A Big Year for Capitol Riverfront

by Shilpi Paul

A Big Year for Capitol Riverfront: Figure 1

After developments stumbled during 2008’s economic turmoil, progress is now moving forward steadily in Capitol Riverfront and 2012 is shaping up to be a big year, at least from the restaurant, retail and recreation standpoint. Claire Schaefer, Deputy Executive Director of the Capitol Riverfront BID, filled UrbanTurf in on what has come or is coming to the neighborhood this year.

Restaurants and Retail

Nine new restaurants are opening/or have opened in the neighborhood in 2012: Bluejacket Brewery by Neighborhood Restaurant Group, Buzz Bakery, Kruba Thai and Sushi, 
Huey’s 24-Hour Diner, Potbelly
, Be Right Burger
, Willy’s Brew and ‘Que Sportsbar, Austin Grill Express
, and Canal Park Tavern (you can find more info and specific locations here).

In time for opening day at Nationals Stadium, Fairgrounds Outdoor Market, a temporary outdoor marketplace, will be opening up at Half Street and M Street SE (map). According to Schaefer, two food trucks (Bayou and Surfside) have agreed to set up there, and the space will be home to retailers and there will be a stage for live music performances. Fairgrounds will be open from the beginning of the baseball season until October 1st.

Parks and Recreation

Canal Park will be opening up this fall at 2nd and L Street NE (map). Taking over the site of an empty lot (over a canal that was designed by Pierre L’Enfant), Canal Park will have an outdoor cafe, an ice skating path, huge fountains, sculptures and additional public spaces. The main pavilion will be LEED Gold certified, with solar powered lamps, geothermal heating and cooling, green roofs, stormwater management and electric car charging stations. (JDLand has some great photos of the progress here.) In addition to Canal Park, the Anacostia River Walk, which eventually will include 16 miles of trail on both sides of the river, has opened up a mile walkway between the baseball stadium and Yards Park and Navy Yard.

A Big Year for Capitol Riverfront: Figure 2
Courtesy of the Capitol Riverfront BID

Residences in the Works

While no new buildings are delivering this year, several apartment projects are under construction to eventually join the 2,677 existing residential units in the neighborhood.

A Big Year for Capitol Riverfront: Figure 3
Rendering of the Park Chelsea. Courtesy of William C. Smith

Park Chelsea

This year, construction will be starting on the Park Chelsea, part of a 1.1 million square foot project at 880 New Jersey Ave SE (map) with 433 luxury apartments. Esocoff and Associates Architects designed the 13-story building. With studios, one-bedrooms, two-bedrooms and three-bedrooms, the development will also have ground-level retail and three levels of parking.

A Big Year for Capitol Riverfront: Figure 4

Camden South Capitol

Construction is underway at Camden South Capitol, an apartment project at 1345 South Capitol Street (map), right across from Nationals Park. With an estimated delivery date of June 2013, the development will bring 276 units to the neighborhood.

A Big Year for Capitol Riverfront: Figure 5

1212 4th Street

Also under construction is 1212 4th Street, a 225-unit apartment complex at 1212 4th Street SE (map). The apartments will sit on top of a new Harris Teeter. Developer Forest City Washington’s project may take a couple years to finish, with estimated completion in late 2013 or early 2014.

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This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/2012_a_big_year_for_capitol_riverfront/5320


