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Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Hoffman-Madison Details Second-Stage Plans for Southwest Waterfront

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Wharf southwest Washington DCPN Hoffman and Madison Marquette, the chief developers of the long planned $1.5 billion Southwest Waterfront project, unveiled revised details of its vision for the 3.2 million s.f. development, which will include offices, apartments, a four-star InterContinental Hotel, four piers and a three-acre park -- part of the District's bid to transform its sleepy waterfront into a destination on par with San Francisco's Embarcadero and Seattle's Pike's Place.

Wharf Washington DC retail for lease Hoffman Madison Marquette in Southwest DC


Wharf Washington DC retail for lease Hoffman Madison Marquette in Southwest DC

Wharf Washington DC, offering retail for lease and restaurant space in Southwest DC
While the first stage of what's to be known as the 23-acre Wharf District was approved by the Zoning Commission in 2011, that stage mainly dealt with traffic issues and building heights and setbacks -- today's Planned Unit Development (PUD) submission will give many in the District their first glimpse of the architectural vision and details.

"Each space is going to have its own experience," said Monty Hoffman of co-developer PN Hoffman in an interview. Hoffman's company has built more than 35 projects in the D.C. metro area, including The Lofts in Adams Morgan, the Mather Building near Verizon Center and the coming Northern Exchange on 14th Street. "There will be a different designer on each parcel so each can put their own DNA into the projects," Hoffman said. "It's not going to look like one contrived development."

Hoffman said that his group, along with partners Madison Marquette, builders of Cityline at Tenley, studied waterfront cities like San Francisco and Seattle to bring elements of the Embarcadero and its Ferry Building and Pike's Place to the Wharf District. That will include laying the groundwork (if not the tracks) for connecting to the District's planned 37-mile streetcar network, which could run on M Street SW and Maine Avenue and connect to the Nationals ballpark, said Matthew Steenhoek a development manager at PN Hoffman. The District has a M Street and Maine Avenue connection as part of its third phase of the streetcar plan. Steenhoek said short-term, the District Wharf would be connected by Circulator buses until the streetcar plan is built.

The project is more than 50 years in the making. Ever since the federal government as part of its "Urban Renewal" plan razed much of Southwest D.C. to build the I-395 freeway and apartments, residents of Southwest have been cut off, for the most part, from the revival of the rest of the city while its natural waterfront remained underutilized.

Still, don't look for Baltimore Inner Harbor-style national chain attractions at District Wharf, Hoffman said. Wharf Washington DC retail for lease Hoffman Madison Marquette in Southwest DC"We're not inviting large national brands, we're not going to be dominated by national chains," he said. Instead, emphasis will be placed on integrating D.C. icons like the Maine Avenue Fish Market into a larger community, he said. "We're going to be more Washington-centric."

Wharf Washington DC retail for lease Hoffman Madison Marquette in Southwest DC
What it will share with Baltimore's Inner Harbor is an emphasis on water-related activities and entertainment. The Washington Channel is 16 feet deep, which would allow some deeper-draft vessels to sail up to the many planned piers, including 180-foot tall schooner ships. "Water activity will be central, so whatever we can draw to the water will be critical," Hoffman said. To that end, Hoffman plans a partnership with the Capital Yacht Club to bring more boating activities to the piers, including regattas. The Washington Kastles, the District's tennis team, will also remain at the Wharf, although moved from their current location atop the demolished Hogates restaurant, Hoffman said.

Wharf Washington DC retail for lease Hoffman Madison Marquette in Southwest DC
So far, Hoffman-Madison has lined up $50 million for pre- development, partly through Monty Hoffman's own pocket as well as Madison-Marquette. "We're self-funded," he said. "We're spending about $1 million a month, but we've got the capital to work with for pre-development." Hoffman didn't say who will be financing the rest of the construction but said that he's got multiple avenues from potential investors. The District's Southwest Waterfront Redevelopment Bond Financing Act of 2008 also provides $148 million worth of related infrastructure improvements along Maine Avenue. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) last July began rehabbing parts of Maine Avenue in advance of the Wharf project. The Wharf District is expected to bring in $40 million in taxes to the District a year.

The Land Disposition Agreement, or LDA with the District will close at the end of the year,
Wharf Washington DC retail for lease Hoffman Madison Marquette in Southwest DC
which puts Hoffman on track for a groundbreaking in the first quarter of 2013, he said.

Here's how the project will break down:

Stage 2 is being designed by Rockwell Group and Perkins Eastman, which absorbed the former master planner of the Southwest Waterfront from Ehrenkrantz, Eckstut & Kuhn in 2010. It includes parcels 2, 3, and 4 along Maine Avenue. Parcel 2 will include 135,000 s.f. of entertainment-related venues, nearly 500 residential units in 357,000 s.f. and 39,000 s.f. of retail.

