Friday, August 11, 2017

New South Capitol Street Bridge Design

A new design for the replacement Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge which brings South Capitol Street across the Anacostia River was revealed yesterday at a press event with Mayor Bowser, DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, and other dignitaries. The new design is a departure from the previous version that looked more traditional and swung open to allow large boats to traverse the Anacostia. Since the display ship U.S.S. Barry that was docked at the Navy Yard was dismantled and moved, there was no longer a need to have a swing span bridge so the design was updated. According to a press release, the new bridge design includes three above-deck arches that capture the District’s arch history, two piers that will appear to float in the river, and four pedestrian overlooks. The new bridge will carry six lanes of vehicular traffic (three on each side), as well as bike and pedestrian lanes on each side of the bridge. In addition to the new bridge, traffic ovals will be built on both sides of the bridge – the oval on the west side of the river will connect South Capitol Street with Potomac Avenue and Q Street.  

Current bridge
New bridge

The bridge project is part of the South Capitol Street Corridor Project, a two-phase project that will eventually include additional improvements to South Capitol Street and adjacent streets on both sides of the river. On the west side of the river, improvements in phase II will reach all the way to the intersection with the Southwest freeway. Construction on the first phase will begin in late 2017 and will run through 2021. More images and an animated video showing the bridge project can be found on the project website.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Politics and Prose Coming to District Square

Just a few days after I mused that there were few non-restaurant retail tenants announced so far at District Wharf comes this news: it was announced yesterday that Politics and Prose will open a bookstore there this October. Per WTOP, the 2,300 SF bookstore will be located at District Square, on the ground floor of The Channel apartments. Politics and Prose often hosts authors at its Upper NW bookstore and will also do so at District Wharf. From the article: 

Among those already scheduled to appear this fall are MSNBC host Chris Matthews, Jordanian-Filipina American writer and editor Malu Halasa, national security affairs specialist Mark Perry and cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy.

The grand opening for Politics and Prose is scheduled for October 12, the same day as the bulk of Phase 1 of District Wharf will make its debut.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Photo Tour Part 2: Buzzard Point

Over in Buzzard Point, progress is being made at Audi Field (the new home of D.C. United) at 2nd and R streets and construction of a Pepco substation across R Street from the stadium site. The former is scheduled to open in June 2018 while the latter is much further along. Groundbreaking for Audi Field occurred back in February, but environmental remediation started months prior. At the July ANC meeting, Victor Melara from D.C. United stated that most of the environmental remediation was complete - just one area was left to finish. Precast seating bowl installation along the west side of the stadium was supposed to start in late July. Site utility installation was also expected to start in late July. On the south side of the stadium, basement excavation is complete and grade beams are being installed.

The Pepco Waterfront substation project includes the substation structure, transmission lines, and the installation of duct banks. The substation structure is nearly complete, but electrical work still needs to be completed.  Duct banks north and west of the substation also need to be installed. Pepco is partnering with the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities to bring artwork worth $250,000 to the planned plaza on the south side of the substation at 1st and R streets near Audi Field. A sculpture designed by local artists David and Eli Hess called Flash Point will be located in the plaza. An additional $100,000 will be spent to adorn portions of the exterior of the substation with a light installation from local artists. 

East aerial view of Audi Field.
Pepco substation at 1st & Q streets.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Photo Tour Part 1: District Wharf

On a picture perfect Saturday, I decided to go around and take photos of most of the construction activity in the quadrant. First up was District Wharf. It’s hard to believe the first phase will finally open in less than two months! Of course, portions of the first phase are already complete - 525 Water and St. Augustine's Church were completed in 2016 and Waterfront Park, with a portion dedicated to DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton opened last spring. Leasing has begun at both apartment buildings along Maine Avenue – Incanto and The Channel. Meanwhile, a large share of the condo units at VIO have already been pre-sold and two of the office buildings have landed tenants that traditionally wouldn’t locate in Southwest, including a law firm. One tenant I neglected to mention previously is Washington Gas, which according to the Washington Business Journal will move its headquarters from 101 Constitution Avenue NW to 1000 Maine Avenue and will occupy at least 70,000 SF of space in two floors. The Anthem continues to line up acts for its inaugural year of operations, including Foo Fighters, who will perform on opening night - October 12. Dozens of restaurants will be opening in the coming months, although only a few non-restaurant retailers have been announced so far, such as CVS, District Hardware & Bike & Cafe, The Press, Bella Moda Salon and Spa, and Cordial Craft Wine, Beer & Spirits. Below are some photos taken from East Potomac Park:

