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It was a blockbuster piece of news a few weeks ago that the National Community Church had decided to buy the Navy Yard Car Barn, aka the Blue Castle, at 770 M St. SE.
There hasn't been any official statement about the purchase from the church, but recently its lead pastor, Mark Batterson, agreed to reply by e-mail to a list of questions I sent his way about how this move came about and what the church may be envisioning for the landmark building. (Hyperlinks added by me.)
JD: How did the idea of buying the Blue Castle end up on your radar?
MB: Our team had been actively seeking ways to build out our Virginia Ave property, but we’ve been in a holding pattern because of the CSX project. When we heard that the Blue Castle was for sale, it made sense. We just had to make the math work. After quite extensive research with a development team, we came to the conclusion that it will be easier, faster, and perhaps less expensive, to build on top of the castle than it would be to build on Virginia Avenue.
We feel very fortunate to have gotten the contract. We know this is an incredibly iconic building that is interwoven into our city's history. We hope to steward it well.
JD: What are your plans for the building? i.e., Will it be purely uses for your church, or will the neighborhood see some sort of benefit as well? Also, do you have any plans to expand the building itself? How much additional square footage could that potentially include?
MB: We plan to develop the Blue Castle property by building what NCC needs on the roof deck of the existing structure. The key components of the build-out are a multi-purpose performance space with 1500-2000 seats, as well as a central location for our staff. The performance space will be designed for seven day a week use as a music venue and/or theater space. We will assess community needs to make sure the castle serves the best and highest use. We have some preliminary ideas that we think the community will be excited about, but we need to get a little further down the planning road. One thing we know for sure is that we’d like to build out another Ebenezer’s Coffeehouse, like our coffeehouse at 201 F Street, NE.
JD: What about the existing tenants?
MB: The existing tenants have a lease through July of 2018. We have not made any decisions beyond that, but our goal is for the space to serve community needs. Part of our process will be listening to the needs and goals of neighbors, as well as figuring out what best compliments NCC. We will explore a wide variety of uses, along with current uses; in determining it's future.
JD: What sort of timeline are you looking at for making it into what you are hoping it will be?
MB: Until the architectural designs are completed, we can't estimate an accurate timeline. But we have already initiated some conceptual design work. So the wheels are turning. National Community Church continues to outgrow our spaces, so we need it as soon as possible. We also know that there is a timeline and protocol to follow. This is an iconic building, and we want to make sure we get it right.
JD: How does this impact your previously announced plans for your land along Virginia Avenue?
MB: We view the Blue Castle as a better path forward in addressing spacing needs because development of the property is not directly impacted by CSX. The building is also three times larger than Virginia Avenue. This will help us move toward our 2020 vision of 20 expressions of NCC by 2020.
Ultimately, our goal is to master plan both the Blue Castle and Virginia Avenue. Because we own both properties, it positions us to have a more coordinated development.
JD: And, finally... What. About. the. Blue?
MB: Honestly, we hope that someday the Blue Castle will just be the Castle. Of course, we have to factor in the financial impact. And we'l obviously need to work with DCRA and HPRB to make a determination on any changes to the exterior of the Blue Castle.
Comments (9)
   
 
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Comments

SWag says: (12/3/14 12:41 PM)
take my earlier comment back about not wanting anything built on top. I can see it now...


Capitol Hill SE says: (12/3/14 5:21 PM)
NCC made vague promises about neighborhood benefits when they bought the theater on 8th Street, but it hasn't functioned as anything other than a church. So I'm not holding my breath on this. Another Ebenezer's would be nice though.


JD says: (12/3/14 11:05 PM)
Not speaking pro or con or anything, but I imagine the Castle needs a whole lot of work to do what they want, which I would imagine will require city approvals, which will require hearings, meetings, etc.


Tom says: (12/4/14 10:30 PM)
No mention of who exactly is occupying the castle now. Must be an evil charter school.


JD says: (12/4/14 10:32 PM)
I don't think there was any malice in not mentioning the schools.


Blue says: (12/4/14 10:55 PM)
Are there any security restrictions with vertical growth directly opposite the Navy Yard?


JD says: (12/5/14 12:36 PM)
@Blue, I imagine the Navy Yard gets to, ahem, weigh in on any plans, but because any vertical growth of the Blue Castle can't go up very high (and I think only on the side facing L), I imagine it's less of an issue.

Speaking of the part of the Castle facing L, I came across this photo from when I was up on top of the old Capper Seniors building before it was demolished in 2007. Interesting to see the windows from the true old building peeking out above the roof of the addition (which if I remember correctly is not historic):

link



JD says: (12/5/14 12:41 PM)
Actually, though, I'm looking at the 2010 "Lower 8th Street Visioning Process" document, and on page 19 there are some massing studies of what could be built on that 7th Street side of the Blue Castle. However, I don't think those heights are allowed yet--it's just what the study process looked at in terms of what maybe could be submitted to the Office of Planning for rezoning (see page 16).

link



Tom says: (12/6/14 11:24 PM)
JD, no not at all.

