Thursday, October 16, 2014

Riverside Baptist Proposes Mixed-Use Redevelopment with PN Hoffman

Over the past seven years, Riverside Baptist Church and Wharf developer PN Hoffman have been in discussions about redeveloping Riverside, located along 7th Street from I Street to Maine Avenue. Riverside has been in Southwest since 1857 and in its current building since 1968. Its current congregation has about 125 members with about a third of them being Southwesters. The current building has about 12,000 square feet of space on two levels, including the basement, with a large setback from Maine Avenue and its main entrance faces a parking lot. It is an aging property where maintenance costs now outweigh costs for ministry services, so the church began exploring their options back in 2007. The redevelopment of the church property will allow Riverside to remain in Southwest, but in a new building and with an endowment. This arrangement is not new in the neighborhood. In addition to Riverside, other houses of worship have partnered with developers, include St. Augustine’s, St. Matthew’s, and Westminster Church is starting the process now. 

Riverside and PN Hoffman took their seven–year relationship to the next level this evening and began the public engagement process, starting with a meeting in the basement of Town Square Towers with residents of the condo building. Town Square Towers is located across I Street from Riverside and will be impacted by the redevelopment of its neighbor. Present at the meeting were representatives from PN Hoffman, Riverside, and architects from Geier Brown Renfrow (GBR) Architects and Studios Architecture. Currently on the table is a mixed-use development with a new Riverside Baptist Church designed by GBR on the southern portion of the site closer to Maine Avenue and a 150-175-unit rental apartment building on the rest of the site, designed by Studios Architecture.

The new Riverside has been designed with two levels – the first floor will have a fellowship hall and office space while the second floor will contain the worship center for a total of about 11,400 square feet. At the corner of Maine Avenue and 7th Street, the main entrance will be transparent so passersby will be able to see some of the activity occurring inside of the church. This area serves as a threshold between the street, the parking garage, and the church. Materials used in the construction of the current church building, including stone, stucco, slate shingles, and stained glass will be carried over to the design of the new facility. There will be 40 garage parking spaces available for the church on Sundays and five spaces on other days. 

Meanwhile, the apartment building has been designed as “elegant and simple” to not take the focus away from the church building, which has been positioned on the prominent corner of Maine Avenue and 7th Street. The apartment building will step back in height from nine stories to seven stories closer to I Street and will serve as a "gateway" to the waterfront. Units will be designed to attract families, so no micro units are planned; however, unit sizes will be only slightly larger than what is currently being built in DC. More one bedroom with den and two bedroom units will be built. In addition, an affordable component is planned as mandated by Inclusionary Zoning. On the ground floor there will be space for a daycare center or other community-oriented use, but PN Hoffman feels that traditional retail would not be appropriate at that location. At the corner of 7th and I streets, the building will be pulled back further from the street to create space for a public plaza with a water feature, trees, and benches. The intersection will also be simplified by removing the island that separates traffic making a right turn onto I Street from 7th Street. 

A change of zoning will be required in order for the project to move forward as designed. A Planned Unit Development (PUD) application will be submitted in the next few months once the Small Area Plan has been completed by the Office of Planning, which has recommended up-zoning the church parcel. After going through the PUD process, it is expected that construction may begin sometime in 2016.

Rendering courtesy of PN Hoffman


Anonymous said...

Glad to see that Hoffman is paying attention to the other side of Maine Ave. It's very hard to make a great "one sided" street -- witness the struggles to keep any retail going on Pennsylvania across from Federal Triangle, for instance.

Thomas A. Burke said...

I agree with "westnorth" about getting to work on the other side of Maine Ave. I also think that the land use plan is good and the buildings are well positioned on the site.
The new design, as shown, of the church is uninspiring. It looks like of bunch of leftover architectural product samples haphazardly jammed together. Of all buildings a church should have more of a "soul" than this. You can at least see a clear concept in the old (current) church.
The high rise also looks a bit bland and random on the elevations at this early stage.
The main pedestrian experience for the community will occour at that intersection in front which is shown only as a sea of vague cement or hardscape. The main pedestrian intersection needs some help, love, scale and ideas.