Parcel 3a will consist of 218,000 s.f. of Class A office space and 15,000 square feet of retail by Perkins Eastman. Parcel 3b will include a 245,000-s.f. InterContinental Hotel featuring a clock tower and 278 rooms. InterContinental operates the Willard Hotel. Carr Hospitality is the developer and BBG-BBGM is the architect.

Parcel 4 will be designed by Handel Architects, creators of the Ritz-Carlton D.C. and Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, and feature industrial and dockyard-related waterfront structures. It will include 168 rental units on 124,000 s.f. along with 130 condominiums on 179,000 square feet and 77,000 s.f. of retail including a fitness club.

Hoffman-Madison plans a public presentation of the plans on Feb. 27 at 6pm at Arena Stage.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Micro-units at The Wharf Could Be D.C.'s First

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D.C.'s first micros?  Rendering: Hoffman-Madison
Washington DC retail for lease at the WharfFrom a tiny flat on the Potomac waterfront, a young man stands looking dreamily out a floor-to-ceiling corner window.  He is only part of a rendering now, but in four years his small home will be real. Apartments at The Wharf, a massive public-private development planned for DC's Southwest Waterfront, could be the city's first micro-units.  The future building is at the corner of Maine Avenue SW and 9th Street SW.

The planned units measure just 330 square feet - about 30 square meters - to 380 square feet and feature sweeping views of the water.  The water is the focal point for this $1.5 billion 35-acre project, a public-private partnership between Hoffman-Madison Waterfront and the District of Columbia.  Perkins Eastman of DC is the residential and retail architect for the building called "Parcel 2", which will house the micro-units.  Rockwell Group is behind designs for the theater planned for the same building.

Micro-unit rendering: Hoffman-Madison
The micro-units could be the first in a new development for the District.  Another developer planned some for Chinatown, but those were never built. In July, 60 percent of respondents to a survey by UrbanTurf said they would consider living in a 275 to 300 square foot apartment.  And with a trend in micro-unit housing sweeping the country thanks in part to a smaller-is-better way of viewing housing, it was only a matter of time before ├╝ber-small apartments arrived in D.C.   In July, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a design competition to design 300 square foot apartments.

With the city adding about 1,100 residents per month and 70 percent of those new residents under the age of 35 (statistics that Office of Planning director Harriet Tregoning is fond of citing), DC's growth is creating a veritable perfect storm for micro-units.


"Parcel 2", water side. Rendering: Hoffman-Madison
"Smaller units are flying off the shelf," said Matt Steenhoek, Associate Development Director with Hoffman-Madison Waterfront.  He said a small team from Hoffman-Madison Waterfront took a look at trends, demographic forecasts, and a growing "less is more" aesthetic.  The decision to put micro-units in Parcel 2 made sense, he said.  The building will have 500 residential units, 40 percent of which will be studio apartments, though not all in the 300 square foot range.

According to Steenhoek, developers took a look at demand forecasts for the next 20 years, as well as demographic trends: those point to smaller household sizes and people staying single longer. "Some of the housing that has been historically built will be somewhat obsolete," Steenhoek said. "We were looking at all these things and having this conversations in a small group and saying what we can we do and how can we be a market leader in that market for the District."
Rendering: Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

According to developers, the planned micro-units will feature built-in furniture and cabinetry, small appliances and wall-beds. "The idea is that someone could move in with one suitcase," Steenhoek told DCMud.  Data from the OP shows D.C.'s new, young residents aren't bringing much furniture - or cars - creating a niche for furnished apartments.

All units will feature large windows and some will have small French balconies, features designed to open up the spaces and make them feel larger.
Rendering: Hoffman-Madison Waterfont
DC Wharf retail leasing
"Parcel 2", Maine Avenue frontage. Hoffman-Madison Waterfron
Amenities are key to The Wharf's micro-unit concept - a concept that sees micro-units as launch pads for engagement with walkable, 24-hour urban offerings and symbols of freedom from suburban commutes.

Developers are betting micro-units will help help achieve that vision - a vision focused on the urban and social life outside right one's doors. "In that sort of paradigm you can live in a very efficient space because you are not spending every hour in there - you are out in your environment," said Steenhoek.

Parcel 2 plans call for a rooftop terrace and pool,  as well as a cultural performing arts center with a 6,000-person capacity. A co-generation plant is planned to power the building.  Affordable and workforce housing will be mixed throughout market-rate units and offered in all unit sizes, including for micro-units. Plans for the larger development, The Wharf, call for 3.2 million square feet of development, including offices, apartments, and a four-star InterContinental Hotel, four piers, and a three-acre park.

