Thursday, October 12, 2017

Southwest Waterfront, A Look Back...

Good morning Southwest! It’s been more than a decade in the making, but the first phase of District Wharf finally opens today. After countless meetings, rendering revisions, and years of construction, we’ll finally be able to take a long stroll once again along the waterfront promenade (now called Wharf Street) from 7th Street to near the fish market. The media has covered The Wharf very well in the days and weeks leading to the opening, so what I thought I’d do is look back and see what used to be here along the sleepy Southwest Waterfront. Below are some before pictures:

Fish market crowds.
Fish market crowds.

View of Washington Channel from
9th and Water streets.
View of area roughly where District Pier is today.

Zanzibar on the Waterfront.
Phillips Flagship. 

View of Hogates/H2O from promenade.
Demolition of Hogates/H20.

View of Kastles Stadium from
the Washington Channel.

Kastles Stadium was built temporarily
where Hogates/H2O once stood.

Southwest sunset from Cantina Marina.

Cantina Marina, which will close
later this month.

Groundbreaking ceremony
for District Wharf.

Predecessor to the new water
taxi system serving SW.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Eisenhower Memorial Moving Forward

After the design received final approval by the National Capital Planning Commission earlier this week, a groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for the long-planned Eisenhower Memorial on November 2. The Frank Gehry-designed memorial for the 34th president will be located on a four-acre site across from the National Air & Space Museum on Independence Avenue and 4th Street. The memorial will feature metal tapestries that will depict scenes from President Eisenhower’s life. They will also serve as a screen to block the view of the Department of Education headquarters building adjacent to the memorial site. Bronze statues depicting Eisenhower as Supreme Allied Commander during World War II and as president are also featured. 

Part of the memorial site used to contain a community garden, which will be removed in order to build the project. Construction is expected to last 30 months, which will allow the memorial to debut in time for the 75th anniversary of V Day on May 8, 2020. 

Renderings courtesy of Eisenhower Memorial Commission

Friday, October 6, 2017

Construction Underway on Banneker Grand Stair

Improved pedestrian and bicycle access from the National Mall to District Wharf from 10th Street will be achieved once construction is complete at Banneker Park next spring. Construction began last month on the $4 million project, which will add a grand stairway, two ADA-compliant pathways, a bike lane around Banneker Circle, and updated landscaping and lighting. No changes are planned for the fountain in the park dedicated to Benjamin Banneker. The park is owned by the National Park Service, but once the improvements are complete, Hoffman Madison Waterfront will share responsibility for maintaining the park with NPS.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

555 E Street Lands Hotel Flag

Plans for the former Engine 13 firehouse site at 555 E Street have come into focus, a couple years after the first phase (a mixed-use Hyatt Place/firehouse project) opened down the street. A second hotel is planned by E Street Development, along with a mixed-income residential component and 10,750 SF of ground floor retail. The 253-key hotel has been identified as a citizenM hotel, a European brand hotel known for providing “affordable luxury.” The hotel company’s website describes the needs of its clientele as the following: 
Mobile citizens know what they like from good lodgings. This includes stylish design, great value, the best entertainment, sociable atmosphere, a comfortable bed and big fluffy towels. They need accommodation in a good location, and they could do without unnecessary or hidden costs. 

The residential building will include a mix of 136 market-rate multifamily rental units and 58 units of affordable housing for seniors ages 62 and above. This would be the third residential building planned north of the Southwest freeway and south of the National Mall - 1399 Maryland Avenue at the Portals is currently under construction and Urban-Atlantic has plans to convert the Reporters Building at 7th and D streets to residential. Construction of 555 E is currently scheduled to wrap up by the end of 2019, which would put groundbreaking sometime before the end of 2017. 

Renderings courtesy of E Street Development Group

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Randall PUD Revisions Submitted

Now that Lowe Enterprises has been brought on as a developer partner in the redevelopment of Randall School on I Street to a mixed-use project, revisions have been made to the previously approved (and recently extended) PUD. One major change to the previous PUD is the removal of an annex building for the museum, which results in a larger courtyard separating the historic Randall School building and the proposed apartments. In addition, the design of the apartment building has been revised to further open up the courtyard – a portion of the wings of the apartment building was pulled away from the historic building. The courtyard will be open during the day and closed at night with gates. 

