Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Parkside Development In A Hurry To Break Ground

A pivotal development in northeast DC may get underway within a few months, say developers of a project that is expected to house a new senior center, health clinic, community college and townhouse development. Just this July, the Zoning Commission denied Parkside Residential's (aka Lano Parcel 12, LLC) "premature" request for an extension of their first stage zoning application, despite a bid by the developer to push back the timeframe, giving developers a little more than a year to start the project or lose approval. Now the development team is hard at work trying to push through the second stage zoning applications for the remaining few blocks of the original 10-block, 15.5-acre master plan for the land located just off the Anacostia Freeway. Earlier this week the Zoning Commission set down a public meeting to hear the applicant's contested request for changes to their original PUD, as well as approval of the second stage specifics for the newly hatched community college plans.

Developers have confirmed that they are in the last stages of editing closing documents on the Victory Housing senior living development set for block A. Final agreements will be sent to HUD for their signature within the next several days and construction is expected to begin in early October. The project will consist of a 98-unit, four-story senior living facility offered at 60 percent of AMI (area median income). Also approved (2nd stage PUD) are the development team's plans for 112 townhouses on blocks B and C, 42 of which would be made available at 80 to 120 percent of AMI. Developers claim that contractual negotiations with financiers should conclude by the end of the week, paving the way for land development, and eventually being turned over for construction early next year.

The centerpiece of the new second stage plan is the flagship campus of the Community College of the District of Columbia (CCDC). The college, initially planned as an apartment building set to range in height from 54 to just 90 feet, would rise to 110 feet along Kenilworth Avenue. The building would stand a modest 21 feet (one-story) along Kenilworth Terrace to better transition the roof-line into the adjacent neighborhood. The first floor would reserve a small portion of its space for retail, potentially including a place for caffeine-deprived students to jump-start their mornings, and a book store where students can fall deeper into debt at the hands of textbook publishers. And like all well designed colleges, the C-shaped design allows room for an open, green courtyard for suntanning and Frisbee.

Not only will the applicant request an increased height allowance for their now 1.1 million s.f. office project, but also for Zoning's permission to bump their residential buildings' height another thirty feet in order to make up for the residential square footage displaced by the alterations. Representing the wishes of Lano Parcel 12, LLC before the Commission, DC Office of Zoning official Joel Lawson argued that increased daytime population use as a result of the proposed changes would make commercial opportunities in the area more viable. This and the increased educational benefit to the community were justification enough, he contended, to accept the extensive changes and reduced residential offerings. The 1.1 million s.f. of office space also makes the project eligible to entertain GSA solicitations for the leasing of office space to the federal government, with a potential suitor being the Department of Homeland Security.

Also on the table for Parkside Residential is the second-stage and modification application for another part of Block I. These augmentations would also ditch the previously suggested high-rise residential building in favor of a "much needed" three-story health clinic. This application was not set down by the Commission at its public meeting of July 12, 2010, but developers are moving forward and hope to get the project scheduled for discussion soon. The proposed 430,000 s.f. clinic is intended to be a primary care clinic open to the entire public regardless of insurance coverage; it would be operated by Unity Health and sponsored by the District of Columbia Primary Care Association (DCPCA)

The Zoning Commission did not entirely reject the proposed changes, but said these plans as currently submitted were rather hasty and "woefully inadequate," barring further evaluation until a traffic study is produced and submitted. Zoning also requested a status update on the pedestrian bridge intended to connect the development with the Minnesota Avenue metro. The bridge has been designed by Boston-based transportation architects Rosales and Partners, but funding questions remained.

Chris LoPiano, Director of Development at City Interests, explained that the Commission doesn't normally entertain extension requests until less than a year remains on the timer. "We're very confident that as plans further materialize and second stage approval comes together for the community college and health clinic, Zoning will be more than happy with our progress...[T]his is why we originally partitioned the development plan into distinct parcels, so we could approach it project by project. We anticipated this being a five to seven year process." LoPiano stressed that the developers expect approval on these latest changes in autumn; at that point a request for a PUD extension would likely be resubmitted to a zoning commission that has been lenient in granting extensions to projects slowed by the recession.

The development team is a partnership between Bank of America Community Development Corporation, Lano International, City Interests, and Marshall Heights Community Development Organization.

Washington D.C. Real Estate Development


Que said...

Where the hell is the Minnesota-Benning metro?

There is a metro station called Minnesota Ave and another called Benning Road but none calle Minnesota-Benning

Brooks Butler Hays on Aug 4, 2010, 8:33:00 PM said...

Sorry Que, should have read Minnesota Avenue

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I am so glad that they've decided to approve and move on the plans proposed for this side of DC. We really need it.

Anonymous said...

Yes we need it. But I hope they are very careful not to turn it into another project/low income housing. Please build quality homes and an environment that invites people from ALL walks of life to experience the "green ward". Come appreciate our parks and trees and other things we have to offer. We really don't need a Kenilworth/Paradise part 2. Ugh.

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