Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Construction Update - Playgrounds

Two playgrounds are currently under construction in the neighborhood – both are part of the Play DC playground improvement program. One is located at King-Greenleaf Recreation Center at 201 N Street and the other is at Randall Recreation Center, located at South Capitol and I streets. King-Greenleaf’s new play equipment has a nautical theme. In addition to new play equipment, there will be a splash park. Below are some construction photos: 

Splash park
New play equipment

Playground sign
Over at Randall Recreation Center, the playground was delayed for over a year before construction began in late 2014. At one point, the site was under consideration for a charter high school, but KIPP decided to build elsewhere in the city amid neighborhood opposition. A skate park and splash park that would have fronted I Street have been removed from plans for phase one of the playground due to lack of funding. The playground equipment at Randall also has a nautical theme, but focused on pirates. Below are a couple construction photos: 

New play equipment
New sidewalks

Both playgrounds should be complete later this spring.

Construction Update - The Wharf

It's been a little more than a year since a groundbreaking ceremony was held at The Wharf along the Southwest Waterfront. Since then, the site has been a hive of activity, with demolition, utility work, pile driving, parking lot construction, new streetlights, dock rebuilding, and other waterside activities. Now, excavation at The Wharf is now well underway. Below are a few photos:

District Pier
Cranes dominate the skyline

Seawall is still under construction 

View south from Case Bridge

In dining news, the Washington Business Journal revealed last week that several celebrity chefs are planning to open restaurants in the first phase of The Wharf. From the article:
Restaurant Eve chef/owner Cathal Armstrong said earlier this month that he has a preliminary agreement to open an Asian-focused restaurant there. Now...he could be joined by "Top Chef" alums Mike Isabella and Bryan Voltaggio along with Robert Wiedmaier, Philadelphia restaurateur Stephen Starr, Fiola phenom Fabio Trabocchi, Hank’s Oyster Bar’s Jamie Leeds, Jackie Greenbaum of Jackie’s and El Chucho, and the Hilton brothers.
The first phase of The Wharf is scheduled to open in the fall of 2017.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Volunteer Clean-Up Day Tomorrow

A group of SW neighbors is organizing a community clean-up day for tomorrow to spruce up the neighborhood before festivities associated with the National Cherry Blossom Festival make their way to Southwest. There will be eight areas of concentration:
  1. Amidon-Bowen
  2. Potomac Place/Blind Whino SW Arts Club
  3. Arena Stage/Waterside Towers
  4. The View/Lex/Sky House
  5. Greenleaf
  6. Tiber Island/Harbor Square/Riverside/Carrollsburg
  7. James Creek
  8. Canal Street/South Capitol
The group will be meeting at the vacant lot in front of Safeway at 10:45am and the clean-up lasts from 11am - 12:30pm, followed by a celebration at Cantina Marina. Supplies will be provided. Trash collected from the pick-up can dropped off at the rear parking lot of the View at Waterfront apartments at 6th and K streets.

Google Map courtesy of Southwest Waterfront Next Door Group 

Riverside Baptist Redevelopment PUD Filed

A PUD was filed earlier this month for the redevelopment of Riverside Baptist Church at 7th Street and Maine Avenue. Back in October, representatives from PN Hoffman presented their plans for the project, which includes a new sanctuary for Riverside facing Maine Avenue and a 7 to 9-story, 170-unit rental apartment building along 7th and I streets with ground floor retail. Approximately 14 of the units will be set aside for households earning up to 80% of Area Median Income. Not many changes have been made to the project since October. One change that may happen is the addition of four units and an indoor amenity space to the penthouse level. These changes assume that the Zoning Commission will adopt the recommended changes to the Height Act that allow for penthouses to be habitable. A hearing will be held later this year and if all goes well, construction will begin sometime in 2016 with completion in 2018. 

View south on 7th Street
This is the second church in Southwest that PN Hoffman has partnered with to do a mixed use development. Construction is underway down the street at 6th and M streets on a new St. Augustine’s Church and 525 Water Street, a mixed income condominium building that will deliver in 2016. Neither of these projects are a part of The Wharf, although PN Hoffman is one of the developer partners for that project.

Renderings courtesy of PN Hoffman

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Kastles May Return to The Wharf

The Washington Business Journal broke the news last week that the Washington Kastles are in "a continuing dialogue" to return to The Wharf, perhaps for the 2017 season in July as phase one of the massive waterfront redevelopment nears completion. While the WBJ doesn’t give much details about where the stadium would be located (except that it would be on a partially floating pier), it was reported here in March of last year that the planned Transit Pier could be used for that purpose: 
Phillips Flagship occupies roughly where Parcel 2 will be built. An entertainment venue called Wharf Hall with capacity for up to 6,500 patrons, along with a co-generation plant and two mixed income apartment buildings (several with micro units), will replace Phillips Flagship. A Transit Pier will be built nearby to serve water taxis and can accommodate several roles, such as an ice skating rink in the winter and (with the addition of barges along its sides for seating) a stadium for the Washington Kastles, if they choose to return. 