West view of courtyard
The east and central buildings will contain an approximately 32,000 SF modern art museum. The museum entrance has been shifted to the east building, which will allow the center building to be fully restored. Originally, a restaurant was planned in the east building’s auditorium, but instead this space will contain museum space with larger pieces of art, as well as ancillary retail (café, bookstore, gift shop). A mix of commercial, retail, and non-profit uses are still planned in the west building, but a mezzanine level will be added to increase the amount of usable space. 

Museum entrance moved to east building
Meanwhile, the residential entrance will now be in the center of the apartment building on H Street. The number of units have been reduced from 520 to 489 units. While the number of units have been reduced, the percentage of units set aside as affordable will remain – 20% of the units will be set aside as affordable to households earning up to 80% of Area Median Income. Most of the units will be apartments, but a portion may be built as condos. The parking garage entrance has been moved to the northeast corner and a total of 301 spaces are planned. The ground floor of the apartment building might include retail/service uses and two-level units might be created. Penthouse configuration and trellis placement are also changing slightly. The Bing Thom-designed apartment building has been refined by Beyer Blindle Belle, simplifying the façade to allow balconies and to further distinguish the historic Randall buildings from the new construction.

Former design 
Current design

If approved, abatement of the historic buildings are expected to start in late 2018, then demolition of the non-historic portion, which would likely put the start of construction in 2020. 

Renderings courtesy of Lowe Enterprises

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Countdown to Wharf Grand Opening

Mini golf in the summer? Check. 
Ice skating in the winter? Check. 
Multiple music venues? Check. 
Dozens of restaurants? Check. 
Parks and piers? Check. 
Office workers by day and residents and hotel guests by night? Check and Check. 

Now that the grand opening of District Wharf is only one month away, the development team of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront has released a listing of retail and office tenants and activities that will be coming to the southwest waterfront starting in October and over the next several months. The streets, promenades and alleyways within District Wharf will be teeming with activity. Most of the restaurants and retailers have already been announced over the past several months, but below is a comprehensive list: 
  • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream 
  • Blue Bottle Coffee The Brighton 
  • Cantina Bambina 
  • Cordial Craft Wine, Beer & Spirits 
  • Del Mar de Fabio Trabocchi 
  • District Doughnut 
  • Dolcezza Florentijn 
  • Hank’s Oyster Bar 
  • Jenny’s 
  • Kaliwa by Cathal Armstrong 
  • Kirwan’s Irish Pub 
  • Kith/Kin by Kwame Onwuachi 
  • La Vie 
  • Lupo Marino 
  • Mi Vida 
  • Potomac Distilling Company 
  • Rappahannock Oyster Company 
  • Requin by Mike Isabella 
  • Shake Shack 
  • Southwest Soda Pop Shop 
  • Nick Stefanelli’s Italian Market and Restaurant 
  • Taylor Gourmet 
  • Velo Café at District Hardware 
  • Whiskey Charlie 
  • A Beautiful Closet 
  • Anchor on board with West Marine Pro 
  • Bella Moda Salon & Spa
  • Blink Optical 
  • Blush Med Skincare 
  • CVS Health 
  • d/Eleven 
  • DC Row 
  • District Hardware and Bike 
  • Harper Macaw 
  • Ligne Roset 
  • L’occitane Spa 
  • Martha Spak Gallery 
  • Patrick’s Fine Linens & Home Décor 
  • Politics and Prose Bookstore 
  • The Press 
  • Yoga Factory 

With all of the new restaurants opening in the next few months, one existing establishment will be closing – at least temporarily. Cantina Marina will close on October 28 until 2021 or 2022 when it will reopen in a new pier to be constructed during phase II of the District Wharf development. 

