Friday, July 8, 2011

Community Groups Gear up for The Wharf PUD

Ahead of the ANC 6D meeting next Monday and the DC Zoning Commission meeting the following Monday, the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA) and the Community Benefits Coordinating Council (CBCC) have made their concerns known regarding portions of the PUD application for The Wharf. SWNA has released their written testimony they plan to deliver at the July 18 Zoning Commission meeting.  A summary of it is below:
We support the general framework of the plan.  The HMW team  has developed a captivating plan for reactivating the Southwest Waterfront ("SWW").  We believe the plan establishes a bold vision for redeveloping our waterfront, long suffering from incomplete development and inadequate maintenance.  We appreciate HMW efforts to-date by meeting with community leaders and organizations and establishing an active 7th Street Landing in the interim.
However, the plans require further refinement and modification.  Given the unprecedented size and complexity of the development this can be expected.
SWNA has identified shortcomings in five areas:

Zoning and Development
SWNA is concerned about the height, bulk, and design of the buildings since they do not relate to the existing community. Some buildings are planned to top out at 130 feet while current buildings in Southwest are only 90 feet. Setbacks on upper floors are insufficient and the design of the buildings are reminiscent of generic suburban development. Also, large billboards are planned on the north side of the development, which might cause an increase in light pollution. The design of Pier 4 is inconsistent with other parts of the waterfront, including the planned headhouse market. SWNA generally supports the waterside plan, but has concerns about provisions for the live-aboards at the Gangplank Marina.

There are concerns about an increase in traffic from development at The Wharf and other projects in the pipeline, especially at the intersection of 9th Street and Maine Avenue. The transportation impact study done by Grove/Slade for HMW assumes that 35-45% of people will visit The Wharf using transit, but the comparable development projects the consulting team used to make that assumption have Metro access much closer to their developments than The Wharf. SWNA prefers three streetcar stops  at the development instead of the four that are currently planned. A second entrance to the Waterfront-SEU Metro station at 6th Street and Maine Avenue is preferred. There are also concerns about idling buses on neighborhood streets, DDOT's responsiveness, and the "limited access" nature of most of the development.

Open Space
The HMW plan closes off the waterfront from the surrounding community and Maine Avenue will be converted from an urban boulevard to a mundane city street. There are concerns that there isn't enough detailed plans about the mews, arcades, and other dense corridors - which could become dark, undesirable alleys if not done properly. The design of pavilions are out of scale with the neighborhood (reminiscent of the Inner Harbor in Baltimore) and some structures jut out onto the M Street corridor. Ecologically and functionally sustainable plantings should be considered instead of the several grassy lawns that are currently in the plan. Larger open space areas such as M Street Landing and the Waterfront Park are generally designed well, but the water features at M Street Landing should be signature elements and there should be language written about a community-led progress to design the Waterfront Park as the developers have mentioned at community meetings.

The HMW team should aim for certified LEED-ND Platinum and create a true low-impact development meeting today's highest standard. Almost half of the Waterfront Park area is paved, but instead should be primarily a space with pervious surfaces. The surface parking area currently planned for the Pier 4 area should be replaced with underground spaces as is planned for the rest of the development.

Public Benefits
The main concern about public benefits is they need to be clearly identified, managed, and delivered on a timely basis. Some of the public benefits identified by HMW, such as a new clubhouse for the Capital Yacht Club, are not public.  Also, the geographic distribution of the benefits do not benefit Southwest and Ward 6 specifically. SWNA defers to the CBCC to express their views on community benefits.

The CBCC released their position paper on the PUD application late last week. Listed below are their positions on the four areas of most concern:

Workforce Development and Jobs
a. Workforce intermediary: The Community Benefits Coordinating Council believes that a primary focus of the workforce intermediary should be residents of near SE/SW and Ward 6 as well as the current focus on public housing residents in Wards 5, and 8. Since all of the redevelopment will take place on the SW Waterfront it is important that near SE/SW residents benefit from all of the changes about to occur. The CBCC recommends that the leadership of the CBCC as well as the Family Enhancement Center and other workforce developers, such as Strive DC, should be an integral part of the planning team for the development of the workforce intermediary. Without the active input and expertise of SE/SW stakeholders in the goals of the workforce intermediary, we are concerned that the needs of unemployed and underemployed residents of our community will not benefit from this extensive redevelopment of the waterfront.

b. First Source Requirement - Jobs: The CBCC believes that residents living in the area most impacted by the redevelopment should have a preference in any first source requirement.  Therefore the CBCC requests that language be included in the developer requested PUD which states a preference for residents of Ward 6 in general and the SW in particular.

Certified Business Enterprises (CBEs)
The CBCC requests that language be included in the developer requested PUD which states a preference that 5% of the 35% CBE requirement be procured from Ward 6.  The CBCC further requests that the government entity (Department of Small and Local Business Development - DSLBD) responsible for monitoring the CBE procurement requirements engage the CBCC and other near SE/SW stakeholders in ensuring that these CBE requirements are enforced, and that businesses in the area are guided in the steps they should take to qualify for CBE status.

Housing Affordability and Diversity
a. Housing Affordability: The CBCC requests that a preference be established for all three (3) affordability categories noted above for residents of and workers who provide services in Ward 6. The CBCC also recommends that a formal advisory committee of near SE/SW stakeholders be established to work with the developer and city officials to ensure that these community benefits are actualized.

b. Housing Diversity: The CBCC requests that language be included in the developer requested PUD which states that the current live-aboards will be permitted to return to the SW Waterfront along with language that explains how the temporary displacement of the live-aboards will take place.

Community Participation/Engagement
The CBCC requests that an Advisory Committee be formalized with members selected by ANC, CBCC, SWNA, and other neighborhood stakeholders.  The Committee should be expected to develop a semi-annual Report to the Community, to be shared with the DMPED and City Council on the advice and recommendations to the developer and the responses to said recommendations.


IMGoph said...

are we talking stand-alone billboards, or stuff like what's hanging from the 7th street side of the verizon center?

Steven said...

A few things:

Zoning: Exactly which "generic suburban development" does the Wharf look like? And can we get over the fact that that there will be 130 foot tall buildings?

I like the idea of a second Waterfront Metro entrance, but adding entrances is an extremely long process. And what's the hang up between 3 and 4 steetcar stops?

Open Space:
What does "Maine Avenue will be converted from an urban boulevard to a mundane city street" mean? Have they seen Maine Ave? It's essentially a traffic sewer.

Glenn said...

The design of the buildings? The buildings have not yet been designed. The model is conceptual, and the first stage PUD does not include structural design.

Glenn said...

"The HMW plan closes off the waterfront from the surrounding community..."

This is simply not true by any interpretation. The project shows a great effort to do just the opposite: to integrate the project with the community, by means of streets perpendicular to the waterfront and the many view corridors planned. The public spaces are really usable, and not the unused and oddly elevated concrete parks that now exist.

Diane said...

the perpendicular streets are no wider than 25 feet. That is the width of a room. These will hardly serve as welcoming corridors to the waterfront