Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Southwest Waterfront Meeting Details

The 514-seat Kreeger Theater at Arena Stage was almost filled to capacity with people this evening who were interested in hearing about the revised master plan for the Southwest Waterfront. Representatives from the Hoffman-Madison Marquette team and EE&K Architects presented their vision for the waterfront, a 26-acre development along the Washington Channel. See below for details on the new plan, or check out the Southwest Waterfront Redevelopment page. ( now with renderings)

Key development principles for the Southwest Waterfront include:

  • Create an accessible, lively waterfront neighborhood - alive with people, activity, commerce, culture and recreation
  • Bring the District to the water's edge
  • Restore successful elements of Southwest DC to serve as a great place for District residents
  • Become a model development by use of best practices for sustainability
  • Create an enduring place - a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of the people of Washington

Current plans include the following basic elements:

  • 560 residential units
  • 600 keys in three hotels
  • 840,000 SF of office - the development team is talking with a tenant for phase I
  • 335,000 SF of ground floor retail wrapped around all of the buildings
  • music hall/museum/maritime education
  • 2,500 underground parking spaces in five garages
  • 400-500 marina slips
  • 60% of the site area will be public space

Community benefits include the following:

  • 30% of the residential units will be affordable - half of the affordable units will be for those earning up to 30% of AMI and the other half for those earning up to 60% of AMI. The affordable units will blend in with market-rate housing.
  • 51% of all new jobs will go to District residents with an emphasis on Wards 5, 6, 7 and 8
  • 650 - 1,000 construction jobs will be created
  • 2,800 permanent jobs will be created (1,000 of them will be service jobs)
  • 35% of goods and services will be provided by CBEs
  • 20% of retail will be reserved for unique and local retailers

The Southwest Waterfront development will be built in three phases, however, phases I and II could be combined depending on whether the development team can secure enough pre-leasing:

  • Phase I - from 7th Street to 9th Street, including 7th Street Park & Pier and City Pier. Will include 2 hotels with 40,000 SF of retail, office, a residential building and the Capital Yacht Club.
  • Phase II - from 9th Street to the Fish Market will include the music hall or other cultural element, farmers' market, office, retail, and residential.
  • Phase III - from 7th Street to P Street Park. Will include residential, office, hotel, retail and commercial pier

Some of the major public spaces include the following:

City Pier
The City Pier will serve as the terminus of 9th Street from Maine Avenue and will jut out into the Washington Channel. This will be the main civic space of the waterfront, where tall ships can dock, a band shell may be located at the end of the pier, and a landmark light tower may be located adjacent to the pier. This will also be the area that will have the most programmed activity.

Market Square and Pier
This section of the waterfront is near the fish market, which will be refurbished. In addition, a new farmer's market will be built north of the fish market to replace the head house market that once existed in the area back in the 1930s. A seasonal market, brewery, cafes, picnic tables, and restaurants will be located in this informal space and a couple of barges will be added to this area.

7th Street Park and Pier
7th Street Park will be at the terminus of 7th Street and will be more formal in nature than Market Square. It will be a grassy area with lots of trees and the retail space adjacent to the park will be reserved for higher-end restaurants. There will be a pedestrian pier with perhaps a gazebo and kayak rental facilities.

M Street Landing
Across from Arena Stage will be M Street Landing, an open space that connects the waterfront to Arena Stage. This area will have 1-2 story buildings so Arena Stage can serve as a showcase building visible from the waterfront. There will be a traffic circle on Maine Avenue in front of Arena Stage and a water feature - perhaps an ice skating rink - that will be near the Washington Channel. This area is seen as being a fun area with less formal restaurants and family-oriented retail. M Street Landing will also serve as a staging area for the cruise ships that will all operate at the commercial pier nearby.

Maine Avenue
Maine Avenue will become a neighborhood street, with ground floor convenience goods retail running along its length, such as dry cleaners, bakery, pharmacy, etc. Each side of Maine Avenue will have a travel lane on the left, a second travel lane that shares space with a streetcar line, and a parking/loading lane. A row of street trees will separate the road from a 10-foot wide bike lane and a 15-foot sidewalk, so buildings will be 25 feet away from the street. Traffic lights will be added at the new Maine Avenue traffic circle, the northwestern edge of Arena Stage, and the Grand Staircase planned to connect the 10th Street Overlook to the waterfront. Tour buses will be moved to Maine Avenue near M Street Landing so cruise ship patrons have easy access to the commercial pier.