Previously unannounced office tenants include the following: 
  • Lumark Technologies (800 Maine) 
  • Capital Guidance (1000 Maine) 
  • SK Law (1000 Maine) 
  • Socially Determined (1000 Maine) 

A four-day kickoff celebration will be held to commemorate the opening of District Wharf, including fireworks, live entertainment, and other free events.  A complete listing of events can be found here. The festivities will begin with the Opening Ceremony on Thursday and will culminate with a fireworks show. Each day will include a headliner performer: 
  • Thursday, October 12: The Bacon Brothers 
  • Friday, October 13: Go Go Gadjet 
  • Saturday, October 14: White Ford Bronco 
  • Sunday, October 15: Howard Gospel Choir 

Water taxis will connect District Wharf with Georgetown, Alexandria, and National Harbor as well as a free jitney service to East Potomac Park. An app has been developed for District Wharf and will be available in October. Stay tuned!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Photo Tour Part 3: Apartment Construction

Most of the new residential buildings under construction in Southwest are rental apartments - the only condo building currently under construction is VIO at District Wharf. Above is a photo of 301 M, which is the rental apartment building furthest along, aside from District Wharf, by The Bernstein Companies. Since these pictures were taken in early August, progress has been made on the buildings, especially Valo, the chosen marketing name for the apartment project attached to the new St. Matthews at 222 M Street, developed by Trammell Crow Company, High Street Residential, Meadow Partners, and CSG Urban Partners. A few more floors have been added to the building since the below photo was taken. Advertising went up last month for Valo, a Finnish word meaning light or glow.

Valo apartments at 222 M Street.
Another project making progress is the two-building addition to The View at Waterfront along M and K streets from Mill Creek Residential Trust. Both buildings are mid-rise structures with a concrete base and wood-frame construction above. 

New M Street building at the View at Waterfront.
Meanwhile, the Riverside Baptist Church project at 7th and I streets by PN Hoffman is still a hole in the ground. Construction began earlier this year and won't be complete until 2019. The most recent addition to the construction list was 1399 Maryland Avenue at The Portals, a 373-unit apartment building which started a couple months ago by Republic Properties.

Tower crane at Riverside Baptist site.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

District Square Retailers and Other Wharf News

While dozens of restaurants have been announced for District Wharf over the past several months, only recently have we been hearing about other types of retail that will be opening in the first phase of development. Today brings news of six more retailers – five of which will be coming to District Square, the area connected to District Pier at 9th Street and Maine Avenue. Joining Politics and Prose will be the following, according to a press release: 
  • A Beautiful Closet, a boutique concept founded by former World Bank staff member Pamela Sofola, CPA, will open its first DC location at The Wharf. The 1,045 SF boutique will feature an artfully curated selection of clothing, jewelry, gifts, home décor, fair trade goods, and inspirational items from countries around the world, as well as offer personalized styling consultations. 
  • BLINK Optical, the DC-based eyewear company, will open its third DC location in District Square, focusing on handmade eyewear, including prescription glasses and sunglasses, and will introduce exciting, exclusive new products handmade ins the U.S. as well as the new ic! Berlin screwless eyewear and Tarian spring collections at its new 1,149 SF location. Dr. George Flocos will provide eye exams at this location. 
  • Blush Med Skincare, the Washington, DC area “health club for your skin,” brings its innovative monthly membership-based skin care concept to District Square. Founded by Dr. Arleen Lamba, Blush Med Skincare merges together skincare and makeup lines with a unique mix of skincare products many of which as exclusive to the market and organic. The 1,500 SF space will be the brand’s third DC area location. 
  • Harper Macaw, the local and responsibly-sourced chocolate manufacturer founded in Washington, DC, will open its first store outside of the Northeast DC factory. Harper Macaw’s mission is to provide customers with the ultimate chocolate experience with products that support rainforest restoration and protection. The 831 SF space will sell their full line of chocolate bars and drops. 
  • Ligne Roset, the high-end contemporary French furniture manufacturer, with showrooms around the world, is opening its second DC location at The Wharf with a 2,749 SF corner store. Collaborating with established and up-and coming designers, The Wharf location will feature a more edgy selection from the brand’s furniture line as well as long time classics and complementary accessories and lighting. 

