Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Grocery Store and Apartments Coming to H St NE


The H Street corridor may soon have a new 6-story apartment building and full service grocery store, a boon for the up-and-coming neighborhood in northeast Washington DC. Steuart Investment Company has owned several of the lots on the northeast corner of 3rd and H Streets, and in 2005 assembled a developable site by acquiring the remaining portion from BP AMOCO (BP) for $1.5 million, scotching BP's plans for a giant filling station and truck depot. The developer plans to build a six-story building with over 200,000 s.f. of residential and 46,500 s.f. of retail designed by Torti Gallas. The mixed-use building, with neighborhood approval, calls for an anchor grocer and LEED- certified rental units, and will continue the reinvigoration of a corridor already known for its burgeoning restaurant, bar and entertainment scene.


Things have not always been so peachy at 3rd and H. BP once had plans for a "BP Connect" gas station megaplex, but the company met severe opposition from the community and, after knocking down historic houses on the site in favor of gas pumps and a truck stop, abandoned plans. The Steuart acquisition was welcomed with relief when its PUD application for zoning changes was first approved in 2006, with local ANC and community groups supporting the application. Steuart will go back before the Zoning Commission November 30th to request several changes to the original plans, reducing the number of stories from eight to six and removing one level of parking. The new proposed application includes 212 residential rental units, featuring studios, one-bedrooms and a few two-bedrooms, as well as two levels of below-grade parking. The first level of parking will service the grocery store with 152 planned spaces and the second level would be reserved for residents with 146 spaces (0.7 spaces per unit).

Pending Commission approval, Guy Steuart, Sr., Vice President of Steuart Investment Company, said he hopes "all the pieces will come together" and will be digging by "mid-summer or fall of next year." Construction now underway is Steuart's consolidation of the lot and installation of storm sewer and water connections. As DDOT executes the H Street Great Streets Plan, the developer decided to take advantage of the "mess" and install utilities now to avoid future expense and inconveniences for area residents later.

However, Steuart said his group will not move forward with construction until a grocer is signed on for the retail space. He affirmed discussions with a full-service grocer, but was unwilling to disclose which one. Previous discussions had fallen through with a grocer that had decided to locate on the other side of NOMA, referring to the Harris Teeter coming to Constitution Square. So residents might be looking at yet another Safeway (which would be consistent with Torti Gallas's extensive work with the grocer throughout the DC area) or perhaps a Giant or even, dare we say, Whole Foods on H Street? No one would have thought that was likely in Logan Circle ten years ago.

Meanwhile, the Dreyfus property group plans for a similar-sized apartment building just across the street that has yet to start construction. Hopefully both will rent more quickly than the painfully slow pace of occupancy next door at Senate Square.

31 comments:

old guy said...

Good news! But I think the Whole Foods in Logan Circle is over 10 years old already!

Time flies.

Anonymous said...

I would rather have a gas station than another Safeway! Please NO Safeway!

IMGoph on Oct 6, 2009, 2:54:00 PM said...

i seriously do not understand why trader joe's doesn't expand in the city. they are making money hand over fist in that store in the west end.

and, it's a damn shame that they don't reach out to people in lower income neighborhoods. while their prices aren't bargain basement, they are very, very reasonable. there's no reason that a trader joe's wouldn't do fantastic business in a neighborhood like the area around H street (or many other places in NE and SE DC, for that matter.

Anonymous said...

TJ or WF would be fantastic. We already have a safeway and a harris teeter on the Hill.

HStreetGreatStreet on Oct 7, 2009, 10:49:00 AM said...

DC is hard up for another WFs. The one of P Street is one of if not the very busiest WFs in the country. A WFs on H Street would cover all of Capitol Hill as well as NoMa/Penn Quarter. Sign the petition here http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/WholeFoods_OnHSt/index.html

Anonymous said...

Please, please, please bring us a TJ's to the Hill. Eastern Market already has enough fresh produce to satisfy the Whole Paycheck crowd.

Anonymous said...

There's no real news here: except for Steuart Investment's continued delay in providing us with a much-needed amenity.

I do not know much about urban development but do know that the District needs to devise a mechanism to penalize developers for delaying projects attached to PUDs.

Anonymous said...

"Steuart will go back before the Zoning Commission November 30th to request several changes to the original plans...The first level of parking will service the grocery store with 152 planned spaces and the second level would be reserved for residents with 146 spaces (0.7 spaces per unit)"

One parking space per new residence ain't too much for neighbors to ask for. In fact, it is a basic started place for all well-negotiated PUDs in residential areas. Do the right thing here, ANCs/City Council. This developer shouldn't get off on the cheap just because he is going to do something better than put a gas station for trucks in a residential neighborhood.

Those of us that live here deserve better.

