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In The Pipeline: Top Projects Coming To D.C.’s Southwest Waterfront

Outdoor dining at The Wharf.

Washington, D.C.’s waterfront areas are no strangers to change. The first phase of The Wharf, a $2.5B mixed-use development along the Potomac in Southwest D.C. opened in 2017, bringing scores of new shops, restaurants and housing to the area. Its developers have been moving ahead with Phase 2, even during the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the rest of Southwest D.C.’s waterfront has been moving forward with exciting new projects, from the redevelopment of a more than 50-year-old housing project to a new contemporary museum. 

While this area has experienced a hit to its restaurant, office and retail markets during the pandemic, local developers and shop and restaurant owners are committed to facing these challenges head-on, once again embracing change, forging ahead and finding creative ways to move forward. 

New Residential, Retail And Cultural Destinations

In the Southwest area, developers are investing in a growing list of destinations designed to entice more visitors and residents to the area. These destinations include the continued development of Waterfront Station II, from developer Hoffman & Associates, a 400K SF mixed-use community consisting of 456 units — 319 market-rate and 137 affordable — 20K SF of retail space and 9K SF of theater space that is expected to be delivered in 2022.

The redevelopment of the Greenleaf public housing complex, between the Wharf and the Capitol Riverfront, will bring more than 1,800 units of mixed-income and affordable multifamily housing to the area. 

The area is also making a push to add new cultural institutions, including the Randall School Contemporary Art Museum, which will house the Miami-based Rubell Family Collection, an internationally acclaimed contemporary art collection, and the redevelopment of Westminster Church, which is the home of long-running jazz and blues nights.

"We benefit greatly in Southwest from having a collection of business innovators capable of taking this corner of the District through its most creative reinvention in decades,” Southwest D.C. Business Improvement District Executive Director Stephen Moore said. “Our work at the SWBID is to align this talent, the attractions, hotels and venues and to design our re-emergence as a powerful destination for locals and visitors alike.” 

Construction Continues At The Wharf

At The Wharf, one of the fastest-growing areas of D.C.’s waterfront, construction is coming along smoothly even in the midst of unprecedented times.

Hoffman & Associates President Shawn Seaman, who is leading the charge of new developments at The Wharf, said that Phase 2 is coming along as planned. Some project highlights include a 90K SF office building at 610 Water St. designed by Morris Adjmi Architects. This building will be home to media company The Atlantic and feature 10K SF of outdoor terrace space. Other highlights include 670 and 680 Maine, trophy office space designed by SHoP Architects with WDG Architects that is already 60% leased but is still offering 200K SF for potential tenants. 

Seaman said he hopes the office towers provide future tenants with a connected environment along the Washington Channel — it's accessible from the National Mall, Reagan National Airport and Capitol Hill, combining both culture and convenience. 

Along with these new office spaces, The Wharf will begin sales in the spring at The Amaris, a 96-unit, 12-story, luxury waterfront residential condominium building designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects, with interiors by Thomas Juul-Hansen. The apartments range from 700 SF one-bedrooms to over 5.7K SF four-bedrooms, including split-level penthouses. 

Additionally, construction of Pendry Washington D.C is moving quickly and is expected to be finished by 2022. This 140K SF hotel will feature 131 guest rooms, three food and beverage concepts, Spa Pendry and fitness center, and more than 5K SF of meeting space, including a rooftop event space. 

Dining And Entertainment Find Ways To Pivot

Bob Rubenkonig, executive director of the Wharf Community Association, added that The Wharf is also moving forward with new restaurants and retail destinations. 

“During the District’s health emergency, The Wharf provided a safe customer experience, as the neighborhood was designed and built as a healthy outdoor waterfront environment,” Rubenkonig said. “In fact, eight new businesses opened in Phase 1 of The Wharf during 2020. That has helped prospective retailers have confidence in what The Wharf experience can bring to their brand.”

Throughout 2020, Wharf Street was closed to create more outdoor dining locations for local restaurants, and the area has kept the program going throughout the winter by organizing group purchasing for propane and outdoor heaters to keep diners warm. Local restaurants and stores have also been offering virtual experiences, from live-streamed cooking classes led by Kaliwa chef Cathal Armstrong to online craft tutorials from Shop Made. The popular live music venue Union Stage has even pivoted to become a live-streaming venue to continue to give people access to local talent, such as the popular '90s cover band White Ford Bronco.

Rubenkonig remains positive about the future of the area and the resilience of local events and businesses. 

“We are optimistic about Phase 2 leasing efforts as both iconic D.C. businesses and emerging entrepreneurs want to be located at The Wharf,” Rubenkonig said. “We are looking forward to Bloomaroo, which will celebrate the cherry blossom season at The Wharf, as well as some more outdoor movies and activations throughout the summer that have yet to be announced.”