D.C. clearing the way for new movie theater near Nationals Park

District officials have identified a site on the Anacostia River where they hope to move a Capitol Riverfront D.C. Water facility, clearing the way for a movie theater-anchored mixed-use development.

The D.C. Water fleet and maintenance facility at First and N streets, at least a portion of it, may be moved on an interim basis to an nearby parcel controlled by Forest City Washington, developer of The Yards, before relocating to its final destination on a former Washington Gas parcel on the river.

The final location (there are no other options on the table) is north and east of the new 11th Street Bridge, just south of Water Street SE. It was formerly used by Washington Gas.

The D.C. Water fleet and maintenance facility must be moved so that the land, immediately east of Nationals Park, can be turned over to Forest City. That site, a total of three adjacent parcels, is a proposed part of The Yards, to include some 600 residential units and a Showplace Icon theater.

The District and Forest City hope to get the movie theater construction underway next spring and finished by the fall of 2016. Showplace Icon has an executed letter of intent and has committed spending $16 million in cash on the project, said Alex Nyhan, Forest City’s senior vice president of development.

An executed lease, Nyhan said, is contingent on the D.C. Water relocation.

Jeff Miller, the District’s development director, told a D.C. Council committee Friday that the city has been doing some “test fits” on the 3-acre 11th Street Bridge parcel to ensure it meets D.C. Water’s needs, and the land will have to be remediated as well — an ongoing process led by Washington Gas and the National Park Service.

The relocation project was the subject of a short-lived budgetary brouhaha, when Councilwoman Muriel Bowser, D-Ward 4, chair of the economic development panel, drastically reduced the amount of funding for the project next fiscal year. Mayor Vincent Gray proposed $9 million, and Bowser’s committee, $1 million — the final budget provided $6 million.

Bowser has said her key concern is that the D.C. Water operation might be moved to a residential neighborhood without appropriate community outreach. She said Friday, the 11th Street Bridge site is “better situated” than any alternatives bandied about in the past.


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