First Look at the Buchanan School Development

Update: See the Insight Property Group Powerpoint Presentation

On Tuesday evening at the Hill Center the Insight Property Group presented the initial plans for their proposed redevelopment of the Buchanan School site (known to many in the neighborhood as IGU). The site sits on the western end of the block bordered by E, D, 13th (Peter Bug Way), and 14th streets southeast, across from the Watkins Field.

Buchanan School p roject site in Hill East

Buchanan School project site in Hill East

The team is proposing a residential-only project, which will include a range of housing sizes and configurations. The plan is to retain the historic 1895 Buchanan School buildings, demolish the more recent additions on the north side of the site, and construct new row houses around the perimeter of the site along 13th and D St and along the interior of the site.

Proposed site plan for the Buchanan School redevelopment

Proposed site plan for the Buchanan School redevelopment

The original school buildings will be converted into 40 condominiums, ranging in size from studios, to 1, 2, and 3 bedroom units. For the condo portion of the project the developer will provide 14-16 parking spaces, meeting the parking requirements under DC zoning rules. Ground level units will include patios and window wells. 

Preliminary design for the Buchanan School buildings

Preliminary design for the Buchanan School buildings

The row home portion of the project has two components. On the northeast corner of the site the developer plans to construct nine townhomes "by right" (with no zoning relief). These homes will be 3+ bedroom units with roof terraces, backyards, and parking spaces. The homes will have the option of having elevators, as well.

On the remainder of the site the project will include 32 three-story townhomes, ranging from 16 to 20 feet wide. The houses will be 3+ bedrooms and all will have parking spaces and roof terraces. The designs are still preliminary, but the goal is to varying the townhome styles to better fit into the Capitol Hill style of homes.

The 32 townhomes on the western end of the Buchanan School site.

The 32 townhomes on the western end of the Buchanan School site.

The western townhomes viewed from 13th and D St SE

The western townhomes viewed from 13th and D St SE

Between the western townhomes and the school buildings will be a mews, which combined with walking paths will run the length of the block north to south and serve as a connector between E St and D St that is open to the public.

View of the mews from the north.

View of the mews from the north.

View of the mews from the south

View of the mews from the south

Between the two rows of townhomes on the western side of the site will be an alley, which will provide vehicle access off of 13th St and community space, similar to many small alleys across Capitol Hill.

Alley view between the two rows of townhomes on the western side of the site.

Alley view between the two rows of townhomes on the western side of the site.

The developer will need zoning relief for the 32 proposed townhomes on the western side of the site. They will be applying through the Board of Zoning adjustments to allow two townhomes on one lot, higher lot coverage, 16' wide lots, and nine lots smaller than 1,800 square feet. Applying for the needed zoning relief means the developer will come before ANC6B, likely over the summer.

The proposed project schedule has initial demolition beginning in May, with construction starting January 2016. The anticipated project completion date is March 2018.

Project images provided by Insight Property Group.

Come learn about the Buchanan School (IGU) Plans

The large building known to most in our neighborhood as the International Graduate University has a storied past, although since I have lived on the Hill it has more or less lived a quiet, somewhat reclusive (and thankfully well-kept) existence. In the coming years, that's likely to change.

The Insight Property Group is planning a major redevelopment of the site, which will involve building a combination of flats and row homes on this large piece of residentially-zoned (R-4) land.  They're referring to the project as the Buchanan School, which is the name of the original DC public school that occupied the building until it closed in 1992.

Unlike other recently-announced projects, such as Watkins Alley, this will not be a PUD, since the developers are not asking for substantial zoning changes. But in term of scale this will likely be comparable to Watkins Alley, and it will be a major change for my block of Capitol Hill.

Insight will present their plans to the public at a community meeting on Tuesday, April 21st at 7pm at the Hill Center. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the project, ask questions, and find out how to keep up to date as things move forward.

See the Updated Designs for 1401 Penn on April 15th

Last month CAS Riegler announced their planned PUD project at 1401 Pennsylvania Ave SE and held a community meeting to introduce the project to the community. The project will be a mixed-use building with approximately 150 apartment and multiple commercial spaces across from the Potomac Avenue Metro Station. At last month's meeting the developers showed the massing (height and scale) and orientation of the building, but there weren't any exterior design details. 

1401 Penn Project Preliminary Design

1401 Penn Project Preliminary Design

CAS Riegler is reaching out to the community again, this time with a full set of design plans. Come to the Hill Center at 7pm on Wednesday, April 15th to see the updated designs, which will include more detailed site layouts and renderings of how the building will look from various points around the block (to help adjacent neighbors visualize the building from their vantage point). The developer will also be talking more about the traffic issues on 14th street that neighbors raised at the first meeting.

