Friday Question of the Day: Which Project Will Have The Biggest Impact on the Surrounding Communities?

Over the past month or so there have been many reports about proper construction starting back up at some landmark locations around the city (many have been horse’s ass award nominees). So my question for this Friday is simple – assuming that construction and groundbreakings really do take place relatively soon – which project do you think will have the biggest positive impact on the surrounding community/neighborhood?

I’m thinking about:

Howard Theater
O St. Market
14th and W St, NW YMCA
McMillian Reservoir
Walter Reed Medical Center

If I left out a big project that you think will have a big impact on the surrounding community/neighborhood, please leave the name in the comments.

74 Comment

  • definitely not the howard theater, which is a joke.

    mcmillan reservoir would by far be the biggest impact if it happened.

  • Think either the Convention Center Hotel or the City Center project at the old convention center site will have a much larger impact than any of those projects listed — and its not even close in my opinion.

    • the City Center project at the old convention center site will transform that area downtown providing a much more balanced mix of office & retail space. i bet it will attract a lot of tourist activity and will do wonders for city revenues.

      • it’s transformation wont have an impact outside of its footprint.
        the neighborhood will hardly notice it was there.

  • I live closer to the Howard Theater, but, having previously lived near the O Street Market, I have to say that will have the greated impact of any project listed. I say listed because I agree with PAC that the Convention Center Hotel will be big too… although the O Street Market may be bigger. With O ST Market, you extend the good things going on in Logan Circle several blocks down. The Market could also jump start the stalled condo project a block away.

    In general, the combination of the O ST Market and Convention Center Hotel will be a huge boon for that entire area.

  • Good point. Convention Center Hotel + O Street Market and its a landslide. Let’s just hope we all see everything on the list constructed soon.

  • +1 for Convention Center + O Street.

  • I think the Harris Teeter on 1st and N NE will speed up ge.trification of Truxton Circle. O Street area is pretty good already as is 14th and W.

    • Do you live at 14 and w? Because I do and it is definitely not “pretty good already”. We’ve had several shootings and all sorts of other issues within the last year. The YWCA project has slowed due to financing problems and since it has, there have been multiple fires set to the location by people sneaking in behind the fence.

    • O St areas is pretty good already? Seriously? You see no room for improvement, because I see miles and miles.

  • dont forget the catholic university development and the rhode island metro development.

    • I agree I think the combination of those two projects with the Chancellor’s Row townhouses and other smaller projects is really going to change the Brookland/Edgewood/Brentwood area. I hope that the development of the old Safeway shopping center follows according to the RI great streets plan to extend roads through it and create a more ped friendly area with more street- front retail.

  • For Adams Morgan, without a doubt, the five star Washington Edition Hotel

    -by Ian Schraeger and Marriott International with their new international brand “Edition” of high end boutique Edition Hotels.

    In Adams Morgan, it will rise nine stories at Euclid and Champlain Streets, NW spread over three parcels along Champlain with underground parking, swimming pool, 170 rooms, and six restaurants within the hotel complex.

    Hotel Developer Brian Friedman of Friedman Capital says the Washington Edition Hotel project is “shovel ready,” and is 80% there:

    Also, the forthcoming publicly funded 18th Street Streetscape from Florida Avenue all the way to Columbia Road will have:

    tinted exposed aggregate 16 foot sidewalks on each side of 18th Street,
    22 foot bulbouts at each intersection, new lampposts and a host of other street improvements, will all make that 18th Street corridor much more pedestrian friendly, making visitors feel like having arrived somewhere special in our nation’s capital.

    These two big changes over the next couple of years, will dramatically alter the neighborhood for the long term, raise both the quality of life and property values, and be the catalysts to garner incrementally more private investment in the years to come bringing more positive, upscale change to Adams Morgan one address at a time.

    Row houses in Adams Morgan are selling in a matter of a few short days for more than their list prices, and three high end condominiums apartments on Champlain Street have sold in the past year for $1 million plus in anticipation of all this.

    Despite the current recession, Adams Morgan’s future is quite bright and forthcoming as the 18th Street Streetscape starts this Fall.

    • As a property owner there, I feel Adams Morgan is already overpriced and overcrowded. Don’t see how this will help much except maybe to make sidewalks easier to navigate.

  • the mcmillan reservoir project is like 6 full blocks – orders of magnitude bigger than these other projects.

