A decade ago, it would have been hard to imagine dogs frolicking on the roof, kids eating ice cream, or young professionals sipping wine at seventh & O Streets, NW a site that once housed a single story grocer surrounded by a sea of surface parking, in this once blighted neighborhood notorious for derelict buildings and crime. Today, this corner boasts one of DC’s most extraordinary development projects – City Market at O, a project that has catalyzed over $1B in new investment and now ranks among the city’s trendiest spots.
City Market at O is located in the heart of Washington, DC’s historic Shaw neighborhood. O as it called by residents, is an evolution of what was—and a hip version of the best that is to come. It is as convenient as it is luxurious, located close to transit.
City Market at O articulates the ultimate confluence of community and design. The project is intimately tied to its community’s history with a celebration of historic and new architecture that set the stage for the neighborhood’s transformation. This vibrant mixed-use project spans two full city blocks and features nearly 90,000 square feet of retail including Convivial, the latest restaurant by the owners of Mintwood Place, 550 luxury rental apartments, 90 affordable senior rental units, a 182-room Cambria Suites Hotel, their first urban prototype and a 500-car parking garage.
The project’s central location, above market and high tech amenities has attracted a community of residents that span generations and incomes from those recently out of college to more mature long-term residents of the neighborhood. Several notable chefs have taken up residence here to be nearer their restaurants. And on any given day you might find one of them testing a recipe in the demonstration kitchen, even Top Chef Kwame Onwuachi. The kitchen, adjacent to the roof area with fire pits, a lap pool, and sweeping views of the city, offers just the right environment for these culinary artists to test their imaginations.
A roof top dog run offers space for small and large pups, replete with a fire hydrant and bathing facilities. Residents find respite on the various roof decks with a variety of seating areas, fire pits and grills, surrounded by a spectacular 360 vista, permanently protected because of the surrounding historic neighborhood. The library wrapped in chocolate marble and outfitted with comfy leather couches and chairs is the perfect setting for entrepreneurs and writers or watching a movie on the big screen TV. There is even a tunnel between buildings so residents do not have to go outside in cold or inclement weather.
An historic 19th century market, repurposed into a state of the art Giant Food Store (78,000), serves as the project’s cornerstone. The market is enveloped by a mix of residential and retail uses and a hotel and boasts the intersection of new and old architecture, newer and long-term tenants (residents and retail) together with luxury and affordable senior housing to form an authentic environment that readily integrates into the historic neighborhood.
CMO has evolved as the center point of the historic Shaw Neighborhood in Washington. DC. The success of this ambitious project is largely attributed to market acceptance. The project leased up in less than a year, the fastest lease up of any residential community in the mid-Atlantic region.
Extraordinary creativity on the part of the design, construction and financing teams accelerated the delivery of senior housing (3 years), achieved 15% more affordability, engaged the neighborhood, and consolidated all loading underground to create an uninterrupted retail experience with minimal impact on traffic and noise Architecturally, the program involved weaving four distinct uses together and restoring a landmark building in an historic neighborhood with a significant cultural legacy.
Rather than pander to this historic landmark, the architects embraced contrasts to distinguish new from old. The nine-story apartment building rising behind the market is a bold departure from the usually timid additions to preserved structures. Cantilevered glass bays and bright green, fiber-cement panels set off the turreted, redbrick market through opposing colors and shapes. 8th Street, which is part of the original street grid for the Federal City in The L’Enfant Plan, developed in 1771, was reopened as a 100-foot wide pedestrian and vehicular right-of-way with residential buildings on each side of the street. 8th Street, distinguished by its recessed curbs and patterned carriage-way, serve as the spine for City Market living, shopping, and relaxing. Most of the retail and the new Giant front along 8th Street, enriching the pedestrian experience. Re-opening 8th Street has enhanced the overall walkability of the area and serves as an important connector between neighborhoods north and south and provides a platform for community events and festivals.
Establishing a partnership with the community early on in the project planning resulted in overwhelming support for the redevelopment plan, the reopening of 8th Street and the adaptive reuse of the old market. An employment training/readiness program funded by Roadside to assure job candidates had the skills required (hard and soft) to secure a job and keep it augmented the owners’ commitment for employing of local residents. 51% of new construction jobs went to District residents. $192 million in contracts were awarded to Washington, D.C. Certified Business Enterprises.
The project financing included a complex mix of private and public funding sources. The more than $315M multi- phased project incorporates private land and cash equity investments, $102M of EB-5 financing (the first project in DC to receive EB-5 financing), mezzanine debt, $35M in tax-increment financing (TIF) bond proceeds from the District of Columbia, and a $128M HUD-insured Section 220 multifamily mortgage, one of the largest ever for a mixed-use deal. This was a landmark project for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and was the only mixed-use development designated by the Obama Administration in 2011 as a high priority project to be fast-tracked for its significant merit and job creation.
880 P Street, the final phase of the project just started construction, is 30% pre-leased,. The 142 unit luxury building will feature a music room a baby grand piano where residents can take lessons, jam and share their music. The projects splendid roof design continues with outdoor fireplaces, a waterfall and a boardwalk as well as an edible herb garden.