Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Buzzard Point Vision Framework Plan


Over the past several months, the District Office of Planning has been working on a vision framework plan for Buzzard Point, a peninsula which has been isolated from the rest of Southwest for several decades and up until now has been dominated by industrial uses. However, that is all about to change. There are several major projects happening in the area over the next few years, from a soccer stadium to a new Frederick Douglass bridge, to a Pepco substation, and with these improvements, there will likely be more interest in the Buzzard Point area. A Draft Urban Design Framework Plan was released back in 2014. 

From the current Plan
The vision for Buzzard Point is to create a lively compact neighborhood, establish a strong public realm, enhance the environment, improve transportation connections, and leverage public investment in the soccer stadium and the South Capitol Street corridor project to serve as catalysts and anchors for additional development. 
If the principles from the framework plan are fully implemented over the next 10-15 years, Buzzard Point could yield approximately 11.3 million SF of development, of which 6.6 million SF would be dedicated to residential, or 6,040 housing units. Through inclusionary zoning, 480 of those residential units would be created as affordable housing. Under existing zoning, approximately 16.6 million SF of development is possible, with 9.0 million SF of it dedicated to housing, or 8,170 housing units – 570 of those units would be affordable housing. 

Waterfront Park concept at South Capitol & S streets
According to the framework plan, the new Buzzard Point will make the Anacostia River the focus of the neighborhood with a series of open spaces and plazas along the water, which would extend the Anacostia Riverfront Trail through the area and portions of it could extend into the river. One of these plazas would be located at South Capitol and S streets and could contain a proposed Maritime Museum on its southern edge. Another plaza would be located at the terminus of 2nd Street, adjacent to James Creek Marina and the Transpoint Building, as well as at the terminus of other north-south streets. Aquatic vegetation can be planted along the river’s edge to help soften the shoreline and clean the river. The planned park within the traffic oval should be programmed with activities and a portion of it could be set aside as a future memorial site. Any commercial buildings planned around the oval should help define the space with entrances facing the oval. 

Oval Park concept
Potomac Avenue would serve as the grand entrance point to the neighborhood and will be where the majority of soccer fans access the new DC United stadium. Half Street would serve as a tree-lined pedestrian thoroughfare without curb cuts while 1st Street would be a service street. The majority of storm water collection would happen along 2nd Street due to its lower elevation compared to surrounding streets. This street would also serve as a bikeway. Meanwhile, east-west streets would serve as local service streets. 

DC United stadium plaza
Commercial development would be concentrated near the planned traffic oval (Pepco Park?) on South Capitol Street, while residential development would be located primarily on the northern and southern ends of the peninsula. Meanwhile, retail nodes would be created in different areas, including along Potomac Avenue and at South Capitol and S streets. A buffer zone with less-intensive development is planned to help shield the residential neighborhood to the north of Buzzard Point and orient development to the east toward the rest of the Capitol Riverfront BID area. In addition, building heights would be lower along the riverfront and gradually increase in height further away from the water. 

Transportation is key in order to accommodate the thousands of soccer fans and new residents. The framework plan identifies bike routes, pedestrian priority corridors, a Circulator line, and potential streetcar routes through Buzzard Point, but also encourages the flow of cars on several smaller streets instead of relying on a few arterials. No parking lots are planned for the new DC United stadium, but several lots within Buzzard Point and to the north (many already used by Nationals Park patrons) have been identified for use during game days. 

For more information about the framework plan, the full document is available here. SWNA is hosting a community meeting tomorrow evening at 1101 4th Street, Second Floor at 7pm where the Office of Planning and other District agencies will be available to answer questions about the plan.

Renderings courtesy of DC Office of Planning and DC United

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Developers Behind The Bard Intend to File PUD Application


The development team behind The Bard, a mixed-use arts/residential project planned for the former Southeastern University campus site at 501 I Street, will be submitting a Planned Unit Development (PUD) application within the next month and has sent notice to surrounding neighbors. The Bard, as planned would include a costume design shop, administrative, educational, and rehearsal space for Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC), with actor and fellow housing and market-rate apartments to be developed above STC's operations by Erkiletian. A description of the previous plan can be found here. Southeastern University was demolished last summer and the site cleared in anticipation for development. 

