Monday, January 11, 2010

Shaw's Addison Square


Despite skepticism from community members, Metropolitan Development says it is near finality for launching the $54 million Addison Square development in Shaw. The former site of the Kelsey Gardens apartments, the 8-story, mixed-use development will be Metropolitan Development's first DC project. Designed by the Lessard Architectural Group, the 12 townhouses, 278 rental units, and 14,000 s.f. of ground-floor retail are slated to take the place of the 54 subsidized apartments currently on the site, but finally closed and fenced off.

Developers at Metropolitan were granted preliminary PUD approval in March 2009 and according to Metropolitan Construction Manager Jim Wurzel there has every reason to believe they will "have final approval signed in the next few weeks" - a prediction representatives in the DC Office of Zoning also confirmed.

"We're hoping we can start construction this summer," he says, adding that when the development is complete it will fill in some of the "final pieces of renewal for that area." But for a community that has seen its fair share of stalled development projects over the past few years, the hopes and assurances of developers are greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism, especially for a development that was thought to be a year away almost a year and a half ago.

"We're probably talking 2011 or 2012 before anything is even torn down," predicts ANC Commissioner and Shaw Main Streets founder, Alexander Padro who adds ominously, that "the reality is that financing for the project, they needed to get that from the city and with the current economic climate and banks' unwillingness to provide financing - it makes it impossible to move forward."

In response to Padro's timeline concerns, Wurzel asserted, "our intent and our efforts are to get things going this summer," adding admittedly, "in this climate who knows what's really going to happen next week, regardless off what we're trying to do." Wurzel said that the two year project might mean residents would not be able to move in until 2012, but that his firm is "working toward ground breaking this summer."

Economic indicators aside, Metropolitan has had an uphill battle developing Addison Square ever since they purchased the Kelsey Gardens property back in 2004. In those days, the developers found themselves embroiled in a legal battle with Kelsey Gardens tenants who had banded together to try to block re-development of the property by attempting to purchase Kelsey Gardens themselves. Metropolitan has since payed $250,000 in relocation assistance to the former tenants who will have first dibs on Addison Square's 54 affordable units when the development is complete.

Today, Padro characterizes Metropolitan Development as "responsive to the neighbors" and sites their willingness to shrink the development from nine stories down to eight, remap the alley to make it wider, and come up with what Padro calls a "substantial community benefits package" as signs that they want what is best for the community.

In exchange for the development, the community will receive a $250,000 donation to support neighborhood organizations including Padro's own Shaw Main Streets organization, as well as the Shaw Junior High music program and the local library branch.

With community members now more or less on board with the project, it's only a matter of time before we find out what the future holds for a construction site located just one block away from the O Street Market, another hopeful, yet slow moving re-development project in Shaw. To date, Metropolitan Development has not released the name of a general contractor for the project, an issue Wurzel says is "sensitive."

7 comments:

Melanie on Jan 12, 2010, 8:04:00 AM said...

Looks terrific. This is what we need a lot more of. Good back-ground buildings, that will add to the street. I especially love that they broke down the composition into different facades.

Mr. Q on Jan 12, 2010, 10:00:00 AM said...

Someday I dream of reading a post about development in Shaw that isn't several months to one or two years away from breaking ground...alas, today is not that day...

Ryan said...

Can't wait! I live near there, those old apts were creepy. I hope we get some good retail along that area. Now if only the O street market would hurry up.....

Kstreetqb said...

DC is a worthless quagmire of pointless road blocks -from the ANC to the HPRB. Thank god a developer is actually sticking with their project. Lets go Addison Square!

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget developers who won't do anything w/ land until they extort 2/3 the financing from the city.

Anonymous said...

please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen. please let this happen.
please.

ML said...

While like everyone I hope this happens on the timeline Metropolitan is saying here, I think it's going to happen. Developers and real estate agents have a habit of always cheer-leading the 'best case scenario' regardless.

You can have all the "intent" in the world to develop something, but as Padro astutely points out until they have financing help from the city committed (in the form of TIF's), unfortunately nothing is going to happen there.

 

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