Building 3 city blocks on top of an active highway isn't easy. But developers at Louis Dreyfus think they have it just about figured out, and tonight they will make their pitch to the District of Columbia Zoning Commission that their designs to build 2.3 million s.f. in 6 buildings on top of I-395, a stretch known as the Center Leg Freeway, should be approved.
National Capitol Planning Commission (NCPC) to create an Inner Loop within the District, an idea that birthed the Southwest Express and tore down swaths of historic buildings, relegating southwest DC for decades to woeful cementitious architecture and federal dependency, may at last be partially healed. The urban planning of the 1940's and 1950's fortunately never realized its goal of extending another half mile north and west, but left a chasm known as the Center Leg that isolated a section of northwest. Dreyfus plans to cover that scar burrowed deep into the city, not only building a platform on which a neighborhood can reside, but doing so while keep the highway operational throughout construction.
Plans have been knocked around for years, but tonight will mark a milestone for its advancement. Dreyfus intends to roof the highway from E Street to Massachusetts, extending F and G Streets to a now-isolated Georgetown Law School. The most recent development plans developed over the past month up the number of buildings from 5 to 6, increase retail visibility, and contemplate additional residential density.
The local ANC gave unanimous approval to the revised concept after developers agreed to "a good faith effort" to raise ceiling heights of retail spaces in the hopes of attracting classier retail, replaced a canopy idea bridging two buildings (ala Tech World Plaza, shudder) with a new building, and agreed to factor in more than the 150 planned residences. "They've been very good at addressing all the issues we've brought up" said Rob Amos, a Commissioner with ANC 6C. "They've been an exemplary developer. We wish more developers were like this."
Years of wrangling came together in 1966 when construction of the freeway got underway, culminating in $81m in spending, 7.5 miles of flourescent tube lighting, and the dislocation of enough neighborhoods to do a Beijing bureaucrat proud. The cosmetic surgery to remove the scar is expected to cost well above $400m and drag on for at least another 3 years. Connecticut's John Dinkeloo & Associates is designing the buildings, while New York's Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is serving as master planner.
Washington DC real estate development news