17th & Federal Pivoting to a By-Right Mixed-Use Plan

Almost exactly a year ago, we told you about a plan for a new mixed-use building at the northwest corner of 17th & Federal. About a year before that, we told you that the building at the site was being demoed, and we were delighted because the two-story commercial building had been sitting vacant for a number of years, with a convenience store most recently operating out of the space. The building looked worse for the wear, to say the least.

In the past

Two years ago, we expected that the developers would be building townhomes here, similar to the project half a block to the north at 17th & Annin. When we wrote our most recent story though, we shared that the developers had purchased the former laundromat next door and were planning to consolidate the property and build a five-story building with ground-floor retail and 42 units upstairs. We noted that this plan would require a zoning variance, both for height and for density. We suspected that the project would have a bit of a tough road at the ZBA, also because it called for the potential for visitor accommodation.

Perhaps recognizing the low probability of success, the developers pulled their zoning application back without even making it to the ZBA. Earlier this year, they revised their plan and are now moving forward with a smaller building which they’ll be able to build as a matter of right. The new plans call for a four-story building with ground-floor retail and a total of 30 units on the upper floors. They’ll be doing this by utilizing both the green roof bonus and also the affordable housing bonus, and we imagine that the building will actually include some affordable units, given the height that’s planned. The developers are also slicing off a portion of the property at 1709 Federal St. and will be maintaining some of an existing home and building an addition, in what we imagine will be a flip.

Current view
Construction next door

The project got zoning permits a couple months back and pulled building permits this month, and with construction already underway, this thing is happening. This is certainly an exciting development for this corner, which has been underused for years and more recently, a source of blight. With a clear path forward for the property, we can start wondering about what kind of commercial tenant will occupy the first floor space, which should be quite sizable for the location. Actually, since the project will maintain an existing alleyway that cuts across its middle, figure on two nice sized retail spaces. Considering that a laundromat was here for so long, a laundromat or maybe a dry cleaner could be a good candidate for one of them.