Sunday, January 08, 2012

Clear Sailing for Southwest Waterfront Development

The Congressional Budget Office weighed in just before the holidays with a strong endorsement of the proposed rezoning of the Southwest Waterfront, further bolstering H.R. 2297’s already favorable chances of passing into law when the Senate reconvenes next session.

If (when) passed, the bill would bring the District one step closer to a dramatic revitalization of the largely moribund Southwest waterfront, bringing it in line with the rapidly-developing Southeast waterfront, and creating what planners hope will eventually coalesce into a “second downtown.”

The bill, introduced by Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, has already passed the House and gone through Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee markup, and clarifies the vague and somewhat archaic restrictions governing the waterfront. The District has always technically owned the land, but was barred from selling it, which for all intents and purposes made commercial development impossible. The recent CBO report found that empowering development in the area would have no adverse effects on the federal government, thus clearing the way for the 2.5 million-square-foot blockbuster PN Hoffman-Madison Marquette hotel-office-retail-pedestrian mall project.

The Hoffman-Madison First Stage PUD, as reported on this site, breezed through its NCPC hearing back in October. Bob Rubenkonig, a Hoffman-Madison representative, said Hoffman-Madison is busily preparing for 2012 public meetings, with the Second Stage PUD forthcoming very soon - hopefully in February, according to Hoffman VP Shawn Seaman.

The $2 billion, 2.5 million-square-foot project, dubbed “The Wharf,” takes its cues from Baltimore and Seattle's waterfront promenades, and will feature around 1200 residential units, almost 400,000 s.f. of office space, and 200,000 s.f. of retail space. Over half the site will be public space, much of that a pedestrian-friendly, privately-held waterfront avenue, “Wharf Street,” which will replace Water Street, will feature walking lanes, bike paths, and a streetcar. Development plans also call for a four thousand seat theater, a maritime history museum, and three hotels – a four-star, 268-room hotel from Carr Hospitality and InterContinental Hotels Group, and two others from the JBG Companies.

Developers have also agreed to a community benefits package that will set aside 30 percent of the first 500 units of housing - half earmarked for households making less than 60% AMI, and half earmarked for households making less than 30% AMI. Beyond the 500-unit mark, 20% will be reserved for "workforce housing," i.e. police, firefighters, teachers making 80 - 100% AMI. This unusual formula is the result of the Southwest Waterfront Redevelopment Clarification Act of 2010, which exempts a portion of the development from the District's affordable housing requirements. Furthermore, a quarter of the retail space will go to local businesses, and a third of everything sold in the retail spaces will come from local merchants. Design is being spearheaded by Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut & Kuhn Architects, while construction is being handled by PN Hoffman and Clark Construction.

Washington D.C. real estate development news


Diane on Jan 9, 2012, 3:12:00 PM said...

This area is now a lovely escape FROM downtown and all the traffic, people, commercialization, tourists, and general hoopla that is found there. Here at the waterfront you can actually find nature and smell the fresh air and see the sun set across the water. you can get some fresh sea food and feel the breeze in your hair. You can walk without worrying about being run over by a bus or wild cab driver. You can see sailboats plying calm waters. Why would you want to ruin that by recreating the
noise and chaos of Chinatown or Columbia Heights here in one of the few quiet areas so easily accessible to city dwellers?

Anonymous said...

@dihi... really, fresh air? It smells like dead fish down there right now! All that DC has is pristine waterfronts; have you walked by the memorials, the Cherry Blossoms and all the way up past Kennedy Center? Its all beautiful waterfront which is uninterrupted. Chinatown is perfect city chaos and was designed and developed that way, if you look at how they have designed this waterfront it is nothing like the trappings of Chinatown with plenty of open space, green space and finally a place to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee while watching the sunset. GO SW!

Diane on Jan 9, 2012, 10:09:00 PM said...

As a matter of fact, there are plenty of places to sit right on the water to sit on a nice bench, under old growth trees near gardens of roses and sip coffee or wine while the sun sets along the southwest waterfront. There are places where you can fish and boat as well. Why bring in 10 buildings that are 13 stories tall to do so?

Diane on Jan 9, 2012, 10:11:00 PM said...

Oh by the way, the dead fish smell of the fish market is going to stay even after the rebuild. The market isn't going to go away.

Anonymous said...

Where's the strong endorsement from the CBO? All I can find is a single page saying this won't cost the feds anything. Can you provide a link to the document you're referencing?

monkeyrotica on Jan 11, 2012, 1:15:00 PM said...

I am continually puzzled by people who live in the middle of a city and complain about noise and congestion. If dense infill development can't happen in a city, where is it supposed to happen?

Dylanarman on Jan 12, 2012, 8:20:00 AM said...

It is ideal for people who want to live in a relaxing, carefree environment, surrounded by natural beauty.

Condo Manager

SWag on Jan 12, 2012, 3:33:00 PM said...

Keep SW green! @dihi - it is a nice escape from downtown. the "second downtown" idea is a terrible one. I hope to see something similar to the Yards in SE. There is tons of green open space and seems geared more toward the immediate community, as opposed to drawing people from other parts of the city, etc. I freaking love SW. SWAG!

Payton on Feb 6, 2012, 12:56:00 AM said...

There are few places in the region where one can find "general hoopla" in the vicinity of the river. This is despite literally hundreds of miles of riverfront in this region. There is absolutely no shortage of places in this region that are lacking in "general hoopla." Not only will East Potomac Park remain literally a stone's throw away from the Wharf -- but it's also a huge country out there, and at least 99.99% of it is FREE of "general hoopla."

Many people seem to enjoy "general hoopla"; after all, it is the presence of many people enjoying many things which creates "general hoopla."

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