Since January, 2003
 Page Through from Before to After

Tom Boswell, sports columnist for the Washington Post, took a walk around the 'Hood back before Opening Day. So?
"I came back stunned. Washington has won. And it has won big."
His column for Thursday's print edition is a love letter to what the area around Nats Park has become in the eight-plus years since the ballpark opened.
"Economically, aesthetically and in quality of city life, the transformation of Southeast, which moved at a crawl during the Great Recession and often slipped from the public consciousness, has fulfilled and in some ways surpassed expectations. In fact, I'm probably a couple of years late to the party.
"But unless you live within walking or bicycling distance of Nationals Park, even if you go to Nationals games, there's an excellent chance that, like me, most of the success story is still a mystery to you."
I could keep quoting, but just give it a read, and tell me what you think.
And thanks for the shout-out, Tom! (Plus, everyone please know that "ridiculous" quote was said with love, of course.)
(If you're visiting JDLand as a result of reading Tom's column, and are somewhat bewildered at what you are seeing, might I suggest wandering through my favorite before-and-after shots, or my "sliders" comparing old and new images, or my map of what's happened and what's to come in this neck of the woods. Or find out what the deal is with this site, anyway.)
Comments (34)
 More About Nationals Park
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VelocityChris says: (9/14/16 10:42 PM)
Wow, great article! Even reading your post before his article, I was still surprised by how much the article was truly about the neighborhood itself, and not just about a neighborhood with a Nats angle.

"...or forget the baseball and just walk the neighborhood while the weather is beautiful..."

I don't know if it's possible, but could you change the link to Tom's article so it opens in a new tab instead of taking the reader away from your site? Might help keep a casual first time visitor to JDLand around long enough to check out more posts? Just a thought.

202_cyclist says: (9/14/16 11:57 PM)
Excellent column and we are really fortunate to live in such a nice neighborhood but I think Tom Boswell probably missed a couple of restaurants if he only counted 13 w/In an 11 min. walk of the home plate entrance,

202_cyclist says: (9/15/16 12:07 AM)
Also, the column says this is a great, walkable, neighborhood for people 10 - 80 years old but if you go to the Yards Park or Canal Park fountains or walk by the Van Ness elementary school playground, our neighborhood has become quite popular with the toddler set as well. I'm not quibbling with the column, just noting what a remarkable neighborhood we live in.

202_cyclist says: (9/15/16 7:58 AM)
Well, there is a cranky, bitter, person on the Capitol Hill listseve this AM. Apparently, all of us who live in this neighborhood are "millennial investment bankers." Who knew?

dude says: (9/15/16 9:46 AM)

@202 hah.

walt says: (9/15/16 9:52 AM)
Re the cranky, bitter person on CH listserv: saw that. Moved on. It's a lot of crazy talk, IMO.

Yeah, also on the ages! This is an AWESOME neighborhood for the under-10 crowd. Those dudes get to play in water fountains, run around in parks, dance like wildmen on Fridays, and they even get to take naps every day. What could be better?


G Street says: (9/15/16 10:23 AM)
Nice article.

Glad it ended up going the mixed route.

From article:

New, handsome apartment buildings — not the office buildings that were originally expected — set the neighborhood’s tone. Originally, the idea in Southeast had something to do with Make Money. It still does. But “I want to live here” showed up, too.

conngs0 says: (9/15/16 10:39 AM)
Well deserved shout-out, JD! And it's a pretty cool article from Mr. Boswell too. I've always kind of noticed the "game trail" from the Metro to Nats Park and wondered how long it would take folks to realize what else is nearby. I suppose it's not going to be much longer before the secret gets out!

Thomas Hogglestock says: (9/15/16 2:09 PM)
Having been a reader of your blog off and on over the past decade (or more?) I am glad to see you get a shout out in the Post. But, I can't believe how sloppy that column is in assigning so much to the Nats Stadium. You know that the Navsea Command move to the Navy Yard in 2000 was a huge impetus for the initial office boom on M Street. The completion of DOT HQ brought another huge influx of both employees and offices. The master planning for the Yards which required the park and retail and residential was also in place long before the Nats. The housing bust may have slowed Forest City down, but it wasn't going to to keep them down forever, with or without the Stadium. The city and DDOT both focused on improving both M Street and South Capitol. The rise of the restaurants on 8th street started before the Nats. There were sooo many things already in play prior to the Nats, and then this guy at the Post decides that based on observations, and without any data, or understanding of what happened prior that it's all because of the Nats.

FromTheTurret says: (9/15/16 2:24 PM)
It would have been ironic/timely if the article was published today, the 8th anniversary of Lehman Bros. collapsing, oh well.

JD says: (9/15/16 2:33 PM)
To be fair, in the first three paragraphs, these sentences were included:

"The development project began more than a dozen years ago as an extremely ambitious dream by the D.C. government to transform a blighted section of the city into a riverfront showpiece. "


"The concept of revitalizing a desolate portion of Southeast predated the arrival of the Nats from Montreal. "

I will always point out the fact that the initial steps toward revitalizing the neighborhood were in place before the ballpark (NAVSEA, Hope VI, USDOT), but I will also always argue strenuously that the ballpark lit a match under the plans. There's no way this neighborhood would be as far along as it is today without the ballpark. I'm sorry, but it's just true.

I don't disagree that it would have probably all happened without the ballpark someday eventually hopefully maybe, but to try to say that the ballpark has little to do with how fast it has happened just doesn't jibe. And how much more office would it have been rather than residential, since much more office was the original plan?

The land-sale boom that happened in late 2004 and 2005 after the ballpark was announced was obvious and pronounced. It was a freaking gold rush of developers buying up what were then little individually held properties west of New Jersey and north of the ballpark site. I'd be happy to show the stats, but trust me, it was a blitzkrieg. And the number of residential buildings that were built between 2005 and 2009 just would not have happened without the ballpark. Period. The only non-Hope VI residential building that was even designed and planned in Near Southeast before September 2004 was Capitol Hill Tower. Then 70/100 I, Onyx, 909 New Jersey, and Velocity all were developed and built as the ballpark was going up.

Also, Forest City was not even announced as the master developer of the Yards until January 2004, and none of their planning was anywhere in place when the location of the ballpark was announced in September of 2004.

I know that some of the arguments for the success of the neighborhood and how much the ballpark contributed get tied to the arguments about whether the financing of the ballpark was itself a good idea, and I stay far away from that discussion, but I just won't ever concede that the neighborhood would be where it is right now without the ballpark.

SWill says: (9/15/16 4:05 PM)
I was walking east along N Street/Tingey Street SE yesterday after the Nats game and kept overhearing people marvel at "how much the area has changed" and how they "had no idea all this stuff was here", so Nats fans are still exploring the neighborhood (the Boswell article should help bring more of them beyond Half Street too).

Jaybird says: (9/15/16 4:25 PM)
Boswell seems destined to win the Spink Taylor Award, the highest honor for baseball writers. It is always erroneously said that such winners are Hall of Fame writers. There is a wing there in Cooperstown, but the writers are not being selected to a Hall of Fame.

Nevertheless, it is a de facto thing and Boswell deserves it.

walt says: (9/15/16 10:38 PM)
@Hogglestock, "But, I can't believe how sloppy that column is in assigning so much to the Nats Stadium. You know that..."
Yes, JD does know that. In fact, JD knows EVERYTHING. You will get SCHOOLED if you try to school JD!

walt says: (9/15/16 10:49 PM)
@conngs0 - re: the "game trail"
You're right, there is a massive game trail from the metro, but if you walk around the neighborhood different areas, you'll see that if that game trail is a river, there are many other streams leading to the same place.

4th street is a major one for people walking down from Capitol Hill and Eastern Market who want to walk on the Riverfront or past BlueJacket & also for bikes using the bike lane. 8th street to M, then South on 4th for people coming from Barracks Row. L Street seems to be the preferred route for the "Mug Bug" golf cart that transports people from the Ugly Mug. New Jersey North of M street for people returning to the South Capitol Metro. Lots of well worn paths bring so much potential business (and so much happy energy) to all of these streets.

202_cyclist says: (9/16/16 7:38 AM)
Today our thoughts are with the twelve men and women who lost their lives to gun violence at the Washington Navy Yard that terrible day three years ago.

revpar35 says: (9/16/16 9:11 AM)
"I will also always argue strenuously that the ballpark lit a match under the plans. There's no way this neighborhood would be as far along as it is today without the ballpark."

Indeed. I was living in the Car Barn on East Capitol St when I heard of the plans to put the stadium in Navy Yard. Based on that news I signed a contract for a Coop at CHT in October, 2005 and moved in 10 months later when CHT opened. I bought in Navy Yard explicitly because of the ballpark and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

jdc says: (9/16/16 9:23 AM)
amen @202_cyclist

jdc says: (9/16/16 9:24 AM)
Cool article about the view from Hampton Inn link

JD says: (9/16/16 9:34 AM)
Not to mention that without the ballpark you would have six additional blocks needing to be redeveloped, which really didn't have much going for them in terms of location, and would probably still be pretty grungy industrial offerings. And WMATA would probably still be using the Southeastern bus garage at Half and M. And maybe the spooks wouldn't have been quite so pushed to leave Building 213 when they didn't have three million visitors a year right outside their fence. (On the bright side, maybe there'd still be a gas station or two!)

As I said above, a lot of people are very much invested in the theory that ballparks should never be publicly funded, that they are always a net loss for cities. I think that that sometimes is the real base for arguments from people who say this neighborhood would have developed just the same without the ballpark. Because if they posit that the ballpark has benefited the surroundings, and drove all the extra tax dollars gained from associated development, that can be used to bolster the argument they disagree with, that a stadium can be a good deal.

202_cyclist says: (9/16/16 10:36 AM)
Is today the last Truckeroo ever or will this good event be returning next year?

JD says: (9/16/16 10:43 AM)
If I had to guess I'd say that the Fairgrounds and Truckeroo will be back on the northern third of the block next year.

nowandagain says: (9/16/16 11:19 AM)
I think this juncture calls for a reposting of that horrendous and shortsighted article from, I believe, the Washingtonian or Post back in 2010 or so, decrying the failure of the area and basically saying it was a huge miscalculation - never mind the impacts of worst recession to hit in 80 years. "Who knew" this area would become something special, given its location, natural amenities and infrastructure? Basically anyone with a modicum of understanding of urban economics. Not knocking this current Post article, I get the question is rhetorical, but rather all the naysayers who are apparently baffled at the neighborhood's success.

Ampersand says: (9/16/16 12:25 PM)
Super off-topic, but Chix is open! Opened at 11:30 this morning, evidently. Handing out menus at Truckeroo

Section314 says: (9/17/16 4:05 PM)
FWIW, it's the Taylor Spink Award, not the other way around.

Alex B. says: (9/20/16 10:02 AM)
I'll give one ballpark counterfactual:

There are other examples of similar scale redevelopment in the district that's taken off without a baseball stadium. What's happened in NoMa and near Union Market shows that without baseball, there's demand for that kind of transit-oriented, high-density development near downtown.

At a high level, what's happening in NoMa isn't materially different from Capitol Riverfront. The planning was actually very similar: building on transit assets; using high-density zoning; adding a few key federal anchors; etc. And since it's happening there without baseball, it's not too hard to imagine what things would look like without baseball.

I don't think there's any doubt that baseball changed the timing and likely the exact nature of what will get built, but it's also not too hard to see a counterfactual with no baseball stadium and a fully redeveloped area that looks quite similar to what we see today (in the broad contours).

202_cyclist says: (9/20/16 1:38 PM)
@Alex B:
Or another counterfactual-- Buzzard Point has remained largely vacant, except for scrap metal recyclers and a Pepco substation until the plans for a new DC United futbol stadium were announced.

An interesting comparison is Mission Bay in San Francisco ( link adjacent to AT&T Park. I think that stadium has certainly helped accelerate the development of Mission Bay.

E. Masquinongy says: (9/23/16 10:31 AM)
Alex B, the development of "NoMa" was the logical follow-on to the development around the Verizon Center. After the 7th Street got built out, the next nearby place to build was across Mass Ave, and then further East. But before the Verizon was there, the entire area was very sad indeed.

conngs0 says: (9/25/16 11:26 AM)
I think the overall point is that there are different ways to skin a cat (Sorry, JD! I'll try not to use that metaphor again!). I think the NoMa development has done a decent job of taking advantage of its proximity to a much larger transit hub (it's crazy how many people travel through Union Station each day and how under-utilized the immediate neighborhood is because of the bottleneck that exists there, by the way) in a positive way.

The Navy Yard neighborhood has some proximity to mass transit and downtown, but its biggest advantage is the waterfront area. But making that waterfront area a "destination" that would drive the area's progress took a little more than just some re-zoning and inviting artisans to sell their wares in a warehouse. Putting the baseball stadium in a largely industrialized area was a pretty good way to accomplish that in my view. But inasmuch as he was saying that there isn't a hard and fast formula to invigorate neighborhoods that requires the construction a baseball stadium, Alex B's point is well-taken (for every Baltimore, San Francisco, DC example, there are bound to be instances where stadiums haven't spurred positive developments in their neighborhoods). But it's working well in this neighborhood! Can't wait for the playoffs!

202_cyclist says: (9/25/16 3:12 PM)
Bring on the Cuba!

Also, our condolences are with the family and teammates of Jose Fernandez.

202_cyclist says: (9/26/16 12:18 PM)
During my run this morning, I noticed several construction trailers, a large crane, and preliminary construction at the DC Water and Sewer Authority site, visible from the bridge in front of the property.

Also, I've asked this before but what happens at 70 and 100 I Street that the fire trucks respond to those two buildings on almost a daily basis?

202_cyclist says: (9/26/16 3:00 PM)
Bring on the Cuba!--- oops. I meant bring on the Cubs...

Chaifetz10 says: (9/26/16 10:10 PM)
@202 I walked on the bridge today from Dock79 down to Harris Teeter and I didn't notice anything in terms of major construction equipment that hasn't been there already. They did do some quick utility work next to the building about a week ago, but I don't think that they're actually breaking ground or doing major utility work yet. Seemed more like a small water main break they had to fix or something of that nature. I'll walk by again in the morning and do a second check though.

202_cyclist says: (9/27/16 7:24 AM)
@Chaifetz-- the crane didn't have the boom attached. There was some preliminary construction right next to the building and then some more substantial clearing behind the building.

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