*UPDATED* Donatelli/Blue Skye Development Plans for Reservation 13

Below are renderings that Donatelli/Blue Skye shared at last night’s DMPED community meeting on Reservation 13. Here are some basic details about the plans:

  • Proposing two mixed-use buildings, one on parcel F1 and the other on parcel G1. Each would be four stories.
  • North Building (parcel F1) would have 113 apartments, South Building (parcel G1) would have 240 apartments.
  • Both buildings would have retail on first floor, with about 10,000 square feet of retail in each. Retail would be focused towards Stadium-Armory Metro Plaza and 19th Street SE. View the floor plan (pdf).
  • Both buildings would be significantly set back from 19th Street SE, with green space separating the South Building from 19th. Donatelli/Blue Skye envisions a farmer’s market and other community events utilizing the green space.

I’ll post some more details and my thoughts shortly. In the meantime, post your comments below.

North Building 1

Rendering of North Building, which would be located directly East of the Stadium-Armory Metro Plaza.

Rendering of North Building, which would be located directly east of the Stadium-Armory Metro Plaza.

Rendering of South Building on parcel G1.

View Down C Street SE

View looking East down the extended C Street SE.

SE View

Overhead view looking Southeast from the intersection of 19th Street SE and Burke Street SE.

View looking NE

View looking Northeast from intersection of 19th Street SE and Massachusetts Avenue SE.

Updated 4/26/13: A few more details on the plan above and my initial thoughts.

  • In his presentation, Chris Donatelli, president of Donatelli Development, said that they would like to bring a mix of local and national/regional retail to the first floor of each building. They do not envision large-scale retail like Target, Walmart, etc.
  • My former ANC 6B colleague Jared Critchfield asked Donatelli if his team had considered how the development will fit with the remaining parcels on Reservation 13. In particular, the current design seems to emphasize the front of the building at the expense of the back and there is no planned retail on the sides of the two buildings (facing the extended C Street SE and extended Mass Avenue SE). Donatelli said they approached the initial design with a focus on parcels F1 and G1 but would certainly look at retail options along the side streets. One challenge is the relatively steep decline in grade on the side streets.
  • I like the idea of the pedestrian promenade along 19th Street SE, though it would be better if the plans eliminated the street between the North Building and the Stadium-Armory Metro Plaza. Instead of creating a pedestrian unfriendly “island” around the Metro Plaza, I’d like to see the street turned into a pedestrian only walkway in front of the retail.
  • Donatelli/Blue Skye plan to include 225 parking spaces on the site, with parking in garages in each building. Parking and loading would be accessed from alleys along the rear of the buildings. They also anticipate metered on-street parking along the extended C Street SE, Mass Ave SE and Burke Street SE for customers visiting the retail locations.
  • In terms of affordability, Donatelli/Blue Skye plan to comply with the affordable housing requirements in law. Specifically, 30 percent of the units will be affordable, with 15 percent affordable to households earning up to 30 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) and 15 percent affordable to households earning up to 60 percent of AMI.

Overall, this is a good plan. There are some areas in need of further work (more retail along side streets, street in front of North Building, etc.) but the Donatelli/Blue Skye plan is certainly consistent with the mixed-use retail/residential development called for in the Reservation 13 master plan. And the Donatelli/Blue Skye team certainly expressed a desire and willingness to make changes and engage the surrounding community in the process. I think it is worth our time and effort to see this come to fruition.

Speaking of process, I plan on inviting Donatelli/Blue Skye back out to the neighborhood to share their plans once again and to get further community comments and feedback. The goal is for ANC 6B to send some comments to the Deputy Mayor’s Office before DMPED decides whether to proceed with the Donatelli/Blue Skye plan. I’ll share date/time/location information once a meeting is set.

One final thought: It was great to see Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander and Commissioners from ANC 7F in attendance at the meeting. Our Ward 7 colleagues will also have an opportunity to weigh in on Reservation 13 since it is now in their ward, and I’m looking forward to working with them.

