I have to admit as much as I like to stay informed, it is really hard to keep up with everyone going on around U Street. Even during the summer, things seem to be moving very fast.
Today Georgetown Strategic Development breaks ground on their second 14th street project one block from the other. The Utopia will add 300 more apartments to the 150 unit District building. I am excited about the new opportunities they will provide and actually very jealous about their roofdecks which seem amazing. Hopefully these will improve the marketability of U Street and improve the hood for all.
When I think of my neighborhood 5 years ago I am shocked at the transformation. From a rough and tumble neighborhood with few restaurants, the hood has been transformed. The U, Florida, Vermont Triangle is becoming a restaurant row and local bars seem to pop up everywhere.
If someone asked me what will be the next area to pop (besides H Street) I would have to say lower Ledroit / Shaw / Bloomingdale. The UNCF headquarters at 7th & T plus the new Giant and condos at 7th & O will both make this the neighborhood to be in. The Shaw Metro stop is in the heart of the hood and it has great driving access on Rhode Island, 7th, 9th and New York. If I were going to buy for the next 5 years. I woudl definitely look to this area. Check out some of the new buildings: Bailey Haven Lofts, The New Giant Complex and the UNCF building
I passed by the Verizon building tha PNHoffman recently bought with intent to convert to condos. Normal I love seeing older buildings converted into living space but I don’t like this one for 2 reasons.
1. The building is ugly. The windows are small and sparsely placed. I think living here would not offer residents a lot of light even being on the south side of the street. It is not a positive addition to residences in the hood.
2. We Need office space in our hood. The beauty of livin in a city is the close proximity of commercial and residential buildings. We need more space for small and medium businesses. They help maintain our restaurants by allowing them lunchtime crowds. They improve the tax base. They bring future residents. Employees looking for short commutes will want to live in the hood with their office.
This same applies to the Maya Angelou school building at 9th & T streets. The school recently moved and a for sale sign went up. I think the “highest and best” use is for a commercial or special use purpose.
This is a bit of good news. The lots on the South Side of Florida between the CVS parking lot on 7th across 8th to 9th street are set to be sold. Washington Metro has finally agreed to a price for the land and the transaction should go through this week.
It is good news that the developer, JBG, will be developing these spots along with other lots they have on 8th & V Streets. But there is not much they can do. The metro starts about 30ft down so any buildings will need to be shallow and with limited parking. I have heard they were thinking about a hotel with commercial and retail. Given the impending number of housing units that will be coming on in the ‘hood, that is a good thing. I still want a supermarket.
WMATA Site: New ownership is expected for the WMATA parcels along the southern side of Florida Avenue between 7th and 9th Streets NW. WMATA re-released their 3 lots for sale back in April, and shortly thereafter, the JBG Companies was selected as the contract purchaser, pending the WMATA Board’s approval. Just last Thursday, the WMATA Board unanimously voted in favor of selling these lots to JBG, allowing JBG to proceed to a closing this week. If all goes as planned, JBG anticipates closing on the parcels by the end of this week. JBG has not yet engaged an architect or rdfined a development program for the sites.
I have been thinking about this all weekend. Last week Grtr Grtr Wash (sorry for the abbreviation but it’s a long name) posted comments on an article from InTowner about the parking garage on Florida just west of 17th. The building is not that attractive and I had thought it was a utilities building until Planet Pet moved in there last year. The gist of the discussion is what is the best use of the space. Highest and Best Use as appraisers say. Would it be better used as residential units? I don’t think they are proposing eliminating the parking and the retail would definitely get more exposure than behind those brick walls. Neighbors in the cute block just south of there complain that having a 7 story bldg north of them would be intrusive. 7 stories sounds big but it would not block any light and besides increased traffic, would have little affect. I want to say it would be an improvement. That big ugly building does not need to be there and if it can provides parking and residential uses they should pursue that. I have a similar issue in my neighborhood. When I moved in, I could not wait for someone to buy and tear down the Howard Facilities bldg at 10th & Florida. But now that I have a dog, I appreciate the grass, it is a nice break from the row houses and condos and allows more light into the hood since it only takes up the Northeast corner of the lot. If a developer moved in, it would be built up from street to street. I guess I am a bit hypocritical. I think the bldg at 17th and Florida should be converted but the Howard bldg should stay. Although the Howard bldg does serve a useful purpose for the school. Here is another proposal to renovate a building for a better purpose. It looks like it could be a complimentary growth to the existing structure.
One note: Come to the U Street Film Series tomorrow night in Harrison Park. They are playing a documentary on the 930 club which I’ve heard is great.
OK sorry for the delay today but I’ve been working (I know! How dare they give me work to do when I have a blog to post and on a payday even.)
A reader of Prince of Petworth had a post asking if U Street is a neighborhood. At first I was philosophical about it contemplating the larger issues, asking myself: What is a neighborhood really? How do you define where you live? Can a neighborhood truly exist without a supermarket in it? (I know – a frequent theme)
Then I came to my senses. What kind of an idiot thinks that we are not a neighborhood? We have a Metro stop named after us. Neighborhoods spend thousands of dollars and years of time trying to name themselves. The real estate trick of naming something East Dupont or North Logan circle are just lame ways to create a neighborhood whose name reminds people of crime or riots.
I like being a U Street resident and I am proud of its heritage as a center for music and African American culture. For this woman to think that she is coming up with the boundaries of U Street is moronic. Sorry for getting negative but whatever. Stay cool this weekend! I will be hiding inside.