Since January, 2003
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Developer Jair Lynch's plans to finally get development going on the site at Half and N just north of Nats Park known in some parts as "Monument Valley" or the "Half Street Hole" went before the Zoning Commission on Thursday night for a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review.
I went into detail on the updated designs a few weeks ago, but the quickie summary is that there will be somewhere between 350 and 445 residential units (including condos!) in two buildings, and as much as 68,000 square feet of retail on two floors. (There could possibly be a small hotel as well, which would bring the residential count to the lower end of the proposed spectrum.) There would also be 231 parking spaces and bike parking in three underground levels, the hole for which, as we all know, has already conveniently been dug.
Both Jair Lynch and project architect Chris Harvey of Hord Coplan Macht talked about how the building is designed to bring the "indoors out, and the outdoors in," with huge windows for retail spaces and with the upper floors designed to take in views not of the surrounding skyline but of the street below, especially as the festive gameday atmosphere unfolds. "We believe it will define the ballpark entertainment district," Lynch said, calling it a "unique destination" for the three million people who visit the ballpark and the neighborhood every year.
The comments from the zoning commissioners were uniformly positive*, with the discussion going through especially zoning-y zoning issues, such as the design of the roof, the status of LEED certification (they're going for Silver, apparently), the lack of affordable housing (short version: this project is expensive!) and the location of a lobby entrance at the corner of Half and the new pedestrian-only Monument Place.
Much of the remaining discussion ended up centering around the streetscape plans, with commissioners agreeing that a curbless street being a wise decision with thousands of people walking through and not watching where they are going, but with DDOT needing to work with Lynch's group to decide exactly how to approach, since as of now DDOT really has no guidelines for such a design.
DDOT also appeared to be putting the kibosh on the idea of "catenary lights" across both ends of Half Street (which has been in the drawings for the site for many years), as well as wanting planned bollards ditched and wanting a different layout for sidewalk trees, since the lack of overhead wires on Half means that there could be a substantial tree canopy if the proper trees are used.
In response to a question from commissioner Robert Miller, who described the project as "very long-awaited and dynamic and exciting," Lynch said that the expectation is to break ground in 2016 and be finished in 2018 (presumably in time for a certain all-star event). Cushing Street would be used as the route for construction vehicles (though work would stop three hours before any Nats game), but Lynch also said that the fact that the excavation is mostly complete "should help tremendously."
With the Office of Planning and DDOT each supporting the plan as long as a few items are addressed, and with ANC 6D having voted to support it as well, there appears to only be the need for some mopping up submissions (renderings from street level for Cushing Street and Monument Place, better roof plans, the fixes for OP, yadda yadda), it sounds as if this project should be voted on favorably, perhaps at the June 29 commission meeting.
My page for this Half Street project gives additional details on the site, as do my previous posts.
And maybe before too much longer we'll see some details of JBG's plans for the other side of the street.
* Or, in the case of Peter May, not actually negative.
Comments (30)
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ttassa says: (5/29/15 9:38 AM)
"DDOT also appeared to be putting the kibosh on the idea of "catenary lights" across both ends of Half Street (which has been in the drawings for the site for many years), as well as wanting planned bollards ditched and wanting a different layout for sidewalk trees, since the lack of overhead wires on Half means that there could be a substantial tree canopy if the proper trees are used."

Thanks for the update. Just to clarify, does the new layout for trees mean they want more trees than what is displayed in the current rendering? Perhaps losing the catenary lights won't be a total loss, since that style of lighting is fairly prominent inside Nats Park?

JD says: (5/29/15 9:39 AM)
I think they want *taller* trees, in place of groups of four shorter-growing trees close together?

JD says: (5/29/15 9:41 AM)
(And I'm feeling like I didn't write the sentence you quoted--I was sure I mentioned *taller* trees! lol)

ttassa says: (5/29/15 9:46 AM)
Ah, ok, thanks, makes sense. I think "substantial tree canopy" probably implies tall trees, so you're good!

Hopefully this building has retail for the ASG.

JHUGrad says: (5/29/15 10:10 AM)
This is some of the most exciting news (out of all the other exciting developments) currently in the Capitol Riverfront. Although the decision for DC to finance the stadium has been widely regarded as a success, this will be the icing on the cake. Once the Half Street development is complete, the Capitol Riverfront will truly be a regional destination. The fact that you have so many people living, working, and playing (baseball even) in the area will make more business want to locate here, more people who want to visit here, and more people who want to live here. After it's all said and done, the $700 Million that DC invested in the stadium will absolutely have a tremendous return on investment.

JES says: (5/29/15 10:26 AM)
Has there been any talk at all of permanently pedestrianizing this block of Half Street? The gameday atmosphere on the street is already really cool, and once both sides of it are packed with bars, it'll be lively on non-gamedays as well. Could make a really cool peds/bikes only block, something sorely lacking in this city, other than the block outside the White House.

