Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Shaw Main Streets Meeting

I hadn’t posted anything on last week’s Shaw Main Streets meeting partly because I was out of town (I ♥ NY), and I had kinda hoped someone else would. But since no one seems to have done so, here’s a brief synopsis. (I hope I got this right, my memory has faded and the notes are a little muddled.)

The presentations focused mainly on four projects: the Howard Theatre, Broadcast One, the NCRC Parcel 42 project, and the O Street Market.

The project to restore the Howard Theatre on T Street is moving along, even though there is still a lot of money to be raised to see it to completion as planned. The company (Ellis Development) that won the right to negotiate with the city has restored other theaters such as the Hippodrome in Baltimore, and the Boston Opera House. The intention is to make it primarily a venue for music performances, which is what it was back in its heyday. The lower (orchestra) floor will be made into cabaret-style table seating since the original seats are long gone. There will still be rows of seats in the balcony. It would also be home to the Washington Jazz Institute music school. It could come on line in 2009.

Broadcast One at Florida and 7th will be a mixed-use project combining office, retail, and 181 condos. There will be underground parking for both residents and patrons of the commercial parts.

The NCRC Parcel 42 project at Rhode Island and 7th will be a rental property intended to provide affordable housing at varying scales of discount from market rent levels. There would be about 96 units in the building.

The last half of the program was devoted to Roadside Development’s plans for the O Street Market site. A representative from Giant was present who described the plan to roughly double the size of the current store making it more or less the equivalent of the newer concept suburban stores that Giant is building. The new store would provide many consumer choices and services that the present store does not offer. Development of the plan was apparently delayed by the acquisition of Giant by the Stop-and-Shop supermarket chain, but the plan now has corporate approval.

The new Giant store would incorporate the remaining parts of the historic O Street market (some of which—like the roof—would be restored) and most of the block bounded by P, O, 7th, and 8th (which would be restored as a true street.) There would be a multi-level below-ground parking garage as well as on-street parking on O. There would be retail space for small businesses along O Street and townhouse-type commercial properties along 9th. Residential space would be in high rise buildings (about the same height as existing ones in the 1300 block of 7th), with entrance foyers on P Street. The plan is to set the hi-rise buildings back so that they would not be readily visible from the surrounding sidewalks. A rendering of the proposal can be found here.

As for the timing, the developers expect it will take close to a year to get the necessary permits and reviews completed, so actual ground-breaking might not take place until 2008. There would be a period of perhaps as long as two years when the Giant would not be operating, but the developers said that it would be simply impossible to keep the store going during construction of this magnitude and maintain a safe environment for customers.

Several residents expressed great concern about this—noting that many folks in the neighborhood have no cars and no good alternative for grocery shopping. The Giant rep said they were looking into providing shuttle service to nearby Giant stores for such residents. Other concerns were expressed regarding traffic patterns and displacing rat populations when demolition and construction began.

From what I could tell, the residents in attendance were generally in support of the O Street project, but were worried about the extended absence of a neighborhood supermarket, which to many people may be more akin to a public service than a business. These concerns are certainly understandable, given the lack of nearby alternatives. The new Safeway at 5th and NY Avenue will likely be operating by the time the Giant will close, but that is a considerable distance for many residents to go for groceries—especially on foot. Hopefully, something can be done to alleviate these problems, and I think the prospect of a thriving retail commercial center on that block (or two blocks, really) will be worth the pains of the transition. Personally, I hope it will proceed without unnecessary bureaucratic roadblocks


At 10/05/2006 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These are exciting times for Shaw... at least if the local nay-sayers don't scare Roadside and Giant away. What a change it would be to go to Giant and 1) have a shopping cart and 2) not have it filled the rejected produce and meats from all the other Giant stores in the Greater Washington Region.

Bring back "derelict property of the week"! Good stuff. How about the bombed out shells on 9th street?

Carl G

At 10/09/2006 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why hasn't the potential impact of the Giant project been brought up by the ANC 2C02 Commissioner / ANC 2C Chairman at any of the recent meetings? Since he wasn't able to attend the Shaw Main Streets meeting, I assume that he's, nonetheless, informed.

It's a year away, but now would be the time to give input. There are a lot of residents in the area who are -- or, upon getting the news, will be -- interested in the impact the O St Giant project with have. Many of us do not have cars. Maybe he's waiting to publicize this information at some future date when it is too late for him to have any input/impact on it on behalf of his constituents. Or maybe he's waiting until he can figure out how to twist it into some heated class/racial/gender preference issue.

Since the Giant will be closed for almost two years, wouldn't it be nice if we could get at least a temporary farmer's market (a la the Penn Qtr Thursday Farmer's market) to operate on one of the open spaces in the area (Shiloh, Scott Montgomery parking lot, etc.). A Saturday morning market in the area would encourage folks to get out and about, bring folks together in a positive social setting, and give the hood the same services and positive social atmosphere that some more ritzy areas take for granted. It would also be a boon time for some of the local mom and pop merchants to take part also and highlight their products. Maybe Giant could help support the open air market as a courtesy and a way to promote good community relations.

Open air markets often allow dogs, which might help with the anti-dog sentiment of those with animal phobias -- as long as the pet owners keep their animals in line.

It's always nice seeing folks at the Giant reconnect with other friends/neighbors that they rarely see if it weren't for the market.... That is, it's nice when they aren't reconnecting while stopping the flow of things when they are in front of you in the express lane....

Daphne P

At 10/14/2006 8:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're about to move to Shaw and I am so enthusiastic to hear about this project. The existing Giant is an resounding disappointment...other than milk and bread runs and maybe the pharmacy I can't imagine making much use of it anyway. I'd be glad to give up that little bit of convenience for two years to get a worthwhile supermarket (and as importantly, eliminate the dead space created by the current parking lot). The new Safeway will also be great, but in the meantime Whole Foods is only 6 blocks away from the current Giant.

At 6/19/2007 1:37 PM, Anonymous Steven Scott Mazzola said...


Could someone forward contact information for me for the Washington Jazz Institute? I'd like to invite them to contribute to some programming this fall.

Steven Scott Mazzola
The Shakespeare Theatre Company


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