Columbia Heights — 2010 Global Award for Excellence Winner

Columbia Heights

About Columbia Heights

Developer: Grid Properties Inc., Gotham Organization Inc., Development Corporation of Columbia Heights, Horning Brothers (Tivoli),
Owner: DC USA Operating Co. LLC, C/O Grid Properties, Donatelli & Klein (Highland Park, Kenyon Square, Victoria Heights Senior Housing), Triangle Development Associates, LLC (Park Triangle), Dance Institute of Washington
Architect: ZGF Architects, LLP (DC USA urban design, streetscape and landscape), BLT Architects (architecture), Mushinsky Voelzke Associates/MV+A Architects (Tivoli Square), Oehrlein & Associates Architects (Tivoli Theater), Ernest Bland Associates (townhomes), Tortas Gallas and Partners (Highland Park, Kenyon Square, Park Triangle, Victoria Heights Senior Housing), Parker Rodriguez (Park Triangle landscape), Shinberg Levinas (Dance Institute)
Location: Washington, DC

Why Columbia Heights?

Columbia Heights arose through a District government-initiated revitalization of approximately 20+ acres of land assembled from vacated parcels destroyed in the riots following Martin Luther King’s assassination. Reenergized by a new metro station, the project includes 1.2 million square feet of new development: over 600 housing units (of which over 150 are affordable housing units), the renovation of a historic theater, as well as new retail (650K), office, and cultural uses. An open competition process was utilized, which ensured affordable housing components, minority owned business involvement, and enriched architectural design. The projects include major large format (big box) retail and residential on upper floors, with smaller format in-line retail at the ground floor; creating a critical mass that ensures success. The revitalization also includes arts/entertainment components such as a dance institute and a Hispanic theatre as well as the creation of a new civic plaza, used for a Farmers Market and other community-focused events.
Enormous economic benefits have been achieved, including more than 1,200 jobs created and more than $12 million in annual tax revenue projected – from no revenues previously. Additionally, the land values surrounding this metro station have more than doubled, and have increased in value during the recent global downturn. Metrorail ridership is up over 300% at the Columbia Heights station after opening of large format retail (Target, Marshalls, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond).

Columbia Heights…

Columbia Heights

Interior view of DC USA lobby. Photo credit: Jeffrey Totaro Photography

  • Used an innovative public/private partnership approach that created synergy amongst several projects to create a destination.
  • Stragically leveraged private sector resources for public sector amenities to benefit the neighborhood and the city.
  • Is located atop the Metrorail/bus station, Large-format retailers now accessible to some DC residents for the first time.
  • Has a dynamic mix of uses including arts/entertainment, large and small format retail, affordable and market rate residential.
  • Achieved crucial continuity through several city mayoral administrations, from conception to implementation.

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