September 15: UDC Bertie Backus Farm Stand

The farm stand is still on this Saturday! Weather forecast shows spotty showers, so come on out and support the farm stand.

Bertie Backus Farm Stand
September 15, 2018
9:00 am-12:00 pm
UDC Backus
5171 South Dakota Avenue NE

Vegetable list
Butternut Squash
Delicata Squash
Acton Squash
Hot Peppers
Collard Greens
Swiss Chard
Hot Peppers
Bell Peppers
Hibiscus Leaves*

* Hibiscus leaves are a part of the ethnic crops initiative. They are eaten in parts of Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. They have a lemony tang and are delicious cooked down like kale or eaten raw as part of a salad.

Upcoming Events at Culture Coffee Too

If you are not following our neighborhood coffee shop Culture Coffee Too on facebook, you really should. Located at 300 Riggs Road NE, the coffee shop always has cool events going on, such as music performances, workshops, artist exhibits, and open mic nights. It has a nice selection of food along with coffee, tea, smoothies, coffee cocktails, beer, and wine.

A few upcoming events

September 7, 6:00 pm-8:00 pm: Opening night of The Grace of Movement exhibition by artist Kimeke Robinson

September 8, 11:00 am-3:00 pm: Plant popup shop by Lillith Plant Company

September 15, 3:00 pm-6:00 pm: Sip and Sow Workshop – This interactive planting party will cover everything from feeding, watering, and harvesting to quick recipes, pickling demos, and a juicing lesson. Guests will choose a combination of: beet, carrot, radish, & onion to plant while enjoying a collection of food, beer, and wine. Tickets available for purchase at the link.

CANCELLED-September 7: Fridays at Fort Totten Concert with Eastern Standard Time

Last concert of the Fridays at Fort Totten Concert Series 2018 summer season this Friday! This week’s event features the band Eastern Standard Time and eats by CapMac food truck. 6:00 pm-8:00 pm on the corner of South Dakota Avenue and Galloway Street NE.

This free concert series sponsored by On Tap Magazine and The Modern at Art Place has been really great for the neighborhood. Most of the featured bands and food trucks were really good. It was nice to have something to walk to, meet neighbors, chat with friends, and show that the neighborhood can support food and activities. Come on out to enjoy the last concert of the series.


Updated Plans for Art Place at Fort Totten Phase 2

Perspective of Block B from application

Post update 9/7/2018 (see ed. note*)

Yesterday the Cafritz Foundation filed an application for a second-stage review and approval of a planned unit development (PUD)  and modification of the first-stage PUD approval for Art Place at Fort Totten. The Zoning Commission previously told the developer to go back to the drawing board for the second phase (then referred to as Building B) and required the team to file a second-stage PUD application review by September 4 along with a phasing plan for the third and fourth phases of the project. The previous plan can be found here: Art Place Building B (pdf). Below is a perspective of the previous plan.

The updated second phase plan (now referred to as Block B) is quite different, interesting, and a little more cohesive. Block B would sit in a square roughly bounded by Ingraham Street NE to the south, South Dakota Avenue NE to the east, Kennedy Street NE to the north, and the public alley just beyond 4th Street NE to the west. As mentioned in a previous post, the team is proposing to move some elements from previously approved future phases to the second phase, such as the children’s museum and other cultural uses. There will be residential and retail uses. The plan would close 4th Street NE between Ingraham Street and Kennedy Street to maximize the footprint of Block B. Recall the first phase closed 4th Street between Galloway Street and Hamilton Street. closed Hamilton Street west of South Dakota to 4th Street, and extended Ingraham Street west of South Dakota Avenue.

Still need to look at the plan more in-depth, but here is what I can tell so far:


