The Wharf: DC’s most ambitious development project set to open

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a five-part series on D.C.’s new Southwest Waterfront development, The Wharf.

WASHINGTON — Three years after groundbreaking, the District’s largest new development project is ready for its close-up.

Phase 1 of District Wharf, more commonly known as The Wharf, is set to open Oct. 12. It includes 3 million square feet of mixed-use development along a 24-acre, mile-long stretch of the District’s Southwest Waterfront.

Southwest Washington was the principal commercial waterfront district in D.C. in the 1820s and 1830s, but this is the first significant development in Southwest D.C. in more than 50 years.

The Wharf was designed to be both a destination and a community with its broad promenade, new living, dining, shopping, working and entertainment venues and its much-improved access to the river and water activities.

WTOP’s special report, Destination Wharf, goes inside the new development for a sneak peek at the new housing, dining and entertainment options, as well as the traffic concerns and the environmental impact surrounding the project.

Phase 1, which broke ground in 2014, includes $2.5 billion in new office space, condos and apartments and retail, as well as four new piers, a new yacht club, a boardwalk along Washington Channel and hundreds of new boat slips.

The Wharf, which dubs itself as “Where D.C. Meets its Water,” comprises 12 distinct areas, including Market Square, next to the Municipal Fish Market. Transit Pier offers water taxi access and an ice rink in the winter, and Recreation Pier offers kayak and paddle board rentals. Then there’s Yacht Club Plaza, Pearl Street, Wharf Street and 7th Street Park.

It also preserves the Maine Avenue Fish Market, the oldest continuously operating open-air fish market in the U.S. The market opened in 1805, 17 years earlier than New York City’s famous Fulton Fish Market.

Twenty restaurants and bars are either ready for the Oct. 12 grand opening or will open soon after. They cover the gamut, from Spanish to Belgian, Asian to Irish, Mexican to French. Retail shops include a salon and spa, a distillery, craft wine and beer, an eyewear store, a home décor and clothing boutique, a chocolatier, a French furniture store, District Hardware, a Politics and Prose bookstore and a CVS.

It also includes more than 14 acres of park and public spaces, plus water taxi service to Georgetown, Old Town Alexandria and National Harbor.

How did we get here?

