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Fall Break for District Source

plane wingDistrict Source will be taking a fall break beginning Sept. 19 through Sept. 29. Please continue to send tips, suggestions and news items to Shaun@districtsource.com and I will get back to you upon my return.

Thanks for your readership!

-Shaun

Editor, District Source

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Featured Properties

DC Secures $2.8 Million to Study High Speed Rail and More Over Potomac River

Long Bridge. Image from MWCOG Freight  Committee report.

Long Bridge. Image from MWCOG Freight Committee report.

DC now has the funds to pursue the next step in its Long Bridge Project which explores capacity improvements to Long Bridge–the only railroad bridge between DC and Viriginia taht carries freight, commuter and intercity passgenfer trains over the Potomac River. The recently announced $2.8 million in U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER FY 2014 discretionary grant funds will support an environmental analysis of a project.

Long Bridge, a two-track bridge constructed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is owned by CSX Corporation.

Since at least 2012, the District has been studying “long-term multi-modal capacity improvements” to the bridge that could support future uses including, “high speed and intercity passenger rail, commuter rail, transit, bike/pedestrian and freight services,” according to a project document.

“DDOT is very excited to receive this TIGER grant to progress the Long Bridge project into the next phase of project development,” said DDOT Acting Director Mathew Brown in a statement. “The Long Bridge is already a very important piece of the local and regional rail network, but we’d like to explore the possibility of using a new incarnation of it to carry pedestrians and bicyclists along with a large increase in rail capacity for improved VRE, Amtrak and MARC train service in the future.”

When DDOT began its public process in 2012 it started with more than 100 possible alternatives for the future of the bridge based on alignment and configuration, by the end of the initial process in October of 2013, the agency narrowed those down to 10 alternatives and then later to 6 which the environmental assessment will evaluate.

The options for future study are:

  • Alternative 1: No Build
  • Alternative 2: expansion to 4 railroad tracks + pedestrian/bicycle
  • Alternative 3: expansion to 4 railroad tracks + streetcar + pedestrian/bicycle
  • Alternative 4: expansion to 4 railroad tracks + shared streetcar/vehicular +  pedestrian/bicycle
  • Alternative 5: expansion to 4 railroad tracks + shared streetcar/vehicular + exclusive vehicular + pedestrian/bicycle
  • Alternative 6: 4 railroad track tunnel

You can see drawings of what those look like here.

4-track rail bridge concept. Image from MWCOG.

4-track rail bridge concept. Image from MWCOG.

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McMillan Development Reduced to Clear Capitol Views

McMillan Development Reduced to Clear Capitol Views

Since the McMillan Sand Filtration redevelopment was last before the Zoning Commission Vision McMillan Partners (VMP) has reduced its healthcare facility by 37,000  square feet of gross floor area in response to height and Capitol viewshed concerns.

In what was to be VMP’s final filing before the Zoning Comission (ZC) in August, VMP presented plans for a medical building reduced by 15 feet, a direct response to a request from the commission during public hearings.

But staff at the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) raised concerns that the development  even with its 15-foot height reduction would have “substantial impacts” on views of  the Capitol Dome from historic locations on the property of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH).

So VMP requested to keep the record open longer so they could work with NCPC to find a solution that would meet their standards– those discussion led to VMP further reducing the size of its healthcare facility by shifting the west wing of the building 15 feet to the east.

Though NCPC cited concerns with views from both the meadow and the historic Scott Statue in August, they agreed that the primary concern was from the statue, according to a letter from the applicants that accompanied the updated drawings. NCPC reviewed the latest round of designs and agreed to the revised plans–which according to VMP will now make both the Capitol Dome and the lower wings of the Capitol building visible from Scott Statue.

The new designs resulted in changes to several other areas of the project, including:

  • 10 fewer parking spaces
  • reduced size of the healing gardens
  • shifts in the west driveway and curb cut on Michigan Avenue

With these changes, though VMP hopes for  favorable review when it goes before the ZC Sept. 29.

