- The Washington Times - Friday, February 14, 2003

Efforts to create a lively waterfront in Southwest Washington moved forward this week when the D.C. Office of Planning released a final draft of the plan to redevelop 50 acres along the Washington Channel.
Residents will now have a chance to review and give feedback on the plan, which includes the addition of 800 homes and more than 300,000 square feet of office and retail space.
"It's an important milestone because it's the first time we're putting it out there for public comment," said Uwe Brandes, project manager for the Southwest Waterfront Plan.
The plans for a redeveloped waterfront in Southwest are part of a greater effort to revitalize neighborhoods along the Anacostia River, as well as D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams' plan to attract 100,000 new residents to the city. Most of the Southwest waterfront is now owned by RLA Revitalization Corp., a subsidiary of the National Capital Revitalization Corp. Public ownership of this land is expected to help redevelopment move more quickly.
The plan presents a unique challenge for city officials: developing new retail and attractions that serve not only tourists from the nearby Mall and monuments, but also residents of the neighborhoods. Until now, planners said, restaurants and stores in Southwest were frequented only by people visiting the city. This was a major concern among residents, who packed planning meetings in February and July of last year.
"The existing restaurants are good for the tourist industry, but nobody from the neighborhood goes to those," Mr. Brandes said. "There's a whole local and regional market that's not being served."
What's more, planners said, Southwest is now too car-oriented. The final draft of the plan calls for the closing of Water Street and the refurbishing of Maine Avenue into a street connecting the waterfront to the neighborhood. The plan also suggests tripling the amount of open space near the water and adding 200,000 square feet of space for cultural events and nonprofit groups.
"Right now it's more designed for cars, and we want it designed for people," Mr. Brandes said.
The housing component is considered a key part of the development, and not simply because of its potential to attract more residents to the city. Planners said they hope residential development will spur other types of growth.
"It's not just the numbers," said Andrew Altman, director of the D.C. Office of Planning. "Residents will make this a more vibrant development."
Tourists are not being ignored, however. The plan calls for a 400-to-450-room hotel and 2,000 new parking spots.
Planners estimate the redevelopment project will create 1,500 permanent jobs and $9 million in annual tax revenue. There are still many questions to be answered, including whether market conditions will support a hotel and how the National Capital Revitalization Corp. will acquire the leases or development rights of businesses that sit on the waterfront now.
The District will hold a public meeting to discuss the plan with residents on March 12, and will then submit the plan to the D.C. Council. March 12 is also the deadline to submit written comments.

In other news
Ameritel will move its headquarters from Rockville to Gaithersburg. The office solutions company said it signed a seven-year lease for 10,060 square feet at 207 Perry Parkway.
New York Avenue Gateway LLC bought two office buildings in McLean for $15.6 million, or $240 per square foot. Located near Interstate 66, 6832 and 6858 Old Dominion Drive comprise 64,916 square feet.
Tim Lemke can be reached at tlemke@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-4836.

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