Thursday night was the Zoning Commission hearing
(if you could figure out their calendar
to find that out) for Monument Realty's big mixed-use project
on Half Street just north of the Nationals ballpark
. The webcast started late, and was without audio for a bit, so I missed the beginning, but did manage to see and hear the presentation of the designs. (Bear with me, this will be a long entry, but I know there's much interest in this project.)
I managed to get a few images of the project renderings
, which ain't easy over a grainy webcast (I won't divulge my secret method), so be prepared that they have a rather impressionistic 1930s watercolor look to them that isn't necessarily what they're really going to look like. Go to my Monument Half Street
page for not only the renderings (not the one at the top of the page, the others further down) but also an updated map
that shows how the buildings are laid out.
As expected, the 275,000-sq-ft office building is at Half and M, and will incorporate on its ground floor a renovated entrance to the Navy Yard Metro station, which will have large opaque mesh screens with LED lighting to avoid the huge black holes of space that are often seen when buildings sit atop Metro entrances (I think they also need the extra wall space that the screens provide, because the farecard machines and turnstiles will all be on the street level, not down in the station). These will be able to project lights and images and will no doubt be a big focal point.
As you walk south toward the stadium, you would then come to a new street about a third of the way down Half, which they're calling "Monument Street." This would provide a cut-through to Cushing Street (and eventually perhaps to First, Van, and South Capitol as well), and is also being used as a design feature to break up what is currently a 600-foot-long block; and creating it also allows for additional high-value corner retail spaces than if the block weren't broken up.
Monument Street will also be the location of the entrance to the 200-room W Aloft hotel, which has only a small frontage on Half Street but then runs in an inverted L across Monument Street and down Cushing Street. Running the rest of the length of Half Street would be a condominium building, which at the corner of Half and N would then meet a rental apartment building that faces the stadium across N Street between Half and Cushing (which as part of this project will be extended through to N Street). The two residential buildings will contain in the neighborhood of 320 units, and there will be a courtyard nestled between the residential and hotel buildings parallel to Half Street. Three levels of underground parking will provide about 520 spaces, and will be entered via Cushing Street.
The ground floors of all of these spaces will be almost completely taken up with retail (except for the entrance to the Metro station and small entrances that lead visitors to the second-floor lobbies of each building), and there will be a mixture of one- and two-level retail spaces. The two-level space at Half and N, directly across from the stadium, is considered to be the most prime location. There will also be a viewing platform above that retail space for residents to be able to look into the stadium.
It is anticipated that Half Street will be closed to vehicular traffic on game days (as will be N Street between Van and 1st), and because of this the design of Half Street is much more like a pedestrian plaza, with no actual curbs but using various landscape and streetscape tricks of the trade to delineate car space versus sidewalk space.
The plan is to start construction as soon as possible (in fact a Building Permit Application
for 55 M Street was filed earlier this week), working from north to south, so that the office building would be finished first (Q2 2009) and then the southern portion of the site would come online in Q3 2009. Earlier comments about perhaps getting the underground parking and some of the retail completed by Opening Day 2008 seem to have gone by the wayside, as it was mentioned that the garages and retail would start to open in Spring 2009. Of course, the Navy Yard station expansion (which Monument is overseeing as well) must be done by Opening Day 2008.
As for the hearing itself, commissioners were a bit divided, some hating Monument Street and others liking it, some not being happy with a second-floor hotel lobby while others were more concerned about having as much retail on the ground floor as possible. They were happy to hear that there is no more parking than the minimum required by law, as apparently the commission feels strongly about not having an overabundance of parking right above a Metro station.
The Office of Planning
and the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation
both are supporting the application, though OP indicated there is still some work to be done to address their concerns. Also there apparently was a letter from DDOT detailing an almost comically long list of items that they'd like to see incorporated. Monument and DDOT are still needing to meet to discuss those, as well as the streetscape and lighting designs.
Monument indicated that it is needing to move forward with all deliberate haste (especially given the cast-in-stone deadline of getting the Metro station ready by April 2008), and in fact they asked to have the ZC vote on approval be scheduled for Feb. 12. There were a number of issues that the commissioners asked to have addressed in additional submittals, so there will be some midnight oil burned to meet that Feb. 12 date. But I didn't get the feeling that the commission was particularly negative about the project, and certainly weren't hostile. (I'm skipping the minutiae of requested exceptions and reliefs, if that's of great interest to you, you should have watched your own self!)
Worn out yet? Imagine how I feel having had to watch it all! But soothe your soul by going to look at the cruddy versions of the renderings
I've posted, and hopefully before long the Gods will smile on me and send me
real purty versions of the images I can use instead.