“The Applicant is pleased to have resolved this viewshed issue with NCPC staff. Together with the reduction in height to 115 feet, the reconfiguration of the loading facilities for the multi-family/grocery building, and clarification of the community benefits, the Applicant believes it has successfully addressed all outstanding issues,” the attorneys for VMP write in a letter to the Zoning Commission.

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Madison Investments’ Capitol Hill Condo Passes Muster with Historic Staff

Madison Investments’ Capitol Hill Condo Passes Muster with Historic Staff

Madison Investments’ proposal for a new four-story, 48-unit condo building at the corner of 11th and I streets, SE in Capitol Hill received support for its initial design concept from Historic Preservation Office staff in advance of the Historic Preservation Review Board meeting Sept. 18.

The new development will bring residential use to a parking lot and car service station at 900 11th St. SE. This is Madison’s first foray into Southeast Capitol Hill.

“The site as it is now is obviously not being used to its maximum potential” Omeade Hekmat, a development manager for Madison Investments, told District Source.

Historic Preservation Office (HPO) staff recommend that the Historic Preservation Review Board  (HPRB) find the proposal “compatible” with the Capitol Hill historic district so long as the developers and their architects from PGN Architects continue to work with HPO staff to refine several facade details staff felt needed more work.

The four story building as proposed would sit above a raised basement, meaning the first level of the residential project will not be at street level. To relate to nearby rowhouses common to Capitol Hill the entrances for several units will be rowhouse style and the facade would be largely brick. There will be a roof deck covering the penthouse equipment and a green roof on another section of the roof.

Madison Investments 11th and I view from 11th Street. Image courtesy of PGN Architects.

Madison Investments 11th and I view from 11th Street. Image courtesy of PGN Architects.

Several areas for refinement based on the staff report include:

  1. The rooftop projection, which the staff report described as a ” single large projection,” is not common for Capitol Hill, so staff suggest breaking it up into smaller sections of projection over the end of the roof line to “reduce the scale of the building  and animate the long flat elevations.”
  2. Because the first floor of the building is raised above ground level, the design is too heavy in the middle section, according to staff. They suggest “language of the middle section down to the first floor.”
  3. The penthouse should be reduced in size and pulled in from the sides to meet the 1:1 requirement (that the penthouse unit be set back at a ratio equal to its height).
  4. Staff want more detail on how the stairs and windows relate to the ground, the amount of green space and the way the building meets the sidewalk. Staff also call for a fence or screen to block to view of rear parking from the sidewalk.

You can read the full staff report here.

*Rendering courtesy of PGN Architects.

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7-Unit New Jersey Avenue Residential Approved Without Parking

1740 New Jersey Avenue as seen in June 2014.

1740 New Jersey Avenue as seen in June 2014.

A new 7-unit residential project at 1740 New Jersey Ave. NW received Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) support despite intense opposition from the Commissioner in whose district the project sits. The new development will not provide any parking spaces on the property, but a curb cut closure would create up to two new public street parking spaces.

Newton Street Development will convert an existing single-family home at the intersection of Rhode Island and New Jersey Avenues and S Street into a new multi-unit residential building. The project initially faced opposition from the ANC in July. Since then the project team refined the design, reduced the number of units by one and developed a transportation mitigation plan in coordination with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT).

Generally a project of its size would require three resident parking spaces, but the existing building on the site pushes  the site to 100% lot occupancy–there is no space to add parking.

There is “no way” to provide parking on site without “demolishing a portion of the building” according Meredith Moldenhauer, attorney for the developers. Moreover DDOT has told the project team the agency will not allow curb cuts that would facilitate parking.

In fact DDOT is requiring the developer to close the current curb cuts on the site.

The up side for the community of closing a curb cut, said Moldenhauer, is that in doing so, the project team will create two new street side car parking spaces–one new public parking space  will be created on Rhode Island Avenue and another big enough for a compact car would be possible on S Street.

