Washington, DC, is in the midst of one of the largest building booms in its history, with new residential, office, hotel and retail projects redefining neighborhoods and former industrial areas. Residents, employees and visitors are returning to the city, drawn by a high quality of life, great restaurants and entertainment, sports, cultural amenities and shopping. The District has surpassed 700,000 residents for the first time in over four decades.
The Capitol Riverfront neighborhood is a new growth area contributing to this robust economic development cycle. With 12 building cranes on our skyline, Capitol Riverfront is going through rapid change as its cityscape is enhanced by new buildings every year. The neighborhood will achieve 50 percent of its ultimate buildout of 37.5 million square feet this year, and there is more to come.
Seeing all the new development, it is sometimes hard to imagine where new buildings will be built. Some of this future development is beginning, while other parcels may not see new development for another five years. However, 2019 and 2020 will be pivotal years, with a number of new buildings delivering during that time and more breaking ground.
Several large vacant parcels in the neighborhood remain undeveloped for a variety of reasons, but that does not mean the owners are not making plans to accommodate future growth. Below are summaries of those parcels and some sense of the development projects that could occur.
Yards West (Phase II)
This section of Forest City’s project known as The Yards contains approximately 18 acres of vacant or industrial land, bounded by M Street to the north, First Street to the west, New Jersey Avenue to the east and the Anacostia River to the south. The redevelopment plans call for the construction of a new north/south street – One and a Half Street SE – that will run from M Street to the Anacostia River. Additional east/west streets will also be introduced, but One and a Half Street will serve as the “organizing principle” for the site and connect pedestrians from the Navy Yard/Ballpark Metro to the river.
The street will be vibrant and pedestrian-friendly, featuring ground-level retail and dining, extended green spaces and a variety of public gathering areas. This six-block spine will begin at a new plaza at the intersection of New Jersey Avenue and M Street and extend all the way to the Anacostia River at Diamond Teague Park, offering DC’s only pedestrian-friendly link connecting a Metro station (Green Line, Navy Yard/Ballpark) directly to the waterfront. The parcels will offer a mix of office and residential buildings and will sequence depending on the demand in each market segment. Much of the office component will be constructed on Parcel A, bounded by M, New Jersey, N, and First streets. Yards West will also be home to the 16-screen ICON Movie Theater
This is another large section of land north of I Street and between South Capitol and New Jersey Avenue. The 10.8-acre site is being used by CSX as a construction staging area for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel reconstruction project, as well as community outreach offices. With the tunnel project completing in the fall of 2018, CSX has put the site up for sale with the vision of redevelopment as a high-density, mixed-use project. The site is well suited for an office building that would have views to the US Capitol building, perhaps more residential buildings, a hotel and retail on the ground floor.
Buzzard Point/Florida Rock
Buzzard Point has been mentioned in much of the news recently regarding the soon-to-open Audi Field soccer stadium for DC United, as well as the neighborhood’s Amazon HQ2 proposal. A recent DC Office of Planning study confirmed that Buzzard Point and the Florida Rock properties just east of the bridge can accommodate an additional six million square feet of development. Several development projects are underway or about to break ground:
- Audi Field, a 19,000-seat stadium that will host its inaugural home game on Saturday, July 14.
- Peninsula 88, a 110-condominium project under construction with delivery estimated for the second quarter of 2019.
- 1900 Half St., a 415-unit apartment building by Douglas Development, scheduled to start construction in the next two months. The project contains 14,000 square feet of retail.
- River Point, a 481-unit apartment building by Akridge, Western Development and Redbrick, scheduled to start construction by the end of June/early July. The project has over 60,000 square feet of retail uses for the first floor.
- Florida Rock, MRP’s second residential building adjacent to Dock 79 (71 Potomac Ave.), containing 265 apartment units. Site work has begun on this project, which calls for an additional two buildings once the new Frederick Douglass Bridge is completed and the old one demolished – an office building and a hotel, depending on market conditions.
This sub-area is under construction and has six building cranes working on four separate projects:
- East Half Street, a 439-unit apartment building by Jair Lynch with approximately 60,000 square feet of retail on the ground and second floors. The project wraps around to N Street as well, and one of the retail tenants is Punch Bowl Social.
- West Half Street, a 465-unit apartment building by JBG Smith that has approximately 50,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.
- One M Street, the future home of the National Association of Broadcasters, a 111,700-square-foot, Class A office building with 4,500 square feet of ground-floor retail, being built by Monument Realty.
- The Avidian, under construction by Monument Realty, 171 condominium units that have a South Capitol Street address.
The Ballpark District is planned to feature a special curbless streetscape on Half Street so that fans will be encouraged to experience this entertainment district before and after baseball games.
Two major infrastructure projects will continue to shape the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood for years to come. The CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel reconstruction project has been underway for over three years now and is scheduled to complete this fall. It will include a reconstruction of the Virginia Avenue road with a new bike trail and the Virginia Avenue Park reconstruction.
Construction of the Frederick Douglass Bridge (South Capitol Street) has commenced, and from the east side of the Anacostia River you can see the construction of the piers that will support the initial pile-driving work for the bridge’s new supports. The new bridge and memorial ellipses on each side of the river will be completed by the end of 2021. The memorial ellipse space on the west side of the river adjacent to Nationals Park is an opportunity to design meaningful open space for use by the public, sporting event patrons and residents.
Many of the projects that will be developed feature more pedestrian amenities and emphasize walking between Capitol Riverfront destinations. The Anacostia Riverwalk Trail will also be extended under the Frederick Douglass Bridge once it is completed and will connect Buzzard Point to the 20-mile trail system.
Capitol Riverfront has emerged as one of the largest riverfront redevelopment projects in the country, and is emphasizing urban walkability, transit connectivity, a mix of uses and an outdoor ethos as part of its appeal.