Housing Complex

Choose Your Own Adventure, Shaw Edition

Shaw residents packed into the meeting room at the Watha T. Daniel library last night to get a glimpse of their neighborhood's future. Well, six different potential futures.

In response to the city's April request for proposals to develop the long-vacant Parcel 42 at the intersection of 7th Street, R Street, and Rhode Island Avenue NW, six developers submitted their designs and came to the community meeting to present their visions for the site. Neighbors are encouraged to weigh in, and the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission will meet on Dec. 5 to assess the plans for the 17,000-square-foot parcel (actually two parcels: the main one, and a little sliver across an alley). Here's what they'll be looking at.

The first proposal comes from Baywood Hotels. It's unique among the proposals in that it includes, well, a hotel. That's in addition to the features common to most of the plans: ground-level retail (in Baywood's case, the retail partner is the food shop Milk and Honey), underground parking, and residential units that include affordable housing. The plans call for 74 parking spaces, 5,689 square feet of retail, 102 hotel rooms, and 22 affordable units at 50 percent of area median income (AMI). The development would look like this:

Next comes a proposal from the Neighborhood Development Corporation. This one has Yes! Organic Market signed on for its ground-floor retail—an attractive tenant, though let's remember that a new Giant is opening up two blocks away soon at CityMarket at O. The entrance to the Yes! would be at the corner of 7th and R, an attractive feature that'd encourage people to walk between the building and the library kitty-corner.

NDC also proposed a second scheme that'd shift the alley eastward and link the two plots of land. In this scheme, the building curves around to run parallel to Rhode Island Avenue:

Next up: Shaw 42 Developers, a partnership between TenSquare and Chapman Development. They haven't yet selected a retail partner, and their design doesn't many few features not found in the other proposals—with the exception of the rooftop pool:

POUNDS, Jubilee Housing, and Sorg Architects bring perhaps the most visually striking facade, with a waterfall-like pattern facing Rhode Island Avenue. The proposal includes a community garden on the small lot across the alley, a retail strip along 7th Street, and "live work units" along R. Most notably, it includes considerably more affordable housing than the other options: Forty units at an average of 40 percent AMI. As a result, it's the only proposal that requires a subsidy from the city.

The United House of Prayer for All People has one of the more conventional designs, with retail wrapping around the corner and a residential entrance on R Street. But UHOP has something no one else does: a motto. Frank Wiggins closed his presentation with the emphatic tagline: "Building families. Building homes. Building character. Now let us build Parcel 42."

The most outside-the-box idea comes from the Warrenton Group, Four Points, and Studio Upwall. They envision two levels of retail, with a public stair at the corner of 7th and R leading up to a second-floor courtyard with greenery, shops, and townhouses. It's the most intriguing idea, and it leaves the others in the dust when it comes to public space, but it comes at a cost: Just 10 percent of the units will be affordable—fewer than in any other proposal—and at the high level of 80 percent AMI.

So: Which design do you like best?

  • RT

    The last is the worst, and Warrenton Group is a shell company lead by a veritable crook. They've gotten contracts before and consistently failed to deliver.

    I'd say TenSquare/Chapman or NDC are the best. A hotel here doesn't seem like a realistic fit.

  • Ryan

    Check out the building that's owned by Warrenton Group and has been abandoned for more than 10 years a block away from this site at 1547 7th Street NW (7th and Q) to see what a great job these guys have done for Shaw...

  • JMP

    Prefer the last option because it has more to offer

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    Warrenton is a joke. The city shouldn't continue to do business with well-connected bottom-feeders.

    The NDC proposal to shift the alley to the east and unite the two parcels is elegant, smart, and, I must say, something I wanted to recommend, but I couldn't get to the meeting last night. Glad that others have thought of it. When the time and location for further official comment is made clear, I'd recommend that for all the projects. It makes the most sense.

  • mla

    NDC proposal is my strong favorite (2nd option); smart to move the alleyway to address that wedge of land. They were offering 20AH units, half at 80% AMI, the rest at either 30% or 60%, this seemed the best balance. Baywood hotels is my runner-up. I wasn't very impressed with any of the other presentations/designs.

  • Wardell

    As a 25 year homeowner living only 2 blocks from parcel 42, I am in agreement with comments regarding Warrenton Group. Their vacant property at 7th & Q has been a blight to our neighborhood for too many years. Regarding their plan with the 2 levels of "public stairs" on the corner of 7th & R; this allows plenty of loitering seating for the kids who now hang out at the metro entrance. They should NOT be allowed to build on parcel 42. I am in favor of NDC & their plan to link the 2 lots of land.

