Monday, March 21, 2011

13th Street Hotel: Signs of Life?


Though early plans, enthusiasm and controversy took off like a shot for 1310 U Street, plans for JBG Companies' Four-Star, U Street Hotel project fizzled with the economic downturn. Despite radio silence since 2009, the project is seeing early signs of resuscitation in the form of renewed design activity.

But surely a Goliath like JBG has access to the funding it needs, right? "JBG, like anyone else, had been affected by the downturn," said Matt Blocher, Senior Vice President of Marketing for JBG. Blocher did not confirm whether the project is now adequately capitalized, but that it's seeing signs of life is prima facie evidence that funding has arrived, and behind it, development.

Plans for the hotel are "actively in the design phase," said Blocher. Under the original plan, the hotel at the site of the Rite Aid on 13th at U Street was proposed as a ten-story LEED-Silver certified luxury hotel with 250 rooms, 23,000 s.f. of retail, and 4500 s.f. of conference space with an art gallery, spa and fitness center, restaurant and stacked parking. To appease community concerns, the planners trimmed it to nine stories when the building was called "a collossus" at an ANC meeting to suss out the plans. The Rite Aid that currently occupies the corner would be moved to the hotel's retail space. David M. Schwarz Architects was selected for the original design.

It will take awhile before the party starts: groundbreaking likely won't occur until the end of 2012. The scope of the project is what will account for the slow roll out, and the site will need to be rezoned, says Blocher.

JBG is also investing just a stone's throw from the proposed hotel, with the 125-unit 14th Street District Condo project for which initial demolition commenced this past January.

Washington, D.C. real estate development news

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Typo in first sentence? You mean 1310 U Street NW, not 1310 13th Street NW, right?

Funny to see a developer speak so frankly about the process. Normally they are a bit more circumspect.

Melissa McCart on Mar 21, 2011, 12:41:00 PM said...

Corrected. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

It says they're "actively in the design phase." I hope that means they're changing the design to something that will look like it was built in the 21st century! The image posted looks like it's trying to be a grand hotel from the 1920s. Can't we do better? U Street is a vibrant, hip area and deserves something hip!

Matthew Blocher said...

Melissa, thank you for your interest in this project, but your quotes are not accurate.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Blocher, as a curious nearby resident, could you specify which quotes are inaccurate? I'm very excited to hear about progress on this project and hope that your company is still moving forward with it.

Melissa McCart on Mar 21, 2011, 1:17:00 PM said...

Matthew, I'm happy to correct them.

Anonymous said...

Any update on the JBG purchase of the property next to the Floridian on Florida Ave NW? I'm excited to hear about when plans for that project will begin to take shape.

Disappointed said...

@Anonymous 12:41

U Street has never developed into the "vibrant, hip area" as you suggest. When I bought there in 2003, I thought the neighborhood would change quickly. But it is still mostly a bunch of rundown buildings (e.g., Republic Gardens, State of the Union) and bad restaurants that attracts a low-class, ghetto crowd. The Lincoln Theatre isn't enough of a draw, and higher-end stores aren't moving in. I will be very surprised if this hotel ever gets off the ground.

Anonymous said...

Disappointed, I don't agree at all. I've been in the area for just as long, and while the area still draws a diverse crowd, I wouldn't call it "ghetto." U St has some of the coolest bars in the city and some fantastic restaurants that draw people from all over the district and surrounding areas. Beyond that, the development of 14th St has reached up to U at this point and is extending North. Eastern U St, which used to be a wasteland, is filling in with hip bars and restaurants as well. Things are filling in, the amount of vacant storefronts is way down compared to what it was (and compared to other hot developing areas, such as H St). With the current pace of development, I don't think you will be regretting your decision to buy in the area - especially if you bought in 2003.

Ace in DC said...

JBG/Mr. Blocher - Please build. Please feel free to add the extra stories to make it more proportional and less squaty. Please keep the original design - it looks awesome. I will be at every ANC meeting to support this project. I am sorry the 'loud' nimby nay sayers complaining about "light blocking" out -vocalized the many supporters who want to see the rebirth of u st. I will not let this happen again. Please, please, please build. Love it.

Anonymous said...

U Street looks nice there because the buildings have some masonry. The Ellington is great looking as is the building directly across U Street from this site. The hotel is across the street from a subway station entrance. It should be big. Time to grow up DC and be a big city.

Anonymous said...

You have to have a "hip" team to get a "hip" project so....don't count on it.

Mr. 14th & You on Mar 28, 2011, 12:45:00 PM said...

Disappointed, what U Street are living on? U Street has become one of the most vibrant corridors in the city. And the pseudo-racist nonsense isn't at all necessary or appreciated.

Anonymous said...
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