Safeway on 14th to Close for Two Years
During an Oct. 24 community meeting developers of the Safeway at 415 14th St. SE announced plans to redevelop the property with 320-325 residential apartments. Foulger-Pratt, a local DC developer, detailed the initial stages of the mixed-use project, including plans to close the grocery store for between 18 and 24 months starting around 2018. It is a by-right project with no plans to request zoning or other variances. The building is slated to reopen in 2020.
The plans include mostly studio and one-bedroom apartments with a few two bedrooms; three levels of residential; a penthouse; one level of retail not to exceed the 50-foot zoning limit; about one-half of a parking space per apartment unit (roughly 160 in total); another 194 parking spots for retail (up from the current 150); and two retail shops on the ground floor other than Safeway. The project will expand the Safeway from 50,000 to 60,000 square feet.
Changes to Expect
Foulger-Pratt held the October meeting to gather feedback on the curb cuts for the new development. The BKV Group, architects for the project, plan to close two of the five existing cuts, which leaves just three – two for the alley entrances connecting D and E streets and one for the retail car parking entrance on the southern part of 14th Street. Residential cars will enter through the alley.
Delivery trucks will enter the alley from E Street and back up into one of two large loading docks tucked into the building. There will be a third, smaller dock and a closed trash compactor in that zone. Residents will have a separate loading dock nearer their parking entrance. The alley will be expanded to 30 feet to allow for two-way traffic flow.
Construction teams will excavate two levels for underground parking, one for residents and one for customers. No more spaces will exist above ground.
Bryan Foulger, vice president of development at Foulger-Pratt, stressed to community members that these plans are initial ideas for the project and may change as the pre-demolition designs are discussed and finalized. “Tonight is the first step of many meetings we’re going to have with the community,” he said.
Neighbors at the meeting expressed concerns over the limited number of parking spaces in comparison to the number of residential units. With the modernization of Watkins Elementary School (420 12th St. SE) they wondered how the two projects will handle the inflow of new traffic. “When one or two people have a weekend party, it’s going to gum up the area,” one neighbor said.
But Foulger-Pratt explained that it plans to charge rent for each residential parking space, which incentivizes residents to use those or opt into the building-provided carshare and bikeshare slots. The development is also two blocks from the Potomac Avenue Metro station and about four to five from the Eastern Market station. As for Watkins, the planning process for the Safeway redevelopment will take up to 18 months. Construction teams won’t start demolition until 2018. The District is expected to finish Watkins by the summer of 2017.
Safeway opened its doors on 14th Street in 1964 and has served the Capitol Hill community as a go-to grocery store. Tim McNamara, a Safeway real estate manager, said the company plans to help residents find other Safeways in the area when the redevelopment closes the 14th Street store’s doors. He also said he would address concerns over current employee job security with the human resources department.
A Timeline for the Project
Foulger-Pratt and the architects will meet with Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B as well as the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) during November. The team will then start a large tract review (LTR) process, which involves compiling impact reports from departments like DDOT, the Department of Energy & Environment, and the Department of Public Works. A by-right project does not usually undergo so intense a process, but because the plans exceed 50,000 square feet, it must. The developer then plans to submit the LTR to the Office of Planning in April 2017.