9 Developments That Stand To Benefit From D.C.'s Proposed Land-Use Map Changes
D.C. is proposing major changes to the map that guides development throughout the city, and many projects stand to directly benefit from density increases.
The Office of Planning last week submitted proposed changes to the remaining Comprehensive Plan elements, including the Future Land Use Map, that seek to allow more residential development to help the city whittle down its housing shortage.
The FLUM sets overall density guidelines for properties throughout the District. It is separate from the zoning map, which lays out the exact development regulations of a site in more specificity. But owners of properties that have their FLUM density increased can apply for a change in their zoning designation and are more likely to succeed if the new Comprehensive Plan envisions larger development for their site.
"I think people would absolutely explore the maximum zoning envelopes," said Goulston & Storrs Director Jeff Utz, a land-use attorney working on several of the impacted projects. "I think there would be a high level of interest and probably pretty quick action to explore what that could lead to. I think we'd see projects begin fairly quickly."
The map changes would likely have the most impact for residential development. D.C. is proposing increasing many properties from moderate density residential, generally described as two- to four-story buildings, to medium density residential, described as four- to seven-story buildings. It also calls for some properties to increase from medium to high-density residential, allowing for eight stories or more.
The revisions could also help move forward some projects that have remained stuck in court. Several of the opponents that have appealed developments have seized on the FLUM to argue that the proposed project does not fit within the envisioned density level for the site.
"I think we'll see an unlocking of some sites that have been kind of laying fallow, and we'll see them activated," Utz said.
A closer look at the proposed changes shows that many development sites that have been stuck in limbo or are still in the planning stages have been specifically identified for a density bump. A publicly released list of proposed amendments shows many of the density increases were initially requested by representatives of development teams before the Office of Planning included them in its proposal.
Bisnow dug through the FLUM changes and found nine projects that stand to benefit.
- Location: Ninth and Monroe streets NE in Brookland
- Change Proposed: Low/Moderate Density Residential to Medium Density Residential
The most direct battle around Future Land Use Map categories has taken place on a vacant lot in Brookland. The 220-unit apartment building Menkiti Group first proposed in 2010 was appealed, had its approval vacated by the court, and the site has remained stagnant for several years.
The appeal was successful in part because the site was split on the FLUM map between low and moderate density residential, despite its location less than a quarter-mile from a Metro station. The proposed changes would bring the entire site up to medium density residential and could allow the project to move forward.
- Location: Rhode Island Avenue and Montana Avenue
- Change Proposed: Moderate Density Residential to Medium Density Residential
The 1,700-unit RIA development, another project that has been delayed by an appeal, could also benefit from the new map. MidCity's project, a redevelopment of the Brookland Manor community, was appealed in May 2018 and has yet to be resolved.
The proposed change could help the project move forward and could even allow for more housing on the site. MidCity had previously proposed 2,235 units on the property before slimming its plans by 500 units. MidCity's Jamie Weinbaum told Bisnow in 2017 that the Comprehensive Plan changes could allow the developer to get some of that density back and increase the heights of the buildings fronting Rhode Island Avenue.
- Location: Rhode Island Avenue and Fourth Street NE
- Change Proposed: Medium Density Residential to High-Density Residential
Another development site near the Rhode Island Avenue metro station that could receive a density boost is MRP Realty's Bryant Street project. The former site of the Rhode Island Avenue shopping center, which sits directly to the west of the Metro station, would be increased to high-density residential under the plans.
The project's approval was appealed in January 2017, but MRP then pivoted from a planned unit development to instead pursuing by-right development under the existing zoning. The developer broke ground on the 487-unit first phase in June, but the development is ultimately slated to include over 1,500 residential units.
- Location: Poplar Point
- Change Proposed: Medium Density Commercial to High-Density Commercial
The proposed changes were not limited to residential development, with some properties tapped for increases in commercial density. The site of Redbrick LMD's planned Columbian Quarter development on Anacostia's Poplar Point was one such example.
The property, sitting near the Anacostia Metro station, already had a high-density residential designation, but it has been limited to medium density commercial. The proposed changes would increase the site to high density commercial, allowing for office buildings greater than eight stories. Redbrick is planning 1.6M SF of office on the site, in addition to about 700 residential units and 52K SF of retail.
McMillan Sand Filtration Site
- Location: Michigan Avenue and North Capitol Street
- Change Proposed: Moderate Density Commercial to High-Density Commercial
The McMillan development, another project that has experienced significant delays due to court appeals, would also receive a commercial density boost under the proposed changes. The development, sitting just south of the MedStar Washington Hospital, is planned to include include 1M SF of healthcare space, 125K SF of retail and 655 residential units. It is a partnership between Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners, Trammell Crow and EYA.
The project had its approval vacated in 2016 and then went back through the Zoning Commission process, and following another appeal the court this year affirmed the approval, a decision D.C.'s planning director called a "watershed" moment for the litigation.
301 Florida Ave. NE
- Location: Florida Avenue and Third Street NE in NoMa
- Change Proposed: Medium Density Residental to High-Density Residential
A proposed density change to a cluster of properties just east of the NoMa Metro station could impact three developments, including one that has yet to break ground. The recommendation calls for the blocks bounded by Florida Avenue NE, M Street and Fourth Street to increase to high-density residential.
These blocks include major developments from Foulger-Pratt and Trammell Crow that have broken ground this year. It also includes a 56-unit project from Ditto Residential and Zusin Development that was appealed for 16 months before the case was dismissed in November 2017, though the development has yet to break ground.
- Location: M and First streets NW
- Change Proposed: Moderate Density Residential to High-Density Residential
The former Sursum Corda community that has been tapped for an 1,100-unit development would receive a boost to high-density residential under the proposed changes.
The Zoning Commission this week approved the overall density of Toll Brothers' proposed project, but the map changes could allow that density to increase or at least help protect it from court appeals.
12th & Allison
- Location: 12th and Allison streets NE
- Change Proposed: Institutional to Moderate Density Residential
The site, part of the St. Joseph's Seminary property, has had a FLUM designation of institutional, but the proposed changes would place it in the moderate density residential category, allowing for the type of townhouses the developer proposed. EYA's Evan Goldman, speaking at the Urban Land Institute's Fall Meeting last month, said he thinks the project will ultimately prevail, but he said the length of time taken to build 80 homes shows the impact the appeals have had on D.C.'s development.
Hoover Building Redevelopment
- Location: Pennsylvania Avenue
- Change Proposed: Federal to High-Density Commercial
Development plans are not currently moving forward for the FBI headquarters building, as the plans to relocate the bureau remain in a political stalemate. But past proposals to move the FBI to a suburban campus have envisioned a major mixed-use development on the prime Pennsylvania Avenue site.
The proposed map changes would switch the site from the federal zoning classification it has had while under U.S. government ownership to the high-density classification that exists throughout much of the downtown area, potentially paving the way for future redevelopment.