Monday, February 9, 2009

What Bloggers Are Saying About Southwest

- DCMud: DCMud did an interview with Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects, the master planner of the new Southwest Waterfront. Here's an excerpt from the interview conducted with principals Sean O'Donnell and Matthew Bell:
[DCMud] What can we expect from the Southwest Waterfront? The only other true counterpart it has at present is the Georgetown Waterfront. What will the comparisons be once it’s completed?

SO: Well, one thing we learned from Stan [Eckstut] about waterfronts is how important the water actually is. You need to have a plan for the water too, and not just focus on the land side of things.

MB: What happens on the water totally influences the rest of the project. I think the general feeling is DC doesn’t have, outside of the Washington Harbor, a place where the city comes right to the water. If you think about [it], most of Georgetown pulls back and places like the Navy Yard never really went right to the water and, for years, were industrial. And, of course, the Anacostia is silted up and never became a great port. If you go back and look at the L’Enfant plan for the city, people were originally going to come by water and then travel by canals, so it was going to be a waterfront city. It never really happened that way and the idea is to finally bring the city to the water with people living there, working there, hotels, retail, restaurants and all different kinds of activity.

[DCMud] How do you go about integrating those original L’Enfant designs into your plans for a modern development?

MB: We base all of our work on what works in other places, so we spend a lot of time looking at precedents. We feel very strongly that great places are made by looking at other places, taking those ideas and using them as a basis for new ideas. I don’t think necessarily we’re trying to reinvent; rather, we’re taking the best of what you have at other waterfronts across the world and trying to make something that’s unique for DC. The L’Enfant plan is one aspect of that, but there are other ideas and other places as well. There’s an idea to connect to the Mall along [10]th Street, there’s an idea to make Maine Avenue a vibrant place with active waterfront uses that ties in the existing fish market in a creative way.
The Hoffman-Struever development team is now in the planning stage, since the SW Waterfront land transfer agreement was reached with the city late last year and initial infrastructure funding was approved last summer by the D.C. Council. However, in this week's WBJ (subscribers only) there was an article primarily focused on the collapse of the development deal at Poplar Point, but mentioned that Struever Brothers Eccles & Rouse has defaulted in nearly $6 million in construction loans unrelated to the SW Waterfront and PN Hoffman president Steve Earle said the following:

“Most real estate development companies are facing difficulties in this economic climate,” said Steve Earle, president of PN Hoffman Inc., Southwest’s lead developer. “[Struever Brothers is] a viable partner and we’re working with them.”
Construction is slated to begin in 2012. (Above is a rendering of the new Southwest Waterfront, from the SW Waterfront website)

- JDLand: Our blogger neighbor to the east has decided since Southwest...TLQTC and another blogger are now up and running in Southwest, she will no longer cover projects on the west side of South Capitol Street, which is technically not in Near Southeast. However, South Capitol Street itself and the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge fall under both neighborhoods, so here is a link to JD's observations from last week's ANC 6D's presentation meeting regarding the South Capitol Street EIS and bridge replacement, as well as my post about the subject last month. JD mentions that construction could begin as early as 2011 with completion in 2015, but funding hasn't been secured yet for the project, which will cost $700 million. As Southwest...TLQTC mentioned in a post last month, the new bridge could possibly be partially funded by the stimulus package currently going through Congress. Also, JD reports that the city is in the process of acquiring the red brick warehouse at the northwest corner of South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue in order to create the traffic oval that will lead to the new Douglass Bridge. (Above is a rendering of the traffic oval and new Douglass Bridge, from the EIS website)

- Washington City Paper: The Housing Complex Blog did a post on the current state of the Southwest Waterfront and the new restaurant that will soon open at the former H2O site. Here's the intro to the post:

In the coming years, the Southwest waterfront will transform into a glittering $1.5 billion development with three new hotels, condos, and a bustling promenade overlooking Hains Point. But until then, locals can take in the old scenery: the garish Maine Avenue Fish Market, boring anchor sculptures, empty wooden benches, and a strip of boxy seafood restaurants and clubs, including the now-closed D.C. hotspot and drama magnet, H20.
Proprietor Kristina Noell, who used to work at H2O, has plans to open a new restaurant at the old H2O space called Hogate's, but it won't be a night club. Noell has negotiated a two-year lease with DMPED and after a contentious meeting with ANC 6D, she received approval to open the restaurant and obtain a liquor license last month. Here's another excerpt from the post:

Noell plans to call her addition to the waterfront Hogate’s after the seafood restaurant that operated in Southwest [at the H2O site] for three decades and was a pillar of the neighborhood..."There will be things that will be reminiscent of the old restaurant-they [had] the rum buns that everyone still loves,” she says about the old place’s famous sticky buns. “We’ll also have our own rum buns, but there will be a twist.”
The new restaurant plans to open this spring and is located at 800 Water Street. By the way, those wooden benches aren't always empty...below is a photo I took on a beautiful Sunday afternoon (it was 67 degrees yesterday!) with those wooden benches along the waterfront promenade getting some use.

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