Parcel 2, as well as the larger Phase One, Stage Two development plan for The Wharf, have already received design concept approval from the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. After five hearings before the DC Zoning Commission in July, the plans should get a preliminary decision from the Commission by the end of October.  Developers expect to break ground in 2013.  The answer to the question of what life will be like in a D.C. micro unit will have to wait for a while: they won't be delivered until late 2016 or early 2017.
The Wharf's "Parcel 2" Floor Plan. Rendering courtesy Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Friday, October 07, 2011

Southwest Waterfront's Wharf Waved Forward by NCPC

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Wharf DC, Matthew Steenhoek, southwest DC real estate, retail for lease, commercial property, JBG Madison Marquette
Yesterday, the National Capital Planning Commission waved forward the First Stage PUD of PN Hoffman and Madison Marquette's $2-billion development of the Southwest waterfront known as "The Wharf". The vote to "comment favorably" was raised before Matthew Steenhoek, development manager for PN Hoffman, even had the chance to make a final remark. NCPC commission members noted that the PUD honors NCPC's request from November 2010 to "strengthen the physical and visual connections to the Banneker Overlook." Subsequently, Market Square (below Banneker) was expanded, and the opening between two residential towers at the end of 10th Street was widened. 
Wharf DC, Matthew Steenhoek, southwest DC real estate, retail for lease, commercial property, JBG Madison Marquette

A pedestrian connection from Banneker Overlook to Maine Avenue was also added into the plan, which will be included in phase two of development. The Zoning Commission reviewed the First Stage PUD and related map amendment in mid-September, and may take final action this month, after which the development team can submit the Second Stage PUD, which will detail design and architecture specifics, whereas the First Stage deals with building massing, land uses, open space development, waterfront development/improvement and related map amendment. Hoffman-Madison hopes to submit the Second Stage early next year, in order to begin construction on the first phase (of three) in the first quarter of 2013. Of the 3.2 million s.f. to be developed on land abutting the northeastern shore of the Washington Channel, the first phase of construction will be on the middle four parcels ( 2 through 5) which constitutes 40 percent of the entire development. Parcel 3 will be the location of Carr Hospitality and InterContinental Hotels Group's four-star, 268-room hotel. And, according to Steenhoek, the JBG Companies will operate two hotels - a limited service and an extended stay - at parcel 5. Parcel 2 will be two residential towers above a 4,000-seat multi-purpose theater. 
DC Wharf, Washington DC commercial property, retail for lease

All of the buildings include ground floor retail. A significant aspect of the entire development is the creation of Wharf street, a main avenue along the waterfront for cafes, cars, pedestrians, pier access, bikes and even streetcars. The Wharf will be a privately owned street and will overtake the existing Water Street, the closure of which was approved by the Council in April, and currently awaits approval by Congress. 

Washington D.C. retail and commercial real estate news

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Wharf's "Resort In the City" Anchor Hotel Appeases Critics, Inches Forward

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The four-star Intercontinental luxury hotel in the Wharf - the Southwest waterfront megadevelopment - is inching towards reality, though not without some changes along the way.

"Right now we're in the process of gathering equity," says Austin Flajser, President of Carr Hospitality.  "We anticipate construction starting in the third quarter of 2014, with delivery in the first quarter of 2016."


The 245,000 s.f., 278-room hotel from developer Carr Hospitality and designed by BBG-BBGM, will overlook the Washington Channel, now being developed by the Hoffman-Madison team, and feature a lavish 5,000 s.f. rooftoop lounge.  Plans also call for not one but two restaurants, two large water-facing ballrooms, and up to 7,000 s.f. of ground floor retail space.  The design calls for a red and gray brick facade, intermingled with terracotta, granite, and tinted glass.

Developers were forced to alter their plans, though, after ANC 6D passed a resolution recently in opposition to many of the specifics in the Phase 2 Planned Unit Development (PUD).

"We took down the clock tower, which was really just an architectural embellishment," says Flajser.  "We also altered the corners of the building a little bit, and there's no longer any sign."  (The above rendering depicts the original design; the rendering below depicts the revised design.)

In addition to those changes, the height of the structure - a planned 12-stories/130 feet - was also lowered.  After these changes were announced at a special meeting late last month, the ANC voted 4-3 to reinstate their support.  Carr also has a boutique luxury hotel in the works for Alexandria's contentious waterfront plan and has received objections from neighbors there as well.

Parcel 3b, where the hotel will be built, is near 9th and Water Streets (see map, above), and also abuts one of the development's planned piers; if Carr is able to purchase boat slips from the development group, guests could potentially arrive at the hotel by boat. Rates for the rooms will reportedly be between $300 and $400 per night.