  • Walter Reed redevelopment is hardly on people’s radars as a real thing. But once it gets completed the north end of the city will be a lot different. There will be a lot more traffic up there and I’d bet it will attract a lot of people to what has been a pretty sleepy part of town.

    Downtown redevelops frequently. Residential “North Country” doesn’t. Walter Reed redevelopment will be big.

  • O St. Market for sure. A redveloped O St. would extend the Convention Center north into Shaw. But more importantly, a new O St. Market (+ new Giant + entirely redeveloped block) would spur on the redevelopment of the 7th and 9th St. commercial corridors.

  • One project that was left out (although perhaps slightly smaller in scale) is the park that has almost been finished where the old Bruce-Monroe building was situated on Georgia between Irving and Columbia. The park is beautiful and looks very kid friendly with jungle-gyms, two basketball courts, a tennis court, grass, walking paths, benches, etc. Hopefully will help the rat problem that worsened during the demolition of the school.

    Meeting on August 7th to discuss (among other things) the future of that land plot.

    PS. Hopefully they continuously water the grass which needs it desperately.

  • Art Place at Fort Totten – Cafritz Foundation – which includes a grocery store, restaurants, shopping, plus Shakespeare Theater stage and other cultural amenities and close to 1000 apartments

    And Fort Totten Square – the development at Riggs and South Dakota Ave – another grocery store, shopping, etc. all that in an area that doesn’t have a single restaurant in walking distance…

    • I was just about to point that one out!

    • Is that still going to happen at any point? Would be awesome since right now we drive to the Harris Teeter off 16th street for decent groceries…

      • Well, Cafritz doesn’t seem to have a website up, but they have done quite a bit of drilling around the current properties – the strip along SD Ave is considered a wetland and the drillings may have something to do with that. One of the current buildings has a fence all around now, so hopefully they will start tearing something down soon…
        The Giant on RI has actually been remodeled – so it’s better than what it used to be…

        • RE: Giant.
          barely better. it still sucks there.

          i’m also a bit concerned by the streetscaping of brentwood avenue. have you noticed that? adjacent to one of our ever decreasing industrial areas ( and good labor jobs)

          why the hell is that being streetscaped but Rhode Island isn’t?

  • I don’t think the Howard Theater is going to have the landslide impact that some of the others will, but I do think it will have a slightly bigger impact that what most people here are giving it credit for. That area has gorgeous homes, but a lot of the businesses look pretty grimey. I think that having the Howard Theater there might attract at least one or two non-Ethiopian restaurants (not that there is anythign wrong with them) to the area. Also, if they did some landscaping at that intersection there with Florida, it could be incredibly charming (some will say it already is I suppose, but it surely could use some improvements).

    • are you kidding? it’s going to take a lot more than some landscaping to clean up that area around howard theatre. just yesterday afternoon at 3:30 pm i was in that area and the number of men just “hanging out” was insane – these guys were on EVERY street on 7th corner from S to Florida and on many of the sidestreets as well, some of whom were openly doing drugs.

      • I agree – it will take more than landscaping, but if the area began to look nice and there was an actual functioning theater. A functioning theater combined with a space that looked a little more spruced up would (hopefully) lead to more foot traffic of people who don’t necessarily live in the immediate surrounding areas. More foottraffic + more businesses leads to less people doing drugs openly on the streets. Not that this is a surefire way to accomplish that, but if everything worked out perfectly, however unlikely that is, the Howard Theater could provide a good start in the right direction for the area.

        • How is the theatre going to “function” when the Lincoln theater is dark 95% of the year? what exactly is going to be different?

  • the scale of a project isn’t really related to the impact it will have on the neighborhood.
    the City Center project will have very little impact on its neighborhood.
    neither will the convention center hotel.

    o street market is a great project but wont infectiously change its surroundings.

    howard theater’s renovation will only impact one block around it, but that area is being swept up by gentrification regardless.

    mcmillan is a hugely impactful site. and its development will affect things from edgewood terrace to georgia avenue. it will affect traffic at the washington hospital center all the way down to florida avenue. it will require new transit options.

    the same with old soldiers home.absolutely huge game changer for that section of the city. huge project snack in the middle of what is now nowhere

    downtown anacostia project is nearly on par with the ambition of NoMa. you wont recognize the place anymore and a new name might en be justified.

    fort totten is a quietly changing beast. its a small and often missed segment of the city, but it will continue to be so. if they can pull off a shakespeare theater stage or an an attraction of that caliber it will really affect the neighborhood. it will mostly not be felt beyond the orders of the development though.

