Wednesday, May 13, 2009

DC’s Newest Development District is…the Florida Avenue Market?

Just around the corner from the ongoing revitalization effort that is NoMa, the Office of Planning (OP) is setting its sights on a similarly minded redevelopment initiative: transforming DC’s wholesaler haven, the Florida Avenue Market, into a “vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood that protects the look and feel of the historic retail markets” while also bring new residential, retail and office projects to the Northeast site.

With the aid of CORE Architecture and Design, EHT Traceries, Inc. and Economic Research Associates, OP released their findings on just how to achieve that seemingly insurmountable task (the surrounding area includes two of the District’s most notorious neighborhoods: Trinidad and Ivy City) late last month in the Florida Avenue Market Small Area Plan. The report details an impressive list of obstacles in the way of redevelopment – even for a city with as many impressive redevelopment challenges as Washington.

Though the crime rate in the surrounding communities goes unmentioned, here’s what OP sees as its primary concerns. Firstly, current zoning statutes prohibit residential development in the industrial zone - a problem that two nearby developments, the Washington Gateway and the Gateway Market and Residences, have been able to circumvent through the PUD process. Secondly, the Market area is comprised of 120 lots with 68 different owners – a ratio that will make acquisition by the city a costly, confusing and time consuming proposition. Lastly, of those lots, many are, in the words of OP, “underdeveloped” or vacant, which gives potential developers little or nothing to work with.

However, OP hopes to relieve that burden somewhat with their framework for potential redevelopment. Taking into account the site’s historic significance (the Center Market first opened in 1802; the flagship Union Terminal Market in 1928), current conditions and infrastructure, current economic and real estate analyses, and community input – “achieved through a series of community planning sessions, property ownership workshops, and through an Advisory Committee” that included City Councilmembers Tommy Wells and Harry Thomas, Jr., the ANCs 5 and 6, Gallaudet University, and Apollo Development – OP has arrived at a preferred mix of commercial and residential uses for the market area (pictured). In an ideal scenario, the Florida Avenue Market will become a new destination by linking NoMa, the New York/Florida Avenue Metro and the neighboring Gallaudet campus into cohesive, walkable and, yes, friendly, whole.

To that effect, the plan outlines extensive overhauls for each prime thoroughfare in the Market area - including the to-be-reopened 3rd Street – with rehabilitated historic buildings, public parks, new signage and linkage to the Metropolitan Branch Trail. All of this would be done according to “Deaf Design Space principles,” in order to make the area welcoming for Gallaudet’s 1500 strong student population. Sound like a challenge? It will be, but OP hopes to relieve some of the burden from developers by encouraging a 20% tax credit towards the renovation of historic buildings on site.

Presumably to fill in the many remaining question marks (and gear up for an oncoming onslaught of RFPs), OP will be hosting a “Mayoral Hearing” concerning the Market on May 18, 2009 from 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM at Gallaudet’s Merrill Learning Center Building . The meeting will be open to the public - with questions and comments on the Area Plan encouraged. OP’s two-part plan for the Market can be read in its entirety here.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Did you even read the plan? So many errors, it's hard to list all of them.

1. The diagrams showing the future use were in the plan as the earlier stages of planning and are are not the current recommendation.
2. Trinidad and Ivy City are separated from the market area by Gallaudet, a large university. It's far, far, far closer to NoMA and Near Northeast.
3. No mention of J Street, which owns more land than Sang Oh Choi/Apollo.
4. Very little is actual vacant land. Just the two sites at the corner of 4th and Florida, one of which is the Gateway Market & Residence project.
5. There is no mention of any tax abatement for historic preservation. They recommend TDRs.
6. "Federal PUD process?" What does the Federal Government have to do with DC's PUD process?
7. This is the draft plan, not the final version.

It's a decent start of a plan, although it definitely a lot of revisions. But most of all, seriously, where did you get your summary? on May 14, 2009, 11:04:00 PM said...

Let's keep it positive. Good news, Eastern Market will reopen in June!
Hopefully, the same effort that is has been put behind the renovation and preservation of Eastern Market will happen to Florida Avenue Market.

Nope on May 15, 2009, 8:21:00 AM said...

Um, listen guy, all of this information IS sourced directly from the plan.

I would take you to task on each and every one of these points, but I find it curious that someone who presents them self as an authority on the subject would choose to remain anonymous.

As always, readers can view the plan for themselves via the link and draw their own conclusions. You may disagree with some of my observations (the impact of Trinidad/Ivy City, for instance), but the FACTUAL information relayed is true - at least according to the info provided by OP (the vacant land, hp, etc).

Anonymous said...

You've definitely presented a LOT of false information here. The "FACTUAL" information that you provide, including vacant land, hp, etc., is absolutely false.

I encourage anyone interested to read the plan themselves. My "authority" on the subject is that I've actually read through the plan!

Nope on May 15, 2009, 10:50:00 AM said...

Part I, pg. 25:

"numerous under-developed and vacant sites throughout the entire area"

Part I, pg. 55:

"Rehabilitation of the potentially historic buildings may take advantage of federal preservation tax incentives that allow 20% of rehabilitation costs to be taken as a tax credit."

Paul said...

There is definitely vacant land on this site. That huge parking lot bordered by Neal/5th/6th that has the flea market bizarre is vacant by development definitions. The sheds that occupy the land south of Penn and between 5th and 6th are basically vacant.

Brandon on May 15, 2009, 2:24:00 PM said...

Will we be calling this neighborhood FAM?

Anonymous said...

There's definitely "underutilized" land, but the page 28 of the plan only shows one vacant parcel, at 4th and Florida. (The other corner of 4th/Fl is now vacant as well.)

It's a major distinction between vacant and underutilized. For example, a lot of H NE and (previously) NoMA is actual vacant land. The flea market site in the market area is not the highest and best use, but it is a Gallaudet parking lot with a regular tenant for the weekends.

Meanwhile, pages 56-57 shows the map and chart for transferable development rights to preserve the potentially historic buildings. But note that no buildings are currently designated, and there is no historic district at this location. TDRs is where the preservation action will occur, which has been used successfully downtown for years.

granolas suck said...

i dunno. i'll miss the joint....

the prostitutes, the drug deals, the robberies at the gas stations (TWO GAS STATIONS! right next to each other!), the disorderly fights on weekends and weekday evenings.....

why do we have make it a "destination"? my friends think i'm all cool, living in a ghetto. if we remake the market, i'll look just like them: a hipster in a hip part of town.

not cool.

keep the market as is, and provide a place for neighbors to walk their pit bulls without leashes!

not on parker said...

"...though the crime rate in the surrounding communities goes unmentioned..."

Which surrounding communities? Florida Market is surrounded by Gallaudet, train tracks, and Near Northeast. If you are trying to insinuate there's a relationship between Trinidad and the Florida Market, you are sadly mistaken.

not on parker said...

"...that huge parking lot bordered by Neal/5th/6th that has the flea market bizarre is vacant by development definitions...". You mean the one owned by Gallaudet University?

"...the sheds that occupy the land south of Penn and between 5th and 6th are basically vacant..." They are not vacant.

not on parker said...

"...the prostitutes, the drug deals, the robberies at the gas stations (TWO GAS STATIONS! right next to each other!), the disorderly fights on weekends and weekday evenings..."

Sounds like most of DC...

Anonymous said...

not on Parker wrote:

"...the prostitutes, the drug deals, the robberies at the gas stations (TWO GAS STATIONS! right next to each other!), the disorderly fights on weekends and weekday evenings..."

"Sounds like most of DC..."


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