Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hyatt Place Coming to 400 E Street


E Street Development Group sent a press release today announcing that Hyatt Place will be the operator of the 214-key hotel planned at 400 E Street. The hotel will be called Hyatt Place DC Capitol/National Mall and its entrance will be on E Street, along with space for ground floor retail. A new firehouse for Engine 13 will be on the 4th Street side of the building. This will be the second Hyatt Place hotel to open in the District – one is under construction in NoMa on New York Avenue, NE. 

Here is a description of what will be at the Hyatt Place hotel, from the press release:
Launched in 2006, Hyatt Place brings to the upscale select-service hotel category the authentic hospitality for which Hyatt is known. Inspired by multitasking travelers’ 24/7 lifestyle, Hyatt Place combines stylish design and practical amenities with forward-thinking technology and purposeful service. Spacious guestrooms feature multiple areas to work and relax, and include the Cozy Corner, an eight-foot sectional sofa sleeper; plush Hyatt Grand Bed; and ergonomic work center. 

Every guestroom is also equipped with a state-of-the-art media center that allows electronic devices to plug directly into the 42-inch, high-definition television, giving guests instant access to the technological amenities they’re accustomed to accessing at home or in the office. 

Hyatt Place hotels also feature complimentary Wi-Fi access, a StayFit@Hyatt fitness center, a coffee and wine bar serving specialty coffees and premium wine and beer, and a Grab ’n Go case stocked with freshly made sandwiches and salads. The Guest Kitchen offers made-to-order breakfast, lunch and dinner entrĂ©es around the clock, in addition to the a.m. Kitchen SkilletTM, a complimentary continental breakfast served daily for guests. Specially trained Hosts are on hand to offer assistance with everything from directions to check-in to a freshly made meal. 
E Street won the rights to develop 400 E Street and a second parcel at 6th and E streets from the District government back in 2009. At the time, the 400 E Street parcel was planned as an office building with a firehouse on the ground level and space for D.C. Central Kitchen and Kid Power Inc., a local non-profit. Since then, the office building changed to a hotel and the exterior changed from a fire truck-red building designed by Beyer, Blinder, Belle to the current design by WDG. The building is still planned to achieve LEED-Silver certification. Construction is expected to begin by the end of 2013 with the hotel opening in 2015.  

Rendering courtesy of WDG

Monday, October 28, 2013

Buzzard Point Development Potential

(This post will appear in the South by West article in November's Hill Rag.)

With news that a new stadium may be built for DC United in Buzzard Point (or “The Point” as Capitol Riverfront BID President Michael Stevens is now calling it), reporters and bloggers alike have been in a frenzy over whether the stadium deal is a good one for the city and if the area near the proposed site will benefit. Currently, Buzzard Point contains mainly industrial uses, but there are a few sites that are either planned for development or are candidates for redevelopment. A new soccer stadium nearby may accelerate plans for the following properties: 

(1) 100 V Street
Akridge owns a two-acre portion of the stadium footprint as well as the remaining seven acres of 100 V Street located to the south of the stadium site. 100 V Street was originally planned as an office complex targeted for a secure federal tenant; however, the site was not able to attract a tenant. With the potential development of the stadium on the northern section of the property, the southern portion is now being reevaluated as a mixed use project.

(2) Transpoint Building

The U.S. Coast Guard has moved out of the Transpoint Building at 2100 2nd Street located just to the south of 100 V Street, to a new headquarters complex at St. Elizabeths in Congress Heights. GSA has found a temporary replacement for the Coast Guard with the Navy taking space at the Transpoint Building. Meanwhile, owner Monday Properties has no plans to redevelop the building, which sits near the confluence of the Anacostia River & the Washington Channel and currently blocks public access to the water. With GSA cutting back on leasing new space and a new soccer stadium planned up the street, would redevelopment of this building make sense?

(3) Marina Place
Rendering courtesy of Eric Colbert Associates

A 99-unit condo project called Marina Place with about 2,000 square feet of ground floor retail is planned for a parcel to the east of the Transpoint Building and adjacent to the Buzzard Point Marina at First and V streets. The Eric Colbert-designed building was approved by the Zoning Commission in 2011 and since then, the owner has been looking for a developer partner for the project.

