Since January, 2003
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There have been hints in recent weeks (soil borings, the removal of signage) and now there's confirmation via the Washington Post that the block bounded by Half, 1st, I, and K has been sold, with former plans for 825,000 square feet of office and retail now out the window, to be replaced with "800 upscale apartments along with at least 44,000 square feet of retail space."
The block's multiple parcels were bought for nearly $70 million in 2007 by DRI Development Services and Jamestown Properties, with the project first dubbed Plaza on K and then Congressional Square. However, given both the overall climate for office space in the city and the neighborhood's clear shift toward being a residential center, it's not surprising that this project never found its way.
The Recorder of Deeds database lists $63.75 million as the purchase price, but sometimes that doesn't tell the entire story. (And since the RoD site uses Java for its viewer and these days I don't have Java installed, that's the most I can give you right now.)
The Post says that Tishman Speyer is the new owner, and quotes a company representative as saying that the "first apartment building will be completed at the end of 2019 and the second in 2021." No architect has been chosen as of yet. Also, the project could have as much as 80,000 square feet of retail, but "we'll balance supply with demand as the project moves forward."
This block was once home to a firewood lot, a towing company, and a cab company garage, but was mostly cleared by 2008. You can see my older photos and lots of renderings of the now-defunct office project on my Not-Congressional-Square-Anymore project page.
(h/t to commenter jdc)
Comments (42)
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RMP says: (7/13/16 10:54 AM)
"800 upscale apartments" I assume means more rental? :(

Has anyone tried to tally up the number of rental vs. owned units now or in the pipline? Counting up the number of buildings is easy enough (thanks JD) but the number of units would be interesting too.

JD says: (7/13/16 11:16 AM)
I can't believe I got this done before anyone else.

I left out Capitol Quarter, the Bixby, and all the Capper Hope VI-related projects. And of course this is all subject to change, and there are a few sites not listed at all because so little is known.

[Updated to now include Capitol Hill Tower]

jdc says: (7/13/16 11:17 AM)
I walk past here a lot, and I always stopped to look at that sign touting Congressional Square and views of the Capitol (I think those might have since been obstructed except for the tallest floors). Glad to see something coming to this large parcel. It should really activate the streets on all 4 sides, which can be pretty desolate at times.

oh, and yay! a h/t to me :)

SWag says: (7/13/16 11:21 AM)
what is an h/t?

JD says: (7/13/16 11:23 AM)
Hat tip. It's what nice bloggers/writers do when they post about content that they didn't discover themselves. You might not be familiar with it because so few people actually have the self-confidence to admit that they don't magically find all of their content completely by themselves.

JHUGrad says: (7/13/16 11:29 AM)
I think this is a missed opportunity for this lot. There are SOOO many apartments being built. If office space wasn't viable here, then why not a retail complex like CityCenterDC? It would be surrounded by thousands of apartment units. This area could absolutely support a CityCenterDC type of a block in the next 4 years.

JD says: (7/13/16 11:31 AM)
But don't forget how much retail is coming to Half Street. Multiple buildings with two floors of retail. There will not be a shortage. Plus, don't forget that City Center has lots and lots of residential on top of the ground-floor retail. If this project upped to its higher amount of retail, 88,000 sq ft, that'd still be a huge amount for this block.

And this project's timeline is far enough out that I wouldn't write these plans in stone, either.

jdc says: (7/13/16 12:04 PM)
re: more retail, I think the other issue is that a lot of retail (esp. dining) is dependent on daytime workers. So while there are a lot of apartments now and in the pipeline, I bet a large number of those residents leave the area to work. Without a larger share of office workers in the area, there may not be enough people needing to run to a store or grab a bite to eat to support that much more retail.

RMP says: (7/13/16 12:19 PM)
Thanks, JD! I was going to guess ~90% rental and it looks like I only missed by 1-2% (excluding the unknowns).

202_cyclist says: (7/13/16 1:14 PM)
The hostile reaction to this good news on your Facebook page is kind of shocking.