Please continue to post your comments/questions below!

15 Responses to *UPDATED* Donatelli/Blue Skye Development Plans for Reservation 13

  1. Colleen Garibaldi says:

    Brian, thanks for your continuing efforts to keep this moving forward and to bringing such well-organized and reported information to the public. Your efforts are a true service.

    Your suggestion at Wed’s meeting of having a joint meeting with Ward 7 to solicit broader community input (and information dissemination) was wonderful. I look forward to the next steps — and appreciate the posting of the proposal’s images for review and reflection and future input.

    Colleen G.
    1850 Potomac (or should I say, on 19th looking straight at the entire stretch of Massaschusetts from 19th to Archibold Hall??)

  2. dcgent says:

    I largely liked the design. I felt they respected the request for moderate density, had strong plans for decent ground floor retail and I was impressed they didn’t utilize every inch they could up to 19th St for more apartments. I could see other developers trying to cram a lot more into there, but this would certainly be a net bonus for the parcels (anything world almost) and could help push development for the rest. We can push for more retail on the sides but they might need another floor of apartments then to make deal work economically. Given the recent fight over a parking variance on another site, I’d like to know if the proposed parking spots meet current code requirements (which I know some don’t think should exist). I was unclear how the Mass Ave side would look and they seemed to transition from brick to a more white concrete office look, which may not be appealing. I also wonder about the added street paralleling 19th at the Metro–I guess that’s for easier circling of the block but I could see traffic congestion/confusion happening there. No one discussed that at the meeting

    • Maren says:

      I wonder if by the time this project gets to the point of asking for a parking variance, the law will have been changed to “remove the minimum parking requirement for buildings within half a mile of a Metro station…” (as reported in the City Paper March 20, 2013).

      I think we absolutely need to advocate for more retail on the sides of the buildings. Not only will it encourage further development on the other parcels, but it will make it “human scale” which will create a more pleasant experience for residents.

    • bflahaven says:

      All good points and questions. Re: parking, 225 spaces, they plan to provide 250 for 353 units which is above the current parking minimum (assuming that there are more than 57 spaces in the North Bldg and 120 spaces in the South Bldg and assuming that the current parking minimums apply in the special Hill East zoning). I’d also like to see a rendering of the Mass Ave side, which I assume will be developed/shared as the process plays out.

  3. Alex B. says:

    Brian, thanks for providing the details.

    On retail: I don’t see the need to include retail on C Street extended. The Hill East plan called for focusing the retail around the Metro station entrance, and that’s what this concept does. This makes sense, as that’s where you’d expect foot traffic to be highest. It’s a space that’s naturally ‘public’ given this centrality.

    I would be curious about the future conversion of the ‘amenity spaces’ in the floorplan you provided that would front on Mass Ave extended into retail spaces. That would also seem to be a logical place to locate some retail (assuming the liner buildings for the DC jail are built as part of the full plan build-out).

    There are other locations in the plan that require ‘preferred uses’ at ground level, but those are not the facades on C Street extended that we’re discussing here:


    I share the concern about the road around the Metro entrance – it seems unnecessary and could potentially foul-up traffic operations.

    Great start to the development effort.

  4. Colleen G. says:

    Quick update to all in the discussions regarding placement of retail — the zoning requirements put in place for the entire development pretty clearly call out some requirements for retail. The design guidelines referenced above are part of the master plan and were used to guide the zoning. I couldn’t get a nice link to the zoning page, so I’ve copied below:

    “2811.1 For the purposes of the HE District, the term “preferred uses” shall mean retail, entertainment, cultural, or commercial uses.

