South by West

The new International Spy Museum will be located on 10th Street SW. Rendering: Rogers Stirk Harbour+Partners

International Spy Museum at L’Enfant Plaza in 2018

Preliminary site work started in June on the new International Spy Museum. By spring 2018 the museum will relocate from Penn Quarter to L’Enfant Plaza on a site fronting 10th Street SW. The new museum will occupy 140,000 square feet, much larger than the current facility, and will allow for three levels of permanent exhibition space in addition to event space. A museum store and lobby will be located on the first floor, facing 10th Street. Part of the design includes a transparent “veil” that will allow pedestrians on 10th Street to see activity inside the museum. JBG Companies has partnered with the International Spy Museum on the project and has been designed by Rogers Stirk Harbour+Partners. Hickok Cole is the architect of record.

JBG Companies came before Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6D in June to gain support for doing foundation work in the parking garage during evening hours. The developer also wanted to close an area in front of 10th Street for construction staging. Both requests were granted, although the ANC wanted JBG to report to the commissioners if additional late-work requests were needed.

L’Enfant Plaza has been revamped in recent years, including refurbishment of the retail center with new restaurants and stores and two renovated office buildings. Meanwhile the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel is closed for renovations. About a year ago construction without an anchor tenant began on 500 L’Enfant Plaza, a “trophy” office building. However, work stopped after construction of the foundation and loading dock and will not resume until an anchor tenant is secured.

The new museum will be a couple blocks south of the National Mall and will contribute to the revitalization of 10th Street, a wide but forlorn stretch between the Smithsonian Castle and Banneker Overlook. A revitalized 10th Street was part of the SW Ecodistrict plan, which was developed by the National Capital Revitalization Commission for a multi-block area south of the National Mall and north of the Southwest Freeway.

The plan envisions 10th Street as an urban garden promenade extending the civic character of the National Mall to Banneker Park. According to the plan, demolition of the Forrestal complex would allow new streets to be introduced to the area, including Virginia Avenue and Maryland Avenue SW. That would reduce the visual blockiness of the current building design. The right-of-way along 10th Street SW would remain the same width (150 feet), but the sidewalks would be narrowed from 29 feet to 24 feet, and a five-foot bike lane would be added on either side of the street. The roadway on each side would be reduced from 26.5 feet to 20 feet, and the median would be expanded from 39 feet to 52 feet.

The northern section of the street, where it is at grade, would have a large tree canopy with trees growing as high as 50 feet in a linear garden. A “magnet” plaza to draw people to 10th Street from the Smithsonian Castle would have a water feature near its northern terminus with Independence Avenue. An Urban Plaza would sit where the street meets L’Enfant Plaza. The plaza could be designed in a variety of forms, including a framed water feature in the median, an architectural feature in the median, a design that encompasses the right-of-way, or a plaza stretching from the edge of a building to the east to the building on the west.

Further south, garden rooms are envisioned with smaller trees cascading down to Banneker Park. Pedestrian access through the tree canopy in the northern section and in the southern section would be limited, but the greatest amount of pedestrian crossings would be at the Urban Plaza near L’Enfant Plaza. Programming space could be accommodated in the “magnet” plaza at the intersection with reconstructed Maryland Avenue SW, and at the Urban Plaza.

Wharf Retail News

A few more retailers have been announced for the first phase of The Wharf. Social Restaurant Group plans to open a French-Mediterranean restaurant called La Vie. The restaurant will be located in Parcel 2, which includes Wharf Hall and an apartment building. La Vie will be 9,800 square feet with a 1,100-square-foot waterfront terrace and will have access to a 5,000-square-foot rooftop terrace. Social Restaurant Group’s other establishments across the city include Provision 14, The Prospect, and Bonfire.

In addition to La Vie a lease has been signed with District Hardware and Bike, which would be the first hardware store (and bike shop) in Southwest. At June’s ANC 6D meeting it was announced that Cordial Craft Wine, Beer & Spirits was applying for a liquor license at The Wharf on the future Pearl Street, an interior street between Maine Avenue and Wharf Street. The shop has an outpost at Union Market in Northeast and will be opening a 525-square-foot space at The Wharf. The commissioners decided to protest the license application because they lacked sufficient information about the shop. According to an application filed with the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, Cordial Craft Wine, Beer & Spirits will be “a neighborhood liquor store serving alcoholic beverages and offering tastings on premise.” The proposed hours of operation are Sunday through Thursday, 7-2 a.m., and Friday and Saturday, 8-3 a.m. A 9,000-square-foot CVS is also planned – likely to be along Maine Avenue, which is where neighborhood-serving retail is to be placed. Several other tenants were announced in March, but the new batch includes the first non-restaurant retailers to sign at The Wharf.

La Vie is one of the restaurants scheduled to open at The Wharf when the first phase of development is completed in 2017. Rendering: The Wharf

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

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