"If you've ever been to Riggs Road in the area of South Dakota Avenue, you know it is an area of boundless potential...We are at the point where we are going to maximize that potential,” said Fenty.
The first phase, to be entitled Ft. Totten Square, will occupy the site of a vacated strip mall on the intersection’s northwestern quadrant. The 4-story building will house 468 residential units – 94 of which have been earmarked for affordable housing - and 71,000 square feet of ground floor retail, which is to be anchored by a full-service grocery store. 500 parking spaces will also be included in the development. Construction on Ft. Totten Square is slated to begin later this year and will be followed shortly by a second phase, the so-called Dakota Pointe across the street, which will include 170 units of housing and the requisite parking.
The project’s third and final phase – the Dakota Flats – will include the triangular parcel relinquished by the District at the development's southern-most point. It will feature 260 apartments with 52 reserved as affordable, 23,000 square feet of retail. According to the Mayor, construction of the Flats will “be set to close in 2011.” In addition to Lowe, the development team also includes Jack Sophie Development, City Partners Development and mixed-use planners StreetSense. Hickok Cole Architects are designing the project. Ellis Denning will serve as general contractor. The total cost of the project is currently estimated to be roughly $80 million.
Both the City and development team were keen to highlight the infrastructural improvements they have in store for one of the city’s busiest intersections. “We are working on making this a safer intersection because traffic is fast,” said Ward 4 Councilwoman Muriel Bowser. “We have thousands of hardworking, taxpaying citizens in Riggs Park who take their lives into their hands to get the Fort Totten Metro. We’re going to change that.”
In doing so, the District plans to eliminate the highway-style on-off ramps that guide traffic onto Riggs Road and include improved pedestrian crossings – while serving as a gateway to nearby Prince George’s County. “There’s not many more thoroughfares with much more traffic than this one right here,” said Marc Weller of Ellis Denning. “People came across the line into DC and the first thing they’d see is just a sign and vacant parking lot. We’re trying to create something much different than that.”
That change, however, has been a long time coming. Weller told DCmud that over the course of two years “overall market conditions [have] repositioned the project so that it could work in today’s markets.” Neither party would disclose the terms of the LDA, but details will be revealed as the project moves closer to fruition.