Liz Fisher of the Washington Examiner reports that the DC Zoning Commission has rejected the latest plans for the I-395 Development PUD. The commission took issue with the project’s retail plan and massive building sizes, saying the 2-million-square-foot development seemed “more like a fortress for workers and residents than a destination”.
From Fisher’s article the Zoning Commission appeared to focus on building massings and retail placement to determine whether the development will be an active destination. Personally I would push on another lever to elevate the project’s potential appeal that has been mostly ignored. Park 1089 above I-395 at 2nd, Mass and H is currently a depressing wasteland. Residents that attended public meetings discussing the I-395 development in 2008 and 2009 were assured by Dreyfus and the ANC that upgrading the park would be part of the PUD amenities. But in the package negotiated in early November 2010 the park was a complete afterthought with a simple $50K donation to Casey Trees included. Neither Dreyfus nor the ANC PZ&E committee had walked the site in two years and thereby failed to realize the park already had a major tree planting in Spring 2009. Several community stakeholders pushed in November and December for the two parties to repurpose this amenity into an item the park truly needed but neither side cared enough to budge. The sentiment was “talk to us again during the Phase 2 PUD.”
Perhaps now that the I-395 Phase 1 PUD has been rejected at two consecutive Zoning Commission meetings with feedback urging the Dreyfus to make the development a destination they should embrace the park as part of the solution and not an afterthought. The park is the front yard to the I-395 PUD Phase 1 development and could dramatically contribute to the sense of place for the area if overhauled. It also may be more cost effective to their bottom line than radically changing the concepts for the buildings.