Picturing Proposed Development at Josephite Seminary in DC

Posted by mikelmaron on 30 December 2015 in English (English)

Recently learned there is a new real estate development in the early stages of planning in my neighborhood. The Josephite's Seminary has over a block of undeveloped space, and they've entered into agreement with EYA to build townhomes on the property. The number of townhomes being discussed is 150, a higher density of development than the surrounding neighborhood.

screen shot 2015-12-30 at 8 48 51 am

imagery: © Mapbox, Digital Globe.

I had a hard time picturing how 150 townhomes could fit on the site. EYA hasn't yet come up with detailed plans, and has stated that they want to work with the community in the design phase. I am also interested in how maps could help the neighborhood envision ideas for what they want for the development.

So I have simulated what the footprint of the initially proposed development could look like. EYA had developed part of another religious property nearby into Chancellor's Row. I assumed the density and townhouse size would be similar in the new development, that some kind of circulation road would bisect the property, and that the front of the property would not be developed, to preserve the character of the historic facade of the building (similar to Chancellor's Row).

The result is below. This is based entirely off my assumptions, and not with any particular architectural finesse. But this turned out really helpful to see how it could be possible to build 150 properties on the site.

screen shot 2015-12-30 at 8 49 59 am

© Mapbox, OpenStreetMap. interactive version

screen shot 2015-12-30 at 9 11 51 am

imagery: © Mapbox, Digital Globe. interactive version

For comparison, here is Chancellor's Row.

screen shot 2015-12-30 at 8 49 22 am

© Mapbox, OpenStreetMap. interactive version

After making this map, did some searching and found this promotional site for the property, along with this presentation from the December 3, 2015 community meeting. The "Site Use Diagram" shows a similar layout to my assumptions, but doesn't show the layout of individual structures.

I'm interested to continue researching the Josephite Development, and work to see how open mapping can benefit the community process. Questions I have so far are what has been the historic development of the neighborhood since the 19th Century; the estimated cost of purchasing and developing the land, and potential profit and tax benefit to the city; what are the costs for upgrading infrastructure for the development, and what is the impact on transportation network; and what would various alternative schemes look like?

A quick technical note. I took the building footprints for Chancellor's Row from the DC Open Data site. Not all of the structures were in this data set, so I added missing structures by tracing satellite imagery in QGIS. Most of these structures are not in OpenStreetMap, and will add these later on. I copied a selection of building footprints, and pasted them over the Josephite Seminary property in a possible configuration. Saved these from QGIS as GeoJSON, uploaded to Mapbox Studio, and styled to make this map.

Location: Chillum Heights, Avondale, Chillum, Prince George's County, Maryland, 20782, United States of America

Comment from dieterdreist on 7 January 2016 at 14:04

My best compliments for your first steps in urban planning. Nevertheless, as an architect, I hope my colleagues who are going to design the project in your neighbourhood will come up with a more sophisticated project than what you are showing above ;-) (I'm allowing myself this comment as you state yourself that you suppose there's a lack of architectural finesse in this first sketch).

Comment from mikelmaron on 7 January 2016 at 14:13

@dieterdreist yes, this is more for conversation. I certainly hope the eventual project is more sophisticated, and that it seriously takes into account other ideas put together by the community.

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