Thursday, May 31, 2012

NoMa Greyhound Station Developers Plan Feature Park


Perseus Realty, LLC and First Potomac Realty Trust are nearing the anniversary of their purchase of the Greyhound Station in NoMa on 1st and L Streets, a site they will develop into a mixed use building.  While developers remain mum on details of the building, one public element of the plan has emerged - developers will give back a portion of the space to create a public park space will split L Street and act as a "gathering place."

Having purchased the development for $46.75 million, according to the Washington Business Journal, they are redeveloping it with assistance from NoMa BID. The station will be turned into a large mixed-use residential and office building, falling between 600,000 to 700,000 s.f., according to BID President Robin-Eve Jasper.  Developers will dedicate 80,000 to 100,000 s.f. on the first two floors for retail. Perhaps more significantly, the property owners will set back their project to allow a widening of L Street - tweaking the L'Enfant grid - to construct a park in the median that will act as a “public gathering place” and include a walkway with a staircase that will lead to the second floor of retail in the new development.

Funding for the project was in the may budget but has been redirected by the City Council, according to Jasper.

The park will create a sort of plaza to hold events such as a farmer’s market and nighttime movie showings, next to the development's rows of newly-created nightlife.

“We disaggregated what a park is conceptually,” Jasper said. “This park is a gathering space, but it isn’t a green space or a recreations pace. We’ve provided those spaces in other places, where they can work better, given how much land there is.” The park will be 60 ft. wide and 150 to 300 ft. long with an event space in the middle.
In order to “have that big plaza in the middle of the street,” Jasper said they asked the developers to voluntarily set back from the street about 25 ft.
But the plaza will also be part of the retail as a staircase will reach up to the second floor of stores, connecting the public space and the stores.

“They’ve got this monumental staircase up into the plaza in the center of their property from this upgraded L street, so it’d be like two contiguous, completely accessible public spaces and would allow them to have two-story retail,” Jasper said.

Jasper thinks this will act as a “community crossroads” that will help pull the NoMa residents and business owners together into a more coherent community.  "You need a public gathering space for a community...We have no public gathering space here in NoMa, and it needs to change. It’s not fair to the neighborhood, and the BID has been nomadic. That’s been successful for a while, but as the neighborhood builds out, it’s harder and harder, almost impossible to find a site now.”


Comparing the area’s development to those of other neighborhoods, Jasper said having the park is key to building an established neighborhood.

“That’s what makes neighborhoods work. If you look at older, more established neighborhoods, that’s something they all have in common,” she said. “So I think this neighborhood deserves the same. There are a lot of residents who have been in this neighborhood for a long time who have not had the benefit of parks. Sometimes people think this is for new people coming to the city, but it’s really not. It’s to help glue the different sides together.”

She originally got the idea of creating a non-traditional park from something she picked up at Harvard business school: looking at a whole through its various functions or “jobs to be done.” Since park includes things like gathering, recreation and fitness, she said it made sense to break up the various jobs if necessary. Hence the small park that acts solely (but she hopes effectively) as a gathering place. 

Washington D.C. real estate development news

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Honestly, green space is always better than paved, windblown spaces. IMHO

Anonymous said...

That looks completely dumb. Can't believe the concrete "park" is at-grade w/the street. I'd bet money within the first two years someone blows straight through the "park" and kills something (probably just a lollipop tree since I don't expect many people would actually use the thing).

Tony said...

This will be a great addition to NoMa. With appropriate programming (like the movie nights, farmers market & adjacent retail) there is no reason why this wouldn't be full of people. There's room for "green" parks elsewhere in the neighborhood.

Also, note the bollards in the rendering. Just because it's not raised up from the street doesn't mean that cars can just drive in there.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, those 1 ft tall bollards spaced 15 feet apart are really going to stop a car or truck. If they managed to do anything it'd be flip the vehicle over while it travels through the concrete plaza. But yeah, this thing won't be used at all except a handful of times a year for whatever programmed event. They should at least put grass so it doesn't look horrific while not being used 99% of the time.

Anonymous said...

I think this looks good. Concerns about cars driving over the bollards aren't any more of a concern than cars driving onto sidewalks downtown. It could happen but it probably won't.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be nicer if it was developed so that it looked less like a paved street expansion and more like a special place - better paving, more green, etc. In these images it looks unfriendly and uninviting - why would anyone hang out in a median - and the design key is in changing the perception that this is a median.

Anonymous said...

This plan looks a lot like one submitted to the developers in an academic competition earlier this Spring. Funny, the group who proposed it didn't win!

Ben said...

Just once--ONCE--I wonder if someone could propose something in this city without eliciting some kind of "this is the worst thing ever!"-type of response.

So you don't plan to use the park? Fine. Stay home. But there's nothing that said the developer has to do this--and it looks like a nice amenity to attach to what would otherwise be yet another sterile building. Do you expect developers to recreate the grounds of Versailles?

It's green space. In a development that is currently a forlorn Greyhound station. Just enjoy it for what it is, and leave the snark at home for once. Goodness, people.

