Earlier this month, ULI Washington released its latest Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) Report which focused on the Florida Avenue Market area of Washington, DC. Florida Avenue Market is located approximately 1/2 mile from the NoMa- Gallaudet Metro Station and adjacent to the Trinidad neighborhood in the District of Columbia.
In 2009, the District of Columbia adopted the Florida Avenue Market Study Small Area Plan. The plan provides a redevelopment framework that seeks to balance maintaining the area’s old world charm, grittiness, and character while repositioning the approximately 45-acre site to respond to current and future development opportunities and objectives.
Now, the market is experiencing rapid redevelopment that will significantly increase density from what presently exists. Multiple developers have either expressed interest in the area, or are already constructing new projects. Current development proposals in the pipeline are expected to deliver between 5,000 and 7,000 new residential units; 1,000 hotel rooms; and up to one million square feet of restaurant, retail, or office space.
The magnitude of development creates a unique challenge for the city: aging infrastructure requires replacement; transportation networks need to be carefully considered; existing tenants face possible displacement; and new residential uses in an industrial area pose potential conflicts. However, if considered holistically, such development presents opportunities to envision and create a sustainable and environmentally responsible new neighborhood and dynamic addition to the District’s urban fabric.
Accordingly, the goal of this TAP was to identify and elevate awareness of best practices on the following three topical areas to developers and other stakeholders who are influencing the rapid change in the study area:
- District Energy & Utility Infrastructure
- Cultural Sustainability
- Open Space
In total, Panelists recommended over 25 strategies for addressing challenges associated with district energy and utility infrastructure, cultural sustainability, and open space.
Panelists made the following recommendations relating to district energy:
- Implement a microgrid-enabled district energy system.
- Align the timing of the installation of district energy distribution lines with other infrastructure replacement.
- Formalize the Union Market Coalition as a Business Improvement District.
- Pilot mandatory connection policies in the Florida Avenue Market area.
- Develop a district energy feasibility and design study.
- Pilot a regulatory framework for multi-user business models.
- Align energy infrastructure planning with land use planning.
- Establish the Florida Avenue Market as an energy innovation district.
- Pilot a public incentives package for the Florida Avenue Market.
- Develop a third-party finance business model for district energy deployment.
- Promote the Florida Avenue Market district energy system as a demonstration project.
Panelists made the following recommendations relating to cultural sustainability:
- Partner with food incubators.
- Recruit multi-ethnic food vendors.
- Provide affordable retail space.
- Provide financial support to historic property owners and small businesses.
- Create a Merchant Fund.
- Adopt a Small Enterprise Workspace Overlay.
- Provide incentives to lease retail to deaf-owned businesses as part of the Planned Unit Development (PUD) process.
- Leverage tax credits as a tool for affordable small business work spaces.
- Leverage the Great Streets Program.
Panelists made the following recommendations relating to open space, in addition to creating the Concept Plan below:
- Proactively designate a network of small, connected green spaces within the 45-acre study area.
- Preserve the existing historic structures to create a memorable central green space that celebrates Florida Avenue Market’s history and character.
- Address current stormwater regulations and incorporate best practices in green infrastructure.
- Coordinate stormwater management techniques across PUDs through joint Best Management Practice applications.
- Incorporate bike and pedestrian infrastructure into streetscape designs.
- Connect to the Metropolitan Branch Trail and surrounding neighborhood.
Panelists agreed that the study area faces several hurdles to achieving the goals set forth in this TAP, many of which require creative solutions in financing, vision-setting, and collaboration amongst stakeholders. Panelists emphasized the importance of “getting ahead of the game” when setting such an ambitious vision for a neighborhood, and acknowledged that many of the recommendations in this TAP may be appropriate to apply to a different community where the notion of redevelopment is still in its infancy.
In particular, Panelists agreed that a coordinated study should occur as early as possible in the planning timeline – ideally during the Small Area Plan design and approval process, or when changes to zoning, land use types, or increases to the FAR are being considered. Panelists emphasized that land owners and developers need to be brought together to collectively consider larger, interwoven issues before a neighborhood transitions and land transfers, rather than during a neighborhood’s transition.
Nevertheless, Panelists praised the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment for teaming up with the District of Columbia Office of Planning to invite ULI Washington into this area and provide recommendations. With coordination and creativity, the goals for Florida Avenue Market can remain within reach.
This Panel was chaired by Bradford H. Dockser, Chief Executive Officer, Green Solutions, LLC. Panelists also included: Gus Bauman, Beveridge & Diamond; Scott Brideau, Little Diversified Architecture Consulting, LLC; Katharine Burgess, ULI; Gabriella Canãmar Clark, Land Design; Benjamin Cohen, Davis Construction Corporation; Maia Davis, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments; Ilana Preuss, Recast City; David Varner, SmithGroupJJR; and Kraig Walseben, Rodgers Consulting.
The report can be found in full here.
This TAP was jointly sponsored by the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment, the District of Columbia Office of Planning, and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG). To learn more about the ULI Washington Technical Assistance Panel program, please click here.