Jonathan O’Connell of the Washington Post’s Capital Business column reports that the District has dropped Donohoe Development as the developer of the 5th & Eye RFP site. Donohoe initially promised a 475,000-square-foot project made up of a 261-room Spanish luxury hotel by Meliá Hotels International and a 160-unit apartment building, with housing for artists, and retail space. A spokesperson from Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development’s office said the project will be re-bid later this year.
The public presentations of the original RFPs for 5th & Eye occurred on May 1, 2008. My recap of that meeting was one of my earliest postings after joining the blog. At the time the Donohoe proposal was the most inspired and earned the endorsements of local community organizations and ANC6C. That ultimately led to Donohoe being awarded the RFP in September 2008.
The economic slowdown/housing crisis understandably grinded progress to a halt in 2009 and 2010. However I do feel the total absence in progress by Donohoe in 2011 and 2012 was a damning indicator. Nor did they give us any reason to be optimistic for 2013. Residential buildings on other sites have been flying up the last two years in the Triangle and around the city. Yet all this site got was a parking lot and some lip service about potentially breaking ground in 2014 (six years after the RFP award). So I do agree its time to move on even if that potentially pushes things back a year as we have absolutely no reason to be confident in Donohoe. The Mount Vernon Triangle deserves better.
Three years ago the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Planning & Economic Development (DMPED) awarded the RFP for 5th & I to Donohoe/Holland. The winning bid from Donohoe/Holland included an international boutique hotel, art gallery, jazz club, cafe, bike shop and a residential component. Also of note was the expressed intent from the team to pursue assemblage along 5th Street to expand the project north to K Street.
Rendering of 2008 proposal for the Arts at 5th and I
Timing of the award was less than ideal given the economic climate in late 2008 and throughout 2009. The project was in limbo. At points we heard news that Donohoe was interested in potentially beginning construction of the jazz club in advance of the rest of the project and/or breaking the entire project down into two phases.
Recently residential construction all around the district is ramping back up but this project has remained stalled. The developer visited the Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association (MVSNA) in June and suggested the project needs to be downsized to move forward. Financing such a complex project remains difficult but a reduction in scope could help them clear that hurdle. It sounded as though the scope of assemblage would be reduced and the project would perhaps focus strictly on hotel and retail and remove the residential component. But this discussion was light on specifics – we were promised more explanation when the discussion went to the ANC.
This Thursday Deputy Mayor Victor Hoskins will address ANC6C at their full commission meeting (agenda) on the status of the project.
ANC6C Full Commission Meeting
September 15, 2011, 7 pm
214 Massachusetts Avenue N.E.
Hoskins is a 2011 appointee of Mayor Vince Gray and may elect to blow this up and start with a new RFP. Or he may concede that the scope of the project should be reduced. It remains to be seen.
This month’s Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association (MVSNA) membership meeting will be held on Tuesday May 17th at 7:30pm in the community room of the Yale Loft condominiums (437 New York Ave NW). A main topic of the meeting will be a discussion about the proposed downsizing Donohoe Development for The Arts at 5th & I project.
The Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District (MVTCID) is seeking a new Market Manager for the Liberty Market at 5th & I. The current contract with Chef Kenac ends on June 30th. Follow the jump for the full description of the opportunity.
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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.
Rendering of 2008 proposal for the Arts at 5th and I
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.
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Reminder: The Liberty North Community Market opens at the parking lot at 5th and I Streets NW this weekend. It will be open both Saturday and Sunday from 10am-6pm. See last week’s press release for more details.
The Liberty North Market and the Bake Sale for Japan at Busboys are just a block away from each other – very convenient to visit both on Saturday.
The below is a press release update on the new Liberty North Community Market that will begin the first weekend of April in the parking lot at 5th & Eye.
(Washington, D.C.) – The Liberty North Community Market, a new public market at 5thand Eye Street, NW, will open on April 2nd and operate Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00-6:00 p.m. every weekend. The market is located on the site of the future Arts at 5th and Eye Hotel, to be developed by Donohoe Development.
“We are very excited to sponsor the Liberty North Community Market on our site,”said developer Jad Donohoe. “The market will activate this burgeoning neighborhood until we are ready to start construction of the hotel.”
The Liberty North Community Market will feature arts, crafts, produce, prepared foods, and home improvement goods. More than 80 local vendors have been identified to make this market a unique location for shopping and dining, including an award winning fashion designer, metal worker, Asian produce, and a hand-crafted chocolate maker.
“We are revolutionizing the way people think about public markets,” declared Chef Kenac, market manager. “We are clustering artists together so that there is more synergy between creative people. Artist will be paired under a gazebo to create an inviting, gallery-like atmosphere that protects their works from the elements.”
The Liberty North Community Market derives it name from the historic Northern Liberties Market that operated for 120 years in the neighborhood. Its first location was on Mount Vernon Square in 1846 and then it expanded to 5th and K Streets, NW in 1874 –where Safeway is today. The market burned in 1946 and finally closed in the 1960s. The area north of Massachusetts Avenue, NW was considered beyond the civilized part of town in the early 19th century – hence the moniker “Northern Liberties.”
Liberty North Community Market is produced by Chef Kenac Productions and is sponsored by ANC6C, Donohoe Development, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development’s office, and MVTCID. To learn more about the market or become a vendor, visit www.libertynorthcommunitymarket.com.
Beginning the weekend of April 2nd the new Liberty North Community Market will launch its spring season. The open air market will operate on Saturdays and Sundays at the parking lot at 5th & I Streets NW. An extensive fine arts and crafts section along with a variety of other vendors should make this a great outdoor market.
The market will be operated by Chef Kenac Productions – who was behind a daily daytime a market that ran for two weeks at City Center DC in September 2010. The Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District, Donohoe Development and ANC6C are the primary sponsors of the Liberty North Community Market.
The website for the market currently is focused on attracting vendors. Hopefully closer to the grand opening they will market the website more towards potential patrons.
Late last week we learned from DCmud that The Arts at 5th and I was very close to completing it’s land disposition and securing financing.
Hotel rendering from original Donohoe/Holland proposal
The Washington Business Journal also had a small update on the mixed-use hotel project. Most of the content is behind the subscriber wall but below are two excerpts.
“We expect to meet or beat the convention center hotel’s opening day” in 2014, Donohoe said. “Let the friendly competition begin.”
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DCmud reports that the developers of The Arts at 5th and I are close to securing financing and finalizing their land disposition with the District government. These milestones could be reached as soon as December.
Please visit our posting on the project from last December for more details on what is proposed for the site.
Hat Tip: Andrew S