Eckingtondad on May 31, 2012, 3:49:00 PM said...

Does anyone else feel that REI would be a welcome addition to the neighborhood? They could have a climb wall similar to the one in the Seattle Flagship store, but maybe not quite to its magnitude. The park could integrate nicely with the store's main entrance.

Anonymous said...

Fail. L Street is currently the only eastbound alternative to the disaster of FLA Ave (thanks, idiots at ddot) and the congested frogger of H Street. I personally was hoping they would move the greyhound-peterpan to the back of union station and allow vehicular traffic to flow more smoothly, since we are still a car culture that is unlikely to change in the next decade

Tony said...

@3:55

They are moving Greyhound to the parking garage of Union Station, with its entrance on H Street.

This proposal will not decrease the number of (apparently sacred) car lanes in the area, and will add a park (which is certainly more important)as well as much-needed retail.

Anonymous said...

Tony, I'm talking about the incomprehensible bilateral juxtaposition of vehicular traffic with a narrow pedestrian plaza. Both will not occupy that dangerously limited space

Anonymous said...

And by the way, if a park is more important, then why not convert one of the surrounding dirt parking lots into an actual park instead of some harvard architect's lame idea?

Scott said...

I think this is great. Are you really worried about cars crashing through?? If that's the problem, we should abolish all the sidewalks in the city, they are disasters waiting to happen.

Campy on Jun 1, 2012, 10:49:00 AM said...

I think some people are taking these concepts too literally.

Sounds to me like we have a commitment from a developer to not only give up some of their space (not something to take for granted) but to also build a ton of retail which NoMa will desperately need if it's going to sustain all the residential growth planned and underway. Is this particular public space going to meet all the needs of everyone's wishlist? No probably not but as indicated in the article it is a piece to the larger puzzle and I think it has potential to be very cool.

PS anytime someone gets mad that they can't drive their car faster through our neighborhoods it makes me a little bit happy.

Anonymous said...

Why have people gather in between two lanes of traffic? Why not push it to one side where it could work? Are architect / planners really this disconnected from reality?

Anonymous said...

It makes me giddy too! In the words of Nelson, "haha."

Anonymous said...

All of you complaining about a park in the median that supposedly no one will use: you've never strolled along Comm Ave. in Boston, have you? Done well, a media park can be a great amenity. And even if it's *not* done particularly well, it's still green space in a sea of concrete, glass and steel. Nothing wrong with that.

Oh, and with regards to the hand-wringing about pedestrian safety: this is l Street we're talking about, not 395. Look at the rendering: I would be surprised if a car could attain a speed of greater than 20 MPH along this stretch of road. It's really a non-issue.

Anonymous said...

I also like the idea - an event space would be wonderful (I live in Truxton Circle and already enjoy NOMA's movies and farmer's market) and more retail would be great. And I think that its absurd to worry about cars driving through it (although I suspect anyone claiming that worry opposes the idea for other reasons).

Anonymous said...

"Are you really worried about cars crashing through?? If that's the problem, we should abolish all the sidewalks in the city, they are disasters waiting to happen."

Sidewalks have curbs and aren't placed in the center of a road/street grid, smart guy.

"And even if it's *not* done particularly well, it's still green space in a sea of concrete, glass and steel."

What? How is this green space? This is literally more concrete in the sea of concrete you mention.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 3:55 -
Through streets are Florida, M, L, K and H. Not just Florida, L, and H.

Anonymous said...

I should have been more specific. Traveling southbound on N Cap, your opportunities to drive into Capitol Hill NE at a left-turn signal include Fla Ave/P St, L and H (and I forgot about Mass Ave, Constitution). For now, L is the smoothest option even with the buildings being constructed and the bus traffic. I'm not talking about driving through these streets at 40mph (I live in Capitol Hill too), I'm just talking about moving at a reasonable rate. No left turn on M. K is a crazy intersection.
I'm not opposed to community green space, but I am opposed to something that makes little sense for traffic flow and especially pedestrian safety. I wouldn't want my kids playing in a median park no matter how close together the bollards are. Design and build a proper park

John on Jun 1, 2012, 5:45:00 PM said...

I wonder if there is any consideration to continuing the Met Branch Trail as an elevated route behind this development?

Tony said...

@4:26 (please, pick a name if you're going to write multiple comments!):
I'm not sure what you're talking about with your derisive "median park" argument. Lincoln Park, Stanton Park, and others *also* have roads all the way around them. And it's a lot easier for a car to crash up onto one of those - with just a curb - than it would be with this one with bollards.

Cars and trucks cannot drive through bollards... it's simply not possible, and this would undoubtedly be safe.

Besides, it would cost $50M+ just to acquire one of the few remaining vacant lots to build a big park. We're struggling to get any number greater than $0 for parks in NoMa despite the thousands of current (and even more future) residents and workers in the neighborhood.

Tony said...

@John:
Yes, the trail would continue into the development, but bicycles would be encouraged to descend down a new ramp at L (where the stairs are now).

