Friday, July 25, 2014

Former SEU Campus Building Nominated for Historic Status

Apparently spurred by the raze permit that was applied for the former Southeastern University campus building at 501 I Street a couple months ago, SWNA filed a historic landmark application for the property. According to the landmark application, the building was first constructed in 1948 for the Metropolitan Police Boys Club No. 4 with a brick exterior in a smaller footprint than its current state. The building was one of the few that survived urban renewal. Then in 1961, The Hawthorne School (a private co-ed high school) purchased the building, expanded it to the north & south, and clad it in concrete in a brutalist design done by Charles Goodman, the same architect that designed River Park Cooperative Homes. Eventually, declining enrollment and financial difficulties at the school caused the sale of the property to Southeastern University, which operated at the site until 2009. 

Currently, the campus is owned by Graduate School USA and is vacant. The campus is under contract to the Shakespeare Theatre Company (STC) who has plans to joint venture with developer Erkiletian and build actor and apprentice housing, along with rehearsal and performance space, costume and set equipment storage, education classrooms, and the administrative headquarters for the Company. A zoning change would be needed for the property in order to build what STC has initially planned, a nine-story building with approximately 155 residential units and 70 garage spaces. A historic landmark designation for the property would most likely alter or scuttle STC’s plans.

SWNA will be hosting a neighborhood forum on 501 I Street this Monday, July 28 at Arena Stage, starting at 7pm.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Buzzard Point Draft Urban Design Framework Released

Due to the proposed DC United soccer stadium and a new Frederick Douglass Bridge, an Urban Design Framework has been developed by the Office of Planning for Buzzard Point over the past few months and the draft summary has been released this week. The framework plan will inform and guide public and private development decisions for the next 10 years. It is broken into several sections, including: public realm, environment, housing and community development, and transportation. Below are summaries of each: 
  • Public Realm: The urban design concept, as envisioned, would transform Buzzard Point into a vibrant, walkable neighborhood. The neighborhood would be centered around a series of open spaces along the Anacostia River, as well as the traffic oval planned at the foot of the new Douglass Bridge and near the proposed soccer stadium. These open spaces would connect with Yards Park and other destinations on the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. 
  • Environment: The urban design concept calls for improved environmental conditions, both through the public realm and private development. Over 1,000 new trees could be planted in Buzzard Point along with drought tolerant plantings, rain gardens, green roofs, and other green elements. Environmental remediation would also be done to clean up any potentially contaminated soil in the area. 
  • Housing and Community Development: The urban design concept seeks to protect the existing public housing within the study area (which includes 80 out of 239 units at James Creek that are located south of P Street) and create additional residential opportunities. The current capacity for development in the Buzzard Point area under current zoning would allow up to 11.9 million SF of development with 5,480 residential units (370 affordable units). If the urban design plan is adopted and a stadium is built, the total potential development would decrease to 10.2 million SF, but it would be more concentrated, so up to 6,200 residential units could be built with 400 of those set aside as affordable units under inclusionary zoning. 
  • Transportation: In the near term, the South Capitol Street bridge and soccer stadium improvements will improve access to major regional connections and enhance pedestrian and bicycle connectivity. An esplanade along the Anacostia River will be created that will facilitate the movement of pedestrians across the new Douglass Bridge. Patrons of the proposed soccer stadium who arrive by car would be encouraged to use the parking lots used by Nationals attendees. Streetcar lines are planned to potentially terminate in Buzzard Point, but those lines won’t be built for several years. 
Open space concept on Half Street

The draft urban design framework mentions that there may be a Maritime Museum planned for Buzzard Point and that was also mentioned by City Administrator Allen Lew during the first DC United stadium hearing back on June 26. It appears from the design framework document that this proposed Maritime Museum would be located along the Anacostia River roughly at Water and T streets, just to the east of where Ziegfeld’s/Secrets is located (the building is for sale). 