  1. RJD2 said at 9:14 pm on Monday March 26, 2012:
    FYI: Canal Park won't open this coming spring. It is scheduled to open sometimes in the Fall (possibly in November). The Park at Chelsea is part of a 1.1 million square foot project.
  1. Shilpi said at 11:17 pm on Monday March 26, 2012:
    Hi RJD2, Thanks for the comment -- you're right. We checked back in with Claire Schaefer, who tells us that Canal Park will be opening in late October/early November. We've made the correction. Shilpi
  1. Richko said at 2:15 am on Tuesday March 27, 2012:
    Wow, why the aversion to condos in this neighborhood? Several years after Velocity delivered and it's still the only condo development, with the Capitol Hill Tower co-op the only other high-rise non-rental residential property. It's as if it's designed to be a neighborhood mostly inhabited by transitional 20-somethings.
  1. Ali said at 3:19 am on Tuesday March 27, 2012:
    Just a correction. Canal Park is on 2nd and L SE, not NE per above: Canal Park will be opening up this fall at 2nd and L Street NE (map).
  1. JT said at 3:18 pm on Tuesday March 27, 2012:
    Richko: When I was condo/house searching, I looked at many condo buildings in the area (at least six), so your contention that Velocity is the only one is not accurate. There are also dozens of townhomes/condos by EYA homes in the area. The new buildings may be mostly apartments because there are still plenty of condos available and the market needs more apartments.
  1. Mr. Galt said at 7:19 pm on Tuesday March 27, 2012:
    @Richothat’s a good question with a crappy response (coming...). Developers would love to build condos over there and quite frankly all across the city but can't. They have money to do so but they are blocked by government bureaucracy. You see, FHA requires that a building be 30% presold prior to the 1st unit closing. That’s all good and well but they also have an absorption cap of 30% max loans on any given new construction building. Fannie Mae on the other hand requires that a building be 50% presold before the 1st unit can close. So, assume a 200 unit building (which is not realistic because it’s too small to cover expenses on such expensive land and will not generate enough return), a developer has to presell 60 units and complete the project in order to settle the 1st unit. That means that you -the buyer- has to give the developer a deposit of some sort to hold a unit for you which is intimidating to some as it can be 2 years until the project is complete and ready for you to move into. But that aside, assume the developer does presell the required 30% and settles all of those units. The project is now capped out with FHA and the developer has to somehow sell 20% of the project (40 units in this case) to either cash buyers or buyers getting financed through private lending so that they can achieve the 50% presale that Fannie requires in order to begin closing conventional loans. This would be a HUGE gamble for any developer to take and currently not to many lenders are willing to offer bridge financing of this kind. So the conundrum is that the market demand is there and supply is almost nil but government intervention once again hamstrings a recovery of any sort and essentially shuts down an industry. For those of you who favor a strong regulatory body, I hope you favor paying crazy rent too.
  1. Diff JT said at 9:36 pm on Tuesday March 27, 2012:
    @Mr. Galt - you make the right general point about the financing hurdles for a new building, but the percentages you are referring to are for contracts, not closed units. So, if a building achieves 50% pre-sale prior to delivery they should be in clear assuming all the other factors that go into approval are OK. And, those pre-sales could all be contingent on conventional, Fannie Mae financing. But, for the general reason you pointed out we won't see any large scale condos (100+ unit) for the foreseeable future. Probably more likely to see smaller projects with fewer amenities (to keep the condo fees down) and only in desirable locations.
  1. Richko said at 12:15 am on Wednesday March 28, 2012:
    Yet the new medium-/high-rise developments going up on 14th St., NW, between Thomas Circle & U St. are a good mix of condos and rental buildings. I visited Velocity at least 3 times over the past 2 years and kept it "on my list" of possibilities -- but now that I've about given up on buying in my chosen neighborhoods with the amenities & unit types I want, due to extreme lack of suitable inventory, I've had my agent hit up Velocity again... and they won't give her a straight answer about which units in the tier I'd be interested in are still available for purchase. Oh, well -- I'm too old for that neighborhood, anyhow, it seems.
  1. RJD2 said at 4:23 pm on Wednesday March 28, 2012:
    @Richko,you are never too old to live in the navy yard area. I live at the Velocity and it is a great building. People who live in my building are all kind of ages. There are retired people, people in their late 50's who decided to live small because their kids are grown, early 30's couples, late twenty single professional people like myself and people who just want to have apartment in the city. The units are huge compared to any other condos in the city. The one bedroom with den and 1 and half bath are very popular and they are over 900 square foot. It is very safe compared to U street (all you have to do is check the police report, it is public). Two blocks to the metro and two block to 395 and 295. I don't know what your agent is telling you but you should go by yourself and talk to the sells agent. I don't even know why you need an agent when you can do it yourself.

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