Heavy construction is still underway along Wharf Street in the weeks leading up to the grand opening of the new Southwest Waterfront. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Heavy construction is still underway along Wharf Street in the weeks leading up to the grand opening of the new Southwest Waterfront project called The Wharf. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Facing away from Washington Channel down Sutton Square, an entrance to the parking garage can be seen between the Wharf and Maine Avenue.  The Wharf features narrow, cobblestone streets and alleys.
 (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Facing away from Washington Channel down Sutton Square, an entrance to a parking garage can be seen between The Wharf and Maine Avenue. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine )
The Transit Pier extends outward from The Anthem, The Wharf's new concert hall. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
The Transit Pier extends outward from The Anthem, The Wharf’s new concert hall. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
(WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Originally to be named Wharf Hall, The Anthem is a 6,000-seat venue meant for events such as concerts, seminars, galas and more. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Wharf Street is a main promenade that will connect the development to Washington Channel. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Wharf Street is the main promenade that will link the development to Washington Channel. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
From the Wharf, the Seventh Street Pier extends over 400 feet into Washington Channel. The curved gangway will be adorned with swings, benches and floating wetland features. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
From The Wharf, the Seventh Street Pier extends more than 400 feet into Washington Channel. The curved gangway will be adorned with swings, benches and floating wetland features. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
A view of the 309-slip marina and yacht club at The Warf. The D.C. project has revitalized a mile of shore along the Southwest Waterfront. More than 2,000 people are expected to live there and thousands more will work in shops, storefronts and office space. (Matthew Borkoski/PN Hoffman)
Here’s a view of the 309-slip marina and yacht club at The Wharf. The D.C. project has revitalized a mile of shore along the Southwest Waterfront. More than 2,000 people are expected to live there, and thousands more will work in shops, storefronts and office space. (Matthew Borkoski/PN Hoffman) (MATTHEW BORKOSKI/PN Hoffman)
This artists rendering shows what District Square, lined with retail shops, will look like. Shopping options will run the gamut from services like dry cleaners and pharmacies for the nearly 2,000 residents who will live there, to boutiques and specialty stores like a French furniture stop. (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
This artist rendering shows what District Square, lined with retail shops, will look like. Shopping options will run the gamut from services such as dry cleaners and pharmacies for the nearly 2,000 residents who will live there, to boutiques and specialty stores such as a French furniture shop. (Courtesy PN Hoffman) (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
This artists rendering shows what District Square, lined with retail shops, will look like. Shopping options will run the gamut from services like dry cleaners and pharmacies for the nearly 2,000 residents who will live there, to boutiques and specialty stores like a French furniture stop. (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
This rendering shows what District Square, lined with retail shops, will look like. Shopping options will run the gamut from services such as dry cleaners and pharmacies for the nearly 2,000 residents who will live there, to boutiques and specialty stores such as a French furniture shop. (Courtesy PN Hoffman) (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
The Southwest Waterfront seafood market, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
The Southwest Waterfront seafood market, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Washington. A new, mixed-use development called The Wharf has redeveloped a mile of shoreline adjacent to the market, which first opened in 1805. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (AP/Andrew Harnik)
This photo shows the Maine Avenue Fish Market, which has continued to operate while The Wharf, a 24-acre mixed-used project redevelops the Southwest Waterfront. The project will include a cobblestone promenade, office space, music venues, easier access to the water, 900 housing units, retail, food and much more. The grand opening is set for Oct. 12. (Matthew Borkoski/PN Hoffman)
This photo shows the fish market, which has continued to operate while The Wharf, a 24-acre mixed-used project redevelopment, evolves the Southwest Waterfront. The project will include a cobblestone promenade, office space, music venues, easier access to the water, 900 housing units, retail, food and much more. The grand opening is set for Oct. 12. The project preserves the Maine Avenue Fish Market, the oldest continuously operating open-air fish market in the U.S.  The market opened in 1805, 17 years earlier than New York City’s famous Fulton Fish Market. (Matthew Borkoski/PN Hoffman) (MATTHEW BORKOSKI/PN Hoffman)
Construction continues on the new buildings that are part of The Wharf project along the Southwest Waterfront in this February 2017 file photo. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Construction continues on the new buildings that are part of The Wharf project along the Southwest Waterfront in this February 2017 file photo. (WTOP/Dave Dildine) (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
This image shows the interior of one of the units inside Incanto Apartments, one of two apartment buildings constructe as part of the mile-long redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, called The Wharf. Two condo buildings were also built. As many as 2,000 people will live in the 900 new housing units. (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
This image shows the interior of one of the units inside Incanto Apartments, one of two apartment buildings constructed as part of the mile-long redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, called The Wharf. Two condo buildings were also built. Up to 2,000 people will live in the 900 new housing units. (Courtesy PN Hoffman) (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
This artists rendering shows the planned Incanto apartment building, which will have 148 units, a fitness center and lounge, courtyard and front desk concierge and on-site staff. (Courtesy  Hoffman-Madison Waterfront)
This rendering shows the planned Incanto apartment building, which will have 148 units, a fitness center and lounge, courtyard and front desk concierge and on-site staff. (Courtesy Hoffman-Madison Waterfront) (Courtesy Hoffman-Madison Waterfront)
This image shows the inside space at The Channel Apartment building, one of two apartments constructed as part of The Wharf, which has redeveloped a mile of shoreline along the Southwest Waterfront in D.C. Two condominium buildings were also constructed. Combined they offer 900 housing units and an estimated 2,000 people are expected to live in the new complex. (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
This image shows the inside space at The Channel apartment building, one of two apartments constructed as part of The Wharf, which has redeveloped a mile of shoreline along the Southwest Waterfront in D.C. Two condominium buildings were also constructed. Combined they offer 900 housing units and an estimated 2,000 people are expected to live in the new complex. (Courtesy PN Hoffman) (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
This artists rendering shows the view from a balcony in the VIO condo building, one of two condominiums on site of The Wharf, the mile-long redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, set for its grand opening next month. The property also features two apartment buildings providing 900 housing units. An estimated 2,000 people will live in the complex. (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
This artist’s rendering shows the view from a balcony in the VIO condo building, one of two condominiums on site of The Wharf, the mile-long redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, set for its grand opening next month. The property also features two apartment buildings providing 900 housing units. An estimated 2,000 people will live in the complex. (Courtesy PN Hoffman) (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
This image shows a view of the VIO condo building, one of two condominiums constructed as part of Phase 1 of The Wharf. (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
This image shows a view of the VIO condo building, one of two condominiums constructed as part of Phase 1 of The Wharf. (Courtesy PN Hoffman) (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
In this July 2015 WTOP file photo, construction work begins at The Wharf in Southwest D.C., a new development that will include office, retail and residential space. The Council of Governments reports that commercial real estate construction in the Washington region fell 31 percent in 2015 due largely to a slowdown in office construction. (WTOP File Photo/Ari Ashe)
In this July 2015 WTOP file photo, construction work begins at The Wharf in Southwest D.C., a new development that will include office, retail and residential space. (WTOP File Photo/Ari Ashe) (WTOP/Ari Ashe)
(1/18)
Heavy construction is still underway along Wharf Street in the weeks leading up to the grand opening of the new Southwest Waterfront. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Facing away from Washington Channel down Sutton Square, an entrance to the parking garage can be seen between the Wharf and Maine Avenue.  The Wharf features narrow, cobblestone streets and alleys.
 (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
The Transit Pier extends outward from The Anthem, The Wharf's new concert hall. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
(WTOP/Dave Dildine)
Wharf Street is a main promenade that will connect the development to Washington Channel. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
From the Wharf, the Seventh Street Pier extends over 400 feet into Washington Channel. The curved gangway will be adorned with swings, benches and floating wetland features. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
A view of the 309-slip marina and yacht club at The Warf. The D.C. project has revitalized a mile of shore along the Southwest Waterfront. More than 2,000 people are expected to live there and thousands more will work in shops, storefronts and office space. (Matthew Borkoski/PN Hoffman)
This artists rendering shows what District Square, lined with retail shops, will look like. Shopping options will run the gamut from services like dry cleaners and pharmacies for the nearly 2,000 residents who will live there, to boutiques and specialty stores like a French furniture stop. (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
This artists rendering shows what District Square, lined with retail shops, will look like. Shopping options will run the gamut from services like dry cleaners and pharmacies for the nearly 2,000 residents who will live there, to boutiques and specialty stores like a French furniture stop. (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
The Southwest Waterfront seafood market, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
This photo shows the Maine Avenue Fish Market, which has continued to operate while The Wharf, a 24-acre mixed-used project redevelops the Southwest Waterfront. The project will include a cobblestone promenade, office space, music venues, easier access to the water, 900 housing units, retail, food and much more. The grand opening is set for Oct. 12. (Matthew Borkoski/PN Hoffman)
Construction continues on the new buildings that are part of The Wharf project along the Southwest Waterfront in this February 2017 file photo. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)
This image shows the interior of one of the units inside Incanto Apartments, one of two apartment buildings constructe as part of the mile-long redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, called The Wharf. Two condo buildings were also built. As many as 2,000 people will live in the 900 new housing units. (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
This artists rendering shows the planned Incanto apartment building, which will have 148 units, a fitness center and lounge, courtyard and front desk concierge and on-site staff. (Courtesy  Hoffman-Madison Waterfront)
This image shows the inside space at The Channel Apartment building, one of two apartments constructed as part of The Wharf, which has redeveloped a mile of shoreline along the Southwest Waterfront in D.C. Two condominium buildings were also constructed. Combined they offer 900 housing units and an estimated 2,000 people are expected to live in the new complex. (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
This artists rendering shows the view from a balcony in the VIO condo building, one of two condominiums on site of The Wharf, the mile-long redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, set for its grand opening next month. The property also features two apartment buildings providing 900 housing units. An estimated 2,000 people will live in the complex. (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
This image shows a view of the VIO condo building, one of two condominiums constructed as part of Phase 1 of The Wharf. (Courtesy PN Hoffman)
In this July 2015 WTOP file photo, construction work begins at The Wharf in Southwest D.C., a new development that will include office, retail and residential space. The Council of Governments reports that commercial real estate construction in the Washington region fell 31 percent in 2015 due largely to a slowdown in office construction. (WTOP File Photo/Ari Ashe)
Developer PN Hoffman first won approval for the ambitious project in 2006, and spent years wading through a litany of District and federal government approvals. It eventually brought on development partner Madison-Marquette, forming the development team Hoffman-Madison, which oversaw the three-year build-out of Phase 1.

