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Last Thursday the Zoning Commission held a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review hearing for One M Street, the building planned for the southeast corner of South Capitol and M Streets that is to be the new home for the National Association of Broadcasters.
Monument Realty had come to the commission back in 2013 with plans for a 328,000-square-foot office building, but now the developer is planning both this 120,000-square-foot NAB HQ (seen at right) and a 175ish-unit residential building immediately to the south that will come to the commission at a later date. (More on that below.)
Architect Bill Hellmuth of HOK testified that the location is a "gateway" that presents an "opportunity to make a building that is unique" to the city and also acts as separate gateway to the neighborhood by Nats Park. He also mentioned that having the very un-Washington curved facade start at an overhang 29 feet above the sidewalk is a "special moment" for the building.
Retail will make up about 35 percent of the ground-floor space, although there's a possibility that some of that space will be taken by a broadcast studio in the space facing M Street (and that there would also be a window to see into the studio from the lobby). NAB will apparently occupy about half of the building, which it will be buying from Monument Realty once it's constructed.
The filing contained a few new renderings, which I of course have pilfered (UPDATE: and two of which are now nice high-res versions, thanks to Monument Realty), showing the building as seen from both the west and east along M and also from the south on South Capitol:
All in all, there were no major issues, with most commissioners commenting on the "tremendous improvement" of this design over the original one, and the board was also happy that the developers will now be applying for LEED Gold certification.
There were also discussions about whether the concrete on the penthouse is light gray or dark gray, whether portions of the facade are a dark tan or a light tan, about whether the "rectilinear" facade is more appropriate for South Capitol and the curved one being better suited for M Street, and whether a small portion of the penthouse was in violation of the Height Act or could be handled by a special exception allowing for enclosing walls of different heights. There were also a few minutes taken to dicuss whether the glass in the building is the type that can help prevent birds from flying into it (WAKE UP, I'M STILL WRITING HERE).
It's expected that the commission will take its vote on this case at its July 27 meeting.
As for the 175ish-unit residential building being planned for the south half of this site, you can see its ghost in the new rendering up top and in two of the other new renderings, plus the filing had this keen photo showing a model of the two buildings, as seen from the northwest. You may note that the residential building has its courtyard open to South Capitol Street, in a very similar fashion to JBG's 1244 South Capitol Street residential project that will be at the south end of the same block (also ghosted in the main photo up top).
See my somewhat paltry One M Street project page for shots of the site's past (spoiler alert: it's the old Domino's site) as well as links to my posts about it over the years.
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More posts: Development News, One M, zoning
 

On Monday night, with all of about three minutes of discussion, the Zoning Commission voted unanimously to approve the Capitol Gateway Overlay Review for Jair Lynch's new residential and retail plans for the northeast corner of Half and N Streets, immediately north of Nats Park.
At the initial hearing for the project back in May, commissioners reacted positively to the design, which includes at least 60,000 square feet of retail on two floors topped with somewhere between 350 and 445 rental and condo residential units and possibly a small hotel as well.
The issues that prevented a vote back in May appear to have been addressed, among them the removal of plans for catenary lights to be strung across Half Street and for bollards that had been placed to protect pedestrians on the curbless sidewalks during non-game times, when traffic will be allowed on Half.
New renderings were also provided to the commission, showing the view of the building along both Cushing Place and the new "Monument Place" between this building's north end and the south side of 55 M. And of course it is required that I snag them from the filing and show them to you, with the Cushing Place view looking down from M Street, showing the "intersection" with Monument Place, and then the Monument Place view looking in from Half Street:
The developers have said that their plan is to begin construction in 2016, with completion by 2018, a timeline that gets speeded up somewhat since the bulk of the excavation was done, ahem, about eight years ago.
For much more about this project, including additional renderings, you can read my summary of the May zoning hearing, my look at the initial submission, and the project page.
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More posts: Development News, lynchhalf, zoning
 

