UPDATED [4/28/10 4PM]: See bottom of post for reply from Guy Steuart.
Steuart Investment will be attending the May MVSNA meeting to discuss their plans for their properties within the Mount Vernon Triangle. It seemed appropriate to consolidate past coverage on the Steuart properties to ignite more discussion before that meeting. The map below shows the Steuart parcels on Square 483 and Square N-515.
The Steuart properties are zoned DD-C3C and DD-C2C. Both codes allow for max height 130 foot tall buildings. As with all major new construction in Mount Vernon Triangle a minimum 50% threshold for residential is required. Each lot carries a mandate for substantial residential component. Steuart requested that the residential requirement be consolidated under the premise of combined lot development (ed note: see blog response from Steuart below for the exact residential requirements) as permitted by the DD overlay. Rather than have a 50/50 mix of commercial and residential on each property they would like to put all the residential on Square N-515 and all the commercial on Square 483. The request was initially denied by the Zoning board so Steuart has appealed and asked ANC6C for support.
Should the zoning appeal prove successful Steuart may be ready to move to the conceptual planning stage for 400+ unit residential project on Square N-515. My sources have suggested to me that we shouldn’t expect any near term movement on Square 483 regardless.
In last week’s open thread Sí suggested we should let Steuart know what our views are on retail for these projects. My personal view is that Steuart should be expected at a minimum to honor the Mount Vernon Triangle Master Plan which calls for K Street and 5th Street to be our retail corridors. The master plan requires ground floor ceiling heights >= 14ft for new construction on these two corridors. On Square 483 I’d like to see Steuart exceed that minimum for the K Street frontage and match the 22ft ground floor ceiling heights of City Vista’s restaurant bays. It would then be appropriate to step the ceiling heights back down to 14ft along 5th Street frontage as City Vista did with the bays filled by the Sales Center, Chevy Chase and T-Mobile. Maxing out the potential of the K Street retail with higher ceilings rather than adhering strictly to the minimums will contribute a greater sense of place at 5th & K. In total this site should be expected to contribute 20,000-to-30,000 SF of retail. Loading and parking egress for the building would be placed along the 6th Street facing.
Square N-515 does not appear to me suitable for much ground floor retail. It’s positioned next to the mouth of the I-395, along busy New York Ave and behind Museum Square. A few live-work lofts or possibly one small 2000 SF retail bay at the corner of 4th & L would be the max I’d expect for retail. More retail than that I would expect would sit empty. It would be better to focus the retail on 5th and K Streets as specified in the MVT Master Plan than force the issue on this parcel.
A reply from Guy Steuart:
Regarding your post today, here are a few corrections that need to be circulated so that the discussions at the MVSNA meeting may be on point. Square 483 is zoned DD/3C3. Square N515 is zoned DD/C2C. Housing is mandated on each property, though not at the percentage cited in the blog posting. Within the Downtown Development Districts, the city’s zoning code mandates the amount of housing using Floor Area Ratios (FAR). Properties zoned DD/C3C are required to provide for a minimum residential FAR of 3.5 and are permitted to have a commercial FAR of 6.0, though that may be increased through the use of Bonus Density by 0.5 FAR. So in percentage terms for a DD/C3C property, roughly 35-37% of the site’s density could be residential, though the City doesn’t use percentages as the metric for this mandated zoning requirement.
Properties zoned DD/C2C are required to provide for a 4.5 FAR residential use and may have a 3.5 FAR commercial use (which may be augmented by use of a Bonus Density by 0.5 FAR). The put this in percentage terms means the site (N515) must provide housing for roughly 53 to 56% of its density. Again, bear in mind this is not the metric architects, developers, zoning lawyers and City planners use to assess mandated housing requirements. Those are always expressed as FAR.
Both sites may be 130 feet tall and could be developed fully as residential without having to adhere to the FAR limits of the underlying zoning property.
Under the requirements of the Mount Vernon Overlay, Square 483 is required that 50% of its ground floor area be retail and the Zoning Code further establishes design guidelines for storefront window glass ratios, ceiling heights and uses. As cited correctly in the blog, this would yield approximately 30,000 sq feet of retail. It is our intent to fully comply with this requirement and accordingly believe the logical orientation would be along 5th Street and K. Square N515 has no mandated retail requirements.
Within the Zoning Code, properties within the DD may be combined so that mandated residential use of two or more properties could be aggregated into one property and permitted commercial density could be aggregated, similarly.