Preliminary Design for 1401 Penn SE

On March 12 CAS Riegler presented the preliminary design for their project 1401 Pennsylvania Ave SE, the current New York Pizza site. The project is a planned unit development (PUD) that will include approximately 150 apartment units atop multiple ground level retail spaces. The building will run up 14th St., along Pennsylvania Ave, and then partway into the middle of the block toward Ive Place. There will be an underground parking garage, and CAS Riegler is not planning to ask for parking relief.

Site design for 1401 Penn SE

Site design for 1401 Penn SE

To facilitate access to underground parking and allow for deliveries, CAS Riegler plans to widen the alley off 14th St to 20 feet, leading to the parking access in the rear of the building. At the March 12th meeting neighbors raised concerns about traffic flow along 14th, and the development team said they will work with neighbors to think about way to address current and potential traffic issues. The team said they are also following the the ongoing redesign of the Penn/Potomac intersection to understand how 1401 Penn could complement those plans.

The project is at an early stage, and there aren't any exterior designs to look at yet. CAS Riegler has done multiple buildings throughout the district; you can see examples on their website. At the March 12th presentation, the development team indicated that they are looking to construct a high quality building that is visually consistent with Capitol Hill.

The view of 1401 Penn SE from 14th & Ives

The view of 1401 Penn SE from 14th & Ives

The building is planned for seven stories, roughly similar in height to Jenkins Row. Based on preliminary sun studies the CAS Riegler team presented the building will cast minimal shadows on other properties along and south of Pennsylvania, since most of the shadows will fall across Pennsylvania Ave. Nevertheless, 1401 Penn will be the tallest building on the block, and the development team is working to manage the way the building interacts and blends with the neighboring homes.

If you have questions or feedback, please feel free to email me or reach out to CAS Riegler through their dedicated project page.

Draft Master Plan for the New Watkins Elementary

Last week DGS and Perkins Eastman Architects presented the draft master plan for the Watkins Elementary modernization process. After feedback from the community and other stakeholders and following a community meeting with DPR, the DGS team and architects went back to the drawing board. They came up with a broad-based plan that addresses the needs of the school's staff and students and the needs of the community through the DPR facilities, like the gymnasium.

Draft Watkins modernization master plan site layout

Draft Watkins modernization master plan site layout

The proposed master plan would demolish the current multipurpose room/gym and build administrative facilities in that space. To the east of the current building there would be a new wing that will house the gym and a separate cafeteria and stage space. This would replace area that is currently parking lot, leading to a new entry point on D St for vehicles coming onto the Watkins site.

The proposed design for Watkins meets most aspects of the 'ed spec' (educational specifications) for the school. The redesign will improve the movement of students and visitors into the school and provide improved facilities for the community.

If you'd like to learn more about the plans or provide feedback, come to the community meeting this Thursday, April 2nd at Watkins.

See the full plan details on the DGS website.

Watkins modernization April/March community meeting [rescheduled]

The Watkins modernization process continues this week with the March community meeting. If you would like to learn more about the plans to upgrade and expand the Watkins Elementary facilities over the coming years--including new windows and heating / air conditioning system upgrades this summer--please join the DC Department of General Services and DC Public Schools this Thursday, April 2nd, at 6pm. The meeting will be held in the Watkins Library.

(The meeting was reschedule from the original date of March 26th.)

Volunteer Saturday at Eliot-Hine & Eastern

Mayor Bowser is holding a series of community service events this Saturday that she's calling Spring into Action. The volunteer events will take place in all eight wards, and in Ward 6 the selected sites are Eliot-Hine Middle School and Eastern High School.

Please consider volunteering tomorrow to support our schools in Ward 6.  The clean up at Eliot-Hine and Eastern will take place from noon to 3pm. Activities include projects inside the schools, like painting, and outside the schools, like trash pickup, ball field preparation, and clearing weeds and brush.

The Mayor's office invites those interest in volunteering to RSVP at http://bit.ly/1wtTYLr.  You can also call the MOCRS office for more information at 202-442-8150.

Community Meeting for Watkins Alley PUD Project

Following close on the heels of last week's community meeting on the 1401 Penn Ave SE development, on Monday, March 23rd at 7pm OPal is holding an outreach meeting at the Hill Center about their planned project on the 1300 block of E St SE. The project, which OPal is calling Watkins Alley, is Planned Unit Development (PUD) project, because the site is currently zoned for light industrial use.

OPal's preliminary plans for the site, which they released in January, include a combination of rowhomes, flats, and lofts. At the upcoming meeting OPal will review their current plans, walk through the rough project timeline, and invite feedback from the community. As with the 1401 Penn PUD, this project will include a benefits and amenities package for the neighborhood, and this meeting is a good opportunity to begin that conversation.

Preliminary site design (January 2015) for Watkins Alley.

Preliminary site design (January 2015) for Watkins Alley.

What: Community meeting for Watkins Alley PUD
When: Monday, March 23rd, 2015
Where: Hill Center, 921 Penn Ave SE, Sousa Hall (#209)