Large Buzzard Point Development Planned

December ANC 6D Report

519
5 M Street SW. Image: JBG Smith

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6D met Dec. 14 over WebEx. Commissioners Gail Fast (6D01), Ronald Collins (6D03), Andy Litsky (6D04), Fredrica (Rikki) Kramer (6D05), Rhonda Hamilton (6D06) and Edward Daniels (6D07) were in attendance. Anna Forgie, chair of ANC 6D02 Committee, also participated.

Akridge, the owner of the large parcel just to the south of the DC United Stadium and north of Riverpoint at 100 V St. SW, briefed the commission on its plans. The size of the parcel, three acres, requires the developer’s designs to undergo a “Large Tract Review” by the DC Office of Planning (OP).

Currently, the parcel is zoned CG-4 with a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 3.4.

Akridge’s plans are divided into two phases and treats the site as eight separate parcels. The first phase on the south side next to Riverpoint will be more than a million square feet of largely residential development encompassing approximately 1,100 rental apartments out of a total of 2.1 million square feet for the entire parcel. 120 of these will be affordable under Inclusionary Zoning (IZ).

The first phase includes 40,000 sq. ft. of ground floor retail that will be neighborhood focused. An additional 40,000 sq. ft. is planned for the second phase along with a hotel and small office space. The first phase also will feature several large underground parking garages and sky bridge pedestrian walkways.

All of the commissioners respectfully chided Akridge on the paucity of affordable housing planned for the parcel. They also expressed concerns about the project’s resilience and flood resistance.

“You have taken all of this green space and recreated the West Village,” stated Commissioner Kramer. She pointed out that the pedestrian sky bridges would remove pedestrians from the street level. She encouraged the developer to consider larger, family style units as well. Chair Forgie said that more green space was needed.

Commissioners Collins and Hamilton questioned whether development of the site would require significant environment remediation given the recent experience with the construction of the neighboring stadium. There is likely coal dust in the soil, Hamilton stated.

The commission voted unanimously to send a letter to OP summarizing their concerns. They also agreed to send a letter to Akridge requesting that the developer file a Voluntarily Clean Up Plan (VCAP) to remove any toxic materials from the parcel and install air monitors to track any particulate matter disturbed during construction.

Akridge’s Buzzard Point Large Parcel Development. Image: Akridge.

45 Q Street SW
DB Lee Development presented its plans for combination hotel-residential project at 45 Q St. SW. The parcel currently has a warehouse and is located adjacent to the U-Haul facility. The first floor will be dedicated to neighborhood-serving retail including a community market. Sidewalk improvements are planned along with two loading bays. 16 percent of the rentals will be affordable under IZ. Roughly 55 to 63 parking spaces will be provided below grade.

Commissioners expressed regret about the amount of the affordable housing in the project and were skeptical of the relationship between its architectural design and that of the surrounding neighborhood. The commission will vote whether or not to support the project in January.

5 M Street SW Redux
JBG Smith returned for a final design review of its 23,000 square foot project of more than 615 rental units at 5 M Street SW. The developer has presented a series of successive designs to placate the commission. The Zoning Commission (ZC) will vote to approve the project on Jan. 14, 2021. JBG reported that it was deep in discussions with the owner of the neighboring parcel over its plans for a head-in, on-site loading dock. The company also promised that the project would have no digital signage.

Commissioners continued to object to the project’s architecture, particularly in relationship to the adjacent townhouse neighborhood below M Street SW. “It looks too much like a warehouse,” stated Hamilton. “It (the design) is very very busy,” chimed in Kramer. Chair Fast added her objections to the design’s “massive,” “blocky” nature.

Both Fast and Hamilton decried the project’s lack of affordable housing other than required by IZ. “We are very disappointed in the affordable component,” stated Litsky. Commissioners also objected to the design of its balconies and the setback envisioned. Lastly, they had concerns about the preservation of existing street trees particularly.

