NoMa Secures Second Public Park Parcel for $14 million

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 5.02.09 PMThanks to the recent $14 million acquisition of a two-acre parcel from Pepco, the NoMa Parks Foundation adds a second public park space to the dense urban neighborhood. The parcel is located on a lot bounded by Harry Thomas Way NE, the Metropolitan Branch Trail and New York Avenue NE.

Already the park foundation is referring to the site as the neighborhood’s backyard and giving it the working name of “NoMa Green.”

“With more than 36,000 people living in greater NoMa today and more than 7,000 new homes in the near-term pipeline, a diverse collection of parks and open space is essential,” said Robin-Eve Jasper, president of the NoMa Parks Foundation, in a prepared statement.

The NoMa Green parcel announcement comes on the heels of the October acquisition of an 8,000 square-foot lot at 3rd and L streets, NE. The two new spaces were secured with funds dedicated in the NoMa Parks Grant Authorization Act in 2013, which set aside $50 million in DC Government budget for new public parks and civic spaces in NoMa.

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Hill East Poised for New Construction

watkins alley side viewMuch of the work to transform Hill East into a denser neighborhood is happening behind the scenes. Developers are furiously working to refine plans and begin construction on hundreds of new residential units.

This article appears in The Hill Rag’s December issue, available at newsstands now.

Watkins Alley

OPaL Development Company’s proposal to bring 44 residences to 1309-1323 (rear) E St. and 516 (rear) 13th Street SE will soon have a planned unit development (PUD) hearing date before the DC Zoning Commission. The zoning commission made an initial review this summer, raising concerns and questions about elements like transportation impacts, traffic and pedestrian flow within the project, and the overall architectural approach.

Earlier this fall the team submitted new designs with a more industrial-style architecture which they say reflects the neighborhood’s context heritage. A range of unit types will include a carriage house in the alley, townhomes, flats, and lofts.

As part of the public benefit package associated with filing for a PUD, OPaL is working with other nearby developers to include CAS Riegler and Insight Development on a proposal to improve the plaza at Potomac Avenue Metro.

Buchanan School Project

Work to ready the former Buchanan School property, 1325 D St. SE, for its new existence as Buchanan Park, a townhouse and condo development, could begin as soon as mid-December. Demolition of two buildings on the north side of the property is pending permits, expected by late 2015 or early 2016.

Construction of the first phase of the 32 proposed townhomes and the 41 one-level condo flats in the former school building could begin late in the second quarter or early in the third quarter of 2016. Sales on both the condos and townhomes could begin mid-2016 with the project slated to deliver by 2017.

Developers are Insight Property Group with designs by SK+I Architecture.

Reservation 13/Hill East

Development team Donatelli/Blue Skye Development will likely submit plans to the zoning commission for the first-phase redevelopment of Reservation 13 in Hill East. The project will bring 354 residential units, about 220 below-grade parking spaces, and 20,000 to 40,000 square feet of retail, split between two buildings designed by GTM Architects.

Mayor Muriel Bowser included about $11 million in funding over three years for infrastructure improvements related to Reservation 13 in the 2016- FY 2021 capital improvement budget.

New York Pizza/1401 Pennsylvania Ave.

CAS Riegler is in the thick of the zoning commission review process for its proposed 174 apartment units and 22,000 square feet of ground floor retail at 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. The developers recently submitted updated designs by project architects Antunovich and Associates that set back portions of the proposed 78-foot-tall building so that it better relates to nearby two- and three-story townhouses while maximizing its presence on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The project is across from the Potomac Avenue Metro. CAS Riegler is working with other nearby PUD proposals to develop a plan for improving the Metro plaza and beautifying the surrounding area.

The first visible inklings of Hill East’s future should come in the form of dust and debris as demolition at the Buchanan School sets into motion the successive waves of development planned and in the pipeline.

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Final 8th and O Residential Project Under Construction

Rendering City Market at O. Image by Shalom Baranes.

Rendering City Market at O. Image by Shalom Baranes.

The final residential portion of Shaw’s City Market at O development is now under construction at 880 P St.

The 142-unit market rate apartment building developed by Roadside Development, LLC, final of four residential buildings in addition to a Cambria Suites Hotel and Giant Food.

“This building, once completed will provide an elegant commercial edge to 9th Street, incorporating street front retail which will complement the thriving retail experience in Shaw,” said Richard Lake, founding partner, Roadside Development.

