Developers of several large projects in Shaw adhere to the Macbeth method when promising groundbreakings: tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.
But this summer is shaping up— keep your fingers crossed— to be a constructive one for Shaw. After decades of disinvestment, decay, and neglect, much of Shaw’s physical environment has already healed. Some star-crossed exceptions include the area around the Shaw Metro station’s north entrance, which emerges from the ground to a large empty lot, a row of boarded-up shops, a vacant Hostess factory, and a vacant theater. A terrible first impression of Shaw.
If action is eloquence, then the poetry begins in August.
August 22, 2010 – Howard Theatre
August 2010 – UNCF Headquarters
It seems like only yesterday Radio One unceremoniously withdrew from the Broadcast Center One project to be built at the Shaw Metro’s north entrance. Lo and behold, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) swooped in to fill the void. The District cemented the deal by offering UNCF $5.1 million in tax abatement and relocation subsidies. The project will include 50,000 square feet for UNCF’s offices, a college information center, as well as 180 (or 133?) housing units. Work on the project will also commence in August 2010 and finish sometime in 2012.
September 2, 2010 – O Street Market
Just down Seventh Street between O and P Streets is the shell of a Victorian-era market designed by German-born Washington architect Adolf Cluss. The project includes condos, apartments, senior housing, a hotel, parking, retail, and a new Giant to be built behind the extant walls of the old market (rendering above). The project will also re-establish Eighth Street NW between O and P Streets NW. Construction will begin on September 2 and the current Giant will close and be demolished early next year.
When climbing the escalator out of the Shaw Metro’s north entrance, one emerges between Seventh Street on the left and a vacant field on the right. The vacant field has been set for renewal with a plan going back several years. In January, when we first started writing about the project, Radio One was still planning to move its headquarters to the site and the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) was considering space there, too.
At the February ANC1B meeting, the development team’s lawyer stated that the combination of UNCF and Radio One would require a reduction in the number of apartments from 180 to 133. With Radio One unceremoniously backing out, the number is now restored to 180. In January, the amount of retail space was reported to be 22,000 square feet. Now that UNCF plans to occupy 5,000 square feet on the ground floor for an outreach center, the retail component may have changed.
Two weeks ago we reported that Radio One had snubbed Shaw and decided to stay put in Lanham, possibly putting the project in jeopardy. Luckily, UNCF, in offering to purchase half of the 100,000 square feet of office space, provides a sufficient commitment to get the project further financing.
The following table illustrates the changes in the project since the beginning of the year and reflects numbers gleaned from various sources.
|Radio One||Radio One + UNCF||UNCF|
|Office Space (sq ft)||96,000||160,000||100,000|
On Friday, the WBJ reported that UNCF’s chief had formally testified before the D.C. Council seeking a $3.8-million property tax break and a $710,000 grant to move to Shaw. LeDroit Park’s ANC commissioner Myla Moss (ANC1B01) testified in support of the legislation, which will be taken up by the full council in April. If approved, the development team promises (yet again) to break ground in August.
One casualty of the proposed move is the Howard Theater, already delayed and crumbling under the elements. The $710,000 relocation grant would come from money set aside for the theater’s revival.
We reported a few days ago that the developer for Media Center One (a.k.a. Broadcast Center One), a mixed-use project slated for the area around the Shaw Metro, had inked a lease with the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). Good news for the long-delayed project.
Now the Washington Business Journal reports that the main tenant, Radio One, has inexplicably decided to stay put in the glitzy media town of Lanham, Maryland.
Though the development team says the project will go forward, we have trouble believing they can secure additional financing until they sign a replacement tenant.
At the previous ANC1B meeting, a lawyer representing the development group announced the group’s intention to convert 50,000 square feet of apartment space into office space. With Radio One out of the picture, perhaps they can revert the 50,000 square feet to apartments.
What’s most upsetting is that in January 2008, the District offered $23 million in subsidies to lure Radio One to the city. Two years and two months later, the land still sits vacant while Radio One just wasted two years of the taxpayers’ time.
We hope the developer finds a replacement soon, but unless the city is able to transfer the subsidy to another commercial enterprise, any struggling firm may balk at the District’s ridiculously high 9.975% corporate income tax rate— especially when Maryland and Virginia only charge 8.25% and 6.0%, respectively.
Snowpocalypse 2: Electric Boogaloo and other matters kept us too busy to follow up on the February meeting of ANC1B, so here is the belated report of the highlights.
The owner of 1916 Ninth Street requested a variance to allow him to use the house as an art gallery. His description of the renovation included achieving LEED Platinum certification for the old rowhouse.
The owner of 321 T Street sought and received ANC support for his conceptual design of his proposed renovations to the rowhouse on T Street here in LeDroit Park. The owner had presented the plan at the previous LeDroit Park Civic Association meeting and didn’t receive any opposition.
Finally, a lawyer representing Media Center One (a.k.a. Broadcast Center One) (pictured above) requested and received approval for a two-year extension for the planned unit development (PUD) application for the project. The developer’s representative blamed the financial markets (of course), sympathized with the community’s “development fatigue” and said that the project was moving forward thanks to the successful leasing of office space to the United Negro College Fund in addition to Radio One.
The reconfigured project will remain largely the same, except 50,000 square feet of apartment space will become office space. That means the project will include 133 apartments instead of 180 and will include 160,000 square feet of offices instead of 110,000 square feet.
Groundbreaking is now set for June or July 2010.
On the liquor front, Ulah Bistro received the ANC’s assent to host DJs and jazz bands Sunday through Thursday nights 9 pm to 1:30 am and Friday and Saturday nights 9 pm to 2:30 am. Ulah is one of the few licensees in the U Street area without a voluntary agreement.
The proprietors for Bella (900 Florida Avenue NW) did not show up and the ANC protested their request for a license.
Finally, the proprietor of Masa 14 (1825 Fourteenth Street) presented the most contentious proposal of the night, requesting that their liquor license extend to their proposed roof deck (see the drawings) permitting them to sell alcohol Sunday through Thursday 8 am to 2 am and Friday and Saturday 8 am to 3 am. Some neighbors voiced concern that the roof deck would create too much noise and doubted that a place described as restaurant would need to serve alcohol so late into the night. The ANC voted to protest the application until the owner and the ANC could come to a voluntary agreement. [Clarification: the ANC typically protests all new liquor licenses as a tactical move to goad applicants to reach what is called a “voluntary agreement” (VA) with the ANC. These voluntary agreements are less permissive than the District’s standing liquor laws.]
The next meeting is set for Thursday, March 4, 2010, at 7 pm on the second floor of the Reeves Building at Fourteenth and U Streets.