Friday, September 19, 2008

Developer Chosen for 5th & I

The District of Columbia announced this morning that it is partnering with developer Donohoe Companies to bring a high-end hotel, retail outlets and jazz club to the soon-to-be booming Mount Vernon Triangle. In a press conference held this morning, Washington DC Mayor Adrian Fenty laid out the changes that will soon be coming to the District- owned site at 5th and I Streets NW and praised developments in the area as a whole.

"It's important that we move these projects fast, that we get them out to developers who know what to do with them and I think less than a year we've demonstrated that we're not just holding onto these properties," said Fenty. "We're allowing them to be developed for the benefit of the community."

Those benefits will take the shape of a 475,000-square foot development, titled Arts at 5th & I. The project will center around a new 260-room ME Hotel from luxury Spanish hotelier, Melia and also include - promoters say - a bicycle retailer, hardware store, book store/cafĂ© and new outlet for the Zenith Art Gallery. Perhaps most exciting for local residents, who lobbied the city for more entertainment-oriented projects in the neighborhood during the 6 month bidding process, will be the addition of a new music venue in the form of the Boisdale Jazz Club – the first US location from the London-based chain of nightclubs.

A new apartment complex sporting 166 apartments will also be springing up on the site, with the developer pledging to a minimum of 50 affordable-housing units within the building. Rounding out the proposal is a 238-space underground parking garage. Groundbreaking is a projected 18 months away, following approval by the City Council.

Jad Donohoe of the Donohoe Companies outlined future plans for not only 5th and I, but the rest of the Mount Vernon Triangle area as well. “We’re going to take this lot and then move up 5th Street and take out those vacant properties,” he said. “[Donohoe is going to] redevelop that entire street and build on the investment that the city has already made in CityVista.”
The District’s selection of Donahue comes at the end of a 6 month bidding process that saw JBG, Buccini/Pollin, Potomac Investment Properties, and the winning Donohoe-managed joint proposal that included Holland Development, Spectrum Management, and Harris Development, all vying for a contract to build on the coveted Ward 6 parcel. With regards to how Donohoe’s joint proposal edged out the competition, Deputy Mayor Neil Albert said:
I took a look at their work and was very impressed with it. The community wanted entertainment as part of the development and they had a jazz club, which was well received…and then, they were going to pay us $7 million for this piece of land. They definitely had the best proposal. And that’s not just our rating, but community support was overwhelmingly in support of this proposal.

The 5 & I site was transferred into the city’s portfolio in October 2007 in the wake of the National Capital Revitalization Corp.’s (NCRC) dismantlement. DC's Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development then issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) early this year. The District is negotiating subsidies for the project with Donohoe at present and hopes to generate approximately $85 million in tax revenue from the Arts at 5th and I project.


Anonymous said...

Good to see a mixed-use proposal that seems responsive to locals' wants awarded with a development contract through a competitive bidding process. I think the height and density are pretty appropriate for a site so close to Gallery Place and right on Mass Ave.

If such praise may now allow me a single criticism, the 238-spot underground parking garage seems like a bit of overkill. Certainly, the hotel wants some underground parking, as do apartment-dwellers and visitors, but are 238 places necessary? Can't we learn the lesson from the (admittedly larger) humongous empty parking garage under DCUSA in Columbia Heights?

The corner of 5th & I is less than a quarter-mile from the Chinatown-gage entrance to the Gallery Place Metro station. It's a five minute walk! I guess I should be happy that their plan includes "bicycle parking well beyond code." With no shortage of car parking in the area, though, are 238 spots needed?

Eh, overall it seems like a good plan. Maybe i'm just used to complaining. Green Roofs sure have become the "it" thing in DC development...

Justin from ReadysetDC on Sep 19, 2008, 6:28:00 PM said...

hell yes.

Anonymous said...

if the lack of street parking in the area is any indication, then having the garage spaces is a welcome portion of the project.

Anonymous said...

Something about "international jazz club chain" makes me want to yak.

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