  • If we’re talking feasibility with impact on community, I say O Street Market followed closely by 14th & W. O Street I think makes a huge impact on pulling business up 7th and 9th Sts.

    14th and W Project will begin to link Columbia Heights and the U Street Area… something that got stalled in the last 3 years.

    City Center Convention Center – eh – it’ll create hotel space, but as someone who lived at 5th and M St. when the convention center was just opening, I consider that area pretty much on the up and up already.

  • i think an overhaul of the howard theater would really have an impact. why is it a joke? i could agree with it being a joke in the sense that it is unlikely to happen, but not that if it were to happen there would be no impact.

    • because its a small venue that will not draw that many people, and the people it does bring will only be there during a short amount of time.
      this area will change, and it will evolve in a more organic and better way than big gigantic development will bring.

      that old record store building is currently being renovated. someday the hostess building. that great building oat 4th and florida is now fixed up. small spaces along florida will get renovated. its stuff like that which will make the shaw/ ledroit border a really nice place. the howard theater is small potatoes.

      • The history that the Howard Theater has is rich. I can easily see it the way the Lincoln was redone. I think that a live performance venue would bring alot of people to the area. They will be looking for a place to eat before/after shows. That would bring added revenue to other area business as well.

    • My understanding is that the Howard theater is also planned to be a Jazz supper club. Other than a few matrons from PG County, who exactly will go there? Supper clubs are not really very contemporary entertainment concepts.

  • How about Dupont Underground? Too uncertain?

    • What impact could the Dupont Underground have, if it were to happen? That area already has so much I doubt it would make Dupont any more of a destination. If anything, I think people doube whether the underground would be successful if it were opened.

    • Buuaaaaa, ha ha ha!

  • I live about 4 blocks from Howard Theatre, I for one can’t wait for it’s redevelopment. Wasn’t there also a hotel planned for the spot across the street from it? What ever happened to that?

  • I think, among those listed, the O Street market, though I am assuming it will be like Eastern Market (I never actually went there before the roof collapsed). If it did turn into an Eastern Market-type market (extensive produce, flea market, craft sellers), I would think it could benefit the surrounding area as well. Is that what is planned?

    • the thing that makes eastern market such a great place is what it has done with its outdoor space. the o street market has no such plan. it will be more like Lexington Market in Baltimore ( which is great, btw way! everyone should go get crabcakes and fresh peanuts there!) but doesnt really affect its neighborhood.

      • Thanks for the Lexington Market tip – I’m heading up that way so I’ll check it out – is it open Sundays?

        Based on what you say, I’d think the 14th & W project might be more of an impact. McMillan sounds big, but isn’t very metro-accessible and it doesn’t sound like it’s happening anytime soon.

        • not open on sundays. but DEFINITELY check it out sometime. its like a clean and large version of the capitol city market.

          i think especially because McMillan isnt metro accessible is why it will have a huge impact on the neighborhood.
          and it will require restructuring of transit. another HUGE impact.
          there is water run off issues, wildlife displacement issues. all big deals.

          there is tons going on near 14th and w so its impact will be less. not that it won’t be cool.

          still “impact” is pretty subjective.

        • Faidley’s at the Lexington Mkt in baltimore is recognized by many culinary authorities as the best crabcake in the world. I try to make it there as often as possible. Some magazine (Food & Wine??) declared Faidleys to be the best seafood eating experience (at any price point) on the entire east coast.

  • There already is a functioning theater a few blocks away–The Lincoln Theater and it already is a money loser.

    • i read a report that based on their income, the lincoln would have to have an event scheduled over 400 times a year.

      we need economically sustainable models for development. all these subsidies are getting quite old.

      yeah, i mean housing too.

  • The Howard looks exactly the same as when “Mars Attacks” filmed a scene there.

  • It’s still extremely tentative, but I think the proposed Wal-Mart on NY Ave. NE would have the biggest impact on the surrounding communities.

  • Walter Reed promises to be a big change to Takoma, DC. The hospital really did very little for the community, besides welcoming cheap, dirty motels for family members and outpatient care. The grounds really are beautiful, and until 9/11 were open for members of the community to walk and bike through. It will be nice to have the campus open to the public again, and maybe the changes will spur the stagnated projects along Georgia Ave. It would be nice to see something other than a Safeway, Payless, McDonalds, Motel8 and an abandoned Blockbuster.

