Thursday, June 25, 2015

LED Lights for NoMa

The NoMa Parks Foundation has selected a concept for the second underpass transformation.  The L Street underpass will have LED lights installed that will look like they're floating from the ceiling and will react to ambient sounds in the neighborhood.  So anything that exceeds 50 decibels will set them off. 

The installation consists of six lattice modules held up by columns which are spaced 16-feet apart. The installation was designed by the San Francisco-based design studio Future Cities Lab.  Last April, the NoMa Parks Foundation selected their first underpass transformation winner for the M Street underpass.  It is similar to the L Street Underpass design, using LED lights that will respond to the movements of cars.

Check out Curbed DC's coverage with renderings here

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Mortgage Rates Above 4%

Freddie Mac announced today that mortgage rates have gone above 4% for the first time in seven months.  This has certainly been predicted but some thought it wouldn't happen so soon.  A 30 year fixed rate mortgage averaged 4.04% which is a somewhat significant jump from last week's 3.87%.  A 15 year fixed rate mortgage went to 3.25% from 3.08% last week.

Freddie Mac deputy chief economist Len Kiefer said, "Mortgage rates rose above 4% for the first time since November 2014 as Treasury yields surged.  Markets are resounding to strong employment data."  He is, of course, referring to last week's news that the US economy added 280,000 jobs in May.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

New Height Limits for Pop-Ups

The DC Zoning panel voted on Monday night to approve new restrictions for pop-ups in the District.  The maximum height for new pop-up homes is now 35 feet down from the previous 40 feet.  They also voted to limit developers to only two by-right condo units in a pop-up.

For those who aren't familiar, a pop-up (at least in this sense of the term) is a renovated rowhouse with an added story or stories that often towers over neighboring rowhouses.  There's been a battle going on for the past year as to whether or not such additions should be allowed.  Those in favor, mostly developers, say that's the only way to cure the lack of housing and places to build new housing for District residents.  Opponents say they block views and sunlight and that adding more housing causes more parking and traffic problems. 

Though we may have an approval in hand, I doubt this is the last we'll hear about the hotly debated topic.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Whole Foods in the News This Week

Whole Foods has been very busy this week with a few local announcements as well as a brand announcement.  First, we'll start with the local stuff.  The project at 975 Florida Ave. NW from MRP Realty and Ellis Development announced this week that the ground floor retail will be filled by a Whole Foods.  A great addition to this area for sure!

And in Tysons, an announcement came that a flagship Whole Foods will be built at The Boro in Tysons Corner.  The store will be 70,000 SF and will offer innovative concepts.  The Boro will offer a vibrant mix of offices, apartments, condominiums, retail stores, restaurants and entertainment,with easy access from major roads and Metro’s popular new Silver Line. When complete, The Boro will consist of roughly 1.8 million square feet of residential space, 1.3 million square feet of office, 316,000 square feet of retail, and 250,000 square feet of hotel space.

The last piece of news is a new Whole Foods concept geared toward millennials.  The new brand will consist of small stores with less expensive, but still high quality, food.  “Offering our industry leading standards at value prices, this new format will feature a modern, streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated selection,” Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb said. “It will deliver a convenient, transparent, and values-oriented experience geared toward millennial shoppers, while appealing to anyone looking for high-quality fresh food at great prices.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Doggie Daycare at Your Next Apartment?

Yep, you read that right.  It looks like in addition to the new trend of pet washing stations and dog walking areas, a new pet amenity is coming to the area.  DC just approved View 14's proposed doggy daycare in the mixed-use building.   The 4,300 SF cage-free facility will be on the ground floor and will have five play parks with WiFi, music, entertainment and an onsite retail store. 

It wasn't an easy task getting this approved, however.  100 residents of View14 signed a petition in support of the daycare and they also had to go through the Board of Zoning Adjustment and Meridian Hill Neighborhood Association.  They had to agree to soundproofing the facility and they cannot accept any "chronic barkers."  The daycare is also limited to only walking the dogs on 14th Street and customers have to sign a statement saying they will obey all traffic and parking laws in order to avoid any inconvenience to residents or other nearby neighbors.

What do you think about this uber-pet friendly trend?  A great new amenity or just the latest fad that will soon fade away?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spy Museum Has Found a New Home

The International Spy Museum has been looking for a new place to relocate to for a while and now they have finally found it.  After their Carnegie Library move got shot down, the museum now plans to take up residence in a $100 million building that's part of the L'Enfant Plaza renovation.  The exact location is 900 L'Enfant Plaza and they hope to move within two years.

The move has to be approved by the Commission of Fine Arts and the museum will present their plans to the Commission on April 16th.  Assuming all goes well, they will build a 100,000 SF, 6 story museum space with expanded exhibition space, three times the current event space, a rooftop terrace and an open air plaza on the ground floor. Spy Museum Chief Operating Officer Tamara Christian said the location makes sense due to five Metro lines running through it, ample parking, proximity to the National Mall and an opportunity to help revitalize the area.  “I think everyone in the city knows that’s somewhat of a dead area right now,” Christian said. “When we came to Penn Quarter, it was somewhat of a dead area. Now it’s completely energized, and we’re really hoping that we’ll be able to be a catalyst to energize L’Enfant.”

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Architect Chosen for Union Station Expansion

The Washington Post announced yesterday that the same architect who did the Grand Central Terminal renovation has been chosen to work on the Union Station expansion here in DC.  The proposed expansion will cost $10 billion and could triple the passenger capacity.  Beyer Blinder Belle won the job.  They have offices in New York and Washington, DC and they have tapped Grimshaw Architects to work with them.  Grimshaw specializes in train station design and is based in London but also has an office in New York.

The project is being overseen by the Union Station Redevelopment Corp. which manages Union Station as well as Amtrak and Akridge who is planning Capitol Crossing, a 3 million SF project above the tracks behind Union Station. 

On next steps and getting the expansion financed, Beverly Swaim-Staley, president and chief executive of the Union Station Redevelopment Corp. said, “We need to have the project defined.  We need to have a project that everyone can look at and be excited about. Something so that people can understand what the goals are in terms of tripling capacity for passengers coming in and out of the station. This project is going to transform not only Washington, D.C., but the region.”