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Edens throws latest pitch for Union Market: Offices, theater, retail and maybe residential

Friday - 7/11/2014, 6:33am  ET

The transformation of the Florida Avenue Market continues with Edens Realty Inc.'s latest pitch to the D.C. Zoning Commission, this time for more than 500,000 square feet of retail, entertainment, office and possibly residential on and around the Market building.

A planned-unit development application, submitted Thursday, calls for the first-phase construction of a 38,000- to-40,000-square-foot theater atop the existing Market building at 1309 Fifth St. NE, and a four-story, roughly 112,000-square-foot office component atop the theater.

The theater is expected to be an Angelika Film Center, which recently launched a three-screen pop-up theater at Union Market.

A second phase of the proposed development would feature 25,000 to 35,000 square feet of retail and 260,000 to 290,000 square feet of office or residential, plus 300 to 475 parking spaces, all in a new building on the site of an existing warehouse and distribution facility at 1329 Fifth St. NE. The building would top out at 10 or 11 stories.

The project would include two open plazas, one at the foot of the market building and the second between the two properties, in addition to significant streetscape and sidewalk improvements on both Fifth and Sixth streets NE.

"Union Market provides the District with an unbelievable opportunity, rare for any major city – an opportunity to create a 45-acre mixed-use district, with an existing grid of streets, in the heart of Northeast DC’s Ward 5, all without displacing a single resident," according to a statement submitted with the application.

Edens has its hands full with Union Market PUDs. In early May, it submitted plans to redevelop 1270 Fourth St. NE with up to 520 residential units and nearly 40,000 square feet of ground floor retail in an 11-story building. The continued expansion and improvement of the market "is critical to facilitating further future development and allowing it to prosper through the 45 acres," the application states.

The developer is EAJ 1309 5th Street LLC, an affiliate of Edens. The lead architect is Shalom Baranes Associates, and the landscape architect is Baltimore's Mahan Rykiel Associates.

The Fifth Street project, per the statement, "invigorates both the public space and private property through a unique mix of uses in an atypical configuration."

With a design strategy that includes large steel trusses to span over the existing building (the market will not close during construction), the theater will appear to float above. Positioned 35 feet in the air, the theater "interacts with the streets of Union Market with dramatic, revealing architecture including terraces and openings in the facade as well as a ground floor lobby and cafe directly activating street level.

"While creating a destination in itself," the developer touts, "the project bolsters the entire Union Market district, enabling it to regain its stature as a retail destination and a gathering place for residents and visitors as well as a significant employment hub within the District of Columbia."

We have renderings, above, of what Edens is calling the "south building," which includes the theater and four stories of office. The LED screen is listed as optional and for illustrative purposes only. The development on the far left of the rendering, with names such as Nike, Ann Taylor, Nautica and H&M tacked onto the building, does not exist. The second phase north building has not been rendered. The design will ultimately depend on whether the building features an office or residential use.

Once approved by the Zoning Commission, construction of the south building would begin upon the receipt of permits and take 18-24 months. The north building is at least five years out.

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