Future of the K Street Streetscape

On two occasions I’ve recapped the planned upgrades to Fourth Street according to the Final Report for the Mount Vernon Triangle Transportation and Public Realm Design Project. The aim of this posting is to outline the plans for K Street between 7th Street NW and New Jersey Ave NW.

Running east-west through the center of the Triangle, K Street is the neighborhood’s major commercial and activity corridor. Verdant in character, K Street also functions as shared urban green space connecting the northern and southern halves of the Triangle. The generous proportions of the street allow for large public gatherings and events, while the development of ground-floor commerce reinforces the street’s function as a neighborhood economic artery. The variability of architectural form and function along the street is addressed by a consistent, unifying streetscape that is still flexible enough to respond to unique conditions.

The spatial configuration, material palette, and programming of the K Street landscape accommodate both commerce and daily neighborhood life. Along most of its length, the wide building setback is divided into three zones: a “promenade” sidewalk zone adjacent to the street, a wider “meander” sidewalk zone adjacent to the buildings, and a substantial “median” in between with canopy trees and lush understory planting. Distinct paving differentiates the two pedestrian zones, while a palette of contemporary streetlights, benches, and trash receptacles unifies the entire street and distinguishes it from most other streets within the Triangle.

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I added a Twitter feed to the far right hand margin of the blog over the weekend. Most of my twitter postings will be to share facts that aren’t worth a full blog post (such as today’s re: museum square) or hint at posts to come. Occasionally my personal responses to other bloggers twitters will find their way into this stream.

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Perfect Score

Last summer Front Seat upgraded their Walk Score product by issuing rankings and heat maps for major cities across the United States. These new features were covered heavily in the D.C. blog-o-sphere and there wasn’t much for me to add to the story. Besides, at the time only Fifth Street Hardware was open and contributing from City Vista to our neighborhood’s Walk Score.

Fast forward to today with Busboys, Safeway, Results and Chevy Chase Bank open and the corner of 5th and K (inputted as 1025 5th St NW) now has a perfect Walk Score of 100.

Walk Score for 5th & K

Walk Score is still a little wonky. Inputting 475 K Street, only a few hundred feet from the corner, gets a noticeably different score. The tool also does not recognize Safeway as being within close range of Madrigal Lofts.

Transit time from 5th & K

Front Seat continues to evolve its products. The newest addition, in beta release, is a Transit Time heat map that combines metrorail data with the company’s Walk Score technology. WMATA only made their data feed publicly available last Monday so Metrobus data is not yet integrated but should be in the plans.

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Fourth Street upgrades to begin in June

Word is that upgrades to Fourth Street could begin as soon as June. The plans for the overhaul to Fourth Street are outlined in the Final Report for the Mount Vernon Triangle Transportation and Public Realm Design Project.

click to enlarge; image from 2005 DDOT Studies

In the study, Fourth Street improvements include:

  • Restore two-way traffic from L Street to Mass Ave
  • New traffic light at Fourth and Eye
  • Removal of a traffic island on the NW corner of Fourth and Mass
  • Reconfiguration of the Fourth, Mass and H Street intersection
  • Redesign slip intersection of Third and H Streets

To accommodate these changes Fourth Street will be widened to support two way traffic and curb parking on both sides of the street. The widening on the west shoulder of 800 block will push back from the DuMont’s temporary yellow curb to the true sidewalk. On the east side of the 800 block DDOT will reclaim a few feet of the Madrigal Lofts sidewalk. This has always been the plan and is why the trees were planted off center in the tree boxes to be closer to the condo building than the street.

I am less clear about widening plans for the 900 and 1000 blocks of Fourth Street. Several mature trees on these two blocks, of heights 40 feet and higher, are planted immediately next to the road and would be casualties in any widening. From a continuity perspective I expected these blocks would be widened but I cannot absolutely tell from the renderings. If parking was restricted to just one side on these two segments I suppose they would not need to be widened. But in the long run the infrastructure of the wider street segments will be in the neighborhoods best interest moreso than the downgrade from a mature tree to a younger one planted in reconfigured tree boxes.

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CEO of NDC name drops City Vista

Earlier this week DCMud published an interview with Neighborhood Development Corporation (NDC) founder and CEO Adrian G. Washington. NDC was a member of the development team for City Vista and Washington mentioned the project several times as an example of his company’s success.


DCMUD: At this point, it’s safe to say that CityVista has been a success, while other projects in the immediate area have stumbled. What would you chalk that up to?

AGW: It’s funny because we just had a case study that ULI did and they put together all the people –developers, contractors, lawyers and architects. One of the things that we talked about was doing a true mixed-use project – some condos, some apartments and retail. It’s really hard from a construction standpoint, from a legal standpoint, from an architectural standpoint, but if you get right and you get the right mix…synergy is a corny term, but it really applies to this.

We got this great Safeway, we got Busboys and Poets and we have a real mix of retailers at the base, all of which people really want. These kind of lifestyle-type things help it be a place where people really want to be. NoMa is still kind of an emerging neighborhood and people want to feel like they have a sense of community – a place where they can live, they go downstairs to shop, they can go out to eat, they can go to go the gym. And not just a little in-house gym, but a really cool gym like Results.

It’s a really cool place and what we’ve seen is different parts of DC, but we have people from Prince George’s County and Virginia. It’s just been a nice sort of synergy and I think the rental component energizes the condo component that it’s drawn people from all over. You think it would be people who live in and the condo component energizes the retail component and vice versa. And I think it’s priced right. It’s not entry-level pricing, but it’s not super-luxury pricing either and a lot of people can afford it. We knew we were going to sell like that.

NoMA? If you are the CEO of a company that worked on the City Vista project you should know the difference between the Mount Vernon Triangle and NoMA.

Continue reading at DCMUD.

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Tree Planting Photos

Great turnout at today’s Casey Trees planting event for the park at 2nd and Mass. Roughly 68 volunteers participated including a brief visit from Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells.

Volunteers came from many sources including large groups from Price Waterhouse Coopers, Congress for the New Urbanism, the MVT CID Clean Team, AIPAC, DPR, Tommy Wells staff, and neighboring residential buildings. With direction from Casey Trees staff and Citizen Foresters the volunteers planted 34 trees and removed several Forsythia bushes.

I teamed up with a Citizen Forester from Burtonsville and Sarah Moulton, the community planner from DPR who designed the park’s new concept, to plant two Ginkgos along Mass Ave. We had a couple of good chuckles about the new soon to debut Amy Poehler NBC sitcom called Parks and Recreation as we found a bone in the dirt.

Water for the trees was run from a fire hydrant on 2nd Street to fill the 25 gallon ooze tubes. The water source at the park should be functional within the next month. The next upgrade for the park, after the water supply, should occur in the fall with benches, trash cans and lighting will be transplanted from the Art walk to this park. The availability of these materials is dependent on the redevelopment of the Old Convention Center site moving forward.

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