Since January, 2003
 (a random before-and-after moment)
June 2003
April 27, 2014
5th North of K, Looking North-Northeast (see more)

In another blast from the past, we've learned from WBJ that the Cohen Companies have filed zoning paperwork for their proposed project at 1333 M Street SE, a mere 3 1/2 years since they last discussed the development of this three-acre triangular plot of land east of the 11th Street Bridges near the Anacostia River.
However, it's no longer the 815,000-sq-ft office/hotel/retail project that was unveiled in 2010 -- Cohen, developer of the Velocity Condos at 1st and L, now is proposing a four-phase, three-building project with 673 residential units and 10,370 square feet of retail use. WBJ quotes Eric Siegel of Cohen as saying "the office market is just not there" in DC, and that the company felt that "creating a sense of place with a residential community was a much better opportunity than just creating an office environment."
Currently the site is home to, well, not much. Temporary trailers and surface parking were installed as part of the 11th Street Bridges project, and this stretch of M is pretty ripped up now as part of DC Water's big dig. To the west of the site are the two buildings and large surface parking lots of Maritime Plaza, and south of Water Street is the stretch of waterfront uses known as Boathouse Row. The invisible "intersection" of 13th and M is probably known to passersby only because of the somewhat incongruous mini-traffic circle built there. The eastern end of the triangle is where Water Street meets M, which isn't exactly exciting either (though my photos of that spot are from before DC Water started ripping it up). Directly to the north of the triangle are both the CSX train tracks and the stretch of road that is on its way to becoming Southeast Blvd.
The first phase of the project would be a 10-story, 218-unit building, viewed in the design as the first of two towers in a single building at 1333 M. A large open lawn area would be installed to the south of the building, at least until construction of the second tower, planned for Phase II, which would have 133 units in a nine-story building.
Together, the two buildings would have 7,200 square feet of retail and 112 parking spaces. A retail plaza would be on the south side of Tower B, and a ground-level pool would be built during the second phase between the two towers, as would a large "grand staircase" down to Water Street from the promenade along the southern edge of the property that is expected to be built during Phase I.
Phase III/Building 2 would be built on the west end of the triangle and would have 234 units in an 11-story building that would also contain 3,170 square feet of retail, and Phase IV/Building 3 would be a teensy nine-story 88-unit building on the eastern end of the site.
There would also eventually be a new street coming off the traffic circle on a portion of the south side of the site at 13th and M, named Virginia Avenue since it is on the footprint of the original avenue (which disappeared east of 11th at some point many years ago).
The zoning application describes the project as "a visionary mixed-use development that reactivates the Anacostia River and provides evocative public spaces giving a full life cycle to the previously underutilized site," intended to "celebrate the waterfront, by creating a dynamic promenade down to the river with a flexible retail plaza space where pedestrians, cyclists, retail users, residents and cultural events come together."
It may be worth noting that, should the Maritime Plaza folks ever build the final phases of that development, the river views across huge parking lots to the southwest of the Cohen site will probably be altered somewhat.
Someone will probably ask about the remediation issues for this site (which I mentioned back in 2010). This is part of the old Washington Gas/Steuart Petroleum site, and it was previously discussed that soil approximately 11 feet below grade is contaminated. There is no mention in the new zoning filings about this, but I'm guessing it will be brought up at some point. UPDATE: The magic of Twitter allows me to get word that Cohen says the contamination has been cleaned.
I could go into all manner of additional detail about the plans, but with a project this big with a zoning PUD to go through I figure I have plenty of time to get to the nitty gritty. But don't let that stop anyone from hashing over the design, the location, the probability of completion, and more. (Meanwhile, compare it all to the 2010 office/hotel/retail plans, just for the fun of it.)
Comments (28)
 
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KLB says: (11/6/13 9:20 AM)
Farther east on M Street, Google Street View is showing some sort of elevated path being built (link Is that to get the Anacostia Riverwalk over the CSX tracks? When was that built? Never saw anything relate to that, and I've never been down there.


