Saturday, November 14, 2009

Work Begins on Downtown Church Site

The First Congregational United Church of Christ and development partner Skanska have begun developing a 10-story, 200,000 s.f. mixed use building in downtown Washington DC where a Church has sat since 1865, and which PN Hoffman had previously attempted first a condo then an office project. The enviably positioned site between Metro Center and Chinatown is accessible from all 5 metro lines.

The church will reclaim office space on part of the first and all of the second floor, and develop 5,000 s.f. of ground floor retail and eight floors of Class A office space where the church once stood, at 733 10th Street, NW (at G Street), a modern structure which had taken the place of yet another church. Designed by Cunningham | Quill to achieve LEED Gold certification, upward construction could begin as soon as this January with anticipated delivery in 18 to 20 months. The new building will be a huge improvement over a site that many a nighttime passerby used to scurry past, helped not at all by vagrant filled MLK Library next door.

The church congregation began considering a new development over five years ago in light of the costly repairs needed for the old building. After an RFP, the church originally hired PNHoffman as the developer for what was then planned as a combined condominium, church office, and homeless shelter. According to Meg Maguire, a spokesperson for First Congregational, as the condo market slid into oblivion in the beginning of 2008, the church took their developer's advice and redesigned the plan for an office building. Shortly thereafter the market further deteriorated, and the project lost financing, making way for international developer Skanska to swoop in during the first quarter of 2009.

According to Robert Ward, Executive Vice President at Skanska, the company, which only just entered the US market as a commercial developer in late 2008, sought out the project and stepped in to purchase the air rights above the church ground. The agreement between the new developer and the church is for $21 million to include the cost of construction of the 25,000 s.f. of new church space as well as 20 below-grade parking spaces. Skanska now acts as the developer, financier and general contractor with PNHoffman as non-financing partner. Ward estimated the total development cost at $85 million, including the church's $21 million.

The building will feature six sides of glass facade and all sides of the offices from the fourth floor up will be glass walled and well lit, as there is no adjoining structure and the MLK Public Library rises only four stories. The floor plates on the office floors are 21,000 s.f. and consist of an outer ring of column-free window line offices and conference rooms, with an inner ring of interior offices, meeting spaces and common spaces. As part of the LEED Gold design, the building will feature a vegetated green roof. Depending on when tenants sign their leases, the new office spaces could see occupancy as early as 2012.

Since demolition and excavation began in 2007, the church has made a temporary home at First Trinity Lutheran church. The congregation will have to wait another 20 months or so until the new church, designed by Todd Williams Billie Tsien Architects, is ready. Renderings were provided by Interface Multimedia. First Congregational UCC shared their former space with Thrive DC, which now has a permanent home in Adams Morgan. Keeping with their tradition of providing space for like minded groups, the church plans to find an "appropriate nonprofit" to lease approximately 2,300 s.f. of "flex space" in its new home.

Ward described the neighborhood's reception of the project as "welcoming," adding that the ground floor retail space will be a "nice improvement" for the block. Maguire said the congregation is "excited about having a new home that is forward-looking and meets contemporary requirements for their outreach and mission."

Look for signs of progress in the New Year.

Washington DC real estate news
Construction images courtesy of First Congregational.


Chris Loos on Nov 16, 2009, 10:04:00 AM said...

Was the decision to add retail recent? I remember complaining (I think maybe on this very blog) that the project was to be 100% church + office, leaving blank inactive walls at street level. Not to look a gift horse in the mouth...more retail is definitely better!

kevinbarone on Nov 16, 2009, 11:12:00 PM said...

I'm a little confused. The article mentions the "25,000 s.f. of new church space." Will this be for the church (as in worshiping space) and aforementioned homeless shelter, or just offices? Can anyone clarify this?

Shaun on Nov 16, 2009, 11:39:00 PM said...

The church will have a total of 25,000 feet at their disposal. In this space they have planned both worship and office space. The homeless shelter, as we said, has a new permanent home in Adams Morgan and will not be returning to the downtown site.

Mr. Optimism said...

The next step is to tear down the adjacent MLK library. Although the architectural and library fascists will argue that the building has historical and social significance, the fact that people "scurry by," and don't stop in, seems to weigh in favor of a new use for that site. The downtown area is evolving, electronic media has replaced hard copy books, and a public library is simply no longer necessary in that area. The city should put it up for bid and let the creative process begin!

Anonymous said...

The MLK library is staying unfortunatley. At least it should be made in to some modern sculpture museum or something, Mies always designed the same banal glass bos for every function.

As for the new-meisian building, it looks like it should be in Brasilia what with it's dumb podium. I love the bend in the facade as if the designers know it's a piece of crap so 'I'd better so something original'. Just another retrofit job 20-years down the line.

Mr Joseph said...

I have noticed more youth using the library recently and that is positive. plus not everyone can afford a computer, web access or have access to one. MLK should be and is for everyone. Also people learn in different ways and shouldnt have to be pinned to a computer to do so. Environment is conducive to the learning process.

Anonymous said...

Thrive DC is a service provider, not a homeless shelter, and it has relocated to Columbia Heights, not Adams Morgan.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Mr. Joe, libraries are not only necessary but desirable. I never "scurry by" it and I'm glad there are people who take the time to read something other than a blog. Seriously people, unplug once in a while.


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