Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Wharf PUD Presentation Recap

This evening's monthly SWNA meeting was a presentation of the Stage Two PUD for phase I of development at the Southwest Waterfront (called The Wharf) by the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront team. The presentation was held in the Kreeger Theater at Arena Stage. At the presentation, the developers and master planner gave a description of what is planned for parcels 2, 3, 4, 11, and public places including District Pier, Transit Pier, Waterfront Park, and 7th Street Park.  The Stage Two PUD application was submitted to the Zoning Commission on February 3rd. A description of what's planned for the parcels can be found here

Monty Hoffman from PN Hoffman gave his vision for the project and mentioned some of the refinements made to the plan since the Stage One PUD was approved in the fall.  For instance, the proposed traffic circle in front of Arena Stage has been removed from the plan. At the water's edge, wooden fending has been added to wrap around the bulkhead and provide a nicer face to the shoreline, especially at the District Pier and Transit Pier. Earlier in the process, a streetcar line was proposed for Wharf Street, but that has been shifted to Maine Avenue due to safety concerns. An extra mews was added to separate the office building and hotel planned for parcel 3. In addition, the facades have been broken down at street level to have more of a human scale to them. The Hoffman Madison Waterfront team is working with Washington Gas on building a Co-Gen plant on Maine Avenue that would use clean-burning natural gas to power the rest of the development. As a result of the Combined Heating and Power Facility (or Co-Gen plant), over 1,000 coal cars per year will be saved since most of the city is powered using coal fuel. 

Pier Mews by the Intercontinental Hotel in Parcel 3b
Next up was Stan Eckstut from Perkins Eastman who gave an overview of what's planned in the development. As much attention was given to the water plan as the land plan, and in fact, the water plan was done first.  Eckstut mentioned that the only other city in the US that has a comprehensive water plan for their waterfront is Baltimore. Along the water's edge at The Wharf, there will be a continuous bench (about 2,000 feet) instead of a railing, so people can enjoy the water more easily. Lighting will be near the base for safety purposes at night, as well as blue lighting along the water's edge to serve as a way to define the waterfront that can be seen from passersby crossing the Case Bridge into the District.  

Aerial view from the water
The Transit Pier is triangular in shape and is located near Parcel 2. This is where most of the dinner cruise ships, water taxi, and charter boats will dock. Music barges will also dock here for festivals.

Transit Pier
Down-channel from the Transit Pier is the District Pier, which will serve at the ceremonial entrance for tall ships and other vessels from around the world that visit the city. The District Pier is very large - 650 feet long (more than twice as long as a football field), stretching from Maine Avenue out into the Washington Channel.  The public space created here will be larger than comparable spaces in other cities, including Covent Garden in London, outside of Faneuil Hall in Boston, or Harborplace in Baltimore. District Pier is designed to serve a variety of purposes, with permanent scaffolding along the sides to facilitate the set-up for events and festivals throughout the year. For instance, the pier can serve as a venue for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, or become a large ice rink in the winter. Closer to Maine Avenue, there will be a large water feature called Water Court next to where people will emerge from a parking garage underneath the District Pier. At the channel end of the pier, there will be the Dock Master building with a pavilion affording views out to the water and back towards the city. 

District Pier
On the land side of the development, the design of the retail space along the wharf and Maine Avenue will vary, but will be smaller format with no big box retail. Along the wharf there will include mostly restaurants, as well as kiosks, while Maine Avenue retail will focus more on neighborhood-serving retail. Meanwhile, retail along the mews will be cafes, and some entertainment venues along what is dubbed "Jazz Alley" between Parcel 4 and Parcel 5. 

Example of retail along Maine Avenue
The design of the buildings will include more masonry than glass in most areas, with the exception of the condo building planned for Parcel 4.  Buildings facing Maine Avenue will more closely resemble the design of buildings in the city, while the wharf-facing buildings will have more windows to allow views out to the water. In addition, at least 50% of the roofs will be green. Parking will all be below grade, which is rare for waterfronts in the US and will accommodate around 1,500 cars. Nearly the same amount of bike parking spaces will be provided. A second Capital Bikeshare station will be installed at 9th Street and Maine Avenue to join the one already at 7th Street (which will move slightly from its present location to be closer to Maine Avenue). 

Example of retail at District Pier
Located between Parcel 3 and Parcel 4 will be the Yacht Club Piazza, next to which will be the Capital Yacht Club clubhouse.

Yacht Club Piazza
Next to Parcel 5 (which is owned by the JBG Companies and is not a part of this PUD submission) is 7th Street Park, a more formal and quiet green space where 7th Street Landing is currently located. Adjacent to the park is 7th Street Pier, which is not included in Phase I of development.

7th Street Park
Next to Parcel 11 is the 4.2-acre Waterfront Park, the details of which can be found here.  The park will be built in Phase I despite being disjointed from the rest of the development because the ANC requested this space be completed early in the process as a concession to the existing community.

Pergola at Waterfront Park
After Mr. Eckstut's presentation, Shawn Seaman from PN Hoffman went over the sustainability measures planned for the development. The Wharf will seek LEED-New Development Gold, while the individual buildings will strive for a minimum of LEED-Silver. An elaborate 675,000 gallon cistern system will be constructed to capture the more than 25 million gallons of runoff each year that currently dumps into the Washington Channel due to the lack of permeable surfaces at present. The captured runoff will be recycled to the greatest extent possible, including the provision of chilled water for the Co-Gen plant. Solar power may also be used for lighting throughout the development.

There was a question & answer period after the presentations that lasted nearly an hour. Questions included parking concerns, types of retailers, housing preferences for existing neighborhood residents, recreational opportunities, and traffic disruptions during construction, among many others. All of the questions and answers will be posted soon on the project website

Next in the timeline is a set down hearing with the Zoning Commission in April, followed by a presentation to the ANC and vote in May. Public hearings will be held in June and July, with approval anticipated by the Zoning Commission in the fall and groundbreaking in the first quarter of 2013.

Renderings courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront


Barath said...

Thank you so much for posting this recap!

SWag said...

Awesomely inspiring meeting last night, awesome recap. Thanks a million!

PostIt said...

CHP!! Yes, yes, yes!!

james in DC said...

What are they doing so the Wharf doesn't look like NOMA at the water?

Anonymous said...

Anything in particular you don't like about NoMa? The buildings here are narrower, in more parcels, which will help with the "big blocky buildings" look. The retail bays are smaller. There are more passages between buildings, and more small open spaces that aren't just sidewalks. The mix of uses is more lively -- hotels, restaurants, event space, and classrooms will lead rather than offices.

I think it'll be great to live in a lively neighborhood, and I'm sure that future homebuyers will agree!

PostIt said...

Did anybody else notice that the top picture has two different shadow directions? Some trees actually have two shadows on their own...funny!