Hyatt Place Hotel Groundbreaking

South by West

The entrance to the Hyatt Place will be on E Street SW while the Engine 13 firehouse will be located on 4th Street. Rendering: WDG

Hyatt Place will be the operator of the 214-key hotel planned at 400 E St. SW, just north of the Southwest Freeway and across the street from the new Consolidated Forensic Lab. The vacant parcel most recently served as a parking lot, and before that there was a gas station on the site. The hotel will be called Hyatt Place DC Capitol/National Mall, and its entrance will be on E Street along with space for ground-floor retail. A new firehouse for Engine 13 will be on the 4th Street side of the building.

This will be the second Hyatt Place hotel to open in the District – one is under construction in NoMa on New York Avenue NE and a third was recently announced for a site in the West End. The upscale select-service hotel brand is known for spacious guestrooms with a state-of-the-art media center, complementary Wi-Fi access, StayFit@Hyatt fitness centers, a coffee and wine bar, and 24-hour room service. An outdoor pool and rooftop bar will be a part of the E Street hotel. Two other hotels are in the general vicinity: a Courtyard by Marriott hotel a block east on E Street and a Holiday Inn at 6th and C streets SW.

E Street Development Group won the rights to develop 400 E Street and a second parcel at 6th and E streets from the District government back in 2009. At the time the 400 E Street parcel was planned as an office building with a firehouse on the ground level and space for DC Central Kitchen and Kid Power Inc., a local nonprofit. At one point there was an effort to lure the headquarters of Northrop Grumman to the building with tax credits offered by the city, but ultimately the company chose to relocate to Fairfax County. Since then the planned office building changed to a hotel and the exterior changed from a fire-engine-red building designed by Beyer, Blinder, Belle to the current design by WDG; however, the building is still planned to achieve LEED-Silver certification. There will be a 1,300 square-foot retail space at the corner of 4th and E streets and space for Kid Power Inc. (the DC Central Kitchen space will be included in the second phase at 6th and E streets).

A groundbreaking ceremony in early December was attended by Mayor Gray and other dignitaries. Official construction is expected to begin by the end of 2013, with the hotel greeting its first guests in 2015. The next few years will see a net gain of three hotels in Southwest, with Hyatt Place and three planned hotels at the Wharf including an Intercontinental Hotel, Aloft, and Element (the Channel Inn on Water Street is slated for closure due to the redevelopment along the waterfront). There is no timetable yet for the construction of the office building at 6th and E streets SW after the firehouse operations are moved from that site to the new location below the new Hyatt Place.

Randall Project Moving Forward

At the November 2013 monthly meeting of ANC 6D the commissioners unanimously gave qualified support to the latest plans for the Randall School site redevelopment at Half and I streets. A few outstanding items still need to be spelled out, including a community benefits package and a construction management plan. In addition the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) gave unanimous concept approval to the planned unit development. A nonprofit contemporary art museum from the collection of the Rubell family will be located in the original 1906 center building. The first floor of the museum will be used as a community cultural space, with an art gallery featuring local artists, 100-seat auditorium, library, bookstore, café, and meeting space. The upper two levels will house the museum exhibits. Other arts-related uses will be located in the west wing. A destination restaurant with outdoor seating will be in the east wing (both wings were built in 1927). Behind the center building a new three-story addition will house additional exhibition space for the art museum.

Two 12-story towers with 550 residential units will wrap behind the historic buildings and courtyard, which will be open to the public. Six commercial spaces may be created on the ground level facing the courtyard and containing artist studios. Twenty percent of the residential units will be set aside as affordable to households earning up to 80 percent of area median income (AMI).

Some changes were made to the plans from the original planned unit development (PUD) submission that was recommended by the HPRB. For instance, curved windows were added to the residential addition, as well as more balconies and transparent bridges between the wings of the residential buildings. Wood will be used on the doors leading from the residential units on the ground level to the courtyard to soften the appearance of the buildings. A glass façade has been added that will connect the historic central building to the three-story museum addition so that the back of the historic building will be visible.
In a nod to the request of the late ANC Commissioner Ron McBee, the balustrade in the front of the building will be restored and the brick retaining wall will be replaced with a historically appropriate curb and berm. The sidewalk will slope downward toward the entrance to the central building, while the sidewalk will slope upward to the other two I Street buildings.

The Telesis/Rubell team met with the Zoning Commission on Dec. 2, when the commissioners generally showed support for the project. At the ANC meeting Marilyn Melkonian from Telesis stated that once the development team gets approval from the Zoning Commission construction may begin in 2014, although at the Zoning Commission meeting it was indicated that final drawings may not be completed for six to 12 months after the project is approved, which may not happen until March 2014. This would probably push back the start to 2015. The first phase of development will include the historic buildings, museum addition, and one of the residential buildings.

William Rich is a blogger at Southwest … The Little Quadrant that Could.