“The units include a mix of junior one bedroom, one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

City Market at O recently won the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) 2015 Global Awards for Excellence.

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Buchanan School Demolition to Begin by Early 2016

Buchanan School summer 2015.

Buchanan School summer 2015.

Demolition of the two northern structures on the former Buchanan School (International School) in Hill East could begin as soon as mid-December and definitely by early 2016, the project team told community members at a meeting Monday. The new development by Insight Development with designs by SK+I Architecture will bring 32 proposed townhomes and the 41 one-level condo flats to 1325 D St SE.

The historic school building on site will become condos, but two later additions will be demolished to make way for the new townhomes.

The general contractors, Moriarty, expects to receive permits for demolition in December or January and for demolition to last about two months. Vehicles removing the debris will travel south on 13th Street, SE to Pennsylvania Avenue and will travel east to the highway to Virginia–11th Street will not be used because of safety and traffic concerns.

Neighbors can expect about six parking spaces to be taken up mid-block on 13th Street to create the entrance to the construction site. Additionally the green space currently used as an informal dog park will in all likelihood be blocked off by construction fencing. Sorry fido.

Depending on permits and construction delays, the project should deliver in 2017.

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Georgetown Arts, Tech and Media Center Preferred by ANC for Franklin School

Franklin School. Photo by Flickr user X here.

Franklin School. Photo by Flickr user NCinDC here.

proposal for a new Georgetown University arts, media and technology center is the latest “winner” in the ongoing redevelopment saga of the historic Franklin School in downtown DC. The Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) unanimously supported the GU development program over three others presented during a special meeting earlier this week.

The Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) re-issued a request for proposals earlier this year after Mayor Muriel Bowser canceled a previous deal. The Vince Gray administration previously awarded the school to an EastBanc-led development, the Institute for Contemporary Expression (ICE-DC), to the building at 925 13th St. NW.

In August, DMPED announced five development teams would compete to redevelop the historic school. That number narrowed to four more recently.

Now four proposals are vying for redevelopment rights for the 51,000 square gross feet building in downtown (approximately 33,000 to 38,000 usable square feet).

Friedman Collaboration for the Arts: Arts, hotel and food destination. View proposal.

ARIA Development Group: Hotel, restaurant and bar. View proposal.

Dantes Partners and UberOffices: Co-working office space. View proposal.

Thoron Capital & Georgetown University: Technology, arts and media center with ground floor restaurant. View proposal.

The Commission narrowed down to two proposals, ranking the Georgetown plan first.

“The Commission felt the Thoron/Georgetown and Friedman Collaboration proposals were better suited for the disposition of a public property, use of the historic space, and provision of community benefits,” according to a post on the ANC’s blog.

DMPED told the ANC their office anticipates selecting a winning proposal by the end of the year. The winning team would then enter into negotiations for a long-term (50-99 years) ground lease.

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38-Unit Logan Apartment Building Opens on Former Cab Lot

38-Unit Logan Apartment Building Opens on Former Cab Lot

former Diamond Cab lot near Logan Circle has been transformed into the HOLM: a 38-unit apartment building with what is being billed as a “highly anticipated” restaurant on the ground floor. Developer CAS Riegler announced completion of the Hickok Cole-designed project located at 1550 11th St. NW this week.

HOLM boasts outdoor space for most of the units,  an open roof deck and catering kitchen for the penthouse to terraces and/or balconies on many of the more traditional units. Units boast features like custom built-in wardrobes, European frameless cabinetry or space-saving sliding barn doors.

“CAS Riegler is dedicated to creating unique real estate products in urban infill locations with a specific focus on residents’ sophistication and use of their homes when living in urban locations,” said C. Adam Stifel, principal, in a prepared statement. “HOLM’s sustainable, forward-thinking design will appeal to trend-setting residents who already live in the immediate area and want to stay, but are ready for a more refined design aesthetic and a location that allows them to take advantage of all the great neighborhood amenities without being surrounded by more than 200 other tenants.”

The building is now leasing. One-bedroom apartments start at $2,250, two-bedrooms at $3,200. The penthouse apartments range from $4,200 (for a one-bedroom unit) to over $7,500 for a three-bedroom. For leasing information, call 202-600-9462 or visit www.holmdc.com.

The oddly-shaped site was home to an auto repair garage and the Diamond Cab Co. offices.

The oddly-shaped site was home to an auto repair garage and the Diamond Cab Co. offices.

