says: (7/29/08 10:37 AM)
They should turn it into a bar. I think the BID (and Nationals/city) is losing a big opportunity to turn the stadium area into a bar/entertainment area. It would increase the desirability for young professionals, who will likely be a sizeable portion of the people moving here.
says: (7/29/08 10:43 AM)
Well, turning some areas into a bar/entertainment area is *exactly* what the city wants. (Just look at the Half Street renderings.) It's just that a) the buildings have to get built and b) people have to move here so that c) restaurants and bars will have clientele more than 80 times a year.
It's all a bit chicken and egg, but you can't really expect big-time restaurants (which are often teetering on the edge financially anyway) to open here when there's almost no decent spaces yet and fewer than 1000 people living east of South Capitol. But yes, then it also means that people wanting to move to the neighborhood need to have a bit of vision about what will be coming.
says: (7/29/08 11:44 AM)
I think tearing down every single building in the area that was built before 1995 is a big mistake. This building has character. I always thought it would make a great bar - Spike (for the real estate term) - or restaurant. Old building stock like this is what makes capital hill so great, but if they want to build Ballston...
says: (7/29/08 12:04 PM)
Yes, I agree, this is a beautiful old brick building. I'm glad it's still standing, and I look forward to its being utilized for some business or bar.... and on that note: does anyone care to comment about the bland-to-hideous architecture that is the new Near Southeast? I live there and think it's abysmal. Though, 909 New Jersey may be interesting with it's top floor aircraft carrier deck-looking protrusion. I mean, when the DOT has one of the better looking new buildings in the area - thats saying something.
says: (7/29/08 12:12 PM)
DC- I hear ya. In fairness though, there wasn't much here other than some dilapidated warehouses that lacked much character. It would have been difficult to turn them into lofts, etc. and retail would not survive (as JD says) without the necessary population & office density. I do think the Yards will have a lot of character and will be the focal point of the ballpark district... Halfstreet will be more of a sideshow.
says: (7/29/08 2:04 PM)
I think CQ and the Yards will make up for a lot of the blah architecture. Half Street also looks pretty good... and for that matter the stadium isn't totally bad. Obviously the multi-family and office stock is blah, but it's not like Farragut is so cute.
says: (7/29/08 2:05 PM)
Meant to add - a cool building to retrofit would be the trash transfer station.
says: (7/29/08 2:12 PM)
I keep telling DCHA that I want them to keep the trash transfer building's smoke stack, but they will have none of it.
says: (7/29/08 2:32 PM)
As for the buildings that have been demolished, I'd suggest a (de-Scrabulous-ed) lazy-day project of going through my gallery and seeing how many buildings that have been demolished were not only worth saving, but could have been utilized in some way that would make enough money for the owners to recoup the huge tax assessments that are now part of the reality in Near Southeast:
I do believe that it's likely some portion of the Southeastern Bus Garage will have to be saved (there are "historic preservation issues" with it). And of course the Yards buildings are being saved.
says: (7/29/08 3:02 PM)
As someone who works at the Navy Yard, I'm desparate for restaurants to move into the area. There are thousands of office workers in the M street corridor who feel the same way. If the Nationals and the DC government were smart, they would open the food concessions in the centerfield plaza of the stadium at lunch time. Ben's for lunch sounds good to me although I will take off my tie first. If they open it, people will come.
says: (7/29/08 3:53 PM)
JD, I'm one step ahead of you. I've done that tour. There were only a few worth saving. But this is one of them. That's my point.
Here's my list, by number - Not considering profit (tax laws should not make people tear down good buildings):
24-28, 30-33, 58-62, 87-91, 99, 114, 120-122, 128, 129 and 150
Surely some of these could have been saved. But I'm building hugger reading a development website.
says: (7/29/08 5:03 PM)
I love old buildings myself and wish the stadium was old style red brick. However, I have to say that most the buildings in this area are/were not worth saving in my opinion. I do like this red brick star market building. I absolutely love the WASA pump house building ...one of the most beautiful in all of DC. The rest are so/so at best.
About the bar scene, I am highly confident that it will come in time. When CQ, Jefferson/Axiom, Onyx, Velocity, 909 NJ, and and CHT are nearly filled in a year or two from now, the bars and restaurants will pop up like weeds. I am particularly excited about Riverfront (FL rock) and the Yards. M Street will be looking quite busy as well. With the lines that CQ has generated, I know that there are plenty of people who see this vision as well.
One thing about building a city section from scratch is that there is the opportunity to have it filled by bar / restaurant / jazz / nightlife / fun-loving people. Very few would actually choose to move into this ballpark area to live the quiet (dull) life. Thus, things like liquor licenses should get through the permit process fairly easily since most residents would support them a couple of years from now. That will be the key to this area's success.
says: (7/30/08 10:45 AM)
Thank goodness other people have begun to express concern over what is being built. The whole area is becoming as bad as old Rossyln and Crystal City - giant urban planning and development mistakes. Look at the difference in livability between downtown DC around 18th and K NW (development following a 1970-1990 model) vs east of 9th Street NW. The new building scale and lack of mixed size, design, function, and age in this "new" near southeast is modeled after a more car friendly version of 18th and K NW. DC gov't has even destroyed the streetscape by making streets wider, less pedestrian freindly, and more car friendly. Just look at the 0, 100, and 200 blocks of I Street SE. Also notice that all the historic bluestone curbs in the new "Capitol Quarter" townhouse area have been torn up and replaced with the DC's standard granite crub/brick gutter design (nice but nothing to do with the original, historic urban fabric). Capitol Quarter will end up looking like a Disney/Hollywood back lot version of an old neighborhood. There are maps showing what the historic pavement materials for these streets were - like granite block and true cobblestone (and some of it still exists below the asphalt - indeed some of it was visible in front of the new appartment buildings on I street, but was simply torn up and landfilled!!!!). Why aren't these things being preserved or revealed to give the area some character? The planned closing of the last remaing section of Canal Street by the trash facility will eliminate the last vestage of the L'Enfant's canal. The canal could have been a much greater architectual focus of the new construction - instead it's at best an afterthought. One more lost opportunity. Where are the DC planning and zoning people? Where is the Capitol Hill Restoration Society? Where are all the other planning and approval bodies responsible for the architectural, historic, and landuse integrity of the historic core of DC?
