Thursday, November 6, 2008

More on the Whitman-Walker Development


In spite of the current economic climate, the pace of development along 14th street is letting up.

At an otherwise uneventful ANC2f meeting yesterday evening, the ANC and meeting attendees were treated to a presentation regarding the forthcoming development of the former Whitman-Walker Clinic building, located along 14th St. between S St. and Swann. There have been some changes to the project since it was originally announced and discussed earlier this year. For those not quite up to speed on the project, here's a brief run-through.

What: DC-area developer JBG Companies acquired the former Whitman-Walker Clinic building, located at 14th and S, last year to the tune of $8 million. The property was put on the market after Whitman-Walker decided against developing the property themselves. W-W will condense the administrative offices which were located in the building with their existing clinical building, located at 14th and R St.

JBG's plans call for a seven story mixed-use development, with six stories of residential units and ground level retail. The building will include something in the neighborhood of 130 residential units. It wasn't discussed whether the building would be entirely condo, or a mix of condos and apartments--I would imagine in the current market it would be more difficult to obtain financing for a pure-condo project, so it would not surprise me to see a residential mix; but that's only a wild guess on my part. The project will also feature a dual-level parking garage with approximately 90 spaces.

No word yet on what retail establishments might be moving into the building, but a representative of JBG did indicate that talks were "ongoing" with several potential tenants. (Would now be a good time to start a petition to reject the idea of another furniture store or small-plate restaurant?)

How: ANC2f commissioner Charles Reed was quite intent on reminding the project representatives--repeatedly--about the fact that the project would be subject to the requirements of the 14th street "arts overlay" district. That may be true, but Reed's comments that this issue would be "one we will follow up on" must have struck the developer and architect's representatives as a bit odd, seeing as how the project does not technically sit within the boundaries of ANC2f.

JBG, which has a strong track record of successfully undertaking historic preservation work, will also work to integrate the development within the existing structure and facade of the building, which was built in 1908. (Interestingly, the building was originally designed as a residential and commercial-use structure.) Artistic renderings o fthe completed project--which looked quite nice--were shown last night, but unfortunately do not appear to have been posted to their website yet.

When: No word yet. The developer has a hearing before the BZA to address three outstanding issues (including the number of parking spaces they will be offering as well as a sightline issue). Beyond that, no definitive timeline was offered. I am personally a bit surprised to see a project of this magnitude undertaken during the current economic climate, but with the projects at 14th and T and 14th and U progressing along, I guess it's not too far outside the realm of reality.

So, my question for you all regarding this project: What type of ground floor retail would you like to see here? A good deli? A bookstore? Clothing shop? A brothel? Give us your thoughts in the comments section.

17 comments:

Matthew said...

We need a bookstore, a decent coffee shop where you can linger, or a cinema. I don't know why I need to go down to Gallery Place to see a movie.

SG said...

I've heard that Trader Joe's is considering this spot. See the "Bloomingdale (for now)" blog for details. I know there's already going to be a YES! Organic market up 4 blocks, but I think this would perhaps cater to Logan rather than U Street.

Mr. 14th & You said...

We love Trader Joe's--good, cheap prepared food--but I don't know that one's really needed there. With Whole Foods three blocks south and Yes! four blocks north, seems a bit overkill, no?

Matthew said...

Well I think Trader Joe's and Whole Foods only sort of overlap. Trader Joe's more prepared foods, while Whole Foods has fresher stuff. So I think there would be room for both.

IMGoph said...

here's the link to the trader joe's rumor on bloomingdale (for now).

the woman at the store told me 14th and S, so hey—i report, you decide! :)

Anonymous said...

Bookstore? Cinema? Have you not lived in America for the last 25 years?

It'll be a furniture store or a bar.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see Trader Joes come in. It's not even comparable to Whole Foods. I love having Whole Foods close, but miss living 2 blocks from Trader Joes (I moved a month ago to Logan from the West End).

Mr. 14th & You said...

We prefer Trader Joe's to Whole Foods as well--it's not really a contest. I'm questionning it from TJ's perspective, though: with a Yes! and Whole Foods so, close, do they risk market saturation?

That being said, we'd be thrilled if they went in there. Right now we do our weekly shopping in the West End, which isn't too inconvenient but is sometimes a drive we'd rather not be making.

james in washington said...

I am not sure that those who shop at TJ's are the same as those shop at YES! or Whole Foods. I know I go to them each now for entirely different reasons/products.

I go to WF for produce only. And fish. That's it. Maybe flowers. I go to TJ's for their olive oils, frozen foods, diverse snacks and desserts. All great. All cheap. Unlike WF.

I would love to have a TJ's closeby.

Matt2 said...

If the Diner/Tryst/comedy club idea for 14th and T falls through to the furniture store, maybe they could go in there. I really like the idea of a 24 hour diner, something the whole Logan/U street/Shaw/East Dupont sorely needs.

Anonymous said...

I second the diner idea. I'd heard a rumor that a diner was going in the dry cleaning building at 14th and Q, but that's another subject.

Or how about a bowling alley?

Anonymous said...

I vote for a NY style bagel shop! Don't know why its so hard to find a decent bagel in this city....

Ruff N said...

It would be great if somebody would be gutsy enough to open a one or two screen movie theatre, but that's not likely to happen given the low margins and the competition from the 18-screen complexes. I like the bagel shop idea too, but again, low margins won't pay the freigh in a brand new high-rent building. So my vote is for a large, well-stocked wine shop (larger and with more selection than deVino's and Best Cellars). Surely there are enough wine-drinkers in this neighborhood to support it.

bjphillips said...

I agree with one poster. There needs to be a coffee shop. I used to work at Whitman-Walker Clinic and I loved going into Sparky's every morning for my coffee and bagel. Now it's a wine cellar/restaurant. I don't dare go to Starbucks U stret metro and linger. I'm rather put off by the smell of coffee and stale urine.

Timmy said...

Coffee? Mid City Caffe is just a couple blocks south.

Mr. 14th & You said...

Keep in mind that comment was made last December, long before anyone knew MidCity was going to be opening.

Timmy said...

Ha...thanks Mr. 14th & You. I couldn't figure out why I could see the post when I clicked through from DCist but not when I came through my saved link.