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Development Means Positive Attention for the Anacostia Riverfront

Development Means Positive Attention for the Anacostia Riverfront

Marinas with several hundred boat slips, docks with access for paddlers, and several miles of boardwalk promenades will increasingly spot the Anacostia River in the coming years, bringing with them a renewed vigor for the waterfront as thousands gravitate toward DC’s eastern river. Even with the recently announced year-end closure of the Buzzard Point Marina, the Anacostia River will have nearly 1,000 boat slips spread across The Wharf DC mega development, a new marina at Yards Park, and existing facilities like James Creek and the Gangplank Marina.

This article appears in The Hill Rag’s November issue, available at newsstands now.

Developers building along the Capitol Riverfront in Southeast and at The Wharf in Southwest are looking not just to land but also to water as they design and program their new residential and mixed-use projects.

Yards developer Forest City Washington announced that their 50-slip marina, designed by Moffatt & Nichol, should deliver by spring 2016. The marina will include space for short-term and long term slip usage for boats as large as 125 feet in length.

“The development of the marina will put The Yards more in touch with one of its best assets, the river,” said Deborah Ratner Salzberg, president of Forest City Washington, in a prepared statement.

The Wharf is slated to offer 550 boat slips, an increase of more than 200 slips.

As developers turn to the Anacostia, river enthusiasts see a positive impact from the influx of new buildings and people. “People who live [near the river] have a lot more vested interest in it,” said Trey Sherard, outreach coordinator/program assistant for the Anacostia Riverkeeper (ARK). “It may be a counter-intuitive example of development actually helping drive conservation.”

Kayaks arrive at the new Kingman Island docks. Photo: Tyrone Eaton, Anacostia Watershed Society.

Kayaks arrive at the new Kingman Island docks. Photo: Tyrone Eaton, Anacostia Watershed Society.

Marinas and boat slips are not the only alterations. Boardwalks and promenades are also bringing people right to the river’s edge.

“There’s literally thousands more people walking that stretch of the river than used to,” said Sherard.

The Yards Park, completed in 2010, is the product of a public/private partnership between developer Forest City Washington, the General Services Administration, and the District government. In addition to green space, concessions, and land-based water features, the Yards includes a boardwalk and an award-winning sculptural bridge that continues the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail along a 1.5-mile stretch of the river.

Seizing on Forest City’s success, development by MRP Realty and Florida Rock Properties is also providing connectivity to the river. The developers expect to deliver the first phase of a four-phase project at a site south of the Nationals Ballpark adjacent to the South Capitol Street Bridge on the waterfront by early summer 2016. The first building to deliver, Dock 79, will feature access to a boardwalk that connects to the riverside promenade that already stretches from the Yards Park to Diamond Teague Park.

When the entire master development is complete, MRP’s Riverwalk will be 800 linear feet. The riverwalk will be accessible for paddlers from the river; no formal kayak or canoeing concession is planned. Later phases may include boat slips, though the idea is very much in its infancy, according to Kristian DeMeo, a project manager at MRP realty. MRP is also working with the Anacostia Watershed Society toward the goal of a swimmable Anacostia by 2025. “We are doing our part to make sure that our project is safe and clean,” said DeMeo.

Getting people from land and onto the water is critical and increasingly possible, according to Sherard. The concession at Diamond Teague, run by the same company operating kayak and canoe rentals in Georgetown and National Harbor, has opened water access to the other side of the city, according to Sherard.

There are also access points like the Anacostia Community Boathouse where area crew teams practice and new public kayak and canoe docks at Kingman Island, “christened” in October by the Anacostia Watershed Society, the National Park Service, and the DC Department of Energy and Environment. “It’s great to get people walking next to the river. It’s a whole other thing to get people actually on the river,” said Sherard. “It really hits people what an asset it is when they can get physically on it.”

Change does not come without cost. Live-aboard communities like those at Buzzard Point Marina have been told they will have to move their homes elsewhere. “Closing the marina is not a decision that was made lightly,” National Park Service Superintendent Gopaul Noojibail said in a statement announcing the marina’s closure.

Live-aboards at the Southwest waterfront worked out an agreement to keep their slips when the new Wharf development opens, but anticipated rent increases could have some owners looking for friendlier waters.

The return to the river is gradual, as projects like The Wharf and the MRP/Florida Rock development deliver in phases, but also immediate as new residents gather in waterside parks or rent kayaks for an afternoon. The Anacostia River is ready, beyond ready, for the attention it has long-deserved.