The Wharf
The main attraction at the Southwest Waterfront will be The Wharf, which is the promenade that will run the length of the waterfront from Market Square to M Street Landing. Water Street will be removed and replaced with Wharf Street. The promenade will be 60 feet wide broken into three equal sections and in most places will be at "elevation 13" or 13 feet above the surface of the channel. The 20-foot section closest to buildings will be for outdoor seating. The middle 20-foot section will be Wharf Street, with limited vehicular access and possibly a streetcar line that will run northwest-bound. The 20-foot section closest to the shoreline will be for pedestrians.

Other public spaces planned include P Street Park, which will be a large park space where the tour buses currently idle; Waterfront Park; The Grove, which will be a more intimate space near the Gangplank Marina; The Mews, Theater Alley, Transit Plaza and Pier; and Club Plaza. A major component of the experience that a visitor will have when going to the new Southwest Waterfront will be the programming that will occur. Concerts, fireworks, festivals, seasonal markets, and many other big & small planned events will animate the waterfront so a visitor won't have the same experience twice.

The northwest side of the waterfront will be the more lively area while the activity and buzz starts to die down closer to the existing neighborhood on the southeast side.

Most of the buildings will be perpendicular to The Wharf to minimize blocked views to the waterfront. Taller buildings will also be positioned to avoid a wall effect along the waterfront and enhance view corridors.

The entire development is aiming for LEED-ND (Neighborhood Development) and individual buildings will be seeking LEED-Gold or Silver.

The Planned Unit Development (PUD) process will begin this fall. Construction is supposed to begin in late 2012 and should last 7-8 years.

What do you think about the revised plans for the Southwest Waterfront? Feel free to leave a comment and/or vote in the poll at the top left corner of the blog.

Update: The illustrative plan has now been uploaded to the project website.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Live-Aboards in Peril on the Waterfront?

The Washington Post follows up their coverage of Arena Stage and development in Southwest with a story about the live-aboard community at the Gangplank Marina, whose future is uncertain as the Southwest Waterfront is getting ready to be redeveloped. According to the article, the houseboat owners at the Gangplank Marina, which is the only live-aboard community in the District - about 150 people live there, haven't received a transition plan yet from the Hoffman-Madison Marquette team, who will be undertaking the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront. However, next door at the Capital Yacht Club, a transition plan is already in place. Despite the lack of a transition plan, the developers claim that Gangplank Marina will not disappear. From the article:

Shawn Seaman, PN Hoffman's project director for the Southwest waterfront project, said that once the project is completed, both Gangplank and the Capital Yacht Club will have the same number of slips and that the "bulkhead, promenade and marina slips will be reconstructed and improved as part of the project."

The first phase of development is supposed to take place from 7th Street to 9th Street, where the Gangplank Marina is located. Find out what other plans the developers have for the waterfront at Wednesday's Community Forum. Check the Upcoming Events page for details.

Waterfront Cleaners to Open Tomorrow

As the title of this post states, Waterfront Cleaners at Waterfront Station will open its doors tomorrow. The windows are now exposed, so the interior of the store is now visible. Waterfront Cleaners will be open Monday - Friday from 7am to 7pm, Saturdays from 8am to 5pm and will be closed on Sundays. The dry cleaners claims to be "organic", which usually means the store will use a Hydrocarbon machine that uses a non-toxic organic solvent to clean clothes. I took a quick peek inside Subway next door and it looks like most (if not all) of the furniture has been installed. It is supposed to be open by next week.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Couple Quick Items

- Actress Meryl Streep does her part to get the Senate to pass legislation to allow the purchase of federal property to build the National Women's History Museum at 12th Street and Independence Avenue by attending a fundraiser last week at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, according to WTOP. The House of Representatives passed the bill last October. Streep is an honorary board member for the group working to build the museum and serves as its national spokeswoman.

