City Paper Widget

Monday, March 17, 2014

Today: Wrecking Ball Comes to 1101 Rhode Island Avenue

Barring snow delay, demolition will start today on both the former headquarters of Diamond Cab and an adjacent two-story apartment building. The properties are on the corner of Rhode Island Avenue and 11th Street NW. They will be replaced by a multi-story mixed-use building.

Soon to be rubble
Representatives of property developer CAS Riegler and Snead Construction held a final pre-demolition meeting with the residents of nearby properties last Thursday, March 13, at CAS Riegler offices at 1501 11th Street NW. Two employees each from CAS Riegler and Snead Construction briefed seven residents plus Commissioner John Fanning (district 04) from Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle.

The property is in Fanning's ANC district.


Snead Construction told the residents the project should take "fourteen and a half months" from today to complete. A fence will go up two weeks after demolition, and excavation of the site will start. The digging will start on the north (near Q Street side) and move south toward Rhode Island Avenue. The depth of excavation will vary, but the deepest digging will be 12 feet on the east (11th Street) side of the property.

The sidewalk on Rhode Island Avenue will be closed "pretty much for the entire duration" of the project. Construction vehicles will enter and exit on that side of the property. The sidewalk on the residential Q Street side will remain open "until absolutely necessary".

What's under the site?

An issue between the developers and the neighbors has been the possibility of ground contamination -- see SALM blog post of September 30, 2013. The grounds functioned as a repair shop for Diamond Cab for many years, and for a long time before that it was a gas station. It is possible there could be old undocumented gas tanks or other waste underground. The briefers told the residents they had already used ground radar on the site and found no evidence of a tank. However, CAS Riegler has committed to check the excavated material.

"We will have expert testing as it [i.e., the dirt] comes out of the ground," a presenter said.

Noise and vibration

Some neighbors were worried about the effects of pile driving of poles on the property. First, there is the noise. Also, the neighbors live in historic row houses abutting the property line, and fear vibrations will lead to cracks in the walls of their homes. The construction team assured the neighbors there would be no pile driving. Instead, they will drill holes in the ground and drop beams into the holes.

"The whole thing is going to be noisy," the presenters admitted.

The two sides have agreed work may begin at 7am weekdays and 8am weekends. Work can continue until 7pm every day, but presenters hoped work would usually end at around 3pm, assuming work continued as scheduled.

The presenters fielded questions from the neighbors about a variety of additional topics, including the placement of cranes, the effect on phone and Internet service, the closure of the alley from Rhode Island Avenue to Q Street (none for now -- 24 hours notice if necessary), the moving the 11th Street bus stop (in negotiation), and the placement of fences and walls during and after construction.

One neighbor asked about the planned 3,000 square feet of retail space. It is designed for one business only, but the space hasn't been marketed yet.

"There will be the ability to put a restaurant in that space," a presenter said.

See an image of what the proposed building may look like at CAS Riegler's web site here.

In October 2013, ANC2F's Community Development Committee voted to support this project, contingent upon settling some issues to the neighbor's satisfaction -- see SALM blog post of October 28, 2013.

Thanks to CAS Riegler, Snead Construction, the neighbors, and Commissioner Fanning for permitting me to observe and write about this meeting.


  1. The drilling is even more noisy than pile driving as every time it pulls out it must shake the dirt off the drill bit. Terrible noise heard a block away. 12 feet is a very shallow understructure.

    Not finding old gas tanks under a former gas station just indicates faulty testing equipment. There will be soil contamination causing a month's or so delay and coal gas pockets are also probably there.

    We always hear 18 months, (or in this case 14 1/2 months) on these tall buildings with large understructures. In plain English that becomes 2 years. Always.

    No mention of how tall or how many units.

  2. The CAS Riegler site says the building will have 35 units. The image shows a building that is five stories including set-back penthouses.

  3. A small building that size shouldn't take nearly that long as it will be block or frame, not concrete, above the 1st floor. And it shouldn't even need a 12 foot substructure but I assume they want a small garage and are willing to risk the gas removal risks to have one.

  4. "I assume they want a small garage"

    Nay. They're required to have one by zoning, and I imagine neighbors would oppose any development that didn't have parking.