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DC Adds 9 Miles of Bike Lanes in 2014

Capital Bikeshare is increasingly funded through private contributions as part of the zoning process. District Source stock photo.

Capital Bikeshare is increasingly funded through private contributions as part of the zoning process. District Source stock photo.

As you make your way around the city, you may notice the increasing prevalence of bike lanes–painted, protected or otherwise–on city streets. That’s because in 2014 the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) constructed nine miles of new bike lanes–an unprecedented record for the city.

D.C. now boasts 66 miles of bike lanes installed since 2001.

“DDOT is building a sustainable, bicycle transportation network and infrastructure around the District of Columbia,” said acting DDOT Director Matthew Brown.

DDOT marked the nine-mile record this week when it opened the new 4th Street bike lanes that connect School Street, SW, to Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.

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Featured Properties by Lindsay Reishman Real Estate

DC United Buzzard Point Deal Approved at Council

DC United Buzzard Point Deal Approved at Council

DC United will get a new stadium at Buzzard Point in Southwest D.C. now that that District Council approved a deal to fund a portion of the project and a series of land swaps needed to make the new development a reality. The 20,000-25,000-seat venue could open as soon as 2017.

“We are grateful that D.C. United’s future in our nation’s capital is secure,” said D.C. United Managing General Partner Jason Levien said in a press release. “This is a historic victory for the team and its fans, the city, the region and the sport of soccer in this country.”

The District will finance part of the project by paying to amass several parcels of land on the future stadium site from private owners and to clear the land to ready it for construction.

The Washington Post reports on the financing:

“A companion funding bill also passed unanimously Wednesday, authorizing nearly $140 million for the project — including $33 million in shifts from other projects and $106 million in new borrowing.

That funding is intended to cover roughly $89 million in land-acquisition costs, plus $46 million in costs to clear the stadium site and prepare the necessary infrastructure. Also included are $4.5 million in community benefits, most of that total for the establishment of a Circulator bus route in the area.”

The proposal was able to secure unanimous Council approval this week thanks in part to the removal of the Reeves Center at 14th and U Streets, NW from the list of properties to be swapped or exchanged for properties at Buzzard Point. Councilmembers and the community around U Street objected to getting sub-market price for the prime corner in one of the city’s fastest redeveloping areas.  The Council reserves the right to exercise eminent domain for any properties for which owners are unable to come to an agreement with the city.

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Dupont Underground Secures Lease for Abandoned Streetcar Station

Among the many visions for the site could be a winery, much like the City Winery in New York. Courtesy Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground.

Among the many visions for the site could be a winery, much like the City Winery in New York. Courtesy Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground.

The Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground (ACDU) officially secured a 66-month lease for about 75,000 square feet of tunnels and platform areas in the abadoned streetcar station located below Dupont Circle. ACDU simultaneously launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the non-profit’s efforts to remake the former streetcar tunnels into a sustainable cultural and arts resource.

“The plan is to clean up the space, then open it up to the public,” said architect Julian Hunt, co-principal of Hunt Laudi Studio, in a prepared statement. “We want to demonstrate what uses are best suited for the long-term.”

The crowdfunding campaign seeks to raise an initial $50,000 to help clean up about 23,000 square feet (one platform plus some tunnel space) for temporary installments and exhibits and to begin the planning for phase 2–the permanent re-use of the tunnels beneath Dupont Circle. 

ACDU has hired Patrick Smith, a development consultant and Cleveland Park resident, to spearhead the efforts to develop a long-term plan for the streetcar tunnels. Smith approached ACDU nearly a year ago with his detailed financial and retail analysis of how to reuse the site  with a mixture of commercial and art-specific uses in a financially sustainable way.

Smith envisions options include a micro-hotel, fine arts self-storage, a black box theater and other uses in addition to the exhibit and performance space desired by ACDU.

“The next five years will be a dynamic time of showcasing new artists and designers, new technologies, and the exciting possibilities this space presents,” said Hunt. “We see the Dupont Underground providing cultural and economic benefits to Dupont Circle and to the District of Columbia.”

