Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fenty Selects Developer for Poplar Point, Courts DC United

Clark Realty Capital has been selected to develop Poplar Point. Mayor Fenty is expected to formally announce the selection today at a press conference in Anacostia. Clark was one of three short-listed finalists, beating out Archstone Smith - Madison Marguette and Forest City.

The winning proposal is broken into five distinct pieces: The Point, The IEC, The Preserve, The Metro Soccer District, and The Village at Poplar Point. The Point features a waterfront hotel and conference center, retail and restaurant promenade, offices, and mixed-income multifamily housing. The IEC, or International Environmental Center features a research campus, and is anchored by a proposed National Hall of the Environment. Featured prominently in Clark's proposal (above), the museum as rendered is a plagiarized, albeit poorly reinterpreted version of Santiago Calatrava's breathtaking Tenerife Opera House (perhaps suggesting Clark's desire to woo a starchitect?). The Preserve bills itself as a 'Waterfront Version of New York's Central Park" (which may have Olmsted and Vaux turning over in their graves) and will feature nature trails, walking and biking trails, wetland preservations, recreated marshlands, and recreation fields. The Metro Soccer District contains the existing Anacostia Metro Station, and provides land for the construction of a MLS Soccer stadium, which Fenty has expressed a renewed interest in supporting, in spite of recent news that the DC United has begun considering a move to Maryland. In addition, the MSD will feature high-density office and residential buildings, and an innovative, two block wide 'deck' which will span 295 (perhaps one of the more commendable components to help reconnect this area to Historic Anacostia). The Village at Poplar Point will feature residential development, public marinas, and a new pre-K through 12th grade school. According to a news release on the Washington Business Journal website, the entire developed Poplar Point site is expected to provide 1.5 million square feet of offices, 3,200 residential units, 405,000 square feet of retail, 224,000 square feet of hotels, and 70 acres of park land.

The earliest construction may commence is 2010. Certainly in the meantime there will come changes and further development to the proposal. Whether or not DC City Officials are successful in their persuasion of the DC United to remain in the city will have a significant impact on the plan. And hopefully local residents and groups which currently utilize the area and adjacent river will have an opportunity to voice their concerns.

While the accepted proposal does thoughtfully address a number of interests, and provides a generous mix of retail, residential, office, recreational, and tourist-oriented elements, there are a few questions that the development raises. For example, the proposed location of the MLS Soccer stadium places it away from the waterfront hotel with its adjacent retail & restaurant promenade, and awkwardly close to the decidedly more residential sector (one can begin to visualize the throngs of people traversing The Preserve before and after a soccer game); likewise, the National Hall of the Environment's proximity to the more commercial sector too seems like a miscue. These are certainly issues which will be addressed as progress moves forward. It's an ambitious proposal, and I am excited to see this level of investment on one of our greatest assets, our waterfronts. Only time will tell if this potential is fully realized.

No comments:

Post a Comment