RRED IN DC Says: “Mini Union Market” Planned for 1401 PA Ave SE Condo/Retail Project
by Larry Janezich
Saturday evening, Barred In DC broke the story that CAS Riegler developers plan to create a mini Union Market to occupy the ground floor retail space in the mixed use condo/retail project at the old New York Pizza site at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. According to Barred, the concept tentatively includes: a coffee/sweets shop, beer hall, cocktail/wine bar, food market (taco bar, pizza stand, and an Asian Fusion stand and a sit down restaurant. For the full story, go to Barred In DC here: http://bit.ly/2t8y6ZK
If it comes to fruition, the food and drink retail plan will bring with it several concerns for the community. Among these is the seeming affirmation of the conventional wisdom that food and alcohol retail is becoming the only viable retail on Capitol Hill. In addition, the issues associated with food and drink retail on Barracks Row – trash disposal, rodent, noise, and odor control – will need to be addressed through Settlement Agreements with ANC6B. There will likely be changes in traffic patterns and parking availability – as it is, the developer is providing 50 parking spaces for the 174 condo residents, anticipating that a majority of occupants will depend on public transportation. Will that be true for patrons of the Market?
In a related matter, DDOT is currently considering three different proposals for redesign of the PA Ave/Potomac Ave intersection and the Potomac Avenue Metro Plaza. See here: http://bit.ly/2qQ0OJe (ANC6B supports the “Ellipse” design)
10 responses to “BARRED IN DC Says: “Mini Union Market” Planned for 1401 PA Ave SE Condo/Retail Project”
I’m not sure what other kind of retail people might expect other than restaurants and local serving retail, such as the grocery stores already nearby. Shopping goods retail (e.g. Clothing) has always needed to draw from a much larger population, which is why it has always clustered in malls and downtown areas. Add in the recent pressures on retail in general from internet retailers and Amazon, and it’s not just conventional wisdom – it’s a full fledged trend.
As for trash and rodents, a big part of the challenge on Barracks Row is dealing with historic buildings. This is new construction, complete with loading docks, etc. It’s a completely different situation.
I also think parking concerns here are overblown, as they often are. The site will have off street parking available. The site has excellent transit access, excellent bike access, and is in the middle of a walkable neighborhood. Particularly when you are putting in uses like restaurants that will draw more from locals than from elsewhere, you’ll get people walking and biking to the retail.
To wit, the approved PUD has an internal refrigerated trash room for exclusive use of the retail tenants. That just doesn’t exist in historic row buildings. Smell, noise, and parking will always be a concern of course, but the issues of retrofitting an attached commercial building with alley trash pickup are much different than a brand new building.
Regarding the actual use, the developer has been saying for two and half years that they’re aiming to bring in destination retail. When they announce a destination retaill use it shouldn’t be a surprise. And the fact that zero neighbors or any ANC commissioner opposed this PUD speaks more than this some-people-are-saying style pearl clutching (though, as always, the community is better for Larry’s viewpoint and work and I all appreciate every single post)
I agree that new construction will help a bit with the rodent problem but rats don’t discriminate. Historic buildings, new construction – they will both present a serious challenge largely because the DC rat problem is so pervasive it will next to impossible to build your way out of the problem. So don’t gloss over the rat issue, it’s a legitimate concern.
I worry about the viability of this proposal and a potential “empty storefront” syndrome. Restaurants along Barracks Row and Pennsylvania Avenue are already facing a lot of competition from newly opened establishments in Navy Yard and H Street. Even Rose’s Luxury has open tables on many weeknights! One only needs to see the significant number of open tables on Friday and Saturday nights to realize that effectively adding eight new establishments to the area is a recipe for bad economics. Moreover, the proposed businesses for this “market” are essentially copies of what’s already available — burgers, beer, wine, and small plates.
Personally, I would rather see more professional services to fill those storefronts — law offices, accountants, salons, etc. — which will provide additional density without eliminating all foot traffic.
That’s great, feel free to open up a law office, accountant office, or salon at this location.
I don’t think you live in Barney Circle aka Hill East because, if you did, you would not want a law office, or accountant, or salon. You’d want what the neighborhood lacks – a place to eat or even buy a cup of coffee.
I don’t object to food establishment but I’d rather see a community minded food concept like Pete’s Apizza that would attract neighborhood families and finally provide a decent pizza delivery option on the Hill.
Can we talk about how horrifically ugly that facade is for the 1401 Penn development? Why is it that none of the new big buildings going up on the Hill can even make a tiny bit of effort to take visual inspiration from all the beautiful Victorian and Federal homes in the neighborhood? Since we’re talking about this, can we talk about HOW UGLY the Hine Eastern Market development is? It’s shaping up to be a shockingly ugly Frankenstein thing — how did it ever come to be? Especially the exceedingly ugly, weird-not-in-a-good-way, cockeyed facade facing Pennsylvania. The only thing marginally OK about the development is the separated off low-income building on C st that at least looks coherent and not eye-hurty.
IN summary, why do I have to go through a permitting process to change 3 sq feet of rusting iron railing on my rowhouse, and yet monstrosities like this get built all over the Hill?
So apparently Barred in DC jumped the gun on this. Not happening according to developer