Preliminary work has started on the Washington Gateway project, the three building development on the triangle between Florida Avenue NE, New York Avenue NE and the Metropolitan Branch Trail. The project will take several positive steps to embrace its position as a neighbor to the trail and to maximize the opportunity that the trail will present.
The highlight of the project is the Metropolitan Branch Trail Atrium (circled in red above). This three story space will create a bike-friendly entrance to the project unlike anything in the DC area. It will include a paved and signed entrance to the atrium which includes LED lighting and automatic doors that will allow cyclist to ride into the atrium. There will be an automatic bike pump for maintenance; a water fountain; a refreshment area with vending machines, tables and chairs; indoor bike parking and a natural ventilation system to supplement the HVAC system in appropriate seasons. WABA has been invited to provide programming for the space and will be allowed to use the site for staging rides. It will not be open 24 hours a day but will be open at most times of the day.
In addition, the project will improve the trail along the building line. They'll replace the trail surface, landscape the area along it and replace the solar trail lighting with lights on the side of the building. A portion of the trail will be enhanced for pedestrian use with different paving patterns and treatment to encourage trail use for commuters walking from the Metro station and to separate users.
The atrium will be at the elevation of the trail, so users will have to go down stairs or an elevator to access the plaza in the center of the site and from there access Florida Avenue. The stairs will have a bike trough as will stairs from the plaza to the sidewalk along the New York Avenue Bridge.
The first building to go up will likely be the western building, which is residential. They will build a temporary 6-8 foot-wide paved connection from the trail to this building while they wait to build the two office buildings on the east that will include the atrium. The residential building will have indoor bike storage as well as outdoor visitor bike parking. One of the office buildings will have a fitness facility that will give commuters access to a shower.
DDOT worked with the developers on the PUD to make sure that the project would be permeable for cyclists and pedestrians, and from all appearances this has the potential to be a flagship example of how development should work with adjacent trails. I predict future Bicycle Summit tours of DC to include this as a must-see stop.