Monday, March 20, 2017

Waterfront Park Preview

On this first day of spring, I thought I’d share a few photos of Waterfront Park, the new park expected to open soon at District Wharf. The park is located south of 525 Water condos along the Washington Channel. Fencing is still up around the park, but you can get a good idea of what it will look like when it is complete. There will be more photos to come once the park is open and trees/flowers are in bloom.

Stairs leading to large pergola

Grassy area leads to 525 Water condos


New Z Dock at Gangplank Marina

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Construction Update at L'Enfant Plaza

Construction has resumed at 500 L’Enfant, an office building along 9th Street at L’Enfant Plaza. The foundation and loading dock was constructed back in 2015, but the project was put on hold until an anchor tenant was found. In January, it was announced that the Urban Institute would lease 121,000 SF of space, covering the first six floors of the 12-story building. Over 400 employees are expected to make the move by March 2019. The building itself will likely be completed in 2018, but then tenant buildout will take several months. 

Elsewhere at L’Enfant Plaza, construction is ongoing at the International Spy Museum on 10th Street. The museum will relocate from Penn Quarter to L’Enfant Plaza in 2018. In addition, renovations have been underway at the future Hilton Washington DC National Mall hotel. The hotel will also reopen in 2018.

Cotton Annex Sold

The auction of the historic Cotton Annex building at 12th and C streets by the GSA was completed last month and it was revealed this week the winning bidder was Douglas Development. Due to some sleuthing by the Washington Business Journal, they figured out a new company called Jemal’s Cotton Annex LLC was filed with the District Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Douglas’ bid for the property was $30.3 million. 

During an interview with Bisnow, Douglas Development’s Norman Jemal did not reveal its intended use for the building. From the article: 
"We loved the location," Jemal said. "It's a block away from Metro and Southwest is absolutely going through a renaissance and the tide is rising. We want to be a part of that rising tide. We have some very exciting ideas for it." 
Douglas Development’s other holdings in Southwest include a block of one-story retail buildings on the 1200 block of South Capitol Street and a large office building at 1900 Half Street in Buzzard Point, the latter of which will be redeveloped as a 462-unit rental apartment building with ground floor retail. Elsewhere in the city, the company has specialized in redeveloping historic structures or incorporating them in new development, including commercial buildings near the Verizon Center in Chinatown (now retail and office space), the Hecht warehouse in Ivy City (now apartments), and the Uline Arena in NoMa (now a flagship REI store and offices). 

With its location a block from the Smithsonian Metro and the National Mall, just off an exit ramp from the 12th Street Expressway, and within walking distance of the Portals and District Wharf, there is potential for the redevelopment of the Cotton Annex. What do you think Douglas Development should do with the Cotton Annex building and adjacent land? Vote in the poll on the left sidebar or leave a comment.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

A Couple Quick Items: Sale! Sold!

Less than a week after groundbreaking at Audi Field, a development site in Buzzard Point hit the market. Currently home to USA Motors auto shop, the 15,620 SF parcel at 45 Q Street is up for sale, which can yield up to 128,000 SF of new development. The site is located between Nationals Park and Audi Field and has frontage on both Half and Q streets. The block also includes a U-Haul Moving and Storage facility, an auto repair shop and a warehouse – the latter will be demolished to make way for the new traffic oval at the base of the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. To the south of the parcel for sale, a triangular site will become green space as part of the Douglass Bridge project. 

Meanwhile, an empty office building on D Street was sold according to the Washington Business Journal. Above is a photo from April 2015 when it was still under construction. An Atlanta-based firm called Goddard Investment Group purchased the 348,000 SF building at 500 D Street (also known as National Square) for $93 million. The building was constructed in 2015 by Trammell Crow Company and is still awaiting its first tenant.

Friday, March 3, 2017

River Point Plans Fleshed Out

Several months after it was announced that the former Coast Guard headquarters building was purchased and the buyers were planning to re-purpose the building as a mixed-use residential and retail project called River Point, plans have been submitted by the development team to the Zoning Commission for approval under the Capitol Gateway Overlay District. The project is located between the James Creek and Buzzard Point marinas at 2100 2nd Street in Buzzard Point, about two blocks south of Audi Field. 

