According to the Washington Business Journal, Douglas Development has purchased 736 and 740 Sixth Street NW in Chinatown and plans to redevelop. These buildings host office tenants and the Kanlaya, Burma and Urfa Tomato Kebab restaurants. The redevelopment would reskin the buildings and add a fourth floor.
The Travel Channel, on a mission to introduce the world to popular food trucks and quick-serve food vendors across the U.S., will be taking to the streets of DC on Tuesday, July 24 to meet and film some of DC’s favorite food truck crews.
In early January Capital Business shared the list of prospective retailers Douglas Development had lined up for their 7th and H development. At tonight’s MVSNA meeting Paul Millstein (from Douglas) confirmed that Walgreens and Yo! Sushi were on board but did not confirm Panera Bread.
Perhaps more insightful was Millstein’s explanation of how this would not be a typical Walgreens. This Walgreens will be modeled after a ’super store’ concept launched in Chicago at State and Randolph this January. The 25,000 sqft operation will occupy three floors including a basement level and aims to be as much a health and daily living store as a pharmacy. Expect upmarket fresh and pre-packaged foods, wine, a bakery, coffee shop and services including an on-site doctor and a nail salon on the second floor.
The embedded video showcases a tour of the new Chicago store. The ETA for this new Walgreens is the Nov/Dec timeframe.
The Downtown BIDreports that Dangerously Delicious Pies signed a lease at 901 7th Street NW in Chinatown. Founded in Baltimore, their signature sweet and savory pies have been available in DC since 2010 when the pieman opened a shop on H Street NE and launched a food truck often found at Metro Center.
R2L Architects rendering of 7th & H project via DCMUD
These retailers strike me as a little uninspired given the prominence of the corner. But it was a given CVS or Walgreens was going to make a major play for the space. Panera one block from Corner Bakery feels very redundant tho…
Last month I highlighted the Citypaper’s posting on the “Disneyfication” of Chinatown. Among the items the author described as superficial Disneyfication were converting the usually-blue wayfinding signs to ornamental red, installing Chinese inspired lampposts and benches, designing bike racks and crosswalks in the shape of stylized dragons, adding a “Chinese-themed” sculpture to Chinatown Park, the translation of street signs into Chinese characters, commissioning “Chinese-inspired” murals for blank commercial storefronts, and installing more decorative Zodiac pavers.
I’ve wanted to dedicate a post to respond to that argument. It is increasingly difficult for me to find time for longer posts but this is a good one to end the year 2011 on…
I disagree with a blanket statement that any Chinese theme to the streetspace improvements is automatically farcical or superficial Disneyfication. I’ve visited other cities with successful public spaces that integrate the heritage of the past into the redesigned streetscape of the future. Pittsburgh for instance has a massive old steel mill furnace repurposed as public art in a plaza. That is meaningful and interesting. In contrast think about 5th & K in the Mount Vernon Triangle. The site of City Vista once was home to a beautiful building that served as a central market and later a convention hall. How great would it have been if the public art integrated at 5th & K payed homage to that heritage of the site? Instead we installed abstract twisted metal sculptures named Lift Off and Inspiration that aren’t really embraced. I think an opportunity for truly great placemaking art was missed in favor off somewhat generic abstract art.
No to Chinese inspired design for Chinatown? Must we always resort to safe generic abstract art like Lift Off in MVT
I believe the Chinatown theme can be done successfully in moderation and with a tasteful eye. Tasteful may be too much to expect of from government (fingers crossed) but moderation is possible. First and foremost I think it is important to limit the boundaries of the Chinatown theme. I would recommend 5th to 7th east-west and I to H (including Chinatown Park) north to south. In my mind it shouldn’t spill into Gallery Place or office blocks that are completely devoid of historic fabric buildings. I’m in favor of having the red wayfinding signage. Installing Chinese inspired lampposts, benches, bike racks and crosswalks seems reasonable to me but I would strongly favor using mostly Chinese motif geometric patterns rather than overdoing the dragons. Zodiac pavers also would be a welcome – I feel DC doesn’t utilize special pavers nearly as much as they should for a place of it’s stature. Chinatown park would benefit from a red iron fence with a Chinese geometric pattern, new lamp posts, some nice pavers for the paths through the park and a statue or fountain of some kind. I’m not familiar with all the proposed elements in the Office of Planning recommendations but the one I heard about that I’m not in favor of would be putting the street signs in Chinese.
These enhancements could up the ante for Chinatown and elevate it to a different level. Of course Chinatown is doing well as-is so it’s debatable as to whether upgrades are necessities. If I had to prioritize only Chinatown Park is in desperate need of improvement.
Among the items she singles out as superficial are converting the usually-blue wayfinding signs to ornamental red, installing Chinese inspired lampposts and benches, designing bike racks and crosswalks in the shape of stylized dragons, adding a “Chinese-themed” sculpture to Chinatown Park, the translation of street signs into Chinese characters, commissioning “Chinese-inspired” murals for blank commercial storefronts, and installing more decorative Zodiac pavers.
What are your thoughts? Do you support the improvements? Is it all too superficial? Or do you think some improvements make sense but the incorporation of dragons may be taking it farther than it needs to go?
DCMUD has the latest details and rendering for the future commercial project from Douglas Development at the northeastwest corner of 7th and H Streets NW. The development will rise to 5 stories with glass additions setback from the street. Retail will likely be the focus of the revamped project with office space on the upper floors. Many have speculated this would be an ideal retail spot for an Apple Store but that’s nothing more than a rumor for now.
In March we reported that Corner Bakery Cafe had signed a lease at 777 6th Street in Chinatown. Buildout at the 6th & H Street NW has been underway for several weeks and the future cafe entrance now has signage. Note the Chinese characters on the sign.
Occasionally the literal English translation of the Chinese characters deviates from the name of the business in a mildly amusing way. Can anyone translate the Chinese on this sign literally?