- Also from WTOP, the Army Corps of Engineers awarded a $4.6 million contract to Hirani Engineering and Land Surveying to start construction on a levee system next month on 17th Street, NW on the National Mall. A new floodplain map was recently done that shows parts of Southwest and downtown now fall under the flood plain, which prompted the city to get the levee built. Here is a map that shows which areas of the city now fall under the flood plain. Properties that fall in the new flood plain are required to get flood insurance, but this insurance will be temporary, since the levee will cause the flood plain map to change once the construction project is complete in 2011.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Southwest Development Featured in WaPo

There’s an article in today’s The Washington Post about the redevelopment of Southwest. The basic premise of the article is that Arena Stage’s design has the potential to change the way the rest of the waterfront will be developed, which until now, according to the author, has been “desultory” in architectural design. From the article:

Bing Thom's new building demands better neighbors. And it calls for a more holistic approach to the waterfront -- more porous and open. There are not enough details in the existing plans for redevelopment of the blocks nearby to be sure that it will get what it deserves. The city and its chosen developers, PN Hoffman and Madison Marquette, have big plans for the waterfront just opposite the Arena Stage building, but will it be overbuilt? Will views be maintained? Or will it turn the waterfront in on itself, surrounding the marina and public plazas with structures that are so big they encircle the space, creating an insular, commerce-heavy, over-produced "urban space" that is in fact a giant suburban shopping mall?

The Hoffman-Madison Marquette team will be having a community forum this Wednesday to reveal more detailed plans about the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, starting at 6pm at Arena Stage. I hear that there will be new renderings revealed and will get those up on the blog once I receive them next week.

Other encouraging signs of redevelopment mentioned in the article include the reopening of 4th Street and Waterfront Station, as well as plans to create a “grand public” stairway to connect the 10th Street Overlook with the Southwest Waterfront (a temporary staircase, that may last 10 years, will be built in the interim). Others have shared the same sentiment with me that the area near 4th & M has come alive since 4th Street reopened and the new Safeway made its debut in the spring. With more retail making its way to Waterfront Station, the area will become even more vibrant in the months to come (if only the retail could get open faster!). However, the Southeast-Southwest freeway remains a barrier that isolates Southwest from the rest of the city. Another barrier mentioned in the article is the Department of Energy’s Forrestal complex, which straddles 10th Street in front of the Smithsonian Castle. There are plans from the National Capital Planning Commission to redevelop the 10th Street corridor, along with other areas of the Southwest Rectangle described in its Monumental Core Framework Plan.

Update: There is a special section in Sunday's The Washington Post about Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater and its impact on the city (Southwest in particular). Several related articles are in the feature, including the one mentioned above, how Arena Stage will transform the theater scene in the city, a profile of architect Bing Thom, the transformation of Southwest, and the building's design. In addition, there are photo galleries, a guide, and a video tour (see below).

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Southwest Nights at Arena Stage; SW Waterfront Meeting Scheduled for Next Week

The popular Southwest Nights will be back at Arena Stage when the theater reopens this fall. Southwest residents and workers can purchase tickets for $25 each for select performances (limit 4 per household, proof of residency or employment needed, and all tickets purchased must be for SW residents or workers). Tickets are based on availability. Below is the tentative schedule of Southwest Nights for the 2010-2011 season:
  • every tongue confess: Friday, November 26, 2010 at 12 noon
  • Oklahoma!: Friday, December 24, 2010 at 12 noon
  • Let Me Down Easy: Saturday, January 1, 2011 at 8pm
  • The Arabian Nights: Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 1pm
  • Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: Sunday, March 27, 2011 at 1pm
  • Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo: Sunday, April 24, 2011 at 2pm
  • Ruined: Sunday, May 29, 2011 at 1pm
  • A Time to Kill: Friday, June 10, 2011 at 8pm

Other discount programs are also available, including those for students, adults 30 and under, and families, to name a few. Take a look at Arena Stage’s Savings Program page for more details on all the discount programs.

If you want to get a sneak peek inside Arena Stage before the season begins and also want to know what’s happening with the Southwest Waterfront redevelopment, you can kill two birds with one stone because there will be a Southwest Waterfront Community Forum taking place at Arena Stage on September 29th from 6pm - 8:30pm. There will be an informal information session & Open House from 6:00pm – 7pm, followed by a presentation and Q&A session from 7pm – 8:30pm.

