Near Southeast DC: Past News Items
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2 Blog Posts Since 2003
Four-Phase Residential Project Proposed for East M Street
Nov 6, 2013 9:01 AM
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
Another Waterfront Project on the Boards
May 6, 2010 11:49 AM
Thanks to one of the National Capital Planning Commission's fabulous documents
, we're starting to get first hints of plans by the Cohen Companies
for what they are describing as a three-building, 815,000-square-foot office, hotel, retail project on the very eastern end of M Street, nestled between Boathouse Row
and the CSX tracks east of Maritime Plaza
. It's so early in the process that it's not even on Cohen's New Projects page
, but City Paper's Housing Complex blog has learned
that the company will be putting together a planned unit development application to the Zoning Commission "over the next six to nine months." (No financing is lined up, though, so don't look for digging to start anytime soon.) See the NCPC document for some early drawings
and some basic information on how they envision the offerings of the three buildings.
(Cohen Companies, by the way, is the developer of Velocity
Back in 2003-ish, there were plans for this site to be a townhouse development (see page 15
), but those never got off the ground partly because of zoning issues
, which then begat an attempted rezoning of the area in 2004
that failed. But rezoning of the site will have to be back in the forefront when this project's PUD application hits the zoning committee, since the space is still zoned "M" (industrial).
The project is in front of NCPC because of Cohen's request to close "paper street" segments of Virginia Avenue, M, and 14th streets. This is a part of a settlement between 1333 M Street, SE, LLC and the city from a lawsuit over waterfront development in South*west*, where the Cohen Companies are agreeing to release their claims in exchange for three small pieces of government land at 1333 M SE as well as the city's support in requesting the street closures. (The street closures themselves have been approved by the city council as bill B18-0572
, and are expected to become law later this month.)
The NCPC is objecting to the street closures; and thankfully Greater Greater Washington has been writing in detail on the case, so I'm just going to throw it over to them
for all the nitty gritty, because it's way out of my league. (Read also this GGW entry
about connecting this area to the neighborhoods to its north if/when the remnants of the freeway to Barney Circle are removed.) But, again, the NCPC staff recommendation report
is also a great read for not only the NCPC's concerns but also for the history of the area under review and other details. The NCPC board is meeting this afternoon, and we'll see what comes out of the session (I assume GGW will be hot on the trail).
If you've never ventured down that way, my East M page
has a few not-particularly-current photos of the location (I don't get there very often myself), along with more images of Boathouse Row
. When the project begins to wind its way through the zoning process, I'll get more on the ball. The city's 2009 Boathouse Row Planning Study
is also a good spot to learn more about the area.
Thanks to commenter Evan, I'm reminded that I should have included the additional information that, because this is part of the old Washington Gas (and I think Steuart Petroleum) site, there are some serious remediation issues to be addressed, which are mentioned both by Ron Cohen on page 25 of this 2003 ZC transcript
and on page 19 of this 2004 ZC transcript
(saying that the contaminated soil is 11 feet down). Remediation is also mentioned in the 2009 Boathouse Row Planning Study
and in this EPA document
(under "Washington Gas and Light"). Oh, and the EPA's 1999 record of decision
on what cleanup remedies would be needed. It should be noted that both Maritime Plaza buildings were completed after this document. (This is all before my time, so I'm researching on the fly.)
Here's a WBJ article
(subscribers only for 7 days) on the NCPC angle; it also reminds that, outside the monumental core of the city, NCPC's rulings are purely advisory.