Carr Hospitality notably restored the Willard hotel, a project widely lauded for its successful execution.  The Wharf Intercontinental will be its second hotel in the District.  Monty Hoffman of PN Hoffman has been quoted as saying the hotel will be an "anchor" of the megadevelopment.  The first construction at the Wharf should be begin early next year.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Plans Submitted for Southwest Wharf Waterfront

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Visions of a "world class" waterfront destination along the Washington Channel in Southwest had been dancing in developers' heads for years before a contract was awarded by the District in 2008. On June 28th the winning team's vision became more clear when PN Hoffman and Madison Marquette filed a preliminary report with the D.C. Zoning Commission, clarifying its plans for the 52 acres (including build out on the water) that will be radically revamped as "The Wharf" to be constructed in three phases over the next 10 years.

Phase one of the project - encapsulated for approval as the "Stage 1 PUD" - will be reviewed by the Commission on July 18th. In addition to reviewing Stage 1, the Commission will rule on the request to rezone the area from R-3 to C-3-C on land, and from unzoned to W-1 in the water.

If approved, the initial stage will be valid for 18 months, allowing developers that long to submit the final Master Plan to the office of the Deputy Mayor's for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) for approval. Construction of the first phase is projected to begin in late 2012, and is expected to last until 2016. In those four years, phase two will undergo the review and approval process.

Phase 1 will begin in the middle section, roughly from 7th Street to 9th Street, in between the entertainment-heavy section closest to I-395, which focuses on water-transit-oriented piers and redevelopment of the Municipal Fish Market (phase two), and the residential area at the southern end (phase three). Redevelopment of the Municipal Fish Market will take place in phase 2.

Phase one includes the restructuring of portions of 7th, 9th, N St and M Place; a new Capital Yacht Club; two new piers - "City Pier" off of 9th and "7th Street Pier" - and a major infrastructure overhaul of Water Street. The grand scheme is to turn Water Street into a promenade with 60' of width shared between pedestrians, streetcars, bikes and outdoor diners.

The parcels in phase one (2,3,4 and 5) will be developed as office, retail, residential and hotel space. Parcels 3 through 5 could potentially be 130' high, as is permitted in a C-3-C zone. The plan shows that parcels 3 and 4 will have ground floor retail and office and/or residential towers, parcel 5 will hold two hotels, and parcel 2 is slated to become a concert/entertainment venue with seating for 4,000 to 6,000.

Parcel 3, at the corner of Maine Avenue and 9th Street, has been claimed in part by the Graduate School USA, which will take up 190,000 s.f. of space and operate 18 hours a day. A temporary Kastles Stadium, now located near parcel at 9th and Maine Street and intended to be temporary, is now being considered for parcel 2.

Holland & Knight, legal counsel for PN Hoffman and Madison Marquette, submitted the project's prehearing statement to the Commission in May, and the more recent "20 day [in advance of hearing] submission" on June 28th. Significant changes in both prehearing documents that will affect phase one include a decreased F.A.R. (floor area ratio), the removal of residential use at parcel 5, reduced parking spaces and increased bike docking areas. Most encouraging is the reduction of subsidized housing required by the District from 30% to 20% of total housing.

A community workshop was given by the developers on June 7, where several issues were raised, most of them surrounding the riparian development, including the depth of the channel, and the extended length of several piers, which cuts the width of the channel from 400' to 200' wide.

Subsequent development will include a revamped Banneker Park and the Southwest Ecodistrict of 10th Street (not controlled by Team Wharf), which will ideally provide a link from the waterfront to the Mall.

Other elements of the overall development (all three phases) include a combined 3.2 million s.f. gross floor area (3.87 F.A.R.), 8 to 12 acres of park/open space with "programmed public activities" catering to year-round use, 625 hotel rooms, 1,200 "mixed-income" residential units, and 400 to 500 Marina Slips

The entire project is estimated to need $2 billion; the District pledged $200 million in 2008 in tax increment financing. The redevelopment, say developers, has the potential to bring in $40 million in tax revenue annually.

ANC 6D will hold a meeting, in advance of the Zoning Commission hearing, at the Dept. of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) at 7pm, next Monday, July 11th.

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Friday, November 04, 2011

Southwest Wharf Developers Move onto Design Phase

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With Zoning Commission approval of the First Stage zoning application secured last week, PN Hoffman and Madison Marquette - joint developers of the $2-billion Wharf in Southwest - now turn to the completion of the Second Stage PUD, in order for submittal early next year.

The Hoffman-Madison team has been gaining momentum in filling its 3.2 million s.f. development along the northern shore of the Washington Channel and aims to begin construction on the first phase (of three) in the first quarter of 2013.

The first phase of construction, expected to take four years, will build out 40 percent of the entire development with parcels 2 thru 5 (seen to the right).

Site designs, in order from north to south, will include: two apartment towers above a 100,000-s.f. multi-purpose theater (parcel 2); a four-star, 268-room hotel by Carr Hospitality and InterContinental Hotels Group, which purchased the site in early October, and office space with signed tenant the Graduate School USA (parcel 3); an apartment and condominium building (parcel 4), and two JBG Companies-operated hotels, a limited service and an extended stay (parcel 5). All of the parcels will include ground floor retail, with the combined total approximately 300,000 s.f.

