First Look at the Proposed Redevelopment of Lower West Side of Fayette Street

An initial proposal from Keystone Property Group for the redevelopment of the property along Fayette Street between West Elm and West First Avenue was presented last week at a public meeting. The potential redevelopment has to do with the recent approval by Montgomery County of the settlement of the almost 20 year old lawsuit that stems from the first wave of redevelopment.  Basically what the settlement provides for is the Borough obtaining ownership of the grassy area next to the Washington Fire Company and the old fire house in the back of the current fire house.

What Keystone proposes is to:

  • Build a boutique hotel where the grass area currently sits.  The roof of the hotel will feature a lounge and pool
  • Attract a restaurant to the old fire house
  • Create a public square with a stage
  • Knock down the current office building at 1 West First Avenue and replace it with a larger office building
  • Replace the current parking deck along West First Avenue and build an eight story parking garage.

The hotel and office building will have retail and restaurants located at street level and opening in the public square.  The new eight story parking garage will have dedicated spots or levels for the office building, new restaurants, hotel and the public.  While the hotel does not have an operator associated with it, the rendering has an “H” on the top of the building.  To me it looks like a Sofitel, but the “H” implies Hilton?

As we mentioned in the first paragraph, the Borough owns the property where Keystone would like to build the hotel and put the restaurant.  To obtain the property, Keystone is proposing to take the Verizon Building off the Borough’s hands.  Keystone would then fix the Verizon Building and then lease a portion of it back to the Borough for Borough Hall and a police station.  Keystone would also offer the Verizon Building to its other tenants at 1 West First Avenue as a temporary home while it redoes that building.

Does all of this look sort of familiar?  Last week we posted a story on the idea of turning the parking deck at East 1st Avenue and Fayette into a public square surrounded by retail and restaurants.  The proposal from Keystone is an actual proposal to achieve several of the positive attributes of the reimagining of the East 1st Avenue parking deck, just on the other side of Fayette Street.

In May of 2012 we did a story about the pending transfer of the grass area and old fire house to the Borough that discussed several uses and asked readers to make suggestions.  The proposal creates the possibility for a few of the ideas that were offered such as a park space (public square) that can be used for events and a restaurant in the old fire house.  The Keystone proposal lists the restaurant as a gastro pub, but the ideas from the public (and MTTC) that were tossed around last year were a brewery and/or live music venue.

At this time we want to stress that this is just an initial proposal and nothing has been decided or even seriously discussed.  This proposal could be revised and end up looking totally different or never even happen.  What it does offer is a great place to initiate a discussion.

So what do you think? Comments are open.