The Walter Reed Community Advisory Committee held its November meeting this week in the library of the DC International School. The Walter Reed Local Redevelopment Authority and the project’s master developer, Hines | Urban Atlantic | Triden, were on hand to update the community on the multifaceted development’s progress.
Hospital Demolition Dust Control Update
As you may know, many community members are very concerned about the amount of airborne dust that is being created by the demolition of the massive concrete hospital building on the north edge of the campus. I arrived at the meeting in time to watch the development team and city officials Kabuki dance around the question of when and how the air quality monitoring results will be shared with the public.
What we know now is that the District’s Department of Energy and Environment is currently receiving daily uploads of the air quality monitoring data. Who will be interpreting that data and how it will be presented to the public are open questions. Another open question is whether any of the demolition procedures would, or could, be changed as a result of this testing. The building is nearly a third of the way demolished.
Site preparation for the mixed use “Building VU” at corner of Georgia Avenue NW and Aspen Street has been moving along earnestly. The team removed two 400,000 gallon storage tanks from the area. Construction on the apartments/condo/townhouse/retail buildings, to be called “The Vale” and “The Brooks”, will begin by the end of the year. Delivery in scheduled for two years from now.
The development team has been fairly open and creative in fulfilling their goal of promoting interims uses of the Walter Reed site while design and construction are underway. The Tuesday exercise and Jazz in the Parks series were pretty popular.
This fall, they operated a Farmer’s Market on three consecutive weekends. They reported decent attendance, averaging about 100-150 people weekly. Although the Sunday date conflicted with the nearby Takoma Park Farmers Market, this level of community supports warrants a return of the market late next summer.
Upcoming interim uses include a Casey Trees planting (this event is full) and a “Winter Celebration” on November 30th.
Community Pool News
Earlier this summer, Councilmember Brandon Todd informed the public that the city had set aside $5.2 million to fund the design and construction of a outdoor pool on the Walter Reed site. Brent Sisco, a landscape architect from the Department of Parks and Recreation, came to share the early vision for what the pool may look like.
The pool would be located at the corner of Aspen Street NW and Luzon Ave NW. This is directly south of Abrams Hall (Building 14).
DPR is considering building a 25 yard lap pool with an adjoined “zero entry” section. This ramped section will accommodate young children and person with disabilities. A bathhouse with multiple changing room options would also be built, along with a spacious deck to hold plenty of lounge chairs.
The design and community input process will follow the track of recent outdoor pool buildings at Kenilworth and Hearst. That design process could be finished in as little as six months or it could take two years or longer. The Hearst pool design was very contentious in that community and has taken a very long time. The other consideration is that the $5 million for the Walter Reed pool’s construction is currently programmed into the FY23 budget; that will need to change to keep this project on track.
There is excess underground parking beneath Building 14; the question is would that be available for users of the pool? Otherwise, the logistics of a pool visit seem pretty dicey at this point.
Senior Housing Application Process
The development team announced a tentative timeline for the application process for the upcoming senior housing opportunities. These units will be located the the refurbished Abrams Hall.
There will be 64 units of senior housing for individuals who earn 50% of the Area Median Income. There will be 16 units for those who earn 30% AMI.
The open application process will begin in the spring of 2019. It will include several in-person workshops to help seniors with the process. By late summer 2019, lease signing and occupancy will begin.
The developers strongly hinted that there will be an “early access” waiting list accessible to Ward 4 residents. These homes will fill QUICKLY. I’d suggest contacting your Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner to see if they can help you get on this “early access” list.
Finally, the neighboring townhomes will likely also begin occupancy at that time.
This was a concise meeting which ended right on time. The information presented was valuable.