Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Brookland Development Looks in Doubt

A developer planned on a 61' high mixed use development (901 Monroe Street) opposite of the Brookland Metro stop.  The proposed site is now occupied by houses and a tavern, which the neighborhood does not want to loose. 

Many say if the proposed development is built, the neighborhood would loose its character.  The local ANC voted to designate the houses and tavern historical.  If this goes through, then the development will not be possible at all.

This may be an emerging trend as neighborhoods try to push back development in order to presere their local character.  So far, this is the only case, but we shall see as the economy improves.

Source: Washington Examiner

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Another Round of Bids for the Florida Avenue Parcels

The Washington Business Journal reports that for a fourth time, Metro is once again looking for new bids to purchase the two parcels at 8th and Florida Avenue, NW, and one parcel at 9th and Florida Avenue, NW.

  • 2002: Metro reaches a deal with Howard University to develop the property. The deal fell through in 2003 due to litigation with another bidder.
  • 2007: Metro leases the land to Banneker Venture Group, LLC, but withdrew the deal in 2010 after Banneker filed two extensions.  
  • 2010: Late in the year, Metro accepts three proposals after two extensions for the parcels.  JBG is published as the highest bidder by $6M higher than the other two bids, one being Howard.  However, the board voted to resubmit the bid since they site that none of the RFPs meet technical needs nor the assessed value of the parcels.
  • 2011: Metro resubmits RFP in April

I spoke to Bob Burns back in January who was the contact for the RFP, he said there were three bids that were mixed use development. Later, it was published that JBG offered $11M ($6M more than the other two bids) to purchase the land.  Looking at the tax assessment records, the lots are assessed at roughly $3.5M.

So why did WMATA reject the JBG bid if:
It was higher than the other two (by $6M)
Higher than the assessed land value of $3.5M
What are the technical aspects that caused all the bids to be rejected?  Wouldn't these have been automatically removed before reaching the board for a vote?

Metro is bleeding money and this would have helped tremendously with its finances and helped the community by providing jobs and mixed use development.  Why has there been no community meetings about this, and worse yet, Metro doesn't even work with the community nor its elected officials to keep everyone up to date.

Source: Washington Business Journal

Friday, April 8, 2011

City Center DC Breaks Ground After 8 Years of Delays

The new CityCenterDC development finally broke ground after nearly eight years of the city deciding what should go there.

Originally under Mayor Williams, a new library was to be built on the former convention center site to replace the Martin Luther King Library on 9th Street. 

The new project is one of the largest to date for DC, which includes 325,000 square feet of retail to be built during the first phase.  It looks like DC will finally get a decent shopping area which it once had before the riots of 1968. 
In addition to that, there will be a 350 room hotel, 443 apartments, as well as office space, all on a 10 acre parcel.  This is a great example of mixed use development.

For more information, visit


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Howard University Presents Drafted Ten Year Plan

Last week, Howard presented its ten year plan to the ANC1b Design Review Committee.  While Howard was not seeking any votes, they wanted to begin sharing the proposed draft during the early stages to allow input.

All universities in DC are required to submit a ten year plan.  Howard has already shared it with DDOT in order to discuss closing a couple of blocks off to traffic, as well as new sidewalk routes for students.

Currently, Howard has about 10,000 students and has in the past been up to 12,000.  They have a serious shortage of housing for students, especially for freshmen and sophomores, with only a total of 4,600 beds available for all students now.  Three buildings are immediately off campus, two the south and one to the north.  Both are inconvenient for students to get to campus, and don’t even have air conditioning.

Howard is proposing to initiate a three phase process which will greatly revitalize its campus.  In order to prepare for this, Howard has done an extensive engineering study, worked with faculty, as well as local residents.  The result is a three phase program (see timeline below) that will address three crucial areas:
1)      Add more housing on campus for students and new faculty which will improve the student life experience
2)      Increase the number of labs for S.T.E.M. and other sciences so Howard can be ranked number one in research again (currently number two for its division).
3)       Address the crumbling infrastructure of existing buildings

The first phase will concentrate on adding student housing which will add 1,300 new beds.  Once they are completed, the three exiting dorms outside of campus will be repurposed, possibly for faculty housing (about 800 beds).  There are also two proposed research buildings.  All the new buildings are to be built on existing parking lots, and the goal is to begin to grow Howard more west of Georgia Avenue.

In order to address the possible growing parking problem in the community, Howard has already begun a transportation reduction plan.  However, the design review committee stressed Howard provides a more detailed parking plan in the near future.

It was also brought up by the committee to incorporate the buildings Howard owns outside of the immediate campus area, including the one on the 1800 block of 7th Street, NW, as well as the CVS at 7th and Florida, NW.  The committee stressed Howard should work more with the community with regards to its real estate holdings, especially since many of these properties are not being utilized in a way that benefits the community.  Many of their properties are underutilized, leaving them to be mostly empty buildings with little foot traffic.

Howard will be presenting to the committee with a formal plan in the near future.  At that time, the committee will vote on whether or not to recommend it to the ANC1b for a vote.

New Construction & Renovation Timeline
1-3 years: (Phase 1) 
  1. Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) Building
  2. Computational Sciences & Retail
  3. Underclassmen Dorm #1
  4. Underclassmen Dorm #2
3-5 years: (Phase 2)
  1. Wellness, Recreation, Residences, Retail
  2. Blackburn Center Renovation
  3. School of Communications, Retail
  4. Support Services
  5. Nursing, Allied Health, Pharmacy Schools
  6. Nanotechnology Building
  7. Biomedical Engineering, Retail
  8. Upperclassmen Dorm #1, Retail
  9. Miner Building renovation
5-7 years: (Phase 3)
  1. Intercollegiate Athletics Complex
  2. Graduate/Workforce Housing
  3. Upperclassmen Dorm #2, Retail
  4. Teaching and Learning Building
Future phase capacity:
  1. Academic/Athletic space
  2. Institutional Infill
  3. Middle School
  4. Academic/Research
  5. Academic/Research
  6. Academic/Research
  7. Academic/Research
  8. Academic/Research
Proposed Renovation Projects
  • Howard University Hospital
  • Howard University Hospital Cancer Center
  • Residence Life
  • Athletics
  • Founders Library
  • School of Dentistry
  • Adams
  • School of Engineering
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Seely Mudd
  • Douglass Hall
  • Locke Hall
  • C.B. Powell
  • School of Architecture
  • School of Fine Arts
  • Physics
  • Rankin Chapel

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hotel Back on Track at 13th and U Streets, NW

Looks like JGB, the new powerhouse developer of U Street, is moving forward on the proposed hotel at 13th and U Streets, NW.  Now the site of the Rite Aid and other retail, those tenants were told they could not renew their leases beyond June 2012, according to the Washington Blade. 

JGB has recently aquired many parcels of land in the U Street area, including Atlantic Plumbing, as well as 14th and S Streets, NW, and it looks like they may end up with the WMATA parcels at 8th and Florida (they outbidded the other two projects by $6M).

JBG is looking to build a 239 guest room, four star boutique hotel (my guess is a Kimpton), 4,500 square feet of meeting space, and 25,000 feet of retail space.

Although residents have expressed concern about the proposed building height (103 feet high), this would bring more daytime foot traffic to U Street, which is sorely needed in order for the businesses to continue to flourish.  Also, the added tourists and business travelers would continue to inject money into the local economy.

As expressed above, I think we might end up with a Kimpton since this boutique chain gravitates towards trendy locations.  For more information, check out the U Street Neighborhood Association’s story on this development.