Behold, the all-powerful bike lobby
MRP Realty, the developer who built the Elevation building on the triangle between New York Ave, Florida Avenue and the Met Branch Trail (MBT) recently went to the zoning commission with new designs for the 2nd building on that lot, which will be built immediately adjacent to the trail. The building would have two towers
the south tower, according to the application, is meant to “attract creative tenants.” Designed by SK&I Architecture with a dark metal frame holding a grid of light grey concrete, “warm wood elements on the facade” and a stone base, the heart of the building is a two-story, public bicycle lobby linking the Metropolitan Branch Trail with the Washington Gateway plaza.
The $1.2 million bike lobby, designed by Gensler, would include a grand stairway and bike trough (essentially, a bike stairway), plus bicycle storage, a trail map, station maps, an automatic tire pump and drinking fountain.
As proposed, the residential north tower is configured “to define a strong urban street edge along New York Avenue and the Metropolitan Branch Trail.”
As part of its latest proposal, MRP has offered to pave, landscape and light a portion of the Metropolitan Branch Trail, at a cost of $150,000
That sounds good, though It's not 100% accurate. They aren't going to pave the trail (which is already paved) they're going to "improve the paving, landscaping and lighting along the Metropolitan Branch Trail." But it's not clear what form those improvements will take. It looks like there will at least be trees between the trail and the north tower.
The north tower will be built first and during that interim period, the developers will build a trail connection to the plaza on the site of the south tower.
For the North Tower
Architectural treatments and residential stoops are utilized along the Metropolitan Branch Trail to bring a pedestrian scale and then active residential and amenity uses line the Trail to increase its use.
For the South Tower
The proposed two-story bike lobby is located in the South Tower and is accessed from the bike path on the second floor of the tower. Inside the lobby, a grand stair with a bike trough will mediate the grade difference to allow riders to easily access the plaza located on the ground floor. In addition to bike storage, the lobby will have space designated for information about the trail and surrounding neighborhoods, station maps, an automatic bike tire pump, drinking fountain, and bicycle racks.
The one concerning part is public access.
Public access to the plaza from the New York Avenue stair is from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and from the Metropolitan Branch Trail Atrium to the plaza from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
I don't know how stair access is closed, but the lobby can pretty clearly be closed. Not sure how much use is impacted by closing it for 9 hours every night, but I'd really prefer a 24 hour a day facility that doesn't rely on a property manager. Because leaving trail access up to property managers has its own set of issues. For example, the elevator between the trail and the NY Ave Metro station is often closed, even during the hours (7am-7pm) when it is supposed to be open. This is not due to maintenance issues but it simply not being turned on/opened by the property manager. One frequent user kept a record of elevator availability over two months and found it was not available 56% of the time (based on 16 attempts).
In addition (although not entirely related) the top of the elevator has become a de facto homeless shelter with people frequently sleeping there.
Limited hours with the elevator has not been proven to work, I'm not sure I would support extending that to the Lobby. It appears that the lobby is just a two-story walk through area, with doors to the building that can be locked. Why not keep the lobby open, and just close those doors to the fitness and residential areas (but it would need to be patrolled for the sleeping people issue)?
Below you can see the plaza level of the bike lobby and then the trail level, with doors, below that.