The commission took no action on the design review. Unanimously, it voted to send a letter to the ZC decrying the project’s affordable housing plans. Commissioners also voted to authorize a team to continue negotiations with JBG and issue a letter of support for the project if successful.

No Action on Safeway Liquor License
The commission considered the renewal of the community agreement and 25 percent limited Class B license for Safeway located at 1100 Fourth St. SW. The store was seeking to amend its agreement to allow for a larger area for liquor sales to regularize the technical violation caused by its existing situation.

Given the recent homicide in front of the store and shooting by a guard within its walls, commissioners responded with skepticism. Led by Vice Chair Litsky, they criticized the quality and training of Safeway’s security force. “The only way to ensure that we don’t have gun play in the store is if you employ off duty MPD officers (as store security),” stated Vice Chair Litsky. His comments were echoed by his colleagues on the dais.

On Litsky’s advice, the commission took no action. This ensured that Safeway’s request to legalize its expanded liquor displays by revising its community agreement was thwarted. In absence of any action, the liquor license is simply renewed under the terms of the existing community agreement.

Akridge Large Parcel Site Plan. Image: Akridge.

The commission voted unanimously to support:

  • a community agreement, liquor licenses both permanent and stipulated for Surfside (33 District Sq. SW);
  • the renewal of the Holiday Inn gift shop’s (550 C St. SW) liquor license and community agreement;
  • a Class B license and community agreements for the Cambria Hotel Gift Shop (69 Q St. SW);
  • the renewal of Friendly Market’s (1399 Half St. SW) liquor license and community agreement;
  • the renewal of Harris Teeter’s (401 M St. SE) community agreement and liquor license;
  • the renewal of Whole Foods (101 H St. SE) license and community agreement;
  • the renewal of Cornercopia’s (1000 Third St. SE) liquor license and community agreement;
  • a license and community agreement for Simply Smiles (333 E St. SE), the gift shop at the Residence Inn.

Other Matters
Chair Fast offered remarks on her retirement from the commission. She characterized working with her colleagues “as an absolute pleasure.” In recognition of her service, the commission presented her with a gift card.

Commissioners Andrew Bossi (6D01) and Jared Weiss (6D02) were introduced to the audience.

Capital Bikeshare Outreach Coordinator Lester Wallace briefed the commission on “Bikeshare for All,” a new program providing subsidized memberships to those on governmental assistance.

Ward 6 Liason Talib Shakur from the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services (MORCS) outlined the mayor’s new COVID restrictions.

Metropolitan Police Lieutenant George Donigian, Jr., briefed the commission on public safety. In general, he stated, there has been an increase in stolen vehicles. Property crime has held steady. There were four assaults with dangerous weapons. There were also two road rage incidents, one on I-695 and the other on the 200 block of M Street SW.

The ANC unanimously voted to:

  • send a follow up letter to both the DC Dept. of Regulatory and Consumer Affairs (DCRA) and the DC Dept. of Transportation (DDOT) asking for clarification on their plans to reorganize the process for afterhours construction and a clarification on how public utilities would be included;
  • send a letter to OP requesting the agency ensure developers on Buzzard Point adhere to the city’s Flood Resilience Strategy Guidelines in relation to drainage and flooding;
  • send a letter to DOEE requesting that stringent environmental requirements be incorporated into the renewal of the operating license for the Vulcan Concrete plant on Buzzard Point;
  • send a letter to DDOT expressing concerns over the noise and dust created by the Frederick Douglass bridge construction especially in relation to the dismantling of the old structure;
  • support Brookfield’s design for Parcel F, 110 N St. SE.

ANC 6D meets at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of every month. The next meeting of ANC 6D is for Jan. 11 via Webex. At that meeting new Commissioners Andrew Bossi (6D01) and Jared Weiss (6D02) will take their seats. For more information and links to join ANC meetings, visit anc6d.org.