Top 3 Southeast D.C. Developments
Developer: Redbrick LMD
It is fitting that one of the most extensive developments south of the river is coming to Poplar Point, the spit of land closest to the Capitol Riverfront. The proposed Columbian Quarter is a 2.3M SF mixed-use development taking shape just north of Interstate 295 in Anacostia.
The project, which will reportedly include 1.6M SF of office space, nearly 700 residential units and 52K SF of retail space, is hoping to capitalize on its proximity to the Anacostia Metro station and the swathes of green space along the south side of the river. It was proposed as a possible site for Amazon’s new offices, but was passed over in favor of Arlington’s Crystal City.
Columbian Quarter has been held up by injunctions from individuals and activists representing housing and community groups from Southeast D.C., who argued that the area was not ready for the drastic socioeconomic changes that would follow the project’s construction. However, the project may have won a victory in October: The city’s Office of Planning proposed changes to its land-use map, which included allowing high-density commercial development on Poplar Point.
St. Elizabeths East
Developers: D.C., Redbrick LMD, Gregg Cardona Partners, Anacostia Economic Development Corp., Flaherty & Collins
A coalition of private developers and public agencies are working to overhaul the sprawling campus of St. Elizabeths East, the former hospital in Congress Heights. Bisnow reported that construction began in 2018 on the first phase of the development, which includes renovating seven of the campus’ buildings into mixed-income housing — an effort led by the Anacostia Economic Development Corp. and Flaherty & Collins.
In February, the District selected Redbrick LMD to spearhead the creation of a new town square north of the Congress Heights Metro station, which will reportedly include two residential buildings with a combined 288 units, over half of which would be set aside as affordable, along with a 125-room hotel and 50K SF of retail space, all centered around a public plaza.
The first piece of the St. Elizabeths East puzzle to be laid in place is the Entertainment and Sports Arena, which plays host to home game for the Washington Mystics — which won the WNBA championship this year — and practices for the NBA’s Wizards.
Developers: A&R Development, Preservation of Affordable Housing, D.C. Housing Authority
Plans to revamp Barry Farm, one of the largest public housing complexes in the District, have been stalled once again, this time for reasons of historic preservation. D.C.’s Historic Preservation Review Board sent the plans back, indicating that they wouldn't approve a request to declare parts of the complex historic landmarks if the development team did not revise their plan to preserve more of the history of Barry Farm, the Washington Business Journal reports.
The developers originally intended to demolish many of the existing buildings, boosting the number of units from 444 to around 1,500. Efforts to preserve the buildings could mean scrapping plans for 400 units of affordable housing, a staggering loss for an area in the midst of a housing crisis.
The setback is only the latest for this redevelopment project, which has been in the works since 2005. The project had its planned-unit development approval vacated by the D.C. Court of Appeals in April 2018 and was sent back to the drawing board, returning with new plans in August 2018. Activists and local groups argue the development team has yet to show in good faith that the Barry Farm redevelopment would actually improve the lives of residents.