Interstate 395 Air Rights Project Now Capitol Crossing

The Interstate 395 air rights project, briefly known as “Return to L’Enfant,” is now “Capitol Crossing.”

So developer Property Group Partners (PGP) has settled on a name, which is nice (“Return to L’Enfant” is more of an idea than a marketing moniker), but the title is far less important than the plan. And there is one for Capitol Crossing: closing on the sale of the air rights with D.C. in June, groundbreaking on the freeway platform as soon as the second quarter of 2013 and first move-in sometime in 2015.

There are many nonbelievers. Whenever I write about the project, I’m inevitably asked, “Do you really believe this is going to happen?”

The developers are asking us to believe.

“We’ve been at it six years,” said Sean Cahill, vice president of Property Group Partners. “We’re not going to mothball. We’ve got the equity to build the deck and we think we’ve got the market to see it through.”

The 247,000-square-foot development site is bounded by Massachusetts Avenue and Second, Third and E streets NW, on either side of the Center Leg Freeway. The project will include five buildings — four office and one residential — constructed in phases, ground floor retail and five levels of underground parking. The north pad, all office, will be built first.

The idea of decking over I-395 dates to 1989, when then-Mayor Marion Barry awarded rights to develop on top of the highway to developer Conrad Monts and his Washington Development Group. That deal ended in litigation and a healthy payout to Monts, who is now dead. Louis Dreyfus Property Group, now Property Group Partners, arrived in 2006 to resurrect the project.

Capitol Crossing was unveiled Monday night as PGP opened its marketing center on the 9th floor of 1101 New York Ave. NW. The room features several models of the $1.3 billion, 2.2 million-square-foot project, as well as touch screen monitors with information about each building, available parking, the new freeway deck and the green features — water recapture, a co-generation power plant, green roofs, etc.

As one PGP executive said, “This is not placebo green.”