The developers will also create contractual limits for future tenants to prevent them from obtaining residential parking permits (RPP) and will also limit their ability to secure visitor parking permits. If the building is a condo the limits will be written into a covenant associated with a purchase and if the building is apartments the leases will include the same terms. They will also provide several hundred dollars per tenant in funds towards membership and use of car share, bike share and smartrip to encourage alternative forms of transit.

Commissioner Kevin Chapple doubted the legality and enforceability of the plan to limit RPP and VPP. 

“I am strongly opposed to the developers’ plans” said Chapple during the September ANC meeting.

He said he would support the project if the developers “diminished” their capacity–i.e. were creating fewer new residential units.

Chapple made a motion to oppose the project, but the motion did not pass. A second motion to support the project passed by a vote of 5 to 2.

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This is What DC’s First Elevated Park Could Look Like

This is What DC’s First Elevated Park Could Look Like

A nationwide design competition to create a vision for the District’s first elevated park is now down to four design concepts on display for public feedback before an Oct. 16 announcement of the winning design for the 11th Street Bridge Park.

The six-month competition whittled down to just four design groups from more than 40 teams representing 80 firms who responded to the open call for submissions in March.

“We are so thrilled to see the best designers in the country envision our dynamic new space located in the nation’s capital” said Scott Kratz, 11th Street Bridge Park Director, said in a statement.

The four final teams are:

  • Balmori Associates / Cooper, Robertson & Partners
  • OLIN / OMA
  • Stoss Landscape Urbanism / Höweler + Yoon Architecture
  • Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) / NEXT Architects / Magnusson Klemencic Associates

The 11th Street Bridge Park would create a new public park on an old freeway bridge over the Anacostia River, connecting Capitol Hill and historic Anacostia. The District government has committed DC City Government recently committed $14.5 million toward the project–about half of the anticipated construction cost, according to information from the Bridge Park organzation.

“The variety among the different renderings is really quite remarkable. With these stunning and thoughtful designs, each team transformed community- inspired ideas into a Bridge Park that will quickly become a destination for residents and tourists alike,” said Kratz in a statement.

Image courtesy of Balmori Associates / Cooper, Robertson & Partners

Image courtesy of Balmori Associates / Cooper, Robertson & Partners.

Image courtesy of OLIN / OMA.

Image courtesy of OLIN / OMA.

Image courtesy of Stoss Landscape Urbanism / Höweler + Yoon Architecture.

Image courtesy of Stoss Landscape Urbanism / Höweler + Yoon Architecture.

Image courtesy of Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) / NEXT Architects / Magnusson Klemencic Associates.

Image courtesy of Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) / NEXT Architects / Magnusson Klemencic Associates.

The designs will be on view at the following locations on the following dates:

On View From September 14 – October 11, 2014

THEARC Gallery – 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE

On View From September 24 – October 11, 2014

Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum – 1901 Fort Pl. SE

District Architecture Center – 421 7th St. NW

Design teams will present to a jury of experts form field ranging from landscape architecture to public health on Sept. 29 and Sept. 30 at the theater of THEARC, located at 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE.

For more information visit www.bridgepark.org.

Lead image courtesy of Balmori Associates / Cooper, Robertson & Partners.

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Three Teams Officially Qualify to Bid on Grimke RFP

Three Teams Officially Qualify to Bid on Grimke RFP

Three teams will vie for the rights to redevelop the historic Grimke School on Vermont Avenue and a District-owned parking lot on U Street, according to the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED). Responses for the request for proposals (RFP) were due Aug. 28.

The winning development team will redevelop the 52,000-square-foot historic Grimke School building, 1923 Vermont Ave. NW, the 14,850-square-foot lot area currently home to the African American Civil War Museum (AACWM), and a 5,900-square-foot parking lot, at 912 U St. NW.

