Signs of the times...literally. Driving down South Dakota Ave. approaching the Riggs Rd. intersection, commuters are now greeted with a new and dreaded sight. That of large mobile rust orange construction signs, with their flashing messages touting "CAUTION! CAUTION! CAUTION! Road Construction Beginning On Or About 3/8/2010." Proceed a little further down the street and on the triangle parcel of land (recently sold by the District Govt) separating the intersection, sits what appears to be some kind of modern art display. In reality it is a massive collection of "Road Work Ahead" "Detour" and "Caution" signs piled high, ready and waiting to be deployed across the intersection.
Not to be confused with the recently announced Art Place at Ft. Totten, the Ft. Totten Square project is possibly the most publicized and long awaited addition to the Ft. Totten landscape. The massive Lowe/Jacksophie project, initially announced in 2006 as "The Dakotas," is a three phase project that will reside on three separate parcels of land surrounding the Riggs Rd./South Dakota Ave. intersection. The first being Ft. Totten Square, will be on the largest lot which is currently occupied by the a vacant strip mall once housing the "Tiger Market" on Riggs Rd. The second phase, named Dakota Pointe, will reside on the (currently vacant) parcel of land on South Dakota which abuts to the Exxon station and previously had a small three level apartment complex residing on it. Finally the third phase would be on the triangle parcel of land recently sold to t he investment group by the City for $80M dollars this past year. The total plan currently calls for 898 residential units, along with 94,000 square feet of retail space, including a grocery store. The grocery store specification should be especially interesting considering the Cafritz Foundation's Art Place at Ft. Totten also calls for a grocery store to anchor their retail space. It seems to be a real life version of the Game Show Network's "Supermarket Sweep!"
Considering that the Tiger Market lot has been unoccupied for two-plus years, and the phase two lot (next to the Exxon Station) has been completely vacant for over a year and a half, the construction should pick up fairly quickly. A warning not to be taken lightly, particularly considering that the Art Place project seems to be gearing up for a start date in the coming months (don't forget about the UDC Conversion plan of Bertie Backus either). This could make for an interesting pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic pattern in the coming months, err...years.
"Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs
Blockin' up the scenery, breakin' my mind
Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign"
-Five Man Electrical Band