Correction to This Article
A July 31 Business article incorrectly stated that David C. Sobelsohn said rents at the Southwest Washington apartment complex where he lives have increased 12 percent in the past three years. Sobelsohn said rents have increased 12 percent a year since 2003.

Competing Developers Share Waterfront Ideas

The Phillips Seafood restaurant is among the businesses that will be uprooted by redevelopment of the Southwest waterfront. The Anacostia Waterfront Corp. is considering proposals from five development teams.
The Phillips Seafood restaurant is among the businesses that will be uprooted by redevelopment of the Southwest waterfront. The Anacostia Waterfront Corp. is considering proposals from five development teams. (By Susan Biddle -- The Washington Post)
By Dana Hedgpeth
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 31, 2006

One developer proposed a theater dedicated to Cirque du Soleil performances. Another suggested a produce market similar to the nearby fish market on Maine Avenue SW. A third boasted that his team includes Magic Johnson's urban investment fund.

Those are among the prospects for the District's Southwest waterfront offered by five development teams that are competing for a leading role in the area's first revitalization effort in more than 40 years.

On Thursday night, the rivals provided a peek at their ideas to transform 47 acres between the 14th Street Bridge and P Street SW with shops, restaurants, housing, parks and offices. The two-hour meeting attracted about 150 community leaders, neighborhood residents and members of the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. to Southeastern University on I Street SW.

"We want a waterfront that is the envy of the nation," Adrian G. Washington, president and chief executive of Anacostia Waterfront, told the crowd as people fanned themselves in a hot, standing-room-only auditorium. "We want a place that has an urban waterfront and where people can live and work."

The plans to redo Southwest's waterfront started in 2001 by soliciting community opinion about what should be built. The approved plan calls for 2 million square feet of development on land that is now mostly parking lots and concrete buildings, including the Channel Inn Hotel, nightclubs and the Phillips Seafood restaurant. The new plan calls for 850 residential units, with 30 percent of them marked as affordable; 250,000 square feet of retail; 2,000 parking spaces; 180,000 square feet of cultural attractions; and 250,000 square feet for a hotel.

Seventeen development teams sent in requests in the spring to be named the master developer that will work with the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. Five finalists were selected in June: EastBanc Inc., a retail developer in Georgetown that did Cady's Alley, a row of upscale shops; District-based retail developer Madison Marquette with Vienna-based housing developer KSI Services Inc.; PN Hoffman Inc., a housing developer in the District with Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, a development company based in Baltimore; office and housing developer JBG Cos. of Chevy Chase; and the John Buck Co., a major developer in Chicago.

The competitors were asked not to bring detailed sketches and renderings from architects but rather explain their qualifications, minority investors and how they would pay for the project. The Anacostia Waterfront Corp., a quasi-public entity charged with improving the rundown Southwest and Southeast waterfronts, expects to pick a winner in the fall. Construction would probably start in 2008.

"Our vision is to bring the neighborhood to the water," said Monty Hoffman of PN Hoffman. "Our vision is not a mall; it's not an amusement park." His plan includes a "cultural zone" with a water park, piers and an aquarium and Cirque du Soleil. Hoffman said he has discussed the possibility with management of the popular acrobatic extravaganzas.

Anthony Lanier of EastBanc said he wanted to make the area "look unplanned and create something that looks as if it's been here for a long time."

JBG, which built the Transportation Department headquarters in Southeast and has plans to redo L'Enfant Plaza, said it has the Phillips and Channel Inn leaseholders on its team. The Anacostia group and the chosen developer will probably have to buy out the long-term leases of the tenants on the land, developers said. The land is owned by National Capital Revitalization Corp. and is being transferred to the Anacostia group.

John A. Buck tried to convince the group that his experience transforming parts of the lakefront in Chicago made him most qualified to redo the Southwest waterfront. And Madison Marquette said that it had financial participation from Johnson's group and wanted to bring in a grocery store such as Trader Joe's.

Some in the audience questioned whether the developers would have environmentally friendly buildings and whether the housing units would be in high-rise or low-rise buildings. Others complained that the plans would bring too much development to the area.

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