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JD's State of the Hood, January 2008

2007 State of the Hood


Ladies and gentlemen, in January 2008, the State of Near Southeast is good.

For the past 12 months, and over the next 12 months, the focus has been and will be Nationals Park, which appears ready to meet the on-time-and-on-budget goal that almost no one thought could be done when ground was broken in May, 2006. And developers have leapt to become part of the action, promising a future full of new buildings, residents, and activity but bringing in the interim a year of road closures, dust, and construction-vehicle dodging for the pioneers who have beaten the rush and already arrived in Near Southeast.

If you want some raw numbers on the changes the neighborhood has seen in the past 12 months, you can look at this table, or just digest this: a neighborhood that had 500 new-construction apartment/condo units and 1.2 million square feet of Class A office space 12 months ago is expected in the next 24 months to be home to 3.3 million square feet of office space, 3000-plus new apartment/condo/affordable housing units and 400 hotel rooms, not to mention a big shiny new baseball stadium.

As for what it meant for an obsessive compulsive blogger trying to track it all, I posted 662 blog entries totalling over 135,000 words (averaging out to 1.8 posts/350 words a day, every day, and filling 191 pages if pasted into Microsoft Word). I also added over 3,100 photos documenting the neighborhood's demolition and construction (and took thousands more beyond those). All this productivity on my end does not appear to have been for naught, judging by the estimated 1.3 million hits on JDLand's Near Southeast pages in 2007. Imagine if this site weren't just some silly blog by some no-name observer usually found only by word of mouth or Google!

So, let's first look back, and then ahead, to see what transpired in 2007 and what's coming in 2008.

2007: Projects Delivered | Projects Started | Departures
2008: Overview | Expected Deliveries | Possible Developments

Projects Delivered in 2007

US Department of Transportation
In April 2007 the 11-acre, two-building campus designed by Michael Graves began moving in its 7,000 employees. A few months later a Starbucks opened in the nook at New Jersey and M, and there was much rejoicing by caffeine-starved residents and workers. Plans for "retail kiosks" along M Street, and adding retail to the red-brick Old Electric Substation on the southwest plaza, haven't been mentioned.

400 M Street
The new affordable housing building at 4th and M saw its first residents arrive in December, bringing 140 new units for low-income seniors and other residents earning about 60 percent of the area median income.


20 M Street
Already cursed by some baseball fans for blocking the view of the US Capitol Dome from many of the seats in the ballpark, Lerner Enterprises' 20 M Street office building was completed in Spring 2007, offering 190,000 sq ft of office space, four floors of underground parking, and ground-floor retail. FedEx/Kinko's and Wachovia Bank "coming soon" signs appeared soon afterward, but by the end of 2007, no tenants had moved into the building, and neither retail offering had opened.


Projects Started in 2007

Monument Half Street
With the ballpark getting ready to lure huge numbers of people to the neighborhood, the first phase of Monument's Half Street project, running along Half Street between M and N and offering 275,000 sq ft of office space, a 200-room hotel, a 350-unit residential tower, and 50,000 sq ft of retail, raises hopes and expectations of a vibrant strip between the Navy Yard Metro station and the stadium. The project won't be completed until late 2009.


Velocity Condos
A surprise start in 2007 was the first phase of Cohen Companies' plans for Square 699N, a 200-unit condo building on L Street west of First. Excavation began in summer, and by the end of the year the underground garage for both this first-phase building and its eventual Phase 2 twin had nearly reached ground level. Its sales center opened to brisk sales in the fall, and the building is expected to open in 2009.

909 New Jersey Avenue
JPI's third entry in its "Capitol Yards" offerings along I Street is a 238-unit residential tower on the block formerly home to the Nexus Gold Club and less than a half-mile from the US Capitol. Delivery is expected in 2009.


1345 South Capitol Street
After some delays in the zoning process, Camden Development began work late in 2007 on a 276-unit apartment building directly across from the ballpark, with completion expected in early 2010.


1015 Half Street
Opus East's purchase of this project from Potomac Investment Properties before a shovel hit the ground didn't much slow this 440,000-sq-ft office building, as site preparations began late in 2007 for a late 2009 or early 2010 delivery.

2007 Departures

My Demolished Buildings page shows the 34 buildings that met the wrecking ball in Near Southeast in 2007, ranging from the nightclubs, warehouses, and auto services that made up Square 699N to the old buildings on Monument Realty's Half Street sites. The year ended with the showy demolition of the 10-story old Capper Seniors building at Seventh and M late in the year (above). And fans of naked bodies mourned the demolition of the Nexus Gold Club to make way for 909 New Jersey Avenue.

Buildings weren't the only departures of note in 2007, as the demolition of the northern portion of the Frederick Douglass Bridge in a summertime "Extreme Makeover" completely transformed South Capitol Street between Potomac Avenue and O Street.

On the Horizon in 2008

All eyes will turn to Near Southeast in late winter as the countdown to the opening of Nationals Park will no doubt grip not only the local media but also national news organizations captivated by a shiny new stadium that can be photographed with the US Capitol dome in the background. With the ballpark on track to make its debut on March 30 (after an exhibition game for an invitation-only crowd the night before), concerns about the lack of parking close to the stadium and whether Metro can handle the crowds being pushed to use it will fill up many inches of ink.

It doesn't take a crystal ball to predict that the first few games will bring gridlock, confusion, anger, carping, whining, and teeth-gnashing from residents trapped on overwhelmed local streets and from fans who heeded none of the warnings and are baffled at being unable to deposit their cars no more than 50 feet from the ballpark. The question will be whether problems and bottlenecks can be sorted out as the season progresses or if the infrastructure problems turn out to be deeper and stickier than anticipated.

