Thursday, June 04, 2009

Burnham Place Idles Toward Union Station


Akridge’s landmark $10 million development agreement with the General Services Administration to build over the rear of Union Station – the so-called Burnham Place project – was announced in 2006 and scheduled to go to ground this year. Their ambitious plans for 3 million square feet of office space, a 400-room hotel and residential towers, however, may have to wait if proposed upgrades to the transportation hub go forward later this year. But the developer posits that any boon to Union Station is also one in the plus column for Burnham Place.

“There’s a…Circuit Transportation Bill that is coming up before Congress that we’re working on. It would be six years worth of funds that would support Union Station improvements…The private development, of course, is an entirely different matter,” says Mary Margaret Plumridge, Director of Marketing and Communications for the developer. “The Akridge development of Burnham Place at Union Station certainly would benefit from an enhanced Union Station, but the public and private projects are separate.”

Nonetheless, Akridge spokespeople say the Burham Place development team is in constant communication with Amtrak as they tweak a development scheme that will see new construction from the back of the train station, over in-use tracks, above the “Hopscotch” H Street Bridge and beyond. Before lying brick one, it’s a project that some are already valuing at over $1 billion.

“We are working on pre-development work that includes design and engineering studies,” says Plumridge. “We’re working with Amtrak through the design and engineering processes, the project requires that we build while the trains are running…We’re even having some very preliminary discussions with some potential [office] users.”

Despite the incremental progress, a formal timeline for the project has yet to be and Akridge has also been unable to provide any new renderings of the fa├žade, beyond the aerial jell-o mold shot (pictured) released in tandem with the project’s unveiling in 2006. Multiple inquires from DCmud to the project's architect, Shalom Baranes, have gone un-returned.

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