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Pure Barre, Wylie Wagg Among 7 Retailers Announced for Cathedral Commons

Rendering of Cathedral Commons. Courtesy of The Bozzuto Group.

Rendering of Cathedral Commons. Courtesy of The Bozzuto Group.

Seven more retailers will be added to the mix at the new Cathedral Commons development in Upper Northwest D.C., the Bozzuto Group announced Monday.

The new retailers include Grilled Oyster Company, [solidcore], Wylie Wagg, Le Village Marche, Core 72, Pure Barre and Parks Fabricare, joining the ranks of a brand new Giant grocery store, Raku and Barcelonaat the Wisconsin Avenue mixed-use development.

The Cathedral Commons development includes 137 new residential apartments, eight townhomes and the  new 56,000-square-foot Giant store on the site of what was formally a one-story Giant super market and pharmacy and smaller retail spaces.  The residential units will open fall 2015.

“We’re thrilled to add retail establishments to Cathedral Commons that will bring convenient services, wellness offerings and shopping destinations to residents and neighbors alike,” said Toby Bozzuto, president, The Bozzuto Group in a prepared statement. “These retailers will round out the community’s terrific line up of local and national health, retail, and dining options.”

More details on the opening dates and the business operations are below from a press release:

  • Seafood and steak restaurant Grilled Oyster Company will open a 4,169 square foot space fronting the Newark Street plaza in Spring 2015.
  • [solidcore], a 2,100 square foot fitness facility offering Pilates-inspired total body workouts in a class or private setting, is now open for business.
  • In March 2015, Wylie Wagg will open its 2,817 square foot, family-run specialty pet supplies and food store.
  • Le Village Marche, a 1,515 square foot boutique-style store offering home furnishings, accessories, and a variety of specialty gifts inspired by French style, will open its second location in Spring 2015.
  • Core 72, a women’s active wear and lifestyle brand retailer, will open a 952 square foot store in Spring 2015, its second location.
  • In Spring 2015, Pure Barre, a specialty fitness studio focused on core strength, will open a 1,400 square foot space.
  • Parks Fabricare, a dry cleaning service and an original tenant of the prior development, will re-open a 1,656 square foot storefront in Spring 2015.
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Own Your Own Horse Farm 20 Minutes from Capitol Hill

10101 Livingston Road, Broad Creek Historic District, Fort Washington, Md.

10101 Livingston Road, Broad Creek Historic District, Fort Washington, Md.

Perhaps  one of the newest members of Congress  might prefer to keep a little distance between herself and the Capitol building by opting for a more pastoral estate, rather than sharing an Eastern Market townhouse with other members.

Think such a property doesn’t exist? Think again. Fewer than 12 miles from the hubbub of the Hill–a 15-20 minute drive without traffic–you’ll find a 4.5 acre property in Fort Washington, Md. complete with three-horse barn and riding paths.

Mieza Farm includes a townhouse built in 1993 by current owner David Turner and his partner. Turner previously lived in Georgetown, but sought a home that provided some seclusion.

Secluded he got. The estate sits among some 455 acres of the Broad Creek Historic District  and is directly across from about 70 acres of land donated by Milt Peterson of Peterson Cos (of National Harbor) to be set aside as a forest preservation by the The Conservancy of Broad Creek. The farm is connected by a path through county park land to St. John’s Episcopal Church – Broad Creek church and its historic cemetery.

Turner recently decided to sell his property, seeking smaller accommodations that will be easier to maintain as he grows older. The decision must not have come lightly, though given the way he waxes poetic about his home.

“It is something like living in a Jane Austen novel,” said Turner.

He has had members of Congress keep their horses at his farm and visit to enjoy the riding trails. The late Congressman James Trafficant was known to frequent Mieza Farm to go carriage driving in the area. The property has also been the location for several bill signings.

“The house just welcomes Washington” said Turner.

He said the property is perfect for people who enjoy trail riding or who are just looking for a little distance from the city that still provides easy access to downtown.