Today is exactly one month until Homecoming and FREE tickets will be available online October 8th!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Waterfront Cleaners Close to Opening

Signage has appeared above the entrance to Waterfront Cleaners at Waterfront Station. In addition, hours of operation have been posted on the door. Waterfront Cleaners will be open Monday - Friday from 7am to 7pm and on Saturdays from 8am to 5pm. It will be closed on Sundays. Since signage is now up and based on recon from some readers, it appears that the cleaners is almost ready to open - perhaps before the end of the month. When the retailers were first announced in June, Subway was slated to open in September, but it looks like Waterfront Cleaners may open before the sandwich shop.

Update: I heard from Z-Burger that they won't be opening until 2011. I'll let you know once they announce a specific date.

Update #2: The franchise owner of Subway is in the process of getting inspections and should open in two weeks.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Arena Stage Homecoming Details

As mentioned previously, there will be a Homecoming Grand Opening Celebration at Arena Stage on Saturday, October 23rd from 11:30am to 5pm. Sixth Street will be closed the entire day, as the festivities will spill out onto the street. In order for the street to be closed, Arena Stage is required to get written permission from a majority of impacted businesses and residents within 500 feet of the street closure. The homecoming is free and open to the public, but tickets are required to enter the theater. Tickets will become available on October 8th and can be ordered online. In addition, a limited amount of day-of release tickets will be available on the 23rd starting at 10am, in front of the Arena Stage visitor's center. A full list of events is available here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

CaBi Arrives at Waterfront Station

A 15-bike Capital Bikeshare station was installed across the street from the Waterfront-SEU Metro station today. Service on the bike sharing program, which spans 110 stations with 1,100 bikes in the District and parts of Arlington County, will begin on Monday, September 20th. There will be a total of five Capital Bikeshare stations located in Southwest - Waterfront Station; 4th Street on the National Mall; 7th & I Street near Jefferson Middle School; 12th & Independence Avenue at USDA headquarters; and 7th & C Street near L'Enfant Plaza. Check out the Capital Bikeshare website for a map of all the stations and how to sign up. I took a couple of nighttime photos of the bike share station - I'll try to get some daytime photos tomorrow. Above is a photo of the station, located at the northwest corner of 4th & M Street.

Here are instructions on how to use the bike share station. Will any of you be using Capital Bikeshare?

Update: Below is a daytime photo of the Waterfront Station Capital Bikeshare station, with bikes now docked.

It's Primary Day...Don't Forget to Vote!

Today is Primary Day, where Southwesters get to vote for Mayor, Council Chair, At-Large Council, Ward 6 (for those living on the west side of the Anacostia), U.S. Representative, and Delegate to the House of U.S. Representatives. While I am not endorsing any candidate for any of the offices on the ballot, here is a link to a post from the Gangplank Slipholders Association blog describing the Ward 6 debate between Council member Tommy Wells and challenger Kelvin Robinson. Polls are open from 7am to 8pm. Vote early and vote once!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

7th Street Landing Opens

This evening was the grand opening of 7th Street Landing, a new park along the Southwest Waterfront. For the next six weeks, the park will play host to several planned activities four days a week from Thursday to Sunday. Jazz bands will perform on Thursdays; food cart corrals on Fridays; yoga on Saturday mornings; and community events on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. For a full list of programming, take a look at this flier. Elinor Bacon from E.R. Bacon Development, one of the partners in the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, gave a speech before the Jacques Johnson Band started playing their second set, and offered the use of the park for community organizations on the weekends. For instance, Arena Stage will do some performances at 7th Street Landing. If you would like more information on how to reserve the park, contact Elinor Bacon at 7th Street Landing was built in just three weeks and paid for by the District government. Programming at the park will restart next spring, with the hopes that the soon-to-be demolished Hogate's will offer more space for larger events. Below are some photos from the grand opening.

(Left) Here is a view of the northwest part of 7th Street Landing. About 25 tables and 100 chairs have been placed in the park and will be stored away at the end of each evening.

(Right) District Doghouse, a food cart concept from the owners of Cantina Marina, will have a kiosk open on the southeast corner of the park from Thursday to Sunday. A diverse offering of hot dogs are available, from the traditional to lamb and wild boar.

(Left) This is the southeast section of the park. A stage was set up for the Jacques Johnson Band, who played jazz music to entertain the crowd as they made their way to the park.