While most residents and observers have been eyeing DC Water's operations site at 1st and O Streets, SE and wondering when Forest City's movie theater/residential/retail project is going to get underway, details are now emerging on the other shiny new development in the works in that same general area: DC Water's plans to build a new headquarters building on top of the existing O Street Pumping Station just east of Nats Park.
(NO, NOT ON TOP OF THE HISTORIC MAIN PUMPING STATION.)
A PUD application has now been filed with the Zoning Commission for the project, to be design/built by Skanska with architect SmithGroupJJR as a "world-class headquarters that integrates efficient building systems with the [existing O Street Pumping Station] to create a dynamic workplace environment" that would be " a bold, innovative statement on the Anacostia River shoreline that reflects DC Water's mission to provide reliable and cost-effective water and wastewater services."
It would be designed as a LEED Platinum building, with stormwater retention, "heat recover and rejection systems" that will use the residual heat from the sewage that is pumped to Blue Plains, and low-impact development landscaping features by OvS "such as bio-swales, pervious pavements, and native vegetation."
The proposed DC Water HQ, as seen from the Anacostia (left), the west looking east (center), and from the Yards Park looking west (right). Renderings from zoning filings. Click to enlarge; and compare to the current view from the river.
The O Street station would keep right on pumping during and after construction, and the HQ design, which encapsulates the pumping station on the south and east and so removes it from view from the river, will include a four-story 190-foot-long east-west truss that will support the new HQ without bearing on the existing pumping station.
As for the PUD itself, it proposes to rezone the site from W-2 to CG/CR, and to only include 21 parking spaces instead of the mandated 69 (yay, nearby transit!).
It also requests flexibility from public space requirements because the building is "deemed essential to supporting the United States government," and so it must "therefore incorporate certain security measures and access restrictions, which impact operation and design of the new building and surrounding area." Here is DC Water's memo on this security topic.
This new headquarters will consolidate and relocate all of the agency's administrative personnel, and get non-essential types away from its currently overcapacity Blue Plains site.
The zoning filing says that this new building "will demonstrate that DC Water's mission is essential to every living organism," and will also "emphasize DC Water's historic role in serving the DC metropolitan area for over a century by providing scheduled educational programming inside the building."
Forest City's planned movie theater would be one block to the north of this site, with the two planned new residential buildings to its west, and a new "1 1/2 Street" would run just to its west (as seen in the left-most rendering of the group of three above).
This will come before ANC 6D for its support before getting to the Zoning Commission on some as-yet unannounced date in the future.
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More posts: DC Water (WASA), zoning
 

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.
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More posts: Development News, lynchhalf, zoning
 

With a May 28 Capitol Gateway Overlay design review on the calendar, the Jair Lynch/Half Street Hole project has within the past few days submitted additional materials to the Zoning Commission. And since I know how much everyone loves renderings....
The one I know will be of most interest is above left, showing what the new skyline would look like just to the northeast of Nats Park as seen from home plate, where Lynch's planned residential project will be situated. (They seemed to have tried to go for some sort of tilt-shift look, so it's not your eyes or my image file that's blurry, it's the original.) At right is a sharper/snazzier view of the building as seen from ground-level at Half and N, with the glass-walled corner portion of the planned 60,000-plus square feet of retail space a definite focal point. The darker fa├žade facing N Street delineates the planned condo portion of the project from the rental units (and possibly a hotel, or possibly not) around the corner on Half.
I wrote in detail about the plans for the site a few weeks ago, or you can check my Lynch Half project page for additional details.
Meanwhile, in other Ballpark District 2.0 news, I see an indication of forward progress on JBG's planned 290-unit residential project just north of the ballpark at 1244 South Capitol: an application was filed last week for a shoring/sheeting/excavation permit (got to dig down before you can build up!). The company has said they are looking to begin construction in late 2015 or early 2016.
 

At Monday night's ANC 6D meeting, Monument Realty presented to the commission an early look at revised plans for the company's One M Street site on the southeast corner of South Capitol and M streets (i.e., the old Domino's site).
And instead of a third variation of the previously presented 328,000-square-foot office building, Monument is now proposing a 120,000-square-foot office building on the northern portion of the lot, fronting M Street, with a new 175ish-unit residential building immediately to the south (and just to the north of the self-storage building).
While there is no signed tenant for the office building, Monument's representative told me that they have a "user" that they "feel pretty good about," and that they hope to have an announcement within the next few months. (Note that "user" was a very specific choice of words.) In the presentation to 6D, the notion of some of the space being used for "conferences and events" was mentioned, and that they would be shooting toward starting construction in the latter part of 2016.
The residential building is not quite as far along in the design process, but the architects are apparently toying with the notion of a "townhouse"-like feel for the ground-floor units that would face South Capitol Street. There was also talk of some three-bedroom units being included in the plans.
Monument expects to file a new case with the Zoning Commission within the next few weeks, at which point there will be purty drawings and much more detailed information.
(As for the rest of the goings-on at the ANC meeting, that can wait until morning!)
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More posts: Development News, One M, zoning
 