The first phase also includes the restructuring of portions of 7th and 9th Streets at Maine Avenue, a new Capital Yacht Club, two new piers - "City Pier" off of 9th and "Transit Pier" - and a major infrastructure overhaul of Water Street, the grand scheme being to turn Water Street (running parallel to the shore) into a promenade with 60' of width shared between pedestrians, streetcars, bikes, and outdoor diners.

The Wharf is being developed in partnership with the District, which agreed to provide $200 million in public financing in 2008. Madison Marquette joined PN Hoffman as a partner in the spring of 2010, after the partnership with Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse faltered. PN Hoffman and Struever were selected by the now-defunct Anacostia Waterfront Corporation as the joint Master Developer for the Southwest Waterfront in 2006.

Update: 11/7 Added in residential plan for parcel 4, corrected second pier name to "Transit Pier," and changed "Office of Zoning" to "Zoning Commission"

Washington D.C. real estate development news

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

DC Officially Awards SW Development Contract

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southwest DC Wharf development - DC hires development team including PN Hoffman Eccles, Struever bros, City PartnersSome day, there may be just be a reason to visit Southwest. Last week, Mayor Fenty awarded a contract to Hoffman-Struever Waterfront LLC, a partnership between PN Hoffman, Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, McCormack Baron Salazar, ER Bacon, Acresh, Gotham, City Partners and Triden. The multiplex LLC now officially holds the contract to turn 23 acres of land along the Washington Channel, into a riverside paradise.Hoffman-Struever Waterfront LLC is a partnership between PN Hoffman, Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, McCormack Baron Salazar, ER Bacon, Acresh, Gotham, City Partners and Triden Back in September, 2006, Hoffman-Struever was officially selected as the master developer for the gargantuan project which allowed the team to establish an Exclusive Rights Agreement with the District. The Agreement was signed in April 2007. Now, the Land Disposition Agreement is being drafted - and although the contract has been awarded, the Mayor still needs to wait for the City Council to approve disposition to Hoffman-Struever and the nearly $200 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and Payment-In-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) financing. City officials hope to get the legislation approved by Spring of this year. The enormous project is projected to create more than 2 million s.f. of new development and provide 2,800 permanent jobs in the community, as well as about 3,000 construction jobs, expected to take a long, long time. The District will finance about $200 million of the developmental costs, accounting for roughly 18% of the projected expense; no matter (some say), once completed, the "world-class urban waterfront" is projected to create more than $32 million in tax revenue each year, compared to the $6 million that the land currently brings in. 

Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn was selected as the Master Architect back in June 2007. The details of their plan include 767 new housing units - both rental and condos - about 400,000 s.f. of office space, 280,000 s.f. of retail space, a 360-room hotel, 150,000 s.f. of cultural space, and the renovation of the historic southwest fish market. Developers aspire to achieve LEED Silver certification for all nine buildings. Along with all of the new buildings proposed for the area, the development team is including heaps of landscaped open space into the deal, preparing to cultivate more than 14 acres of parks, a half-mile promenade and bike trails for southwest's newest residents. 

The piers will also get their fair share of upgrades. The development team hopes to pick architects for the vertical phases of construction in the summer of 2008. Hoffman-Struever's vision dissects the area into three separate "neighborhoods." The City Pier District, located in the northwest corner of the site, is proposed to be the retail center of the area, laying hold to most of the restaurants and the hotel, thereby being the most likely place to attract visitors (and tourists). Notable mini-developments within this area include a water-taxi service (which with our luck will be 'zoned' - $4 if you want to get in, $25 if you want to go all the way to the other side), and a pedestrian bridge connecting the site to the National Mall. 

Then there's the Esplanade District, which PN Hoffman describes as the center of the project where most of the residential will be sited, along with offices and some neighborhood-serving retail. Finally, the southeastern corner of the site will hold the Cultural Park District which will include a 5-acre "cultural park" and other amenities that will serve as the center of the "cultural zone;" classes will be held on-site courtesy of the Living Classrooms Foundation and the National Maritime Heritage Foundation. “Over the past two years we’ve studied waterfronts all over the world, reached out and forged working relationships and agreements with existing leaseholders, and conducted over 100 meetings with regulatory agencies and surrounding stake holders,” said Monty Hoffman, CEO of PN Hoffman. “This is just the beginning of the process to create a ‘world class’ waterfront. We will continue to work with the mayor’s office on making a waterfront that draws visitors from everywhere, but our first commitment is to the people of Washington, DC. The Potomac River is our greatest natural resource and first and foremost, this project will reconnect Washington with its waterfront. We look forward to working with the City Council to achieve passage of the Mayor's legislative proposal so that District residents can see a shovel in the ground by 2010.” You go Monty.