(Right) Several food carts parked along the edge of 7th Street Landing including DC Slices. No alcoholic beverages are currently offered at the park, though.

(Left) District Taco was also in attendance. In addition, Sidewalk Sweets pulled up to serve hungry park goers. The Vanilla Gold Rush and Red Velvet cupcakes were were the tacos. Food options along the Southwest Waterfront have now been doubled!

(Right) Stairs lead from 7th Street Landing to the waterfront promenade.

(Left) 7th Street Landing offers fantastic views of the Washington Channel.

(Right) The Jacques Johnson Band plays their second set as the sun sets on the park on opening night.

CFL Reaches Ground Level

The new Consolidated Forensic Laboratory (CFL), under construction at the corner of 4th & E Street, has reached ground level. Construction began on the project earlier this year, after a five-month delay caused by alleged irregularities with the awarding of the construction contract. A covered walkway was constructed over the past couple of months that allows pedestrians to walk along the west side of 4th Street as construction continues. The walkway has lighting to illuminate the area at night, which can be a desolate stretch since there is not much foot traffic after work hours. The CFL is scheduled to deliver in 2012. Progress photos to come! Update: Photos have been added.

Here is a close-up view of the covered walkway.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Potomac Cleanest in Decades

Here's some good news about the condition of the Potomac River. The Washington Post reports that the Potomac is cleaner now than it was in the 1950s. One of the main reasons behind the turnaround in the condition of the river is improvements made at the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant, located at the southern tip of the city. Tomorrow at 11am, there will be a press conference held jointly by DC Water and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to announce the re issuance of an operating permit for the plant. According to the press release, DC Water and EPA officials will discuss the requirements of the new permit, as well as the progress that has been made in the region over the past 25 years to help improve water quality.

Old Safeway Demolished

The old Safeway at Waterfront Station is now just a memory...what is left is a large hole in the ground, as seen in this photo. Eventually, there will be an office building on the site, but there is no timetable available for when it will be built. The planned office building will not have ground-floor retail, but the other new buildings planned at Waterfront Station will all have ground-floor retail, according to the development map on the project website. There will also be a fenced outdoor seating area for Safeway patrons that should open next year. Speaking of retail, there is no word yet from the developers when the other retailers at the project will open their doors, although Station 4 is supposed to open in the first quarter of 2011. Once I hear about other retail opening dates, I'll let you know!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Details on 7th Street Landing Park Programming

In The Washington Post over the weekend, there was an article describing some of the programming that will take place in Southwest’s newest park, 7th Street Landing, a temporary park at the intersection of 7th Street and Water Street on the Southwest Waterfront that opens on Thursday. The park will have events on Thursdays through Sundays, at least for a month while the weather is still pleasant. From the article:

The nearby Westminster Presbyterian Church will provide live music on Thursday evenings. Every Friday night, the park will host a "food-truck roundup" featuring cupcakes, tacos, salads and Indian food. On Saturdays, yoga classes will be presented by Lululemon Athletica, a Vancouver, B.C.-based apparel firm. Each day will bring lawn games, including p├ętanque (a French version of bocce) and Ping-Pong, as well as food from District Doghouse, a food cart by the owners of the Cantina Marina restaurant, which is experimenting with wild boar, venison and duck meat in search of a new sausage offering.

There will be an opening ceremony on Thursday from 5:30pm–8pm, as a part of the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative’s 10-year anniversary celebration. I drove by the site on Sunday evening and saw some palm trees in planters, but the park is still largely under construction.

Once Hogate’s is demolished by next spring, the Hoffman/Marquette team will have an additional four-acre site to use for programming, including festivities for the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Update: I went by the park this evening and more work has been done (see photo above). The photo at the top of this post shows a view of the park looking toward the southeast. The red building will most likely be where District Doghouse will be located. Palm trees are visible along the park's edge and lights have been strung. Compacted soil that has the appearance of sand has replaced the concrete surface of the park.

Above is another photo with a view west towards the Washington Channel at dusk. A boardwalk ramp has been installed at the entrance to the park from Water Street.

Update #2: Below is a flyer with additional details on all the programming planned at 7th Street Landing.

The park will have free WiFi and now there's a Facebook page set up for it: You can also follow the park on Twitter.