The Buzz with Michael Stevens
Michael Stevens is Executive Director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District (BID), an organization that is dedicated to making the Capitol Riverfront clean, safe, friendly and vibrant. The Capitol Riverfront (the Front) is a 500-acre neighborhood located just five blocks south of the U.S. Capitol Building. It is part of an area that comprises what is now called the Center City of Washington.
Andi Joseph: The Capitol Riverfront has seen substantial development progress, despite the economic climate. What can you tell us about that?
Michael Stevens: We are continuing to build and grow a substantial urban neighborhood evidenced by our now 2,500 residents, more than double the number of residents last year. We anticipate having 3,000 residents by the end of 2010 with more on the way.
In terms of office development, the Capitol Riverfront saw the addition of Parson’s Engineering and the signing of the Bureau of Land Management and Sayres & Associates.
But, what really excites us is that the Front will have a new 5.5 acre Riverfront Park opening in July 2010 to be followed by the opening of the 3 acre Canal Park in June 2011. These parks will build community, place and destination for our residents, employees and visitors.
AJ: How is the Front different from other emerging neighborhoods in the District?
MS: In the Front we celebrate three defining characteristics or competitive advantages of our neighborhood:
• At the Forefront – a once in a generation opportunity to build a new community on the river, a city within the city
• Riverfront – the opportunity to create and engage a vital riverfront with new parks and a riverwalk trail and a commitment to environmental sustainability
• Front & Center – the Front is a mixed-use, transit oriented neighborhood with access to everything, including transportation, entertainment, office, residential, and retail, plus being located on the water just 5 blocks south of the U.S. Capitol
I would also say that the size of our residential community also differentiates us from other emerging areas, as does our most obvious feature or asset – the Anacostia River and having access to the water.
AJ: What is planned for the riverfront?
MS: We have embarked on one of the largest riverfront development projects in the country, comparable in scale, density and mix of uses to great waterfront projects such as San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood, Vancouver’s Southeast False Creek community, New York’s Battery Park City, Portland’s Pearl district, and London’s Canary Wharf.
The scale of the mixed-use urban development in the Front is indeed large, even for Washington on the heels of the city’s most robust period of economic expansion. At our ultimate build-out our new city-within-the city will include the following:
• Over 15 million SF of office space and over 100,000 employees – we currently have 6.5 million SF and 35,000 daytime employees.
• Approximately 9,000 residential units housing over 16,000 residents in for lease or for sale units.
• 1 million SF of retail, restaurant and entertainment uses, with the Yards project being a destination retail center with 400,000 SF of neighborhood serving retail and restaurants. Our neighborhood will also include two new grocery stores that will serve our residents and surrounding neighborhoods.
• Over 1,200 hotel rooms in 5-6 hotel projects – our neighborhood is currently served by the 204 room Courtyard by Marriott
• Four new parks and a segment of the 20-mile Anacostia Riverwalk Trail – Diamond Teague Park and Piers has already opened, the 5.5 acre Riverfront Park is under construction and will open in July 2010, and the 3 acre Canal Park will open in summer 2011. The Capitol Riverfront BID will be responsible for maintaining and programming the Riverfront and Canal Parks, and we feel these will be enormous assets in our community building, place making and branding, and business attraction efforts.
We are only five years into what could be a 25-30 year build-out process, so I always encourage people to take the art of the long view. Washington has been under construction for over 250 years, and we are not yet finished with that building project. AS downtown DC reaches build-out it is imperative for the city government and our stakeholders to continue to invest and grow emerging areas like the Capitol Riverfront so that DC can continue to capture its fair share of the regional economy.
AJ: You have a new video which showcases the Front. Where can our audience view that?
MS: The video can be viewed on our website.
For more information about the Capitol Riverfront BID and its activities in the Front, please click here.
Andi Joseph is Director of Research & Communications at the WDCEP.