Washington D.C. retail and real estate development news

Monday, December 06, 2010

Fish Market Concept Takes Shape, SW Waterfront PUD Application Coming Soon

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While developers of the Southwest Waterfront still aren't ready to promise much in the way of architectural specifics or set-in-stone timelines, they've become rather adept at presenting their vision of transformation. Such acumen is attributable to the vivid imagination of the planners and developers amassed from the project partnership between PN Hoffman, Madison Marquette, and design firm EEK. But if practice really does make perfect, their busy itinerary of power point presentations can't hurt either. Last week, Madison Marquette and master planner Stan Eckstut, Principal of EEK, attended the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) meeting to share their most up to date concepts.

While these informational meetings are important, developers expect to truly kick off the planning review process with their Stage One PUD application submittal in late 2010, early 2011. This will initiate a more intensive public communication process, followed by a Stage Two PUD as more details are hashed out, and fingers crossed, a late 2012 groundbreaking. A full build-out will take seven to eight years from the start of the construction. Although not concrete, developers expect a middle portion of the development, including three buildings and the parks and public space surrounding them (it sounds vague because it is), to be the heart of Phase One. Like all phases of the project, construction will be focused on creating captivating public space first, and erecting buildings second. But as buildings do spring up in each phase of development, they will always do so as a balanced mix of office, retail, and residential, never all one or the other. Developers are also hoping that secured financing and improving market demand will allow them to reach as far west as to include the Fish Market and Market Square in their Phase One plans. "As probably the most dynamic and active aspect of the redevelopment, we want the Fish Market to be an early stage part of the project," says Anselm Fusco, Senior VP of Investments at Madison Marquette, "It would really help set the tone and put a flag in the sand."

But what exactly will Market Square be? What will it look like? After listening to Eckstut's NCPC presentation last week, Office of Planning Direct Harriet Tregoning characterized the concept as a "happy collision of pedestrians, vehicles, and bicycles, where everyone is forced to slow down." Angela Sweeney, Vice President of Marketing at Madison Marquette, seconded this appraisal. In an analogy using the redevelopment site as a giant domestic entity, Fusco described Market Square as "the kitchen of the house, the most dynamic, vibrant, and bustling space." Eckstut promised to preserve the unique and gritty character of the Fish Market, saying "we want to keep the same messiness, the same crazy parking scheme."

The goal is "to preserve the integrity of what's there and intelligently augment it," explains Fusco. A trip to iconic West coast marketplaces such as Granville Island Public Market, Seattle's Pike Place Market, and San Francisco's Ferry Building served as inspiration a plenty for the project planners. This indoor-outdoor marketplace will be re-imagined at the Fish Market/Market Square with fresh seafood spread out on 90-foot long blocks of ice, complemented by a seasonal green market where not only neighborhood foodies will frequent for a bushel of fresh produce, but where also local chefs and restaurateurs will come to cultivate long-term relationships with local farmers and producers. "The idea of what was once the Head House will be re-appropriated as Market Hall (think Pike's Place), an indoor space, but a very permeable place that will feature more permanent tenants selling both prepared foods and hard goods," says Fusco. Supplement the water-meets-land Marketplace concept with a plethora of picnic tables, public plazas, piazza lighting, cafes, bakeries, and a standalone microbrewery, then color it with the "whole neon sign thing" of the Fish Market (as Fusco calls it), finally, populate the space with a dynamic demographic of people, and you've got what Eckstut believes will be "a place that feels authentic and alive and real...a jolt from the federal Mall experience." To top it all off (literally) developers intend to accentuate the Marketplace with a large iconic sign, for purposes of place-making and way-finding.

Such a commerce-centric place would go a long way towards meeting the 20% local business minimum requirement of the Land Disposition Agreement (LDA), but developers believe throughout the Waterfront redevelopment, not just at the Marketplace, the retail makeup will skew towards community-based merchants. There will certainly be a mix of local, regional, and national tenants," says Fusco, "The retail experience in each area will vary." Continuing his "rooms-of-a-house" analogy, the 7th Street Park and kayaking pier dubbed The Landing "will have a very different feel: largely green, with lots of trees and landscaping, more like the dining room of the house, formal and quieter." This unique space will feature a different character restaraunt, a boutique, not a nationally franchised, big-boxed retailer, while 9th Street's City Pier will be "larger scaled with a big long, wide pier, a ferry landing, with lots of activity and tall ships coming in." Here is where the national tenants would be more likely to find a home, Fusco postulates. Further down the Wharf to the east we find the M Street Landing, the family-friendly rec room of the house, possibly featuring an ice rink in the winter and big water fountains for children to frolic in the heat and humidity of the summer--a little more fun and less formal than the dining room. Even farther east, a meandering pedestrian finds an expansive well-scaled public park, featuring a large halo of trees insulating a rolling lawn. As Fusco puts it: "It will be a park in the traditionally conceived sense of it, enabling passive recreation, and providing a sense of quiet."

