New Development in the Brookland area of Washington, DC.
Abdo Development and Catholic University are seeking approval from the Washington DC Zoning Commission to approve changes to the University’s campus plan in order to go forward with Abdo’s plan to revitalize the Brookland area of Washington, DC. The decision of the Commission is expected on November 9th 2009 by which time they will have the necessary information about parking and fire code requirements. At a hearing on October 5th 2009 during which the plan was presented to the Zoning Commission, the Commissioners seemed quite impressed with Vice Chairman William W. Keating III saying he was “very excited about this project.”
The area affected is nine acres of land that the Catholic University owns along Michigan Avenue and Monroe Street. The proposal includes 85,000 square feet of retail space on this acreage along with 825 residential units in an area that now holds mostly row houses and detached homes. Abdo also proposes to add a European flair to the neighborhood with a cobblestoned public square and a clock tower. There would be an arts building to house artists demonstrations and recitals, and a college main street (Monroe Street) with Mom and Pop type shops, cafes and restaurants.
The Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association, while somewhat disappointed that the parties did not consult more with the community about their plan, is in favor of the project. Caroline Petti, president of the Association, is impressed by the architecture, the “pedestrian friendliness” of the project and the fact that developers want to keep out big-box stores. She noted, “There is a dearth of amenities in this area.”
Jim Abdo, CEO of Abdo Development, is Ernst & Young’s 2008 Entrepreneur of the Year. The company will give $275,000 to support community programs. Included in this gift, is $75,000 that will be used to provide scholarships to residents of Ward 5 to Catholic University or Trinity College. “Dance Place”, an arts center in the area, will receive $55,000, and $50,000 will go to bridge improvements on Monroe Street. It is estimated that the project will take 8 years to complete. Abdo said, “We like going into areas of the city that seem to be overlooked, places that have lost their glamor.”