Eastern Market Environs Get Boost in New Project

Posted September 22, 2009 at 4:06pm

The Eastern Market area is looking up, and not just because its famed market reopened in June. Hine Junior High School, the rundown building located between Eastern Market and the adjacent Metro stop, was closed this school year, and last week a developer was chosen to tear down the 1960s-era building and redevelop the site.

Mayor Adrian Fenty named a proposal that came from local developers Stanton Development Corp. and EastBanc Inc. the winner over 10 other bids on Sept. 15.

The Stanton-EastBanc plan would use 510,000 square feet, including office space, apartments, retail, restaurants and underground parking. The Shakespeare Theatre Co. and Arlington-based International Relief and Development will use office space in the new complex, and some of the 150 apartments will be reserved for seniors.

Ken Golding, co-president of Stanton Development, said his firm’s history of big projects on Capitol Hill made them best suited for this development. He said the goal with the Hine site is to bring more people into the neighborhood during the week, giving restaurants and retailers access to more potential customers. The neighborhood is personally important to Golding, who noted that he has been working on projects around Capitol Hill for more than 25 years.

“I’ve always done a lot to see that that street gets better,— he said.

Each design team consulted residents and local interest groups as they designed their proposals. Donna Scheeder, chairwoman of the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee, said her group is “thrilled with the selection.—

“All of the proposals had some wonderful features attached to them, but I think from the market’s point of view this proposal was the one most respectful of the market and the neighborhood,— she said.

Scheeder said she worked with Golding on the streetscape project around Eastern Market earlier this year and is looking forward to working with him again. Golding also serves as president of the Market Row Association, a group made up of merchants along Seventh Street Southeast. His firm owns three buildings on that street.

The Capitol Hill Restoration Society also recommended the Stanton-EastBanc plan in a letter to Valerie Santos, deputy mayor for planning and economic development. The group monitored the bidding process closely and voted in favor of the ultimately victorious plan at a meeting in July, according to President Elizabeth Purcell.

“The Stanton-Eastbanc mix of uses is superior because it provides for substantially more office space thus putting more people on the street to patronize the retail and restaurants during the daytime,— she wrote. Among the CHRS’ other reasons for supporting the Stanton-EastBanc plan were its piazza, giving the current Hine flea market more room, its parking options and its affordable housing.

Even though the bid was approved, there are still a lot of bureaucratic hoops to jump through, including getting the approval of the D.C. Zoning Commission and the Historic Preservation Review Board. The group plans to hold more meetings to get input from members of the community. Golding said they hope to break ground in 2011, and he expects that by the time the project is done, the neighborhood will be a bigger draw than it already is.

“When people come to Washington and they’re sick of looking at the museums, this is the place to go,— he said.