Housing Complex

JBG Floats Reworked Residential Project at 13th & U

U Street land baron JBG has been trying to get something going on the southwest corner of 13th and U Streets NW for more than three years now, and after getting existing tenant Rite Aid to move, may have finally hit upon the winning formula: 135 residential units with ground floor retail. They've kept David M. Schwarz Architects, which did the last hotel design and the concept drawing above.

I missed out on last night's meeting on the subject, so that's about all I know for now.

UPDATE: Borderstan's got a bit more.

  • New

    Isn't Rite Aid on the Southwest corner of 13th and U? Are they trying to do something on both sides of 13th?

  • Christopher Siddall

    Wallach Place neighbors and many others from the impacted area filled the room last night at Busboys. We should all expect a high level of engagement by neighbors on issues related to height, massing, other design aspects, alley use, planned community benefits/implementation, and retail use -- including re-incorporation of Rite Aid as contemplated by the current long-term lease.

  • Lydia DePillis

    @New - You're right! Direction fail!

  • Logan Res

    I was there and have been following this small group of Wallach St neighbors capturing their motives. It's mostly fear-based hype that they rant about. Many, including myself have distanced ourselves from the duo leading the fear and panic spread. There are a few concerns still to work through with JBG but overall I think they have enough neighborhood support to finally get moving on this project.

  • DC Guy

    Issues with density on U Street? Really?

  • http://ustreetdirt.wordpress.com UStreetDirt

    LoganRes - I see you've stopped sharing your thoughts with us and now are smearing Wallach neighbors. As if any neighborhood could be lead by a "duo" of fear mongers. You really don't think much of your neighbors, it seems.

  • ACG

    As a near neighbor, I hope this project is not delayed any longer. U street is a commercial corridor and I would like to see more density in this area. Its the natural progression of the neighborhood...

  • C Miller

    I live in the area, but couldn't make the meeting last night. Is it weird that I wouldn't mind a hotel? I like the idea of getting tourists into actual neighborhoods so they see DC is more than museums and federal landmarks-you know, full of people who can't vote in Congress. I take it that money caused them to change their mind to more apartments/condos...

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/mr_t_in_dc/ Mr T in DC

    Sounds like a good project to me. I wouldn't mind a hotel on or near that site, as well. I hope what sounds like a small but vocal NIMBY group isn't able to derail or delay this project. For crying out loud, the location is right by a Metro station, bus routes, and on the vibrant U Street corridor, bring on the density!

  • Thayer-D

    Lydia,
    I'm having a hard time with your link to the previous design, could you re-post it?

  • bobby

    While I'm disappointed that it won't be a hotel, I live 2 blocks away and it would have been a great place to put visitors (not to mention it would be great for the restaurants in the area), I'm glad that they are going to utilize the site for a large building. If we can't put buildings like this directly across from a metro station, where can they go?

    Also, it would be awesome if they made it the Rite AId two stories, allowing room for more storefronts on the street.

  • Ben

    I remember when JBG floated this as a htoel during 2009--I thought it was a great idea then, and still do today. It's a shame that the project will now be residential, although it seems that not enough residential projects can be built in that area to satisfy demand.

    As to the engagement of Wallach Street residents, what I also recall from JBG's original unveiling of the hotel plans is a tremendous amount of gnashing of teeth on the part of a few Wallach residents, who complained about everything from the building's height to its massing, design, and even the fact that JBG had considered putting a pool on the roof. In other words, your standard DC infill project NIMBYism. This latest iteration will no doubt lead to more of the same, but JBG will simply have to push through it. Bobby is, of course, exactly right: a parcel of land directly across the street from a Metro station in the heart of the city's densest and most vibrant urban neighborhood absolutely makes this the right spot for a taller, larger building.

  • Jno

    A hotel would be nice but honestly there are so many home office workers now, I still think a residential project is good too. As long as there are more people and it is transit oriented, why the complaints? Correct me if I am wrong but aren't building supposed to be as wide as the street? That doesn't seem to be the case with an 90 foot building here. AM I missing something?

  • JS

    Jno -

    The heigh limit is the width of the right away + 20 feet.

  • JS

    whoops, right of way...damn autocorrect.

  • Scott P

    JS,

    Not true. Height limit is based on zoning at 60' on the south side of U there and is eligible for a 15' Arts Overlay bonus. The new project is proposed at 90' and will require a PUD with community benefits to be approved. I do support greater density as there are few areas, if any, in the city that have better transportation infrastructure to be used.

    I favored the hotel for its daytime retail impacts, not just for restaurant support, as the regular supply of new disposable income that would support the shops and boutiques that provide the infill between all the restaurants. Despite the residents frequent requests for retail, their appetite to spend locally is limited and not the same as visitors.

    I also questioned if they had considered office space as that would bring another set of new income and meeting visitors to the area, something lacking with the loss of Whitman Walker. The current uses at Reeves and above the Metro by the government are temporary as they use the neighborhood as a swing space for rotating agencies to new locations.

    Their architect claimed it did not fit the traditional office profile for siting elevators etc, but it sounded like a quick excuse and JBG did confirm they had not considered office. Given the historic district and the new open space designs for office, the guaranteed daylighting and great transit make this an ideal location and the interest of Living Social in the Reeves Building demonstrated that their is interest to be outside the core downtown. Office also provides new shared parking that residential will not.

    Everything JBG is bringing to all their holdings in the community is proposed residential and will continue to tip the area towards the Adams Morgan model of a destination entertainment/nighttime heavy economy. It is sad that there is not a coordinated plan of uses for the area as this is the best remaining location available to do something different. I applaud Georgio Furioso for his vision in bringing office to lower 14th instead of going with the sure thing residential, next to the Studio Theatre.

  • JS

    Scott P -

    I was stating the general height limit in the absence of alternative zoning restrictions. It's quite true that a lot of DC is zoned such that heights are limited to less than what a straight reading of the height limit law would allow.

  • Hal9000

    @Scott P,

    Don't count on Living Social to prop up the neighborhood. The company has yet to turn a profit. In fact, it suffered a loss of $558 million in 2011.

  • Scott P

    Hal9000,

    I said a company like Living Social. They are not the only social media/technology based company that has interest in being in DC and our community is an area that is attractive to them as it has all the types of amenities that employees want while being able to walk to work. JBG has a half dozen other residential sites in the area where they could live as well, and not have to own cars.

    Scott

    Scott

  • James

    I attended the meeting this past week. I live on 13th between T and U. It was certainly an interesting meeting.

    I learned a lot about my neighbors. A very odd lot that were dominated by two or three people that are opposed to urban renewal and progress.

    The building proposed by JBG would be an incredibly attractive upgrade to the neighbor. Not only would it replace a building that is hideous and a magnet for crime, but it would also very likely drive property value up. Yes, that's pretty much a fact. And a circumstance that has occurred in every part of DC that has experienced urban progress of this nature.

    Several very odd people at this meeting whined that it should be an office building that would house day tenants who would frequent the local businesses. Odd that these same people did not consider that more residents at a location that does not include house can do the same thing. Some jerk whined that he would miss the alley that is full of dumpsters, blowing trash, and thugs. The proposed JBG building would have internal trash and an interior loading dock.

    Imagine a future with an attractive building that raises the value of our homes, helps to reduce crime and increases revenue in local businesses. That sounds rather nice.

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