Not quite six months after buying the land on the northeast corner of Half and N streets across from Nats Park currently known as Monument Valley, the MacFarlane/Jair Lynch joint venture has now submitted to the Zoning Commission its new plans for the site, a 10-story building with 461,700 square feet of residential (and possibly hotel) development, combined with at least 60,000 square feet of retail.
Back a couple of lifetimes ago, Monument Realty also planned a residential, retail, and hotel project on this site, so this filing is actually a modification to the previously approved plans. The new designs by architectural firm Hord Coplan Macht, seen in these renderings purloined from the zoning filing, would add at least 23,000 square feet of retail to what had been planned, mostly in the second-floor space along Half Street, as shown in the drawing below, as well as potentially an additional 8,000 square feet on the second floor facing N Street, depending on the all-important "market conditions."
The new project would have either 445 residential units and no hotel at all, or 365 residential units and a 80-room hotel on the north end of the site (down from a 200-room hotel in Monument's designs). The new design includes condos (apparently 130ish of them) in the south wing along N Street, with the rest being rental units.
As in the original designs, there would still be a small street called "Monument Place" running between this building and its neighbor to the north, 55 M Street, allowing the retail offerings to wrap around onto the building's north side--however, in these new plans it would be a pedestrian-only street, negating the need for a curb cut on Half Street.
In addition, the basically-an-alley Cushing Place would still be extended through to N Street, through an opening in the ground floor of the south side of Lynch's building. (If you look closely at the top rendering, you can see it.) There would still be three levels of underground parking with approximately 231 spaces. And there would be all manner of streetscape work to make the sidewalks--and the walk to the ballpark--a bit more inviting than they are now.
For you zoning groupies, there's also one special exception being requested, that the project be allowed to have two roof enclosures instead of one on the south wing of the building that fronts N Street. And note that this is all under the Capitol Gateway Overlay design review process.
These new plans will be presented to ANC 6D on Monday night (March 9), with a zoning hearing date apparently as yet unannounced. My Monument Valley project page has a few of the old Monument renderings, should you wish to compare.
UPDATE: The zoning hearing is apparently now scheduled for May 28.
 

With unanimous agreement that the need to get former public housing residents back to the neighborhood is paramount, the Zoning Commission on Monday gave first approvals to the DC Housing Authority's request for flexibility in how it allocates 206 affordable units still to be built within the Capper/Carrollsburg PUD boundaries, while still being required to have no fewer than 15 percent and no more than 50 percent of the units on any square be affordable.
ANC 6D remains adamantly opposed to the flexibility idea--or at least to the idea that this flexibility would then allow a possible all-affordable building next to a market-rate condo building on Square 767--saying it "would circumvent the theme of HOPE VI revitalization and the goal of the PUD."
But Zoning Commission vice-chair Marcie Cohen disagreed, saying that the success of Capper's revitalization is that "the area is mixed income, the neighborhood is mixed income," and that she doesn't have a problem "when public housing is a single project within a mixed-income neighborhood." Noting that some of Capper's previous residents were relocated from the site now more than 10 years ago, Cohen said that "the people who have been displaced have a right to come back"--and given that "financing vehicles are now driving housing policy," meaning that getting affordable housing units financed has become so difficult--the Housing Authority has in her view come up with a plan that is "satisfactory," and should be able to go ahead and "secure the proper financing, build the project, and get some of the people back if they choose."
Her fellow commissioners concurred, with both Robert Miller and Michael Turnbull also noting that all projects on the three remaining residential squares at Capper will need to come to the Zoning Commission for review before moving forward.
And in its response to the ANC 6D letter, the Housing Authority emphasized this point, saying that the concerns raised by 6D will be addressed at that time, and that the reviews "will also demonstrate that the design of the buildings and distribution of the units in those applications are consistent with the PUD's overall goal of providing a vibrant, mixed-use and mixed-income community."
This case also will allow 30 of the Capper affordable units to be relocated to Square 737, to be included in both the 800 New Jersey/Whole Foods building and the eventual third-phase residential building on the eastern portion of that block.
My previous post on this zoning case gives plenty of additional detail if you desire.
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More posts: Capper, Development News, zoning
 