JD says: (7/13/16 1:17 PM)
I've been waiting for the first hints of feelings that the neighborhood is getting too crowded, and this appears to have flipped the switch.

JD says: (7/13/16 1:23 PM)
Oops, I missed Capitol Hill Tower in the spreadsheet. Not in a place to check the numbers/fix right now. I failed. :)

202_cyclist says: (7/13/16 1:31 PM)
Exactly right--if I wanted NIMBYs, I would move back to Upper NW.

Jesse says: (7/13/16 3:25 PM)
I'm glad to see all this residential and retail activity taking place in the Yards Park. It shows that developers want a piece of the pie in this area and that it is attracting an abundance of retail and residents. The key is managed growth. While on this topic, I've always thought that DC would benefit from a large Olympic training complex/facility for gymnasts, swimmers, divers, ice skaters, sprinters, and more. That would be very unique and cool to have.

Jesse says: (7/13/16 3:35 PM)
Just saw this Forest Hill development announcement that has not yet been posted on your blog:

280 Units, A Hotel and Plenty of Retail: Forest City Files Plans At The Yards


RMP says: (7/13/16 3:49 PM)
"The neighborhood is too crowded" is a nice antithetical to that Popville post from a few days ago where people were saying the neighborhood is desolate on non-gamedays. ¯\_(?)_/¯

I like living next to a construction site as little as the next guy, but when you move into a newly constructed building that's next to a vacant lot, do people really never expect it to be developed?

202_cyclist says: (7/13/16 4:00 PM)

This was posted in June: link .

conngs0 says: (7/13/16 4:02 PM)
Jesse, JD was all over the Parcel L plans about a month ago - link Should be interesting to follow as more details emerge.

On the news of the day, I'm happy to see any empty lot moving closer to being developed. I wholeheartedly agree with Jesse's point that growth needs to be managed, which is why I hope the zoning commission carefully considers requests to change projects from office to retail. But at the end of the day, I love all of the restaurants and other retail coming into the neighborhood and I recognize all those places will need customers to stay afloat. So... apartments/condos it is!

Jesse says: (7/13/16 5:15 PM)
Oops - sorry for the duplicate info on the Parcel L development plans since JD Land had already blogged about it in June. It looks amazing and I look forward to seeing it become reality, especially as it's an underutilized parking lot at the moment.

Great comment by Conngs0 about the zoning commission and all the amazing retail/food activity taking place here that will be better supported by apartments and condos since those residents will be around in the evenings and weekends unlike Farragut North which is a ghost town with many shuttered businesses on weekends!

JD says: (7/13/16 5:47 PM)
Funny, I was out of pocket most of the day after I posted, and swore I put up a comment asking someone to find the link to my Parcel L post for Jesse. But turns out I didn't need to ask! :-) Thanks!

dude says: (7/13/16 10:14 PM)
When we lived in 70 I ST, we had a view south to Nats Park and we were fortunate enough to live there when most of the lots were vacant and we could see into Nats Park. I always thought it would suck to lose that and I think once these buildings arrive it'll finally happen to the current apt renters. Sad day.

SWag says: (7/14/16 9:14 AM)
A movie theater will be a really nice addition to this neighborhood, just west of this site. Come on DC Water. Move faster...

conngs0 says: (7/14/16 9:47 AM)
Ha! Yes the movie theater definitely needs to get going, but unfortunately it sure doesn't seem like DC Water has any incentive to expedite their move away from the site.

DCisforLovers says: (7/14/16 10:00 AM)
Good news about this lot! Can't wait till the smell of dog poop/pee is gone along that corridor. What about the lot between I & K along New Jersey? Any plans for that? Also saw it looks like the retail next to TaKorean is getting developed, any idea what that is about?

JD says: (7/14/16 10:04 AM)
Next to TaKorean isn't retail--Forest City is moving their centralized leasing center from its current home in Foundry Lofts over to there.

