Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Fire Sale of Land in SW

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development issued a Solicitation for Offers yesterday for the development of two District-owned parcels in Southwest. The forgotten quadrant of DC to some (not us), Southwest is just starting to get attention thanks to the development of “Southwest Waterfront” by PN Hoffman. The District seeks “highly-qualified development team with the financial capacity to complete this complex project” and prefers to hire one developer for both sites.

The first parcel, Lot 28 on the western side of Square 494, is 34,000 s.f. and bounded by 6th, School, and E Streets. It is currently the antiquated home of a two-story fire station used by Fire Engine Company 13. The fire station will pose a challenge for developers as a new fire station must be included in proposals, but will save taxpayers the cost of constructing a new station or renovating the old one.

“We can’t have the station go out of service, the developer should come back to us with a plan of how to keep the station open the whole time and build a new one, either on one of the two sites or adjacent to the property if they own land in the area,” said Sean Madigan, Press Officer for the Deputy Mayor.

The city says there is no time like the present to move Company 13 to a newer facility while simultaneously bringing another development to the neighborhood. SW firemen wont be the only civil servants enjoying new digs.

The eastern side of the lot, which is about 40,000 s.f. and the home of the Metropolitan Police Department’s First District Headquarters, is planned for DC’s new 240,000 s.f. Consolidated Forensic Laboratory. According to project manager Senthil Sankaran, MPD will eventually move to another SW location to make room for the laboratory on the vacated site.

The presence of a fire station and forensic laboratory does make the site a little loud (and grim) for a residential project, but the city will consider all offers as long as they include a fire station. Madigan said an office use is most likely, but a hotel or apartment building could be possible if built correctly and with (a lot of) insulation. But if the Ritz Carlton can be next to a fire station in the West End, why not here too?

Community leaders would like to see a community center incorporated in the proposals and the District is requiring that developers designate that at least 35 percent of any contracts go to certified local, small, or disadvantaged businesses and give at least half of the jobs to DC residents.

“Particularly this section of office space is a great opportunity to do some infill work. This project alone won’t transform this office quarter, but a project like this could go a long way to make this a more lively area just south of the mall and could help connect the area to the waterfront activity that is coming. There is no reason not to do this now,” Madigan said.

The second site, Square 495 or Lot 102, stands empty and is used as a parking lot by a local school during the week and a church on the weekend. Smaller than its adjacent site at 19,187 s.f., it is bounded by 4th Street, E Street, and the Southwest/Southeast Freeway. (The building on the left is a privately-owned office building.)

Proposals are due on August 15, 2008, but a pre-offer conference will be held later this month.


Anonymous said...

As a close neighbor to the property, I can tell you that it is the dumbest place anyone could put a community center. Nobody will ever live to the north or east of it, because every single lot contains a government or private office building. No one even lives north of 395, except in the tiny apartment building attached to St. Dominic's.

So exactly which "community" hopes to use this center?

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