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This morning the mayor announced the city's plans for the old Washington Star/Post plant at 225 Virginia (I would have gone, but didn't hear about it until after it happened). He confirmed that three city agencies will be moving in--Child and Family Services, Office of the Chief Technology Officer, and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. And, according to the press release, the building will include a ground floor public art gallery showcasing DCAH's "vast art collection."
The city is entering into a deal with Stonebridge Carras to redevelop the building, with an expected (and required?) LEED Silver certification. It's expected it will take two years to renovate the building. Back in September it was reported that it would take $85 million to fund the renovations, on top of the $85 million purchase price; today's press release says that the deal with Stonebridge will save the city "more than $60 million over the life of the new 20-year arrangement."
This would seem to bring to a close almost three years of wrangling over exactly how to use the building, after the Williams administration leased the building with little fanfare in late 2006, only to have the original plans to house MPD functions there fall apart, and attempts to sublease the building for development go nowhere, all while the city continued to pay millions of dollars each year in rent. My 225 Virginia page has the background, if you want to relive it all.
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Sophia says: (10/30/09 1:45 PM)
More art in Near Southeast. I think this is a great outcome. The BID should capitalize on some of the cultural offerings in the area the Navy Museum, Earth Conservation Corps, and now DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (with a gallery), and also hopefully Art-o-matic again.


David C says: (10/30/09 2:55 PM)
Where are these agencies located now, and what happens to that space? Are we just trading an empty office building for three smaller empty buildings?


JD says: (10/30/09 2:57 PM)
The city is trading leased office space elsewhere in the city for a building it will own.

Here's the press release, now posted:
link


ryan says: (10/30/09 3:08 PM)
any word on when construction will start? or maybe finish? and any renderings of what it will look like from the outside when done?


JD says: (10/30/09 3:09 PM)
You think maybe I would have included that stuff if I had it? :-)

As I said in the entry, they expect it to take about two years, but no start date appears to have been mentioned.


MJM says: (10/30/09 3:53 PM)
All this equals is more jobs and more people (hopefully living in the area) in the hood which hopefully puts it closer to a tipping point as far as restaurants/bars go.


Mike Licht says: (10/31/09 2:48 PM)
The gallery will make the DC Arts Commission's collection of tax-financed art more accessible than it has been in the Wilson Building. That said, the city needs artist work space -- for performing arts as well as visual arts -- much more than it needs exhibit space. What a shame an "arts incubator" of this sort was not included in the 225 Virginia project.


Lovethehood says: (11/2/09 10:36 AM)
JD,
Thanks for the street parking link...

My time to vent:
For an area with multiple residential buildings. I'm beginning to noticing that its not very residential parking friendly area. I haven't seen one city sign stating (zone only) parking. So where is our residential street parking option? I've emailed Mr Tommy Wells and I am also going to start a petition. Please look for it and posting concerning the issue in the lobbies of you buildings.


JD, your thoughts? :)

~LTH


JD says: (11/2/09 10:43 AM)
The residential zoned streets start at the east side of Canal Park (Second Street) and go eastward.

But, unless you've moved from somewhere else in Ward 6, as a resident of a multi-unit apartment building, you will not be able to get a residential parking permit anyway.

There was much discussion and concern about this in early 2008 when the new ballpark-related parking rules went into effect, but it's the case all around the city that apartment/condo/multi-unit building dwellers can't get RPP stickers. So, even if you have a Ward 6 sticker now (which you can use from Second Street eastward) you'll probably find it hard to renew it when the time comes.

Perhaps people at Capitol Hill Tower want to weigh in on this, since they fought this a lot at the time. Here's an entry I wrote about it at the time:

link




Tony D says: (11/2/09 11:09 AM)
From the looks of the loading dock last night some kind of work/surveying is going on already. More lights, doors open. Not a hive of activity yet, but encouraging!

Is there any concept drawings of the end-state of the renovated building. Speaking of parking, I can only imagine that 3 new offices to a building that has very little parking will only make things worse.

It will also be interesting to see how this will affect the VA Ave underpass, skate park and Garfield Park due to their proximity. I wonder if they will 're-orient' the building to face the new canal park... it would be better looking if they could do something to that affect.

-Tony D


lovethehood says: (11/2/09 11:39 AM)
No RPP? I really dont understand the logic? NoVa is looking better and better? :(


Capt Hill says: (11/2/09 2:20 PM)
The parking issue is just something you have to deal with if you want to live in the city. I know some folks prefer the suburban/ strip-mall lifestyle of NoVa, where you drive everywhere, but it's not for me.


