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Wednesday Tidbits: Spring Break Edition
Apr 15, 2014 4:33 PM
The title of this post says it all (in other words, I am not in full blogging mode this week).
* PUMP IT UP: City Paper reports that DC Water is soliciting bids for the design of a new headquarters, which would move from Blue Plains to a new building atop the existing O Street Pumping Station. (NOT the beautiful Main Pumping Station just to the north!)
And, if one looks at the renderings that Forest City released during its quest for zoning approval to develop three blocks around the station, you can deduce that this idea did not crop up in the last few days. The rendering above shows the O Street station in the right foreground, and you can see how it does look similar to the description reported by City Paper: "[It] will have five stories of offices perched above the pumping station. The offices will be supported by columns; there may or may not be a small gap between them and the pumping station."
(Note that this is a separate issue from the stalled drive to move some of DC Water's operations before Forest City can start work on the proposed movie theater there.)
* THUMBS UP: The Zoning Commission has issued the final orders to allow veterinary hospitals in the Southeast Federal Center Overlay and for the Trapeze School to move to New Jersey and Tingey.
* BOTTOMS UP (OR NOT): An application for a Class C liquor license is now in the pipeline for the The Big Stick, the new restaurant coming later this year to 20 M Street, The application describes the venture thusly: "A sports bar featuring an alpine lodge theme and d├ęcor serving casual foods such as bratwursts, sausages and kielbasas, salads, sandwiches, wraps and crispy oven-baked macaroni and cheese. Occasional DJ. No nude performances."
That's all that's up with me. What's up with you?

Forest City Looking for More Residential Height in 'Yards West'
Apr 7, 2014 10:06 AM
Forest City Washington, desiring to begin development on the western portion of the Yards, is requesting a change to the Southeast Federal Center Overlay that would "align the height and density of any residential development in the Yards West with similar residential density to the west in the CG/CR Overlay and the south in the DC Water Sites PUD."
(And yes, this "Yards West" thing is new, but it does make some sense, given how the properties along 1st Street are mostly separated from the heart of the Yards between 3rd and 4th.)
As shown on the graphic Forest City provided to the Zoning Commission, the four parcels along N Street just east of 1st dubbed F, G, H, and I currently have a maximum allowed height of 110 feet, while to the north, south, and west there's a 130-foot maximum. (There's also a density difference that caps Yards residential development at 6.0 FAR versus 7.0-8.2 in the Capitol Gateway (CG) Overlay.)
This means that the SEFC Overlay permits less height and density than on the surrounding properties because, Forest City says, "no one fully anticipated the success of the tremendous public and private investment that is transforming the area."
Further proposed text amendments would "require Zoning Commission design review for any property utilizing bonus height and density for residential use" and would "authorize deviations from the ground-floor preferred use requirements, only after approval from the Zoning Commission."
During the zoning hearings a few weeks back to allow some changes to the NGA building site (known as Parcels A, F, and G, but which for now I just call Parcel A because I'm lazy), it was mentioned that Forest City was in the process of hiring an architect to design a residential building on Parcel H, which is on the southeast corner of 1st and N, with hopes of beginning development in 2015. Though I'm guessing they'll want to find out whether they can build to 130 feet instead of 110 before finalizing that design.
More as it develops.

Tuesday Tidbits: Mmm, Mmm, Good Edition
Mar 11, 2014 3:58 PM
Goodness, these piled up all of a sudden. Let's start with the food and drink-related items:
* Strolling by the long-in-the-works Willie's Brew and 'Que at the Boilermaker Shops over the weekend, I saw that flat screen TVs are now up on the walls. I imagine they are dreaming of being open by Opening Day.
* Ice Cream Jubilee at the Lumber Shed now has its tenant layout permit approved, so work should be underway there.
* PoPville reports that Hill Country's attempts to open a temporary location on Tingey Plaza behind USDOT haven't worked out.
And, on the non-digestible front:
* SWill reports on ANC 6D's newest commissioner, Stacy Cloyd, who is filling the 6D02 vacancy left by Ed Kaminski. A resident of Southwest, Stacy will also be representing areas east of South Capitol, including Velocity, Capitol Hill Tower, and Nats Park (and River Parc, before long).
* DDOT has released its draft Request for Proposals to the short-list finalists for the first two phases of the South Capitol Street project, which include building the new bridge and also rebuilding the interchange of I-295 and the Suitland Parkway.
* The new owners of the lot at South Capitol and N just north of Nats Park have withdrawn the pending zoning case for the site, which predated the property's recent sale. The previous ownership group had long been working on an office project, but in its withdrawal letter 1244 South Capitol Residential LLC says it is "studying development of the property for residential uses," and that it plans "to submit a new application for Capitol Gateway review in the near future."
* Outside the boundaries, but Near Southeast residents may still be interested in the looming start of the huge Wharf project on the Southwest Waterfront, with a ceremonial groundbreaking scheduled for March 19. Here's the Post's story on the new development, along with a photo gallery (which might seem to have a somewhat familiar style) of the current waterfront, before it's gone.