Going from west to east (or left to right): VIO, Canopy by
Hilton and Hyatt House hotels, the gazebo at 7th Street Park
and the recreation pier.

From left to right: Intercontinental Hotel, Capitol Yacht Club,
VIO, Canopy by Hilton and Hyatt House hotels.

From left to right: 1000 Maine Avenue, The Channel
apartments, and District Pier.

Zoomed-in view of The Channel apartments and the entrance to
the Anthem, as well as the Transit Pier, with space for
Cantina Marina Bambina.

From Maine Avenue, one can see more details coming along, including signs for parking garages and entrances to buildings. Don't try to follow the parking garage signs just yet though...the garages are not open to the public yet.  See below:

Hyatt House faces 7th Street Park, which now has landscaping
and lighting installed.

A sliver of Incanto apartments, 800 Maine, and The Channel.

A portion of The Channel apartments, which has over 500 units.

View of 800 Maine, District Square, & The Channel apartments.

Pier 4 office building from Waterfront Park

A view of the first phase of District Wharf from 10th Street.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Construction Underway at Portals Apartments

Construction is underway on 1399 Maryland Avenue, the first new residential building north of the Southwest freeway and south of the National Mall since urban renewal. Originally planned as an office building at The Portals, Republic Properties decided to change course and build multifamily instead. The current design by Robert A.M. Stern Architects is for a 373-unit rental apartment building. Many of the units will have sweeping views of the Tidal Basin and the building will be prominent for drivers entering the city on the 14th Street Bridge. Delivery is scheduled for 2019.

Rendering courtesy of Republic Properties

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Capitol Hill Firm Moving to The Wharf

Add another lobbying firm to the list of office tenants at The Wharf. If was announced that Cornerstone Government Affairs will relocate its headquarters from Capitol Hill to 800 Maine Avenue in 2018. The public policy firm will take 15,000 SF of space on the 7th floor of the 11-story office building. Cornerstone Government Affairs will join the American Psychiatric Association, MakeOffices, and Van Scoyoc Associates at 800 Maine. 

In retail and restaurant news, the following liquor licenses were supported by the ANC at last week’s meeting: 
  • Hank’s Oyster Bar (facing 7th Street Park on the ground floor of Canopy by Hilton)
  • Shake Shack (on Wharf Street near to the entrance of The Anthem)
  • Intercontinental Hotel (restaurant, lobby bar, and rooftop bar) 
  • Kaliwa by Cathal Armstrong (ground floor of Vio Condominiums on Pearl Street)
  • Cantina Marina Bambina (on Transit Pier near The Anthem)
  • The Brighton (on Wharf Street next to entrance of The Anthem)
  • La Vie (near District Square on the ground floor of The Channel Apartments)
  • Marinai Pizzeria (an Italian restaurant from the same owners of Station 4 on the ground floor of Incanto apartments on Pearl Street ) 

The only one not supported was for The Anthem. In light of the reduction in hours on Metro, the ANC has concerns about the egress of concertgoers late in the evening. A group of commissioners will negotiate with the operator to come up with a solution that will give the ANC more confidence to give their support for the liquor license. 

