Jumat, 16 November 2012

City To Open Bids for Lot at Florida and Sherman Avenues

The District government is releasing its request for proposals for a long-term ground lease for a city-owned lot at the corner of Florida and Sherman Avenues.  The solicitation could go live as early as today or Monday, a city official told DCMud (Update, since original publication of this article the city has published the RFP).  While one developer reportedly already has detailed plans for the site, the open bid puts one of the District's more visible sites up for bid in a neighborhood where developers are already planning extensive construction.

City-owned lot, corner of Florida and Sherman. Image: DMPED
The request from DC's Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) for proposals for its 1.4 acre lot near DC's fast-growing U Street Corridor and Howard University is much-anticipated.

According to the Washington Post, developer JBG plans to bid on the lot and has announced a collaboration with national food retailer Harris Teeter that - if JBG wins the bid - would bring a grocery store to the site.

JBG already has a stake in the grocery store business in the area.  In July, the DCist broke news about the company's plans to build a Trader Joe's in its apartment building now construction at 14th and U Street.  JBG also controls the adjacent Atlantic Plumbing parcel, as well as the Florida Avenue parcel just a few blocks away, planning nearly 1000 apartment units in all, leaving little question as to its qualifications.

The area has so far not seen competing supermarkets.  Howard University had plans with CastleRock Partners to put a grocery store at a planned mixed-use development, Howard Town Center, located at 2100-2146 Georgia Avenue.  But the Howard Town Center project has suffered delays and there is no date to break ground in sight.  There is also speculation about whether a grocery store at Florida and Sherman could hurt plans for a grocery store at Howard Town Center, and of course Shaw will soon have its own refurbished Giant in 18 months.

Florida Ave. Reconstruction Project. Image: DDOT
But with the U Street neighborhood surging, stakes on just about any lot in this fast-growing neighborhood are coveted.  And private developers aren't the only ones who are turning a focus on the area.  This summer, the city's department of transportation finalized a plan for a massive overhaul of Florida Avenue between U Street and the Sherman Avenue intersection where the city-owned lot sits.  The Florida Avenue Reconstruction Project calls for adding more bike lanes, widening sidewalks, and planting more trees.  The city also just finished a reconstruction of Sherman Avenue.

The solicitation is likely to bring proposals from multiple bidders.  Six bidders are competing to develop a nearby, city-owned lot called "Parcel 42"...and they are just the ones who made the short list.

Update:  The city has now released the RFP, available in this link.

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