Since Police Chief Cathy Lanier assumed leadership of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) in 2007, the District has seen a significant reduction in crime, one that both benefits from and is beneficial to the city’s incredible growth of at times more than 1,000 new residents a month pouring into neighborhoodcenters that for some seemed to pop up over night.
During a luncheon hosted by Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW), Lanier told members representing developers, brokers, design firms and other industry groups that she sees policing and economic development as critically intertwined.
After spending time driving around the new neighborhoods popping up, Lanier realized the city was changing rapidly from the crime-ridden, drug-heavy times she saw when she joined the force in the early 1990s. Lanier said when she first started, she asked the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development for the city’s five-year development plan.
Instead of relying on just traditional crime data like calls for service and crime statistics, Lanier asked her team of about 20 analysts to look at information like the average age of the residents moving into the city or how those residents commute (bikes? metro? walking?) or how traffic patterns might change with the arrival of new residential and commercial projects.
“I see the city changing so much. There are areas where development is taking place that have really shifted the dynamic of what I think we need to do going forward,” said Lanier.
She uses data on projected real estate development and current neighborhood demographics to allocate police resources around the District.
The dynamic is changing and MPD needs to be ahead of the curve, she said. Lanier used Chinatown as an example. It became a nightlife hub and quickly a crime hub before her department was able to respond.
“Because we didn’t send a message from a law enforcement community that [Chinatown] ‘is a safe community, we have good police deployment here, they are here as good customer service representatives and safety ambassadors for the area.’ Because we didn’t get ahead of that bubble, we had to fight to take it back,” said Lanier.
She tackled Chinatown with targeted patrols and then started to identify areas that would be the next Chinatown, the next hub.
MPD analysts created a timeline chart of the arrival of new businesses and corresponding crime rates in Chinatown to help identify patterns that would be useful for other areas.
Half joking and half serious, Lanier said the tipping point for an area entering into major economic growth is the arrival of chains like Potbelly and Five Guys, based on their analysis.
“Where you really start to see an area take off is when you start to see the Potbellies and the Five Guys” said Lanier.
Another key factor is the number of liquor establishments on a city block. Her analysts found that up to eight bars on a block requires the same workload to maintain safety and order as blocks with fewer, but when that number goes above nine or 10, the workload increases ten-fold, according to Lanier.
So Lanier and her team look at projected growth and development throughout the city to identify the next areas they need to worry about, to staff for and to monitor.
With her Chinatown data in hand, Lanier went to the District Council to ask for additional resources to address nightlife.
Lanier said she told the Council, “We are looking at crime patterns that are very consistent with what we saw in Chinatown and if we don’t get ahead of this curve, we are going to lose this wonderful nightlife and development that we are getting in the city because people won’t come here.”
In October 2013 MPD deployed 100 new officers to five nightlife areas already past the bar ratio tipping point: Adams Morgan, U Street, H Street , Dupont Circle and Columbia Heights. Between October 2013 and March 2014, those areas saw a 39% reduction overall in robberies.
Lanier said her ongoing work with developers, businesses, neighborhoods and her use of data is driving the reduction in crime, residents have come to expect. And she’s looking at the horizon for the next area to worry about–her analysts predict somewhere between eight and 10 in the next year.
“We’re doing this in all the areas around the city and there’s a lot of Potbellies and Five Guys popping up,” said Lanier.
Monday night the Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission voted to support the new residential development proposed for Church Street near 18th Street on the site of the current St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 1772 Church St. NW, with several caveats including additional setbacks to reduce the perception of mass from the street level.
The resolution passed with 6 yay votes and one nay (from Commissioner Abigail Nichols) after nearly two hours of presentations, community comments and commissioner discussions on the controversial project.
An initial draft would not have called for additional setbacks or changes to the massing, but after hearing public testimony still strongly in opposition to the height and massing of the proposed six-story residential building, the ANC added a new clause to speak to those concerns.
The passed resolution states the ANC “would only support the residential component massing and concept” if, among other conditions, “at the proposed residential building adjacent to the church, a significant setback is established beginning at the fourth or fifth floor as it faces Church Street.”
In drafting the wording, Commissioner Will Stephens first proposed calling for the removal of an entire floor from the taller section of the residential project abutting the new church structure.
Residential developer Kevin Riegler of CAS Riegler said removing an entire floor would make the project “not viable.” Such a change woudl be a “back to the drawing board situation.”