Although it may be sometime before this impressive vision becomes reality, Angela Sweeney promises that her development team is "focused on creating and activating the site before an actual groundbreaking happens. We will continue to offer expanded and enhanced on-site programming." Another reason for optimism is the LDA stipulation that the $198 million tax increment financing promised by the District must be used for public amenities--further emphasizing the developers genuine focus on creating an assortment of vibrant, diverse, and inviting public arenas, not simply a canopy of concrete. So far, developers have proven they can dream big. How these dreams mesh with the practical parameters of the Planning Office and feasibility of the financial climate remains to be seen.


Washington D.C. Real Estate Development News

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Architects and Developers Roll Out Concepts for Southwest Waterfront

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Last night at the Arena Stage, as the developers from Madison Marquette and PN Hoffman, as well as lead planning architect Stan Eckstut of EE&K, presented their master plan for the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, one thought really stuck: it's going to take a boatload of time, money, and effort to make these ideas reality. The vision was colorful, imaginative, and mostly astounding, with prospects of a world class waterfront with international port-cities like Genoa, Auckland, Baltimore, and Seattle as inspiration. If only they had a plan for how to pay for it or when to build it.

Unfortunately the idea men are real estate developers, not wizards, and it will take more than a PowerPoint presentation to transform the city's Southwest Waterfront. But with no definite time-line given or dedicated financing, developers seem to be turning to the increasingly common fallback of government-sponsored housing. Some of the basic tenets of their master plan were released: 840,000 s.f. of office space, 335,000 s.f. of ground floor retail, several entertainment and cultural features (maritime museum maybe?), three hotels totaling 600 keys, as well as over 500 residential units, fully half of them being set aside for low-income residents at 60% AMI or less - one of the District's lower end income caps for subsidized housing. The presenters also promised that 60% of the 27 acres would be public space, emphasizing their belief that creating buildings is not their primary focus, it's shaping spaces for a 4-season destination for commerce and recreation.
While the development details set for dry land were compelling, developers stressed that their vision really begins and ends with the water itself. Their plan sees the two major yacht clubs significantly expanded, almost doubling their holding capacity to four or five hundred slips. Their concept also stretches several large piers well out into the channel, each plank serving a different purpose. The "City Pier" will extend from 9th Street, welcoming larger cruising vessels with a bandstand of some kind, where the "mayor can welcome visitors" (Greetings, Mr. Putin, how was your boat trip to America?) and pedestrians can enjoy concerts and fireworks. Planners hoped a modern lighthouse-like tower would anchor this pier on land, but admitted developers had not figured out a way to pay for this yet (not to mention the rest of the project). Another pedestrian-heavy and recreational pier will split the waterfront in half, wedged between the two marinas, planners sketched the picture of a small sailing school, kayaks and boat rentals. On the far west side of the waterfront, a wider pier will feature a plethora of dinner boats, stretching the many future dining options out onto the water.
On land, "The Wharf" will be the main pedestrian-centric thoroughfare, taking the right of way from the few vehicles that venture down the water's edge. Wide bike lanes will run along the inner portion of the expansive sidewalks stretching from current Fish Market to M Street. And developers are hoping that by including a streetcar line down the middle of the street, the District will be compelled to get moving on their pledge to make public streetcar transit a reality. Maine Avenue will shoulder most of the vehicular traffic, with District officials having requested the closing of Water Street, and will feature bus drop offs and a 2,500-space below-grade parking garage. Other land-side features include the re-imagining of the fish market as a year-round "Market Square" featuring brew pubs, cafes, restaurants, and picnic areas. On the opposite side, a large open park at P Street will be vehicle-free and less dense, transitioning the development into the neighborhood.

Cicada-like hisses greeted Eckstut's mention of stretching some buildings to a height of 11-stories and 130-feet, but the architect defended such dimensions as allowing wider, more inviting sight lines and access points to the waterfront, massing density vertically in strategic locations to allow a more porous, open waterfront. A more agreeable talking point was his promise that those currently living on boats at Gangplank Marina would not be threatened and expelled by the new plans.

The details of the development are many, and are difficult to bundle into a comprehensive understand via prose, but blog Southwest Quadrant has a solid bullet-pointed rundown of the major features. The entire PUD will be submitted to the Zoning Commission later this fall, with many lively public hearings set for the spring. Phase I construction can't be expected until at least 2012, despite a recent groundbreaking, and construction could take upwards of eight years. And that's a best case scenario. The development team was awarded the project in January of 2008.