Zoning News: Yes to Vet, and Capper Hearing to Come
Feb 14, 2014 12:16 PM
Now that I've come out of my snow bunker (being a weather geek is a terrible disease), I'll pass along these notes from the past week or so in Zoning Land:
* VET: The commission on Feb. 6 approved 5-0-0 Forest City's request for a wording change to allow a veterinary hospital to operate in the Southeast Federal Center Overlay area (basically, the Yards).
As I wrote a week or so ago, a vet is a potential tenant in Twelve12's retail space on Tingey Street, but before a lease can be signed, "veterinary boarding hospital and veterinary hospital uses" needed to be added to the SFC overlay's allowed uses, subject to a number of conditions (no more than 50 percent of the tenant space can be for boarding, that any animal legally sold in the District can be boarded, incidental boarding of animals for convalesence is allowed, order and waste handling requirements, and that grooming and supplies can only be "accessory" uses). There was some back-and-forth about the word "incidental," and it was agreed that that wording be better phrased before the final vote.
Forest City does not announce tenants until a lease is executed, so the name of the potential vet has not been released.
* CAPPER: On Feb. 10, the commission voted to "set down" for a full hearing the Housing Authority's request to modify the Capper PUD to allow 30 of the affordable housing units planned for squares 739, 767 and 768 to be transferred outside the Capper boundaries to the block where the Park Chelsea is currently under construction. (See the this map culled from the Office of Planning Report to help you visualize.)
The planning folks have a number of issues they want DCHA to address before the hearing on this modification, but not among them is the biggest issue that ANC 6D has with Square 767: that the Housing Authority is thinking about a plan that would change the original plans for a single 147-unit mixed-income building to two buildings, one a market rate-only condo building and the other an affordable housing-only building. (This plan is not mentioned in the housing authority's filings with the zoning commission.)
During the discussion, commission chair Anthony Hood noted that ANC 6D is "one of the ANCs that this commission knows is very engaged," which was in reference to the strongly worded letter the commission received with 6D's concerns that they and the community still need to be "appropriately briefed" about DCHA's plans, and that the commission be able to "fully vet our concerns with them regarding the request for modification." Hood also said, "Let's make sure the next vote we see shows that everyone is working together."
Concurrently, the commission's vote also deferred action on DCHA's parallel request for a five-year extension to the PUD covering these same three squares, saying that the extension request decision hinges on the modification case's decision. The Office of Planning is recommending just a two-year extension, and zoning commissioner Marcie Cohen said that DCHA needs to provide much more detailed information on the steps taken up to this point to secure financing, since it is her opinion that the initial filing doesn't seem show a "compelling need" for an exemption.
The hearing date isn't yet set, and DCHA will have to go to ANC 6D (and probably 6B as well) in order to request support before its zoning commission appearance. The Housing Authority and 6D have had a pretty contentious relationship over the years in regards to the Capper redevelopment, and it's unlikely that the deliberations over this zoning request will change that.

Condo Project May Be Coming to Yards; Other Yards Updates
Feb 3, 2014 8:38 PM
During Monday night's Zoning Commission hearing on allowing the move of the trapeze school from "Parcel O" at 4th and Tingey in the Yards to another space at New Jersey Avenue, Forest City's Ramsey Meiser revealed that the company is planning to sell a portion of Parcel O to allow for the development of a condo project there.
Meiser explained that while Forest City doesn't do condo development, "we want to have for-sale product at the Yards," hence the potential deal. The zoning filings say that "Parcel O will be developed in 2014/2015 and construction on Parcel O is expected to be completed by 2016/2017."
I've asked for further detail on this, which I may or may not get anytime soon, and I will update when I receive more.
Other tidbits that came out of the hearing:
* Forest City is in the process of hiring an architect to design a residential building for Parcel H, which is the western half of the parking lot on the southeast corner of 1st and N, directly across from Nationals Park and north of DC Water. There appears to be a desire to develop that site within the next couple of years.
* The company expects the demolition of the NGA building at 1st and M to take approximately six months, and that the reconfiguration of the block to include the trapeze school, a new park on the north end, and a slightly shrunken parking lot would be completed by the end of 2014.
* The new park, which with the rest of the block would be a temporary use until office buildings are constructed, has enough open green space that Forest City expects to work with the BID to activate it for some sorts of smaller sports activities (bocce and kickball yes, softball probably not).
Oh, and the commission voted 5-0 to approve the special exceptions to allow trapeze school and parking lot on the south end of the 1st and M block, on the sites technically known as Parcels F and G. (The park would be on Parcel A.) There was some back-and-forth about the need for trees on the site--they weren't included in the plans because Forest City expects buildings to eventually replace the temporary uses, but Forest City has agreed to work with DDOT and the Office of Planning on the issue, and the zoning commissioners did not feel it warranted delaying their vote.
UPDATE: In my haste to get this posted, I should have mentioned that the original Yards plans did include a condo project--a plan to have PN Hoffman convert Building 202, the red brick building at 5th and M east of what's now Twelve12. But that project has seemed to stall.