The three teams are:

  • Community Three Development, LLC
  • Grimke Redevelopment Partners (joint venture between MCN Build, Morningstar Community Development, and Four Points, LLC)
  • Roadside Development, LLC  and Sorg Architects

Each team was required to sign  a “Form of Acknowledgement of Mutual Agreement with the African American Civil War Museum” as part of the proposal submission process. The winning developer will provide to AACWM a “warm, lit shell” of approximately 10,000 square feet within the historic Grimke school structure as part of the land disposition agreement.

Prior to the announcement from DMPED, AACWM Founding Director Frank Smith told a neighborhood group organized around the school’s redevelopment that his organization signed with the four listed developers. Missing from DMPED’s list is  Art Space Projects, Inc. District Source has reached out to Art Space and Smith to determine whether or not the developer submitted a proposal or partnered with one of the other respondents.

The three development teams will have an opportunity to present their visions for the sites to the community through a meeting organized by the ANC and DMPED at some point this fall.

Photo by Tony Azios for District Source.

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St. Thomas Church, Residential Designs Adjusted Ahead of Historic Review

St. Thomas Church, Residential Designs Adjusted Ahead of Historic Review

CAS Riegler has reduced its residential project for St. Thomas Church, 1772 Church St. NW, in Dupont by an additional 3,000 square feet and shifted the bulk of the mass of the new building toward 18th Street and the alley behind the church building in response to community concerns and criticisms of the previous design. The designs will go before the Historic Preservation Review Board on Oct. 2.

In July the Dupont Circle Conservancy (DCC) passed a resolution calling for design refinements that shift the mass away from historic townhouses on Church Street. The Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) voted to endorse that resolution at its meeting after struggling to develop its own resolution on the project.

The resolution stated (excerpt):

The DCC supports the concept of the church portion of the project, however, we would like to see a further refined design and more refined material palate, as well as a better understanding of how the structure will exist in context with the adjacent building fabric on 18th Street.

The DCC supports the residential concept but is concerned that the massing presents an incongruous transition on Church Street with the rest of the block. We suggest that the designers revisit the massing with the intent of reducing bulk adjacent to the townhouses on Church Street with a more gradual increase in height from the east to west.”

The changes made by architects for the church and the residential project are both subtle and significant.

To shift the residential away from the historic townhouses, more of the mass is now located on the alley and closer to 18th Street.

View from they alley looking west as of September 2014. Image courtesy of CAS Riegler.

View from they alley looking west as of September 2014. Image courtesy of CAS Riegler.

The new residential design by Hickok Cole architects includes additional setbacks above the existing church structure, which will remain on Church Street and sits directly adjacent to an historic townhouse. The residential development above the historic church section is setback so that a person standing on the sidewalk other side of the street would not be able to see the new structure. Previously this section of the residential building was visible in every rendering and its mass was much closer to the front of the building.

Other changes include a simpler series of setbacks on the rest of the residential project as viewed from Church Street. The new residential component rises vertically for several stories before being setback, a change from the earlier design that was criticized for its “wedding cake” effect. Additionally the residential above the old church is a glass and metal window wall system that is meant to transition between the historic structure and the new brick and mortar structure.

On the Church design by MTFA Architecture, there are new additions like a rose window facing the alley, near the garage entrance that would be visible from 18th street heading north. Additionally, the architects hope to use sections of the gable from the old church to frame the rose windows on the new church building.

The DCC resolution on the latest designs did not yield any concrete praise or criticism. Rather the organization merely advised the HPRB that its membership has “continuing concerns” about the project, but was unable to “reach consensus.”

The ANC will host a public special meeting on the latest design iterations Sept. 29 from 7 to 9 p.m. at a location TBD before passing a resolution for the HPRB.

You can see the full set of new designs here.

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It’s Official: Baked and Wired Heading to Mt. Vernon

The Lyric in Mt. Vernon Triangle will be the home to a new sister location for Baked and Wired.

