City Paper's Aaron Wiener has a piece out
looking at how office buildings are turning out to be a smaller part of the Capitol Riverfront development pie than had originally been envisioned.
Some numbers from the article: "As of last year, according to the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District, 50 percent of the eventual office development in the neighborhood was built out. By 2017, the BID projects, that figure will be 51 percent—an increase of just one percentage point over four years. In the same time period, the BID forecasts, residential development will have jumped from 24 percent to 47 percent, hotel development from 16 percent to 58 percent, and retail development from 22 percent to 50 percent."
The neighborhood cut its teeth in the late 90s and early 00s on office projects along M Street, so much so that officials such as Eleanor Holmes Norton warned of ending up with a "concrete canyon" that would be empty at night and on weekends. By the time Capitol Hill Tower
opened in 2006 as the first new residential building in the neighborhood, seven office buildings had already gone up or were under construction. Since then, four more office projects have been completed, compared to 10 new multi-unit residential buildings (plus five more currently underway).
Wiener pegs his story on the transition of Donohoe's 1111 New Jersey project
from a 190,000-square-foot office building (seen above in its original incarnation) to now a 394-unit apartment building that is expected to get underway in the coming months. However, long-time observers can point to multiple other projects where offices were the original plan. Let's go to the roll call:
* Florida Rock Phase 1
: When I started following the neighborhood lo these many years ago (i.e., 2003), the project known as Florida Rock
was already well into its decade-long trip
through zoning, with the eastern-most building on the site planned to be a 275,000ish-square-foot office building. But after stalling out around 2008, the first phase was recast in 2011 as a 350-unit apartment building
that could be getting underway Any Minute Now.
* 50 M
: This never got all that far, but after Monument Realty snagged the old Sunoco site
at 50 M Street
in 2007, the developer did market a 135,000-square-foot office building at the site
. Now, after the land was sold in 2013
, it's the location of the planned Homewood Suites hotel
. (Interestingly, though, my initial posts about the sale of the property in 2006 mentioned rumors of a hotel
I don't have any renderings, but over on Square 737
, home of the Park Chelsea
and the spot where the Whole Foods will be
, WC Smith had plans for that block
to be home to both 600,000 square feet of office space and and 600 units of residential (though the company wanted a grocery store there ever since it acquired the land in 1999). By 2011
, the plans had gone to nearly 1,200 residential units and no office space.
And original plans for the Yards had plans for office buildings on the H and I parcels (on the south side of N just east of 1st, where the big parking lot is), but now it's looking like there will be residential buildings on that site, possibly even within the next few years
There's plenty of office developments still on the boards
for the neighborhood--but while a few will no doubt eventually get started, will others eventually turn into apartments, or hotels, or gather dust for years to come? Or with so many residential projects underway/about to be, is there a housing bubble in the neighborhood that may take a few years to be worked through? We shall see. Time will tell. No one knows for sure. Reply hazy, ask again later.