(4) Pepco Power Plant

The art-deco Buzzard Point Plant building, located to the southeast from the stadium footprint, was decommissioned last year by Pepco, although the substation to the north is still in use.  Recently, the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly has applied for historic status for the building, which could be a candidate for an adaptive reuse akin to Tate Modern art gallery in the Southwark section of London.

(5) 1900 Half Street
Douglas Development owns an office building at 1900 Half Street along the Anacostia River that blocks public access to the river and is occupied by the U.S. Coast Guard.

(6) Ziegfields/Secrets

One of the gay nightclubs displaced from Near Southeast when Nationals Park was built moved to Buzzard Point and is located just to the east of the soccer stadium footprint. According to an article from The Blade, the proprietors of Ziegfields/Secrets lease the building from Denver businessman Marty Chernoff. The article speculates that the club may have to move yet again once the stadium is built, even though it is located outside of the stadium footprint. It is too early to know what would be built in its place if the nightclub is moved again.

(7) Florida Rock
Florida Rock moved its operations across South Capitol Street in 2012 to make way for the eventual development of their riverfront parcel just to the south of Nationals Park. Their new operation along Half Street is now across the street from the new stadium site.

(8) C Hostel and Hotel
Rendering courtesy of JP2 Architects.
Carr Hospitality submitted plans for a 109-room hostel and hotel with 489 beds in 2010 at 129 Q Street, one block north of the stadium site.  According to the zoning application, half of the hostel/hotel will be comprised of rooms with single and double beds and in-room bathrooms. The other half of the hostel/hotel will be comprised of dormitory styled rooms and shared female and male showers on each floor. Shared guest amenities will include: a hip lifestyle lounge, game areas for children and adults, a bean bag movie theatre, self-service kitchen, guest laundry, lounge lockers, a cyber lounge, complimentary breakfast and a shuttle bus service to the Waterfront Metro station. The Zoning Commission approved the project, but afterwards, a principal from Carr who spearheaded the project passed away and the site has been tied up in probate ever since. A 2-year extension was recently granted for the project due to probate and the difficulty in obtaining financing for a hospitality project during the Great Recession. It is estimated that probate will be settled sometime in 2013, so theoretically, the project will be able to move forward. Currently, the site is home to a taxi cab service and repair garage.

(9) James C. Dent House
Pepco owns the James C. Dent House at 156 Q Street, which was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2010. It was built in 1906 by William James Palmer for James C. Dent, a former slave who moved to Buzzard Point as a laborer and eventually helped found the Mount Moriah Baptist Church and became its pastor. The home was more recently used as the headquarters of the now defunct Southwest Community House, a non-profit organization that vacated the property in 2004. It has remained vacant ever since.

(10) Lyon Bakery
Lyon Bakery is a wholesale baker located just to the north of the stadium footprint at 135 R Street. This site has redevelopment potential once the stadium is built, or at least will have a new customer across the street.

(11) Fort McNair

While there is no development potential here, Fort Lesley J. McNair would be the stadium’s neighbor to the west across 2nd Street and pre-dates any other development at Buzzard Point since the Army post has been at this site for over 200 years. The fort is the headquarters of the Army’s Military District of Washington and includes the National Defense University.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Former SEU Campus Building Under Contract

It was reported in Capital Business today that The Shakespeare Theatre Co. has the former Southeastern University (SEU) campus at 6th and I streets under contract.  The campus has been vacant since The Graduate School USA absorbed SEU and the university lost its accreditation in 2009. At first, it was thought that The Graduate School USA would expand its L’Enfant Plaza campus to 6th and I streets, then it was announced in 2011 that the school would be the anchor tenant at The Wharf. Afterwards, the campus was put on the market. There were some suitors for the campus, including Apple Tree Early Learning Public Charter School, who wanted to renovate the building for a school, but that proposal never resulted in the sale of the building. It was announced publicly last week that The Graduate School USA had backed out of The Wharf deal due to federal government budget issues. 