Though the home sits within the historic district, additions and alterations to the property

are possible since the home itself is not historic. The property can be divided or the barn can be enlarged so long as any new construction occurs away from water since the property sits within the Chesapeake Bay critical area zone.

The home is listed for $895,000 and has thus far attracted interest from buyer ranging from those seeking their own estate to others wanting to raise llamas on the property.

“It’s a place to escape” said Turner about his home of 22 years.

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Grimke Developer List Narrowed to Two

Grimke Developer List Narrowed to Two

Two development teams–Community Three Development/Torti Gallas and Roadside Development / Sorg Architects–remain in the running for the right to develop the historic Grimke school and a U Street parking lot.

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) narrowed the list from three teams with the remaining two asked to submit best and final offers by Dec. 19.  The two remaining teams were also the preference indicated by U Street’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B Planning and Economic Development Committee.

Excluded from the best and final offer process is Grimke Redevelopment Partners (joint venture MCN Build, Morningstar Community Development, and Four Points, LLC), which proposed to located a K-6 charter school at the Grimke site as well as space for tech incubators. The ANC urged the DC government to identify another school site for the charter school and suggested the tech incubator may be better placed along the Georgia Avenue corridor, which has been designated as a technology corridor by Mayor Vincent Gray.

The winning developer wins the right to 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.

Both projects have the active participation of architecture teams.

Torti Gallas would propose to move its offices to the U Street school, sharing the space with the AACWM and the Art League, a local non-profit. Along with Community Three Development, Torti Gallas would redevelop the U Street parking lot into a mixed-use residential with ground floor retail building.

Torti Gallas proposed Grimke site layout.

Torti Gallas proposed Grimke site layout.

Sorg Architects, whose office is located nearby, proposes with Roadside Development (the team behind City Market at O) to redevelop the Grimke school for the AACWM and non-profit  use by City Dance and Step Afrika. The project also calls for residential with ground floor retail on U Street. 

SORG Grimke site layout.

SORG Grimke site layout.

News on the final selection is not expected until the new year.

Photo by Tony Azios for District Source.

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CAS Riegler Pushes St. Thomas Project Historic Review to January

St. Thomas Church and condo as of Dec. 1, 2014.

St. Thomas Church and condo as of Dec. 1, 2014.

Developer CAS Riegler has asked for its St. Thomas church/condo project, 1772 Church St. NW, to be removed from the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) December calendar and delayed until January to allow for more design revisions and ongoing community discussions. This is the second time the project team has requested a delay from the board.

The most recent move comes after a contentious appearance before the Dupont Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s (ANC) Zoning Preservation and Development committee in early December. During the meeting one member of the community suggested the development team was trying to push the latest design iterations through the ANC before a new commissioner for the area of the church takes office in January–Justine Underhill will take over the position and has been a vocal critic of the designs to date.

CAS Riegler proposes a new  7-story residential project adjacent to a new church building for St. Thomas Episcopal Church. The church selected the developer to purchase the property for redevelopment about a year ago. The developer will purchase a portion of the church lot and the church will use the funds to construct a new building to meet the needs of its growing parish.

The development team has been presenting and changing designs for the new development since February. During the ANC meeting earlier this month, Kevin Riegler of CAS Riegler estimated his portion of the project has shrunk by approximately 8,000 square feet.

Still during the community meeting some residents continued to raise concerns about the overall height and density of the new project and the impact it would have on Church Street–largely characterized by three-story townhouses.

The project previously went before the HPRB where it received critiques for the height from several board members.

The HPRB’s January meeting is scheduled for Jan. 22.

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New Circulator Routes to Serve National Cathedral, NoMa, SW Waterfront

Could the Circulator connect Abe Lincoln to Ben's Chili Bowl? Photo courtesy of the District Department of Transportation.

Could the Circulator connect Abe Lincoln to Ben’s Chili Bowl? Photo courtesy of the District Department of Transportation.

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) announced the agency’s proposed route extensions and new routes for the DC Circulator System this week. After gathering public feedback from open houses, meetings and online surveys, the agency identified six new routes and four route extensions to implement over the next 10 years.