  • I think the assumption that the McMillian Reservoir project would begin any time in the next decade is probably a flawed one.

  • this is one of the biggest planned projects in DC

    it may be a pipedream, but if it happens, GINORMOUS impact.

    • Agreed re Burnham Place.

      Also East of North Capitol… Reservation 13 in Hill East (the raze permit for the DC General Pediatrics Building is up now, so this is moving forward, albeit at a snails pace), the St. Elizabeth’s redevelopment in Barry Farm.

      I’d also add H Street/Benning Road and Anacostia Streetcars. Probably not exactly what you were thinking of, but is a huge construction project that is going to have a major impact.

      • good lord, have to agree Burnham Place would be huge. I didn’t even know it would be logistically be feasible to build a new development on top of the rail yard! I hadn’t heard of this despite working right near Union Station, so I agree this would have a major impact.

        I think all the NoMa developments have a major impact because it is creating a whole neighborhood of offices and residential properties in an area that was mainly parking lots or underused/abandoned industrial sites. This will also be a major driver of increased development in the NY Ave/Galludet/Trinidad area making this a much more attractive place for homebuyers to invest in (it’s definitely already seen as a good place to invest now, but this will likely increase).

  • The Walmart? Other than traffic and a giant parking lot, that area is a terrible idea for a Walmart. Now, if Walmart decided to think outside the (big)box and build something that would fit or enhance an urban environment, I might agree. If they go their typical route and make it a generic big box store, it’s a bad idea and it goes away from what this city/region is trying to overcome, which is traffic, congestion and car-centric. The NY Ave corridor needs smart growth.

    • I didn’t realize this was about the biggest positive impact, as I was reading the header when I thought of Wal-Mart and not the article. You can’t deny that it would have an impact.

  • What about the Renaissance project on the corner of 7th and S above the metro? There is supposed to be a bunch of retail going in there as well, besides the UNCF …

    • i think that in shaw, some demolition will have more and better impact than any construction project could. the problem with shaw is not what it is lacking, but what its harboring.

  • My vote would be for the old convention center site. This project will bring approximately 475 condo and apartment units plus lots of retail space to the downtown/Penn Quarter area. My second vote would be for the convention center hotel plus the two other Marriott branded hotels on the opposite corner of L & 9th. These will probably lead to many new restaurants and bars along the vacant blocks of 9th Street. The trickling effect of both of these projects could lead to the end of the blighted properties for much of Mt. Vernon Sq and Shaw.

  • No one has mentioned Howard Town Center yet — according to this article they are supposed to finally (?!?) break ground this fall. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

    • I agree that this will be huge when it finally gets off the ground. They don’t even need a finished project – once it breaks ground I think it will have a huge impact on that stretch of Georgia Ave and down on Florida Ave as well. It’s going to happen, it just might not be this fall as they promised. We can hope though.

  • Feh. I stopped holding my breath for O St and Howard a while ago. The project that will have the greatest impact is the one that gets finished and manages to go beyond the limbo called planning. Limbo, just outside the gates of the hell of no plan and no development or investment, also no where near the heaven of completion, opening and function. Whatever is getting opened and going over in NoMa is having a greater impact in Truxton Circle than the Howard or O St or the Convention Center Hotel. The Shaw Library will have a great impact in August. You know why? because it is opening. The O St Market and the Howard were still in planning when the old library was up and going.

  • The Walter Reed site, if done right, will have a huge positive impact on Brightwood/Takoma/Shepherd Park, as well as on the rest of the city.

  • No question: O St. Market. The rest will help, but O St market will completely transfer an entire neighborhood and remove some of the biggest eyesoars around. Will substantially increase property values, likely lower crime, and speed along gentrification (whether or not you believe that is a good thing).

  • Streetcars. If those ever get put in, it would be the catalyst for every other stalled project listed here.

  • I do not really see how NOMA is having an impact on Truxton Circle. With North Capitol St being so ugly and all the public housing / riff raff just hanging around I do not see why anyone would want to live on that side. Not that the H St / Capitol Hill North side is perfect it is more accessible, cleaner, and relatively closer to the major buildings in NOMA.

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