Rendering courtesy of Hoffman Madison Waterfront

Monday, July 10, 2017

Library Community Meeting Tomorrow

A community meeting will be held tomorrow evening at the Southwest Branch Library to begin discussions regarding the new, $18 million stand-alone library that will replace the current building. DCPL recently selected Perkins + Will and Turner Construction as the design-build team for the library. At the meeting, you will get to meet the design team, learn about the project schedule, and share ideas. The meeting will start at 7pm tomorrow at the Southwest Branch library, located at 900 Wesley Place in the lower level meeting room.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Construction Progress at Audi Field

Vertical construction is underway at Audi Field, the future home of D.C. United at 2nd and R streets in Buzzard Point. The most visible portion so far is on the western side of the construction site along 2nd Street, where a portion of the stands has been erected. A groundbreaking ceremony occurred in February after the Zoning Commission approved the PUD for the project, but site work was underway for several months prior. A webcam has been installed so you can keep track of construction progress. Across R Street from the stadium site is the new Pepco substation, which is concurrently under construction. Its brick exterior is visible in the photo below looking north. An easement for Pepco transmission lines runs below the stadium site and will connect to the new substation. 

Audi Field will contain about 20,000 seats and 31 luxury suites. An adjacent site on the east side of the stadium will eventually contain mixed-use development, likely to be retail and residential. The stadium is scheduled to be completed around June 2018, so D.C. United will need to play the first portion of their season on the road since their lease at RFK ends this year.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

PUD for The Bard to be Revised

One year after withdrawing their Planned Unit Development (PUD) application for The Bard, Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) and Erkiletian Development, the team behind the redevelopment of the Southeastern University site at 501 I Street, are trying again to get their project approved by the Zoning Commission. The original PUD was withdrawn after the District Office of Planning recommended a set-down hearing not be scheduled for the project since the proposal was inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan or the Southwest Neighborhood Plan.

The newest development proposal for The Bard, presented at the June 22 community meeting, reduces density by more than a third from the previous design to a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 2.89 and shortens the height to a four-story building with a penthouse level set back 11 feet on all sides. In addition, the number of apartments has been reduced to 112 units, with 27 of them set aside for use by STC as actors’ and fellow housing. The design of the main building will be in the shape of the letter C and the annex building on the north side of the site will no longer have a ground level connection to the main building. However, an underground connection will remain. Shalom Baranes Associates has designed the project. 

On the ground floor of the main building, there is space set aside for Shakespeare’s administrative offices and seven actors’ housing units, as well as the lobby of the rental apartment building and amenity space. The entrance to Shakespeare’s portion of the building will be located off a courtyard facing 6th Street. A water feature and landscaping will fill out the courtyard. Meanwhile, the lobby entrance to the rental apartment building will be along I Street. Shakespeare will have its costume design shop and rehearsal space in the basement level along with a 39-space parking garage (17 spaces would be used by STC) and storage for 70 bicycles. Floors two through four of the building will contain 75 rental apartments and an additional 10 units will be located on the penthouse level. Each of the penthouse units will have private terraces. The annex building on the north side of the site will contain five duplex units for fellows and 15 additional actors’ apartments on the upper three floors. 

Despite the reduction in density and height from previous versions of the plan, the development team is still requesting a zoning change to accommodate the project, which has been a sticking point with the surrounding neighbors who live in townhomes. There has been strong opposition to the project from those who live closest to the site – one went as far as creating a blog to vent her frustration with the development process. A group of neighbors have collected more than $20,000 to hire an attorney to oppose the project as it goes through the PUD process. They also engaged a firm to design an alternative development plan for the site. During the community meeting, neighbor after neighbor stated their preference for no changes to zoning for the site and for the developer to build townhomes instead. A petition was circulated around the room to present to the Zoning Commission, maintaining the current zoning for the site, which is R-3. The current zoning permits matter-of-right development of single-family residential uses (including detached, semi-detached, and row dwellings). Over the course of the meeting, several signatures were secured. 

Former design of the building, looking northeast

The development team intends to file a revised PUD within the next month and will work with the community in the coming months to try to reach a compromise. The attorney who was leading the meeting did not want to “put words in the mouth of the Office of Planning,” but intimated their support for the revised proposal. It should be an interesting next few months in Southwest...

Photos of renderings provided by Shalom Baranes Associates

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