Yards Zoning Cases: Trapeze Move, and Maybe a Vet
Feb 3, 2014 12:03 PM
In a nice break from its evaluations of boxy 13-story buildings, the Zoning Commission this week has on its agenda two cases dealing with somewhat unusual development requests at the Yards.
The first, which is being heard tonight, has to do with the reconfiguration of the block at 1st and M streets SE after spooky Building 213 gets demolished sometime in the coming months.
As I wrote back in December, Forest City is wanting to move Trapeze School New York from its current 4th and Tingey location to the northwest corner of New Jersey and Tingey, shrink and reconfigure the existing 1st Street parking lot by 22 spaces, and build a temporary public park on the north half of the block. (The overview drawing at right can help you visualize this.)
The parking lot and the trapeze school move each require zoning approvals for these new temporary five-year uses--if you want the serious details on why, and the evaluation of the zoning rules therein, read the Office of Planning report.
ANC 6D and the Office of Planning have both supported this request, and this week the National Capital Planning Commission is adding its support.
So, in honor of what apparently will be a year of change on this block, I've built a Yards Parcel A project page, to be sure that Building 213's soulless windowless existence (and its brief ArtYards fling with color) is not forgotten.
The second zoning request, to be heard on Thursday, Feb. 6, is to amend the text of the Southeast Federal Center Overlay to allow "veterinary boarding hospital and veterinary hospital uses" subject to a number of conditions within the footprint of the Yards.
This text is being added because of apparent interest from a veterinary hospital in leasing space in the ground floor of the soon-to-be completed Twelve12 apartment building at 4th and Tingey, and the SEFC overlay does not specifically allow veterinary services, so it has to be spelled out.
And it's not a surprise that a vet is looking at the area--the Office of Planning report sites a Capitol Riverfront BID survey saying that 40 percent of neighborhood residents have pets.
The Office and Planning and ANC 6D also support this request.

Temporary Park, Trapeze School Move Sought for 1st and M
Dec 5, 2013 9:59 AM
With the currently be-muraled former NGA building at 1st and M Street SE expected to be demolished early in 2014, Forest City Washington is making plans for temporary uses for that block while it works on longer-range plans to build office and retail space on the site, which is at the northwest corner of the Yards footprint.
To that end, the company has filed a request for the Zoning Commission's approval of a temporary (unfenced!) park/open space along M between New Jersey and 1st, as well as the relocation of the Trapeze School from its current location at 4th and Tingey to the northwest corner of New Jersey and N/Tingey.
There would also remain a parking lot on the site, but it would be shifted to just the southwest corner of the block, and would have 208 spaces instead of the 230 currently there. Access to the lot would be from N Street. (At the same time, because of DC Water's ongoing construction, the parking lot immediately to the south across N would be losing 50 spaces, down to 344.)
As you can (kind of) see in the site plan, there would be a path running from northeast to southwest across the park, making for a nice shortcut to the ballpark for fans coming out of the Metro at New Jersey and M. And it would give the four corners of this block a slightly different feel than the current vistas:
The filing says that the Trapeze School needs to be moved not only because the zoning order allowing it to be on its current site expires at the end of 2014, but also because development is planned for that 4th and Tingey site ("Parcel O") to be completed by 2016/2017. It also says that Parcel H, on the southeast corner of 1st and N where the Yards "tent" display and parking lot is, is expected to be developed beginning in 2015, and that an RFP process is currently underway to select an architect. This would be another residential building with street-level retail.
There is no timeline laid out for when this NGA block is expected to be fully developed, though it's always been expected to be part of the final phase of the Yard's planned 10-to-20-year timeline.
UPDATE: Speaking of the be-muraled building and the ArtYards project going on at this block, there will be a "Chalk Art Street Festival" at the site this weekend (Dec. 7 and 8). There will be hot chocolate and treats, along with lots of chalk for kids of all ages to create their own masterpieces on the parking lot.
Comments (3)
More posts: The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA, zoning

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.)
Comments (28)
More posts: 1333m, Development News, zoning

Movie Theater Zoning Plans Submitted; Late '15 Opening?
Mar 1, 2013 11:06 AM
Forest City Washington is moving forward with the plans for a sixteen screen movie theater near Nationals Park, having submitted a truckload of documents this week to the Zoning Commission for its plans to redevelop more than five acres of land currently occupied by DC Water.
This site, which sits between the current footprint of the Yards and the ballpark, would be turned into four new city blocks with 600 residential units in two buildings, an expansion of Diamond Teague Park, and somewhere around 50,000 square feet in retail, which would include the theater that we first heard about a few months ago.
The plan apparently would be to build the theater first (and in fact FCW is requesting second-stage PUD approval for the theater plans, for those of you who know what that means), and in the zoning filing FCW says that they intend to file for building permits by this fall and start construction by the beginning of 2014, with an expected opening of the theater by late 2015.
There would be 337 parking spaces at the theater, which would be above-ground and contained within the first four floors of the theater building. DC Water would continue its operations on the other three blocks that are part of this plan while the theater is constructed and operating, with the development of those blocks waiting until those operations can be relocated (and, of course, "subject to market conditions)."
A few months ago I wrote in great detail about the plans for the theater itself, expected to be operated by Showplace Icon, after a public meeting was held for residents about the crowds that might be drawn, who seemed mostly mollified by the "policies to encourage courteous behavior." Read that post for more.
There should be a hearing on these plans within the next few months. And I'll dig through the documents to look for more tidbits, but mainly I wanted folks to finally see a rendering!

