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Final 2012 Tax Assessments: Back Over $6 Billion in Value
Jan 16, 2012 10:06 AM
In March 2011, I posted on the proposed 2012 tax assessments for the 900-plus tax parcels that I track as Near Southeast properties, which valued the neighborhood at just a teensy bit under $6 billion ($5.994B). But there's a reason those are just "proposed": property owners need a chance to prostrate themselves before the city to try to get their assessments revised. In addition, new properties come onto the rolls during the year as projects get completed.
So, I can now report that the 2012 tax assessment total for Near Southeast is: $6.06 billion. Since the final assessments for 2011 came in at about $5.81 billion, 2012's number is a $248 million increase for actual assessments year-over-year.
There were 15 properties that received reductions for their 2012 bills, totaling about $148 million. The big property owners managed a few hefty cuts, with JBG's US Department of Transportation building leading the way with a $47.7 million reduction to just under $615 million, followed by CSX's empty lots near the freeway north of I Street getting a $46.3 million haircut down to $66.2 million. Many of the other shiny new-ish buildings of the neighborhood also got their tallies reduced, such as apartment buildings 70/100 I and 909 New Jersey and office buildings 20 M, 55 M, 225 Virginia, and Maritime Plaza I and II.
But these reductions were offset by $216 million in upward revisions. Most of this is thanks to 1015 Half Street finally being completed, taking that parcel's assessment from last year's $41.1 million to just a hair under $144 million. Three other buildings (80 M, 100 M, and 300 M) received higher final assessments as well. Plus, 32 townhouses in Capitol Quarter came onto the rolls as completed buildings, bringing just under $14 million in new tax revenue. (Yes, yes, PILOT/payment in lieu of taxes--don't stop me when I'm on a roll.)
And, because people always want to know, the ballpark's assessment for 2012 remains the smidgiest smidge under $1 billion, unchanged from 2011, at $999,982,800.
Alas, I can't give good year-to-year comparison numbers on final assessments in previous years because I didn't really grasp this whole revision thing until last year (oops), but I can say that proposed assessments were just a mite over $6 billion in both 2010 and 2011, after having been at $4.47 billion in 2009. My March post has the year-by-year proposed assessed values for the neighborhood, if you want those numbers.
If you feel like digging deeper (since you don't pay me enough to just post all my numbers for you to use), here's the the current assessments database, which you can search yourself. Tune in this March to see what the city proposes for 2013 values, and then in January for what the values really end up being....
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Yards/Teague Bridge: Let's Try This Again (Sunny Day Version)
Nov 25, 2011 12:55 PM
There was no way I was going to let those gray, rainy photos from Tuesday's Yards Park/Teague Park connector bridge opening stand. So, give these a try instead:

Yards/Teague Connector Bridge Rainy Opening Day Photos
Nov 22, 2011 3:02 PM
The weather was atrocious, and things got started late (as they so often do when overscheduled politicians are involved), but officials from the city, Forest City Washington, DC Water, and elsewhere gathered at the Yards Park today to officially dedicate the 627-foot-long bridge connecting the Yards with Diamond Teague Park, which is just across Potomac Avenue from Nationals Park's grand staircase.
I wasn't able to hang around for the actual cutting of the ribbon (check the Yards' Twitter feed for a slew of photos of the festivities), but I did take a gallery of photos from my first time walking on the bridge, showing the view of the Anacostia riverfront in all of its gray, overcast, rain-spattered splendor. Needless to say, I'll be returning once the sun is out for a replacement set.
This bridge is part of the planned Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, which continues to open segment by (not necessarily contiguous) segment.
(One side note: Demolition appears to be underway on the concrete tower at Florida Rock, so the new bridge won't seem to be leading directly to that scenic structure for too much longer.)