Anonymous said...

Weak sauce. If you want a park in NoMa, build a real park. Not a wide concrete median, but a park. It's in everyone's interest.

ajit_the_prince on Jun 3, 2012, 6:33:00 PM said...

I like it as long as they plan to close roads during all events, to make it more of a pedestrian promenade than dissected section of a park tucked between two active streets.

monkeyrotica on Jun 4, 2012, 7:56:00 AM said...

Anybody remember the Hubert Humphrey Memorial Plaza in front of MLK Library? Didn't think so. When the sun went down, it turned into an open-ditch latrine and hobo jungle. This will only work if it's well lit and has LOTS of foot traffic.

Anonymous said...

"What? How is this green space?"

Look at the rendering. This isn't rocket science here.

Anonymous said...

"Weak sauce. If you want a park in NoMa, build a real park. Not a wide concrete median, but a park. It's in everyone's interest."

Then start working with the city, community groups and local businesses and developers to make it happen. Or are you more content to just gripe on a blog?

Here's what I don't get about the hand-wringing here: this proposed median park is coming from a developer who is under absolutely no obligation whatsoever to build such a thing. The developer could simply have repaved L Street and been done with it. Instead, they are offering to build what could end up being a nice little amenity where one would otherwise not exist. And the response from some here has been to basically spit on it.

Anonymous said...

Kudos for thinking outside the grid... but,

The article says a 25' setback, but this does not equate to the developer building a smaller builder (measured in area which is what counts).

The article talks about the plaza containing a grand staircase leading to second floor retail (it doesn't seem apparent in plan or renderings). So is this "park" really a community benefit or a use of public property for private gain? Retail space typically rents for much more than office space.

As for the park itself, a similar space exists in Clarendon as a result of the metro reconstruction.
The space has been pretty much a pass-thru dead zone and is going to be completely rebuilt soon in hopes of creating a better space... good luck.

A farmer's market is a possibility, but watching movies or most of the other uses mentioned just don't seem to be realistic expectations. It is all fine and good to think about the possibilities, but anyone proposing something that uses public property should have the duty to point out similar precedents that are successful.

It's great that designers are considering alternate solutions in this difficult urban condition, but this idea just doesn't seem to add up and there are questions in my mind as to the real beneficiaries of the proposal.

Walter said...

This project MUST replace the stairs to the Met Branch Trail at L Street (right between Greyhound Station and the train tracks) with a RAMP!

Tattooed Stringbean on Sep 13, 2012, 10:46:00 AM said...

I think that this whole idea of moving Greyhound from it's current location in NoMa to Union Station is outrageously horrible. I mean, what the heck is Washington D.C. doing? Is D.C. going to destroy every single one of it's old buildings until the monuments are the only old structures left standing? D.C. used to be a city that was full of character, but for the last few years or so, it seems that the city is losing more and more character every year with all of it's demolition projects. Back to the Greyhound Station... Yes, I know it's only been standing in it's current location in NoMa since 1983... and yes, I know it's a bit run down, but it's a freakin' Greyhound Station! The building (at least to me) has A LOT of character in it's own way! In some ways, it looks a lot like Greyhound Stations in other major cities, but in some ways it also looks different... and that's the whole beauty of it! If that building gets destroyed, it'll take yet another huge blow to D.C.'s character (as a city), plus it won't be something that can just be brought back. Once it's gone, it's gone! And also, it gives the city more character to have it's own bus terminal AND it's own train station, rather than having them merge together. Not only that, but this whole project will be very inconvenient to people (like me) that ride Greyhound a lot, so why not just leave it alone?! Wasn't the addition of the NoMa Metro Station in 2003 or 2004 enough?? Before the Metro Station was added, you had to walk from Union Station to get to the Greyhound Terminal, but since the addition of the Metro Station, it's an easy walk of only 2 blocks! And last, but not least, why can't D.C. just allow the Greyhound Terminal to co-exist in peace with all the newer buildings that are popping up around it (and take their proposed construction project somewhere else)? I just hope the transition of Grehound from NoMa to Union Station doesn't work out, so Greyhound can stay where it is. In the meantime, I'll try to get in contact with the Historical Preservation Society. Now don't get me started on other projects going on in Washington D.C. right now (like the Wisconsin Avenue Giant food-store)!

Tattooed Stringbean on Sep 14, 2012, 6:44:00 AM said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tattooed Stringbean on Sep 14, 2012, 6:46:00 AM said...

Sorry about my misspelling in my previous post (right above this post) somewhere in the last few sentences. I meant to say ''Greyhound'' instead of Grehound.

Anonymous said...

The developers should contribute the corner of their property as well as broader side walks along First and L Streets for a real park with significant landscaping. In return, the developers should be allowed to recapture the density by building higher on the balance of their parcel toward the tracks. The Office of Planning has approved dramatically higher elevations for the adjacent Burnham Place so transitionally it would be of benefitial to all to go higher at Storey Park!!

 

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