Monument Realty Planning 'One M Street' Office Building
Dec 20, 2012 10:39 AM
On January 17, the Zoning Commission will be taking up a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review request from Monument Realty for "One M Street," an approximately 328,000-square-foot office building planned for the southeast corner of South Capitol and M streets, SE, on what old-timers know as the old Domino's site, just to the north of the self-storage building.
The building, which is referred to in the zoning submittals as a speculative development, would have a large lobby entrance at the corner of South Capitol and M and somewhere between 9,000 and 17,260 square feet of ground-floor retail, plus four floors of underground parking with 310 spaces. It would be 12 stories high along M Street, but as seen in the above rendering grabbed from the documents, the height along South Capitol would be lower, because of the "different characters" of the two streets. You can see another rendering of the building, as seen from M Street at Van, here.
This has also been referred to the National Capital Planning Commission for review, and ANC 6D will of course be getting a crack at it as well. There's no estimated timeline mentioned in the zoning documents. (But we know how I feel about "estimated" start dates these days anyway. Show me a shovel in the ground!)
Monument has owned the Domino's parcel on the corner since 2005, and added the L-shaped parcel to its east and south in 2008 as part of its settlement with WMATA over not getting the Southeastern Bus Garage site just to the east. Monument, as most people know, built quite a portfolio of land in the blocks just to the north of Nationals Park in 2004 and 2005, having completed 55 M Street in 2009 and still controlling the rest of the land on the east side of Half Street, along with the old Sunoco site on the northeast corner of Half and M and the old BP/Amoco site on the northeast corner of South Capitol and N.
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More posts: M Street, onem, South Capitol St., zoning

Plans Submitted for a 1st Street Hotel, With Interesting Details
Sep 16, 2012 1:35 PM
Late last week, "Capital Riverfront Hotel LLC" * submitted to the Zoning Commission plans for a 167ish-room hotel on the small L-shaped lot that the Welch family has owned for a number of years at 1st and N Streets just north of Nationals Park.
According to documents submitted as part of the required Capitol Gateway Overlay Review, the development would have no ground-floor retail along either 1st or N.
Also, the developers are requesting that they be able to provide zero below-ground or on-site parking instead of the 44 spaces that would be required by current zoning regulations, saying that the hotel would provide valet parking services, and also would emphasize the building's location near Metro, Circulator, and other transit options.
(Needless to say, it would be interesting to see exactly how valet service on 1st just north of N would work during a sold-out baseball game going on a few feet to the south, given how 1st fills up with traffic heading toward the parking lots at the Yards.)
As seen in the above rendering, the site for the proposed hotel wraps around the two-story retail building that has been proposed as part of its 660,000-square-foot Ballpark Square development that I've written about over the past few months, which would have its own 170ish-unit hotel, positioned between a 224,000-square-foot office building fronting M Street and a 285ish-unit residential building toward the south end of the street, as well as the retail building, separated from the rest by the Welch lot.
Recently "Ballpark Square LLC and SCD Acquisitions LLC" (which appears to be a team headed by Grosvenor, with Skanska and McCaffery Interests also on board) submitted updated designs for that project in advance of its Oct. 1 zoning hearing, in which the residential building just to the north of the L-shaped lot has had its U-shaped design reconfigured to open to the south, giving residents in the courtyard-facing units some amount of a view toward Nats Park. Which of course would completely disappear if the hotel were to be built right up against the property line. (You can compare the white box in the top rendering to the red-brick building at the right of this rendering to place the proposed hotel's location vis-a-vis the residential building.)
The updated filing by Grosvenor et al even gives oblique reference to the goings-on, saying "As will be discussed at the hearing, the Applicant is exploring alternative residential layouts to address the potential future development of the parcel to the south of the residential component."
It does lead one to wonder what if anything might be going on behind the scenes between the two parties. And also exactly how the Zoning Commission might feel about the hotel's designs as initially submitted.
* Points immediately deducted for the wrong spelling of Capitol.
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More posts: Development News, lhotel, Square 701, zoning

District Selling Density Rights Near Ballpark, Maybe for Square 701
Aug 19, 2012 6:48 AM
The Washington Business Journal reported on Friday that the city has put 300,000 square feet of "combined lot development rights" that it controls near Nationals Park up for bid, and that the likely target is the new Square 701 project that would bring a combined office/hotel/residential/retail project to the block along 1st Street SE where Nats Parking Lot F currently resides.
A few months back I detailed the plans for the site as described in zoning filings:
* a 224,500-square-foot office building at the corner of 1st and M;
* a 180-unit hotel just to the south of the office building, separated by a 30-foot-courtyard;
* a 292-unit residential project south of the hotel in two buildings, both parallel to 1st Street, with a courtyard between them and a glass bridge connecting them; and
* 43,000 square feet of retail, 36,000 sf of which will be in the office/hotel/residential buildings (called the "Main Parcel"), while the remaining 7,000 sf will be in a separate two-story retail-only building at the corner of 1st and N (on the "South Parcel"), with a design "inspired by the industrial character of the existing neighborhood."
The zoning hearing for this project--technically a Capitol Gateway Overlay District Review--has now been scheduled for October 1. (And hey, look at that, the hearing announcement mentions the applicant is also seeking approval "for the use of Combined Lot Development rights ['CLDs'].") The project will also likely come before ANC 6D at its September meeting. You can see some early renderings here, though I understand there have been some changes to the design since these were filed with the Zoning Commission.
(Note that WBJ lists the likely CLDs buyer as Willco, the developers who controlled the block for many years, but that the zoning filings on the project list Grosvenor as the Owner/Developer and McCaffery Interests as Development/Construction Management Services Consultants. Plus, "Ballpark Square LLC and SCD Acquisitions LLC" is described as the "contract purchaser" of the 81,000-square-foot lot. But no deals have shown up in land records just yet.)
And, commiserations to DC United Fans who saw "Buzzard Point" in the initial reporting on this story and immediately began dreaming of the team's new stadium....
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More posts: Development News, Square 701, zoning

