The Congressional Budget Office weighed in just before the holidays with a strong endorsement of the proposed rezoning of the Southwest Waterfront, further bolstering H.R. 2297’s already favorable chances of passing into law when the Senate reconvenes next session.
If (when) passed, the bill would bring the District one step closer to a dramatic revitalization of the largely moribund Southwest waterfront, bringing it in line with the rapidly-developing Southeast waterfront, and creating what planners hope will eventually coalesce into a “second downtown.”
The bill, introduced by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, has already passed the House and gone through Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee markup, and clarifies the vague and somewhat archaic restrictions governing the waterfront. The District has always technically owned the land, but was barred from selling it, which for all intents and purposes made commercial development impossible. The recent CBO report found that empowering development in the area would have no adverse effects on the federal government, thus clearing the way for the 2.5 million-square-foot blockbuster PN Hoffman-Madison Marquette hotel-office-retail-pedestrian mall project.
The Hoffman-Madison First Stage PUD, as reported on this site, breezed through its NCPC hearing back in October. Bob Rubenkonig, a Hoffman-Madison representative, said Hoffman-Madison is busily preparing for 2012 public meetings, with the Second Stage PUD forthcoming very soon - hopefully in February, according to Hoffman VP Shawn Seaman.
The $2 billion, 2.5 million-square-foot project, dubbed “The Wharf,” takes its cues from Baltimore and Seattle's waterfront promenades, and will feature around 1200 residential units, almost 400,000 s.f. of office space, and 200,000 s.f. of retail space. Over half the site will be public space, much of that a pedestrian-friendly, privately-held waterfront avenue, “Wharf Street,” which will replace Water Street, will feature walking lanes, bike paths, and a streetcar. Development plans also call for a four thousand seat theater, a maritime history museum, and three hotels – a four-star, 268-room hotel from Carr Hospitality and InterContinental Hotels Group, and two others from the JBG Companies.
Developers have also agreed to a community benefits package that will set aside 30 percent of the first 500 units of housing - half earmarked for households making less than 60% AMI, and half earmarked for households making less than 30% AMI. Beyond the 500-unit mark, 20% will be reserved for "workforce housing," i.e. police, firefighters, teachers making 80 - 100% AMI. This unusual formula is the result of the Southwest Waterfront Redevelopment Clarification Act of 2010, which exempts a portion of the development from the District's affordable housing requirements. Furthermore, a quarter of the retail space will go to local businesses, and a third of everything sold in the retail spaces will come from local merchants. Design is being spearheaded by Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut & Kuhn Architects, while construction is being handled by PN Hoffman and Clark Construction.Washington D.C. real estate development news