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April 23, 2004
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2nd (West) at M, Looking East-Southeast (see more)

Back in March I wrote that something was afoot on the block just north of Nationals Park where Nats Parking Lot F resides, and new confirmation of that is a filing with the Zoning Commission for a review of a new mixed-use project that would bring office, hotel, residential, and retail spaces to 1st St. SE between M and N.
The applicant is listed only as "Ballpark Square LLC and SCD Acquisitions LLC," with a footnote mentioning that they are the "contract purchaser" of the 81,000-square-foot property, currently owned by a number of LLCs but generally described as controlled by Willco Companies. My sources continue to tell me that the purchaser is McCaffery Interests, the developer behind the Market Common residential/retail project in Clarendon, Georgetown Centre, the renovation of Mazza Gallerie, the big Potomac Yard redevelopment across the river, and other local developments, along with a number of big projects in Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere.
The zoning filing lays out the design of the 1st Street project ("Ballpark Square", mayhaps?) as:
* a 224,500-square-foot office building at the corner of 1st and M;
* a 180-unit hotel just to the south of the office building, separated by a 30-foot-courtyard;
* a 292-unit residential project south of the hotel in two buildings, both parallel to 1st Street, with a courtyard between them and a glass bridge connecting them; and
* 43,000 square feet of retail, 36,000 sf of which will be in the office/hotel/residential buildings (called the "Main Parcel"), while the remaining 7,000 sf will be in a separate two-story retail-only building at the corner of 1st and N (on the "South Parcel"), with a design "inspired by the industrial character of the existing neighborhood."
(And there might be a juicy story behind the retail-only building, because apparently the Ballpark Square folks couldn't successfully acquire the 9,000 sq ft of lots owned by the Welch family in an L shape around the corner lots at 1st and N, necessitating the two separate parcels.)
The buildings will be 130 feet high, and there will be approximately 366 parking spaces, all beneath the main parcel (and there will be bike parking, too). The residential and hotel buildings are being designed by Hickok Cole, and Gensler is the architect for the office building.
The zoning filing describes the site as having "the opportunity to become a linchpin for the entertainment district that the Distrct has long envisioned in the Ballpark area," and that it will "attract people who attend baseball games, but also provide the everyday amenities essential to the residents living in the project and nearby." And, "[p]erhaps most importantly, this project will convert a vacant site to vibrant and active uses that contribute to the rejuvenation of the Capitol Riverfront by complementing the epicenter of this community, the Ballpark."
In addition to needing a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review for the plans, the developers are also needing some zoning relief, to be allowed to scrap four required parking spaces for the separate retail building on the south parcel along with variances for loading, rear yard, and open court requirements that I'm just not up to writing much about right now.
Goodies like renderings, elevations, and additional details (like a timeline!) will be coming (though the ANC commish tweeted a sneak peek a few days ago), and this would be brought up before ANC 6D for its support before the Zoning Commission would vote on the review and variances.
This site is just to the east of Monument Realty's stalled Half Street project, which has similar plans for hotel, residential, and retail to the south of its 55 M Street office building. And across from that is Akridge's Half Street project, looking to bring office, residential, and retail to the west side of the street. In other words, there's a whole lot of mixed use on the boards just north of Nats Park. Who will get out of the blocks first?
UPDATE, 6/4: Renderings!
Comments (13)
   
 
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Comments

TheJCG says: (5/30/12 2:53 AM)
Slow and steady wins the race. This neighborhood is going to be tremendous in 2-3 years and it's already showing big signs of improvement.


Jaybird says: (5/30/12 8:12 AM)
Thanks JD, I'm drooling.

Looking at the angles, the folks in this new area, at least those on the top floors, might be able to see in to the ball field.





Bob says: (5/30/12 8:48 AM)
Hallelujah! Glorious news indeed. Now if only Herb Miller could somehow get the development rights to the Akridge and Monument parcels, all would be well.


ZoolanderANDtheBoYz says: (5/30/12 10:26 AM)
I don't know what to think of Hickok Cole. Most of their project on their website is boxy and too much concrete. I don't know whether I like 200 I st SE and the new npr building in noma or not. Gensler on the other hand is a big international firm. I am very enthusiastic and curious what kind of design they would come up.