Capper Community Center's Second Time Extension Approved
Jul 12, 2012 11:06 AM
On Monday night, the Zoning Commission voted 4-0-1 to approve DCHA's request for a second two-year time extension on the PUD deadlines to build the Capper Community Center on the now-empty lot on 5th Street SE between K and L. With this vote, building permits would need to be filed by July 1, 2014, with construction needing to be underway by July 1, 2015, provided another extension isn't someday requested and granted.
The extension received votes of support from both ANC 6B and ANC 6D, and a letter from a steering committee of Capper public housing residents also expressed support. Commissioner Peter May, referencing the "contentious" discussions in the past regarding this project and his own unhappiness about seeing it delayed, said it was "reassuring to know that key members of the community are supportive," otherwise he would be "similiarly unhappy." But he did vote in favor of the extension, as did Chairman Anthony Hood and commissioners Marcie Cohen and Michael Turnbull. (The commission's fifth seat is currently empty, with vice chair Konrad Schlater's recent decampment for a new job in Chicago.)
Included the paperwork provided to the Zoning Commission is a letter from DC Housing Authority executive director Adrianne Todman detailing the various high-finance moves over the past few years that have helped the overall Capper redevelopment move forward but that haven't trickled down to fund the community center. The letter says that the Housing Authority anticipates a $55 million bond issuance within the next year that will pay off the previous $29 million Bond Anticipation Notes and provide enough proceeds to continue the infrastructure work around Capper "and to construct the community center, which we estimate will cost $7.6 million." These moves require legislation, so we'll be able to cast an eye toward the DC council this fall to see if things are progressing as anticipated.
Also in that letter is this tidbit: "Lastly, DCHA is working with and soliciting a potential anchor tenant that will operate the community center and also contribute funding for the construction of the community center." Very interesting....
If you want to know still more about the history of plans for a new community center on this site (the old one was demolished in 2007), I point you to this pile of posts.
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More posts: Capper, Community Center, zoning

ANC 6D Agenda: Parking Update, Capper PUD (and the Wharf)
Jun 8, 2012 10:10 AM
The agenda for the June 11 ANC 6D meeting has been sent out (and hopefully posted soon). The big-ticket item is a vote on the Stage 2 PUD for the Southwest Waterfront plans, which I doubt will be a lightning-quick discussion--when the agenda has it budgeted for 90 minutes, you know it's gonna be long.
But there are also two Near Southeast items of interest listed: an update on baseball game-day parking from DDOT (first discussed at the May meeting) and the Capper Community Center PUD extension request (also discussed in May).
I'm not yet up to sitting through a meeting of that length (though I'm coming along), so if these items are of interest, get thee to 1100 4th St. SW at 7 pm on Monday.

Renderings for the Proposed Square 701 Project by Nats Park
Jun 4, 2012 4:19 PM
Last week I wrote about the new mixed-use project just north of Nationals Park that has begun its trek through the city's zoning review process. And now I have a few renderings, and some new pertinent details. First, the pretty stuff, since that's what most people want to see (click to enlarge):
Quoting myself, the lineup from right (M Street) to left (N Street) is:
* a 224,500-square-foot office building at the corner of 1st and M;
* a 180-unit hotel just to the south of the office building, separated by a 30-foot-courtyard;
* a 292-unit residential project south of the hotel in two buildings, both parallel to 1st Street, with a courtyard between them and a glass bridge connecting them; and
* 43,000 square feet of retail, 36,000 sf of which will be in the office/hotel/residential buildings (called the "Main Parcel"), while the remaining 7,000 sf will be in a separate two-story retail-only building at the corner of 1st and N (on the "South Parcel"), with a design "inspired by the industrial character of the existing neighborhood."
Here's the view from the other direction, at 1st and N, with the two-story retail building that would be just across from the Nats' parking garage at left, with the two parallel residential buildings to its right, then the hotel, then the office building:
Having now seen more of the zoning filing, I can pass along that the "Owner/Developer" is listed as Grosvenor, with Chicago-based McCaffery Interests listed as "Development/Construction Management Services Consultants." I'm sure there will be some sussing out of the land deal before long. (Note: I had the wrong Grosvenor link for the first few minutes this post was up. I'm blaming it on being medicated.)
Read my previous post for more details....
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More posts: ballparksquare , Square 701, zoning

