Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Couple Quick Items: SW Duck Pond Annual Meeting Tonight, SWNA Elections Set for March 9

- The Neighbors of Southwest Duck Pond will have their annual community meeting tonight at Waterside Towers Club Room (907 6th Street) at 7pm. Special guests include Katie Rehwaldt from DPR and Hank Laverly from Millennium Pool Service.

- As it was reported in The Southwester, the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA) will be holding elections on Saturday, March 9 for their Board of Directors, which includes President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, and eight district representatives. The election will be held in front of the Waterfront Station Safeway. Check here for the list of boundaries for each of the districts as defined by SWNA.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

400 E Street Renderings

New renderings were released for the 400 E Street firehouse/hotel planned by E Street Development. The above rendering shows a view of the building looking southwest from the corner of 4th and E streets. Despite the change in use from an office building to a hotel, KidPower and DC Central Kitchen will still be located in the building. E Street Development will be at February's ANC 6D meeting to review the curb cuts that are required for the project. It should be a busy meeting in February since there are also supposed to be presentations by JBG for their hotels planned at The Wharf and Forest City for the NW parcel apartment building at Waterfront Station.  Forest City will make their presentation on the NW parcel apartment building at the March 11 ANC meeting. (Note: the firehouse project was the very first topic I wrote about when starting the blog over four years ago so it's nice to see that some forward movement is finally happening with the site).

View of E Street frontage of 400 E Street.
 Renderings courtesy of WDG Architecture

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Engine 13 Project Back on Track, Now Hotel Instead of Office

It was reported in the Washington Business Journal today that the stalled Engine 13 firehouse project may start site work in April.  However, the project has changed course and instead of an office building, an as-yet unnamed “select service” hotel will be built on top of the new Engine 13 firehouse, planned for the corner of 4th and E Street. A sign has been up on the vacant lot since last year saying the project would deliver in the fourth quarter of 2013, but the new target completion date is the end of 2014. Back in 2011, marketing began for leasing the office space planned in the upper floors of the building. Since then, E Street Development changed their plans – perhaps due to the slowdown in office leasing activity in 2012, especially by the GSA? An office building is planned for the existing Engine 13 firehouse site at 555 E Street next door to the Consolidated Forensic Lab once the new firehouse is complete.

Previous rendering of 400 E Street office building/firehouse.

E Street Development was selected by the District in 2009 with plans for the firehouse building to start construction in 2010.  At one point, there was an effort to lure the headquarters of Northrop Grumman to the building, but ultimately the company chose to relocate to Fairfax County.

According to the WBJ article, financing for the firehouse/hotel has been obtained mainly through foreign (Chinese) investors and negotiations with a hotel operator are still underway. A Holiday Inn and a Courtyard by Marriott are already in close proximity to the site, so it’s doubtful those brands will come to 400 E Street. Perhaps it will be a Hilton Garden Inn, Fairfield Inn, or Hyatt Place? As far as noise from I-395 or fire trucks blaring their sirens when responding to a fire disrupting hotel guests?  Not a problem, according to the article:
[E Street Development’s Geoff] Griffis said E Street will build window glazing and acoustical designs into the towers that will virtually eliminate noise generated by the highway and fire station. As an added precaution, the developers will create a signalized intersection at Fourth and E streets that the fire truck operators can control to stop all traffic and pull out onto the street safely when responding to emergency calls.
"They should be able to go out, for at least a good portion of their calls, with just their lights blaring,” he said.
E Street Development tells me that new renderings will soon be available for the project so I’ll post those once they are available.  WDG Architecture is designing the buildings and Nelson Architects has designed the firehouse.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Second Stage PUD Submitted for NW Parcel at Waterfront Station


Last month, a second stage Planned Unit Development (PUD) was filed for the northwest parcel of Waterfront Station (or 1001 4th Street). As planned, the 11-story building will be U-shaped with a total of 365 rental apartment units – all of which will be market-rate, 223 parking spaces and 4,400 square feet of ground floor retail with space for two retailers. Perkins Eastman (the same master planner of The Wharf) has designed the building and it will be developed by Waterfront 1001 4th Street, LLC, a collaboration between Forest City Washington and Vornado/Charles E. Smith. A new, pedestrian-friendly private drive will border the north side of the parcel and will connect to Makemie Place. The main entrance to the building to be located at the northeast corner of 4th Street and the new private drive. The retail space will be located along 4th Street and access to the parking garage will be along Makemie Place.

View from Makemie Place.

There will be a mix of junior 1BR, 1BR, 1BR/Den, 2BR and 2BR/Den units within the project. In addition, 12 two-level townhouse units with 2BRs will be built with private entrances facing the new private drive and Makemie Place. On the ground level, there will be a 10,000 square-foot courtyard on the south end with a wood deck, benches, a central lawn area with a water feature and perhaps a fire pit. Additional amenities will include a club room, fitness center with yoga studio, a game room and an e-lounge. On the penthouse level there will be a community room, pool, pool deck and an additional roof deck. An extensive green roof is planned as well.

Planned retail along 4th Street.