The Lyric in Mt. Vernon Triangle will be the home to a new sister location for Baked and Wired.

Four months after we first reported the news that Baked and Wired was hoping to open a new bread bakery in Mt. Vernon Triangle, the coffee shop/bakery out of Georgetown officially signed a lease for just over 4,200 square in the ground floor of The Lyric building at 440 K St. NW. The store is scheduled to open in early 2015.

Baked and Wired will open a sister location in Mt. Vernon Triangle that will focus on “handcrafted breads using slow fermentation and traditional baking methods” and will feature coffee and espresso drinks made via a custom Slayer espresso machine, according to a press release about the new location.

Enthusiasts of the Georgetown cafe’s baked goods will be able to get pastries and sweets at the new location and there will even be an option for special-order pick up at the Lyric.

“We want this new concept coffeehouse to be a comfortable gathering space for residents of Lyric 440K and people from all walks of life – from residents and office workers to tourists, students  and sports fans headed to nearby venues,” said Baked & Wired owner Tony Velazquez in a statement. The new store is scheduled to open in early 2015.

The Lyric, a 234-unit, 14-floor apartment building with ground floor retail,  is owned and developed by Quadrangle Development Corporation and The Wilkes Company. With the new cafe lease the building passes the 70% leased mark.

 

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District Seeks Developers for Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club

The Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club at 261 17th St. SE as seen in 2004. Image courtesy of DC Property Information Verification System.

The Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club at 261 17th St. SE as seen in 2004. Image courtesy of DC Property Information Verification System.

The District government is seeking a developer to redevelop the approximately 31,000-gross-square-foot Eastern Branch Boys and Girls Club under a 25-year lease, according to a Request for Proposals (RFP) released by the Department of General Services
(DGS) Sept. 3. The winning development team could be announced as soon as February 2015.

The building located in Hill East at 261 17th St. SE is just two blocks from the Stadium Armory Metro on the Blue and Orange Metro lines.

The former Boys and Girls Club closed in 2007 and the District purchased the property from the organization in 2010 for $20 million, according to the Washington Business Journal.

The RFP calls for redevelopment of the existing structure, though proposals that include demolition and new construction will be considered. Respondents are also required to have a “substantiated commitment from a tenant” for the proposed use of the space.

The site is zoned R-4, meaning the site can be developed for “single-family residential uses (including detached, semi-detached, row dwellings, and flats), churches and public schools” as a matter of right, according to the RFP. Other uses would require the project to go before the Board of Zoning Adjustment or the Zoning Commission, depending on the size and type/number of variances needed for the proposed use.

In a letter dated May 14, Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B called on DGS to prioritize redevelopment schemes that feature neighborhood-serving uses. If the entire building cannot be used for community services like daycare, fitness classes and meeting spaces, the ANC suggests affordable senior/family housing would be a desirable use for the space. The community would hope that any development would include flexible neighborhood space on at least a portion of the ground floor.

The District took the community’s preference for housing into account in the RFP stating: “Respondents should note greater weight will be given to those proposals that incorporate housing, particularly family and or senior housing.”

The ANC specifically opposes any redevelopment of the site as a school, a note the RFP also includes.

Additionally, the District encouraged respondents to work with the community in advance of submitting proposals.

“Responses must consider and incorporate stakeholder and community preferences, to the extent feasible,” according to the RFP.

The initial term for a lease would be 25 years, with the possibility to renew.

Commissioner Brian Flahaven reacted to the RFP on his blog Tuesday.

While the RFP does not include everything ANC 6B requested (pdf), it does reference the commission’s comments and encourages respondents to proactively reach out to the community if interested in the building,” wrote Flahaven. 

Interested community members can learn more about the plans for the site at the DGS Eastern Branch Surplus Hearing Tuesday, Sept. 18 from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. at Payne Elementary School, 1445 C St. SE.

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