DC Council Amends 19th Century Highways Plan to Allow Fannie Mae Redevelopment to Move Ahead

  • February 5th 2020

by Nena Perry-Brown

Rendering of City Ridge.

Yesterday, the DC Council voted to amend an obscure act of Congress that has bearing on one of the city's largest redevelopment projects.

The "Abandonment of the Highway Plan for 39th Street, N.W." bill amends the Plan of Permanent Systems of Highways by removing the section of 39th Street between Rodman and Upton Streets (map). This removal helps facilitate the ongoing development of the former Fannie Mae headquarters site on Wisconsin Avenue. While 39th Street does not extend all the way to Upton Street, its path abuts the City Ridge development and an adjacent planned redevelopment of another former Fannie Mae office building.

The Permanent Systems of Highways plan was enacted in 1893 to regulate the subdivision of land outside of what was then considered the cities of Washington and Georgetown. "Highways" referred to streets between 90-160 feet wide, although some streets were grandfathered in. In the instance of 39th Street, which was never paved behind the aforementioned developments and whose path is part of the private property at City Ridge, inclusion in the Plan prevents the Office of the Surveyor from being able to create condominium plats for the residential components planned along that area of the site.

There have been several amendments over the years to remove portions of streets from the highway plan; another is currently pending in Council to remove part of Anacostia Avenue NE from the Plan in order to enable a senior living development to move forward.

Once the mayor signs off on the bill, it will be effective pending a 30-day Congressional review period. In the meantime, construction is ongoing at the City Ridge development at 3900 Wisconsin Avenue NW (map), which is expected to begin delivering its components on a rolling basis through 2022. The Roadside Development and Sekisui House-led project will restore the historic Equitable Life building while delivering the city's first Wegmans, along with roughly 687 residential units (including 60 affordable); over 300,000 square feet of office, retail, hotel and cultural space; and up to 1,400 below-grade parking spaces. Shalom Baranes is the architect.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc-council-approves-removal-of-39th-street-from-19th-century-highways-plan/16417.

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