Thursday, August 11, 2011

SW Ecodistrict Meeting Recap (Belated)

After several public meetings over the past couple of years to solicit feedback on plans for the Southwest Ecodistrict, the NCPC held another meeting on July 26th to go over the three development scenarios proposed for the area. While the Office of Planning’s meeting on July 14th dealt with the Maryland Avenue corridor, the NCPC meeting took a more holistic approach to the Ecodistrict, but focused more on the 10th Street corridor. The Mission Statement of the SW Ecodistrict is as follows: Establish an Ecodistrict that transforms the 10th Street and Maryland Avenue corridors into a vibrant well connected place to commemorate, visit, work, and live in a matter that creates a national showcase of sustainability through innovation, technology, and design. NCPC recommends at least 1,000 residential units and/or hotel rooms need to be created in the area in order to sustain the neighborhood. Currently, no one lives in the study area. Mixed use development (including residential) will be encouraged in the central portion of the study area from around C Street south to the freeway, while federal and cultural uses will predominate the northern area bordering the National Mall and civic uses at Banneker Overlook. Below are descriptions of the three development scenarios currently under consideration.

The rehabilitation scenario proposes the least amount of changes out of the three development scenarios.
Rehabilitation: Under this scenario, several federal properties would be rehabilitated, including the Department of Energy Headquarters complex along 10th Street, the historic HUD building at 7th & E Street, USPS headquarters along 10th Street, GSA’s building at 7th & D Street, Department of Education headquarters at 4th Street & Independence Avenue, and Wilbur/Orville Wright FAA buildings along Independence Avenue. Infill opportunities exist along Maryland Avenue, 12th Street near Independence Avenue, and at Banneker Overlook. An additional 2.1 – 2.4 million SF of space (divided evenly by federal office, cultural, and residential/hotel) would be added under this scenario, along with 70,000 SF of retail, 3,500 – 4,000 employees, and 840 – 960 residents.

The redevelopment scenario would remove the Department of Energy Forrestal Complex.
Redevelopment: The redevelopment scenario takes things further and proposes instead of rehabilitating the DOE complex, that it should be redeveloped, allowing the view shed to be reestablished along Virginia Avenue towards the Washington Monument. In addition, a portion of I-395 would be decked from 9th Street to just west of 10th Street to create more space for infill development. Between 3.3 and 3.9 million SF of space (divided evenly by federal office, cultural, and residential/hotel) would be created in this scenario, along with 100,000 SF of retail, 5,500 – 6,500 employees, and 1,320 – 1,560 residents.

Repurposing is the most comprehensive of scenarios.
Repurpose: In addition to the rehabilitation and redevelopment of the Ecodistrict, this scenario would look to repurpose three buildings for different uses– the USPS headquarters, the GSA building, and the Wilbur Wright FAA building. The repurposing scenario would add between 3.9 and 4.9 million SF of space.

These are four possible scenarios for a redesigned 10th Street.
Currently, the 10th Street corridor from the Smithsonian Castle to Banneker Overlook is a wide, mostly empty road that’s devoid of a significant tree canopy. There are four scenarios under consideration for the reconstruction of the street – a median axis (or “Ramblas”) with street lanes on the sides and a large median; a roadway axis where the street would run in the middle with wide sidewalks on either side; a pedestrian axis with a large sidewalk on the west side and the street running off-center to the east; and a hybrid median/plaza axis with the median axis format north of Maryland Avenue and south of L’Enfant Plaza, but a plaza format at L’Enfant Plaza. All four scenarios provide ample tree canopy and offer space for a plaza area near L’Enfant Plaza and infill areas along the street. Deep tree wells will allow larger trees to grow along 10th Street and filtration systems will be installed to carry water to storage tanks below the street that will reduce run-off.

Above shows the "maximum" buildout alternative for Banneker Overlook, which includes civic uses near 9th Street.
At Banneker Overlook, two build-out scenarios have been proposed. One is the “minimum” buildout, which adds civic/cultural buildings adjacent to the freeway, a parking zone beneath, and landscape features that connect to Maine Avenue and The Wharf. The “maximum” buildout also includes a civic/cultural building on the hillside near the intersection of 9th Street and Maine Avenue. Throughout the Ecodistrict, sustainable features and principles are proposed to comply with the President’s Executive Order mandating the greening of federal buildings, including water filtration systems (as mentioned above), photovoltaic panels on rooftops and along the freeway, green roofs, a cogeneration plant, building placement to reduce sun exposure, and better use of the district heating system currently in the area.

More information about the SW Ecodistrict can be found here. NCPC will be accepting comments on the plan until this Friday on their project website.

Images courtesy of NCPC


Bob Craycraft, Executive Director, Waterfront Gateway Neighborhood Association said...

My response/request to the NCPC and the District Office of Planning as the ANC Commissioner for the area under discussion includes:

1) Restoration of the L’Enfant grid wherever possible, particularly including the removal of the Forrestal (Department of Energy) buildings for the restoration of Virginia Avenue, S.W., and unblocking the view of the iconic Smithsonian castle structure from 10th Street, S.W.

2) Preservation of the Banneker/10th Street Overlook in its entirety, including the Daniel Urban Kiley-designed lawns to Maine Avenue, S.W., and Ninth Street, S.W.

3) Evaluation of the I-395 decking to include as great a distance east of Seventh Street, S.W., as the gradient will allow, supporting both the L’Enfant grid restoration and the OP's long-range plans to deck the I-395 and tunnel the I-295 freeways.

4) Incorporation of a southern-facing entrance the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station.

5) Incorporation of southern access points into the L’Enfant Plaza retail center.

Marc said...

I actually agree with you for the most part, Bob.