sidewalks around the new Pepco Waterfront substation at 1st and R streets have been opened. One of the public artwork pieces commissioned for the building has been installed at the southeast corner of the substation, located across from Audi Field at 1st and R streets.

A second all-affordable apartment development could be on the boards for the same block of 1st Street after a 76-unit project was approved for the Shulman Liquor site. The High Road Primary & Middle School building for sale on the 1500 block of 1st Street may be used by a developer to satisfy an affordable housing requirement at Capitol Crossing, a major mixed-use development under construction over the Center Leg Freeway (I-395) in Northwest. According to a Washington Business Journal article, the affordable housing requirement for Capitol Crossing would be met by building a 100-unit apartment building at 1530 1st Street for households earning up to 30% and 50% of Area Median Income. Legislation was introduced by D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson back in December which would allow the affordable housing requirement shift to the Buzzard Point site.

Rendering courtesy of River Point Partners LLC

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Design of New Southwest Branch Library Comes Into Focus

In early January, DCPL submitted an application to the BZA in order to build a new, standalone Southwest Branch library at 900 Wesley Place. The existing library was built in 1961 and no longer serves the needs of a growing community, where thousands of new multifamily units are coming online within the next five years. After a series of public meetings, DCPL developed a plan for the library which provides separate spaces for children and adults.

On the first floor, patrons will enter the new library using an entrance on the northwest corner of the building. Upon entering the library, the north side of the building will be the Market Place. The west side of the building will contain two multipurpose rooms and the book drop. Space dedicated to Children’s Services will occupy the remaining area on the first level, as well as restrooms. Staff will enter the building from an entrance off K Street. A terrace on the northeast corner and a reading porch on the north side of the building will open towards the playground at the adjacent 3rd and I Street SW Park. The second floor will contain a series of study/meeting rooms, space for Teen/Adult Services, an adult patio, staff areas, and space for the Friends of the Southwest Library. A portion of the floor on the second level will be open to the first floor below.

Designed by Perkins + Will, the new Southwest Library takes cues from the modernist design of the neighborhood with the use of wood, metal panels, glass, and a distinctive crinkle roof. The new library will be similar in size to the existing one at 20,792 SF, but there will not be a basement due to concerns over flooding since it is below the floodplain. Parking will be provided for seven vehicles, a reduction in the number of spaces currently available at the library by two. A landscape buffer will screen the parking area from the sidewalk along 3rd Street. Green features will include, among other things, a green roof, photovoltaic panels, and bioretention areas, sufficient to secure LEED-Gold status for the building.

DCPL is seeking approval for the project and has requested three special exemptions from zoning regulations. One special exemption has to do with parking – zoning requires a government building of this size to have nine spaces, but DCPL wants to build seven surface spaces. Since the library is close to the Waterfront Metro station, two Metrobus routes, and within walking distance of most of Southwest, DCPL contends there will be sufficient parking. The second special exemption is for long-term bicycle parking – DCPL will provide one less space than required. Finally, the third special exemption is lot occupancy – it is required that up to 40% of the lot be occupied by the new building, but the design calls for 47% lot occupancy. All three special exemptions have been requested in order to maintain the current design of the new library. At its December 2017 meeting, ANC 6D voted 3-0-2 in support of the BZA application.

If approved by the BZA, demolition of the existing library will likely take place this fall, after an interim library location is found. Construction will take a little more than a year and the new library will be complete in early 2020.

