By: Shilpi Malinowski
Could a warehouse-filled, traffic-clogged District neighborhood one day match the post-industrial glamour of New York City’s Meatpacking District?
Inspired by the famed New York neighborhood known for its trendy restaurants, boutiques and bars, Level 2 Development is seeking to transform a site at 320 Florida Ave. NE — currently home to a Burger King and some weedy overgrowth — into a 315-unit apartment building surrounded by pedestrian walkways. Developers submitted the proposal for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) to the Zoning Commission this week.
Most units would range from 400 to 1,000 square feet, though a few larger premium units would also be available, Level 2 Development principal David Franco said in an e-mail. Moreover, 140 parking spaces are planned, and community amenities would include a green park and a pathway linking the railroad tracks on the west side of the site to Union Market.
“We see our project, the Highline at Union Market, as the front door of the Union Market District, setting the scene of what’s to come,” said Franco. The neighborhood, anchored by the historic markets on Florida Avenue, will be known for “specialty retail, artisanal food, dining and entertainment,” he added.
Union Market, an upscale shopping center at 1309 5th St. NE, is packed with $30 bottles of olive oil and treats such as Korean tacos and smoked sablefish sandwiches. The revamped building opened in 2012 within an area that is often referred to as Florida Avenue Market, a longstanding wholesale marketplace with a grittier atmosphere, where patrons can pick up freshly butchered goats and buckets of tofu.
The proximity of the 320 Florida Ave. site to the rail line and the markets is in line with Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, said Franco, which celebrates “the grittiness, the rails and something new.”
In dubbing the project the Highline, Level 2 Development is linking the building to New York City’s popular High Line elevated park, a portion of which runs through the Meatpacking District.
Architect Eric Colbert’s current plans pick up on the surroundings.
“The architecture incorporates rail car-looking ‘boxes’ with industrial steel warehouse cubes in an undulating, random pattern,” said Franco. “It feels like the building is ready to move down the tracks.”
The firm is involved in another project in the area.
Last May, Edens Realty, the company responsible for transforming Union Market, submitted a PUD outlining plans for a 520-unit residence on a block bounded by Morse Street NE, 4th Street NE and Neal Street NE. Level 2 Development is responsible for developing the residential portion of the project, which would also include about 550 parking spaces, as well as public space and retail.