D.C. officials on Wednesday started the redevelopment of 50 acres along the Anacostia waterfront, a massive project that promises to transform the western banks of the long-suffering river immediately south of RFK Stadium.
The District is seeking a master developer to lead the resurrection of Reservation 13, a 67-acre Southeast parcel that includes the former D.C. General Hospital and 19 other government buildings, many vacant.
The developable land totals 50 acres, more than twice as much as the downtown old convention center site, and could handle as much as 5 million square feet of new construction, officials said.
"It’s just an unbelievable, exciting opportunity to develop land adjacent to a fabulous neighborhood and adjacent to the Anacostia waterfront as well," Mayor Adrian Fenty said during a news conference outside the Stadium-Armory Metro Station.
Fenty said he expects "broad interest in a major projectthat will serve as a gateway to Capitol Hill and neighborhoods east and west of the Anacostia."
Reservation 13 is bounded by Independence Avenue to the north, 19th Street to the west, Congressional Cemetery to the south and the river to the east.
The master plan for the parcel, developed by the community and approved by the D.C. Council in 2002, calls for a mix of residential, retail, recreational and civic uses branching out of an extended Massachusetts Avenue.
Building heights are to range from four stories on the westernmost portion of the site to 10 stories on the eastern end.
"The potential is huge," said Ellen Opper-Weiner of the Hill East Waterfront Action Network, a local watchdog and advocacy group. "The plan I think has a lot of merit."
Rebuilding Reservation 13 in an environmentally friendly manner is key to a larger effort, which includes the redevelopment of Poplar Point and the Southwest waterfront, to transform the Anacostia into a swimmable, canoeable, fishable "amenity" for residents, rather than a "dumping ground," said Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells.
Developers’ proposals are due by August. The project is expected to take at least 10 years to complete.