Confused About the proposed Helipad on Water Street? Here’s the Latest.

Confused About the proposed Helipad on Water Street?  Here’s the Latest.

By Larry Janezich

Posted October 12, 2020

Considerable uncertainty has accompanied a proposal by Congressional Aviation to relocate their helipad and fueling station to Water Street, SE, near the huge mixed use project at 1333 M Street and the Washington Boatyard.

ANC6B’s Planning and Zoning Committee heard from Congressional Aviation’s owner last Tuesday night in an effort to bring some clarity to the matter.

Geoff Rankin is the owner of Congressional Aviation.  His lease on the ground down river where he currently has a helipad for helicopters used by MPD and area hospitals is expiring and is not going to be renewed.  He’s looking for a new site and after considering several other locations which proved to be unfeasible is eying a space on the Anacostia River near 1333 M Street, SE.

Rankin says his company provides an essential service in terms of public safety and unless he can begin construction soon, he thinks it will “go away”.  Neighbors and ANC6B acknowledge that, but don’t want the helipad located there, citing noise concerns.  Representatives from 1333 M Street project have not yet weighed in, and Rankin says that at the moment, there are no city agencies that support his proposed use of the site for a helipad.  City officials say there are no current plans to support a helipad for the site. 

Commissioners had harsh words for the Mayor saying that Mayor Bowser needs to show some leadership on this and to figure out where the facility needs to go, without making this corner of the city a “dumping ground.” 

In July, ANC6B supported filing a map amendment to zone the site that Rankin is looking at, limiting its use to open space, park, and low density riverfront-oriented retail. On Tuesday the Committee recommended that the full ANC to proceed with the filing and the Commission is expected to approve that recommendation at its October meeting Tuesday night.  Planning and Zoning Committee chair Corey Holman said that the filing will result in a Zoning Commission Review which should result in a hearing and a decision from the Commission on the rezoning proposal.  Currently the land is un-zoned and subject to development and use by an executive order of the Mayor. 


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6 responses to “Confused About the proposed Helipad on Water Street? Here’s the Latest.

  1. Carol

    Thanks, Larry. Happy to have this information!

  2. Marian Connolly

    very helpful. strange that Felice Development which has applied for a PUD at 1333 M SE hasn’t spoken up. just can’t see how tenants there would consider the noise associated with such a site as consistent with residential living at the site.

  3. This potential project greatly impacts the Boathouse Row and options that are currently being negotiated with DC (especially Seafarers Yacht Club (SYC)).
    SYC is very much opposed to this option until it’s clear about how the city intends to move forward with its negotiations with Seafarers Yacht Club and all Boathouse Row boat clubs.
    The flight path as well as ongoing negotiations with DC Government greatly affects
    Tony Ford

  4. Andre Briscoe

    This site has been a propose option for the First Black Yacht Club In United State. Which is (Seafarers Yacht Club). For over a decade, (SYC) has been meeting with the city for this site. Seafarers Yacht Club is located right up the river and has been looking at this site since 2009 because of sediment issue in it’s existing location. (SYC) is an affordable boat club and community outreach organization on the Anacostia River and has been for 75years. SYC is still working with the community and are partner with ASW to continue to making sure that river stays clean and teaching the community about boating safety. SYC has been waiting patient for this site to become available and to now learn that someone elks is requesting for same site. The river cleanup started at (SYC) in 1984 with a member that is still very active in this club still today. But the time has come for the club to be relocated because of members vessel are not able to get out anymore, do to sediment in the upper part a Anacostia river and (SYC), has been meeting with the city for this site right down the river, so that the club can continue to remain on the Anacostia river at the same site, that the helipad is requesting. SYC is still meeting with the city ask of today to me with the planning office for this site. Not sure were dose helipad comes in to play for a this site that the First Back Yacht Club has been requesting for over a decade now.
    Andre Briscoe
    SYC Board Member
    Past Commodore

    • SM James

      Thank you, Mr. Briscoe! Seafarers Yacht Club seems a far more appropriate use for the site. Helipad paving and chopper refueling might have an adverse effect on the river’s water quality, and helicopter noise is pollution, too. Let us know how to support the yacht club’s case.

  5. ET

    I am puzzled why the development hasn’t weighed in any way AND no city agencies support it. This impacts MPD and they haven’t said anything? or do they have another location preference do they already have another place? Their current location is going away and I assume they are going to continue to use helicopters– so where do they plan on putting them? This whole things seems off.