Riegler was less assertive about his concerns about the setback proposal that eventually passed, saying his team would need to relocate that density somewhere within the project site and that it could impact other design adjustments made in response to community comments.
The ANC also called for a committee of neighbors to work with the developer and Councilman Jack Evans to discuss quality of life issues that would result from construction work and the finished development.
The vote Monday marks a key moment in the public discussions among St. Thomas Church, its chosen developer partner and the community that have been ongoing since February.
The church is selling a portion of its land to developer CAS Riegler to pay for a significantly larger church structure that will allow the parish to grow and offer more programs than its existing structure allows. The parish currently operates out of just a portion of the original church structure because most of its built space was lost to arson in the 1970s.
Over the course of the past seven months, the residential and church designs have evolved in response to community concerns over the height and massing of the project as it relates to the neighboring two- and three-story homes on Church Street.
Last night Riegler said his team has reduce by 5,400 square feet the allowable developable value of the land.
The project is slated for review before the Historic Preservation Review Board Thursday.
Frager’s Hardware of Capitol Hill has reached an agreement with Roadside Development, LLC, a District based developer, to purchase its property at 1101-1117 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, on Capitol Hill. After development, Frager’s will return as their anchor tenant under a long-term lease. The store will transfer its hardware, paint center, garden center and equipment rental operations, now scattered in three different temporary storefronts across the Hill, to their original home.
Deciding to Sell
Frager’s decision to sell its Pennsylvania property was not an easy one. The store had operated there since its founding in 1920. However, the damage sustained in the fire was severe and the challenges of environmental remediation significant. In addition, the location of the site within the boundaries of the Capitol Hill Historic District ensured any redevelopment would require a significant, and no doubt expensive, effort to preserve the deteriorating facade. All this would require capital and expertise and create a major distraction from the important task of reviving Frager’s retail operations.
“We are grateful for the overwhelming support and patience from our loyal customers and the Capitol Hill community as we evaluated our options to restore the original site,” said John Weintraub, President of Frager’s. “Over the past year, we studied the site extensively, removed environmentally sensitive materials, conducted several structural analyses, and evaluated the costs to rebuild the site. We learned that the fire damaged the site so severely that, even with insurance proceeds, we could not afford to rebuild the site alone,” said Weintraub.
Retaining Fern Barrueta and Robert Bryan of Colliers International as advisers, Weintraub began exploring Frager’s options.
The combination of the prime location of Frager’s Pennsylvania property and the booming Capitol Hill real estate market ensured the company did not lack for suitors. However, Weintraub was intent on returning the store to the location of its founding and preserving as much of the original building as feasible. A longtime resident of the Hill himself, he remained sensitive to neighborhood concerns about density and scale of any new construction.
“We sought out a development partner with a history of developing high-quality projects that would appreciate the unique history of the site and the store’s relationship to the community, and a partner that would welcome our return to the site in a new Frager’s Hardware Store,” said Weintraub.
Roadside Development quickly caught his attention for its adaptive reuse of historic properties.
Among potential suitors, Roadside Development stood out. In Tenley, the company had redeveloped the historic Sears building at 4500 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Acquired by Roadside in 2001, this property, built in 1941and most recently a Hechinger store, sits atop the Tenleytown Metro and across from a Whole Foods. Roadside choose to create Cityline at Tenley, a $105 million transit-oriented, mixed-use project, which includes 204 condominium units, 330 parking spaces and 88,000 square feet of retail. Anchor tenants include Best Buy, the Container Store and Ace Hardware. The project was completed in 2005 and completely sold out.
“Cityline required considerable creativity on the part of the entire team including the architects Shalom Baranes & Associates, as well as the patience and consideration of the community and the city,” said Richard Lake, Founding Partner of Roadside. “We wanted to create a unique environment for our residents, unlike anything else in this market and we achieved this with design and all of the amenities we provided,” said Lake.
In 2005, Cityline’s unique Art-Deco design by Shalom Baranes Associates won the Project Excellence Award from the DC chapter of the American Institute of Architects. That same year, the project also received Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation. Roadside’s success with Cityline set the stage for their more ambitious redevelopment of the historic O Street Market in Shaw.