Washington D.C. Real Estate Development News

Monday, February 06, 2012

Florida Rock Development Reboots, Meets Resistance

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With demolition of the concrete plant finally complete, RiverFront on the Anacostia, the on-again off-again Southeast waterfront mega-project is on, again - pending various hearings, presentations, meetings, and ultimate approval of some very substantial changes to the zoning application.
Developers Patriot Transportation Holding Inc. and Midatlantic Realty Partners LLC (MRP) filed a modification with the Zoning Commission last month to, among other things, modify the Phase One building from an office complex to a residential building. The proposed residential building would be nine stories tall and include up to 350 units, 286 underground parking spaces, and 300,000 square feet of gross floor area (8% of which would be set aside for affordable housing at 80% of AMI). The new filing retains the 12,500 s.f. of retail space for lease, but now wants to earmark 7,000 s.f. as "flex space" or "residential amenity space."

Last week, the Zoning Commission gave their first impressions of the new plans, and it wasn't pretty. One commissioner called it "an affront" and a "bastardization," even going so far as to suggest the developers might have to start the PUD process from square one. Another excoriated the developers from reducing the initial 80,000 s.f. of retail space to under 24,000 s.f. in the latest filing, with 7,000 of that possibly being converted to non-retail "flex space." Even the most positive board member damned the project with faint praise - characterizing it as an improvement on the original PUD, but "boring" and "simplistic." In the end, the board deferred a decision, and the next public hearing is on February 13.
The new building, designed by SK&I, is U-shaped, facing the river, with a private inner courtyard. On the east side is a planned greenspace (Anacostia Plaza) and on the west side, in between the Phase One building and the Phase Two (also residential) building, another large plaza (the Mews) that "privileges pedestrians over vehicles." The new landscape plan, by Oculus, uses the idea of "ecotone" (in the report, this is defined as "an ecological term referring to the transitional zone between two ecologies") to create an impressive stormwater management and filtration system that will both provide lush public native plant green spaces, and filter runoff. (And the Anacostia River can use all the help it can get.)

Phases II (a 262K s.f., 130-foot tall residential building), III (326K s.f., 130-foot tall office building), and IV (275K s.f., 130-foot tall hotel) are unchanged. FRP anticipates a Q2 2013 groundbreaking, with move-ins starting in Q1 2015, and everything wrapped up by that summer.
Big picture, the plan is cut from the same cloth as the plans for the Wharf and the Maryland Avenue redevelopments. (There are only so many ways to skin a cat, after all.) Much like those plans, this latest filing is hoping that their conversion of the Phase One building from office to residential "will provide the critical mass of people necessary in order to support future office and retail uses." Of course, this could take a while, which is the thinking behind the "flex space." What if they build it, but people don't come? The plan also asks for permission to use the Phase II/III/IV sites for interim projects like a farmer's market or temporary retail, rather than letting those spaces remain dormant. It's a good strategy to lure more people to the area, and can only help not just their development, but the neighborhood as a whole as it gears up to make the transition to world-class waterfront. But first, developers need to win over the Zoning Commission, which is proving to be a harder task than they may have anticipated. 

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Clear Sailing for Southwest Waterfront Development

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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

Thursday, January 08, 2009

SW Waterfront Nets its First Casualty

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Hoffman Struever, fish market, wharf southwest, Eccles Rouse, DCJust weeks after the City Council's approval of a Land Disposition Agreement authorizing the Hoffman-Struever, LLC’s redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, progress, of a kind, is already being made. The first casualty Hoffman Struever, fish market, wharf southwest, Eccles Rouse, DC retail for leaseof the development process appears to be the Virgo Fish House – a staple restaurant of the famed Maine Avenue Fish Market. Shrimp cocktail enthusiasts shouldn’t fret, however; while the restaurant’s current quarters are scheduled to be demolished in tandem with another abandoned property at the site, the remainder of the Washington landmark at 1100 Maine Avenue, SW, will be safe for the foreseeable future. "The blue building, which formerly operated as a crab house [will be razed],” says Nina Albert, a Project Manager with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. “That blue building will be replaced with a temporary Fish Cleaning Building, and...the building that Virgo’s is currently operating out of will be demolished. The intent of these small moves is to keep the Fish Market in safe and operable condition until the redevelopment occurs.” That redevelopment by the Hoffman-Struever development team – which is officially comprised of comprised of PN Hoffman, Struever Bros., Eccles & Rouse, McCormack Baron Salazar, ER Bacon, Gotham, City Partners, Triden and the recently added Paramount Development – isn’t expected to begin anytime before 2011, but it’s also worth noting that the Maine Avenue Fish Market was also targeted by 2008’s National Capital Framework Plan. The Plan – drafted by the National Capital Planning Commission - seeks to reintegrate Maine Avenue into the fabric of daily life in the District by refurbishing the Market’s home at the Overlook and linking it with an extension of 10th Street, SW.


Washington DC retail development news
 

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