IMGoph says: (5/30/12 10:58 AM)
Sounds like an awful large amount of parking. Is this going to be like the basement at DCUSA?


JD says: (5/30/12 11:36 AM)
Pretty sure that DCUSA doesn't have a 42,000-seat baseball stadium next door.

(And, really, is it all that much parking for 300 residential units, 180 hotel rooms, 10 stories of office space, and retail?)


Shogungts says: (5/30/12 12:58 PM)
"(And, really, is it all that much parking for 300 residential units, 180 hotel rooms, 10 stories of office space, and retail?)"

No it is not - at least it doesnt sound that way to me. Actually, it sounds like way too little. I hope this doesn't turn into another Capitol Hill tower situation.


Westnorth says: (5/30/12 3:22 PM)
Using some patently absurd suburban parking ratios gleaned from "The High Cost of Free Parking" (wherein the author proves why such Intrusive Government Regulation is based on balderdash), a suburban municipality's zoning ordinance might require:
896 spaces for the offices
135 spaces for the hotel
511 spaces for the residences
258 spaces for the retail
= 1,800 spaces total, or about 14.46 acres of pavement filling three city blocks
So this is 80% below the Absurd Suburban Parking Requirement, which seems kind of okay in my book. (FWIW, I also have the new, improved, transit-oriented Tysons Corner parking reqs on hand, which would require a mere 1,428 spaces. How very enlightened of Fairfax.)

And this, friends, is why city living is lighter on the earth than living in the green-grass suburbs.

What's the "CHT situation"? The MLS still shows deeded on-site parking for sale, which indicates that everyone who wants to buy parking there has been able to.


PJY03 says: (5/30/12 6:20 PM)
Westnorth, CHT's garage is shared with the Marriott, which as the right to park something like 55 cars in the garage. Residents buy permits, not designated spaces. So on some gamedays (e.g., phillies weekend), the number of permitted parkers exceeds the number of spaces, causing chaos. The presence of hydraulic "lifts" that elevate cars so that other cars can park beneath them has exacerbated the situation, where residents have had to spend up to 20 minutes on busy game weekends waiting for one of three parking attendants to play enough musical chairs with parked cars in order to get their car out.

All that said... Colonial Parking, CHT, and the hotel have worked out a solution in recent weeks that in my opinion will dramatically improve the situation. The less desirable 'lift' spaces are now reserved for the hotel, and all hotel cars must be valet parked by Colonial Management. This has been successful so far in ensuring that the hotel does not exceed its allotment of permitted access, and has left the premium spaces for residents.

In all honesty, the CHT parking situation has never been as bad as some have made it out to be, and meets permit-owners' needs 98% of the time. The other 2% appears to be improving now as well.


BillP says: (5/31/12 9:13 AM)
It seems to be a huge missed opportunity that these valuable sites between M street and the stadium are going to be developed separately by three or four different developers as distinct parcels instead of being rationalized into one major development site plan that would maximize the utility of the entire site, including the buildings' designs, contents (retail/residential/office/hotel), etc.

Instead we will likely end up with four distinct (and potentially competing) sites, built by four different developers to maximize their profits (whereas one developer could likely take a few more "risks" with open space and other less profitable ideas), retail that will be scattered among four different streets instead of being concentrated into one retail corridor (remember the old Half Street plans?), etc.

It will be nice for something to happen here, for sure, if only to quiet the people who think nothing is happening here because they only know the neighborhood from their one block walk down Half Street from metro to the stadium. Unfortunately, it seems the best case scenario with four distinct developments is stringing together a few singles, maybe a double, and scoring a run or two whereas I had been hoping for the entire site to become a grand slam home run.


jenniferp says: (5/31/12 5:33 PM)
I just saw this pop up somewhere else but forgot to post. McCaffrey is in this with I think two (maybe even three?) other developers. Recognized all the names, but can't recall who exactly now. Maybe one was Willco. But didn't he just sell Velocity II to Toll Brothers. Or maybe that was the other Cohen brother? I get them confused.


JD says: (5/31/12 5:35 PM)
The Cohen brother of Willco/Square 701 is different from the Cohen of Velocity/selling to Toll.


Westnorth says: (6/2/12 2:45 PM)
@PJY03: Ah, thanks, that makes sense. Those lifts are only a good idea for attended/valet parking... although some of the new automated lift systems sure sound promising.

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