DCMud has an interview with two executives with SK&I Architectural Design Group—designers of the upcoming Washington Gateway and the under-construction Constitution Square in NoMa. A question regarding NoMa is included below (emphasis highlighted in bold red):
You have also been contracted for one of the largest projects in NoMa (Constitution Square). Can you give us a bit of insight into how NoMa might look in, say, 5 years?
SK: Well, instead of 5 years, let’s say 10 years. I think, potentially, people are wishing for the same thing that happened to Chinatown. We were there 9 years ago with Massachusetts Court at 4th and Mass and couple of other projects that did not go through. Today, if you look at Chinatown, they have all the nicest restaurants in the city. In a way, it’s surpassed DuPont, northwest Connecticut Avenue, in terms of pizazz. NoMa wishes that they’ll be seeing the same quality and caliber of that development. Obviously, the Verizon Center and all that retail is a big advantage and we want to see similar kinds of things in NoMa.
The project we’re doing is mixed-use – an office building, a hotel, a Harris Teeter grocery store and apartments. The hope is to create a critical base of retail, residential and office space, so that you’re not building up an area that shuts down at five o’clock. Since 2000, if you look at the city and our projects, we are trying to create a 24-hour living space that has a life cycle with offices and retail. You’re not necessarily commuting; you’re living, shopping and working in the same place. You’d hope that NoMa becomes that.
MI: I think the fundamental approach is understanding how neighborhoods and areas stay alive, rather than just a being a place to go to in the daytime and empty in the nighttime. I think they want a good foundation for a better future this time.
Note, however, that while Chinatown had many advantages in place before its mass wave of development, they only received their grocery store–the “urban style Safeway“–in the past few months. NoMa, on the other hand, will have its grocery store before, or concurrent with, its new residential developments.