According to the submission, the monolithic exterior will be broken up with the addition of cut-outs along the V Street, 1st Street and Anacostia riverfront sides of the building. A series of courtyards will be located on the third floor, including seating areas, a yoga deck, fire pit, movie screen, lawn, kitchen and dining room. The rooftop will include a pool and pool terrace. Residential entrances will be on 1st and 2nd streets. There will be a total of 485 rental apartment units with a mix of studio, junior one bedroom, one bedroom, and two bedroom units, both with and without dens (it appears the condominium component has been removed). Due to its location adjacent to the Anacostia River, the ground floor and adjacent streets will be raised above the 100-year flood plain. 

About 70,400 SF of ground floor retail is planned on all sides of the building. Restaurants will generally be located on the riverfront side of the building while neighborhood-serving retail will be located on V Street. Outdoor seating would be accommodated on the riverfront and 1st Street sides of the building. Some of the retail uses that are being targeted include restaurants, café, pharmacy and a grocery store. 

The Anacostia Riverwalk will run along the south side of the building, connecting to Buzzard Point Park to the east and the 2nd Street Cycle Track to the west. A boardwalk, programmable barges, fixed piers, a shell deck, public art, and a floating garden are planned for the area to the south of the riverfront trail. 

The building will aim for LEED-Silver certification and is expected to get underway later this year.

Renderings courtesy of 2100 2nd Street, SW LLC

Audi Field Breaks Ground

While I was out of town, D.C. United decided to hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Monday for Audi Field (the nerve!) at Buzzard Point. Alas, I was unable to get a picture of the ceremonial shovels digging in the ground, but below is a photo from when the District started site work several months ago. You can also check out coverage of the groundbreaking ceremony from several sources: 

The 19,400-seat stadium will open during the 2018 MLS season at 2nd and R streets. While not as contentious as the Washington Nationals baseball stadium deal more than a decade ago, the D.C. United stadium deal had its share of drama, including a land swap proposal, eminent domain, and flirtations with moving the club to Prince George’s County and Baltimore. 

Rendering courtesy of D.C. United

Friday, February 24, 2017

Mi Vida Added to Roster of District Wharf Restaurants

Add Mexican to the list of cuisine to be offered at District Wharf. It was announced that KNEAD Hospitality + Design will be partnering with NY-based Chef Roberto Santibañez to open a new concept called Mi Vida (a term of endearment meaning “my life” in Spanish) this November. It will be located near the entrance to The Anthem concert venue along Wharf Street. The 9,500 SF restaurant will seat 400 with multiple private dining rooms and patio seating. From the press release: 
Mi Vida will raise the bar for Mexican cuisine in Washington, DC and will offer a menu inspired by street food and traditional Mexican home cooking but in a modern, elevated presentation. He plans to serve his take on Mexico City’s famous rotisseries and will feature chicken, beef and pork in unique preparations.  
The design of Mi Vida will incorporate The Wharf’s industrial aesthetic and infuse it with contemporary and historic Mexican décor. Décor will include a modern take on Mexico’s traditional “Árbol de la Vida” or tree of life, an intricate clay sculpture telling Biblical or historic stories.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Eliot on 4th Almost Ready to Open

The placeholder website for the 365-unit Eliot on 4th apartments has been replaced with one that gives more information about the building, which will soon open at Waterfront Station. Floorplans are available, as well as photos of the model apartment units and renderings of the amenity spaces. In-unit features include wood flooring throughout, stainless steel Whirlpool appliances, Moen fixtures, quartz countertops, glass tile kitchen backsplash, undercabinet lighting, pantries, Bosch front-loaded washers & dryers, illuminated bathroom vanity mirrors, balconies, elfa-organized walk-in closets, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Project amenities include a fitness center, two clubrooms, saltwater rooftop pool and sundeck, roof lounge, café area, indoor lounges, multiple courtyard spaces, resident and bike storage, and 24/7 concierge service. Move-ins begin on April 1 and leasing is expected to begin shortly. 