The Kastles played for three seasons at 9th and Water streets before moving to the Smith Center in Foggy Bottom last year to make way for construction of The Wharf. At one point last year, the team was looking to stay in Southwest and play at Waterfront Station on one of the vacant parcels facing M Street; however, the deal fell through. During their tenure at Kastles Stadium at The Wharf, the team won three straight Mylan World Team Tennis Championships and broke the record for the most consecutive wins by a U.S. professional sports team with 34 straight wins. The proposed transit pier location is less than a block away from the former stadium footprint.

Rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

1331 Maryland Avenue Approved by CFA

After multiple designs for a residential building at The Portals complex were rejected by the Commission of Fine Arts, a shorter, boxier version has been given the thumbs up. Now at 13 stories, the number of units at 1331 Maryland Avenue has been reduced from 440 to 365 units. Per the Washington Business Journal, there will be 290 apartments and 75 condos on the top four floors. Due to its location at the end of Maryland Avenue, units will have views of the Jefferson Memorial, the Tidal Basin, the Potomac River, and the Capitol. Republic Properties expects to start construction on the project in about a year. 1331 Maryland Avenue will be the first residential project built south of the National Mall and north of the SW freeway since urban renewal. 

Currently, the Portals complex has three office buildings and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, along with ground floor retail. The newest retailer is Flippin’ Pizza, which will soon open on the ground floor of the Portals I office building at 1250 – 1280 Maryland Avenue. The restaurant will seat up to 51 patrons and its Class DR liquor license was approved last month by ABRA, which allows the sale of beer and wine. Aside from the planned residential building, a fourth office building (Portals IV) is planned on the remaining vacant parcel between 1331 Maryland Avenue and the Mandarin.

Renderings courtesy of Robert A.M. Stern Architects

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

VIO Sales Begin This Spring at The Wharf

The luxury condos formerly known as “Parcel 4B” currently under construction at The Wharf now have a more official name. VIO – which derives from Latin for “I journey,” will be a 12-story building with 112 units facing the Wharf promenade between 7th and 9th streets. Designed by Handel Architects and WDG Architects, VIO will have a mix of studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, as well as penthouses. The units will feature high-end finishes including wide-plank hardwood flooring, European cabinetry, granite and quartz countertops, Thermador and Bosch appliances, custom closets, stone tile baths, and 9-foot ceilings. Building amenities will also be top-notch. According to the press release: 
VIO includes amenities such as a private lobby on The Wharf’s Yacht Club Piazza with covered drop-off, 24-hour front desk, concierge services, clubroom, fitness center with yoga studio, and an outdoor infinity edge pool overlooking the Potomac River. Secure underground parking is included with the purchase of most residences. Select VIO residences feature private-access elevators that include direct access to the Wharf promenade, which will include an impressive mix of restaurants, bars, cafes, and other retail. The majority of residences at VIO feature balconies with water views and several penthouses include private rooftop terraces. 
Limited pre-sales will begin this spring and interested buyers can sign up on the project’s website for updates. The building is scheduled to deliver in the second half of 2017.  Prices range from the $400,000s to over $1.5 million.

A second condo building is under construction at 525 Water Street, across the street from Arena Stage that is further along than VIO. Construction has already reached street level and the project will deliver in 2016. I imagine that sales for 525 Water Street will be underway sometime in 2015 as well. 

Rendering courtesy of Interface Multimedia/Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Washington Global Charter School Begins This Fall

A new charter school will begin classes this fall in Southwest. Washington Global Public Charter School, a tuition-free middle school, will be occupying a portion of an office building on the 500-block of aptly-named School Street, located across the street from Constitution Center. According to the school's website:
Washington Global Public Charter School is a tuition-free middle school open to all students in Washington, DC. We will offer a robust international and research-based academic programming to develop globally competitive students who are ready for college and careers. Our program includes project-based learning, small learning communities, technology instruction, arts, and foreign language classes in Spanish and Chinese. We strive for all of our students to be healthy and active through our nutrition, physical education, and athletic programs. We will also serve as a community school that promotes local engagement and service-learning for our students.
The first class of sixth and seventh grade students will begin classes in August. Students will be admitted though the MySchool DC Common Application and Lottery.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Update on Residential Future for 1319 South Capitol

At this evening’s ANC 6D meeting, Charlie Kehler and Kim Hoover from Altus Realty Partners presented plans for a proposed residential development at 1319 South Capitol Street. The site is located adjacent to Camden South Capitol apartments and across the street from Nationals Park. It was a little over a year ago the last time the developer came before the commissioners. At the time, the project was planned as a 260-270-unit building and Altus was negotiating with adjacent property owners to potentially increase the lot size. 

