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In a newsletter released last week, the Marine Corps announced that a recent relaxation of the Department of Defense's force protection requirements means that the never-ending quest for space for a new Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ) can now be based on the need for a 66-foot standoff distance between any new building and nearby parking/roads instead of the 82-foot standoff that the Marines had been trying to work with up to now.
This means less land would be needed for both the new BEQ and additional support facilities, though the total amount is dependent on what exactly the Marines end up building. A joint eight-story BEQ and support facilities would need approximately 1.6 acres of land, while separating the two needs could mean something closer to two acres if a five-story BEQ is built.
While this is important news from a neighborhood/urban design standpoint, it also impacts the amount of land the Marines may need to, ahem, "acquire" in order to build the BEQ. Early in the search process, it had been hoped that a public-private development partnership could be arranged so that the Marines would not have to take land by eminent domain, but it was announced in April that "federal land acquisition will be unavoidable as a result of recent unforeseen changes in policy and a less favorable funding outlook." And, because of the requirement that the new BEQ and support facilities be within 2,000 feet of the main post at 8th and I, various blocks south of the freeway on and near Lower Barracks Row have long been the sites the Marines have been eyeing as possibilities.
At that time, the Marines said that the EIS would evaluate the two blocks along the east side of 8th between Virginia and Potomac Avenues (Squares 929/930) along with the old Exxon site at 11th and M (Square 976). It was also said that the existing "Annex site" at 7th and Virginia was ruled out for the 100,000 square feet of housing but that it could be used for the needed 60,000 square feet of support space, but one does wonder whether the setback requirement change can return the Annex site back into the mix.
As also announced back in April, the Marines will be preparing an Environmental Impact Statement to both evaluate potential locations for the new BEQ complex as well as the reuse of the current Building 20 barracks on I Street SE. It had been hoped that the formal Notice of Intent for the EIS would have been happening about now, but the new newsletter says this will be delayed until winter. There will then be the attendant public meetings and whatnot.
If you're joining this story late, feel free to read my many posts from the past two years on the evolving BEQ site search, because I really can't bear to try to summarize it all AGAIN. You can also browse the official project web site for lots of materials from the process.
(via WBJ)
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Gamble Rogers says: (8/21/12 10:59 PM)
This is good news, JD. No matter where the Marines decide to build, this development will only improve Lower Eighth Street. The new setback requirement could make the former Exxon site more attractive as a residential tower, especially if the Marines buy out the animal control clinic and businesses on 10th Street SE. The Marines could also request more land and security by asking the city to close the intersection of Potomac Avenue SE and 11th Street SE. Right now, Potomac Avenue is a speedway for folks cutting between 8th and 11th. If the Marines asked the city to cede one block of Potomac between 10th and 11th, and even the "non-dog-park-dog-park," perhaps they could compensate by funding improvements to Virginia Avenue park, including a larger, official dog park. That's one possibility that would have minimal impact on the neighborhood, would fall outside the Capitol Hill overlay, and could provide benefits to all parties.

Of course, the CDPs would go crazy -- but a man can dream, can't he?


Andrew in DC says: (8/24/12 10:59 AM)
"this development will only improve Lower Eighth Street"

I don't understand this assertion. Roping off more land to shuffle around existing bodies in the area will somehow "improve" lower 8th by evicting current residents and eliminating any future potential for additional near-term development?

This is not a benefit. Especially with the Marines asserting they're going to hold on to their old building and not yield _that_ back to the city, either. All it means is that a chunk of land becomes indefinitely off limits to the resident population. It is, at best, net-neutral.

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