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2,100 Units, 200,000 Square Feet of Commercial Space: The Vision For East of H Street

by Nena Perry-Brown

2,100 Units, 200,000 Square Feet of Commercial Space: The Vision For East of H Street: Figure 1
Aerial rendering of a redevelopment option for Hechinger Mall at night

While DC’s Starburst intersection sees five major roads in the city meet, it also signifies the abrupt end of the highly-desirable and still-developing H Street Corridor. Nonprofit coalition H Street Main Street (HSMS) has teamed up with Great Streets DC and the Department of Small and Local Business Development to present a vision for a revitalized area around and to the east of the intersection.

2,100 Units, 200,000 Square Feet of Commercial Space: The Vision For East of H Street: Figure 2
A rendering of a Hechinger Mall redevelopment option facing northeast

HSMS aims to extend the vibe and viability of the H Street corridor both north- and east-ward to Benning and Bladensburg Roads, adding to the few mixed-use developments already underway on Benning. Towards that end, HSMS solicited designs from My Ly Design, JSA Associates and DLW in order to demonstrate the possibilities of extending the corridor via several sites.

The first location is the prime site marking the Starburst intersection: Hechinger Mall at 1518 Benning Road NE (map), a suburban-style shopping center that spans 8.6 acres of land that is three-fourths surface parking. Across Maryland Avenue lies a CVS location on a 1.8-acre site, creating a development opportunity that bundles both sites together and delivers up to 2,100 residential units (20 percent affordable), over 200,000 square feet of commercial space, up to 2 acres of public open space and over 1,000 underground parking spaces.

2,100 Units, 200,000 Square Feet of Commercial Space: The Vision For East of H Street: Figure 3
A rendering of the potential Benning Road streetscape

HSMS presented four options for the configuration of a development on the 10.1-acre parcel on Wednesday night:

  • The first option would reposition Maryland Avenue to create a public park at the intersection and extend Neal Street to I Street, constructing a total of five buildings.
  • The second option would also create a park at Maryland Avenue and extend Neal Street to I Street, while also extending I Street through the site to run into 16th Street. This option would create four buildings.
  • The third option retains the Starburst Plaza and current configuration of Maryland Avenue, extending Neal to H Street and creating an internal road between 16th and 17th Streets, delivering five buildings.
  • The fourth option delivers six buildings along a more-traditional grid-like street formation via three new internal streets, retaining the Starburst Plaza and keeping Maryland Avenue as is.

2,100 Units, 200,000 Square Feet of Commercial Space: The Vision For East of H Street: Figure 4
Another rendering of the potential Benning Road streetscape

All of these options are theoretical unless the site owners are interested in redeveloping the above locations. Hechinger Mall is owned by Ashkenazy Acquisition; the CVS site is owned by Eastbanc, a firm typically known for its investments in Georgetown and the West End. Further along Benning Road are two other sites of interest between 19th and 24th Streets: the 5.5-acre block that contains Friendship Blow Pierce Charter School and five contiguous parcels totaling another acre steps away. Any development on these two locations is even more complicated, with over 20 property owners between them.

HSMS also posits the half-mile of Bladensburg Road extending from the Starburst intersection as another key development opportunity. The strip is reenvisioned as “Garden District”, a name that references its proximity to the Arboretum. Conceptually, that stretch has been divided into three zones with preferred uses and could support 1,800-3,500 new residential units.

HSMS reminded those in attendance on Wednesday night that any development plans may not be realized in full until 20 years down the line. In the meantime, they plan on presenting these proposals to the owners of the aforementioned sites very soon.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the acreage of the CVS site and the boundaries of the two sites of interest on Benning Road; both have since been corrected.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/2100_units_200000_square_feet_of_office_the_vision_for_east_of_h_street/13094

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