Donning construction hats displaying a blue Capitol Dome, District of Columbia officials gathered under a tent adjacent to Interstate 395 Tuesday to break ground on the Capitol Crossing project.
The $1.3 billion project, privately funded by Property Group Partners, will install five mixed-use buildings over the next four years in what is now just air above I-395. The project includes housing, restaurant, office and retail space, as well as new interstate entrance and exit ramps. Construction kicked off at the three-block space in Northwest D.C., bound by Massachusetts Avenue, Third Street, E Street and Second Street, amid concerns the project would cause congestion along the busy highway. But D.C. officials said the benefits of the project outweigh the temporary inconveniences.
"Well, there’s no question that during construction there is going to be some traffic problems and delays, and we’re going to have to ask everyone for their patience," Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen told CQ Roll Call. "But overall this is a phenomenal win for this city. I mean this is going to create a fantastic space, it’s going to create a lot of jobs. And most importantly it’s going to put the city back together again.
"This open pit, this scar in the middle of our city,” Allen continued, gesturing toward I-395, “really divides Union Station from downtown. And this is really going to help knit that back together again. This is a huge win for our city.”
Other D.C. officials echoed Allen's optimism at the groundbreaking ceremony.
“There has never been a major project of this complexity, certainly in my lifetime,” Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said. "Through Capitol Crossing, we are going to get three city blocks back that were lost to us for 395 when it split the downtown from us. And this time we’re getting city blocks for all kinds of amenities for pedestrians, for cyclists and even for cars on 395.”
The project will involve a platform situated above I-395, which will be the base of the complex. As the buildings rise, the project is expected to create 4,000 construction jobs and result in 8,000 long-term jobs. Officials also said the expected property tax revenue for Capitol Crossing will be around $40 million a year.
Work on the platform over I-395 is slated to begin in August, followed by the new Massachusetts Avenue ramp and one of the buildings in 2017. The other four buildings are expected to be completed by 2019.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser referred to some of the headaches that could be ahead for District residents as construction goes into full swing, but said commuters would be kept aware of the developments.
“There will be challenges ahead. We invite all of our neighbors and commuters to pardon the dust while we’re making progress," Bowser said. "We endeavor every day to provide the most information so people can make decisions about their commutes and about their daily living while this project progresses.”
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