What's Going On With the Southeast Waterfront?

Development delays plague Southeast Waterfront near Nationals Park

What’s Going On With Monument Realty and the Southeast Waterfront? was originally published on Housing Complex on Dec. 02, 2008, at 3:00 pm

Today’s Washington Post includes a front page story that takes a sprawling look at stalled development projects across the region. The authors take particular care to focus in on the jumble of projects by the Southeast Waterfront near Nationals Park:

Perhaps no area is more central to the District’s long-term ambitions than the streets around Nationals Park. At every opportunity, Fenty talks of a cosmopolitan destination featuring new parks, offices, stylish apartments and restaurants, all of it along the Anacostia River.

Yet, how soon that vision materializes is fraught with uncertainty.

A half-mile from the ballpark, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and developer Monument Realty intended to turn what was once a public school and then a homeless shelter into an art school and apartments. But Monument withdrew in August, as its equity partner, Lehman Brothers, collapsed, leaving Corcoran to find another developer.

Along Half Street SE, the block leading to the stadium’s entrance, Monument hung slick black banners promising “a whole new playground” — new apartments, new dining, new hotel rooms and new shopping. Behind the billboards is a crater that is more than half a city block long and three stories deep.

Monument had planned to complete several hundred apartments and a hotel by the end of 2009. But construction crews are working only on an underground parking garage, while the developer searches for financing for the buildings. “Could it be completed by the end of 2010? Yes,” said Russell Hines, a Monument executive, while acknowledging that “it could be longer.”

Three blocks east on M Street SE, William C. Smith & Co. put up a red, white and blue billboard announcing that an office building, Federal Gateway II, would be completed in 2008. But unable to sign a major tenant, the developer is using the land as a parking lot, a decision that threatens to defer more than just construction on a single street corner.

The project’s anticipated tax revenue was slated to help the District finance $24 million worth of sewers and sidewalks nearby, infrastructure needed to serve 500 homes and revive several now-barren blocks once occupied by a public housing complex.

“If the infrastructure isn’t there, you can’t build the town homes,” said Larry Dwyer, the District Housing Authority’s projects manager. Crews were to begin excavating for that phase of the development in mid-2009, Dwyer said, but “if this market doesn’t correct itself, it could easily be delayed.”

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