Some neighbors of 501 I Street have mobilized their efforts to try and stop the development, which would replace a two-story building under R-3 zoning with a much denser project (under SP-2 zoning) and has the potential to block sunlight to surrounding residential properties and Amidon-Bowen Elementary School. Yard signs can be found along 6th Street deriding the project and a blog has been developed in opposition to The Bard. Earlier this week, several neighbors signed a letter sent to the attorneys representing the development team asking for a delay in submitting the PUD application. 

A series of meetings will be held in February to reveal revised plans for the project to the community, which includes the following: the reduction in size by two stories to a maximum height of seven stories; a reconfigured unit mix to include more larger units and less studio apartments; reducing the number of planned units from 177 to 136 units; and moving some of the massing from the south side of the project northward along 6th Street. The two meetings will be held on February 1 and February 16 at Blind Whino Arts Club, located at 700 Delaware Avenue (the former Friendship Baptist Church) on the second floor. Both meetings will be from 6:30 to 8:30pm. 

Rendering courtesy of The Bard

Sunday, January 24, 2016

500 L'Enfant Plaza on Hold?


Construction began about a year ago on 500 L’Enfant Plaza, a “trophy” class office building developed by The JBG Companies. The building began construction on spec, or without an anchor tenant. However, after building the foundation and loading dock, it appears construction has been stopped for the past couple of months. Has the project been placed on hold until an anchor tenant has been found?


In addition to 500 L’Enfant Plaza, an office building recently delivered at National Square (500 D Street) and remains empty. Other office buildings under construction in the quadrant include 800 and 1000 Maine Avenue at The Wharf. Only one of those buildings has a tenant signed up, so there is plenty of competition in the market. 

Renderings courtesy of The JBG Companies

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

DC United Stadium PUD Application Filed


DC United submitted a PUD application yesterday for their new planned stadium on Buzzard Point, to be located three blocks from Nationals Park at 100 Potomac Avenue. The 19,000-seat stadium has been designed by Populous (the same designers of Nationals Park) and DC-based Marshall Moya as “contemporary-industrial” as a nod to Buzzard Point’s industrial nature. Building materials include glass, concrete panels, zinc and aluminum panels and the stadium will rise to a maximum height of 98 feet. The stadium will also be designed to meet LEED-Gold standards (Nationals Park was designed to meet LEED-Silver standards). No on-site parking is planned, although 3,400 off-site parking spaces have been identified for use by patrons, both on Buzzard Point and at parking lots used for Nationals games. There will be 233 bicycle spaces, although it is unclear whether a bike valet will be set up at the soccer stadium like Nationals Park. 


The main entrance will be on the northeast corner of the site at a plaza along Potomac Avenue with 18 gates. From Potomac Avenue, spectators will get a view of the inside of the stadium and field since the pitch will be near ground level. The zoning application touts this street-activating feature as unique to any other professional sports stadium. Premium ticket holders will enter through a separate gate area south of the main entrance. Other entrances for fans will be at the northwest and southwest corners of the stadium. An entrance on the southeast corner will be used for media. 


Ticket booths will be located on the east side of the stadium. A building straddling the stadium at the corner of 2nd and T streets will contain retail on the first floor with office space on the second floor outside of the stadium. Inside the stadium, this building will contain concessions on the first floor and DC United’s offices on the second floor. The team’s locker room will be in the basement of this building. Decorative fencing will run along the west edge of the stadium along 2nd Street and a pedestrian walkway will be located on the east side to minimize disruption of the pedestrian flow on 1st Street.


Most of the seating will be on the east side of the stadium, due to an easement with Pepco which gives the utility access on the east side of the property. The west side of the stadium has outdoor seating while the east and north sides will have both outdoor seats and suites. The team store will be a separate, one-story building fronting R Street, located to the northwest of the main entrance so it will be accessible not just during game days. 


There is a separate parcel on the northeast section of the stadium footprint adjacent to the entry plaza that is not a part of the PUD application. This parcel will be developed in the future, likely as a hotel with retail. The stadium is scheduled to start construction in September, although PUD approval is needed first and the city needs to do environmental remediation and utility work to prep the land for construction. Construction is expected to be complete in time for the start of the 2018 MLS season.

