Riverfront Parcel Lures Developers

D.C. to Choose Among Competing Plans for 67 Acres Along the Anacostia

A group led by Urban Atlantic submitted this design, one of four competing proposals for the old D.C. General Hospital area.
A group led by Urban Atlantic submitted this design, one of four competing proposals for the old D.C. General Hospital area. (Courtesy Of New Hill East Jv)
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 29, 2009; Page B01

More than a dozen developers are vying to create a new destination on 67 acres along the Anacostia River, the last unclaimed parcel on Washington's waterfront.

Set on the eastern edge of Capitol Hill, just south of RFK Stadium, the site has been a virtual no man's land for years, home to the shuttered D.C. General Hospital, parking lots, a methadone clinic and assorted medical facilities.

As part of the District's quest to revive the city's waterfront, the administration of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty hopes to build a neighborhood, with office and apartment buildings, retail space, parks and a newly extended Massachusetts Avenue leading to the Anacostia River.

"It's a great site, a great location, and the community is hungry for progress," said Genevieve Hanson, the District's development manager overseeing the project.

Even as the economic crisis has all but frozen new construction, District officials and the developers are counting on financial conditions easing by the time they're ready to build.

Beginning last month, four development teams presented proposals to Capitol Hill community leaders and residents, who have until the end of today for public comment. Fenty (D) is to choose a developer in early spring.

The development teams include area builders such as Anthony Lanier, who has built $1 million condominiums in Georgetown; Jim Abdo, who has revived Logan Circle and part of the H Street corridor; and Chris Donatelli, whose residential projects above Metro stations have helped redefine U Street, Petworth and Columbia Heights.

"This is a site of significance and prominence, and it's attracting some of the best and biggest regional, local and national players," Abdo said. "It's an important site, it's sizable, and there are not that many of them. We're not surrounded by prairie land where you can expand the city's borders."

The Hill East development, as it is known, is the District's fourth major waterfront initiative, each of which began under the administration of Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D). Developers are in various stages of planning and construction of communities near the Washington Nationals' ballpark, at Poplar Point and along the Southwest waterfront.

Hill East is owned by the federal government, although it is slated to be transferred to the District.

As requested by city officials, each development team has proposed a mixture of residential and commercial buildings, along with medical and recreational facilities and outdoor space. But each team stresses something different.

The Franklin L. Haney Co., whose team includes Donatelli, envisions far more office space than its competitors, as well as almost 2 million square feet of residential buildings.

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