Capitol Hill SE says: (11/6/13 9:25 AM)
I wonder who these apartments would appeal to. The river views and trail access would be nice, but in order to get there you have to cross 11th and M (a crazy, dangerous intersection for pedestrians) and travel past an office park that is pretty desolate after 5pm. It's fine for someone who drives everywhere, but I think someone seeking a city residence would want to be in a more walkable area. I work at Maritime Plaza and I'm one of the few people that doesn't drive there. Because of the way that triangle of land is situated, bordered by the river on one side and highways on the other sides, it's just not a great place to walk or bike to. On the rare occasion that someone goes out for lunch they always drive (even if it's just to Barracks Row). And I really can't imagine retail working here at all.


JD says: (11/6/13 9:33 AM)
KLB, yes, that's one of the bridges that was built for the Riverwalk. It opened in, I think, 2012? If DC Water would just hurry up and get done with all of its work on East M and Water Street, the ride from the foot of the 11th Street Bridges to this bridge you're talking about to RFK will be complete again....


SWag says: (11/6/13 9:44 AM)
:)


JD says: (11/6/13 9:58 AM)
It will be interesting to see if the plans for Southeast Blvd include any new passages south across the CSX tracks to M Street. As that sunken freeway becomes more of an at-grade road, with a bike/ped path running to Barney Circle, and there are new intersections both to the north of it and south, that may change the complexion of East M somewhat. (Not saying it'll automatically cure the issues mentioned by @CapitolHillSE, but the base conditions may end up being a little different from what we're seeing right now.)


G Street says: (11/6/13 12:12 PM)
That's the Redneck Yacht Club area? Great for biking.


ZoolanderANDtheBoYz says: (11/6/13 12:19 PM)
I bicycled there a few times and the CSX track is next to this proposed apartment. Do you have any idea how loud the CSX commercial train is? Very very loud. If you enjoy waking up by very loud train siren and noise at 3am in the morning, that's a perfect place for you.


JES says: (11/6/13 12:29 PM)
How close is this to the area were DC water is relocating a bunch of its crap from the yards movie theater site? Or is that the same dc water site mentioned in this post as under construction currently?


JD says: (11/6/13 12:31 PM)
This isn't a DC Water "site," this is where DC Water is doing underground infrastructure work as part of the Combined Sewer Overflow project. (on Water Street and on M Street, not on this property itself)



JES says: (11/6/13 12:51 PM)
I agree with the commentors who say they have no idea who this will appeal to, because I have no idea either. However, demand in our general area, and across the whole city, is exploding. This is evidenced by both rising property values and rising buildings: 3 under construction now (Toll Bros, twelve12, and Park Chelsea), and one that'll start any day now (Yards Parcel N).

So I guess in short, I have zero doubt that they'll find people who want to rent these. Is it for me? No; too far from metro and other retail. But they certainly won't go unused.


monkeyrotica says: (11/6/13 1:38 PM)
I work with a lot of younger folks at the Navy Yard who would love to live a 10 minute walk to work instead of hauling in from the inner burbs.


ZoolanderANDtheBoYz says: (11/6/13 1:51 PM)
They probably won't start construction till 2020. By then, there will be a streetcar traveling on M street from Anacostia to Buzzard point.


JD says: (11/6/13 1:55 PM)
And an 11th Street Bridge Park! {cough}

There was something buried in the filing about how they were asking for a three-year time period on the first-stage PUD rather than the normal one year. Clearly not expecting to be the ground anytime soon.


202_cyclist says: (11/6/13 1:58 PM)
A couple of thoughts:

1) It looks like this is pretty close to the Potomac Avenue metro station (much closer than the Navy Yard metro station) but, according to Google maps, there is no north/south connection on 13th Street SE and 14th Street, SE.

2) Hopefully this encourages development of the lower 8th Street corrdior. There is tremendous potential there.

3) Hopefully this provides more momentum for the M Street streetcar: link .

4) This development will make it more important to get the redevelopment of RFK stadium right (i.e. no 100,000 seat stadium and golf course, as proposed yesterday). The entire area from Buzzards Point to RFK stadium can have an active waterfront.

