Friday, April 23, 2010

O Street Market: The Possibility of Progress

Despite yesterday's Historic Preservation consent approval of a one-time, two-year extension for Roadside Development's O Street Market and next week's scheduled extension at the Office of Zoning, the O Street Market project is closer to birth than it has been in years, and signs of progress are appearing. The project received Zoning approval in July 2008, an approval which will expire this summer unless the extension request is granted. The project team is now working with the District Department of Transportation and the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to obtain construction permits so that in September, Roadside can begin the process of bolstering and securing the existing structure. Construction will likely follow in "Spring of 2011." The Shaw neighborhood may see progress yet.

The O Street Market has stood at the corner of 7th and O Streets, NW, since 1881, now deteriorating with the roof having collapsed in 2003. Roadside Development purchased the site in 2002 and began their plans to reinvent the site and with it a key section of Shaw. In late June, 2008, the DC government announced a deal to provide a $35 million tax increment financing (TIF) to help the developers bridge a financial gap and achieve the $260 million needed for the project.

Roadside Development's founder Armond Spikell said the Shaw neighborhood has "suffered" over the years from various set backs and that "quite frankly our project is one of the sore spots in the neighborhood, as it exists." But Spikell also believes that once developed, the O Street Market project will be "no question...the catalyst to put the neighborhood over the top." The project will be an "economic engine for the neighborhood" added Spikell, providing over 600 jobs during construction and 400 full-time equivalent jobs once completed.

The two-block, mixed-use project will include 611 residential units, 86 of which will be subsidized by the city, senior housing, a 189-room hotel, a 516-space parking garage and 88,000 s.f. of retail: 57,000 s.f. Giant and 31,000 s.f. for additional vendors. The six architecturally distinct buildings, designed by Shalom Baranes Architects, will cover two city blocks between 7th and 9th Streets, and O and P Streets. The project will re-open 8th Street, lining it with retail and new residential, serving as "the hub" of the new mini-community, according to the developers.

At the Shaw Main Streets Meeting last September, a Roadside representative indicated that the current Giant would close its doors January 15, 2011. Now, Susan Linsky, a Roadside spokesman, said the Giant will not close until the group is ready to begin serious construction in "spring of 2011." Under its contract with Giant, the developers have to provide four months notice, which can only be given after permits are secured and construction financing is in place. Shaw residents can continue to enjoy their ho-hum Giant until further notice.

Construction, whenever it starts, will begin with a site-wide excavation, including the area under the historic market. There the team will dig out two levels of parking to serve the grocery, residential and hotel. The below-grade garage is a welcome improvement in urban planning, replacing the street-facing row of truck bays that hogs 9th Street with a single-purpose truck ramp for all deliveries to the hotel, residential and grocery store. Also underground will be a 14,000 s.f. "back of house" space for Giant's behind-the-scenes operations; no mysterious swinging doors to rear nether regions. Roadside is contractually obligated to complete the Giant within 24 months of vacating the space, meaning a new store could open by spring 2013.

The Grocery store will be "much bigger and a lot more interesting" than any other in city, claimed Spikell. By including the old market, the design will rebuild the 42 ft. high roof with a monitor skylight window, 150 ft. in length, down the center. Spikell hopes that as people enter the store through an area with baked goods and prepared foods they will look back at the old market, divided from the rest of the store by the skylight, and get a "special feeling from the ceiling height and all that light coming in." Beyond the ethereal elements, the store will be "much larger" than most urban customers are used to and will have "a greater offering" of products, according to Spikell. Think cheese bar and a large prepared food section.

Once the garage and grocery are finished, the team will build the hotel space and the market-rate apartments along 8th Street, followed by affordable senior housing on 7th Street and finishing with the proposed condo units along 9th Street. The team has not yet formalized an agreement with a general contractor.

Washington, DC real estate development news


Anonymous said...

Does Shalome have any other designs in his bag of tricks? Same old junk!

Anonymous said...

Junk?....This architectural design firm, Shalom Baranes Associates, produces some of the most consistent and excellent designs of any firm in DC, as evidenced by the long list of design awards it receives. I don't see where this building is a repeats anything more than the excellence that this firms produces. Can the previous commenter provide any comment of substance that can be debated?

Anonymous said...

If I could draw a diagram I would. The scheme of the asymetrical bay with the off center vertical element is everywhere, including Shalome's work of the past decade. There was a time when Shalome would have done a building here that didn't so thoroughly disregard its context, but in fairness that's a problem with a lot of infill. There version of this formulaic design is slicker than say Coldbert's, but it's always the same. I guess like any mass production, it makes good economic sense, but makes for a boaring street scape.

Anonymous said...