202_cyclist says: (5/29/15 1:58 PM)
In other news, it looks like there was a big concrete pour today for the Whole Foods building, so that should start to go verticle soon. Also, it looks like work has begun on the concrete foundation for 801 NJ Ave.

conngs0 says: (5/29/15 2:15 PM)
Pretty amazing that the Whole Foods building isn't slated to be finished until 2017. Kind of puts into perspective how big the Half Street project will be considering it won't be finished until 2018 even with the head start of the excavation already being completed. I'm excited to have both projects progressing though!

walt says: (5/29/15 2:39 PM)
Any comment on why the planned bollards are being ditched? I always think the temporary gates pulled out every game day look so ...temporary. And a bit haphazard. Surely, we could think of better things for DDOT employees to do other than set up and break down temporary gates for every home game?

Also, who is responsible for setting up the barricades now? DDOT? Stadium personnel? DPW? MPD? I don't even know, but I feel like it's highly inefficient.

JD says: (5/29/15 2:44 PM)
Sorry, should have been more clear. These bollards aren't in the street or related to game day - they were to be at the "curb" to help differentiate areas and prevent cars from going in the wrong spot since there would be no curb.

Lynch clearly is not wedded to them, so I am sure they will be gone.

MJM says: (5/29/15 3:07 PM)
Maybe I missed it but assuming Cushing Place would also be the entrance for cars/residents right? How else would residents driving be able to access the building since Half and N St are closed on game day. That seems like the only way in or out during pre-game/game hours.

MJM says: (5/29/15 3:10 PM)
Perhaps the Committee of 100 is already telling DDOT they will object to all overhead wires because it doesn't fit in L'Enfant's master plan.

JD says: (5/29/15 3:13 PM)
Right, the resident garage entrance--and the hotel drop-off, should there be one--will be on Cushing. (I think the on-foot entrances to the lobbies for the two residential buildings will be on Half and on N, though.)

Surprisingly, they said in the hearing that the retail parking for the building will actually be in the garage under 55 M. I wonder if that's because some of that garage extends out under Monument Place and I think even slightly under what would be the footprint of these new buildings.

JD says: (6/1/15 9:18 AM)
... Tower crane permit approved for 909 Half....

JD says: (6/1/15 9:19 AM)
Actually, the permit is for *two* tower cranes!

202_cyclist says: (6/1/15 2:05 PM)
Woo-hoo! Bring on the tower cranes!

202_cyclist says: (6/1/15 2:06 PM)
I'll guide a Capitol Riverfront walking tour for $15.


JD says: (6/1/15 2:14 PM)
Except all you'd do is point out tower cranes.

202_cyclist says: (6/1/15 2:27 PM)
And Bluejacket!

JES says: (6/1/15 5:42 PM)
Half of me wants to go to that tour and see if they teach me anything I haven't already learned from either JD or Twitter. I'm guessing I wouldn't learn anything new.

Packinblackandred says: (6/2/15 12:41 PM)
It looks like the Scarlet Oak build-out is picking up. I walk by there every morning and the past week or so, they've had several people looking like they're planning out the exterior space in addition to working on the inside.

JHUGrad says: (6/2/15 2:48 PM)
On another topic.. when oh when will Showplace Icon move forward?

JD says: (6/2/15 2:52 PM)
When last we heard, Showplace is not supposed to be before the very end of this year at the earliest, so it's not *quite* time to panic.

JD says: (6/3/15 9:12 AM)
And now an approved permit for two tower cranes at F1rst.

conngs0 says: (6/3/15 9:55 AM)
Definitely going to be a lot of exciting activity near that part of the neighborhood! You'd certainly think that the Showplace Icon would want to get in on the action as soon as possible. If the neighborhood hasn't already demonstrated the ability to sustain a theater like this (especially in light of the drawing power of events like Tour de Fat and the Friday night concert series), it certainly should be able to do so after all the in-progress residential projects come on line.

JD says: (6/3/15 10:35 AM)
I would imagine that the biggest drag on the Showplace progress will be getting DC Water off that part of the site, even with approvals, relocation plans, etc.

(May I point you to the Canal Park footprint, and the YEARS it took to get the schoolbuses moved...)

JHUGrad says: (6/3/15 10:58 AM)
I think DC is missing out on a very good opportunity with moving so slow on this Showplace Icon project. I remember attending the very first community meeting on this in Fall 2012, where the representative from Showplace Icon was very motivated to present this project in a good light to the community. He said at the time time, that it could take a while, but had hoped to to get construction started in 2014. We are no halfway to 2016, and still no progress (other than zoning being approved). DC has to realize that it's not good to keep private businesses waiting for years to build a a project. Canal Park is different because it wasn't a private business project.

SWag says: (6/3/15 12:30 PM)
The problem isn't DC Water moving from the Showplace footprint. That's all but a done deal. The problem is they need a permanent home elsewhere in the city, and then build/develop and move there. When talking to one of the head developers for FC, who works out at VIDA, he said the project is VERY much still on board. What that means as far as a timeline. No clue...

BLT says: (6/3/15 4:00 PM)
I passed the NAB site today and the fences are all wrapped in signage. Same thing at Dock 79!

JD says: (6/4/15 3:57 PM)
Boy, weeks without real news go by kind of fast, don't they?

(I suppose I could whip up some post just to hear myself type, but I'm too old for that.)

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1300 4TH ST SE 1001   
1346 4TH ST SE APT 1M   
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Installation of up to six (6) 3-inch diameter direct-push Geoprobe borings to depths of up to 30 feet below grade as part of an environmental assessment.
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