South by West

301 M Street SW is the first of many new apartment buildings to start construction in 2016. Rendering: Maurice Walters Architect

Cranes as Far as the Eye Can See

Work is wrapping up at 525 Water condos, and construction is now above street level at VIO and at an apartment building on Parcel 4 at The Wharf. Several more multifamily buildings (mostly rental) in Southwest are either underway or will get started in 2016. By the time they deliver in 2018 more than 1,200 new units will be introduced to the market, in addition to the 1,500 or so units under construction at The Wharf and Waterfront Station. These development projects could bring nearly 5,000 new residents to Southwest in less than three years.

301 M Street Is Underway

The Bernstein Companies recently started construction at 301 M Street, one of three new residential buildings planned on a stretch from Sixth Street to Delaware Avenue that are expected to start this year. Plans call for about 190 rental apartment units in an 11-story building with ground-floor retail. This new building at Town Center East will be constructed on what was the parking lot for Waterfront Tower condos. A fence built on the west side of the property gives residents of Waterfront Tower temporary access to the property, since the primary entrance on the south side is blocked off by construction activity. 

Construction of the first new building at Town Center East will be followed with a second one. Two years after 301 M Street receives its certificate of occupancy, construction can begin on the mirror image building planned for the K Street parking lot used by 1001@Waterfront apartments as well as renovations to 1001@Waterfront.

St. Matthew’s Redevelopment

Construction is expected to start in May at the St. Matthew’s redevelopment, located at M Street and Delaware Avenue. Trammell Crow will develop approximately 220 rental apartment units as well as a new sanctuary for St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church. The site has been used for the past several years as a Christmas tree lot and a community garden. Approval of a planned unit development (PUD) was granted in 2012 with an extension in 2014 for financial issues revolving around the site’s location in a former 100-year flood zone. The issue was resolved with the construction of a new levee on the National Mall at 17th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.

The View

Following on the heels of St. Matthew’s, construction may start in June on the parking lots of The View at Waterfront at Sixth and M streets. Mill Creek Residential Trust will develop two mid-rise buildings with approximately 260 rental apartment units. The north tower will be on the K Street lot and the south tower will be on the M Street lot. Ground-floor retail with 20-foot ceilings will be located in the south tower at the corner of Sixth and M streets. The south tower will also have a cutout on the top of the building for a large rooftop entertainment area. The north tower will have loft units and a two-level fitness center. 

A PUD was approved several years ago when Fairfield Residential owned the property, but several changes have been made since then. Mill Creek has reduced the scope of the project. In the previously approved PUD, a total of 324 new units were planned, but the proposed changes reduce the number to about 260 units. The height has been reduced from 112 to 85 feet, the floor area ratio (FAR) has been reduced to 3.4 from 4.35, and the lot occupancy is proposed to be 42 percent compared with the previously approved 51 percent. Parking has been reduced significantly from 569 total spaces for all four buildings to 290 spaces in three levels of below-grade parking; only 175 spaces are required under zoning.

Riverside Baptist Church

Another residential project is planned to start construction by the end of this year at Seventh and I streets. In early March the Zoning Commission took final action to give approval to Riverside Baptist Church’s consolidated PUD. A new sanctuary for Riverside will be built at Seventh Street and Maine Avenue, while PN Hoffman will build a seven-to-nine-story rental apartment building with 170 units at Seventh and I streets. About 10 percent of the units will be set aside as affordable housing for households earning up to 50, 80, and 100 percent of area median income. The ground floor will have space for community-serving uses, such as a daycare center.

The main issue that held up Zoning Commission approval was funds proffered to help attract a daycare facility. The developer offered $25,000, but the advisory neighborhood commission wanted flexibility to use the funds if a daycare center didn’t occupy the Riverside site. The Zoning Commission was uncomfortable with this open-ended solution and asked that the developer come back with an alternative recipient of the $25,000 in the event a daycare center provider was not found. 

The Portals

In addition to the M Street/Maryland Avenue corridor, construction on the residential phase of The Portals is expected to start in the second quarter of this year. Republic Properties owns 1399 Maryland Ave. SW and originally planned an office building there but switched course in 2015. The Commission of Fine Arts approved the project last year, which will include 290 rental apartments and 75 condos on the top four floors, designed by WDG Architecture and Robert A.M. Stern Architects. The location at the end of Maryland Avenue will offer views of the Jefferson Memorial, Tidal Basin, Potomac River, and Capitol. Permits were recently issued for the project. Aside from the planned residential building, a fourth office building (Portals IV) is planned on the remaining vacant parcel between 1399 Maryland Avenue and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Needless to say, the crane will continue to be the official bird of Southwest for the foreseeable future.

1399 Maryland Avenue at The Portals will be the first residential building constructed south of the National Mall and north of the Southwest Freeway since urban renewal. Rendering: WDG

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

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