ANC 6B Report - April 2016

RFK Stadium Plans Taking Shape

At a meeting in April residents got a detailed look at preliminary redevelopment plans for the RFK Stadium site. Events DC, the government’s sports authority, is looking to redevelop the land since DC United is set to move out. The firm that's advising on the master plan, OMA New York, hosted a public meeting to outline two design concepts for the 190-acre site, more than 40 percent of which is covered in parking lots.

As reported on the blog Greater Washington, the two design concepts would work within the overall plan, which is to turn the site into a space for “cultural activities, recreation, sports, and park land. More specifically, the plans include space for a market, skate park, dog park, community gardens, urban farm, water park, and multipurpose fields.” A stadium is certainly still on the table. It’s one possibility for what OMA called an “anchor” for the site, the other options being a smaller basketball arena or simply not building a professional sports facility.

One design possibility would build a new street grid around RFK and add concentrated retail spaces and a pedestrian promenade on the east side, near the Anacostia River. The other would spread buildings out more and leave the neighborhood’s streets as is. Both plans include pedestrian bridges to Kingman and Heritage islands.

The members of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B have frequently pushed for the RFK site to be used for something other than a football stadium. “Stadiums bring little to their cities and their surrounding neighborhoods,” wrote Brian Flahaven, then chair of 6B, in a September article on Greater Washington. “Football stadiums are used 10 times a year for games, leaving an empty shell the remainder of the time. The redevelopment of the RFK site could be a potential boon to the entire city if city leaders are open to some creative and imaginative thinking.”

In October the commissioners sent a letter to Mayor Bowser’s office saying the same. In November representatives from the DC Fiscal Policy Institute echoed the concerns as well, saying that putting money toward a stadium would mean not putting it toward education or infrastructure. Navy Yard, they pointed out, was already growing economically before Nationals Park came to the neighborhood, thanks largely to development near the Metro.

EventsDC hasn't set a specific timeline for the next steps, but after the April meeting it said it would do budget and environmental studies, come up with more detailed plans, and hold another public meeting in the summer.

Safety Upgrades Face Another Hurdle

Both 6B and Capitol Hill residents have long been pushing the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to make 17th Street SE safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, who must share the road with cars that drive dangerously fast. Possibilities include removing a driving lane and adding a bike lane and new speed limit signs.

The project has been often delayed by a DC Water project to replace a water main that runs along the street. At 6B’s April Transportation Committee meeting, DDOT’s Mohamed Dahir said the water-main project should finish in May, but that Washington Gas recently told DDOT it needed to do work along 17th Street as well. Dahir said the street project should finish in December 2017.

According to the committee report, Commissioner Diane Hoskins “asked Mr. Dahir if he could install temporary traffic calming/safety measures while the project is ongoing. He responded that he would have to talk with the DDOT office responsible for safety.”

Support and Concern about Development at Fragers Hardware Site

The commissioners sent a letter to DC’s Office of Planning in support of plans for a new development at 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, the site of the iconic Frager’s Hardware building that burned down in the summer of 2013. The plan is to rebuild the hardware store, but also to add between 30 and 40 condos above and a parking garage below.

The letter also included concerns about the building’s design. Specifically, 6B took issue with the look of the building, saying that the plan for multiple setbacks (the third story is farther in from the edge of the building, and the fourth is farther in from the third) would mean a building that looked “disjointed” and inconsistent with other historic Capitol Hill buildings, and that the current plan uses too many different materials. Residents or the Capitol Hill Restoration Society are typically the forces behind design concerns, but in this case it’s the 6B commissioners. “Frager’s represents something different from just the store,” said Chair Kirsten Oldenburg. “It’s in the hearts of the people from Cap Hill, so anyone fiddling with it ... there’s a lot of concern.”

Lots of Liquor Licenses up for Renewal

The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration is renewing every liquor license in the city this year, meaning that 6B has a lot of liquor license applications to review and, ultimately, either support or protest. In April 6B reviewed 14 cases, voting to support all but three: We the Pizza, Bearnaise, and Good Stuff, all on the southern side of the 300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue SE and owned by the family of famous DC restaurateur Spike Mendelsohn. The commissioners protested the license renewals due to ongoing trash and rodent concerns. The commissioners expect to review over 50 cases in May and potentially more in June. Restaurants and bars had until the end of March to apply for renewals. Once renewed, licenses are good for three years.

ANC 6B’s next full meeting will be on Tuesday, May 12, at the Hill Center, 921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE.