- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The historic O Street Market is about to rise from the rubble of a snow cave-in and more than a century of wear and tear.

The Shaw Advisory Neighborhood Commission just approved a town center project covering two blocks north of the Washington Convention Center.

It would add about 700 town houses, condominiums and apartments to the site and a smaller amount of retail space along the 800 block of O Street. The renovated O Street Market, built in 1881, will house a 65,000-square-foot Giant Food Store.

The developer, Washington-based Roadside Development LLC, purchased the land in 2001 and has spent the time since then designing the $200 million project and getting approvals.

The Advisory Neighborhood Commission’s approval Dec. 6 was required before the District’s Planning Office would certify the project for construction, which is expected to begin in a year to 18 months.

“It’s the linchpin of our redevelopment in the Shaw neighborhood,” said Alexander Padro, of the four-member Shaw Advisory Neighborhood Commission.

The Shaw neighborhood is bounded roughly by Florida, New York and Massachusetts avenues and by 15th Street.

Roadside Development’s agreement to add about 700 parking spaces to the plan helped persuade the commissioners to vote for it, Mr. Padro said.

The new Washington Convention Center has brought business to the Shaw neighborhood but not enough parking spaces, he said.

The next step for Roadside Development is to get the District’s approval for its O Street Market historic preservation plan.

Built as a farmer’s marketplace, the O Street Market at Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest has become a collection of empty retail space in a condition of disrepair, hastened by a roof cave-in after a 2003 snowstorm.

It had a 42-foot peaked roof with large monitor windows around the peak to let in light and air.

“Before the days of air conditioning, they found that if you put a really high roof on it and put in some ventilation, it kept the building cooler,” said Armond Spikell, Roadside Development principal.

Roadside Development plans to restore much of the building to its original design.

The exact number of housing units and dimensions of the project “hasn’t gotten quite to that level,” said Mr. Spikell, who met with District Planning Office officials yesterday as he continues to work out design specifications.

In other news …

• Construction began this week on a new $140 million, 438,000-square-foot medical building for the Saint Elizabeths Hospital campus.

Tompkins Builders, which is doing the construction under a contract with the District, plans to complete it by March 2009.

It is designed for 300 patients in a two-story structure that includes a green roof with vegetation planted on top.

• Silver Spring’s Falkland Chase area is scheduled for a $200 million makeover under a project plan Rochester, N.Y.-based Home Properties has filed with the Maryland — National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

Home Properties plans to build 1,020 residential units and 62,000 square feet of retail and commercial space at East-West Highway and 16th Street.

“The site is nine acres in a very urban setting with lots of activity and an 800-foot walk to the Metro,” said Nelson B. Leenhouts, Home Properties co-chairman. “That’s an extraordinary combination.”

• Property Lines runs on Thursdays. Call Tom Ramstack at 202/636-3180 or e-mail tramstack@washingtontimes.com.

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