The lot between I and K along New Jersey is part of the Capper Hope VI redevelopment, and will eventually be a mixed-income apartment building, but not anytime soon. Hopefully some new sidewalks will be put in at some point, however.

knavyard says: (7/14/16 10:36 AM)
I have three main concerns about the neighborhood:
1. Green space. While it seems like we have plenty for now, a lot of that is because the vacant lots make it feel more spacious. As more buildings, and more people, move in, I'm worried there won't be enough. And I wish they would hurry up and finish that (temporary) park on M!
2. Related, places for dogs to relieve themselves. People already complain about the smell, and there just aren't that many options, and more pets will come with more buildings and more people.
3. Rentals versus condos. I rent, I want to own, but I also want to live in Navy Yard. I wish developers would see what I see, a huge market potential, even if just 1/3 of the planned rentals went to condos.

JES says: (7/14/16 10:38 AM)
I have a couple questions that have been nagging me lately that I'm just gonna post here to generate conversation. Apologies if they've been answered and I just missed it.

1) Forest City has blocked off both remaining Yards Park "pavilion" spaces with construction fencing. One is obviously the winery, but why is the second blocked off? Are they building that one at the same time, or just using it for construction staging?

2) With the leasing office moving over by TaKorean, what'll happen to the existing leasing office space in the Foundry Lofts? Will that become another retail space?

JD says: (7/14/16 10:51 AM)
1. Staging.

2. Another retail space.

Sorry if that ends the conversation generation, wasn't my intent. :-)

JES says: (7/14/16 11:07 AM)
D**n you and your facts clogging up the conversation feed...

JHUGrad says: (7/14/16 12:02 PM)
@JD.... What is the square footage of the retail space at the Foundry Lofts?

202_cyclist says: (7/14/16 12:13 PM)
1) Fortunately, there is quite a bit of open space in the area, with Canal Park and Yards Park but also the numerous parks on the other side of 1-395. If I recall correctly, there will also be more open space (or at least a bike path) when the CSX construction is completed. Just on the other side of the Anacostia, there is also a great trail that goes the length of the Anacostia, as well as plenty of open space along the trail.

2) Regarding a dog park, I recall that ANC Commissioner Meredith Fascett mentioned there are tentative plans for one during the Coalition for Smarter Growth walking tour in June.

JD says: (7/14/16 12:15 PM)
There is talk of a dog park on the land north of Agora, between the new M Street and the freeway.

Westnorth says: (7/14/16 2:46 PM)
FWIW, apartments are lower-density than offices. An 825,000 sq ft office building would probably have about 4,000 employees working inside, whereas 1,000 luxury apartments probably house about 1,700 residents. This is not a good change if you're a retailer, but those worrying about "overcrowding" (rotfl!) should take solace in that.

JES says: (7/14/16 2:48 PM)
JD, isn't that dog park designed to be permanent since there's no real way to fit a building between Agora and the interstate?

Also, a dog park isn't going to solve the piss smell problem. Dog owners won't walk their dog all the way over to one multiple times a day just so they can pee.

202_cyclist says: (7/14/16 3:08 PM)
We should have a contest to send one lucky JD Land reader to this event. $94 is a lot of money that could be used at Bluejacket or the Brig instead.


JD says: (7/14/16 3:09 PM)
I have my ticket. if my calendar holds.

JES says: (7/14/16 4:33 PM)
Lol, their map shows 1100 NJ Ave NW... that's a great sign.

JES says: (7/14/16 5:17 PM)
The BID newsletter says we're getting one of these in ORE 82: link

jdc says: (7/15/16 7:54 AM)
@JES - hum. That definitely seems to be competition for Lot 38, which is darn close.

conngs0 says: (7/15/16 8:56 AM)
I'm almost always in favor of a little competition and this would be no exception. However, I think that if the fine folks at Lot 38 keep cranking out that illy coffee and reasonably-priced breakfast sandwiches, they'll do just fine! Love that place.

JD says: (7/15/16 8:58 AM)
(Hoping to put up a post about Slipstream today....)

JES says: (7/15/16 12:34 PM)
The coffee probably won't get me into Slipstream (I agree that Lot 38 is consistently excellent), but the cocktail options and cheese plates certainly will...

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