Stay tuned for more about this project.

Renderings courtesy of DC United

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Stadium District Lofts Planned for Buzzard Point


The type of small-scale infill development currently lacking in most of Southwest is coming to Buzzard Point. A Zoning Commission application was recently submitted for Stadium District Lofts, an eight-unit apartment building planned by SW resident Tyler Merkeley at 1542 1st Street, located between Lucky Kabob Indian Restaurant and High Road Primary & Middle School. The proposed project is located within the Capitol Gateway Overlay, hence the need for the application. In addition, the project sponsor is requesting a variance to not include parking due to the small lot size and access constraints since there is no alley. In lieu of vehicle parking, a total of 11 bike parking spaces will be provided – three long-term and eight short-term. 

Stadium District Lofts is planned as a five-story building (the application says four-story, but the rendering appears to be five stories) with a brick fa├žade on the east and west elevations. On the north and south elevations, the material will be fiber-cement board panels – these two sides of the building will likely be covered over time by eventual development of the lots to the north and south - the Zoning Commission statement from the applicant states the Lucky Kabob/Shulman’s site is currently for sale. The unit mix will include one 1BR, five 2BRs, and two 3BR units. Green features include a bio-retention rain garden and the potential for a green roof, which would qualify this project for LEED-Silver certification. 

The proposed project would replace a fire-damaged single-family home that is in the process of being razed. The owner of a rowhouse around the corner from this site on Q Street applied for a raze permit recently and it’s likely a denser residential development will be planned there as well. This is one of several planned developments on Buzzard Point, which is starting to get attention since DC United decided to locate their new soccer stadium in the neighborhood. 

A hearing is scheduled for Stadium District Lofts on St. Patrick’s Day.

Rendering courtesy of TMASSHLDG, LLC

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Waterfront Metro Escalator Repairs


Starting on January 18, WMATA will begin a two-year project to replace the escalators at the Waterfront Metro station. From WMATA:
The project will replace the current entrance escalators, which are more than 20 years old and have exceeded their useful life, with brand new escalators that are more durable and reliable. Metro's contractor, KONE, will install the new escalators one at a time, while keeping two units in service for the duration of the project -- one running up and one running down.
It will take about 35 weeks to fix each of the three escalators and most of the work will be done at night to minimize disruption. Maybe they will finally remove the SEU from the station pylon and entrance while they're at it...  

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Buzzard Point Will be Buzzing with Construction Activity in 2016


2016 will be a big year for Buzzard Point as a multitude of projects both large and small are expected to get underway on the peninsula. The most high-profile project is construction of a new soccer stadium for DC United, which is scheduled to start by September. Raze permits were filed last month for the parcels the city purchased in the stadium footprint, including Super Salvage which is now closed. Meanwhile, eminent domain proceedings are underway for a two-acre parcel in the stadium footprint previously owned by Akridge. The city still needs to remediate the stadium site before construction can begin, which is filled with containments due to the area’s former heavy industrial use. The 20,000 seat stadium will be located at 2nd and R streets and is scheduled to open in time for the beginning of the 2018 MLS season. 











Pepco has already cleared land across R Street from the stadium site to build a new substation in order to handle all of the new development occurring in Southwest and Navy Yard/Near SE/Capitol Riverfront. The new Waterfront substation has been designed to blend in with the area and will replace the unsightly exposed substation that currently exists a couple blocks to the southeast. On the southeastern side of the new substation where R Street, 1st Street and Potomac Avenue intersect, the area will complement the public plaza planned as a part of the new DC United stadium. Aside from the substation, transmission lines will be installed along several nearby streets. The new Waterfront substation will be open by June 2017. 


Five years after Marina Place was approved and more than a decade after it was first proposed, the condo and retail project may finally move forward this year. Capital City Real Estate purchased the lot fronting the recently shuttered Buzzard Point Marina at 1st and V streets from Duane Deason in December for $9.8 million, according to the Washington Business Journal. The new owners are planning a 90-107-unit condominium project, which will have sweeping views of the Anacostia and Potomac rivers due to its location near the tip of Buzzard Point. Construction is expected to wrap up by early 2018. 

