Thursday, September 30, 2010

Architects and Developers Roll Out Concepts for Southwest Waterfront


Last night at the Arena Stage, as the developers from Madison Marquette and PN Hoffman, as well as lead planning architect Stan Eckstut of EE&K, presented their master plan for the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, one thought really stuck: it's going to take a boatload of time, money, and effort to make these ideas reality. The vision was colorful, imaginative, and mostly astounding, with prospects of a world class waterfront with international port-cities like Genoa, Auckland, Baltimore, and Seattle as inspiration. If only they had a plan for how to pay for it or when to build it.

Unfortunately the idea men are real estate developers, not wizards, and it will take more than a PowerPoint presentation to transform the city's Southwest Waterfront. But with no definite time-line given or dedicated financing, developers seem to be turning to the increasingly common fallback of government-sponsored housing. Some of the basic tenets of their master plan were released: 840,000 s.f. of office space, 335,000 s.f. of ground floor retail, several entertainment and cultural features (maritime museum maybe?), three hotels totaling 600 keys, as well as over 500 residential units, fully half of them being set aside for low-income residents at 60% AMI or less - one of the District's lower end income caps for subsidized housing. The presenters also promised that 60% of the 27 acres would be public space, emphasizing their belief that creating buildings is not their primary focus, it's shaping spaces for a 4-season destination for commerce and recreation.
While the development details set for dry land were compelling, developers stressed that their vision really begins and ends with the water itself. Their plan sees the two major yacht clubs significantly expanded, almost doubling their holding capacity to four or five hundred slips. Their concept also stretches several large piers well out into the channel, each plank serving a different purpose. The "City Pier" will extend from 9th Street, welcoming larger cruising vessels with a bandstand of some kind, where the "mayor can welcome visitors" (Greetings, Mr. Putin, how was your boat trip to America?) and pedestrians can enjoy concerts and fireworks. Planners hoped a modern lighthouse-like tower would anchor this pier on land, but admitted developers had not figured out a way to pay for this yet (not to mention the rest of the project). Another pedestrian-heavy and recreational pier will split the waterfront in half, wedged between the two marinas, planners sketched the picture of a small sailing school, kayaks and boat rentals. On the far west side of the waterfront, a wider pier will feature a plethora of dinner boats, stretching the many future dining options out onto the water.
On land, "The Wharf" will be the main pedestrian-centric thoroughfare, taking the right of way from the few vehicles that venture down the water's edge. Wide bike lanes will run along the inner portion of the expansive sidewalks stretching from current Fish Market to M Street. And developers are hoping that by including a streetcar line down the middle of the street, the District will be compelled to get moving on their pledge to make public streetcar transit a reality. Maine Avenue will shoulder most of the vehicular traffic, with District officials having requested the closing of Water Street, and will feature bus drop offs and a 2,500-space below-grade parking garage. Other land-side features include the re-imagining of the fish market as a year-round "Market Square" featuring brew pubs, cafes, restaurants, and picnic areas. On the opposite side, a large open park at P Street will be vehicle-free and less dense, transitioning the development into the neighborhood.

Cicada-like hisses greeted Eckstut's mention of stretching some buildings to a height of 11-stories and 130-feet, but the architect defended such dimensions as allowing wider, more inviting sight lines and access points to the waterfront, massing density vertically in strategic locations to allow a more porous, open waterfront. A more agreeable talking point was his promise that those currently living on boats at Gangplank Marina would not be threatened and expelled by the new plans.

The details of the development are many, and are difficult to bundle into a comprehensive understand via prose, but blog Southwest Quadrant has a solid bullet-pointed rundown of the major features. The entire PUD will be submitted to the Zoning Commission later this fall, with many lively public hearings set for the spring. Phase I construction can't be expected until at least 2012, despite a recent groundbreaking, and construction could take upwards of eight years. And that's a best case scenario. The development team was awarded the project in January of 2008.

Washington D.C. Real Estate Development News

11 comments:

Arrrrrrg said...

Is that a pirate ship in the second rendering?