Anonymous said...

*I* live here, and I think the amount of parking is appropriate. This is practically at Union Station, and there are tons of amenities around. A lot of the residents here won't need, or own, cars.

Anonymous said...

how do you know the parking is appropriate?

many other places were forced to offer one space per residence as a pre-condition of development. even in this exact neighborhood. why not in this case?

the project seems great. i think everyone in the h st neighborhood welcomes the development. this just seems like someone getting a shortcut to make more money off the project at the neighborhood's expense.

reflexive said...

i'm not following why people think .7 spots per resident is bad.

is that too much or too little?
and why?

from my perspective, i dont see why the developers dont have the right to add or not add as much parking as they want.

its not like having a car is remotely a need is this section of the city.

mapgirl on Oct 7, 2009, 11:26:00 PM said...

Is Constitution Square done yet? Rumor was that a Harris Teeter was going to go in there. That would be only a few more blocks north off M.

Mike Licht on Oct 8, 2009, 8:31:00 AM said...

More wishful thinking about supermarkets. Get more residents in the area first.

TJ's usually locates within a few blocks of a conventional supermarket to siphon off an established customer base.

Stanton Park said...

I'm not sure that neighborhood qualifies as lower income. I live two blocks away, and my neighbors are not lower income. Townhouses there are still selling for over $750,000, and rents at Senate Square Towers across the street run from $1,438 to $4,260 per month. I would classify the neighborhood as mixed income.

No developer is going to build a residential building with fewer parking spaces than they expect will be demanded by residents. If Steuart thinks they only need 0.7 spaces per unit, then why should they be forced to build more spaces that will sit empty?

This site is served by frequent bus service, is easy walking distance from two Metro stations, and trolley tracks are being installed now right in front of the building site.

If the grocery store is a Giant or Safeway, it will attract mostly people that live and work in the area that are more likely to walk. If it is a WF or TJ, it will attract people from other parts of town that are more likely to drive. The size of the parking in relation to the size of the store should be a hint as to which type of store they want.

Ken on Oct 8, 2009, 9:57:00 AM said...

A few things from the editor: Yes, Constitution Center is on the way, about a year off: http://dcmud.blogspot.com/2009/09/nomas-largest-mixed-use-building-caps.html

.7 cars per unit is about standard, lots of bigger buildings use that ratio, many smaller buildings have a lower ratio, just FYI.

Anonymous said...

Sure, more parking! Ha Ha:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/07/AR2009100703996.html?hpid=newswell

As has been pointed out, the neighborhood near Union Station is set to become a model public inter-modal transportation hub just about unmatched anywhere in the US.

A DC Architect said...

DC zoning requires different amounts of parking for different zones. Outside of single-family home zoning districts, however, it is only in the lowest-density zones (R-5-A and C-1) that 1 space per dwelling unit is required. In every other zone, the required ratio is 1 per 2 units, 1:3, or 1:4. I would aver that, for a building of its density, 1 space per 1.42 units (which is what .7 works out to), is unusually HIGH, doubtless a result of neighborhood politics.

If one's central concern is parking, why not move to the suburbs? You will find an asphalt paradise, the result of zoning that often requires 2 spaces or more per dwelling unit and similarly high parking requirements for buildings with other uses. Yes, the traffic is appalling and the architecture and urbanism spotty at best, but you can always have certainty that a space awaits. Is there really anything more important?

Anonymous said...

the whole, you should move to____ insult is asinine.

people just want to continue what they are used to if they are happy with it.

most of dc is very accustomed to having ample parking. its insulting to suggest someone move because they are trying to preserve something they find has value.

Anonymous said...

Very similar projects in comparable areas of DC (Logan, U St.) are physically parked at a 0.4 ratio or lower, with the remaining spaces sitting vacant most of the time.

As for the comment about initiating penalties for developers intentionally "delaying" projects and neighborhood amenities -- I'm sure they'd be building if the market was in better shape and financing was available. Would you prefer they continue to build, then go bankrupt and leave a blighted project?

Anonymous said...

"As for the comment about initiating penalties for developers intentionally "delaying" projects and neighborhood amenities -- I'm sure they'd be building if the market was in better shape and financing was available."

Steuart Investment (once Steuart Petroleum, among other things) has no problem securing financing. And the market for a grocery store in that region is beyond ripe...people have nowhere to shop in the immediate area.

Anonymous said...

What's disingenuous is that Steuart is eliminating a disproportionate number of parking spots relative to the number of units in the two-story decrease. The elimination of 34 residential units above ground is somehow resulting in the elimination 100 residential parking spots below ground (along with elimination of retail parking spots despite no change in the retail square footage allocation).

