Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Brightwood's Beacon Center Retooling with New Architect

Emory Beacon of Light Inc. requested a two-year zoning variance extension Tuesday morning for development of the Beacon Center, the mixed-use project planned on Georgia Avenue in Brightwood.

The group, a community development organization tied to Emory United Methodist Church, first received government approval in early 2010. But construction has not yet started on the $36 million project that will include church, residential, retail and community development space.

Hazel Broadnax, President of Emory Beacon of Light, said the group "had to change architects." Torti Gallas and Partners took over design duties started by PGN Architects.The project website states: "We have new architects with a strong history of affordable housing and community transformation projects across the country and in Washington, DC."

Changing architecture firms contributed to the delay and need for an extension of the approved zoning variance.

"When they were getting the plans ready for the next phase of the project, there were some things that had to be done that were not completed by the prior architects," Broadnax said. "Plus, our zoning variance was scheduled to expire this year. So we needed a two-year extension to get everything done and get plans to the contractor."

Despite the new architecture firm, exterior plans for the building remain the same. New construction will surround the existing church as previously planned. But the interior changed a bit.

Initial plans called for a 2-story gymnasium, but Broadnax said funding shortfalls scrapped those plans, making way for additional housing and services to better serve the veteran community.

Emory Beacon of Light still is working to secure $2 million for the project. The group has struggled with funding along the way, but Broadnax said the group now just has a $2 million "funding gap."

According to the project website, the group “will be simplifying the project and building in two phases.” It now comprises 5,700 s.f. of retail space; 10,600 s.f. of office, meeting and classroom space; and 96 parking spaces. Both buildings contain housing for a total of 15 transitional family housing units, 45 affordable family housing units, 32 permanent supportive housing for veterans, and 17 transitional housing units for single men.

Plans in 2010 called for 24 units of transitional space to help the homeless work toward permanent residency, 34 units reserved for senior citizens, 17 units for veterans and 16 affordable rentals.

Broadnax said the project now is in the design development phase, and everyone is working to get the plans to construction contractor Bozzuto. Emory Beacon of Light also partnered with development consultant Northern Real Estate Urban Ventures (NREUV) for the project.

Broadnax said she hopes for a groundbreaking this year with completion 18 to 24 months later.

Washington, D.C., real estate development news


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