In addition, a retailer not located on District Square was announced: 
  • Patrick’s Fine Linens & Home Decor, the Alexandria-based lifestyle luxury retail store will open its first Washington, DC location at The Wharf. Patrick's second location is excited to bring upscale home decor brands and quality gifts to the charming 899 square foot store on Water Street facing DC’s southwest waterfront. 
Apparently, there has been a name change for Med Lahou’s (the owner of Station 4) planned Italian restaurant coming to Pearl Street from Marinai Pizzeria to Lupo Marino. These retail announcements follow the feature that Eater published earlier this month about restaurants coming to District Wharf. They include: 
  • District Doughnut, which first opened on Barracks Row in Capitol Hill. 
  • Kith and Kin, per the Washington Business Journal, will be a 3,500 SF restaurant from Top Chef’s Kwame Onwuachi (who opened Shaw Bijou and then closed within three months) coming to the ground floor of the InterContinental Hotel with “Caribbean flavors, Creole cuisine and African accents.” 
  • Whiskey Charlie, a 2,200 SF rooftop bar at the Canopy by Hilton hotel. The name is the call signal WC for the Washington Channel. 
In other Wharf news, a parking garage is now open for patrons who want to visit the Municipal Fish Market. The cost is $2.00 for the first hour with validation. More information about cost and how to access the garage can be found here

Renderings courtesy of District Wharf

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

PUD for Buzzard Point Affordable Housing Apartments

A PUD for a mixed-use residential project was filed earlier this summer on a parcel at 1st and Q streets, one block north of Audi Field in Buzzard Point. Currently, the site contains a one-story retail building and a parking lot. A total of 76 rental units are planned, with a mix of 1BR, 2BR, and 4BR units. The residential entrance will be located along Q Street. About 3,800 square feet on the ground floor will be set aside for retail with entrances along 1st Street. A Capital Bikeshare station will also be placed on 1st Street. What makes this different than the other residential buildings that have been built in Southwest over the past several years is that the entire building will be set aside as affordable housing. 

Of the 76 units planned at the development, 16 will be reserved for residents earning up to 30% of AMI and the remaining 60 units will be set aside for residents earning up to 50% of AMI. There will be limited space for amenities – about 940 square feet of residential amenity space will be available, as well as a landscaped courtyard on the ground floor. However, residents in the building will have access to on-site wrap-around services provided by the United Planning Organizations, such as case management. Off-site services to be provided include mental health, addiction treatment, childcare, job readiness programs, job training, and adult education.

Renderings courtesy of PGN Architects

Friday, August 11, 2017

New South Capitol Street Bridge Design

A new design for the replacement Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge which brings South Capitol Street across the Anacostia River was revealed yesterday at a press event with Mayor Bowser, DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, and other dignitaries. The new design is a departure from the previous version that looked more traditional and swung open to allow large boats to traverse the Anacostia. Since the display ship U.S.S. Barry that was docked at the Navy Yard was dismantled and moved, there was no longer a need to have a swing span bridge so the design was updated. According to a press release, the new bridge design includes three above-deck arches that capture the District’s arch history, two piers that will appear to float in the river, and four pedestrian overlooks. The new bridge will carry six lanes of vehicular traffic (three on each side), as well as bike and pedestrian lanes on each side of the bridge. In addition to the new bridge, traffic ovals will be built on both sides of the bridge – the oval on the west side of the river will connect South Capitol Street with Potomac Avenue and Q Street.  

Current bridge
New bridge

The bridge project is part of the South Capitol Street Corridor Project, a two-phase project that will eventually include additional improvements to South Capitol Street and adjacent streets on both sides of the river. On the west side of the river, improvements in phase II will reach all the way to the intersection with the Southwest freeway. Construction on the first phase will begin in late 2017 and will run through 2021. More images and an animated video showing the bridge project can be found on the project website.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Politics and Prose Coming to District Square

Just a few days after I mused that there were few non-restaurant retail tenants announced so far at District Wharf comes this news: it was announced yesterday that Politics and Prose will open a bookstore there this October. Per WTOP, the 2,300 SF bookstore will be located at District Square, on the ground floor of The Channel apartments. Politics and Prose often hosts authors at its Upper NW bookstore and will also do so at District Wharf. From the article: 

Among those already scheduled to appear this fall are MSNBC host Chris Matthews, Jordanian-Filipina American writer and editor Malu Halasa, national security affairs specialist Mark Perry and cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy.