A copy of the Buzzard Point Urban Design Framework is available here

Images courtesy of the Office of Planning

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

moveDC Draft Plan Summary of Vehicular Movement Recommendations

The moveDC Draft Plan that was released back in May by DDOT recommends making several street connections that were removed during urban renewal in Southwest over time as parcels in the vicinity of these streets are redeveloped or through DDOT initiatives: 
  • 3rd Street from E Street to G Street over the Southwest Freeway (I-395) – $28M , Tier 3 
  • 6th Street from E Street to G Street over the Southwest Freeway (I-395) – $31M, Tier 4 
  • C Street from 12th Street to 9th Street – $558M (part of MD Ave plan), Tier 2 
  • D Street from 2nd Street to near South Capitol Street over the Center Leg Freeway (I-395) – $37M, Tier 4 
  • K Street from Delaware Avenue to 1st Street right-of-way through Lansburgh Park – $3M, Tier 3 
  • L Street from Delaware Avenue to Half Street through Lansburgh Park – $5M, Tier 3 
  • N Street from the 3rd Street right-of-way to Canal Street – $5M, Tier 3 
  • O Street from the 3rd Street right-of-way to Canal Street – $4M, Tier 3 
  • Maryland Avenue from 12th Street to 9th Street – $558M (part of MD Ave plan), Tier 2
  • Virginia Avenue from 12th Street to 9th Street – $558M (part of MD Ave plan), Tier 2  
By far, the most expensive recommendation is for the streets in and around Maryland Avenue in the SW Ecodistrict, including Virginia Avenue, Maryland Avenue, and C Street, which comes in at over half a billion dollars. These road additions are classified as Tier 2 in priority (on a scale of 1 to 4), while the other street additions are ranked as Tier 3 and 4. Replacement projects including the Long Bridge used by Amtrak, commuter, and freight rail and the Frederick Douglass Bridge are considered to be Tier 1 projects. 

Other recommendations include high-occupancy toll lanes on I-395 and I-695 from the 14th Street Bridge to the 11th Street bridge; congestion pricing for the downtown area, whose southern edge includes the L’Enfant Plaza and Federal Center SW areas north of the SW Freeway; and many others that relate to pedestrians, bicycles, transit, parking, and freight. The moveDC Draft Plan is a very large document, but feel free to take a look to see all of the recommendations. The comment period ends on July 31, so check out the website to see how you can comment on the draft plan.

Rendering courtesy of DDOT

A Couple Quick Tuesday Morning Items: Upcoming Events This Week

On Thursday, there will be two events in the neighborhood. One is a Community Open House and Ice Cream Social hosted by the Neighbors of Southwest Duck Pond, which will take place at the SW Duck Pond at 6th and I streets from 6 to 7:30pm. Community organizations will have tables set up at the SW Duck Pond, including SWNA's Youth Activities Task Force, Randall Recreation Center, the CBCC, PAWS of Southwest (who has spearheaded the campaign to bring a dog park to Lansburgh Park), the Amidon-Bowen Elementary PTA, the Friends of the Southwest Library, SW Community Gardens, Arena Stage, and Waterfront Academy Montessori. 

The second event will be a hearing on the DC United stadium legislation (Bill 20-805) hosted by the Chair of the DC Council’s Committee on Economic Development (Ward 4 Councilmember and the Democratic nominee for Mayor) Muriel Bowser. The hearing will start at 7pm at 1100 4th Street, Room 200E. Those who want to testify at the hearing should either call or email Tsega Bekele, Legislative Counsel to the Committee on Economic Development, at 202-724-8052 by COB today. Written testimony is also encouraged for those who cannot attend the hearing and should be sent to: 

Committee on Economic Development 
Council of the District of Columbia 
Suite 110 of the John A. Wilson Building 
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW 
Washington, DC 20004 

Rendering courtesy of  DC United

Friday, July 18, 2014

Masala Art is Now Open for Business

Masala Art opened last night for dinner at Waterfront Station about 14 months after it was first announced that a lease had been signed. There is seating for about 130 people, but there is no space for outdoor seating. Masala Art joins Station 4, Z-Burger, and Subway as the fourth restaurant to open at Waterfront Station. Two vacant storefronts still remain - one on each side of 4th Street. 