I am also hearing that one of the retail spaces on the ground floor of the building may be occupied by Cosmopolitan Nail Lounge, which is also opening at another Forest City building at The Yards in Near SE/Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

ANC Softens Tone on D.C. United Stadium PUD Ahead of Zoning Commission Meeting

In a letter sent to the Zoning Commission late last month, ANC 6D stated that progress has been made on addressing the major concerns the body had with the D.C. United stadium PUD, including environmental and transportation issues. Since the last Zoning Commission meeting, the ANC met with D.C. United to discuss these issues and as a result, an additional community benefit was secured in the form of a $50,000 contribution to BreatheDC, which will help purchase and distribute air purifiers to homes near the stadium site. Air quality monitoring continues to be an issue and the frequency of baiting traps for vermin stirred up due to construction. On the transportation front, some hurdles remain, including the lack of coordination between the team and the Nationals on scheduling; insufficient number of parking spaces reserved at lots used for Nationals games; and routing stadium traffic through residential streets. However, a preliminary Traffic Operations and Parking Plan (TOPP) has been developed, as well as the possibility of water taxi service to Diamond Teague Park in Neat SE. The ANC stopped short of supporting the PUD mainly due to lingering transportation issues. The Zoning Commission will likely give final approval to the PUD tomorrow evening after giving preliminary approval in December. 

Speaking of D.C. United, if you didn't notice in the renderings, it was announced today that the team has sold the naming rights to the stadium to Audi of America. The Buzzard Point stadium will now be known as Audi Field (at least the Audi colors match the team's...). If the PUD is approved at tomorrow’s Zoning Commission hearing, construction will begin shortly and Audi Field is scheduled to open around June 2018. 

The monthly D.C. United community meeting will be held on February 21 at 6:30pm at King-Greenleaf Recreation Center (201 N Street) where an update on the stadium project will be provided.

Update: The Zoning Commission gave final approval to the stadium PUD on Wednesday night. A groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for February 27 at 3pm to celebrate the start of vertical construction. It will be held on Half Street between R and S streets. Mayor Bowser, MLS Commissioner Don Garber, Audi of America President Scott Keogh, D.C. United Managing Partner Jason Levien, Coach Ben Olsen, players, staff and others are expected to attend.

Renderings courtesy of D.C. United

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

More Residential for Waterfront Station?

Since PUD approval for the two Waterfront Station vacant sites at the intersection of 4th and M streets are nearing expiration, Forest City Washington is seeking a two-year extension. The two-year extension may not be necessary if they get approval for a revision to their plans. Even though the two vacant sites were planned as office buildings, about 600 more apartment units may be built instead. David Smith from Forest City Washington made the company’s intention known at tonight’s ANC 6D meeting to revise their PUD to allow residential development. The change was made because office market conditions are currently not favorable in the area and the anticipation is that won't change anytime soon. This isn’t the first time one of the Waterfront Station sites changed uses. The Eliot on 4th apartment building was originally planned as office, but switched to residential for the same reason. 

The switch in use from office to residential would result in no changes to density or height approved in the original PUD, but the design by Perkins Eastman scales down the height of the buildings along 4th Street to match 1100 and 1101 4th Street, which opened in 2010. Each building would be C-shaped with an elevated courtyard space facing M Street and have a green roof. Development plans are still preliminary, but the two proposed residential buildings would each have 17,500 SF of ground floor retail and 17,500 SF of office space on the second floor. The retail and office space would be along M Street and 4th Street. Above the two-level commercial base would be the rental apartment towers. Entrances to the residential buildings would be on the north side on 4th Street while the entrances to the office space would be on M Street. About 8% of the units will be set aside as affordable to residents earning up to 60% of AMI and some of the units would include 2BR and 3BR units to accommodate families. 

Forest City intends to file their modification to the PUD in about two weeks.

Photo from ANC meeting of rendering courtesy of Forest City Washington