The PUD application describes the exterior of 1001 4th Street as:
The facades of the building will be compatible with but distinctive from the existing office building to the south along 4th Street and the renovated residential buildings which are under construction.  Each façade responds not only to its neighbors, but also to solar orientation and to potential view corridors, in order to maximize daylight in the units and views from the unit, while controlling solar heat gain. Primary exterior materials will be masonry on the base of the building, masonry or terracotta panels on the upper floors of the building, punched windows/window wall, and glass balcony rails. Coloration will complement the adjacent buildings, with primary façade colors being in the orange-brown range, with dark grey masonry accents and silver-grey metal colors.
Main entrance to 1001 4th Street.

The developers are supposed to come before ANC 6D at February’s March's business meeting to seek support for their PUD before meeting with the Zoning Commission later this year. If approved, construction would begin in 2014.

Renderings courtesy of Waterfront 1001 4th Street, LLC

Friday, January 18, 2013

Wharf Receives Zoning Approval

(This post is an abbreviated version of the South by West article that will appear in February's Hill Rag). 

After more than six years of planning, the largest development to occur in Southwest in over a half century has finally received the approvals it needs to put shovels in the ground sometime in 2013. The District of Columbia Zoning Commission granted its approval on Monday for phase one of The Wharf, which includes approximately 1.5 million square feet of residential, hotel, office, and retail uses along with three piers, numerous open spaces and gathering places along the Southwest Waterfront. Madison Marquette, along with PN Hoffman, leads the development team that will bring the project to fruition.

In most of Washington, the riverfront is bordered by parkland or military installations, but The Wharf will be one of the few areas of the District where city life meets the water. Water Street will be removed to make way for new buildings, but a promenade street will be created near the water’s edge called Wharf Street, designed as a woonerf, which allows vehicular access but pedestrians and cyclists have priority. The 60-foot wide promenade will include areas for café seating, pedestrians, and vehicles. A 650 square-foot pier will extend from Maine Avenue where it meets 9th Street out into the Washington Channel. District Pier, as it is being called, will be the grand entrance to The Wharf by land or water. Tall ships and other vessels from around the world will use District Pier to access the city.

District Pier.
To the west of District Pier is Parcel 2, which will contain Wharf Hall, a multipurpose venue that can accommodate between 3,500 and 5,500 people, along with two apartment buildings wrapped around it.  Wharf Hall has been designed to accommodate a variety of events, from conferences to cultural programming to concerts and will be in operation ideally between 150 and 180 nights a year. A Combined Heating and Power Facility plant is also planned on this parcel which would use clean-burning natural gas to power the rest of the development. Moving east from District Pier to Parcel 3, a 278-key, four-star Intercontinental Hotel will face Wharf Street. There will be an office building on the Maine Avenue side of Parcel 3.

Wharf Hall.
Next door to Parcel 3 is Parcel 4, where a 175-unit apartment building is planned facing Maine Avenue, SW and a 134-unit condominium building is planned on the Wharf Street side. These buildings will have more of an industrial feel to them than the other buildings planned in phase one. All of the buildings in phase one will include ground floor retail, but the buildings in Parcel 4 will have 77,000 square feet of retail in two levels, including space for a health club.

Although disjointed from the rest of the phase one buildings, Parcel 11 at 6th Street and Maine Avenue will be developed as a part of phase one, as well as a new 4-acre waterfront park for the neighborhood. At the new St. Augustine’s Church on Parcel 11, there will be views of the church from M Street and Maine Avenue since it will be located at a prominent corner. There will be a soft curved edge in front of St. Augustine's to complement the curvature of Arena Stage across the street. The 2-story church will be approximately 15,000 square feet with the sanctuary located on the second floor offering views toward the Washington Monument.  The other building planned at Parcel 11 will be a 109-unit condominium. The asymmetry of the facade was designed to be similar to the Tiber Island townhouses across the street. 

New St. Augustine's Church.
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.

Next on the agenda for the development team is to secure financing for the project. Once financing is in hand and the land transfer is completed between the city and Hoffman-Madison Waterfront, construction permits can be pulled and the transformation of the Southwest Waterfront can begin.

Update: JBG will be making their presentation to the ANC at the February meeting for the two hotels planned at Parcel 5 adjacent to 7th Street Park (an Aloft hotel and Element hotel).

Renderings courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

ANC Passes Resolution Dealing with Public Lands

At Monday night's ANC 6D meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to support a resolution requesting that the Mayor and his administration hold off on taking any substantial action regarding the use of public lands in Southwest (especially land at or adjacent to Randall Recreation Center) until after a Small Area Plan has been completed by the Office of Planning for the neighborhood. The full resolution can be found here. This action was prompted by the possibility that Randall Recreation Center could become a KIPP charter high school. Randall Recreation Center is slated for new playground equipment later this year and more programming is supposed to be done inside the Center, which for years has been woefully underused. There are several public parcels in the quadrant and since development has ramped up in the neighborhood in recent years, interest in Southwest has increased and those public lands become more attractive to developers by the day.