Beginning in 2015 and continuing through 2017 DDOT will roll out a new route along the National Mall and a route connecting the National Cathedral to McPherson Square (this route will overlap with the Georgetown to Union Station route, which will no longer service Wisconsin Avenue).

Further down the line beginning in 2018 through 2020, expect to see a new route connection the Convention Center to the Southwest Waterfront and a new route servicing a yet-to-be-determined corridor of NoMa.

The near-term routes and extensions (i.e. 2015-2017) do have funding, but funding for routes is not certain.  DC Circulator began operating in 2005 with two routes and grew in both service and capacity, with 5.6 million trips and 49 buses in 2013.

The Circulator fare may increase from $1 to $1.50, the Washington Post reported in November.

You can see the full list of extensions and additions below:

Phase I (FY 2015 – 2017)

  • New Route: National Mall
  • New Route: National Cathedral – McPherson Square Metro
  • Extension: Georgetown – Union Station Extension to National Cathedral
  • Extension: Union Station – Navy Yard Extension to Southwest Waterfront
  • Extension: Dupont – Georgetown – Rosslyn Extension to U St/Howard University
  • Extension: Potomac Ave Metro – Skyland Extension to Congress Heights

Phase II (FY 2018 – 2020)

  • New Route: Convention Center – Southwest Waterfront Service
  • New Route: Serving NoMa (corridor pending further study)
  • No extensions identified for this phase

Phase III (FY 2021 – 2024)

  • New Route: Dupont – Southwest Waterfront
  • New Route: Columbia Heights – Washington Hospital Center – Brookland – NoMa
  • No extensions identified for this phase

 

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BicycleSPACE Signs On for Mount Vernon’s The Lyric

BicycleSPACE location at The Lyric in Mount Vernon Triangle. Image courtesy of BicycleSPACE.

BicycleSPACE location at The Lyric in Mount Vernon Triangle. Image courtesy of BicycleSPACE.

D.C. bike shop, BicycleSPACE, has signed a lease for the remaining half of ground floor retail space in Mount Vernon Triangle’s, The Lyric, taking its place next to the new bakery concept from Georgetown’s Baked & Wired. The Lyric, , 440 K St. NW, is a 234-unit, 14-floor apartment developed by a partnership between Quadrangle Development Corporation and The Wilkes Company.

BicycleSPACE could open as soon as early spring 2015. The bicycle shop began in 2010 and prides itself on creating a sense of community for D.C.’s growing bike culture. The store will host weekly ride events, yoga classes, art rides and more, according to a press release.

District Source was the first to report on Baked & Wired’s plans for a new bread shop and cafe at the Lyric. Baked & Wired, known for its cupcakes, pastries, hippie crack and espresso, will have a bread bakery in its new location and possibly event a toast bar. There will still be an emphasis on quality espresso products and the new shop will offer options to special-order pick up pastry items popular at the Georgetown store.

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Pop-Up Proposal Not Perfect, But a Start

Example of pop-up construction in Hill East.

Example of pop-up construction in Hill East.

Look for this article in the December print edition of The Hill Rag-in news stands Dec. 5.

It is hard to drive around Hill East or greater Capitol Hill for long before coming across a former two-story, brick rowhouse that has been added onto with often mismatched brick or siding and that now houses three or more units, instead of one family or a family and their English basement renter. These so-called “pop-ups” are the source of much consternation among neighbors at community meetings and in online discussion forums.

The D.C. Office of Planning has proposed a solution that could at least reduce the practice of building large additions and converting traditionally two-unit family-sized homes into condominiums and apartments. The Zoning Commission (ZC) will consider the changes on Jan.15.

The Pop-Up Proposal

The Office of Planning (OP) has proposed changes to regulations that govern additions to and conversions of homes in rowhouse neighborhoods in the District–areas largely zoned as R-4.

The new regulations would apply to neighborhoods zoned under the R-4 classification because it is those neighborhoods that have been most impacted by pop-ups and condo conversions.

