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Pepco Gets Community Support For $143M Substation In Mount Vernon Triangle

A rendering of Pepco's Mount Vernon Triangle substation

A vacant, 1.5-acre lot in between two of D.C.'s fastest-developing neighborhoods could soon be turned into a $143M Pepco substation.

Pepco received unanimous support from Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6E Tuesday to construct its Mount Vernon Substation facility at First and K streets NW. The substation is part of Pepco's $851M Capital Grid Project. 

The site, with 68K SF of surface area, is currently occupied by a fenced-in paved lot and field. It sits next to a community garden, which will be relocated during construction. Pepco said the substation is necessary to meet the growing population of the Mount Vernon Triangle and NoMa neighborhoods, which have experienced a surge of multifamily development over the last decade and have several major projects planned in the coming years. 

"It's something we really need," ANC 6E Chairman Alex Marriott told Bisnow. "Our area is quadrupling in size over the last decade and into 2020, and it just keeps getting bigger with more office space, more residential properties, and this is obviously putting a strain on our infrastructure. We need this kind of substation to continue growth in the area." 

The power utility filed its plans with the Board of Zoning Adjustment in July and has a public hearing set for Nov. 7. The plans call for a 35-foot-tall facility with seven off-street parking spaces. It plans to include murals on the walls to make the building more visually appealing, and it will make streetscape improvements on the adjacent sidewalks.

The lot at First and K streets NW where Pepco plans to build a substation

"Without this additional substation, the surrounding residential neighborhood is susceptible to failing equipment and long-term outages," Pepco's BZA application said. "In order to continue to meet current customer demand and to plan for projected growth in the area and throughout the network, Pepco needs to construct an additional substation."

Some residents have expressed concerns over the proximity of the facility to a public school, the Walker-Jones Education Campus. But Pepco assured residents at a September meeting the substation would not pose any health risks. Pepco officials said it already has substations near schools, churches and hospitals across the District. 

Pepco said it plans to put together a community advisory board to discuss future uses for the 27K SF piece of land it owns next to the substation site, currently occupied by the community garden. Marriott said he has been pushing for the site to become a public park.  

"I want to see that property reserved as green space for the community," Marriott said."We are one of the most highly dense residential areas in the city with one of the least amount of green space square footage. We need to fight for every piece of that."

Related Topics: Mount Vernon Triangle, NoMa, Pepco