What's not being incorporated in everyone's assumptions is the fact the 0.7 spots/unit requirement is for a single building. There are four total buildings slated for development, each of which is zoned to that standard: the Washington Center, Loree Grand I, Loree Grand II, and the Steuart Property.

The argument being made about the transportation-savvy nature of the District is bullshit -- most people own cars here, period. I would venture to guess the number is greater than 70%. Especially for the target market of these buildings, which isn't exactly the working poor.

Anonymous said...

anon guy that thinks most people in dc own cars,

is that true for the urban parts of dc? i seriously doubt it. the suburbs of michigan park, tennlytown, kent, woodridge, etc... add significantly to the car ownership. most people downtown dont have cars.
in other words, its actually your argument that is bullshit.
( thanks for knocking to convo down to insults!)

Anonymous said...

According to a chart recently posted on Greater Greater Washington (http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post.cgi?id=3666) fewer than 50% of people commute to work via a private automobile.

High parking minimums increase housing costs for potential residents as developers both pass along the cost of building the parking to residents and also build larger residents to recover the costs of the parking which is often bundled into the price of the unit.

Anonymous said...

Ok...

1) It is EXTREMEMLY doubtful Trader Joe's would locate there, despite all neighborhood efforts/demographics. Plain and simple, TJ's are around 10,000 SF in size. That leaves more than 35,000 SF of retail to be filled. In this market, that's nearly impossible to get filled with inline retailers (there are other projects in the city that have less retail SF and have long since delivered and are still vacant...not to mention the fact that that side of H does not see as much foot traffic as is needed for an inline retailer). And I'm not aware of any grocers right now that not only fit that size profile but would also be located adjacent for competition reasons.

2) If I'm not mistaken the whole 'Whole Foods' petition was tried in Columbia Heights but was not successful in bringing them to the center. However, I remember hearing something that the real point of contention was the fact Whole Foods wanted dedicated parking, which the city was not willing to provide within the DC USA underground parking complex. Lol...if that in fact was the case I bet the city is kicking itself right now (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/07/AR2009100703996.html). I wonder if those complaining of the 'high' parking ratio would still feel the same over the prospect of losing Whole Foods...which leads me to 3)

3) My personal opinion, but I see many similarities between the Whole Foods on P and a potential Whole Foods on H...

a) When initially constructed, Whole Foods planned to draw upon the demographics of an 'established' high-income neighborhood (Dupont) and an emerging neighborhood (Logan/U St)...the same would hold true for Steuarts location (established - Capitol Hill, emerging - NoMa/CHNNA)

b) Abdo played a part in attracting Whole Foods. I temember hearing a story of how Abdo took Mackey up to the penthouse of one of his project's across the street from what became Whole Food's P Street location and sold him on the area. Not saying that would happen in this case, but with Abdo's project (Landmark Lofts) across the street from Steuart's location...you never know.

c) Whole Foods on P had the re-mergence of retail corridors 14th St and U St. on its side. Hard to believe the same wouldn't hold true for H Street. Also, the sites share the fact they are 5(+/-)blocks from metro stations (P - Dupont/McPherson/U St; H - Union Station/NY Ave).

d) Like the 3 little bears, 46,500 is too small for the new prototype stores for the area's major grocers like Giant or Safeway and too large for the smaller organic-style grocers like Yes or TJ's. This size fits 'just right' for a major upscale-organic grocer like Whole Foods.

...who knows.

Ken on Oct 12, 2009, 5:51:00 PM said...

Harris Teeters or Whole Foods would be fantastic and anchor the community, and the convenience to Union Station and the neighborhood would be perfect. We live two blocks south and love Sidamo's and are excited about the new Ethiopian restaurant on 4th/5th and H. Many, many people would shop there.

Anonymous said...

I am another area resident the would LOVE to see Trader Joe's come to H Street. My second choice would be Whole Foods.

Anonymous said...

Is the community limited to WF, Traders, Safeway and Giant? Does anyone know anything about Bloom, for example? I've only seen them in the far out VA suburbs. Would they be interested in DC?

IMGoph on Oct 15, 2009, 10:09:00 AM said...

i visited a bloom when i was out in leesburg a few months back. it was a nice place. nothing fancy, but very clean and friendly. they're owned by the same company that owns food lion.

i have no idea if they would even consider an urban market, but i'm always in favor of increased competition.

H Street Great Street on Oct 15, 2009, 1:34:00 PM said...

Tommy Wells gets Mayor Fenty to commit to streetcars on H St first and to order DDOT to accelerate the schedule for their launch!
http://hstreetgreatstreet.blogspot.com/2009/10/fenty-wells-streetcars-for-h-st-now.html

Reston said...

Why not a Wegman's?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have an opinion about the future of Blair Shelter and the large parcel behind it next to murrays? Should that entire area be developed?

 

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