Riverside Baptist to be Redeveloped

South by West

Over the past seven years, Riverside Baptist Church and Wharf developer PN Hoffman have been in discussions about redeveloping Riverside, located along 7th Street SW from Eye Street to Maine Avenue SW. Riverside has been in Southwest since 1857 and in its current building since 1968. Its current congregation has about 125 members with about a third of them being Southwesters. The current building has about 12,000 square feet of space on two levels, including the basement, with a large setback from Maine Avenue SW and its main entrance faces a parking lot. It is an aging property where maintenance costs now outweigh costs for ministry services, so the church began exploring their options back in 2007. The redevelopment of the church property will allow Riverside to remain in Southwest, but in a new building and with an endowment. This arrangement is not new in the neighborhood. In addition to Riverside, other houses of worship have partnered with developers, include St. Augustine’s, St. Matthew’s, and Westminster Church is starting the process now. 

Riverside and PN Hoffman took their seven–year relationship to the next level in October and began the public engagement process, starting with a meeting in the basement of Town Square Towers with residents of the condo building. Town Square Towers is located across Eye Street SW from Riverside and will be impacted by the redevelopment of its neighbor. Present at the meeting were representatives from PN Hoffman, Riverside, and architects from Geier Brown Renfrow (GBR) Architects and Studios Architecture. Currently on the table is a mixed-use development with a new Riverside Baptist Church designed by GBR on the southern portion of the site closer to Maine Avenue SW and a 150-175-unit rental apartment building on the rest of the site, designed by Studios Architecture.

The new Riverside has been designed with two levels – the first floor will have a fellowship hall and office space while the second floor will contain the worship center for a total of about 11,400 square feet. At the corner of Maine Avenue and 7th Street SW, the main entrance will be transparent so passersby will be able to see some of the activity occurring inside of the church. This area serves as a threshold between the street, the parking garage, and the church. Materials used in the construction of the current church building, including stone, stucco, slate shingles, and stained glass will be carried over to the design of the new facility. There will be 40 garage parking spaces available for the church on Sundays and five spaces on other days. 

Meanwhile, the apartment building has been designed as “elegant and simple” to not take the focus away from the church building, which has been positioned on the prominent corner of Maine Avenue and 7th Street SW. The apartment building will step back in height from nine stories to seven stories closer to Eye Street SW and will serve as a "gateway" to the waterfront. Units will be designed to attract families, so no micro units are not planned; however, unit sizes will be only slightly larger than what is currently being built in the District. More one bedroom with den and two bedroom units will be built. In addition, an affordable component is planned as mandated by Inclusionary Zoning. On the ground floor there will be space for a daycare center or other community-oriented use, but PN Hoffman feels that traditional retail would not be appropriate at that location. At the corner of 7th and Eye streets SW, the building will be pulled back further from the street to create space for a public plaza with a water feature, trees, and benches. The intersection will also be simplified by removing the island that separates traffic making a right turn onto Eye Street from 7th Street SW. 

A change of zoning will be required in order for the project to move forward as designed. A Planned Unit Development (PUD) application will be submitted in the next few months once the Small Area Plan has been completed by the Office of Planning, which has recommended up-zoning the church parcel. After going through the PUD process, it is expected that construction may begin sometime in 2016.

Southwest Circulator Service to be Restored

DC Circulator service to Southwest will be restored and enhanced if proposed changes by the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) are approved. In addition, the DC Council already approved funding for a 1.4-mile westward extension of the Union Station – Navy Yard route along M Street SE/SW to the Waterfront Metro to begin operations in FY 2015. In October, DDOT released the DC Circulator Transit Development Plan for the next 10 years that shows a total of three Circulator lines that could service Southwest by 2024. Aside from the aforementioned extension, the Convention Center – Southwest Waterfront route would be restored in Phase II by FY 2020 (it was discontinued in 2011 and replaced by the 74 Metrobus) and a new route would connect Dupont Circle to Southwest via 17th Street NW and Maine Avenue SW during Phase III by FY 2024. These new (and restored) lines would coincide with the opening of The Wharf and other planned development in Southwest. 

It is estimated that ridership will increase by nearly 14% with the Southwest extension of the Union Station – Navy Yard route; however, ridership along this route is currently the lowest of the five existing Circulator routes. This route extension (along with two others) did not meet several key Circulator performance metrics, but it will still move forward since it was already funded by the DC Council. DDOT will be evaluating whether the Capitol Riverfront area can support year-round Saturday service and year-round service after 7pm on the Union Station – Navy Yard route, which would benefit Southwest once this line is extended to the west. Currently, service hours vary depending on the time of year; there is no plan to offer Sunday service on this route. Of the three lines proposed for Southwest, ridership projections for the new Dupont Circle – Southwest Waterfront route are highest. Over 1.2 million annual riders are expected on the new route, compared to 762,000 riders for the restored Convention Center – Southwest Waterfront route. 

During the public engagement process earlier in the year, there were six pop-up events across the city where surveys were collected, in addition to online surveys. Of the six pop-up events, the most responses were collected at the Waterfront Metro station pop-up, garnering 15% of all survey responses. More than half of the respondents to the survey indicated that the Southwest Waterfront should be served next by the Circulator – the most of any location, followed by U Street Corridor/Shaw/Howard University. 

Other new routes are planned as well in other parts of the city – one would connect Columbia Heights to Brookland and NoMa, while another would go from the National Mall to Union Station, as well as extensions of existing lines. Circulator fares would increase to $1.50 on SmarTrip and $2.00 cash from the current fare of $1.00. 

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