Tidbits: Some SoCap Bridge $, Half Street 'Thinking', DPW, More
Nov 21, 2011 9:32 AM
I've tried over the past few months to clampdown on runaway Tidbits posts, but these are some pretty small tidbits, so I think I'll let them through:
* Douglass Bridge: The Feds have "freed up" $68 million from previously appropriate funds to allow DC to start buying up right-of-way land for the new South Capitol Street/Douglass Bridge. NBC4 quotes DDOT chief Terry Bellamy as saying "If I had my way and we had the money, we could possibly see a new bridge in about six to seven years." But, considering they're looking for $800 million for not just the bridge itself but all the associated improvements to South Capitol Street and its interchanges with I-395 and I-295, getting the rest of the money might be a little trickier.
* Half Street: According to the Post, Monument Realty and investment partner Victor MacFarlane "are now thinking about when to begin" developing the rest of their Half Street project. The southern portion of Monument's side of Half Street (the east side--you know, where the big hole in the ground is) was originally designed with both a hotel and a residential building. And there's still no word from Akridge on a start date for their side of Half Street (the Bullpen side).
* DPW Move: While the timeline for getting DPW into their new home on Okie St. NE and out of their New Jersey and K site has slipped (shocker!), things are still moving forward, and I'm hearing that they should be moved early in 2012. But this delay is not as yet impacting William C. Smith's plans for a new apartment building just to the north--various permits have recently been approved, and WCS expects to start some deep infrastructure work, along with some clearing and grading along New Jersey Avenue north of I, sometime in December. (But WCS needs DPW out before too long because a smidge of DPW land crosses what will eventually be the new I Street and onto the WCS property.)
* Wha?: Is it just me, or does this article seem like it was written in 2009? It's a bit odd to trot out version 83 of the "there's no food in Near Southeast" story when there are leases signed for at least 10 new eateries to open in the next 12 months: Lot 38 Espresso at the old Little Red Building site (Any Minute Now!), Potbelly and Kruba Thai in the Foundry Lofts by spring, the Park Tavern at Canal Park by summer, and six choices at the Boilermaker Shops by the end of 2012. Not to mention probably another couple places in the Lumber Shed, perhaps a big one at 100 M, and a Harris Teeter in 2013. But I still predict that, when the slew of What's Happening Around Nationals Park stories come pouring out in advance of Opening Day 2012, the focus will still be on the lack of movement along Half Street (see Tidbit #1).
* New Bridge: Don't forget the dedication ceremony for the Yards/Teague bridge on Tuesday at 1:30 pm on the Yards Park side of the bridge. In addition to the mayor and DC Water chief George Hawkins, the organizers are also expecting Eleanor Holmes Norton, Naval District Washington Commandant Rear Admiral Patrick Lorge, USDOT deputy secretary John Porcari--and the Racing Presidents!

Canal Park Signs Lease with Xavier Cervera for Restaurant Space (Updated)
Nov 17, 2011 11:45 AM
This was rumored a number of weeks ago, but today it is official that Capitol Hill restaurateur Xavier Cervera will be opening a restaurant in the pavilion space at Canal Park. I hope to have more details later today, so check back for updates, but for now I'll repeat what the last rumors were, that the menu would feature "Neopolitan pizzas and a raw bar." (We'll see if that holds up.)
Cervera also has another Near Southeast eatery in the works, with Willie's Brew and Que planned for the Boilermaker Shops at the Yards. He is also the man behind Lola's, the Chesapeake Room, Senart's, and the under-renovation Hawk 'N' Dove.
(This is a can't-wait-an-instant-to-get-the-news-out post, so like I said, I'll have more later today, including hopefully timelines and whatnot.)
UPDATE: The restaurant will be named the Park Tavern, and Chris Vanarsdale of the Canal Park Development Association says they are "still working out the details of the menu." Cervera will be designing the 3,500-square-foot LEED gold or platinum space over the next couple of months, and it will open at the same time the park is completed, which is now expected to be June 2012. There will also be outdoor seating.
And, probably less exciting news but news nonetheless is that the CPDA also now has an agreement with Rink Management Services to operate the ice skating rink in the park's southernmost block, near M Street. (They operate the Reston Town Center rink along with lots of other seasonal and year-round rinks across the country.) Needless to say, that part of the park probably won't be functioning when the park opens next summer, but look for it in the winter of 2012/2013.
Construction on the park continues, with lots of infrastructure work still being done (though the pavilion where the Park Tavern will be continues to rise up). My Canal Park page has more information, renderings, and some not-altogether-outdated photos.

Most Minor of Modifications to Yards' Teeter Building OKed by 6D
Nov 15, 2011 10:23 PM
On Monday night, ANC 6D gave its support to a series of minor modifications (very minor--did I mention they were minor?) to the previously approved design of the new residential/retail/grocery development planned for the southeast corner of 4th and M, SE.
Because the lease with Harris Teeter has been executed since the project's zoning approvals were received, Forest City needs an okay for the company's signage, which you can see in the updated rendering. An outdoor seating area on 4th Street has also been added, and the design of the residential building's vestibule on 4th has been altered in order to use "structural glass." There were also slight changes to the roof structure, the sunscreens on the residential windows, the design of the trellises shielding the parking deck, and other items that should probably just be read about in the Office of Planning report that supports the proposed changes. (If you want the real nitty gritty of the updated design for this block, you can look through the full submittal to the Office of Zoning.)
Alex Nyhan of Forest City told 6D that he expects excavation on the site to start in about a month, with superstructure work beginning in the spring. This would bring the opening date to late 2013 or early 2014. (The entire block, consisting of the 55,000-square-foot Teeter, 218 apartments, and the as-yet-unnamed health club and other retail spaces at the south end of the site, is being built at the same time.)
There weren't many questions from commissioners. David Garber, who said that this was the first project reviewed by his new 11-member Near Southeast Citizen Development Advisory Committee, did question the project's representatives about the plans for bike parking. (Shocker!) Nyhan said there would be racks on 4th Street, and that they would be working with Harris Teeter to allow bikers to bring their bikes into the store and take them down to the parking level via elevator, but that no biking would be allowed into the parking garage. There was also discussion of whether the entrance to the garage could be expanded to allow for bike racks at street level, but Nyhan said there is not enough room in the design to widen the entrance.
The ANC then voted unanimously to support the project. It will be taken up by the Zoning Commission at its Nov. 28 meeting, having been removed from the Monday night agenda so that the ANC could be allowed to weigh in before the ZC voted.
You can see my Yards Parcel D project page for more details and photos.

