Dear PoPville – Why didn’t they develop this side of the block into retail, office, or anything?

9th and P St, NW

“Dear PoPville,

This is part of the Giant/Cambria development.

My question to the community is, “what the hell??!”

Why didn’t they develop this side of the block into retail, office, or anything other than a blank wall? They created a dead block out of whole cloth…”

24 Comment

  • Isn’t that where part of the parking garage is? Maybe there’s some reason it couldn’t go underground.

  • There is going to be a phase two development that will be either condos or more apartments.

    • maxwell smart

      Yep – that wall looks like a temporary construction wall.

    • This is correct. There will be a phase 2 in the next couple of years opening in that space. For now, they are currently installing a park/garden area for residents to use in the space.

  • I’m kind of shocked it isn’t covered in poorly-executed graffiti yet.

    • Lame graffiti, I thought it was urban kids being idiots, but I met a prolific tagger in my neighborhood at 3am walking the dog and shooed him away. A total suburban poseur. Imagine my surprise.

  • Totally agree. It could have been a lovely block of commercial/retail. Instead, it’s a blank canvas for pee stains and graffiti.

    I hope there is a phase two.

  • As someone who has been following this development very closely, I can tell you that this is a temporary component that will soon be developed into the affordable housing for senior citizens that the project includes. The parking garage continues underneath this portion of the site. The northwest corner of this structure included the rental office and a model apartment while the rest of the site was in construction.
    That being said, Roadside did a HORRIBLE job with this building as it relates to the surrounding community. The plan, even when this section is developed, calls for minimal retail space on this block face, even though they did add a huge retail chunk on the O Street side of the building, which is 100% residential to the west of the project from 9th Street until it dead-ends at Vermont on the other side of Logan Circle and is also 100% residential to the east of the project for several blocks, excluding the rec center and some school / church uses, which are not exactly “commercial”.
    In the meantime, 9th Street and 7th Street, both commercial for blocks in both directions, were ignored. The 7th Street facade is 100% blank wall, with no access to the Giant on the other side, no public art, no windows, just a big f-you to the neighborhood. Even with Giant wanting to max out the space they have, that facade could have at least offered long, narrow spaces for SOMETHING. The 9th Street frontage isn’t expected to be much better. So far, big temporary blank wall, then parking garage entrance, then a big empty glass lobby to the hotel that literally just opens into a staircase to go to the second floor where the real lobby is. A complete waste of a prominent corner space for NOTHING. Not even front desk employees to keep eyes on the street or to welcome guests. Just glass, stairs, and a fugly chandelier.
    Even the reconstructed 8th Street is an epic failure. It is a driveway to the project and the other entrance to the garage, pure and simple. There is no street parking, it’s at a different grade and different material than conventional roads, and screams “private property”. Other projects, like City Center just down 9th Street, incorporated re-opening roads that feel like part of the street grid and part of the neighborhood. This one looks like they went out of their way to avoid that desirable outcome, and they succeeded.
    This project can and should serve as an example of what NOT to do with large scale construction, and why it is important to monitor these types of things. I think in our excitement to get a new Giant and to get rid of the problems with the old site, the neighborhood forgot to carefully examine this type of detail. And now, we’re stuck with it. We’ll be more vigilant if Roadside tries any more projects in Shaw, I assure you.

    • Thanks for the information.
      Sounds like they are trying to build a Super Max prison to keep the residents inside/the riff-raff out. Must be lovely.
      How’s the vacancy rate in the buildings? The asking rents were way too much for my budget and I make 6 figures (single guy, so not splitting the rent with a spouse).

      • I think they’re still working on the west building. Many of the units in the east building (above the Giant) are occupied.

    • +100, I agree completely. This project is much better than what it replaced. But, it still could have turned out much better. I’m worried that this is a trend that might continue with other 9th street locations. The new convention center is also a giant monolithic land scraper that doesn’t really interact well with the surrounding streets. The Douglas development “Gang of 3” project on 9th, also will not have retail on 9th and the most recent specs for the Bladen Ally residential development also appears to not have any retail. The lower Shaw potions of 9th street have so much potential, but if we are not careful we will quickly squander that opportunity with poor street level interaction (i.e. 95% percent of downtown).

    • The senior citizen housing is in the north east corner of the development. This parcel will be either market-rate condos or apartments.

    • You must not be following this development that closely. The affordable housing for senior citizens is on the 7th street corner, not 9th street and is already complete and open.

    • +1000 it annoys me to no end that as a east-sider resident, i have to over to that dumb plaza they built on 8th to get into the giant, where there are those lovely (but fake) doors on 7th. and at night, there is no street life on 7th for that entire stretch, where a few doors opening and closing on that side would have brought more foot traffic, making that area safer.

  • Still a travesty to not allow people to enter the Giant from 7th Street through the historic facade. And the excuses for the black brick facade on P St. have been wholly unconvincing. Such a drain on the life of the neighborhood. And as ShawGuy said, 8th Street has hardly been reconnected to the grid – there is now a private driveway in the 8th St. right-of-way.

  • Developers had tough requiremnts fot the site. Giant’s long term lease required a certain amount of amt of street level footage for the store and street level parking for customers. Most of the below grade garage is Giant’s delivery entrance and residents. After re-creating the street down the middle very little room was left for more retail

    • I wonder if they could have made the street east-west, instead of north south. I would rather have retail on 7th and 9th, instead of p and o.

  • “Shakes spray cans, grabs duffle bag…”

  • Everything that I’ve heard in community meetings indicates that the street-level facade on 9th street (pictured) is permanent. Phase 2 will build above it, but the street level will basically be lifeless other than cambria suites on the southern corner.

    Huge missed opportunity for redeveloping the 9th street corridor, and that block was already struggling to retain businesses. P Street is also devoid of street-level engagement except for the leasing office on the corner.

    It bugs me every time I go to DCRA and get nit-picky alterations (you should use a 6 panel door instead of a 4 panel door etc) to my designs, when they approved turning that block of a major commercial corridor into an alley.

  • If we are concerned with blank walls and dead spaces what about 9th St from P up to Q? Shiloh owns all the houses other than the two that are supposed to be Park Service and a museum for Woodson et al. Shiloh had to be embarrassed to receive condemnation notices for the houses since they were tearing them down by neglect. Shiloh finally sold two properties at Q and 8th Sts NW (nearby) and they have both become occupied by those that have money. I walk down 9th St NW often from French (just above Rhode Island) down to Mt Vernon Sq and beyond. The one block of 9th is a vast wasteland. Thank you Shiloh. Shiloh even had a big ceremony to ‘break ground’ on a new development. The only construction I have seen in the last few years on this development is a “For Lease” sign hanging on the side of the building.

    • Most of the Churches in this area that own significant propery seem just fine to leave them in blight condition. I will never understand why these churches don’t want to develop and make money off of their land. Furthermore, if they don’t want to develop it why don’t they sell these properties to someone who will develop them?

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