Akridge Provides Update on Plans For Burnham Place

  • December 7th 2016

by Nena Perry-Brown

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Akridge Provides Update on Plans For Burnham Place: Figure 1
A conceptual rendering of Burnham Place

Ten months after a general outline of the Burnham Place project at Union Station was presented to the ANC 6C Planning, Zoning, and Economic Development Committee, Akridge vice president David Tuchmann returned to inform committee members and the public…that there was nothing to inform them yet.

As UrbanTurf has previously reported, the completed development will include three million square feet of mixed-use buildings, plazas, and parks. Progress on plans for Burnham Place, which involves development of the air rights roughly bound by the Metro tracks, Station Place, and the historic Railway Express Building at 900 2nd Street NE (map), is contingent upon the plans for Union Station’s expansion, which entails the reconstruction of all Amtrak’s railroad tracks and platforms to the north of the current site.

Akridge Provides Update on Plans For Burnham Place: Figure 2
An aerial rendering of an expanded Union Station

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is currently working on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that will simultaneously create a plan for the station’s expansion and analyze its future impact on the traffic, noise, air quality and historic and natural resources of the surrounding area. This analysis will also include the theoretical vision for Burnham Place in its calculations.

FRA presented its preliminary concepts to the public in October; those will be further narrowed based on impact assessments, which should make a preferred alternative apparent. The expansion’s construction will coincide with Akridge inserting support pillars for the platform that will form the basis of the Burnham Place development, so the latter needs to conform to the station’s new configuration. Consequently, the developer has not yet conceived of the various uses, locations, densities, building heights and types, etc. of the future construction that the development will entail.

Akridge Provides Update on Plans For Burnham Place: Figure 3
An aerial rendering of Burnham Place along H Street

Once FRA’s plan is revealed and Akridge determines that it is compatible with their vision for Burnham Place, Akridge will take roughly 6-9 months to start developing concepts and ideas to begin presenting to the community and the ANC. Each building will undergo the same approval process as other new construction and planned-unit developments, involving the ANC, zoning and historic preservation offices, as well as approval from the Commission of Fine Arts. By now, the station expansion component has been ongoing for 1.5 years; the FRA will likely begin studying alternative plans next year.

ANC 6C committee member Dru Tallant mentioned that FRA’s planning thus far seems “unimaginative” and inconsiderate of the future development of the air rights, an observation that Tuchmann understood.

“Just like many of you probably absorbed the concepts that were put out by the FRA in October, we did the same, and we told the FRA, in fact, that none of the concepts that are showing, in particular, some of the bus facilities in the scale and locations that they are, would ever be compatible with our project,” Tuchmann explained. “We have told them that we would not enter a transaction with whichever entity is wanting to make a transaction with us to put those type of uses on our property.”

One feature that FRA seems to be promoting is the creation of a train shed, which would create a large, naturally-lit concourse for the train platforms. Akridge likes this idea in concept and thinks that the northward expansion of the tracks offers an opportunity to avoid a dark, underground-only experience like Manhattan’s Penn Station.

According to Tuchmann, Akridge may be interested in somehow connecting the Metro station below to the Burnham Place platform, as well as ensuring that the streetcar stop atop the Hopscotch Bridge is incorporated into the project. The developer also hopes that the project will provoke a broader conversation on all types of buses to ensure they are conveniently integrated into the city.

More information and updates about the massive redevelopment can be found here.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/burnham_place_project_is_in_the_same_place_it_was_ten_months_ago/11953.

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