So to summarize your argument, Shalom Baranes and Associates (SBA) is designing buildings in the style that most other architects employee today, and you have a problem with this. But SBA at one-time designed buildings you did like the style of because they fit-in to the context. That was known as contextualism, itself a subset of the post-modern style that concluded 20 some years ago. Architecture is an art and like all arts, does follow larger style trends.
As for the generalization made of the stylistic device (off-center bay with vertical element), SBA's best known recent designs do not have this in the design. I am referring to:
22 West, the two Ritz projects, the Columbia Condo, the Odyssey,
the Waterfront project in Southwest, the Nigerian Chancery, or the Cityline Project. While I agree that the device you stated is overused in today's architecture, I do not think you can fairly say that SBA has overused this stylistic device.
As for the comment, mass production, while there are some firms that could fairly receive that label, SBA is definitely not in that group. While you may not agree with the style that is being used by most architects today, it is unfair and simply incorrect to lump your comments of this onto the excellent body of work that this firm has produced.

Anonymous said...

Man, you're spicey, but this ought to be fun!

"(SBA) is designing buildings in the style that most other architects employee today, and you have a problem with this"

-I said the style is everywhere, not dominant. If you look at anything besides glossy architectural periodicals, you'd know that to be true.

"That was known as contextualism, itself a subset of the post-modern style that concluded 20 some years ago"

-Post-modernism isn't a style, but if you think it and contextualism died 20 years ago, you might want to remind 90% of the market, which like it or not, designs and build in traditional styles (sometimes even contextually, a sub-set of good manners).

Look, there's plenty to like from any style, it's just that Shalome is a one trick pony. It's a pretty trick, but a bit stale, especially when applied to every project regardless of context.

Anonymous said...

I will let you argue with yourself the difference between a style being everywhere and a style being dominant.

You are correct that Post-modernism is not a style, but postmodernism most definitely is, look it up. As a style, postmodernism is still used by some very good architects (locally Greenberg and Schwarz are examples) and many "production firms" that design buildings, but I don't qualify that as architecture, just building. As for the 90% figure.... well only if you include all the Toll Brothers suburban housing and their like. Most commercial architecture is very much in a contemporary style, especially in the urban areas.

As for one-trick pony comment, again, unfounded and simply wrong. Look at their website and you will see more variation in designs than any architect I can think of with the possible exception of Polshek. You have made the charge, so come up with some evidence... name a DC firm who has produced a more stylistically varied body of work.

Lastly, in addition to being factually incorrect, your repeated and seemingly intentional misspelling of Shalom's name is very rude. I say seemingly only because your messages contain so many other misspellings it is hard to know for certain if your intention was to be insulting. Shalom Baranes, FAIA is the respected leader of one of DC's largest architecture firm with many talented architects. If you have a criticism of the firm's work, then it should be directed to the firm and not your personal nickname for the firm.

Anonymous said...

"As for the 90% figure.... well only if you include all the Toll Brothers suburban housing and their like. Most commercial architecture is very much in a contemporary style, especially in the urban areas."

The reason residential architecture tends to be mostly traditional is that's the only architectural choice many of us get to have. You can leave them off your ledger, but that wouldn't be an accurate analysis.

On his name, I apologize, it's Shalom, I didn't mean any disrespect. Like I said, he does nice work for what he does, I just wish he would step outside his glass box now and again. We'll just agree to disagree on everything else.

Anonymous said...

I'll skip all the verbosity and say that I just think its ugly and monotonous.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. That's all I was trying to say. Shalom!

Reston said...

I'm sorry, but I, too, think the design is rather unattractive. Then again I also think places like Lake Anne in Reston are unattractive, and supposedly that is the epitome of "awesome" architecture in Metro DC, so maybe I'm just the oddball.

KStreetQB on Apr 28, 2010, 12:02:00 PM said...

I think it's ugly too, but it's way better than what's there now.

The addison square project just north of O Street looks incredible in comparisson. Really nicely done in my opinion. Hope that gets off the ground too, as it's right across the street from my house.

Anonymous said...

Part of that design reminds me of that behemoth of a mess at 14th and U..built in the 80's!!!

Anonymous said...

Part of that design reminds me of that behemoth of ugliness at 14th and U...from the 1980's!!!

Anonymous said...

I would be really glad if the O Street Market ever gets rebuilt....but I don't see how anyone looks at these designs and passionately defends them, they are run-of-the-mill. Much better than whats there, just as good as most large buildings going up today....but NOT SOMETHING TO BRAG ABOUT! Its funny how all the so-called "experts" are always driving the bus into the ditch. I remember when people were saying the same kinds of things about the firm that designed Nationals Park, "prominent", "excellent designs", "award winning", etc and look what went up...mediocre at best. But good luck getting it built....anything there would be an improvement.

Anonymous said...

It is totaly shocking how the developers " roadside" the minority white owners of the O Street property are stilling the property from African Americans.

Anonymous said...

My problem with this whole situation is that, it took Eastern Market to get rebuilt in as little as a year after the fire. This structure has been down for how long? And no one could even get the plans right enough to even start the building process. Stop playing politics people and get the damn thing done.

Anonymous said...

This is such a gift for the neighborhood and I love the multi use concept and the design.

I think it is great the Mayor is behind this.

Anonymous said...

The reason this looks like everything else is the "dc box" phenomenon- in order to make money and fit the highest and best use, architects are forced to make a decorated box, its a problem with the zoning

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