The Hill East site, which is two and a half times bigger than the development at the old convention center, is intended to be a low-impact, LEED certified mixed-use development. The project will include residential, retail, and office components and will extend Massachusetts Avenue and other streets within the site to tie the new neighborhood into the existing community; including, apparently, the correctional facility, which will remain on site. Councilmember Tommy Wells, D-Ward 6, said the District envisions some sort of “health plex”, which could range from doctors’ offices to a specialized treatment facility, but that the decision is a long way off.
“It will be a truly mixed-use project,” said Deputy Mayor Neil Albert. “There is a great need for affordable housing in the District. There is a need for a health-plex, and because there are two metro stops [DCmud is still trying to locate the 2nd one], it will be good for office space, maybe some offices that are being forced out of the downtown area because of increasing lease prices,” he said.
“The more we bring to the waterfront, the more time people will want to spend there. We already have a bike path underway. We need to embrace the river as a community asset,” said Wells. Both Wells and Fenty pointed out the need to reduce the pollution in the river and to work with Maryland, the state through which the majority of the river runs. They both said part of the project’s goal is to make the river suitable for canoing and even swimming (cringe).
The site is bounded by 19th street, Independence Avenue, the Anacostia River, and the Historic Congressional Cemetery. The entire site is 67 acres, but development will take place on only 50 of those. The land, known as Reservation 13, is technically owned by the General Service Administration, but was given to the District under the 2006 Federal and District of Columbia Government Real Property Act of 2006, a “Transfer Act”. As DCmud reported in April of last year, 12 acres of the property were to be given back to the Federal government for a congressional mail facility. According to Fenty, the District is now looking for an alternative site for this facility and it will not be part of the Hill East development.