Featured Image: Dock 79′s Capitol Riverwalk esplanade view. Image courtesy of MRP | REALTY.

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Brand New Look for Watkins Alley in Hill East

Brand New Look for Watkins Alley in Hill East

The proposed Watkins Alley development on Hill East at has a new look with refined, simpler architectural features, a response to comments from the Zoning Commission this summer.

Watkins Alley will include 45 residences at 1309-1323 (rear) E St. SE and 516 (rear) 13th Street SE. The mixture of apartments and townhouses bounded by courtyards and other open spaces will provide 45 parking spaces.

“In principal the idea of the density they are talking about and the layout, I think it can work but it requires sensitivity and creativity in terms of how it is planned. And it requires a sensitive touch in terms of the architecture and how it relates to the context. I’m getting none of that here,” said Commissioner Peter May.

The Zoning Commission suggested the developers use fewer materials and change the design to better reflect the federal-style architecture of nearby townhouses.

“The applicant revised the architecture t be more unified and contextual with higher quality and fewer materials. The entire project has a uniform appearance that creates a more integrated style on all of the facades that is more sensitive to the neighborhood surrounding it,” the development team wrote in a letter to the Zoning Commission attached to their new designs.

The developers describe the updated project as “vintage industrial and victorian townhomes (plus a carriage house)” in a post on Facebook.

Before:

watkins alley

After:

Watkins Alley side view

Additional new views:

Updated carriage house design for Watkins Alley. Image from Facebook.

Updated carriage house design for Watkins Alley. Image from Facebook.

Updated courtyard view for Watkins Alley. Image from Facebook.

Updated courtyard view for Watkins Alley. Image from Facebook.

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Work on 50-Boat Marina at Yards Park Now Underway

An aerial view of The Yards development features the marina in the bottom right corner. Image courtesy of Forest City Washington.

An aerial view of The Yards development features the marina in the bottom right corner. Image courtesy of Forest City Washington.

Work on the new 50-slip marina for the Yards Park on the Anacostia River is slated to begin on site this month, Forest City Washington announced Monday. The marina, designed by Moffatt & Nichol, will include space for both short-term and long term slip usage for boats as large as 125 feet in length.

Bellingham Marine began component fabrication offsite several months ago. The on-site work will create a new marina stretching from the Washington Navy Yard at the eastern edge to the beginning of the Yard’s award-winning pedestrian bridge at the western edge.

“The development of the marina will put The Yards more in touch with one of its best assets—the river,” said Deborah Ratner Salzberg, president of Forest City Washington, in a prepared statement.

Half of the 50 slips will be for short-term usage of fewer than 10 days and the other half will accommodate long-term users. Most of the boats will be smaller in size, up to about 60feet long, though the marina could make room for a few large 125-foot boats.

The marina will also include a water taxi dock, a paddler dock for kayakers and an education dock for use with river-focused experiential instruction, according to a press release.

In addition to the Yards marina on the Capitol Riverfront in Southeast D.C., Moffatt & Nichol is working on the waterside elements for the massive nearby Wharf development on the Southwest waterfront.

The marina should be ready for use by spring 2016.

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National Mall Gardens, Lockkeeper House to Get Upgrades

View of Constitution Gardens from the corner of 17th Street and Constitution Avenue. Image from NCPC records.

View of Constitution Gardens from the corner of 17th Street and Constitution Avenue. Image from NCPC records.

The National Mall’s Constitution Gardens–a landscaped area, small lake and the 1837 Lockkeeper’s House located between the Lincoln Memorial and 17th Street, NW–will soon go through a rehabilitation that will improve pedestrian connectivity and physically move the lockkeeper’s structure.

The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) approved the proposal’s first phase during a meeting Thursday.

The National Park Service plans to convert the Lockkeeper’s House, a remnant from when there was a Canal along the National Mall, to a visitor education center that also serves as an office for park management and a site to recognize donors supporting the Trust for the National Mall. The building will be relocated to a site southwest of its current location, but still within the Constitution Gardens area.

Other site improvements include: a new entry plaza at the corner of Constitution Avenue and 17th Street, NW, landscaping, and a new perimeter garden wall, according to a press release from NCPC. PWP Landscape Architecture designed the rehabilitation, having won the right in 2012 after a national design competition.

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