For the first few days, Masala Art will be open only for dinner from 5-10pm, but starting on Monday, the hours of operation will be the following: 
  • Brunch: Sa – Su from 10am to 3pm 
  • Lunch: M – F from 11am to 3pm 
  • Happy Hour: M – F from 4 to 7pm 
  • Dinner: M – Sa from 5 to 10pm 
The bar will be open until 12am on weeknights and 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. Below are some photos of the interior. 

main dining area

wall art

bar area
dining area
seating area next to bar

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Library Relocation Meeting Tomorrow

Apologies for the short notice, but there will be a community meeting tomorrow evening hosted by the DC Public Library, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, and the Office of Planning to discuss plans to relocate the Southwest branch library to a mixed use building planned on a District-owned parcel on 4th Street at Waterfront Station. The meeting will be held at the Southwest branch library, located at 900 Wesley Place at 6:30pm. It is a follow-up meeting to the one held on June 4 to gather input, interests, and any concerns regarding the potential move of the library to 1000 4th Street. Preliminary conceptual drawings from CORE Architects will also be presented. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mid-Year 2014 Southwest Waterfront Real Estate Market Snapshot

Below is a summary of pricing and average days on the market for condos, co-ops, and rowhomes in the 20024 zip code in the first half of 2014, courtesy of Slate Properties.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Westminster Looking for Developer Partner

Today, Westminster Presbyterian Church released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to find a partner to redevelop its property at 400 I Street. The church property is a rectangular parcel just under two thirds of an acre located north of Waterfront Station and two blocks from the Waterfront metro. The church does not own the landscaped area that fronts 4th Street – it’s District owned land, but it is looking to purchase the land to increase the footprint of the parcel. Westminster is looking for the following in their space: 
  • Sanctuary/Worship - 7,000 SF 
  • Multi-purpose dividable room - to allow seated event for 600 people (Sanctuary/Worship included in this space) 
  • Commercial kitchen - 1,000 SF 
  • Office space - four separate (150 SF each) 
  • Session (Board) meeting room - one of which able to accommodate 20 tabled persons 
  • Mail/Copier/Computer room - 300 SF 
  • Storage space - 500 SF 
  • Parking - 25 spaces 
In addition, the church wants the following out of the development: 
  • Affordable housing component 
  • 2,500 SF restaurant located street level 
  • Workforce Development Center 
  • Community center space 
  • Maintain and enhance church mission and programs 
Westminster is following the lead of other SW churches including St. Augustine’s and St. Matthew’s in offering up their land in exchange for new sanctuary space. St. Augustine’s has partnered with PN Hoffman, where construction will soon be underway on a 108-unit mixed income condo building and a new sanctuary at The Wharf development. Meanwhile, St. Matthew’s is working with Trammell Crow, who will replace their sanctuary and build a 200-unit apartment building.

New St. Augustine's
New St. Matthew's


RFQ responses are due by 5pm on July 25th. The next step would be to release a Request for Proposals (RFP) to a short list of developers and then choose a developer partner.  The chosen developer would be able to enter a long-term lease agreement with Westminster for their land (although there is an option to purchase) and could build multifamily housing on the remaining land that isn't occupied by a new Westminster church. The current zoning for the parcel is R-3, but the Office of Planning is recommending through the Southwest Neighborhood Plan that the church parcel should be rezoned from moderate density residential to medium density residential with low-density commercial.

Renderings courtesy of MTFA Architecture and Shalom Baranes Associates

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New Condo Building to Soon Begin Construction

About a month after a raze permit was filed for St. Augustine's Church at 6th Street and Maine Avenue,  a press release states that PN Hoffman will get their permits sometime late this month to begin construction on a new, 108-unit mixed income condo building and a new St. Augustine's Church. According to the press release, the name of the condo building will be 600 Water Street. If that address sounds familiar, it is the current address for Spirit Cruises and Cantina Marina. Most of Water Street as it exists today will be removed to make way for The Wharf, but a portion of the street that runs by the site of the proposed condo building will remain. A 20-month construction timetable means that the condo will be completed around the first quarter of 2016. The condo building will be adjacent to the 3.5 acre Waterfront Park that will also be built during phase one of The Wharf and is expected to be completed in early 2017. Sales of the condo units are expected to begin in the second quarter of 2015.

Rendering courtesy of SK&I Architectural Group