On Monday night the Zoning Commission gave final approval to first-stage plans for the Cohen Companies' 1333 M Street residential project, along with second-stage approvals for the development's first phase, a 10-story 218-unit building.
The final approvals had been slowed by a number of items that concerned the commissioners. Among them:
* While a memorandum of understanding detailing benefits and amenities of the project had been worked out earlier in the process between the developer and ANC 6B, neighbors that live along L Street SE north of the project continue to have objections to various aspects of the project, such as there only being 220 parking spaces for a 673-unit development, as well as the impact of the standard hours of construction on their "quality of life," which Chairman Anthony Hood keyed on as an item where there could have been some "negotiating," though commissioner Peter May noted that the building is not particularly close to L Street SE (with the new Southeast Blvd. and the CSX train tracks separating the two).
* The lighting plan for the building, which had originally been shown with a fair amount of up-lighting but is now all down-lighting after the commissioners objected.
* The plan for a "place-making sign" on the building's penthouse had gotten Peter May up in arms at the Proposed Action stage, and so the developer came back with additional options. (If you click to enlarge the rendering at the top of this post, you can see up at the roofline a smidge of the BROOKLAND-like sign facing north.)
May and the other commissioners still sighed a bit over there being a sign up there at all, but did agree that Option 1 is a "more subtle" version that is an "improvement." I have a notion that some readers might disagree:
In the end, though, there were no showstoppers, and the commission voted 5-0 to approve both the first-stage PUD for the overall project and the second-stage PUD for the first residential building.
My 1333 M project page has additional renderings and information--and if you are new to the story and can't quite visualize where 1333 M even is, it's on the part of M Street that proceeds eastward underneath and past the 11th Street Bridges.
UPDATE: Forgot to include that the project made it past the National Capital Planning Commission as well.
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More posts: 1333 M, Development News, zoning
 

It's been just over a year since the DC Housing Authority initially filed with the Zoning Commission a request for "flexibility" in the location and percentage mix of affordable units on three remaining blocks within the Capper/Carollsburg Planned Unit Development (PUD), and tonight the hearing was finally held.
The request has been altered a bit since I last wrote about it in February, but the gist remains the same.
First, DCHA is looking to move 30 affordable units outside of the Capper PUD boundaries and onto the block where WC Smith is developing the Park Chelsea, 800 New Jersey, and a third as-yet unnamed residential building.
Second, instead of being held to the originally approved unit counts on the blocks known as squares 767, 768, and 739 (as described in the fuzzy graphic above that I snagged from the Office of Planning report), the Housing Authority requests the flexibility to change the configuration of the 206 total affordable (ACC) units on each square while not ever going below 15% of the total number of units for that square.
Agency representatives testified at length about the progress at Capper, including that the community center is finally underway. But they told the commission that the current "financing atmosphere," especially for mixed-income residential projects, is increasingly constraining, and so having some flexibility built in could make it easier to work with potential development partners and financial institutions on designing projects before coming to the commission for Stage 2 approvals. (The four-year process and convoluted solution that included a "mountain of documents" to secure financing the mixed-income Lofts at Capitol Quarter was used as an example.)
However, it's been known for a year that one of the creative scenarios that DCHA has come up with to move forward on Square 767 would be to sell half of the block to EYA (developers of the Capitol Quarter townhomes) so that a market-rate condo building can be built, and then taking those proceeds to fund a second building on the block that would be all affordable units.
And while this particular zoning case does not specifically cover that not-yet-finalized plan, and putting aside that any plans for that block will have to come back to the Zoning Commission for approval before moving forward, a number of Capper/Capitol Quarter residents along with incoming ANC 6D07 representative Meredith Fascett used the hearing as a forum to make clear their displeasure with the idea of segregating incomes in separate buildings, saying that it violates the spirit of the entire Hope VI mixed-income vision that the Capper redevelopment has been based on. (Fascett's written testimony is here.)
David Cortiella of DCHA did say that the agency believes many of the issues with the two buildings/two incomes plan on Square 767 "will be addressed" once a "community engagement process" about the project gets underway, specifically mentioning a "shared courtyard" for the two buildings so that a "more friendly environment takes shape."
The zoning commissioners did not seem overly troubled by the requests covered the current zoning case (though Michael Turnbull made sure to say that they "will look very carefully" at future second-stage submittals).
The Office of Planning supports the flexibility request--however, DCHA is still wanting to further modify the modifications that OP put forward in its most recent report, both because of some concerns about the wording about the units to be constructed by WC Smith but also because the Housing Authority wants to come up with a cap on the number of ACC units on each square that is different from OP's suggested 50-percent cap.
It's expected that the commission will vote on this case at its January 26 meeting; if and when this case receives its final approval, there would then be a vote on a concurrent case to grant a five-year extension to the Capper PUD (which I didn't even talk about here because no one is reading at this point anymore anyway).
One other Capper-related tidbit coming out of the hearing is that movement is continuing on the planned 171-unit rental building on the south side of L between 2nd and 3rd, with work on the financing "well underway" (helped no doubt by getting a cut of a $142 million funding pot.)
(Editor's Note: Leading off with a convoluted post about zoning after an extended holiday layoff is not optimal.)
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More posts: Capper, zoning
 
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