Wednesday, November 09, 2011

"College Main Street" for Catholic University Breaks Ground

Brookland retail: Monroe Street Market, Washington DC, Catholic UniversityThe Bozzuto Group and Abdo Development broke ground today on the joint $200-million development "Monroe Street Market," an undertaking that will create a 9-acre, mixed-use village surrounding a new "college main street" to serve Catholic University of America (CUA) in Brookland.

By offering the South Campus land for development, CUA "did the opposite of what many universities do, and put the land [five city blocks] back into the city's tax base" said Jim Abdo, who was exuberant that the project is moving from "vision and concept to actual reality" and is now embarking on three years of construction; the first phase, by Bozzuto Construction, includes 562 residential units, aiming to deliver in mid 2013.
Torti Gallas Architecture, Maurice Walters design, Brookland

In May of 2008, Abdo beat out tens of competitors including EYA, Monument Realty and Trammell Crow for the right to purchase the South Campus from CUA, and subsequently turn the land - a collection of empty lots and old dormitories - into university-serving amenities and housing.

The $200-million project is receiving "no public subsidy of any kind," Abdo confirmed in his speech, which was followed by Tom Bozzuto, who expressed gratitude to "the vision of Pritzker [to invest in the project]... when virtually no other investors in 2008/2009 would [offer financing]." Fully entitled before the fall of 2008, developers relied on confidence from "alliances and great partnerships" to escape being sidelined completely by the great recession.

In the summer of 2010, Bozzuto and Chicago-based Pritzker Realty Group (which controls the non-hotel real estate holdings of the Hyatt hotel founders, the Pritzker family) announced a $75-million joint investment fund in multifamily housing, and then revealed that a significant portion of that fund was being invested in Abdo's plans to develop Catholic University's South Campus.

Bozzuto added, "In September of 2008, when the world was crashing around us...the bankers at Bank of America stood ground with us." Bank of America was also in attendance at the ceremony today.

Architects at Torti Gallas (responsible for land-use planning and a portion of design), Maurice Walters, and KTGY have combined the collegiate Gothic look of the century-old CUA with the Brookland neighborhood's arts and crafts style.

Of the location, lay-out and design, CUA President John Garvey said, "[The development] will increase the safety of the neighborhood and improve the aesthetics of the area."

Monroe Street, from Michigan Avenue to the Monroe Street Bridge, will be turned into a main drag and will be "the backbone" of the development. At the Michigan Avenue end will be a 1,000-s.f. public square with central fountain and a 70' clock tower.

The entire development includes over 900,000 s.f. of gross floor area and will be constructed in phases. In all, there will be 718 residential units (8-percent, or 63,000 s.f., will be affordable at 80-percent of AMI) both apartments and condos, 45 single-family townhomes (three of the 21-unit string on Kearny Street will be affordable at 80-percent of AMI), 83,000 s.f. of retail space, 15,000 s.f. of artist space (27 studios), a 3,000-s.f. community arts center and 850 below-grade parking spaces.

An "Arts Walk," along 8th Street between Michigan Ave and Monroe St, will be a pedestrian- only corridor flanked by two 5-story buildings that will provide 27 ground-floor artist studios (at below-market rent) and 13,500-s.f. of retail at the southern ends along Monroe Street. The top four floors of the buildings will contain 152 residential units.

Along 8th Street, south of Monroe Street, are numerous industrial and arts uses, including Brookland Artspace Lofts, and Dance Place. The site is adjacent to the Red Line Brookland/CUA Metro stop, making it a "transit-oriented development."

The Monroe Street Market development will also improve the intersections of Michigan Avenue at Monroe Street and 7th Street, as well as complete the Metropolitan Branch Trail along the Metro Track, and add "aesthetic improvements" to the Monroe Street Bridge.

The Zoning Commission approved the development's plan in December of 2009, after Abdo was selected as the developer in 2008, six years after Catholic University set down in its 2002 Campus Plan that the South Campus area should be "phased out as a student housing area, and reserved for cooperative ventures between the University and other appropriate organizations.”

Washington D.C. real estate development news


Anonymous said...

I'm curious. How is parking going to be accommodated at the townhouses? On the rendering I see spaces for possible curb cuts to access the rear of the properties, but I don't see any alleys nor parking spaces delineated.

Will the townhouses feature rear garages, or will parking be accommodated by carving out space underneath the second level of the house itself, an open garage, so to say?

Anonymous said...

Thank god. This is an excellent project. Nice buildings too! on Nov 9, 2011, 4:39:00 PM said...

Gothic Main Street, or Urban Ghetto ... time will tell

This grand gothic design is in reality a cynical exploitation of the Brookland community by a non tax paying, second rate school for rich New Jersey kids, whose mothers and fathers want them out of their hair, but not too far away. (yes, a bit over the top)

This sub standard, ill conceived amorphous blot on our community, College Main Street," will fundamentally change the character of Brookland and Edgewood for ever.

