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8 development projects that will transform DC this year

Blagden Alley will hold fully furnished micro-units

A rendering of the proposed DC United soccer stadium

Whole Foods will anchor the Apollo, which brings 431 apartment units and more retail to H Street

The DC streetcar in action

Part of the forthcoming Capitol Crossing development

The Shops at Dakota Crossing will stem some of DC's "retail leakage"

A rendering of the reimagined Franklin Park

Southwest, long a trial ground for theories of city management, is getting made over once again into an EcoDistrict

Elevation DC highlights the city's most revolutionary projects, from tiny houses to big boxes. This time next year, the District's gonna look a lot different.
Take the H Street corridor or Yards Park as examples that it doesn’t take long for a pocket of this city to be completely transformed by development. The past year brought to completion new mixed-use offerings like retail portions of CityCenterDC (now home to RareSweets, in case dessert helps ring some bells) and the city’s 28th grocery store since 2000 as MOM’s Organic Market opened in Ivy City.

And 2015 promises to be just as full of projects, many of them still revolving around food, better transportation and easy access to the essentials.

Here’s a look at ten of the most anticipated projects coming to a neighborhood near you (or getting closer to completion) in 2015.
1. Micro-units
Living large (in a 2-bedroom apartment with a roommate) in the city is losing out to living small (and on your own). Developers are building 45 percent fewer two-bedrooms in D.C. now than they did 15 years ago, according to research published in The Washington Post.

At The Wharf, a development now under construction at D.C.’s Southwest Waterfront, 170 of the first 500 apartments will be “micro-units” that are designed for efficiency, typically less than 500 square feet in size and expected to be open for residents in 2017. Additionally, SB-Urban plans to build micro-apartments (with little to no parking) in three locations in D.C., the first of which, at Blagden Alley in Shaw, is navigating the approval process.

Tiny houses also will gain momentum in the city in 2015. A workshop at the end of February aims to show residents how to plan and build their own miniature homes, even as the city figures out where they can legally be parked.

2. DC United Soccer Stadium
The city and the soccer team could break ground in 2015 on a new, up to 25,000-seat soccer stadium in the Buzzard Point neighborhood of Southwest Washington, where it would become part of a “sports stadium gateway” alongside Nationals Park, says Michael Stevens, president of the Capital Riverfront Business Improvement District.

“A multi-purpose soccer stadium would be an anchor and catalyst for new development in Buzzard Point,” says Stevens.

The DC United team currently plays at RFK Stadium, which opened as a multi-purpose venue in 1961.
For the new stadium, the District will pay to acquire the land and DC United will construct the stadium and develop the surrounding area.
3. H Street Whole Foods
A new Whole Foods under construction in 2015 at the center of H Street’s ongoing redevelopment should continue to draw both residents and new restaurants to the corridor.

The upscale grocery store will serve the nearly 1,000 new residential units built within two blocks of H Street since 2007 — that is if they decide to eat at home. The H Street Corridor is known for its revolving door of latest-and-greatest restaurants, which will soon include Erik Bruner-Yang’s Maketto and a second location of Ben’s Chili Bowl.
4. Streetcars
The District’s long anticipated mode of throwback transportation has begun its test runs — and may carry its first passengers by Jan. 19.

The first 2.2-mile line that will open is along H Street and Benning Road NE, but officials are still figuring out how to safely coordinate the streetcar’s movements with the existing traffic patterns. Final testing is underway to soon welcome passengers onto the lines, probably for free rides at first until a to-be-determined fare rate kicks in.

Look for public comment periods throughout 2015 as the city works to expand streetcar service to other neighborhoods, including Anacostia, Southwest to Southeast and Union Station to Georgetown.
5. Capitol Crossing
A portion of this 2.2 million-square-foot project is directy over Highway 395.  The mixed-use project will build a platform over the highway to support four office buildings and one 150-unit condominium building with ground-floor retail at 201 F Street NW. The project will reopen F Street between 2nd and 3rd streets, NW, which will bring its retail and office spaces within walking distance for those just across the interstate.

Robert Braunohler of Property Group Partners told Elevation DC to expect “exciting news” soon about the companies that will occupy the retail portions of the development. Eataly already has a signed letter of intent to move forward with the project, but Braunohler says deals with two “international food emporium operators” are also in the works.

The developer secured air rights to nearly 250,000 square feet of land along Massachusetts Avenue NW, 3rd Street NW and 2nd Street NW over the center leg freeway portion of 395 to complete the project.
6. Shops at Dakota Crossing (AKA Lowe’s)
A 44-acre shopping center that will include a Lowe’s home improvement store in the Fort Lincoln neighborhood of Northeast Washington is expected to open in the summer or fall of 2015.

At the corner of New York and South Dakota Avenues NE, the development’s 420,000 square feet of stores and restaurants already also includes a Costco that opened in 2012 and is slated to also include a Marshalls discount clothing store.

The retail pocket is part of a 362-acre mixed-use project at the Fort Lincoln New Town development. The Lowe’s store will occupy a 130,000-square-foot building at 33rd Street and South Dakota Avenue. Maybe big boxes don't excite you, but the store should go some ways toward stemming D.C.'s estimated annual retail leakage of $1 billion.
7. Franklin Square Park
The nearly five acres of (deteriorated) open space in the D.C.’s central business district is slated to begin its makeover in 2015.

The park, bounded by 14th Street to the west, Eye Street to the south, 13th Street to the east and K Street to the north, is the largest located in the Downtown Business Improvement District. It was set aside by Congress in 1819 to protect natural springs that surfaced at the site and provided drinking water to the White House — but it’s now known more for a fountain that lacks filtration and crumbling sidewalks.

The BID is working with the National Park Service, DC Office of Planning and the District Department of Parks and Recreation to reimagine the space as a “sustainable urban park,” with construction slated to begin this year.
8. SW EcoDistrict
A 15-block area just south of the National Mall will be transformed into a “highly sustainable” workplace and livable neighborhood in the coming years, after a plan was approved this fall. The National Capital Planning Commission plans to work with the public and private landowners in the area to revitalize the neighborhood that is bound by Independence Avenue to the north, Maine Avenue to the south and 12th and 4th streets to the west and east.

The Ecodistrict will provide a national example of how federal assets and natural resources can be used more efficiently to improve both the economic and environmental landscapes of the city.

Buildings in the area include the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Postal Service, along with a half-dozen other federal office buildings. Plans for the district will continue to take shape in 2015 as the city seeks developers to make them a reality.

Read more articles by Whitney Pipkin.

Whitney Pipkin is a freelance journalist who covers food, agriculture, and the environment and lives in Alexandria, Va. She writes about food, etc. at thinkabouteat.com.
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