Thursday, December 31, 2009

West End Development Showdown


Two months after the drop-dead date for responses to the West End Development solicitation, the parties have released more information about what might replace the aging city-owned sites. Eastbanc-W.D.C. Partners is vying for the parcels, which it briefly controlled two years ago, against a team comprised of Toll Brothers, Paramount Development and Torti Gallas. At a recent community meeting the two groups presented their plans for the sites which include the West End Library, fire station, and special operations police unit. Neighbors have been told to expect a final decision this spring.

According to DMPED Communications Director, Sean Madigan, the Toll Brothers and Eastbanc offers were the only two received in response to the July soliciation. The December 17th community meeting was an opportunity for the groups to show off their plans and answer questions from an often outspoken neighborhood. Local residents became incensed over the lack of BID competition in 2007 when the District attempted to sell the land to Eastbanc Development, which developed the Ritz Carlton hotel and condo and 22 West condos, but which the community viewed as not arms-length.

EastBanc's plans for Square 37, the current site of the library, would create a 20,765 s.f. ground floor library with a 10-story residence above (rendering at left). Designed by LeMay Erickson Wilcox Architects, the plans call for approximately 153 market-rate residential units on the 2nd through 10th floors, and 9,000 s.f. of ground floor retail.

Eastbanc's plans for Square 50 - the fire station - include a replacement fire station on the ground floor and mezzanine with 52 affordable residential units on the 2nd through 4th floors.

At the public presentation Eastbanc responded to questions about including a grocery store in their plan. An Eastbanc representative explained that the group "can and would build a supermarket on site if the community and city united to support it," adding that so far the group has "heard more opposition than support."

The Toll Brother's - Torti Gallas-designed plan for the library calls for 48,000 s.f. of retail, including a 40,000 s.f. grocery store. The library, which the solicitation encouraged developers to keep in the immediate vicinity, would remain in place; 21,300 s.f. on two levels. To top it off, the building will be designed to LEED Silver standards and include as many as 220 residential condos (with views of New York City, if the submitted renderings are accurate).

The group did not submit a plan for the site of the fire station. At the public meeting a Toll Brother's spokesperson explained the decision, saying "if there were some flexibility in some other areas of the Project...we would be willing to discuss subsidizing the construction of the new fire station in Square 50, but we would not be interested in purchasing this site from the District."

Now with two options for Square 37 and only one for Square 50, the DMPED's office will review the community concerns, which they will continue to accept through January, and may eventually request a "best and final offer" from the developer that demonstrates a response to community feedback. A decision should be made by the spring, said Madigan, at which point the land disposition negotiations will begin. Madigan indicate that process could take between 6 and 12 months, and would end with review by the City Council.

Eastbanc had been awarded development rights to the site in 2007, but an outcry over the non-competitive award caused the Council to revoke the grant. Eastbanc was one of the partners awarded the rights to develop the Hine School at the Eastern Market last September.

Washington, D.C. real estate development news

11 comments:

Jim on Jan 1, 2010, 11:49:00 AM said...

the lead architecture firm on the EastBanc proposal is actually Ten Arquitectos. http://abetterwestend.com/westend.pdf

Mister Knucklz said...

Although the 52 residential units above the fire station will be "affordable," they will probably not be very marketable, except to folks who are very sound sleepers.

Anonymous said...

EastBanc's design architect for both sites is Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos. LeMay Erickson is the firm that is laying out the interior of the Fire Station only.

Anonymous said...

While neither design is particularly appealing, at least the EastBanc design could be considered "innovative" and consistent with the DC aesthetic. The Toll Brothers design looks like it was lifted out of Ballston. Do they realize that VA and DC are totally different markets??? Maybe I just answered my own question.

Anonymous said...

The EaskBank Scheme seems like it was pulled out of the slums of San Paulo. Doesn't seem like there is anything at the street(s) except a manilla colored blank wall -- how cool is that ?!?

Anonymous said...

The EastBanc Scheme looks to me like they were trying to match the design of the existing library - maybe the West End folks really like it.....

Anonymous, Too said...

"West End Development Laugh Off" would be a more appropriate title for this latest non-competition being foisted on the neighborhood. EastBanc is simply dumping its affordable housing requirement on the fire station site with Toll Bros. dumping the whole enchilada on one site.

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