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Hine Redevelopment Proposals by Nichole

by Prince Of Petworth June 25, 2009 at 11:00 am 23 Comments

Eastern Market weekend flea market, originally uploaded by odradek23.

With Eastern Market having its grand reopening this weekend, the next big thing for 7th and Pennsylvania SE is the redevelopment of the Hine Jr. High site. This is going to change the face of Eastern Market and Capitol Hill as we know it, and go a long way to the unification of Eastern Market and Barracks Row. DCPS closed Hine and the city will be leasing the property to the developer in a 99-year agreement.

The crop of proposals for the site was recently whittled to four, and the four developers have all been doing their best to inform and woo the neighbors.

I’m not an urban planning expert. I took one urban planning class in undergrad, and though I think I got a B, that was 15 years ago, and I don’t understand a lot of the terms that get thrown around in these discussions. (Particularly the really intense ones over at Greater Greater Washington – I love those guys, but I don’t know what the hell they’re talking about half the time!) So, with that caveat, here are my very brief overviews (with some help from GGW, EMCCA, the CityPaper, The Hill is Home, and CHAMPS) of the 4 plans.
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Hine Development Proposals:

DSF/StreetSense/Menkiti Group

Highlights:

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Kimpton Hotels is interested in opening an 80-room hotel/spa with Robert Wiedmaier doing the cooking. Weidmaier won the 2009 Rammy Chef of the Year and runs the kitchens at Marcel’s, Brasserie Beck, and Brabo at Kimpton’s new hotel/spa in Old Town, the Lorien. He was on hand whipping up snacks for the Street Sense wooing session at Hill’s Kitchen over the weekend. The restaurant will be more of a Brabo/Beck style, rather than a Marcel’s.
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Street Sense also has a letter of intent from Busboys and Poets’ Andy Shallal.
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Yes! Organic will move in from its current location further down on Pennsylvania Ave.
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The Tiger Woods Foundation, which had its own proposal in the running at one point, has expressed interest in being part of the development.
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235 units of housing, 20,000 square feet of open space and 40,000 square feet of retail.
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Fewer than 350 parking spaces (below ground); encourages car sharing etc.
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Below maximum allowable height in order to better fit in with the neighborhood.
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C St. SE is open. (C currently ends at 8th St. SE and picks back up at 7th St. SE, interrupted by the Hine parking lot.)
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Flea market (currently in the Hine parking lot) will move to 7th St. sidewalk, which will be widened to 35 feet.

This plan seems like it would fit the best, scale-wise, into the existing neighborhood. It’s also the most likely to turn the block into a destination. The Lorien/Brabo is really amazing (I had the chance to tour that property last month, and as usual, Kimpton did a fantastic job) and I’d be happy to have something like that in the neighborhood, even if it’s going to bring more traffic into the neighborhood, while simultaneously possibly not providing ample parking. This plan is also arguably the most green, surpassing all LEED standards. (I heard something about rainwater collection in addition to green roofs etc. which are pretty standard in all of these plans.)

National Leadership Campus/Western Development Group

These folks didn’t present an actual plan, so much as a concept. The gist is that it’ll be a mixed use campus for nonprofits who struggle with the city’s high rents and whose employees’ meager salaries don’t go far in the DC housing market. Apparently they’ve got about 80% of their financing secure, thanks in large part to Peter Lewis, Chairman of Progressive Insurance. The idea here being that the community will help build the design step by step through a series of brainstorming sessions.

Highlights:

  • Subsidized nonprofit office space and housing.

  • A 25,000 sq ft training/conference facility.

  • Nonspecific retail and restaurants.

  • 250-500 underground parking spaces.

  • A hotel.

  • Possibly reopening C St.

  • Low density.

  • Ambiguously “green” with lots of open space.

This one’s tough because it’s hard to know how it would shake out. I know how rough it can be to make it here on a nonprofit salary, so in theory, I think this is a cool idea. And, while I understand the premise behind high density development, I’m not sure that’s right for the neighborhood so the low-density, heavy on the green space aspects of this concept are appealing. I just don’t see the neighborhood going for something so vague.

Seven Penn Partners (Bozzuto et al)

The City Paper and GGW basically call this the Downtown Bethesda Plan. I prefer “the Trader Joe’s Plan.” There used to be a Safeway across from Eastern Market, and this plan wants to fill the gap left by that departure. This plan is definitely designed for the Capitol Hill community, and not really as a destination.

Highlights:

  • Trader Joe’s. (which will face Pennsylvania Ave.)

  • 56,000 sq. feet of nonspecific retail including St. Colleta’s which I think sells crafts of some sort.

  • 30,000 sq. feet of office space.

  • An apartment building. (It’s my understanding that because of the lease arrangement with the city, there can be no condos. All residential units will be rentals.)

  • 350 underground parking spaces. (1/3 would be for the building’s residents.)

  • C St. SE would be open, but closed off for the flea market and pedestrian traffic on the weekends.

Trader Joe’s! I realize that there’s a Yes! Organic Market right down the street, but it’s really not so great, so it’d be nice to have a Trader’s across from the Market, even with the Safeway and Harris Teeter only a few blocks away – the neighborhood can sustain all of these. As a Capitol Hill resident, I like that this plan is being put forth with our community in mind, but on the other hand, Eastern Market is a destination, so it seems that any development might want to be planned with that in mind.

Stanton-EastBanc Part I Part II

Stanton has the closest ties to the Hill and Eastern Market. Sort of a “by the Hill, for the Hill” idea. I refer to this one as “the Shakespeare Theatre” plan because I’m really, really simple.

Highlights:

  • A large space for the Shakespeare Theatre Company to consolidate its office space, rehearsal space and storage.

  • International Relief & Development would move into office space on 7th and Pennsylvania.

  • C St. is open, except on weekend when the flea market occupies that space.

  • A piazza on C St.

  • Highest density of the four proposals.

  • Interior courtyard (which is inaccessible from the outside.)

  • 390 underground parking spaces.

  • Will pursue a LEED platinum rating, green roof and gardens.

  • Residential units on 8th St. SE.

Stanton knows the Hill. That’s going to be hugely important in winning over the community’s support. On the other hand, this is a really high density development proposal, and like the Trader Joe’s proposal, I’m not sure about the scaling relative to the rest of the neighborhood. I do love the idea of having the Shakespeare Theatre folks there, and it’s been floated that there will be free performances on the piazza, which sounds super cool. The main complaint I’ve been hearing about this proposal is that it’s an inaccessible “donut” with no through-access between 7th and 8th or C and Penn. I don’t know how much that will matter in the end.

So, what do folks think? I’m curious to hear what people from around the city have to say about the future of the Hill commerce corridor. I read a comment on another blog (I can’t remember which now) that said something to the effect of Eastern Market not just belonging to the Hill, but to all of DC, and should be developed accordingly. I’m obviously biased and think the needs of the Hill need to come first, but what do you think? Related question: There’s been much debate over in this neck of the woods about 7th Street reopening to vehicular traffic on weekends (it’s currently closed, but will be reopening soon) with the 7th St. merchants and many Hill residents strongly in favor of reopening. What do you think? Do you drive to Eastern Market? Should 7th Street stay closed on the weekends? Does whether or not it’s open to motor vehicles have any impact on if or how you come to the Market?

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