  • Family Entertainment Zone (FEZ) on South Dakota and Ingraham: The FEZ at Art Place is the highlight of the plan. The development team really went for it. The FEZ would feature a circular building that would be illuminated (in the renderings it looks blue). Described as a high-tech center that will host an innovative artist collective, it will serve as a “beacon” for the project, visible from various locations in the neighborhood. It will also potentially host a video game/virtual reality center, maker space for children, festivals, free children’s programming during the day, and music and comedy performances, book signings and lectures in the evening.
  • Food Hall along 4th Street and wrapping around onto Ingraham Street (part of the FEZ) that will host special events and cooking classes with different chefs as well as a brewery
  • Total cultural uses of just over 150,000 square feet
  • Children’s Museum of 24,931 square feet (reduced from 47,000 square feet approved in first-stage order) on South Dakota between Ingraham and Kennedy
  • Ground floor Grocery Store of 11,498 approximately 24,000 square feet* near South Dakota Avenue and Kennedy Street. The application says that the grocery store had to be reduced from the previously approved 59,000 square feet because of Walmart, which opened in 2015 and operates a full-service grocery store.
  • Closure of 4th Street to create pedestrian walkway. There would be space for various kiosks along the pedestrian walkway
  • Approximately 30 subsidized artist housing/maker space units on eastern side of closed 4th Street
  • Apartment building with approximately 210-250 rental units with ground floor retail on western side of closed 4th Street; current renderings show brick veneer and paneling of mix of neutral colors
  • Additional ground floor retail on South Dakota Avenue
  • Total retail of approximately 50,000 square feet
  • Water feature along the pedestrian walkway
  • Morris Square, outdoor plaza at South Dakota and Ingraham to serve as a grand entrance into the FEZ
  • Underground parking; 765 vehicle parking spaces (reduced from 1100 approved in first-stage order); parking entrance on South Dakota just north of Ingraham and on Ingraham just west of South Dakota
  • Max height of 75 feet (increase from previously approved 60 feet building height)
  • Truck loading access off Kennedy Street and northern portion of closed 4th Street
  • Extensive Landscaping
  • Green Roofs
  • Two existing Riggs Plaza apartments will remain on-site to continue facilitating relocation plan for remaining Riggs Plaza tenants
  • Community benefits are the project itself with some amenities for residents of the project

Proposed phasing plan

  • 1st quarter 2020: Begin construction on Block B, expected to take 30 months
  • 3rd quarter 2022: Block B construction completed
  • December 31, 2024: Applicant will file PUD application for either Block C or Block D
  • December 31, 2030: Applicant will file PUD application for final block

Initial impression is that I appreciate the attempt at placemaking. The development team hired the consultant behind Bryant Park in New York to conduct focus groups and a survey for the second phase, and much of the plan reflects ideas from those outreach engagements. I can think of a few things that residents really want that did not make it into the plan, but this is a grand project designed to promote a lot of different uses and attract people to and moving around the neighborhood, no doubt about it. The FEZ in particular will be a tall building at 75 feet. I do not mind a building that tall given that it will be separated from the residential homes on South Dakota Avenue by four lanes. The Modern at Art Place across the street from the site is fairly tall as well, and I think it has been an attractive addition to the neighborhood. The previous plan called for one huge building. The current plan breaks up the site into multiple components of varying heights. I appreciate that this plan keeps a pedestrian walkway along 4th Street NE so that pedestrians do not lose another access path to the metro station. According to the applicant, this project would rest on 5.18 acres, which is a lot, so might as well be ambitious as long as it is thoughtful.

The first phase, The Modern at Art Place, is a beautiful, well-done project with superior landscaping. It showed serious investment of resources by the developer, which cannot be said of a couple of other projects in the neighborhood. I really appreciated that the team underground the wires for the first phase because that makes such a big difference in the sight lines and we do not have to worry about butchering newly planted trees. That was not a cheap undertaking and they did it. That project really set a much-needed high bar for development in the neighborhood, and it looks like the developer intends to continue setting a high bar with the second phase.

Read the supporting statement here: Statement for PUD — APFT – Block B (Sept. 2018) (pdf). Take a look at the full plans here: Art Place at Fort Totten PUD full book Phase 2 – reduced size (pdf). Take a look at the gallery of a few images pulled from the plans below and share your thoughts.

*Ed. note 9/7/2018: The development team stated the following regarding the square footage of the grocery store: “The size of the planned grocery store noted in this article represents the Zoning Floor Area rather than the actual floor area of the store. According to current Zoning regulations only floor area located at or above grade count towards the Gross Floor Area. Because of the site topography and the location of the grocery on South Dakota Avenue NE, more than half of the total floor area is viewed as below grade space from a zoning regulation point of view. The total store area is approximately 24,000 SF.”

Site and floor plans


Circulation plans and diagrams