- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2008

The D.C. Zoning Commission decided this week to schedule a public hearing for the New Town at Capital City Market project, which would cover 24 acres at Fourth Street and Florida Avenue NE.

A public hearing is required before the zoning commission can approve or deny permission to build the estimated $1.2 billion mixed-use project.

The work would have been further along if not for more impact studies ordered by the zoning commission.

“Depending on when supplemental information is received, the case should be scheduled for hearing in June or July,” said Sara Bardin, spokeswoman for the zoning office.

Last year, developer Gateway Market Center Inc. asked for the zoning-review process to begin. Instead, the zoning commission decided to wait for a market analysis that would determine how such a large project would affect the neighborhood.

The zoning commission was responding to concerns of wholesalers who said they would be driven out of the warehouses and shops where they have done business for decades. The site is one of the few warehouse districts near downtown that has been spared from redevelopment and continues to prosper.

The market analysis, called a “small area plan,” is not complete, but is far enough along that the zoning commission decided to review part of it. At a meeting Monday evening, the commission considered a single building the developers plan to construct as a cornerstone of the project.

The mixed-use building at Fourth Street and Florida Avenue NE would house 116 residential units, about 60,000 square feet of office space and 40,000 square feet of retail. It would sit on top of about 200 underground parking spaces.

The entire project would add 3.4 million square feet of commercial and residential space. It would include 1 million square feet of offices, retail, wholesale and restaurants, two hotels, more than 1,500 residences and green space.

Gateway Market Center, a subsidiary of Sang Oh Development, is a relative newcomer to such large projects. The developers partnered with Apollo Real Estate Advisors, a fund management company, last summer in part to gain the benefit of Apollo’s experience.

The political will of the D.C. Council appears to be strong as the project moves through the review process: the council gave the project preliminary approval in December 2006.

Supporters include council member Harry Thomas Jr., Ward 5 Democrat, whose district covers the area.

“Thus far, I have been supportive of the idea,” said council member Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican.

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

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