Fort Totten Square: Wing Stop & 2nd Phase Rendering

JBGR, the retail arm of developer JBG, has updated the marketing brochure for Fort Totten Square showing the addition of Wing Stop to the development on the corner of Chillum Place and Riggs Road NE. That leaves one more retail slot available for that corner and one slot still available on the corner of 3rd Street and Riggs Road. Usual caveat: This is just a marketing brochure, not any declaration of binding leases.

The brochure also includes a site plan and rendering for the second phase of the development. Recall that the developers own property south of Phase I on South Dakota Avenue and Riggs Road. They are in negotiation with the District to purchase an adjacent District-owned parcel to build a second phase (see our post on that process here). The site plan depicts retail fronting Riggs Road and a portion of South Dakota Avenue with residences above the retail. A separate entirely residential building sits on South Dakota Avenue. The buildings surround an above-grade parking structure.

A bit of commentary: The retail offerings for Phase I are a big disappointment. I suppose we should not be too surprised once a 120,000 square foot Walmart was signed on as the ground floor anchor. And once Carolina Kitchen pulled out, it was just a matter of time for the developers to line up other retail tenants for a 2015 opening. The developers have said they already have more (and presumably better) interest in the second phase from retailers, as that location offers better visibility. We’ll see what that means.

September 11: Community hearing on leasing of Mamie D. Lee school building

On September 11, 2014, DC government officials will hold a public hearing before officially making the Mamie D. Lee school building, located at 100 Gallatin Street NE, available for lease by public charter schools through a request for offers (RFO). The purpose of the hearing is to better align community needs with requests of the charter schools. Currently, the school serves students with developmental and intellectual disabilities. The District plans to consolidate Mamie D. Lee and Sharpe Health School in one building at River Terrace Elementary School in Ward 7 by fall 2015. The hearing takes place at 6:30 pm at Lamond Riggs Library (5401 South Dakota Avenue NE)

Comment on Changes to the Visitor Parking Permit Program

The District Department of Transportation is soliciting comments on changes it is proposing to the way it administers the visitor parking program.  Currently, a visitor parking permit is mailed to every residence located on a residential permit parking (RPP) block in the neighborhood.  Under the proposal, residents living on RPP blocks will have to apply online or over the phone for an annual visitor parking permit.

To view the proposal and comment, click here.  The agency prefers online comments, but written comments may be addressed to  Samuel D. Zimbabwe, Associate Director, District Department of Transportation, 55 M Street, S.E., 5th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20003

The comment period is open until September 20, 2014.  The current permits will expire December 31, 2014 (disregard the September 2014 expiration date printed on the permits).

September 9: Final Community Hearing on PEPCO Undergrounding Plan

From the hearing notice:

The Commission will convene a final community hearing at the following location on the specified date to receive comments from the public:

September 9, 2014 – 6 p.m.

D.C. Public Service Commission

Hearing Room

1333 H Street, NW, 7th Floor East Tower

Washington, DC 20005

Those who wish to testify at the community hearing should contact the Commission Secretary by the close of business on September 4, 2014, by calling (202) 626-5150. Representatives of organizations shall be permitted a maximum of five minutes for oral presentations. Individuals shall be permitted a maximum of three minutes for oral presentations. If an organization or an individual is unable to offer comments at the community hearings, written statements may be submitted by September 15, 2014 to the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia, 1333 H Street, NW, Suite 200, West Tower, Washington, DC 20005.

Ward 5 Industrial Land Transformation Report “Ward 5 Works” Released

Ward 5 Industrial Land Transformation Study

We are back from summer break to take a look at “Ward 5 Works” (pdf), the long-awaited report from the Ward 5 Industrial Land Transformation Task Force, released to the public on August 27, 2014. The report sets forth policy recommendations concerning the industrial land in Ward 5 for the next 5 years:

  • Create an Industrial Advocate to serve as a liaison to Ward 5 residents and spearhead marketing, business attraction, technical assistance and coordination among businesses
  • Revise the zoning code to preserve industrial land, buffer residential uses from industrial impacts, encourage inclusion of retail space in production, distribution, and repair (PDR) businesses, and reduce the amount time to obtain a building or occupancy permit
  • Improve waste management activities and limit future ones and launch a pilot Good Neighbor program
  • Coordinate workforce development program with the Industrial Advocate to ensure a pipeline of PDR jobs for District residents
  • Help Ward 5 business access financial resources and technical assistance
  • Build support for industrial uses and change perception of Ward 5
  • Explore potential for a “creative hub” and partner with private sector to support development of affordable space for PDR
  • Enhance access to Ward 5 with investment in bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian connections, bus service, streetcar and other premium transit options
  • Invest in new and upgraded community amenities, such as parks, retail, restaurants, streetscapes and family-friendly destinations

The area around Fort Totten metro station, where most of the industrial land in the neighborhood is concentrated, seems to be more of a footnote in the report.  There are probably a few reasons for this. The report focuses primarily on the Ivy City neighborhood and the New York Avenue and Rhode Island Avenue corridors because most of the industrial land in the ward is concentrated in those areas. It also highlights Brookland as a potential creative hub, building off of the energy created by Dance Place, the artist housing, and the Monroe Street Market Arts Walk.  There is not much vacant or underleased land around Fort Totten on the Ward 5 side. Some of the land has already been developed for residential use. For example, the Aventine Fort Totten Apartments sit on WMATA-owned land. Also in the neighborhood are the Capital Area Food Bank, salt domes, a privately-owned plumbing business, and the trash transfer station. The report notes the municipal facilities have a natural buffer in Fort Totten Park, so the nuisance factor is limited. (Though we cannot forget about the recent fire at the trash transfer station and the fact that the hilly road portion of the MBT between Fort Totten and Brookland does not offer a pleasant biking experience). And finally, the Riggs Road/South Dakota Avenue small area plan, which went into effect in 2009, offers plenty of recommendations for the neighborhood, many of which we are seeing come to fruition.

The report, then, has limited value in terms of official action for the neighborhood. The few specific recommendations have either already been done or are in the planning process. For example, it recommends a bikeshare station at the metro station (check) and improved pedestrian/cycling connections along South Dakota Avenue (on DDOT’s planning list). However, that is not to say some of the ideas advocated for other areas, such as culinary incubators, small-scale local production, media and creative arts spaces, urban agriculture, and tool libraries, cannot be done in this neighborhood. Probably the most important recommendation in the report is to consolidate the municipal facilities along West Virginia Avenue NE and create a PDR hub. The report notes that DC’s government will continue to need an industrial land base for municipal functions. Some municipal functions and industrial uses are more of a burden than others. We have already seen the neighborhood jockeying taking place over WMATA’s desire to either renovate or build a bus barn to serve the upper Northeast and Northwest areas of the city. To the extent government officials can actually follow through on the report’s recommendation to develop a master facilities plan to protect land for municipal functions, while reducing the nuisance factor on neighboring residences, this neighborhood will be well served by the report. 

For media coverage of the report, see the Washington City Paper, Washington Post, and the Washington Times.