says: (7/30/08 12:47 PM)
Maybe some reenactors can be hired - as in Williamsburg, VA - to show the tourists what life was like before redevelopment... one actor could play the drug dealer, another the shooter, etc. Those were the days...
says: (7/30/08 12:56 PM)
Rick, if you think that most of these plans haven't been going through the Office of Planning, the Zoning Commission, the Commission on Fine Arts, and the National Capital Planning Commission, you haven't been reading my site. :-) You might want to read the Capitol Gateway Zoning Overlay to see the requirements for buildings along M Street and in the Ballpark District to see what the city's planners and zoning staff have laid out as the requirements: link
All buildings now built along M and anywhere else within the CG overlay must go through a mandatory CG overlay review in front of the Zoning Commission.
And here's the zoning overlay requirements for the Yards: link
Also, anything that happens with buildings covered by the Capper Planned Unit Development must always go through the Zoning Commission. Here's the 2004 Zoning Order establishing the PUD: link
You can argue, as you have, that what's being done here is not something you're a fan of, but it's not correct to say that there hasn't been any sort of planning or oversight.
says: (7/31/08 1:04 PM)
By the way, one fight that was waged and won by the Capitol Hill Restoration Society and others was to keep the private houses along Third, K, and L in the Capper footprint. Originally these were going to be taken by eminent domain and demolished.
says: (7/31/08 6:02 PM)
Well... I sure didn't know that. Those are going to be the finest buildings in the area when (if) they are renovated to maintain their historic nature.
says: (7/31/08 6:06 PM)
I don't think they'll necessarily be renovated, unless they're individually bought by new owners who choose to do it. (Certainly there's no official plan to have that happen.)
says: (7/31/08 6:18 PM)
The assessment that Near SE is not ready for restaraunts based on a lack of existing residents is not the right indicator - agree on the lack of available space but this will change within a couple months as offices with retail space open.
The foot traffic in the area is intense on game days (as much as Penn Quarter) but also during the work week as DOT, Navy Yard and innumerable other office workers look for somewhere other than the few available spaces. Even on weekends the amount of traffic outside five guys is impressive. The time is now for new businesses - Ruth's Chris types, not yet - but the climate is right for just about anything else.
On remaining row homes - take them down - they are awful, unkempt rat traps - agree the scale of some of new the buildings could be reduced but overall the new buildings are good. The LRB should be torn down or significant funds pumped into a decent renovation - a difficult decision.
says: (7/31/08 6:24 PM)
JD, that's what I meant to say; unfortunately, the prices for some of those shells (not forgetting that some are still residences) are quite high, considering the additional amount needed to invest and remodel/renovate.
says: (7/31/08 6:27 PM)
To respond: those supposed "rat traps" are beautiful brick rowhouses that just need some TLC. They'll be around - if allowed - much longer than the shoddy new concrete construction going up in the area.
Sorry JD, don't mean to start a flame war or anything on your blog )
says: (8/1/08 10:23 AM)
JD - In part because of your web site, I'm well aware of the review processes that have occurred - I just don't think they have amounted to anything other than a blessing for maximum contruction, architectural styles that will wear thin pretty quickly (and have already), and a repeat of failed urban design models. Given the role near southeast played in the city's history, it's a shame what's happening north of M Street is the best all these entities can muster. I recognize that some projects may turn out OK - at least I hope the waterfront and Yard's projects work out, but for all it's efforts, the system isn't working.
As an example, look at the street-level facades of the new buildings on 2nd street SE that form the bulk of the western side of the future Canal Park and ask yourself whether this is the best that could have been done. The facades are essentially the backside of each building with garage entrances, etc and do nothing to provide any pedestrian friendly surroundings for the park. At best, they are blocks people will hurry past on their way somewhere else.
As a second example, I think New Jersey Ave SE was designated as a gateway street to near southeast. Old maps show that it was paved with granite for several blocks south of the Capitol. The granite is still there. As part of the recent extensive reconstruction of the street between D and E, the granite block could have been revealed & reset for all or part of the street width. Instead, when the construction crews dug up the street to put in new curbs and gutters, it appears they just dumped the granite block into trucks and hauled it away. If nothing else, the granite block could have been stored for someother purpose as other cities around the country do.
As a side note, many of us who live just north of the freeway have tried hard to get the various city and public/private entities working on near southest to improve the freeway underpasses and create a better link between the neighboorhoods north and south of the freeway. With few exceptions, no one is willing to do anything about it. We've walked to many ball games and not only are the underpasses ugly, the side walks are narrow, the lighting worse than it had been before the freeway was rebuilt, and the cross walks unsafe. There are many cities across the country that have creatively integrated such spaces into the surrounding urban fabric. As more resident's move into all the townhouses and large condo/apartment buildings south of the freeway, more people will be walking north to the historic district, Eastern Market, and the facilities on Pennsylvania Ave. I don't get why this has been such a hard sell for the Nation's Capital and the largest historic district in the country.
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