Thursday, December 18, 2008

PN Hoffman Talks Shop on SW Waterfront

WASHINGTON DC - With the City Council’s unanimous approval of the Hoffman-Streuver, LLC’s $1.5 billion redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront in the bag this week, the question is no longer if the project will be built, but what and when. Given the broad scope of what has already been announced - 770 residential units, 3 new hotels, office space, entertainment venues, parks and a maritime-themed museum – just how does one go about turning 26 acres of the nationally prominent riverfront with overlapping jurisdictional oversight and zoning into a local waterfront destination? These are questions that have also nagged at PN Hoffman’s development team as they chart the course of the biggest development to hit the District since Nationals Park.

Shawn Seaman, Vice President and Project Manager of PN Hoffman, gave DCMud some insight on the developer's plans. “We have worked with our Master Planner, Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut and Kuhn, and studied hundreds of mixed-use and waterfront developments around the country and the world. Some of the best examples for dynamic and exciting waterfront projects were in Europe, and specifically Scandinavia – Oslo and Stockholm both have vibrant and well-used waterfronts,” says Seaman. “The design will embrace the “messiness” and vitality of a real working waterfront, allowing the market, the boat traffic, and the new mixed-use development to co-exist."

Additionally, Hoffman intends to make sure that the Southwest Waterfront becomes fully integrated into the fabric of District life, instead of serving as a new location for Constitution Avenue t-shirt vendors to hock their wares. “The project…is first and foremost an extension of the Southwest neighborhood. It will be the one of first waterfront neighborhoods in the District,” says Seaman.

That, however, is not to say Hoffman won’t be seeking out the revenue that come along tourism - the majority of the planned retail space will fall along Maine Avenue, within sight of the Waterfront’s (now) biggest tourist draw, the Maine Avenue Fish Market. Seaman says that PNH plans to “enhance” the market, in addition to adding “improved connections back to the Mall,” an understatement for an area that nearly requires a coyote to get you to and fro, and developers intend to make the development accessible to Washington weekenders as well as new residents with downtown jobs .

Those connections will take the form of “a pedestrian bridge or a grand staircase” connecting Metro-accessible Banneker Park to the foot of the Waterfront development. Furthermore, Hoffman intends to link their project to nearby Southeast with an extension of the Anacostia Riverwalk and is also exploring the possibility of infrastructural ties to the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park. “Long range,” says Seaman, “the site would be an ideal stop on a Southeast/Southwest light rail line connecting Barrack’s Row, The Yards, the Baseball District, and Southwest Waterfront.”

Still, planning is still embryonic. And given that the project isn’t likely to begin construction until at least 2012 – not to mention the belt-tightening state of the economy – is seems reasonable to wonder where and when the first of Hoffman-Streuver’s cash will be spent. “The next two years will be focused on completing the design of the project, working with the community, and submitting for the PUD,” says Seaman. “We are confident that the capital market will have improved by the time we are ready to put a shovel in the ground.”


Anonymous said...

" also exploring the possibility of infrastructural ties to the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park." There's already easy pedestrian access from Banneker Park to East Potomac Park, so incorporating that seems like a no-brainer. Or does "infrastructural ties" mean something else?

Anonymous said...

The yellow line passes directly under Benjamin Banneker Park Circle and Fountain‎ and, considering the U Street Metro stop spans from 10th to 13th Street, it doesn't seem to be implausible that an exit at the Waterfront-SEU station could be extended to 6th or even 7th St SW.

Private developers partnering with teh city to build metro stations has happened before...

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

how is building ten 15 story buildings going to tie the waterfront to the city? Won't that just close it off more?

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