The Capital Business article states that the Shakespeare Theatre Co. proposes an actors’ campus for the site, which would include actors’ housing, rehearsal space, and storage for costumes and set equipment.  It would not just serve as a campus for Shakespeare, but it could also serve other theater companies who have similar space challenges. From the article:
Neither Shakespeare nor Graduate School USA officials released the terms of the contract. [Chris] Jennings said he is in the early stages of determining how to finance his idea. Shakespeare could partner with a developer on a mixed-use project in which some of the market-rate housing helps pay for the artist and theater space. He also plans to approach D.C. officials about support the government may be able to provide.
The campus is slightly under one acre in size and is currently zoned as R-3, which allows matter-of-right development of single-family residential uses (detached, semi-detached, and row dwellings), churches, and public schools. Depending on what Shakespeare has planned, the campus may need to be rezoned. Next door to the campus is Amidon-Bowen Elementary school and row homes. Across the street is the SW Duck Pond. It is located two blocks north of Arena Stage and three blocks from the Waterfront Metro station.

Vacancy on ANC 6D

With the passing of ANC 6D commissioner Ron McBee, there is an opening on the 7-member commission. Interested residents of single-member district 6D03, which include Capitol Park Tower, Potomac Place Condominiums, Potomac Place Tower, Capitol Park II, and Greenleaf Gardens extension, now have the opportunity to run for the vacant seat. In order to do so, candidates will need to visit the Board of Elections and file the necessary paperwork, then obtain 25 signatures over the next three weeks (which began on Monday). After a one week protest period where the signatures are verified, those who meet the requirements will be able to run for the seat. There will be a special election at the December 9 ANC meeting where single-member district 6D residents will be able to vote for a new ANC commissioner. 

A memorial service for commissioner McBee will be held on November 11 at Westminster Church (400 I Street), starting at 11am. A potluck repast will follow the service downstairs. For those who will be attending, please bring a dish to share.

Update: Well it looks like there are now two vacancies at ANC 6D. Donna Hopkins, who represents SMD 6D01, wrote an email to her constituents announcing her resignation, part of which was posted in the Hill Rag.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Few Quick Items While I Was Away: Wharf, Buzzard Point, L'Enfant Plaza Hotel

Capital Business reports that the Graduate School USA will not be coming to The Wharf. It was announced back in March 2011 that the school would be the anchor tenant. The article states that the Graduate School informed Hoffman Madison Waterfront over 18 months ago that they wouldn't be coming to the development due to instability in the market. Despite the setback (which apparently the developers have known for a while), the project is moving forward.  From the article:
“Overall we feel very good about it,” [Monty] Hoffman said. “Our tenancy and our letters of intent for restaurants are going very well and we are in for building permits.”

Hoffman said he was “working with a prospective capital group” to invest in the project. The D.C. government has agreed to put up approximately $198 million for the project, and last year Hoffman traveled to China with D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray last summer to try to raise capital.
 Rendering courtesy of Hoffman Madison Waterfront

It was reported in the Washington Business Journal that the GSA is close to finalizing a deal to allow the Navy to use the space vacated by the Coast Guard in Buzzard Point. From the article:
A handful of workers from the Naval Sea Systems Command were shifted to Transpoint in the aftermath of last month's Navy Yard shooting, but the Navy and GSA are working on a more formal agreement that would let the Navy officially take over the building once the Coast Guard clears out, the GSA said.

The L'Enfant Plaza Hotel is set for closure in December for extensive renovations according to an article in the Washington Business Journal. From the article:
Stanford [Hotels Corp.] plans to complete its $48.7 million acquisition of the hotel on Dec. 3 and will close down the property when that happens, said sources, including two employees set to be impacted by the closure. Stanford is buying the hotel from an affiliate of The JBG Cos. as part of a D.C. Superior Court order issued July 31. The hotel is not accepting reservations, either over the phone or through its website, beyond Dec. 2.

Monday, October 21, 2013

DC United Stadium Environmental Study Meeting

There will be a Public Scoping Meeting hosted by the DC Department of General Services on Saturday, October 26 to discuss the environmental review process needed for the construction of a new stadium for DC United in Buzzard Point. The environmental review process will analyze potential impacts on traffic, light, air quality, noise viewsheds, and other resources.  AECOM will work with DGS on the environmental review process. Comments from the public meeting will be used to help create a draft report later this year, which will then be open for a 30-day public review before the final report is presented to the DC Council. 

