Friday, January 30, 2009

Clark Realty to Poplar Point: Adios.

Hot off the presses is the news that Clark Realty has dropped out as master developer of the 110-acre Poplar Point, the hunk of land between I-295 and the Anacostia River. Chosen after a long and arduous selection process just two weeks shy of a year ago, Clark Realty was lauded for their plans to deck over the highway and connect the new development with Historic Anacostia, a bold move none of the other contenders had put forward. The firm was unwilling to invest the money necessary to prepare the massive amounts of unimproved land for development.

This news represents an unfortunate loss for the entire city, but especially the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the site. The community had embraced Clark's extraordinary team that included much-loved planners/architects Torti Gallas & Partners, sustainable design experts William McDonough & Partners, and landscape architects Wallace Roberts & Todd, to name a few, and was eager for and excited about the process finally moving forward.

According the Post's D.C. Wire,
...Neil O. Albert, the city's deputy mayor for economic development, said: "Clark is a great local company that will continue to do excellent work in this city. But in this extremely challenging economic environment it is no longer practical for Clark to pursue the deal structure we currently have in place.

"Our top priority is to make sure we fulfill the requirements of the federal land transfer, which transfers ownership of this site from the federal government to the District. Moving forward, the District will continue to lead, along with its federal partners at the National Park Service, the environmental impact study process and all ongoing remediation studies. This process is on track and we expect it to conclude on time without delaying the project."
We've always known that it would be years before Poplar Point came to be, but I certainly did not expect this latest twist. My hope is that the city continues to place as great an emphasis on this riverfront project as they are projects like the SW Waterfront and Hill East (both on the other side of the river), and that the vision we have spent hours, months, and years refining does not have to be started completely over.

Of course, everyone wants the pretty pictures to become reality - now. But we've been slapped with the cold hard reality that yes, this is a recession, nothing is perfect, and we can't expect for everything to work out exactly as planned. In their 2007 presentation to the community, original developer-contender Forest City put it well when they reminded the District to "pick a partner, not a plan. Plans change."

Spot on.

more details can be found here:
D.C., Clark part ways on Poplar Point, Washington Bizjournal
Poplar Point Developer Pulls Out Of Project, Washington Post


Anonymous said...

What a disaster. Clark really screwed up and hopefully lost a ton of credibility as a result.

Anonymous said...

Hey David,

Yeah I was disappointed at first. I'm not sure how I feel now after I had time to digest. The land transfer at this point is the most important thing. I thought Clarks proposal was the best...but I always believe competition is good so maybe there might be some great ideas out there yet to be heard. But the ECONOMY is the big kicker...we shall see.

Douglas Andrew Willinger said...

Too bad; I thought your choice was the best of those presented.

Perhaps it is pressure from the various "e" groups that wanted the status quo?