After unveiling a draft Environmental Impact Statement
back in April that did not name a "preferred alternative" out of any of the five sites studied as a new barracks location, the Marines have now apparently made their choice: .89 acres of land at the existing "MBW Annex" site
on L Street SE between 5th and 7th Streets.
"The Draft EIS comment period concluded on May 26, 2015. The Marine Corps received comments from 14 agencies and individuals, most of which indicated a preference for one of the two alternatives that would construct the BEQ Replacement Complex on Department of Defense-owned land (Alternative 4 - Site D at the Washington Navy Yard or Alternative 5 - Site E at the MBW Annex). The Marine Corps identified Alternative 5 as the preferred alternative based on this agency and public input, as well as its proximity to the MBW Main Post and Annex, the elimination of the need for land acquisition, and the mitigatable environmental impacts of locating the replacement BEQ Complex at this site."
As described in the draft EIS, the choice of this location means that the Marines are expecting to build a six- or seven-story building that wraps around the BEQ that opened in 2004. They also expect to retain the underground parking at the 8th and I/Building 20 site they are trying to move out of (though there is already that nice big four-story aboveground garage at the L Street site that neighbors are so fond of). The playing field along Virginia Avenue is expected to be retained, however.
This would seem to bring to an end the long, long road from when the Marines first launched the public process to find a new site back in 2010
, which initially focused on various privately owned properties south of the freeway where the Corps though it could perhaps create a "public-private" location that would provide some services or benefits to the public. But as it became clear that businesses, officials
, and residents weren't particularly excited about seeing blocks near Lower 8th Street and the Virginia Avenue Park being turned into secure, fenced locations (especially once the phrase "federal land acquisition will be unavoidable
" cropped up), the Marines' choices seemed to narrow to the two federally owned sites, and now to the site that they have controlled all along.
The final EIS is expected in the fall, with the Record of Decision in early 2016.