Southwest Waterfront Breaks Ground for $2B Wharf
Politicians, developers, architects and local residents got together March 19 at the Southwest Waterfront to celebrate the groundbreaking of $2.2-billion mixed use urban project, known as the Wharf, at the Washington Channel.
At 8th and Water Streets, SW, at least 20 persons sat in a stage placed on the Washington Kastles tennis court -- to become the yacht piazza -- under a tent during the rainy day. After 90 minutes of introductions and speeches, they put their shovels into the ground to start the construction of the first phase of the 40-month construction that will give Washington, D.C. new residences, offices, hotels, restaurants, movie theaters and a 6,000-capacity concert hall -- and a marina.
Big names in local real estate and retail included Oliver Carr, Paul and Dan Hoffman, Tom Gilmore, Michael Jones and Dan McCann. Monty Hoffman of PN Hoffman acted as emcee along with David Brainerd of Madison Marquette. On hand was Mayor Vincent Gray, Victor Hoskins, deputy mayor for planning and economic development, and council members Tommy Wells (whose ward the project is in), Jack Evans and Muriel Bowser as well as advisory neighborhood commissioner Andy Linksy. Also in the audience were council members Anita Bonds and Vincent Orange.
Most speakers mentioned the superlatives of the project and how it was a game changer for the District of Columbia. "This is the largest crowd I've ever seen for a groundbreaking," said Gray, who added, "The day will come when the Potomac and the Anacostia are fishable and swimmable."
Via video, Rep. Darrel Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, complimented D.C. and called the Wharf project, its "58th crane." Issa said the project would add to "the resurgence of the greatest city on earth."
Praising the work of former Ward 6 council member Sharon Ambrose on the waterfront plans, Wells saluted the project's "superstar team" and said it add a "great mix for a special neighborhood." Hoffman then introduced Evans as having "served since the last century." Acknowledging that the idea of the Wharf started years ago, Evans continued the joke and said that he had met with Pierre Lefant and George Washington about it. The longest-serving council member then threw in that he had also spoken with Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass about the project.
Next year, Hoffman said, there would eight new cranes along the mile-long waterfront. Hoskins noted that the total investment for the new waterfront neighborhood would be $6.8 billion. The first phrase should be completed in 2017, and Hoffman said the ribbon cutting would be in 40 months.
"We won't need a casino to keep it afloat," said the local ANC's Litsky, referring to National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md.