The current plan designed by PGN Architects calls for an 11-story, 140-200-unit multifamily building in an “L” shape that wraps around six rowhomes on South Capitol Street that will remain. About 16,000 gross SF of space will be set aside for affordable housing at 80% of Area Median Income (AMI).The main entrance to the building and retail space will be on South Capitol Street. Garage parking will be accessed through an alley on N Street; the two-level garage will have about 75 spaces. A partial closing of an alley will be needed for the project. Since this was just a presentation, Altus will be back before the ANC once the project is filed with the Zoning Commission since it is located in the Capitol Gateway Overlay and the alley closing request will need the support of the ANC. 

Rendering courtesy of Altus Realty Partners

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Plans for Capitol Park Tower Addition Moving Along

Capitol Park Tower has been upgraded in recent months following the purchase of the building from UIP and Perseus Realty. Units have been renovated with stainless steel appliances, new cabinets, subway tile backsplash, new bathroom fixtures, and USB ports in outlets, among other things. A photo gallery can be found here. Within the past month, new signage has appeared outside of the building and some of the common areas have been improved (the above photo is an older photo from 2012). 

A meeting was held last week with residents of Capitol Park Tower to discuss the next phase of improvements. The owners are planning an addition on the north and east sides of the property. Of the approximately 295 rental apartment units planned, 271 will be market-rate and the remaining 24 will be IZ units. 

Dan Urban Kiley was the original landscape architect of Capitol Park Tower, which was designed by Chloethiel Woodard Smith and built in 1962. The landscaping and building were designated historic by HPRB a couple of years ago, which put on hold previous plans for the property. On the north side of the property, the new construction will be built on top of the parking area. Below is a tweet from Capitol Park Tower:

Construction is expected to begin in November and would be completed by the end of 2017. Due to its status as a historic landmark, the plan will need to be approved by the Historic Preservation Review Board. More information will be forthcoming as this project goes through the approvals process. 

Photo of planned addition courtesy of ANC 6D-03 Commissioner Rachel Reilly Carroll

Revised PUD for The View at Waterfront

Back in late December, Mill Creek Residential Trust, the new owner of The View at Waterfront apartments at 6th and M streets, submitted a revised Planned Unit Development (PUD) application for construction of two new residential buildings on the parking lots fronting M and K streets. A PUD was approved several years ago when Fairfield Residential owned the property, but several changes have been made since then. Generally, Mill Creek has reduced the scope of the project. In the previously approved PUD, a total of 324 new units were planned, but the proposed changes reduce the number to about 260 units. Additionally, the height has been reduced from 112 feet to 85 feet. The Floor Area Ratio (FAR) has been reduced to 3.4 from 4.39 and the lot occupancy is proposed to be 42% compared to the previously approved 51%. Parking has been reduced significantly from 569 total spaces for all four buildings to 290 spaces in three levels of below-grade parking; however only 175 spaces are required under zoning. 

The look of the proposed buildings has also changed since Fairfield retained Esocoff & Associates to design the previously-approved project. SK&I Architecture has designed the new buildings with a grey and white color palette that resembles neighboring Lex at Waterfront Station. The PUD application describes the design of the new buildings: 
Each new building is comprised of two volumes. The first is a taller, lighter box that is supported by a tall recessed ground floor with exposed columns along the primary streets and corners; the second is a more subdued, lower mass that meets the ground plane and also is pulled back and tapered from the corners between the proposed and existing buildings along the street edge. 
Current SK&I Architecture design.
Esocoff & Associates design.

The north tower will have seven stories, including a mezzanine on the top floor and the south tower will have six stories, including mezzanines on the ground and top floors. A two-story retail space is still planned for the new south tower at the corner of 6th and M streets facing Arena Stage, but has been reduced from 8,900 SF to 5,200 SF. One thing that hasn’t changed is the amount of space set aside for affordable units. There will still be 6,500 SF of affordable housing evenly distributed on floors 2-5 of both new buildings, in addition to the 9,500 SF of affordable housing that currently exists in the I.M. Pei buildings. 

Each of the new towers will have amenity spaces within the buildings, as well as “vest pocket parks” between the proposed and existing buildings designed by Land Design. The “vest pocket parks” will contain amenities that can be used year round throughout the day and night. Some of the planned amenities include lawn panels, flexible seating, grilling areas, outdoor fireplaces, and water elements, each designed in “rooms” with heavy landscaping. The south tower will have a two-level lobby and amenity space, as well as loft units with mezzanines while the north tower will have a two-level lobby and amenity space. 

The developers will go before ANC 6D later this year to seek their support before meeting with the Zoning Commission. If approved, Mill Creek would like to start construction in 2016.

Renderings courtesy of SK&I Architecture, Esocoff & Associates, and Land Design