Thursday, August 21, 2008

Shaw Housing Project Gets Rebirth

Just a block away from the future O Street Market re- development site, Metropolitan Development is planning to weed out the wilted Kelsey Gardens apartment community. The 54 subsidized apartments will be replaced with a mixed-use building that they hope will blossom into 282 mixed-income rental units, 14,400 s.f. of retail space, 237 underground parking spaces on 7th street, and 7 townhomes on P street. Developers hope to break ground by this time next year, and finish in late 2010, provided zoning approval happens this year.

Rachael Preston, Financial Analyst for Metropolitan, said the company has been working on the redevelopment of Kelsey Gardens on 7th Street, NW, between P and Q Streets since 2004, and that the new development is consistent with the redevelopment of the larger Shaw area. "When redeveloped, the Kelsey Gardens site will offer important progress for the Shaw community as well as continuity. Shaw is on the brink of a renaissance, driven by the addition of new residences, commercial activity, and the preservation of important landmarks," Preston said.

The developer also said the project's inclusion of both townhouses and rental units is key to preserving the neighborhood's appearance and integrity while improving its design. The new townhouses, designed by Lessard Architectural Group, will be "historically sensitive", but will include "traditional and modern architectural styles to break up the length of the building on 7th Street."

And as for the apartments, Preston said, "Metropolitan Development sees demand for rental housing in Shaw driven by access to public transit and proximity to DC's traditional downtown locations to the south and west, and the emerging employment zone of NoMa to the north and east."

Metropolitan stressed that Shaw residents are part of the neighborhood's identity and will be encouraged to return. According to the developer, "The residents displaced at Kelsey Gardens for construction are guaranteed the opportunity to return to their former home once redevelopment is complete. Shaw is a community of many long time residents who give the neighborhood much of its character. By ensuring that these residents are not displaced permanently, Metropolitan Development is able to participate in preservation of the neighborhood as well as change." Metropolitan did not comment on how its former residents would be accommodated.

Though currently known as Kelsey Gardens, the project is listed on Metropolitan's website as "Addison Square." Though some locals have objected to the name, suggesting that a final name may be part of the inevitable negotiations, it is unlikely that many area residents will mourn the loss of the drug and crime plagued housing project. Metropolitan acquired the land last summer and retained the previous owners, The Deliverance Church of God in Christ, as a partner in the deal.


Anonymous said...

Break ground next year, huh?

They haven't even relocated the remaining tenants of Kelsey Gardens, plus there's the matters of demolition, HPRB approval and approval from the zoning commission - never quick and easy unless your building a baseball stadium for a fawning mayor and council. These guys obviously don't have much experience with the insanity of DC bureaucracy.

While the plans look nice and sound great, they would also do well to carefully watch the O St. Market project to see **if** they get their TIF that will allow that project to go forward.

Reason is that Addison Square financing is highly dependent on TIF's as well. The same sort of public financing package that CFO Gandhi and watchdog groups are now saying DC needs to be much more stingy about handing out, or we'll screw up our Wall St. bond rating.

Here's hoping this happens someday, but I'm not holding my breath.

Unknown on Aug 22, 2008, 11:45:00 AM said...

As a resident and neighbor of this development we have been watching carefully over the years as their plans materialize.

At every O Street market hearing I have attended, which has been many, Metropolitan representatives have been present, watching the hearings, taking notes and surely planning for a similar showdown with the powers that be in DC Zoning. THey stop residents after meetings to ask questions, gather opinions and generally just be friendly. They have done their research and I believe are presenting the neighborhood with a welcome addition.

In my opinion, it is debatable whether or not there are still tenants living in Kelsey Gardens. Some neighborhood folks would tell you it's empty, while others claim to still see folks inside... squatters or residents, I'm sure Metropolitan will find them new housing.

But let's be serious, no developer currently without approval from HPRB and Zoning as well as some permits, could break ground in 12 months... right? I think it took 7 years for O Street to get approvals, fingers crossed it takes Metropolitan a lot less than that!

As for Addison Square... a drug den by any other name smells just as bad. Let's stick with Kelsey Gardens, replace our bad memories of the pl ace with good ones.

Anonymous said...

For Shaw, everything is so "up in the air." You have Kelsey Gardens, O Street Market, Radio One, Howard Town Center, and the Wonderbread building all "supposed" to happen. But no signs of activity on any. What gives?

Ken on Aug 22, 2008, 4:34:00 PM said...

Fair point, Anon. All these projects are much debated, and most of us would like to see them done, but financing is the grease for these wheels, and its tough to come by. Further, I think O Street is the linchpin here, and if the city can make it happen, I think you will see other development follow. Of course we predicted the same thing for the Convention Center, but still.

Anonymous said...

Why is there a picture of downtown F Street in this article? That second rendering is definitely office buildings.

And the big thing that makes O Street Market different is that Giant owns all the land, and they've been very reluctant to develop the site. The developers have had a harder time getting Giant's cooperation than they have getting city approvals. It's a toss up why Giant doesn't want to redevelop. Could be they don't want any disruptions at the current store. Could be their Dutch corporate overlords don't know what they're doing. Safeway opening at 5th and K probably got Giant to finally play ball.

Ken on Aug 26, 2008, 10:26:00 AM said...

The renderings are of P Street, not F Street. These came directly from the developer, so unless they are unsure of where they are building, these should be accurate. But thanks for the accuracy check.

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