“Many if not most, inappropriate upper additions are in the R-4 zone,” the OP states in its letter to the ZC.

Under current regulations, homes within the R-4 can be converted to a multi-family structure as long as there is a minimum lot area of 900 square feet per unit; so homes on deep lots or combining two neighboring properties can result in a large, multi-unit structure on an otherwise low-density street.

This has created an environment in which developers compete with residents for family-sized housing, pushing up prices for single family homes, especially those with three or more bedrooms. In the last three years the price of three-bedroom units has risen at almost three times the rate as one-bedroom units, according to OP.

New regulations would remove the ability to convert rowhouses to apartments or condos, would allow by special exception the conversion of non-residential buildings like churches or schools to multi-family units and would generally create a process for community input in a way that is not currently possible.

The regulations also restrict the height of buildings in the R-4 zone to 35 feet, a reduction from the current 40-foot limit. To build up to 40 feet, a developer or owner would need to seek a special exception, which requires zoning review.

The Problem with Pop-Ups

Not all pop-ups are equal, but many members of the greater Capitol Hill community agree that the new regulations could go a long way toward preventing unsightly or out-of-character additions that impact the look and feel of neighborhood streets. The proposal does not rule out all pop-ups, instead it requires more input from the neighborhood by way of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) and the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA).

“Unfortunately we’ve had developers who have no regard whatsoever for the architecture. They just put a rectangular blob on top without matching the color of the brick or the window rhythm. It’s almost like they go out of their way to put something ugly on the block,” Capitol Hill Restoration Society Zoning Committee Chair Gary Peterson said about pop-ups around greater Capitol Hill.

“I don’t think people are concerned about the pop-ups that are done well. They are concerned about the pop-ups that are done poorly,” said Ward 6 Councilman-elect Charles Allen.

Are these the regulations we’re looking for?

The proposal before the ZC in January received mixed reviews from community leaders in Capitol Hill.

Allen said he is open-minded about the proposal, assuming it garners approval.

If the ZC does not act on the new regulations, Allen is prepared to legislate the creation of conservation districts, an additional level of design oversight that does not have the same strict limitations found in historic districts.

ANC 6B commissioner Francis Campbell said he is concerned the new zoning requirements will not sufficiently address the aesthetics of pop-ups.

The regulations offer a few comments on architecture–an area generally not under the BZA’s purview. The proposal stipulates that additions should not “have a substantially adverse effect on the defining architectural features of the building or result in the removal of such features” and should not “visually intrude upon the character, scale and pattern of houses” nearby.

Nick Alberti, chair of ANC 6A, said while he appreciates the R-4 proposal, he considers it an “imperfect” solution to managing unattractive pop-ups. He wants more of greater Capitol Hill to fall under an historic district. The expansion the Capitol Hill Historic District and creation of a new historic district are at the center of another ongoing community discussion following the release of a recent architectural report commissioned by CHRS.

Peterson worries about the BZA becoming “architectural critics or arbiters of taste and grace,” a role generally reserved for the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB).

Peterson also thinks an historic district subject to HPRB oversight is a better way to address architectural concerns.

“Pop-ups are not a problem in historic districts” noted Peterson.

Though he has concerns about the architecture of pop-ups, Campbell said he is opposed to expanding or creating new historic districts. He sees the value in pop-ups when they allow families to grow and stay in their homes or older residents to live on the property while renting out a second unit.

“Some people don’t want the strictures that have been [put in place] when you have a historic district,” said Campbell.

The goal as Allen sees it is to find a balance between making sure a homeowner has the flexibility that to have their home meet their needs, while preserving the character of the neighborhood.

“The only way to be sure how well it works is of course to put it into practice and see what happens,” said Peterson.

Onward to Zoning

The Zoning Commission will consider the amendments to the R-4 zoning provisions when it hears case 14-11 beginning Jan. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th St. NW, Ste. 200S.

The full proposal from OP is available online by searching case 14-11 in the Office of Zoning’s  Interactive Zoning Information System (IZIS).

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