Details on New Mixed-Use Project Just North of Nationals Park
May 29, 2012 6:36 PM
Back in March I wrote that something was afoot on the block just north of Nationals Park where Nats Parking Lot F resides, and new confirmation of that is a filing with the Zoning Commission for a review of a new mixed-use project that would bring office, hotel, residential, and retail spaces to 1st St. SE between M and N.
The applicant is listed only as "Ballpark Square LLC and SCD Acquisitions LLC," with a footnote mentioning that they are the "contract purchaser" of the 81,000-square-foot property, currently owned by a number of LLCs but generally described as controlled by Willco Companies. My sources continue to tell me that the purchaser is McCaffery Interests, the developer behind the Market Common residential/retail project in Clarendon, Georgetown Centre, the renovation of Mazza Gallerie, the big Potomac Yard redevelopment across the river, and other local developments, along with a number of big projects in Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere.
The zoning filing lays out the design of the 1st Street project ("Ballpark Square", mayhaps?) as:
* a 224,500-square-foot office building at the corner of 1st and M;
* a 180-unit hotel just to the south of the office building, separated by a 30-foot-courtyard;
* a 292-unit residential project south of the hotel in two buildings, both parallel to 1st Street, with a courtyard between them and a glass bridge connecting them; and
* 43,000 square feet of retail, 36,000 sf of which will be in the office/hotel/residential buildings (called the "Main Parcel"), while the remaining 7,000 sf will be in a separate two-story retail-only building at the corner of 1st and N (on the "South Parcel"), with a design "inspired by the industrial character of the existing neighborhood."
(And there might be a juicy story behind the retail-only building, because apparently the Ballpark Square folks couldn't successfully acquire the 9,000 sq ft of lots owned by the Welch family in an L shape around the corner lots at 1st and N, necessitating the two separate parcels.)
The buildings will be 130 feet high, and there will be approximately 366 parking spaces, all beneath the main parcel (and there will be bike parking, too). The residential and hotel buildings are being designed by Hickok Cole, and Gensler is the architect for the office building.
The zoning filing describes the site as having "the opportunity to become a linchpin for the entertainment district that the Distrct has long envisioned in the Ballpark area," and that it will "attract people who attend baseball games, but also provide the everyday amenities essential to the residents living in the project and nearby." And, "[p]erhaps most importantly, this project will convert a vacant site to vibrant and active uses that contribute to the rejuvenation of the Capitol Riverfront by complementing the epicenter of this community, the Ballpark."
In addition to needing a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review for the plans, the developers are also needing some zoning relief, to be allowed to scrap four required parking spaces for the separate retail building on the south parcel along with variances for loading, rear yard, and open court requirements that I'm just not up to writing much about right now.
Goodies like renderings, elevations, and additional details (like a timeline!) will be coming (though the ANC commish tweeted a sneak peek a few days ago), and this would be brought up before ANC 6D for its support before the Zoning Commission would vote on the review and variances.
This site is just to the east of Monument Realty's stalled Half Street project, which has similar plans for hotel, residential, and retail to the south of its 55 M Street office building. And across from that is Akridge's Half Street project, looking to bring office, residential, and retail to the west side of the street. In other words, there's a whole lot of mixed use on the boards just north of Nats Park. Who will get out of the blocks first?
UPDATE, 6/4: Renderings!
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More posts: ballparksquare , Square 701, zoning

Florida Rock Update at ANC 6D: Tweaked Designs, More Retail
May 16, 2012 7:56 AM
At Monday's ANC 6D meeting, representatives of MRP Realty made a presentation showing the updates to the RiverFront on the Anacostia project (aka Florida Rock) that they will be taking to the Zoning Commission later this year.
These designs are part of the quest to make changes to the original design approved by the commission in 2008, chief of which is to switch the first phase of the 1.1-million-square-foot mixed-use project from an office building to a 300ish-unit apartment building at 1st Street and Potomac Avenue, along with a series of other changes that I've written about previously. (Dear heavens, don't make me write it all again.)
Here are the slides that were presented by the developers, which should be of interest even without the accompanying narration. The renderings are much more detailed and "showier" than those given to the Zoning Commission back in February, which was part of what the developers were tasked with providing in their next go-round with the ZC.
Most obviously, the developers appear to have gotten the "more retail!" message that had been delivered pretty clearly at the last two zoning commission sessions on the new design, with 18,650 square feet of retail now covering most of the first floor of the Phase I residential building, bumped up from 12,520 sf in the previous version (some of which the developers had been wanting to mark off for "temporary resident uses" until the market for retail in the area could be proven). The entire site is now designed to have 48,360 sf of retail, but this is still down from the 64,200 sf that was in the plans approved by the Zoning Commission back in 2008. (This increase in retail also means that the "four red doors" facing Potomac Avenue that sent zoning commissioner Michael Turnbull through the roof back in February are now gone.)
There was also much time spent on the designs for the public spaces that span the 5.5-acre site. With large lawns, wetlands-type areas that would actually be bio-filtration mechanisms, quieter tree-covered spaces, and a marina that could potentially have 40-50 slips, the additions could be seen as echoing the Yards Park a couple blocks to the east.. But there are also some "beach" areas where sand would be placed, and a large sculpture could be included in the "Riverfront Plaza" at the foot of 1st Street. The esplanade is still a major part of the design, but there is no longer a separate bike path--pedestrians and cyclists would share the boardwalk as it runs through the entire site, from South Capitol Street to Diamond Teague Park. And there may even be locations where some of the concrete blocks from the old concrete plant site would be incorporated into the public spaces.
I could write more about the specifics, but since the project will be back in front of ANC 6D looking for a resolution of support in July, and then at the Zoning Commission on Sept. 20, I'd prefer to save some words for the presentations to come.
I've added some of the renderings from this presentation to my Florida Rock project page. And, when looking at all of this, remember that the western two buildings (phases 3 and 4, an office building and a hotel), are not be able to be built until the new South Capitol Street/Douglass Bridge is built a bit to the south of the current bridge, which now runs directly through the Florida Rock footprint. And there's as yet no timeline for that new bridge.
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More posts: ANC News, Florida Rock, meetings, zoning