    2811.2 The following locations are required to devote not less than sixty-five percent (65%) of the ground floor frontage to preferred uses and main building entrances, or lobbies to office and residential uses, and shall comply with the design requirements of §§ 2812 through 2814:

    (a) The west face of Square F (19th Street frontage):

    (b) The northwest corner of Square G;

    (c) The southeast corner of Square J at Massachusetts Avenue and Water Street, facing the monumental circle;

    (d) The northeast corner of Square M at Massachusetts Avenue and Water Street, facing the monumental circle; and

    (e) All Independence Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue frontages;”

    for those who’d like to scroll through the actual zoning, look at the zoning page and go down to the HE-1 through 4 districts for further info:


    Re: the street at the north building, this street may serve a purpose — it was included in the master plan as a way to separate the traffic for the metro/general through traffic and that for the smaller retailers that were envisioned for that location. The thought being that a couple of teaser parking spaces would benefit the small retailers (an example is market Common in Clarendon/Arlington) and provide a place for “local” traffic to be. I’d like to see some more discussion and thought on that street instead of viewing it simply as “cars bad; walking, biking, bus better”. Even with the new 11th Street bridge, we still get a lot of commuter and bus traffic on 19th. We could be inviting hazardous conditions while trying to solve something else.

    Colleen G.

  5. Hill Buzz says:

    […] Reservation 13 coverage: Housing Complex looked at the background, renderings and why neighbors are frustrated with developer plans, and ANC Commissioner Brian Flahaven shared additional details about the plans. […]

  6. rg says:


    I wasn’t able to attend the meeting, but I like the plans in general. I especially like the 19th Street promenade. Thank you for all of your work!! Our neighborhood desperately needs more retail and services — I hope the Mayor’s office does not kill this project with disinterest and apathy.

    • Pat Taylor says:

      While this development proposal is still at the stage of being considered by OPED, it would be good to know:

      1) What the DC Govt. will be giving to the developers.
      For example, will the developers be gifted with this land? Or are the developers purchasing the land and, if so, how much will they pay for it. Are there other “sweeteners” being offered to the developers and, if so, what are they?

      2) Do the building heights meet the height limits for these parcels as set out in OPED’s Design Guidelines for development of Reservation 13? Looking at the developer’s images of the proposed buildings, I am wondering whether the building heights exceed the design guidelines? These two large buildings seem inappropriately massive to be just across 19th St. from 2- and 3-story rowhouses.

      3) In the mid-2000 decade, when OPED solicited proposals for the whole of the Hill East Waterfront (65 acres), the HDG group’s proposal was heavily favored by nearby residents and Capitol Hill organizations. A youtube video gives some sense of the HDG proposal: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rP3P7ddj50.
      A central feature of that proposal was that C St. — the one street stretching from 19th St. to the waterfront edge of the property — would be a grand bo ulevard with retail lining it on both sides. In the Donatelli/Blue Skye plan, C St. is really a “nothing” street. No retail, rather narrow, no made-for-strolling, tree-lined boulevard.

      4) It is sad that OPED is not giving this fine development site — located atop a metro station, on the banks of the visually lovely Anacostia River, with views across to the tree-covered hills east of the river — the handsome, integrated development plan that would make it widely admired.

  7. […] 8:00 pm at St. Coletta of Greater Washington (1901 Independence Avenue SE). If you missed the April 24 meeting, this will be an opportunity to see the proposed plans for parcels F1 & G1 and share your […]

  8. […] at the May 22 Hill East Task Force meeting, I’ve posted the recap below. I’ve also previously posted the design […]

  9. […] Economic Development. I’ll be curious to hear if Deputy Mayor Hoskins has any updates on the Donatelli/Blue Skye proposal and DMPED’s larger vision for Res. […]

  10. […] will formally transfer Parcels F1 & G1 to Donatelli Development and Blue Skye Development. The Donatelli/Blue Skye plans call for two mixed-use buildings with 354 apartments and around 20,000 square feet of retail space. […]

  11. […] Donatelli/Blue Skye development to move forward with design, permitting and construction of their mixed-use project for Parcels F1 & G1 on the […]

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