5) Regarding who might live in these apartments, I would think employees who work at the Coast Guard headquarters or Bolling would consider this. It would be a quick drive on I-295. Additionally, if north-south pedestrian improvements are made, it would be a ten minute walk to the Potomac Ave metro station and then a ten minute metro ride to the Hill and the Capitol South station.


202_cyclist says: (11/6/13 2:05 PM)
I agree with monkeyrotica. This is probably closer to the Navy Yard than many of the Capitol Riverfront apartments/condos.


JD says: (11/6/13 2:11 PM)
Maybe they can market to trainspotters.


Capitol Hill SE says: (11/6/13 2:16 PM)
Depends on which part of the Navy Yard, but yeah, it's closer to the Eastern end. Despite monkeyrotica's comment though, I find most of the Navy Yard employees are on the older side, or if not older a lot more conservative and less interested city life than your typical millennial. I'm considered young at age 31, and everyone I work with finds it so fascinating that I actually live here! They generally prefer the suburbs, and if they don't there are already lots of housing options within walking distance.


Westnorth says: (11/6/13 2:47 PM)
WBJ mentions 673 units with 214 parking spaces. While it absolutely pains me to say this, the current location will need more than a 0.3 parking ratio, as there's nothing within walking distance. That changes *only if* connections are made across the tracks/SE Blvd up to Hill East.


202_cyclist says: (11/6/13 3:04 PM)
@Westnorth-- Another thing that would change the amount of parking required is if the M Street-Anacostia streetcar is built.


Westnorth says: (11/6/13 3:05 PM)
Oh, and here are photos from the opening of the trail bridge over the CSX tracks. Mayor Gray also unveiled the Sustainable DC Plan then:
link


Westnorth says: (11/6/13 6:00 PM)
Even if the streetcar gets built anytime soon, it's still 3+ blocks away and runs in mixed traffic, which gives it capacity no higher than a local bus. Overall, I agree that the site's better as residential than as office (even Maritime Plaza has always struck me as a stretch), if only because residential would generates many fewer trips to this end-of-the-road site.


Sally M says: (11/6/13 9:13 PM)
One more reason to enjoy that quiet stretch of Water by the boathouses while the bank that reaches up toward M Street is still morning glory and honeysuckle. I'm all for density near transportation, but I'll be sorry to see this impromptu green sliver go. Wish those empty lots near the ballpark would fill in first.


E. Masquinongy says: (11/7/13 10:55 AM)
I think breaching the CSX tracks is essential for the success of this project. But since they are at grade and due to the Anacostia Bridge cannot be moved, I cannot figure out how it could be done.


F says: (11/8/13 5:17 PM)
In case anyone hasn't noticed, I ST Se between New Jersey and Third St is clearing out. Don't know when they'll pave it, but the road is starting to become a reality.


JD says: (11/8/13 5:20 PM)
My understanding is that, even if it is paved soon, it won't be open before the spring, if then. With all the work at the Park Chelsea, you can imagine they want to keep that stretch of land to themselves as long as possible. (and since it wasn't a road before, they have more leeway)


IMGoph says: (11/10/13 8:38 AM)
JD - I recall EHN making a small amount of noise about naming the small circle after one (or more?) of the territories (Guam, Virgin Islands, etc.). I seem to remember this happening sometime in 2003-2005. Is my mind playing tricks on me? Do you remember any of that?


JD says: (11/10/13 4:38 PM)
@IMGoph--I never wrote anything about it, but after working way too hard, I did find this from DCist:

link

"According to the Examiner, the D.C. Council is considering legislation that would rename various city streets after U.S. territories in the Pacific. According to the legislation, M Street in Southeast between 11th and Water Streets would become "Guam Avenue" and "Samoa Avenue." An as-of-now unnamed circle west of 12th Street in the same area would come to be known as "Northern Mariana Islands Avenue Circle." Hopefully none of these will be added to existing Metro station names."



IMGoph says: (11/11/13 6:07 PM)
JD - awesome! thanks for finding that. i just night not be losing my mind yet!

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