The Far East Trade Center rendering published Friday was by Joseph J. Tarrody Architectural Rendering. The building is proposed for the east side of 7th Street NW between G and H streets. The architectural design was by Architects Engineers Planners Associates. CAPTION: Illustration, Officials yesterday unveiled plans for a $116 million Far East Trading Center to be situated atop an entrance to Metro's Gallery Place subway station on Seventh Street NW.; by Architects Engineers Planners Associates
In a move aimed at spurring redevelopment in the city's rundown Chinatown area, developers and government officials unveiled plans yesterday for an ornate $116 million Far East Trade Center--a pagoda-style hotel, office, retail and condominium complex on the east side of Seventh Street NW between G and H streets.
The glassy structure--with a sunlit atrium, red columns and gracefully sloping golden roofs--would be situated atop a newly opened entrance to Metro's Gallery Place subway station in an area now surrounded by parking lots and dilapidated buildings. District of Columbia officials yesterday hailed the plans as "a catalyst for increased investment in the Chinatown and Gallery Place areas."
The complex will resemble a "pagoda floating in the clouds," said Alfred H. Liu, president of Architects Engineers Planners Associates, the project's designer. The hotel's furnishings, including its bed sheets, will display Chinese motifs, he noted. The complex, he added, will house a 750-seat theater for visiting Asian performers.
The trade center is scheduled to be completed in 1986, with ground breaking set for early next year on Chinese New Year. The project has received Metro's approval and yesterday was given a preliminary go-ahead by D.C. officials. Nevertheless, the developers said that they must still negotiate an agreement with owners of three adjacent tracts, arrange financing and obtain city approval to close an alley. The developers said they foresee no major problems.
The developers include a group formed by 34 members of Chinatown's business community, and spokesmen said the project was the first of this size in the United States to entail such broad participation by Chinese-Americans. The community group, called the Chinatown Development Corp., will own 47 percent of the venture, a controlling interest. The other major partners are Robert M. Stein, a local developer, and Charles Luria Associates, a Northern Virginia investor and hotel operator.
In addition, the planned 10-story project was described by its designers as the first major Chinese-style structure to be built in downtown Washington. Larger buildings have been erected in Asia, the project's planners said, but they tend to follow Western, rather than Chinese, architectural patterns.
The trade center is planned to provide 220,000 square feet of office space, chiefly for U.S. and Asian firms engaging in international commerce. Adjoining the offices will be a 527-room hotel, which is to be run by the developers.
Shops are to be situated on the ground floor and on two underground levels, where a festive Chinese-style plaza has been proposed. The shopping area will have entrances into the Gallery Place station, a juncture for Metro's Red and Yellow Lines. In a separate part of the complex facing Sixth Street NW, the developers plan to erect a residential building with 165 condominium apartments.
The plans were announced yesterday at a board meeting of the Metro transit authority, which owns most of the land on which the structure is to be built. The developers will lease the land from Metro at a fee that will range from $250,000 during the first year of construction to $1 million annually when the project is completed.
In addition, transit officials said, the trade center is expected to attract an additional 8,000 riders a day to the financially pressed subway system. Metro has sought to increase its revenues through development projects, such as the trade center.
For the District, the venture is forecast to yield $3 million a year in new real estate taxes and other revenues. The complex is expected to offer employment to about 1,600 persons, Metro officials said.
Timothy M. Mahoney, a lawyer for the developers, said that the agreement with Metro officials, announced yesterday, will clear the way for negotiations with Bergmann's Inc., a dry cleaning firm that owns property needed for the proposed project. George A. Brugger, a lawyer for Bergmann's, said yesterday it is "too early" to predict whether a deal may be rapidly concluded.
The project was reported yesterday to have caused some rivalry within the Chinatown community between two groups of businessmen vying to develop the site. The Chinatown Development Corp. includes several prominent community leaders. Its chairman is Dr. William Chin-Lee, a neighborhood activist who has run for political office, and its president is James S. Pao, a University of Maryland professor.
North Gallery Place Associates, the partnership that includes Chinatown Development Corp., submitted the only bid received by Metro in March to lease its land. Nevertheless, officials said, another group of Chinatown leaders, including Dr. Toon Lee, a community activist, sought unsuccessfully later to be considered for the project. Lee could not be reached yesterday for comment.
Although D.C. agencies were described as "overwhelmingly supportive" of the venture, city officials, nevertheless, expressed concern about several issues, including parking. The project is designed to include underground parking. The trade center will be situated near the recently opened D.C. Convention Center, and city officials urged the trade center's developers to provide enough short-term parking to accommodate some of the visitors to the Convention Center area.