And there will also be the complaints and concerns of stadium-goers unfamiliar with the future plans for the neighborhood around the stadium about the lack of amenities during the park's inaugural season, although the number of skeletons on the skyline and holes in the ground (and perhaps a few well-timed announcements of future tenants) could help assure nervous nellies that Near Southeast's offerings will be coming on line at a fair clip in late 2008 and 2009.

Planned Deliveries in 2008

New Nationals Ballpark -- A 41,000-seat glass-and-concrete stadium designed by HOK Sport, it will amaze nearly everyone by opening on time and on budget in late March. Retail offerings in the ballpark's First Street spaces don't seem to be on the boards just yet, and issues surrounding parking and transit may overshadow the triumph of building a major league ballpark in 22 months.

100 M Street
Construction on Opus East's 240,000-sq-ft office building with ground-floor retail got underway in the fall of 2006 on the northeast corner of 1st and M streets. Delivery is expected in late 2008.

Onyx on First
Being built concurrently with 100 M next door, Onyx is a 14-story, 260-unit residential tower on the southeast corner of 1st and L. Developed by Faison and Canyon-Johnson, it expects to open in fall 2008. Rumors abound as to whether Onyx's original profile as a condo project has shifted with the changing market conditions, but so far no announcements have been made.

70/100 I Street
Residential behemoth JPI is building two residential towers on I Street between Half and 1st, overlooking the fabulous Southeast Freeway. Construction began in Fall 2006, and the two buildings, with more than 670 units, are expected to open in mid-2008.

Getting Started in 2008

Capitol Quarter -- Prospective residents camped out for weeks for a chance at one of the homesites in this portion of the Capper/Carrollsburg public housing project's revitalization, but the start of infrastructure improvements in fall of 2007 did not mask the dejection at the lack of "vertical construction." It's expected that townhouses will finally start to rise at this EYA project in 2008, starting in the blocks between 4th and 5th streets south of K, and eventually moving counterclockwise around the site before being completed in probably 2010.

The Yards
After Forest City's ceremonial groundbreaking in October 2007 and the start of infrastructure improvements and some temporary parking lots, work is expected to begin in 2008 on the first offerings at the 44-acre site formerly known as the Southeast Federal Center, as it begins to transform itself from a walled-off federal enclave to a massive neighborhood-within-a-neighborhood.

Pattern/Joiner Shop
The distinctive brown-and-white exterior of Building 160 at Third and Tingey will be kept as the building is renovated into a 170-unit apartment building, with two new floors added on top. Delivery is expected in 2009.


Old Boiler Maker's Shop
This 1919 industrial building at the corner of Third and Tingey will receive a loft-like second floor as part of its renovation into a 47,000-sq-ft retail space. It's expected to open in 2009.


Broadside Mount Shop
A joint development with PN Hoffman, the old Building 202 at Fifth and M will be renovated and given two additional floors in its transformation to a 270-unit condo building, expected to be completed in 2010.

Other possible starts in 2008 (not yet confirmed):

Canal Park -- One of the oldest "new" projects in Near Southeast seems to be stalled, as an inability to find a new home for the school buses currently using two of the park's three blocks continues to throw a wrench into plans to move this park forward.

250 M Street
The "sister" building to 1100 New Jersey Avenue (its neighbor across Canal Park), this office building by William C. Smith will total 230,000 sq ft, with an additional 13,000 sq ft ground-floor retail. Construction could begin in mid-2008.


1111 New Jersey Avenue
Donohoe has been able to expand this office building to 220,000 sq ft thanks to the acquisition of some WMATA land at the Navy Yard Metro station. No start date has been announced, but 2008 could be a possibility.


Diamond Teague Park
Plans for a 39,000-square-foot public plaza serving to draw fans down the ballpark's grand staircase to the Anacostia riverfront are moving slowly, and hopes that a water taxi pier could be built just off-shore has captured some observers' fancies, but for now little is known about exactly when or how this park will come into being.

Anything Else?

Other projects have had possible 2008 start dates attached to them, including the first phase of DRI's Square 696 three-building office and retail development, and JPI's 23 I Street residential building at Half and I. Quests for new and cheaper office space by big organizations (CNN has been rumored to be sniffing around) could possibly bring projects like Lerner's 1000 South Capitol or Ruben Companies' SC1100 into the pipeline in 2008, though the spectre of the "R-word" (recession) might loom too strongly for those developments to get started.

Two projects that received a great deal of ink in 2007--the WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage and the old Post Plant--could unveil their plans in 2008. Word has not yet seeped out about what Akridge has planned for the garage site on the west side of Half Street just north of the ballpark, and whether Monument's lawsuit against WMATA over the rights to the property will have any impact. As for 225 Virginia Avenue, we may hear whether the city is able to get out from under its $6 million/year lease after a rollercoaster year in 2007 where it was briefly touted as the new home for many Metropolitan Police Department functions before neighborhood outcries about parking and appropriate uses for its location derailed those plans.

In summary? Near Southeast will make its official debut with quite a splash in 2008, but we'll also find out whether the economy will slow down the blistering revitalization pace the neighborhood saw in 2007. And whether the Nats can christen their new home with a postseason run. And whether I can make it through to 2009.

To see the latest on these projects and others in the months and years to come,
visit my Project Directory for quick info on what's coming and what's here.
Also, for figures on what's been built and started in Near Southeast since 2001,
see Development Since 2001, By the Numbers.

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