A raze permit was filed last month for 69 Q Street, a row house dating to the late 1800’s recently purchased for $599,000 according to Zillow. No details yet on what will replace it, but it is a block east of where a new hotel and hostel by Carr Hospitality is supposed to be built. 


Construction of a new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge and traffic oval by DDOT is also expected to begin by the end of 2016 or early 2017. The two-phase project involves building a new, six-lane bridge across the Anacostia River with pedestrian and bike paths, as well as new traffic ovals on either side of the bridge, the transformation of South Capitol Street into a grand urban boulevard with interchange improvements including an at-grade intersection at M Street and new ramps to I-695. The interchange improvements are part of the second phase of construction.

Renderings courtesy of DC United, Pepco, Eric Colbert & Associates PC, and DDOT

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Pier 4 at The Wharf to Remain Commercial, Rise to 3 Stories


Hoffman-Madison Waterfront (HMW) has filed with the Zoning Commission to modify the approved Stage One PUD for Pier 4, located adjacent to the new Waterfront Park currently under construction at The Wharf. Initially, the plan was to work on Pier 4 in the third phase of The Wharf, but HMW has decided to move up construction of Pier 4 to coincide with the completion of Waterfront Park, in order to minimize disruption to the park. In addition, the development team seeks to change the permitted use from residential to commercial in light of the lack of support from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to allow townhouses constructed on the pier. Instead, Pier 4 will continue to be be used by Entertainment Cruises, which currently operates out of the pier and neighboring Pier 3. Entertainment Cruises will consolidate its operations to Pier 4. 

View from Washington Channel
A permit was given to HMW in 2015 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to do the following, according to the Zoning Commission application: 
To renovate, including constructing additional stories not to exceed a total structure height of 55 feet above the existing site, in the same roofline footprint; to construct an approximately 23-foot wide by 200-foot long pier at the channelward end of the existing pier structure, to install two dolphins; and to construct a 20-foot wide by 40-foot long floating platform with 6 piles on the west side of the existing pier, all to extend a maximum of 530 feet channelward of the existing bulkhead. 
View from Waterfront Park
The plan for the pier is to maintain the brick head house structure for passenger ticketing and locker rooms for employees and build a two-story addition to the existing concrete canopy structure located behind the head house. McGraw Bagnoli Architects has designed the new pier building as a concrete structure with wood and metal accents. A passenger staging area, restrooms, and office space will be located on the first floor while the second and third floors will contain more office space and terraces, both covered and uncovered. 

The existing head house building at Pier 4 will remain.
HMW will go before the ANC next week to seek their support for the change in plans to Pier 4. 

Renderings courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Extreme Makeover: New Windows and Doors Edition


The corner of South Capitol and I streets looks a little brighter these days with new windows recently installed at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. The new windows at the Capitol Skyline Hotel have a white frame, which gives the hotel exterior a much different look compared to the old blue-framed windows.

Old windows with blue frame
New windows with white frame











Across the street, windows at Randall Recreation Center have been painted, security bars removed, and doors replaced. One of the windows at Randall will also be replaced. The improvements at Randall are a result of money given by the Bernstein Companies as a part of their PUD approval for Town Center East. In addition, DPR has $250,000 available to make ADA-compliant improvements to Randall, but they are seeking more funds in the FY 2017 budget to make additional improvements.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Randall Turf Field Photos


A new turf athletic field at Randall is now mostly complete. A partnership between DPR/DGS, the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation, and Under Armour have teamed up for the effort, which includes a new turf field, scoreboard, and dugouts for youth baseball/softball and soccer. The position of the ball field on the southwest corner of Randall Field shifted to the northwest corner. Only one of the fields will be turf – the other ball field on the southeast corner will remain grass due to lack of funding. The changes to the field will accommodate youth sports to the detriment of adult sports leagues due to the source of donated funds for the project. Below are some more photos of the new field.

Under Armour logo on turf field
New scoreboard is at left.










Outline of soccer field