Besides the regulatory hurdles, it took some convincing to change people’s minds about the Southwest Waterfront.

“Everyone had a bias of what Southwest was. Everyone had their own definition of it, which really wasn’t very attractive. My biggest challenge was making people believe that it could be something different,” said PN Hoffman founder Monty Hoffman.

“For many years, it was sort of isolated. Overcoming that with everyone was the biggest hurdle. Certain uses started coming in and committing to it — tenants, retailers, restaurants, entertainment started committing to it, and it started creating its own energy and that’s very fulfilling,” he said.

The District has invested almost $200 million on infrastructure, including sewers, roads and its cobblestone promenade.

Live, Work, Enjoy

Here’s a map of the initial phase of The Wharf, the redevelopment of a mile of the Southwest Waterfront, which is planning a grand opening in mid-October. Click on the image to see a larger version. (Courtesy PN Hoffman)

With close to 900 residential units, the first phase will have an estimated 2,000 people living there.

Two condominium buildings, 525 Water and Vio, are joining two apartment buildings, The Channel and Incanto, along the waterfront. In addition, the project features three hotels for guests to stay: Canopy by Hilton, Hyatt House and The Intercontinental.

New office space has attracted several notable relocations, including The American Psychiatric Association and WGL Energy, the parent company of Washington Gas. Office space is 60 percent to 70 percent leased, and includes Pier 4 Office, D.C.’s first office on a pier.

All counted, 14 building structures make up Phase 1.

According to Hoffman-Madison, 500 District residents were hired during the construction of the initial phase of construction, and nearly half the expenditures to date have gone to D.C. businesses. At full build-out, The Wharf is expected to create a total of about 5,800 permanent jobs.

In addition to its vision of creating a new waterfront gateway for the District, Hoffman-Madison also aimed to create an environmentally sustainable community.

All buildings are designed to achieve LEED certification, many have green roofs, and The Wharf includes multiple forms of on-site sustainable energy, including solar and energy-efficient lighting.

Hoffman-Madison says it has planted more than 300 new trees and preserved existing, mature oaks.

Phase 2, expected to break ground in mid-2018, will extend the redevelopment project another half mile to Fort McNair and include an additional 1.5 million square feet of hotel, residential and office space.

Read more of WTOP’s coverage:

Part 2: Examining The Wharf’s environmental impact

Part 3: Restaurants, retail and entertainment venues take center stage

Part 4: Will The Wharf be your traffic nightmare?

Part 5: Maine Avenue Fish Market gets a makeover

 


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