The grand opening for Politics and Prose is scheduled for October 12, the same day as the bulk of Phase 1 of District Wharf will make its debut.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Photo Tour Part 2: Buzzard Point

Over in Buzzard Point, progress is being made at Audi Field (the new home of D.C. United) at 2nd and R streets and construction of a Pepco substation across R Street from the stadium site. The former is scheduled to open in June 2018 while the latter is much further along. Groundbreaking for Audi Field occurred back in February, but environmental remediation started months prior. At the July ANC meeting, Victor Melara from D.C. United stated that most of the environmental remediation was complete - just one area was left to finish. Precast seating bowl installation along the west side of the stadium was supposed to start in late July. Site utility installation was also expected to start in late July. On the south side of the stadium, basement excavation is complete and grade beams are being installed.

The Pepco Waterfront substation project includes the substation structure, transmission lines, and the installation of duct banks. The substation structure is nearly complete, but electrical work still needs to be completed.  Duct banks north and west of the substation also need to be installed. Pepco is partnering with the DC Commission of the Arts and Humanities to bring artwork worth $250,000 to the planned plaza on the south side of the substation at 1st and R streets near Audi Field. A sculpture designed by local artists David and Eli Hess called Flash Point will be located in the plaza. An additional $100,000 will be spent to adorn portions of the exterior of the substation with a light installation from local artists. 

East aerial view of Audi Field.
Pepco substation at 1st & Q streets.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Photo Tour Part 1: District Wharf

On a picture perfect Saturday, I decided to go around and take photos of most of the construction activity in the quadrant. First up was District Wharf. It’s hard to believe the first phase will finally open in less than two months! Of course, portions of the first phase are already complete - 525 Water and St. Augustine's Church were completed in 2016 and Waterfront Park, with a portion dedicated to DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton opened last spring. Leasing has begun at both apartment buildings along Maine Avenue – Incanto and The Channel. Meanwhile, a large share of the condo units at VIO have already been pre-sold and two of the office buildings have landed tenants that traditionally wouldn’t locate in Southwest, including a law firm. One tenant I neglected to mention previously is Washington Gas, which according to the Washington Business Journal will move its headquarters from 101 Constitution Avenue NW to 1000 Maine Avenue and will occupy at least 70,000 SF of space in two floors. The Anthem continues to line up acts for its inaugural year of operations, including Foo Fighters, who will perform on opening night - October 12. Dozens of restaurants will be opening in the coming months, although only a few non-restaurant retailers have been announced so far, such as CVS, District Hardware & Bike & Cafe, The Press, Bella Moda Salon and Spa, and Cordial Craft Wine, Beer & Spirits. Below are some photos taken from East Potomac Park:

Going from west to east (or left to right): VIO, Canopy by
Hilton and Hyatt House hotels, the gazebo at 7th Street Park
and the recreation pier.

From left to right: Intercontinental Hotel, Capitol Yacht Club,
VIO, Canopy by Hilton and Hyatt House hotels.

From left to right: 1000 Maine Avenue, The Channel
apartments, and District Pier.

Zoomed-in view of The Channel apartments and the entrance to
the Anthem, as well as the Transit Pier, with space for
Cantina Marina Bambina.

From Maine Avenue, one can see more details coming along, including signs for parking garages and entrances to buildings. Don't try to follow the parking garage signs just yet though...the garages are not open to the public yet.  See below:

Hyatt House faces 7th Street Park, which now has landscaping
and lighting installed.

A sliver of Incanto apartments, 800 Maine, and The Channel.

A portion of The Channel apartments, which has over 500 units.

View of 800 Maine, District Square, & The Channel apartments.

Pier 4 office building from Waterfront Park

A view of the first phase of District Wharf from 10th Street.