It will effectively eliminate 75 percent of existing green space and over 100 mature trees. The paving over of so much green space will turn the area in to a heat island that will add ten degrees to the ambient temperature in the Summer.

There was no prior environmental or hydrology studies performed. The existing trees sequester millions of gallons of rainwater. That water will now find its way into the basements of local residents.

ABDO and CUA claim no support from the city ... except, that CUA has warehoused many of these plots, taking them out of the tax rolls for decades and benefited from the increases in property values. The CUA campus is uninvolved in our community. Yet is claims the right to stuff maximum density construction and materially deteriorate the quality of life for existing residents.

All done in the name of PROFIT! Forget these concept drawings. If you want to see what Brookland will look like ... go to Fort Totten!

Bob See on Nov 9, 2011, 5:33:00 PM said...

Looks OK, a little bland and uniform but whatever.

"It will effectively eliminate 75 percent of existing green space and over 100 mature trees. "

Huh, I would have figured when the Brookland neighboorhood was built it had more impact than that.

CJ said...

Sure, any development over grass and trees has a negative environmental impact. BUT, this is near a Metro, it is a no-brainer that this is the place to build. The alternative is more housing communities that spring up in Germantown, or farther out, a totally unsustainable practice that is killing true forest, and not on 10 acres but on hundreds of acres for the same amount of housing. That's what you should be crying about.

Anonymous said...

@micro: While the design is beyond uninspiring and banal, don't be bitter with the school. It's a great school with great people that for years was surrounded by a dangerous and unfriendly neighborhood. Finally the school is becoming more involved in cleaning that part of town up as the rest of DC is doing.

Erin said...

I kind of like the design

Sivad said...

Finally. I can't believe it is happening. I just hope there are a strong set of retailers. Anyone who thinks this development is not beneficial is clearly out of touch. The next step is to make the area west of the Basilica a public park. That would complete the picture.

Now only if Cafritz would move forward with Fort Totten. To time for spotty development in DC is over and thank goodness.


By blindly and subjectively painting the community as "dangerous and unfriendly" you show yourself to be ignorant. DC is not without its challenges, however Brookland is one of the safest areas in the city statistically.

arch_observer said...

To say the design is bland is an understatement. Even Eric Colbert could do better. This is 2011 in Washington DC, next door to one of the strongest arch. schools in the country (or so they think?) Every day ArchDaily sends a blast about another project somewhere in the world, and I sigh...

@microventures supporter: it was in the name of PROFIT that someone has created a job for your parents which put the roof over your head and milk in your glass. It is somebody else’s PROFIT that finances your con @microventures. It was paving green space that created the country which you are steeling from instead of contributing to its GNP. (And by the way, there are much much much more trees in this country today than, say, 100 years ago).

@Sivad: please spare us your PC b.s. "Dangerous and unfriendly" they are. Whatever your racial/ethnic/religious background is, you will stroll down CT ave NW any time day or night. But you will not do so in “statistically safe” Brookland. “DC is not without its challenges”? Please don’t abuse the language.

Anonymous said...

And what steps will be taken to close down all of the Section 8 housing that permeates the area and results incidents like the horrific shooting death of Catholic University student Neil Godleski?

This city needs to raze about 500 blocks of hell. This development is a small start. Hopefully the shop owners will be providing their staff with flak jackets.

Anonymous said...

Geez...does anyone like anyone anymore? Chillax.

Anyway, the project is cool with me. Its better than the untaxable, vacant lot of grass. I just hope they can get a good mix of retail. If it gets a coffeeshop then hopefully a Pound, Tynan, Big Bear or something.

Ryan on Nov 10, 2011, 4:06:00 PM said...

This is GREAT news for the Brookland neighborhood of DC!

Anonymous said...

The faux-historic architecture is dreadful. Pity.

Sivad said...

@arch_observer said...

Almost not worthy of comment. My background is of course irrelevant because my opinion is based off of facts, yours are purely qualitative and obviously biased.

I do recognize that the project is bland in its design, but what project in DC is not? The planners favor uninspired designs so the city is littered with them.

Robert Cameron on Nov 10, 2011, 6:37:00 PM said...

In the past the developer and its primary contractor have shown their ability to design, build, and operate a quality community. It will be interesting to watch the evolution. Robert Cameron, Brookland resident

Anonymous said...

I'm so grateful that some developers are rejecting the cheap and easy modernist design that too often is soldas cutting edge. Good urban architecture should be pleasing, not shocking. These buildings will age much better than another "cutting edge" glass box. The candy coating inevitably wears off and we're left with an ugly experiment. This project will outlast those clamoring for constant titilation.

Anonymous said...

To partly answer the first question: the townhomes are not included in the current project phase - the design remains conceptual and will be finalized in a future project phase.

Anonymous said...

FINALLY!! I'm gleeful to see this project move forward. There are many of us in Michigan Park and Brookland who are grateful beyond words to have this significant investment in our neighborhood.

