Groundbreaking Ceremony for Donatelli Project Cancelled

Chris Donatelli Says Project Not Delayed, Expects Completion in 2.5 Years

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A rendering of the proposed build on Parcel F1 of the Reservation 13 development. Image: Donatelli Development.

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) announced Monday evening that the groundbreaking ceremony scheduled to begin 11 a.m. on May 3rd at the site of the Donatelli-Blue Skye Project on Reservation 13 has been cancelled.

The redevelopment on parcels F-1 and G-1 calls for two mixed-use buildings with a total of 353 residential units and 25,678 square feet of retail. The parcels are located immediately north of Massachusetts Avenue along 19th Avenue SE, just south of the entrance to the Stadium-Armory Metro station.

DMPED cited fears that the ceremony would prove distracting as the main reason for the cancellation. “Our primary focus is to minimize disruptions for the residents, clients and visitors for DC General, the DC Jail, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program and the Harriet Tubman women’s facility,” reads a comment published by DMPED to the event page. “Therefore, we decided against a groundbreaking event which could add to the disruptions.”

DMPED said that construction on the first phase of Hill East had already begun April 17 with the installation of a new gas line.

Surprise at Task Force Meeting

Developer Chris Donatelli seemed surprised when asked about the cancellation at the April 23rd meeting of the Hill East Task Force for Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B. He said the event had been rescheduled from late April to May 2, but seemed unaware that the event had been cancelled. “As far as I knew that was still the date,” he said. “I imagine they’re rescheduling it.”

Commissioner Denise Krepp (6B10) said that DMPED Director of Real estate Sarosh Olpadwala called her at 6 p.m. that evening to inform her that the ceremony had been cancelled, and that she had thanked him for that information while noting that she had not been invited.

“They’re not rescheduling, that’s what they told me,” she added.

Donatelli clarified that the cancellation of the May 2nd event would not effect progress on the project. “We’ve already broken ground,” he said, “that’s the ceremonial aspect of it.”

President and CEO of Donatelli Development Chris Donatelli (L) and Donatelli VP Brian Rogers discuss plans for the project at the April 23rd ANC 6B Hill East Task Force meeting.

Project Plans

The project begins with construction of the larger building located on the G1 parcel. That building, containing 262 units and up to 12,000 square feet of retail, is expected to take about two years to complete. Site preparation is already underway.

Donatelli said plans are to begin the second building, located on the F1 parcel, about a year into work on the first. The F1 building will feature 91 units and up to 10,000 square feet of retail and take about eighteen months to complete. There are 138 underground parking spots between the two.

Donatelli estimated a best-case completion time of two and a half years to finish. He said that the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) would be concurrently completing work on roads, extending Burke Street, C Street and Massachusetts Avenue SE into Reservation 13. Donatelli said he expected DDOT work to begin as early as June and take about a year, though he noted that question was best answered by DDOT.

Data and Demands

The Hill East Task Force resolved to write to city agencies to ask them to come to a meeting with representatives of both ANC 6B and 7F (wherein Reservation 13 is located) in order to reply to many of the queries directed at Donatelli in lieu of agency representation.

Neighbors asked Donatelli for a direct contact person regarding construction conditions, a count of expected trucks required for the excavation process, and information regarding future management of the two buildings.

Donatelli agreed to supply a construction schedule, underground residential versus retail parking space count as well as a numeric break-down of residential unit numbers, unit sizes (number of bedrooms) and pricing for market and affordable housing units to Commissioners from both ANC 6B and 7F. He said he could provide that data by the end of the week.