At this evening's ANC 6D meeting, representatives from the District government and AECOM gave a presentation about the stadium plan and took questions from the commissioners. Several issues/concerns were brought up by the commissioners, such as environmental concerns about site remediation and the potential relocation of a Pepco substation near housing; traffic; and the lack of coordination between agencies. It was also learned at the meeting that the southeast corner of the original stadium area footprint will not be available for development for at least 5-6 years because Pepco will be unable to remove the functioning portion of the substation it operates on the site. 

The Public Scoping Meeting will be held at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church (located at 600 M Street) from 10am to 12pm.

Rendering courtesy of HKS

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Monday, October 14, 2013

Open Forum

What's on your mind, Southwest?  While I'm away on vacation in Europe and taking a break from posting, feel free to write a comment about any neighborhood issue...

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Demolition Begins at 400 6th Street


Construction fencing has been installed around the Donohoe Building at 400 6th Street, the former home of the District's Child and Family Services Agency. Their lease ended last year and now demolition is underway at the office building, which was purchased by Trammell Crow and the AFL-CIO Building Investment for $41.9 million in 2012. Once demolition is complete, construction will begin on a speculative 12-story office building designed by Gensler with 342,000 rentable square feet. There is space on the ground level for retail if demand supports it. The new office building is located less than one block from the D Street entrance to the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station. From the look of the above rendering, they are looking for a GSA tenant. Next door to the site is Constitution Center, which has its share of GSA tenants. Perhaps the office market in general (and GSA's appetite for leasing new space) will be improved by the end of 2015 when this building is scheduled to deliver.

Construction fencing went up this week.

Rendering courtesy of Trammell Crow

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Design of New Douglass Bridge Criticized

It was reported in the Washington Business Journal that the Commission of Fine Arts finds that the concept design for the replacement Frederick Douglass Bridge that will carry traffic along South Capitol Street across the Anacostia River is uninspired.  From the article:
During its Sept. 19 review of the D.C. Department of Transportation’s concept bridge design, the federal CFA called for a “contemporary approach” and a “bolder look” for the new Douglass bridge, according to a Sept. 27 letter from Thomas Luebke, the commission’s secretary, to Ronaldo Nicholson, DDOT’s chief engineer. 
There is $622 million set aside in the District’s FY2014 budget to fund Phase 1 (Segments 1 and 2) of the South Capitol Street Corridor project, which includes a new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, traffic ovals on either side of the bridge, and the reconstruction of the I-295/Suitland Parkway interchange. The new Frederick Douglass Bridge is currently designed as a bascule arch, similar to other bridges in the city, such as Memorial Bridge. Having the CFA's support will be important in order to obtain federal funding which is needed to close the gap in financing for the bridge.

Rendering courtesy of DDOT

Buzzard Point Streetcar Line Study

DDOT is preparing to undertake a year-long study of a new streetcar line that will run from Buzzard Point to Takoma according to WAMU. The nine-mile line will run through the Southwest Waterfront, the National Mall, downtown, Shaw, Columbia Heights, and Petworth. With the exception of the end points, the streetcar route is similar to Metro's Green line. Presumably, the study of this line is related to the planned DC United stadium in Buzzard Point. From the article:
Once this initial study is completed and the environmental approval process is underway, DDOT will be looking for a contractor to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the streetcar, Metro buses whose routes are entirely within the District’s border, and D.C. Circulator – as part of a public-private partnership. Project spokeswoman Dara Ward said finding a contractor to handle all aspects of the transportation network’s construction and operations would speed up its completion.
Over the next several weeks, the public outreach campaign will begin and DDOT will meet with neighborhood stakeholders. This initial planning comes at the same time WMATA is looking to eliminate the 74 bus whose route is pretty similar to a portion of the streetcar route. Another bus route that may be eliminated is the 5A bus that goes from L'Enfant Plaza to Dulles Airport since the Silver line to Wiehle Avenue in Reston is set to open early next year.