Renderings courtesy of DCPL

Friday, January 12, 2018

Home Opener and Schedule Announced for D.C. United

The inaugural home match for D.C. United at its new Audi Field in Buzzard Point will take place on July 14 against the Vancouver Whitecaps. D.C. United’s schedule will be road game-heavy in the earlier part of the season while in the latter part, there will mostly be home matches. There will be a total of 15 home matches during the regular season, all falling either on a Saturday, Sunday, or Wednesday. Below is the 2018 regular season home schedule: 
  • Saturday, July 14: 7pm vs. Vancouver 
  • Wednesday, July 25: 7:30pm vs. RBNY 
  • Saturday: July 28: 7pm vs. Colorado 
  • Sunday, August 12: 6pm vs. Orlando 
  • Wednesday, August 15: 7:30pm vs. Portland 
  • Sunday, August 19: 6-m vs. New England 
  • Wednesday, August 29: 8pm vs. Philadelphia 
  • Sunday, September 2: 5:30pm vs. Atlanta 
  • Wednesday, September 12: 7:30pm vs. Minnesota 
  • Sunday, September 16: 1pm vs. RBNY 
  • Saturday, September 29: 7pm vs. Montreal 
  • Sunday, October 7: 1pm vs. Chicago 
  • Saturday, October 13: 3:30pm vs. Dallas 
  • Wednesday, October 17: 7:30pm vs. Toronto 
  • Sunday, October 21: time TBA vs. New York 

Construction of the new stadium remains on schedule about a year after its late February groundbreaking. Over the past couple of weeks, Half Street east of the stadium footprint reopened to traffic with new pavement, sidewalks, street lights, and bike racks.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Greenleaf Redevelopment RFQ Released

After years of planning and delays, DCHA released a Request for Qualifications back in December for a co-developer to redevelop Greenleaf, the 15-acre public housing project that straddles M Street. Greenleaf was built in 1959 and currently contains 493 public housing units spread over 23 buildings.  

According to the RFQ, the development objectives include the following: 
  • The redevelopment will replace all 493 existing units at the same level of affordability. 
  • The redevelopment will minimize the movement of residents – to the greatest extent possible, residents will move directly from their old unit to their new unit. 
  • There will be zero displacement of current Greenleaf residents. 
  • There will be a mix of market-rate, affordable, and possibly workforce housing. 
  • Public safely will be improved with increased activity on streets and public spaces. 
  • The redevelopment will integrate into the surrounding community. 
  • The redevelopment will support the development of human capital, assisting with such things as job opportunities and supportive services programs. 

The phased redevelopment concept for Greenleaf by HR&A Advisors has been designed with a mix of high-rise and townhomes. The high-rise buildings would be concentrated along M Street and Delaware Avenue with the townhomes further away from those two streets. Some retail is anticipated as well along M Street. A unique feature of the redevelopment will the the use of the "build first" model, which would allow the project to proceed without displacing Greenleaf residents. The first phase of development would use a site near the Greenleaf footprint to build a mixed-income building. Once residents move into that first building, it will free up land within Greenleaf to start demolition and development. DC-owned sites that were identified as having the best potential to do build first include the MPD First District parking lot along Delaware Avenue and the DC FEMS Repair Shop at the NW corner of M and Half streets. While the HR&A report suggested a build first site be selected prior to releasing the RFQ, a site has not been chosen yet. 

It will take several years to redevelop the site and will probably be done in at least six phases. The deadline to submit proposals for the RFQ is February 1. Then in early March, a RFP will be released to a short list of developers who responded to the RFQ. The winning co-developer partner is expected to be selected by June and a contract will be negotiated with DCHA.

Renderings courtesy of HR&A Advisors  

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Dolcezza Opens Tomorrow at The Wharf

Dolcezza’s newest location at The Wharf will open for business tomorrow, which is located at 99 District Square next to Taylor Gourmet. What makes this Dolcezza special is it will be the first to have a full kitchen and will offer all-day breakfast, according to Eater. Some of the dishes that will be offered include fried chicken and sausage, egg and cheese biscuits, steak and egg breakfast bowls, huevos rancheros, and milkshakes. Hours of operation will be the following: 
Monday – Thursday: 7am – 11pm
Friday: 7am – midnight
Saturday: 8am – midnight
Sunday: 8am – 11pm 
There will be free coffee tomorrow from 7am – noon and free soft serve from noon to 8pm. 

A second Dolcezza will be coming to Southwest according to the Washington Business Journal. There will be a café in the renovated lobby of the Hirshhorn, which is scheduled to be completed in February.