Center Place: I-395 Air Rights

The Louis Dreyfus Property group presented an overview of their proposed 2.5 million square foot mixed use development over I-395 at Tuesday night’s MVSNA meeting. I had seen much of the overview before at an ANC6C meeting two years ago. Now with this latest round of public engagement many of the renderings previously only displayed as posterboards on easels are now available on the LDP website.

Rendering for proposed I-395 Air Rights office buildings along Mass Ave

Site Plan for I-395 Air Rights

Some high level details on the project:

  • Development will require decking over I-395 between Mass Ave and E Street (3 blocks). The deck will cost over $200 million.
  • Development will include 4 office buildings and 1 residential (max height).
  • Development will include ~75,000 SF of retail at varying ceiling heights.
  • Has goals to be LEED Platinum under the U.S. Green Building guidelines.
  • G Street will be connected across the highway as a pedestrian only street.
  • F Street will be connected as a fully functional street.
  • The Jewish Historical Society and Holy Rosary Church Rectory buildings will need to be moved as they are currently blocking the G Street and F Street ROWs respectively. An OCTO facility at 222 Mass Ave NW will also need to be relocated.
  • The I-395 ramps on/off ramps will be reconfigured.
  • Parking and deliveries will be underground in the land between 3rd Street and the highway. In total the project is building the minimum amount of parking permitted by the zoning (1100 spaces).
  • Deck construction figures to have a great deal of night work (10pm-5am) to minimize impact on rush hour traffic.

The project has several hurdles to pass before it can start including a NEPA environmental study. This pushes out the start of construction until 2012. The negotiated arrangement with the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) states that the decking must be completed within 60 months of the start of construction.

Under DC Zoning Law the project has been designated a PUD which will be approved in 3 stages. I’ll go into more detail on the PUD later in the week.

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  1. 1


    With the disclaimer that it’s easy to criticize a) when you don’t attend a meeting to learn the full details and ask questions; and b) when you’re not an architect with knowledge of parameters for the project:

    Aesthetically this doesn’t do anything for me, and is reminiscent of the the regrettable TechWorld architecture south of Mount Vernon Square. I do not hate the all glass trend in DC architecture of late, but this seems to creates a boring and uninviting place. I also hate sky bridges.

    Also, while being a pro-pedestrian-architecture kind of guy, why the pedestrian only streets. It seems like it could be dead space with just pedestrians, as opposed to car-and-pedestrian streets with traffic calming measures to prevent cut through or speedway-esque traffic.

    All that said, I’m excited to see movement on this project. It’ll be great to reconnect the city over 395.

  2. 2

    FourthandEye says

    I believe the main reason G Street will remain pedestrian is that Georgetown Law owns the right of way between 1st and 2nd Streets. I don’t think they want to tear up the greenspace they have on that land to lay 50ft wide of asphalt.

  3. 3

    Shipsa01 says

    Can anyone give me a perspective on 75,000 square feet of retail? Is that like the K Street side of the City V or is it more like the entire retail space of the City V or is it something smaller like the Buddha Bar space?

    Is the residential going to be rentals or to buy – or has that been decided even? And does it make sense to have it tucked away from Mass so far when other rental buildings are over there?

    We have a lot of issues with noice on current construction projects just in the early morning hours. Will this be an issue (or is it far enough away)?

    And not to be a downer, but did they talk about any safety issues with traffic going below these buildings?

  4. 4

    FourthandEye says

    @Shipsa01 – 75000 Sqft of retail would be all of the retail at City Vista except Safeway. That includes the Gym and Ace Hardware spaces on the second floor. But in this new development it would be spread over 3 or more buildings – not just one like City Vista. We are definitely many years away from being able to get credible rumors about retail tenants. But conceptually I could imagine potentially the space being divided into a configuration like a Crate & Barrel (25K SF), two large restaurants (maybe 25K SF between the two), and then a collection of smaller shops rounding out the last 25K SF.

    I would think the residential will be apartments. It will have a 30% affordable housing component.

  5. 5

    RobA says

    A couple of corrections and some information points.

    1) The images shown from the website are not the most current ones nor were they the ones presented as part of the PUD request. The northern block is actually three separate buildings now without the skybridges (ala TechWorld)

    2) F Street will be re-opened as a through street to vehicular and pedestrian traffic, with a width of 100 feet to match the existing right-of-way to the east and west. The streetscape design of F Street includes tree-lined sidewalks of precast concrete pavers with continuous pedestrian zones, a variety of plantings, bicycle stations, retail on each edge and streetlights. Traffic- calming street designs will promote pedestrian activities and allow for periodic closing of the street to vehicular traffic on weekends.

    3) G Street will be re-opened to pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and will be designed as a landscaped area having a width of 90 feet. G Street will be lined on each side with retail, and will include paved walkways surrounding raised planted areas of shade trees and groundcover. G Street will become an active, mixed-use pedestrian thoroughfare flanked by retail, commercial office and residential uses.

    4) The core retail area will be in the northern block and the G Street corridor. Dreyfus was very accomodating with the ANC PZE Committee on implementing our suggestions on retail bay heights.

    5) Residential buildings are in the middle block and are surrounded by the retail/public areas. It doesn’t make sense to put the residential in the northern block and not pull life into the middle of the project – which will be pulling people in from all sides of the project.

    Dreyfus has had no problems with meeting with the public and has been before the ANC (6C) PZE and Full Commission many times and is very willing to work with the community – I wish more developers were as open and accomodating as Dreyfus has been on this project. they will be back to us for many other presentations and approvals – plenty of opportunity for additional questions and changes.

    Rob Amos
    ANC 6C Planning, Zoning, and Environment (PZE) Chair