Fredrica Kramer, Commissioner ANC 6D05
Wondering what’s happening behind the fences at once-forgotten Buzzard Point? Like the Potomac waterfront’s transformation into the Wharf, Buzzard Point is in the process of morphing. In its case, from a low visibility federal office enclave, scrappy riverfront, and a few small night clubs, to a collection of 6200 residential units, offices, hotels, restaurants, educational facilities, and a new waterfront life.
With the opening of Audi Stadium in 2018, massive redevelopment has begun. Buzzard Point will have over 1000 residential units coming online at 1900 Half St. SW, 2100 2nd St. SW (RiverPoint), and 88 V St. SW (the Peninsula) this summer and fall. If Buzzard Point is to continue a measure of social diversity that has distinguished Southwest, and that the community has clearly attested it wants, challenges lie ahead.
The developments so far have not been subject to Inclusionary Zoning, which would typically require 8-10% below market rate units, and so very little affordable housing is part of the mix.
RiverPoint will have 485 residential units, including 8 affordable units (at 50% of area median income), two waterfront restaurants and a small convenience market. But RiverPoint will also house the entire training and service operation of DC Central Kitchen (DCCK). A well-established and exceptionally successful program, DCCK graduates may find employment in the new hotels and restaurants that dominate redevelopment in Southwest and Navy Yard. Also, as the ANC said in its letter of support to the Zoning Commission, hosting a training program for deeply disadvantaged populations, and integrating them into the community, serves the community’s interest in maintaining social diversity as massive redevelopment in Southwest and Near Southeast challenges that ideal.
When it gets its first occupants this summer, Riverpoint will have 453 studio to three bedroom rental units, including 11 at 60% of AMI. It also expects to house the Eagle Academy early childhood program, which will move in the fall from SE Navy Yard. ANC 6D voted to support the move, but asked that lease terms permit returning some of the space to retail use if Eagle does not meet its expanded enrollment targets within five years. As the ANC said in its support letter, “…we are always concerned that all our local schools, with staggered grade structures, work together to utilize public dollars in the most responsible and accountable manner. We trust that Eagle will work with the other schools in ANC 6D to ensure that recruitment and graduation strategies serve all families who wish to be served by the local public schools in our community.”
The Peninsula, at 88 V St. SW, will have 110 1-2 bedroom units for sale, with prices ranging from $500,000 to $1.4M, 8 affordable units, and a modest ground floor retail space. The Peninsula expects to be opening within weeks.
The start of development of the large lots immediately south of Audi Stadium into a complex of mixed-use projects is at least two years off. A portion was being used before COVID-19 as a kickball space operated by Volo City, whose adult amateur sports leagues underwrite free sports opportunities for children aged 6-12. The lot in front and to the east of the Stadium, to be developed by PN Hoffman, is also at least two years off. Talks were underway for an interim use when COVID-19 put all on hold.
North of Potomac Avenue, two projects, the Cambria Hotel at 69 Q St., with a ground-floor restaurant, and 1550 First St., with all 76 affordable units (50% at 50% AMI, and 30% permanent supportive housing at 30% AMI), are under construction. A second building at 1530 First St., with all 101 proposed units being affordable, will follow.
As below-market-rate and family-sized housing is scarce, so are neighborhood-serving businesses. Commissioners push for small retail and services when reviewing proposals that come before the ANC or testifying before the Zoning Commission. Part of the challenge is creating spaces that are right-sized and priced at levels that small businesses can afford. New changes to zoning on Potomac Avenue are only very slightly more accommodating to smaller spaces, about which I testified for the ANC. The ANC will continue to make the need for retail and services heard so that development strikes an appropriate balance between visitors and residents.
There is also hope for 4th Street. The lot next to CVS is to become a mixed-use residential building. PN Hoffman, the developer of the future site, expects to have a black box theater, a diner-type neighborhood restaurant, and the AppleTree early childhood school.
The need for primary health care and other essential services will continue as the population in Southwest multiplies. Unity Health Care was due to return to a space in the new transitional housing facility on Delaware Avenue. At the ANC’s request, Unity has gotten an extension on its lease at the Joy Evans/Van Ness Elementary School in SE, in order to avoid a potential 5-month lapse in services until the Delaware Avenue building opens. Additional options for health services in SW should continue to be explored, particularly as Buzzard Point opens up.
The ANC provided detailed comments in February on proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan. While Council activity is not imminent, development in Southwest continues apace, creating repeated opportunities to reflect community interests in preserving diversity and affordability, preserving the mixed height character of the area, preserving green and open space beyond existing parks—such as in streetscape, setbacks, interior, and other elements of common space, and ensuring multiple modes of transportation and safe travel for all ages, income, and capabilities.
The Lower Anacostia/Near Southwest also played a pivotal role in the early development of Washington, in post-Civil War migration of freed slaves and continuing northern migration of African-Americans, and in the history of social integration. As the ANC noted, this history should be a part of redevelopment and preservation decisions, which applies directly to south Southwest and Buzzard Point.
Councilman Allen has introduced a bill to create a new Waterways Management Authority. The ANC continues to support the effort, which will become increasingly important for ANC 6D, bordered on two sides by two rivers, with both waterfronts under intense development. ANC 6D05 residences include 1001 3rd St., Christ United Methodist Church, Waterfront Tower, the Leo, 301 M St., 222 M St., Carrollsburg A Condominium, Carrollsburg Square Condominium, River Park and St. James cooperatives. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be placed on the mailing list and receive periodic updates, or call 980-552-0024 to talk about concerns and issues of interest.