Scott says: (11/2/09 2:38 PM)
Some Zipcar spaces would be awfully nice!


andy says: (11/2/09 4:04 PM)
I think a Smartbike rack would be nice, too. I can't vouch for others, but I would definitely use the service.


andy says: (11/2/09 4:07 PM)
Link FAIL: www.smartbikedc.com/


G St says: (11/2/09 4:53 PM)
Will they be putting in underground parking? This will require them digging a big hole.

If not, where will these folks park? (And wasn't that what killed the evidence lab?)


JD says: (11/2/09 5:31 PM)
I haven't seen any plans/renderings/whatever for the new usage plans. When MPD was going to go in, they were going to build a parking garage on the east side of the building, where the empty parking lot is now. 200-ish spaces, as I recall, though still wasn't considered to be quite enough. If they were serious about $85 million in rehab costs (reported by the Examiner, which does seem a bit high), they must be planning an awful lot of changes to the current profile. We'll have to see.


JM says: (11/3/09 1:59 PM)
I've contacted Zipcar a couple times about getting some Zipcar spots in Near Southeast. They said that they are currently in contact with the Capitol Riverfront BID and with local businesses about leasing spaces. Hopefully in the next few months!


Lovethehood says: (11/3/09 4:31 PM)
I refuse to accept the parking situation around the ball park! If you drive around the area most streets (near Onyx, Velocity, ant Capital Yards)aren't even zoned at all. So it's a basic "free for all" the Va and Md drivers. It's just plain lazy for DC to take no action on this... Plus, if you do get an "no RPP" window sticker you went to the wrong DMV. If you are getting a no RPP sticker you need to refuse it and explain that you have no available parking! -it worked for me- ;)

LTH


JD says: (11/3/09 4:36 PM)
All of the streets you're mentioning have multispace meters, which means they are zoned for commercial parking and that MD/VA/DC cars will get ticketed if they either don't pay for the spaces or stay longer than the amount they paid for. (There may be a few spots where street parking is "open," but that's probably near construction sites where all parking is supposed to be illegal.) And it's not that DC is taking no action--as I said above, for most if not all areas in the city where there are high-rise apartment/condo buildings (especially downtown and mid-city), those residents do not get RPP stickers. That's just the way DC is currently set up in terms of parking.


Lovethehood says: (11/3/09 4:45 PM)
I disagree... I lived in a high rise for a year-and-a-half, and my girlfriend currently lives in a high rise. I also have friends that all lived (you guessed it)in high rises ranging from Gallery Place to Georgetown (Glover Park). Hmmm, about the "free for all parking" I am going to to take some video of the places this week and send them to Mr Wells. I would be happy to CC you on the correspondence. Ultimately I know we're on the same side on this--making the hood more residential friendly, a win for both you and me! :)

LTH


JD says: (11/3/09 4:49 PM)
I'm not on any side--I live on Capitol Hill. :-)


Lovethehood says: (11/3/09 4:56 PM)
sweet.. I'll CC on the video, courtesy of my production company, lovethehood productions... this week or next. (do you have a zone parking sticker?) wait dont answer that. haha

LTH


Bobby Singer says: (11/4/09 2:09 PM)
I live at Axiom and I live on Capitol Hill too! :)


Actually Lives in Near SE says: (11/4/09 4:47 PM)
would someone please make up some news for our hood - it's too slow - my contribution, viewed ongoing construction at Justins Cafe a couple days ago, watched a couple contractors walk into the little red building and noticed progress is being made on the inlet at Yards park as they pour concrete and dig the hole - all I got.


Bobby Singer says: (11/5/09 10:08 AM)
No news??? This $6,500 tax credit is huge. For all people closing in late November, delay it to December. If you have lived in your current place, and own it, for 5 years and have AGI of less than $225 (for MFJ) then you get a $6,500 tax credit (this portion of the bill is being added on to the $8,000 first time homebuyer credit that expires Nov. 30th It passed the Senate and House is expected to vote late Thursday or Friday. Seriously, this is huge news. I hope you didn't close in November......


JM says: (11/6/09 3:25 PM)
Here is some news: There is a parking lot being contructed across the street from the Axiom/Jefferson on I Street between 1st and Half Streets. I'm assuming this means that the construction of the actual office space there is a long, long way off.


JD says: (11/6/09 3:29 PM)
The construction of *every* office building is a long, long way off right now! :-)


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