Moreover, negative boobs such as "microventures..." have no clue how fortunate we are to have a developer of Abdo's quality as well as financing from the world-renowned Pritzker Fund. It speaks volumes about their faith in the stability and future growth of our neighborhood and this part of Northeast.

Green space? Are you kidding me? The parcels comprise 9 acres of tax-exempt, chain-link fenced wasteland, only a stone's throw from Brookland Metro. While I likewise bemoan the loss of trees (not all of which are quality), one of Brookland's recent arrivals, Casey Trees, is planting trees throughout the neighborhood! In the past 18 months, we in the Michigan Park Citizens Association have planted 66 trees at four locations; the Brookland Garden Club planted 21 trees at Turkey Thicket last spring; on 12/3, Casey will plant 16 trees on 12th Street; and on 12/10, another 30 trees will be planted on the grounds of the Franciscan Monestery. Of course, Abdo is required to plant replacement trees as part of this new project.

What have naysayers such as microventures (beyond their incessant whining), done to contribute to improving our neighborhood? Perhaps volunteering at these tree planting projects is in order.

Thank you, Abdo! I look forward to spending my household's disposable income at the quality retailers you are renowned for attracting to your projects.

Tom in Michigan Park

Anonymous said...

I'll be curious to see how the Arts Walk turns out -- arts studios are a great way to use ground-floor space when the retail demand might be a bit thin. It reminds me of Liberties Walk in Philadelphia. This development will fill one of the great holes in the area's urban fabric, and won't even be visible for most of Brookland east of the tracks.

Those who are really concerned about trees and warming and the environment should chain themselves to the White House to stop mountaintop removal coal mining and the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline -- each of which has resulted in clear-cutting and strip-mining hundreds of thousands of acres of pristine forest, in order to burn fossil fuels that are appreciably warming the entire planet. If all development in America was compact and mixed-use like this one (reducing both transportation and household energy use), maybe America the coal & oil junkie wouldn't need ever more hits of dino juice. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

"And what steps will be taken to close down all of the Section 8 housing that permeates the area and results incidents like the horrific shooting death of Catholic University student Neil Godleski?"

Anonymous, are you just intentionally ignorant, or did a CUA girl turn you down one night and now you're just bitter about the neighborhood? Spend 10 seconds reading about the Neil Godleski shooting and you'll quickly realize that he was shot in Petworth--a neighborhood that not only doesn't border Brookland, but exists in an entirely different quadrant.

If you're goign to ignorantly bash an entire neighborhood, at least make sure the evidence you cite actually exists within the correct quadrant first.

Anonymous said...

Count me as another Brookland/Edgewood resident who is thrilled that this project is finally underway. It's not as if ABDO and CUA are exploiting pristine parkland for profit. The largest parcel of land slated for development was home to ugly and decrepit dorms. This development should increase property values, add amenities to the community, and enhance the overall quality of life for the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

^ As to that comment about the public housing projects, the person referred to the "area" as you quoted. And I have to agree with him. That whole area is FULL of problematic projects that threaten the lives of innocents. Petworth and Brookland are only a couple of miles apart -- i.e. close to each other. I'm sure the suspect spent time in both locations with his violent friends.

Dumplin' Honeychild said...

FINALLY! First Chancellor's Row . . . then College Main Street . . . then the Colonel Brooks Project . . . next THE WORLD (by which I mean at least one additional development that contains a Harris Teeter/Trader Joe's/WholeFoods). I've already e-mailed each of them begging them to look at the neighborhood for future store sites. Sure, the architecture is not the most inspiring, but f the details and finishing are quality, it should be relatively timeless. Now, I can't wait to spend all my substantial disposable income at the new shops on my walk home from Brookland Metro.

P.S., Tom in Michigan Park is sexy.

Anonymous said...

I lived around catholic university in the 90s so I wanted to chime in on what type of neighborhood it was back then. Of course, there was the school and their students who partied (shocker), and there was a large area on the other side of the metro that I considered Brookland which of course was centered by a large section of 12th street. Outside of that, it was not a safe place to be.

On twelfth street was the only Subway restaurant I'd ever been to that had bullet proof glass. Everything in retail, outside of what the school's students supported (and their terrible parents, like the dooshbag earlier pointed out like someone whose dreams have been shattered), was check cashing, Chinese take-outs (also with bullet proof glass), liquor stores, and homeless people. A police officer I struck up a conversation with told me that his district (including Brookland) was the highest crime area in NE DC, back then of course.

So whoever thinks this development is a stain on Brookland either just moved there in the past 6-7 years or they fear the well lit streets will prevent them from sneaking up on people.

I prefer cleaning a place up over architecture anyday. The good people in Brookland are happy.

Anonymous said...

It's about time Brookland gets much needed attention. I think the designs are fine and more fitting than the glass boxes or some of the 50's bldgs on CUA's campus! My hope is that it sparks much needed action in Fort Totten.

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