  • mariya

    I think the public stair could create a nice space for gathering and social exchange. The comment about it creating a loitering space assumes that the only people hanging out in the area will be the same group of teenagers who currently hang out at the Metro station. There are numerous examples of successful public spaces next to Metro stations in neighborhoods where loitering would have also been a concern prior to the new developments that took place there (Columbia Heights, Waterfront...) Loitering tends to happen in places where there is a vacuum of activity. (I think) The public stairs and courtyard proposed here are similar to other successful designs seen in new developments that combine urban living with access to a variety of walkable amenities. The assumption that the same group of teen loiterers will be the only ones hanging out in the area seems short sighted.

  • Jerri


  • GSH

    I would love for the UNITED HOUSE OF PRAYER be allowed to develop this parcel 42. I believe they would be beneficial to the neighborhood.

  • lbaptist

    I am in favor of the United House of Prayer for all People's building proposal for parcel 42 because they not only want to build but to enhance the quality of life in the Shaw community.

  • gail

    I'm in favor of the United House of Prayer developing parcel 42. They have shown through the years that they develop affordable housing and bring new retail stores into the community.

  • Zouncerie D. Braxton

    I vote in favor of the United House of Prayer being given Parcel 42 to develop. They have played an important role in the Shaw community since 1926, and they have done more to help the underprivileged. This area has gone too long being undeveloped while the church has had the ability to produce a much-needed affordable dwellings. Let the United House of Prayer have Parcel 42 NOW.

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    Wow, it looks like the UHOP sent a note to their parishioners and said, "Hey, go comment on this blog and make it look like everyone in the neighborhood supports giving us this land."

    The church doesn't need to own all of Shaw. And this land needs to be owned by someone who will pay taxes on it (and won't just design another Suzanne Reatig building because they think she's the only architect in the universe).

    No to UHOP, please!

  • Crystal Jackson

    I vote for the United House of Prayer's(UHOP) submission. The UHOP actually has the means to finally get this parcel developed. Let's not award it to another developer who won't follow through.

  • Shaw

    I think the most beneficial proposal is the Baywood Hotel plan. These developers have a responsible track record of providing creative affordable housing developments that change lives. Their proposal focuses on creating permanent jobs in the Howard/Shaw community

  • http://westnorth.com Payton

    A bunch of Milk & Honeys are out there; any idea whether this is the same grocery that operates in University City & Mount Vernon? Could be a good fit.

    That said, the curving NDC proposal has the best parti, particularly since it doesn't leave a vacant parcel along RI Ave. The stair proposed by Warrenton just isn't practical. Crime is a concern, sure, but more importantly incidental retail beyond street level only thrives in the most exceptional of locations. It would feel neither public nor private, and the history of such spaces does not end well.

  • Olivia

    The project with a hotel sounds interesting and outside of the box. Market rate housing is springing up at every corner in DC (never mind that people are having to move in together to pay less for accommodation).So I'll give the project with hotel, retail and affordable housing credit for providing 100% affordable housing. It is also nice touch to add the playground I guess...But, I'm a romantic at heart, so I also like the project with grand steps, too levels of retail and the plaza/courtyard...

  • Bill

    As a Shaw resident, I don't trust Warrenton Group or NDC with this Parcel. The Warrenton group has failed to deliver it's promises on several occasions, and NDC has a record of also breaking it's promises of afforadable housing.Yes Organic is more expensive than most grocers. I like the hotel idea. It will generate more tax rev and attract more businesses.

  • Marq

    Not sure if I would trust comments supporting the United House of Prayer (UHOP) development. They are soliciting support from people who do not live in DC (or the metro area). Clearly their development (nearly half the amount of the units as the other proposals) is out of touch with what DC needs. With the shortage of housing (especially affordable) in DC and the proximity of this location to 3 metro stations, this site should be built to maximum density and have (very) limited parking spaces. I’m not for the hotel proposal either. With the current housing crisis, we need long-term housing not hotels.
    I actually like the Warrenton Group’s design but I’ve heard their shady past disqualifies them from being a good candidate. I’m going to go with the NDC second scheme and the TenSquare/Chapman proposals. Their design looks fairly decent and offers the proper density for that location.

  • bbb20009

    You can check out the developers' presentations here:

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