A new apartment building under construction in Navy Yard will feature a pretty sweet perk when it opens: free baseball. The building, called “F1RST”—it’s near First and N streets, Southeast—will offer direct lines of sight from its roof into Nationals Park across the street.
The roof, according to an architect’s rendering, will be outfitted with an “outdoor theater” allowing residents to watch Nationals games without ever having to buy a ticket. The building, designed by Hickok Cole Architects and developed by Grosvenor Americas and McCaffery Interests, will sit across from left-center field. It’s not the most advantageous angle from which to watch a game, but it’ll be included in the rent.
The terms “professional sports team” and “free” seldom align, and buildings with rooftop views into stadiums historically run into trouble with Major League Baseball clubs. The Chicago Cubs have had a rough history with their neighbors, with more than a dozen buildings near Wrigley Field having long sold tickets to watch games from their roofs. The Cubs went so far as to sue the buildings in 2002, claiming copyright infringement, but ultimately settled out of court in exchange for percentages of each building’s revenue.
But the apparent peace between the Cubs and their neighbors soured again in 2015 when the team’s current owners, the Ricketts family, erected a huge video board above right field that blocks some rooftops’ views. The Ricketts also started buying up property around Wrigley Field, and now control nearly all the buildings that still offer game-watching experiences.
The new Navy Yard apartment building’s roof appears to be only for residents of its 325 units. Other elements coming to the the 450,000-square-foot development include a concierge staff, a 2,300-square-foot gym, a 170-room Residence Inn hotel, and 24,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, with Taylor Gourmet and Chop’t set to open locations. The roof will also feature a pool and hot tub, but all of it pales compared to having baseball included in the rent.
So far, the developers behind the F1RST complex have not had any correspondence with the Nationals, a spokesperson for the developers tells Washingtonian.