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WASHINGTON, DC-After some 18 months of deliberations, the District of Columbia Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning and Economic Development has approved a master plan for the $650-million redevelopment of the city’s old convention center. Archstone-Smith and Hines are the developers. Foster and Partners, a London-based architectural firm, and the locally based architectural firm Shalom Baranes Associates are leading the design team.

Some 1.4 million sf will be redeveloped into an urban mixed-use community, including 280,000 sf of retail–30% of which is to be devoted to local or boutique retailers. Also included in the plan are 686 residential units, of which 20% will be affordable housing; 415,000 sf of office; and 1,700 or so below-grade parking spaces. The project also includes a re-instatement of I Street and 10th Street through the site and the re-construction of land that is now controlled by the National Park Service, a plot called Reservation 174. The city has reserved the remainder of the land, some 110,000 sf, to be used as a new central library or similar project. The project will be designed based upon future LEED criteria.

These issues were very important to the DC government, says Valerie Santos Young, vice president of Jones Lang LaSalle, which provided advisory services during the process. The introduction of alleyways, for instance, was seen as important, she tells GlobeSt.com. “The District is trying to encourage a pedestrian-friendly environment here,” she says, adding that the project, once complete, will build upon the momentum created in this part of town by the new MCI Center and Convention Center.

The former Convention Center redevelopment is one of several mixed-use projects under way in the District–a live-work-play model that works well for the city, notes Thomas W. Wilbur, senior VP for development at Akridge, which is involved in several similar projects including a 15-acre site called Burnham Place at Union Station. Archstone-Smith and Hines did not return calls in time to comment for this article.

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