Gus said...

I, for one, am so glad DC will shell out tons of money and go through massive development efforts, all for a low-income project. God knows that people making 70% AMI, or 100% AMI like me, have less of a right to live in this exciting new location. Can we limit it by race too? Maybe we can set aside units for Puerto Ricans and people who like ballet. I'm happy that my tax dollars will go for such things.

Anonymous said...

I have seen conflicting reports on the number of low income units. Another blog reported that only 30% of the total units would be set aside for people with incomes under 60% of the AMI. But, half of those units (so 15% of the total) will be for people with very low incomes (30% of the AMI).

Still seems a little high, but better than half of the entire project.

I understand poor people have to live somewhere. But, a luxury waterfront development seems like a high inefficient way to do about it.

Anonymous said...

Well, people all I can say about this is Welcome to Sustainable Development. This is exactly what this entire concept has been built on. So for those who've pretty much mocked at reverse situations taking place in other Wards on the other side of the city. The saying goes; " The same thing that will make you laugh will be the same thing that will make you cry". Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

arghhhhh~~~~!

Anonymous said...

As for the 10 buildings 130feet tall "the architect defended such dimensions as allowing wider, more inviting sight lines and access points to the waterfront, massing density vertically in strategic locations to allow a more porous, open waterfront." The only sight lines maintained will be from 9th, 7th, and 6th streets along Maine, with the best lines from Arena Stage where no one lives. The people who live here in places like Waterside Towers, Tiber Island, Harbour Square and Riverside will have their sight lines completely blocked by the sides of tall blocky buildings that will immediately make their real estate values plummet. If I wantedto live in Inner Harbor I would have moved to Baltimore.

Anonymous said...

"If I wantedto live in Inner Harbor I would have moved to Baltimore."

Well, you've got eight years to figure something out.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous...
So what you are saying is that "poor people" should live in substandard housing in an area that is so far removed from any services or convenience as to which they would not be an "eyesore" to those who are willing to shell out anywhere from Hundreds of Thousands to Millions of dollars on overpriced block sized units with damn near little size, definition or value what-so-ever. In other words out of sight/out of mind,right? I guess to some-Greed is good.

Anonymous said...

So what you are saying is those who are educated and work hard, to do something with their lives should live in the same neighborhoods with those who live on the government dole, and be forced to deal with their ill mannered dangerous children

Anonymous said...

As I said. Out of sight, out of mind. And just for the record, not everyone who is under this so-called "median income" bracket lives in the manner in which you've just described. There are some people who do actually work legitimately and who's income doesn't fall into the bracket of the upper class. So the next time you try to categorize those who make less than, let's say $90,000 and try to put them in the bracket in which you call "underclass" as you've described, think about the people who you pay to get your $5- $7 cup of coffee or tea or those who check you out at the grocery store when buying groceries or those who prepare your meals when you either eat out or take out, or even a maintenance technician who may service your dwelling-whatever that may be. These are people who just happen to make a honest modest living wage that does not fall into the bracket of the "upper class". Those people work just as hard and have a right to live in a nice environment. Also, not all people under the high-end income bracket produce bad children. Look at the way some wealthy families or even middle class families raise,tolerate or may I say spoil the hell out of self-righteous, conceited,rude, disrespectful ingrates, who in turn grow up thinking that the world owes them their ass to be kissed. How does that even differ from the moral standard of child rearing that you uphold? Anyway,it does'nt matter what you think or how you or anyone else responds to this, because I've made my statement and I'm done. On to the next. And by the way, welcome to sustainable development. Enjoy.

Fred said...

Hey, last guy, I'm not telling anyone where they should live, you are. By defining who can and can't live in the neighborhood, you're the one playing the social card, deciding who gets to live where. We still (mostly) live in a democratic, capitalist society, and people like me believe you should be able to choose, not be subject to government control of spending my money to put people where they would otherwise choose not to spend their dollars. Not all low-income housing is "sub-standard", no one here said they should live in a ghetto. Pissed that our tax dollars are being spent in this way.

 

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