The plans for the development of The Arts at 5th and I, according to Michael Neibauer of the Washington Business Journal, have been downsized from the originally selected concept that included a boutique hotel, jazz club, coffeehouse and residential apartments. In late 2009/early 2010 there was optimism that Donohoe & Holland would acquire adjacent properties all the way from the corner of I Street up to K Street to expand the project.
While the development group and the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) wanted to see those ambitious plans realized after 2.5 years they appear ready to downsize and focus on a simplified product. According to the WBJ article the project would only acquire a vacant lot next to city land and not any of the structures along Fifth Street. Two hotels would be built that would employ approximately 215 people. Flagships for the hotels are not yet identified but it is likely that Me by Melia is out of the picture.
By simplifying plans the project can hopefully move faster and take dramatic steps to cure the blight that still persists along 5th Street.
Quotes from Jad Donohoe:
“One of the things we really heard from neighbors there, this one block of Fifth Street doesn’t feel like a safe place to be,” Donohoe said. “The District made a significant investment in getting CityVista done, and yet it didn’t feel like it connected well with Chinatown to the south.”
The challenge, he said, is creating “a new entry to the Mount Vernon Triangle area.” The retail plans are still unclear; Donohoe said he wants to get more feedback from neighbors “about to how incorporate ground-floor retail that serves their needs. We think two brand new hotels would be a big step in getting things done,” he said.
Reactions? It seems development, especially residential and retail, has been going bonkers around the city the last few months. So I’m a bit surprised this project needs to be scaled down to this degree. But if the retail component can remain ambitious and everything can unfold more quickly it’s still a net positive.