The Office of Planning is supposed to do a Small Area Plan for Southwest sometime in 2013. A Small Area Plan was done in 2011 for the Maryland Avenue corridor as a part of the SW Ecodistrict Initiative, but this Small Area Plan will cover a larger area. Typically, a Small Area Plan provides residents, land owners, developers, city officials and District agencies with a framework and recommendations to guide future development in the study area.

Also at the meeting, the new officers for 2013 were voted on and were sworn in. Andy Litsky (6D04) will remain as Chair, Ed Kaminski (6D02) will be Vice Chair, Donna Hopkins (6D01) will be Secretary, and Ron McBee (6D03) will be Treasurer.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Prepping for Inauguration Weekend

The presidential inauguration is nearly upon us and as such, the city is making preparations for large crowds to descend on the National Mall to see President Obama take the oath of office for his second term and the inaugural parade. A representative from DDOT briefed the community on the city's plans at Monday's ANC 6D meeting. While crowds are expected to be much smaller this time around than the estimated 1.8 million who visited the city back in 2009, between 500,000 and 800,000 people are anticipated to attend inaugural events this year. Above is a map of the pedestrian routes that will be used to access the National Mall and the parade route along Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. In Southwest, the main pedestrian routes will be along South Capitol Street, I Street, 4th Street, 7th Street, 15th Street, 17th Street, and Independence Avenue. Secret Service checkpoints in Southwest will be set up along Independence Avenue at 7th Street and 12th Street. For those who do not have tickets for the inauguration, the area of the National Mall from 4th Street to 12th Street will be available for viewing the ceremony on jumbotron screens. Parking restrictions will be in place on Inauguration Day along Maine Avenue and M Street from the Maine Avenue Fish Market to New Jersey Avenue, SE. Buses won't be parked on the streets as they were in 2009 - buses will need to park at RFK Stadium or a pay parking lot - ones that will be used in Southwest include 1st & V Streets in Buzzard Point and 14th & D Streets. There will be a maximum of 2,500 buses permitted in the city and about 300 of them are expected to park in Southwest.  None of these buses will be allowed to use local streets and National Guard personnel will be stationed at key intersections to enforce the ban. A taxi stand will be located long E Street from 4th to 6th Streets.  In addition, a water taxi will operate from Alexandria and will drop off passengers at the Gangplank Marina.  Metro will open on Monday at 4am and will stay open until 2am with rush hour and peak fare until 9pm, but the Smithsonian, Archives/Navy Memorial, and Mt. Vernon Square/Convention Center stations will be closed. Metrobus will operate on a normal weekday morning rush hour schedule followed by an early afternoon rush hour schedule. Some routes will be diverted that usually traverse the National Mall. Another way to get around is Capital Bikeshare, which will have a bike corral on Inauguration Day at 12th Street and Independence Avenue; however, two stations along Jefferson Drive at 12th & 14th Streets will be closed that day.

Pedestrians on 7th Street during the 2009 Inauguration
Local schools, including Amidon-Bowen Elementary and Jefferson Academy will be used as warming areas and a large 100' x 100' tent will be erected in Lansburgh Park for additional inaugural activities. DCPS buses will be stationed in various locations to serve as warming stations, including a couple at Lansburgh Park.  For more information about the inauguration, check out the website set up by the city.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Final SW Ecodistrict Plan Approved

I'm starting to play catch up on news items that occurred while I was away on vacation in SE Asia for the holidays, so this should be a busy posting week on the blog...  
Last week, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) approved the final plan of the SW Ecodistrict Initiative, a comprehensive approach to transform a large swath of acreage in and around L'Enfant Plaza from a federal office enclave to a mixed-use, environmentally sustainable neighborhood.  The 15-block study area comprising 110 acres of federal and private land is bounded by Independence Avenue to the north, Maine Avenue to the south, 12th Street to the west, and 4th Street to the east. The plan revolves around four focus areas:

Reservation 113 at the intersection of Maryland and Virginia Avenues.
  • Independence Quarter: A mixed-use community anchored by a national museum and a new headquarters for the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Maryland Avenue: An urban boulevard centered on a signature park and an expanded L'Enfant Station intermodal center.
  • 10th Street and Banneker Park: An inviting civic corridor connecting the National Mall and Smithsonian Museums to the southwest waterfront, anchored by an improved Banneker Park, nationally significant cultural destination.
  • Southwest Freeway: A private mixed-use development atop the Southwest Freeway will support new connections between existing Southwest neighborhoods, the SW Ecodistrict, and the National Mall.
View of a redeveloped Banneker Park from Maine Avenue.
Although the time frame for implementation of the plan (especially the SW Freeway portion) will be decades, a portion of the plan is already in motion. The General Services Administration (GSA), the largest landlord in the study area, has recently released a Request for Information (RFI) to developers to partner with the GSA to redevelop several parcels it owns in Independence Quarter (or Federal Center South as the real estate agency calls it), including the Forrestal Complex, Cotton Annex, the Wilbur and Orville Wright FAA buildings, and GSA's regional office building.  Other short-term actions will include an economic analysis, an implementation program, a stormwater infrastructure study, and an interim 10th Street/Banneker connection.

The full plan is available here and previous posts on the plan can be found here.

Renderings courtesy of NCPC; ZGF Architects