Florida Rock Zoning Update - Revised Plans OKed for Set Down
Feb 15, 2012 10:46 AM
I wrote recently about the bumpy first trip back to the Zoning Commission for the new designs for the project known as Florida Rock. The developers (MRP and FRP) want to build a residential building at 1st and Potomac instead of the originally planned office building, and also are looking for some tweaks to the plans originally approved in 2008 by the Zoning Commission for the rest of the six-acre site.
At that meeting on Jan. 30, reactions of the zoning commissioners ranged from generally supportive of the changes to concerned about specific aspects of them to labeling the new filing "an affront." Because commission chair Anthony Hood was not in attendance, and because there were a few items that the commissioners wanted from the developers, the vote on whether to "set down" the case for a full hearing was deferred.
On Monday, Feb. 13, the full commission took up the case again. Despite the developers offering to increase the total amount of retail for the entire site by about 11,000 sq ft (up to 36,370 sq ft total), vice chair Konrad Schlater again felt the retail offerings to be lacking, describing the designs as having "no vision" and a "missed opportunity" for one of the city's few large-scale waterfront developments, adding that he doesn't get the sense that the design takes full advantage of the site and "how it can meet the waterfront."
Commissioner Michael Turnbull, who had unleashed the strongest broadsides last time around, said that he was "not going to go down the same road," but echoed Schlater's concerns about the lack of retail, especially the design of the east residential building that shows "four red doors" along Potomac Avenue, with no retail on that street despite being directly across from Nationals Park. "This is a destination, a prime piece of land that begs for a gripping design," Turnbull said, agreeing that there is a lack of vision for the entire site.
Commissioners Peter May and Marcie Cohen both said there are parts of the new design they prefer, with Cohen mentioning how the old design "had its back to the river," and that the new residential building opens up toward the Anacostia. But May also echoed the others by saying the idea that the project is "lacking in vision and missing an opportunity along Potomac Avenue is certainly right on."
Chairman Hood also expressed his concern that this is a prime site and that "we don't want a lost opportunity," but is happy that there is a new residential component in the revised design.
"Are we fully satisfied? No," Hood said, and while he feels the designs need "some refining and revisiting," he felt that "the applicant has heard us." With that, the commission then voted 4-1 to approve the motion to "set down" the case, with Turnbull voting against. Now the developers will work with the Office of Planning to come back to the Zoning Commission with detailed plans for the new Phase 1 residential building and general revisions to the rest of the project that they feel can get the commission's approval.
For more details on the latest design, read my two recent posts, and also check out my Florida Rock page for drawings from the initial filing in December that will now presumably be tweaked before the hearing, whenever that may be. The developers will also need to come before ANC 6D before the zoning hearing to get that commission's support (or not) before going to zoning.
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More posts: Florida Rock, Retail, zoning

Florida Rock Zoning, Take 356: Concerns About New Design
Feb 2, 2012 5:43 PM
On Monday night, the city's Zoning Commission had its first crack at the new request for modifications to the existing Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the Florida Rock site across the street from Nationals Park, as the commissioners deliberated on whether to "set down" the request for a hearing. As mentioned previously, the developers want to change the site's first phase from office to residential, and also have done some reworking of the rest of the design for the six-acre site that the Zoning Commission approved after much deliberation and tweaking back in 2008.
Commissioner Michael Turnbull was first out of the gate with comments about the new designs, and he was not at all happy, calling it a "major gut" to the original PUD, saying that he felt the applicant should start the PUD process all over again. Describing the new plans as "bastardized," "stick architecture from the suburbs," "boxy," "10 steps backward," and "an affront to the Zoning Commission" and city residents, Turnbull pledged to be "so damn critical" if the new design moves forward. (If you've got a few minutes, you can watch his remarks for yourself.)
Commissioner Peter May, on the other hand, said that he is actually more comfortable with the new design, given that there were features he "really questioned" in the 2008 design, but that the latest filing is "pretty simplistic" in terms of the drawings, and did say that the architecture is "kind of boring," especially from the waterside view. (The image at right is the Phase 1 residential building, as seen from the river.) He also wanted to see more comparisons to the previously approved design so that they could understand more what they may be giving up with the new design, but that he found the overall plan "more appealing than before."
Vice-chair Konrad Schlater's biggest concern was over the scaling back of the retail component, which has gone from 80,000 square feet of "retail and service uses" in the 2008 PUD to about 23,400 square feet in the new filing, with 7,000 sf of that being turned over to residential amenities "until a retail market is established." "It seems like a missed opportunity to have space on the boardwalk that is not retail," Schlater said, adding that the city does not have a lot of projects right on a waterfront like this, and that the entire development really should be a retail destination. (He also caught that, while the 2008 PUD called for LEED certification for each phase, the new filing says that the project "will be LEED certifiable for each phase." Semantics, or...?)
With commission chair Anthony Hood not in attendance, the four commissioners decided to defer a decision on the set-down request until Hood can weigh in with his thoughts; this would also give the developers time to file additional information, such as comparing the new designs with the 2008 plans. This could come up at the next public hearing, on Feb. 13.
So, what are the differences?
With the entire filing available online (if you search), I was able to go through and cull out some of the most representative drawings from this new design, which I've put on my Florida Rock project page. At the bottom of that page you can also see some images of the designs that were approved in 2008. The first image at left, from 2008 (click to enlarge), shows the four buildings and the public spaces with a lot of curves and glass and "articulation."
Compare that to the latest design. While this is clearly a very early drawing, it does show four much more boxy structures, as commissioner Turnbull said. You can also see the curves-versus-corners differences in the site-plan comparison graphic I created, which also shows the differing layouts of the public spaces, again going from a lot of flowing, rounded paths and open areas to straighter-edged movements, with the total amount of "lot occupancy" going down to 44 percent in the new design from 58 percent in the old. The phase 1 apartment building is the most fleshed out in the renderings, but there are additional drawings giving a general sense of the site layout.
The Office of Planning's setdown report goes through the changes requested in a fair amount of detail.
It will be interesting to see how this the Zoning Commission handles this, as well as ANC 6D, which has always been very supportive of this project during its long gestation but has not yet had an opportunity to weigh in/vote on the new design. (And of course, we here at JDLand want to know what YOU think!) The developers are hoping to begin construction on the first phase apartment building in Spring 2013, but it would appear that this zoning process, like everything else tied to this project up to now, may not be as speedy as they might want.
If you want more background on how the commission reached its approvals in 2008, my many (MANY!) posts on the project are worth browsing, including the one I wrote in December detailing the changes in the new request. And do check out the latest drawings (and scroll down for the old ones).
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More posts: Florida Rock, zoning

