When a “Groundbreaking” Isn’t
Exactly three months ago today, the CityMarket at O mixed-use project kicked off with a big groundbreaking ceremony–long speeches, lots of shovels, big tent, the whole bit. Finally, the long-dormant corner would get new life.
Today, though, it doesn't appear that much is actually happening at the site. No digging or demolition or other telltale signs that construction is actually underway, at least.
They're not behind schedule, says Roadside Development's Susan Linsky. Rather, it's just that sometimes groundbreakings happen well in advance of all the pieces completely falling into place. In this case, they still needed permits from Metro. Plus, part of the project funding is coming from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, but all the paperwork wasn't quite done yet. Linsky explained in an e-mail:
While not highly visible construction, we have been working on soil borings and test pits to obtain WMATA approval for construction on the site and refine the foundation plans. The next steps will be to stabilize the walls of the market building. We are trying to organize the work so as to minimize the time that the Giant store will be closed.
As you may know, we will be receiving HUD 220 financing for the construction of CityMarket. This is a lengthy process that requires in-depth information on the project, including a complete set of construction documents for the site. We have been working with our design and engineering team and advancing our project plans to be able to provide this CD set to HUD as quickly as possible. However, on a complex, urban project such as O Street this process will take several more months. We anticipate that we will close on our HUD financing in late June (although this is a HUD process and we have no control of the closing date). We cannot start excavation until the HUD loan is closed.
Sometimes, construction does start right after groundbreaking, like at the Convention Center Hotel: After the number of years that project sat around waiting for the various parties to come to an agreement, it would be surprising if they weren't ready to go. At O Street Market, you have a groundbreaking in September, and construction nine months later. Nice timing for an election, though!