Developers broke ground yesterday on what will be the largest development project in the District and the centerpiece of redevelopment near the Nationals’ new baseball stadium.
The Washington office of Forest City Enterprises Inc. of Cleveland is heading up the 42-acre project along the Anacostia waterfront on what used to be the Southeast Federal Center section of the Washington Navy Yard.
When completed, the Yards will include 2,800 condos and apartments, 1.8 million square feet of office space and 300,000 square feet of retail space. The first phase of building is scheduled to open in 2009.
The space has long gone unused and blocked public access to the Anacostia waterfront. The project is expected to revitalize what was once an industrial area.
“The development along M Street [Southeast] and in the area will be a new neighborhood where people can live, work and play in … an area that used to be dumping grounds,” said D.C. Council member Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Democrat.
The Yards is three blocks from the Nationals’ new baseball stadium, which is slated to open in the spring. It will feature a 5½-acre waterfront park with green space, walkways, a marina and a water taxi landing.
The Yards is one piece of the massive redevelopment under way near the baseball stadium. The Anacostia riverfront — south of the Southwest/Southeast Freeway and east of South Capitol Street — is expected to be home to an additional 6.1 million square feet of office space, 7,000 residential units, 1,000 hotel rooms and more than 700,000 square feet of retail space, according to the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District. The BID is expected to officially open this month to assist with all the development.
Several of the old Navy Yard buildings are being renovated as part of the Yards project. A factory that once produced woodwork and cabinetry for the Navy will be converted to 170 loft apartments, and a World War II-era assembly plant will be converted to 250 condominiums, according to Deborah Ratner Salzberg, president of Forest City Washington. An old boilermaker shop will form the retail heart of the area.
“Forest City has been interested in revitalizing the District of Columbia long before it was as popular as it is today,” said Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, pledging that his administration will “work extremely aggressively” in shepherding the project to completion.
The Navy Yard has been out of use for years. Now that the federal land is being leased to developers, it will generate tax revenue for the District. It is the only case of private development on federal land in the country, according to Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C. Democrat.
The new Yards development is expected to house more than 3,700 D.C. residents and create 7,700 jobs.