Constructed in 1881, the O Street Market served as the central food emporium for the Shaw community. The rise of competing supermarkets in the 20th century saw the market falter. After passing into private ownership, it had been abandoned in the 1990s leaving little left other than a set of disintegrating exterior walls standing adjacent to the large parking lot belonging to Giant supermarket. Yet, this decaying landmark sat within a 10-minute walk of the Verizon Center and Gallery Place, and just one block north of the 2.3 million-square foot Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Rather than leveling the entire site, Roadside worked with Baranes Assoc. to incorporate the historic structure into City Market at O, a 1,000,000 square foot redevelopment that spans an entire block. The old O Street Market now serves as the fresh food section of a state-of-the-art, flagship Giant Food store. 650 residential units, a 182-room Cambria Suites Hotel, 500 parking spaces and additional retail form the remainder of the site.
Recognizing the importance of City Market at O to Shaw’s revival, The Committee of 100 awarded Roadside its 2014 Visionary Award. “This plan established a 21st-century vision whereby the overall larger site would serve as a neighborhood center and a mid-city commercial node between downtown DC and U Street that includes, among others: a rehabilitated O Street Market that serves its original purpose as purveyor of produce, but this time as part of a new, relocated Giant supermarket; eight stories (246 units) of rental apartments above the new supermarket; the reopening of the 1400 block of Eighth Street, NW, reestablishing the presence of L’Enfant’s plan in the area; creation of 90 rental apartments for active adults 55+, whose income level is at 50% to 60% of Area Median Income (opens May 2014) ;700 additional spaces of underground parking to help minimize the impact of increased population and new activities in the neighborhood.” stated the Council.
“Roadside’s values, approach to incorporating community input, and quality of their past projects convinced us that they were the best partner for Frager’s and the community,” states Weintraub.
“We understand how important local businesses are to the integrity of a neighborhood. We are truly honored to partner with the Weintraubs to return Frager’s to its original home,” said Lake, a native Washingtonian, whose father owned the famous Zebra Room.
The site is currently zoned CHC/C-2-A. As a matter of right, this designation permits a structure of up to 50 feet in height, with a maximum floor-to-area (FAR) ratio of 2.5 for residential and 1.5 for other permissible usages.
Roadside intends to develop the Pennsylvania Avenue site as a matter of right within the existing zoning. Frager’s will serve as the anchor tenant under a long-term lease on the ground floor. The company has yet to determine the final mix of uses for the remainder of the property. However, it does contemplate additional retail and residential uses. The exact details of the sale are not yet public.
Provided the facade is structurally sound, Roadside plans to incorporate it into its new development, much it did with the O Street Market. The company plans to consult with the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, the DC Historic Preservation Office, ANC 6B and nearby residents as it formulates its plans.
“We look forward to working with the Capitol Hill community in the planning and the redevelopment of this key building into the existing fabric of the neighborhood,” stated Lake.
The Way Forward
During the next few weeks, Roadside will be conducting inspections of the site as part of its due diligence prior to purchase. Simultaneously, Frager’s and Roadside will begin a process of community consultation. They plan to both attend and host meetings and conversations throughout the neighborhood.
During the redevelopment, Frager’s will continue to operate out of temporary locations. With the commencement of construction at the Hine School site, the company’s garden operations will move soon to 1230 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.
“We could not have made it this far if not for the support and patience of the community, the District government, and most of all our employees,” said Weintraub.
“I am delighted to learn that Frager’s Hardware has definite plans to return to its long time location at 1115 Pennsylvania Avenue. And that the historic walls of its burned out building will be incorporated into a new structure,” stated neighbor and Advisory Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg (SMD 6B04) learning of the plan.
“Frager’s and its staff have worked diligently since the fire in 2013 to rebuild its business. But we all need it back, in one piece; it is more than just a business on the Hill. I look forward to working with Frager’s and the community to do all I can to make the new building a reality as soon as possible,” Oldenburg added.
‘We are delighted at the prospect of Frager’s speedy return to its original location. We are pleased at Roadside’s decision to redevelop the property within the existing zoning designation. We hope that the historic façade can be preserved and look forward to working with both Roadside and Frager’s to accomplish this,” Lisa Dale Jones, President of CHRS.
“Priority number one is protecting Frager’s and restoring to its rightful place at the center of our Capitol Hill community. This sounds like a solution that can get us there,” stated the Democratic nominee for the Ward 6 seat on the DC Council, Charles Allen.
The Hill Rag is the monthly community newspaper of record for Ward 6. It is published daily online at www.hillrag.com and monthly in print.
District 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Several areas for refinement based on the staff report include:
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.”
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.”
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.