Florida Rock Headed Back to Zoning Commission With Changes
Dec 9, 2011 2:29 PM
I almost can't bring myself to write the words, but the owners of the Florida Rock site just south of Nationals Park have filed with the Zoning Commission for not only the previously reported plan to change the planned first phase office building to a residential one, but also to revisit parts of the site plan for the three subsequent phases. (For those of you versed in zoning speak, they are requesting to "revert Phases II, III, and IV to First Stage Approvals with modifications.")
This is going to be a lengthy process, with hearings at the Zoning Commission, reports from the Office of Planning and others, and presentations to the ANC (starting with one this coming Monday night, Dec. 12). So I'm going to avoid getting into the weeds too much too early, and will just give some bullet points of what changes they are looking for. (You're free to read these 57 pages of the filing for more detail.)
* The new Phase 1 building, at the far east end of the site (next to Diamond Teague Park) will now be the aforementioned residential building, a nine-story U-shaped design oriented toward the river with 300-350 units and 286 below-grade parking spaces. There will still be 12,500 square feet of retail, though they are asking that 7,000 of it be "flex space" that "may alternatively be dedicated to residential amenity space" until retail gets going. There will be a private courtyard within the "U", but there will also be the open space on the buildings' east side, now dubbed Anacostia Plaza, that will be open enough to maintain open views from First Street and the stadium's Grand Staircase to the river but will also provide "passive recreation space."
* The esplanade that has always been such a big part of the site plan remains, acting as the portion of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail connecting South Capitol Street to Teague Park, the new pedestrian bridge, and the Yards Park. The Esplanade will "relate" to the "design vernacular" of the newly constructed boardwalks, and will also have a lot of stormwater management and bio-filtration offerings.
* On the building's west side will be the "Mews," which they call a pedestrian boulevard separating the Phase 1 building from the planned Phase 2 residential building. This path will also provide access to parking and loading for the first two phases, but "a dynamic paving design . . . will help distinguish this area as an urban space that privileges pedestrians over vehicles."
* The filing says they anticipate construction to begin in the second quarter of 2013, with first move-ins in early 2015 and the entire phase completed by summer 2015.
As for overall changes, here's what seem to be the most interesting changes from the previously approved design that the developers are looking for:
* The new plan would bring 1,164,640 square feet of gross floor area (4.6 FAR), up from 1,115,400 sq ft/4.4 FAR in the last plan. The other three phases' uses would remain unchanged (residential, office, hotel).
* Building heights of 130 feet for Phase 2-4 are being requested, compared to 130/112/130 last time around.
* Below-grade parking spaces would go from 1,010 to 1,144.
Plus, though It's hard to tell from one small site plan concept drawing, a lot of the public space design, especially to the east of the Phase 3 and 4 buildings, looks scaled back from the 2008 design. (UPDATE: Here's a graphic put together from another part of the filing that compares the 2008 site plan with the current one.)
The filing also says that "the Applicant would like the flexibility to provide interim uses on Phases, II, III, IV so that the site will not simply lay dormant pending construction," and lists a park, a farmers market, or other "simple, temporary retail uses" as examples.
And, just as in the previous plans, development of phases 3 and 4 are completely dependent on the construction of a new South Capitol Street Bridge, since the current bridge bisects the property where those buildings are planned.
Again, this is early in this new process, and there will be plenty of filings and presentations to come for all the additional detail you're going to be clamoring for. For now, the takeaway is that FRP/MRP want to get started on a residential building at 1st and Potomac in the spring of 2013, and still want to move forward on the rest of the site with a design similar to what was approved 3 1/2 years ago, but with some modifications.
This project first began its zoning quest in 1998, and went through a four-year process ending in 2008 to get its second-stage approvals. I should also note that Davis Buckley Architects, who worked on the project throughout that 10-year ordeal, is no longer part of the design team; SK&I is now on board, with Oculus as the landscape design firm. The site's owners, FRP Development/Florida Rock Properties, announced their partnership with MRP Realty earlier this year.
(As for the concrete plant currently on site, I haven't looked lately, but demolition is underway, and the filing says it should be done by the end of the year. Tom Boswell's heart will be broken.)
UPDATE, 1/3: Just before Christmas, demolition was finished on the plant, making it #166 in my Demolished Buildings Gallery.
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More posts: Florida Rock, zoning
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