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Recent Issued Building Permits Archive  
1402 1ST ST SE   
11/25/19 
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA / DAVID C POSTLEWAITE
SB1900412 / CONSTRUCTION
Parcel G2:WSP will complete four borings up to the deepest potential subgrade elevation (approx. 32 ft. bgs). The proposed boring locations would be in the four quadrants of Parcel G2 to check for spatial variability in contaminant concentrations. WSP will collect and analyze three soil samples from each boring from depths corresponding to potential subgrade elevations (i.e. 10-12 ft. bgs, 20-22 ...
1212 4TH ST SE   
11/25/19 
FC 1212 LLC / TAMIKA STATON; OTIS
ER2000409 / SHOP DRAWING
Replace governor car #2 - Part #: TBA20641H6 Replace hoist belts #1 and #4 - Part #: SB0003119
1300 4TH ST SE   
11/15/19 
ASANA PARTNERS / DEBRA MARSHALL; THE DONOHOE COMPANIES INC
B2001773 / CONSTRUCTION
ADD EXTERIOR DOOR, ADD INTERIOR DOOR , ANY RELAYED,ELECTRICAL,PLUMBING, RELOCATING UNBUILT APPROVED NON LOAD BEARING FIRE RATED PARTITIONS @ FIRST FLOOR APPROVED UNDER PERMIT #B1711970. ATTACHED
   
12/06/19 
ASANA PARTNERS / S.A. COMUNALE; S.A. COMUNALE
P2001954 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1346 4TH ST SE   
12/06/19 
KAITLYNN MATTEO / W. SAKIE - BHAR; W. SAKIE - BHAR; NA
SG2000117 / CONSTRUCTION
Install one set of non illuminated sign on to existing store front building
300 M ST SE   
11/11/19 
FEDERAL CENTER LP / null
P2001215 / SUPPLEMENTAL
861 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
11/15/19 
CSX TRANSPORTATION INC / ERICKA CLARK; DGS CONSTRUCTION
TC2000008 / CONSTRUCTION
(2) tower cranes
   
11/26/19 
GREYSTAR GP I I, LLC / KIM MITCHELL; KIM MITCHELL
FD1900040 / CONSTRUCTION
TWO BELOW GRADE PRKING LEVELS, CONCRETE FOUNDATION WALLS, SLAB ON GRADE, COLUMNS ELEVATED DECKS UP TO GRADE WITH UNDERGROUND UTILITIES (MECHANICAL, PLUMBING, ELECTRICAL)
   
12/05/19 
MIKE ALLEN / JANE MCCRAY
AH2000244 / CONSTRUCTION
WO# 1611441 - Mike Allen / P. Helgeson. Pepco to install network transformer
1111 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
11/15/19 
GALLERY CAPITOL RIVERFRONT PROPERTY LLC / TANYA HILL; THYSSENKRUPP
ER2000366 / SHOP DRAWING
REPLACE EXISTING 8MM WORN HOIST CABLES WITH LIKE IN KIND ON ELEVATOR #4. WORK TO ALLOW UNIT TO BE RETURNED TO SERVICE.
1299 NEW JERSEY AVE SE   
11/12/19 
BROOKFIELD DEVELOPMENT / JUSTIN BELLOW
BP2000489 / POST CARD
125 O ST SE   
11/25/19 
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA / DAVID C POSTLEWAITE
SB1900411 / CONSTRUCTION
WSP will complete three borings up to the deepest potential subgrade elevation (approx. 32 ft. bgs). WSP assumes that borings will not be installed inside the fleet maintenance facility due to access restrictions imposed by DC Water. The proposed boring locations form an ‘L’ shape around the eastern and southern sides of the fleet maintenance facility. WSP will collect and analyze three soil samp...
71 POTOMAC AVE SE   
12/06/19 
MPR REALTY / BOB BIROONAK; BOB BIROONAK; ART DISPLAY CO
SG2000099 / CONSTRUCTION
One building name MAREN Two set of address numbers all signs are non-illuminated
201 TINGEY ST SE   
11/14/19 
BROOKFIELD PROPERTIES / DFM DEVELOPMENT SERVICES, LLC
AH2000197 / CONSTRUCTION
Afterhours work at Tingey Square Project. The work performed will be forming, prepping and paving at Tingey Square park. Friday and Saturday the 15th & 16th, from 7PM to midnight. If required, Sunday the 17th from 7AM to 3PM. ANC Support provided. Associated Permit Include PA328164-R1 and PA10760162.
227 TINGEY ST SE   
12/02/19 
FC 227 LLC / KAYLA SHATTUCK; BROOKFIELD PROPERTIES MANAGEMENT LLC.
RW1900122 / CONSTRUCTION
Construction of new retaining wall located between Canal Street St and Third Street, SE.
300 TINGEY ST SE   
12/04/19 
FC BOILERMAKER LLC / ROBERT S. WATTS; ROBERT S. WATTS
E2002289 / SUPPLEMENTAL
AH = After Hours; B = Alteration & Repair; D = Demolition; E = Electrical; FB = Boiler; M = Mechanical; P = Plumbing and Gas; PC = Post Card; R = Raze; SG = Sign; TL = Tenant Layout; TN = Tent; RW = Retaining Wall;

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