Next CSX/Virginia Avenue Tunnel Meeting Scheduled for Nov. 30
Nov 15, 2011 3:38 PM
I received no notification of this, just decided to wander by CSX/DDOT's Virginia Avenue Tunnel web site and look for updates, and so am just happening to see that there's a Public Alternative Meeting scheduled for Nov. 30 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Nationals Park. Their description: "As a follow-up to the public scoping meeting held on September 14, 2011, a second public meeting will be held to discuss alternatives for this project. This public meeting will include a formal presentation, question and answer session, and open house displays. The formal presentation will start at 7:00 p.m. Both verbal and written comments will be taken at the meeting."
Given the displeasure voiced by many residents about the lack of information from CSX at the September meeting, it will be interesting to see how girded for battle both sides are at this second session. The official comments letter from the Capitol Quarter Homeowners Association, all 23 pages of it, is probably a pretty complete indicator of the issues that residents along Virginia Avenue will be pressing CSX over.
You can also read my many previous entries on the subject for more details (not in the mood to write the long re-summary today), and ANC 6B commissioner Norm Metzger is writing a lot about the subject as well.
UPDATE: An e-mail has now gone out officially announcing the meeting. It says that free parking will be available in Nats Lot C (at the corner of 1st and N), and that there will be free shuttles from Capper Seniors #1 (900 5th St. SE) and Van Ness Elementary (1150 5th St. SE).
Also, here is the official flyer, which nearby residents will be receiving in the mail.

Teeter/Residential Building at the Yards on 6D November Agenda
Nov 10, 2011 5:08 PM
While you're spending your weekend trying not to head toward the Navy Yard Metro station by mistake, you can take a moment or two to add Monday's ANC 6D meeting to your calendar. The agenda doesn't seem to be getting updated online these days, but an e-mailed version shows that the only Near Southeast item to be discussed will be the Harris Teeter/residential building in the Yards, on 4th Street south of M. There are few minor modifications to the design approved by the Zoning Commission nearly a year ago that need new approvals (including an "upgraded" design for the entrance to the residential building), and so those are what will be presented to the ANC.
There was a bit of a flurry on Thursday morning when a tweet from a local business symposium indicated the work would begin on this project "next week." However, I checked with Forest City, and there's still a building permit that hasn't yet been approved, so while they hope to start construction reallyreallyreally soon, "next week" might be a bit optimistic.
If you're just joining us, this project originally was planned to be an office building on top of the Harris Teeter, but will now instead be two long and narrow apartment buildings with a total of 200ish-units, with their entrance at 1212 4th St. SE. The Teeter will be 55,000 square feet and will have its main entrance near M Street. While the executive architect for the entire project is Shalom Baranes, the interior designer for the apartments is Core Architects out of Toronto, and you can see a few renderings on their site as being for "The Yards" (looks like a lobby or community room space, maybe?) , along with their many other projects.
On the south end of the block, at 4th and Tingey, there will be a four-story building with another 55,000 square feet of retail space, with what's expected to be a spa/fitness center/gym tenant on the top two floors and retail on the bottom two (seen at above left). There will also be a new narrow service road running south from M between this new development and Building 202 for loading zone access. Access to residential parking will be from Tingey, and the grocery and retail parking entrance will be on 4th, next to the residential lobby entrance. The retail spaces are being designed by Kenneth Park Architects.
You can check out my Yards 401 M/Parcel D page for more information, photos, and renderings. (Plus, in case you're wondering, this building site is just across 4th Street from the Boilermaker Shops retail space, about a block to the northeast of the Foundry Lofts, and a block from the Yards Park.)
The ANC 6D meeting is on Monday Nov. 14 at 7 pm at 1100 4th St., SW (the Safeway building), in the 2nd Floor DCRA meeting room.

Whatever Happened To: The Beer Garden at 8th and L?
Nov 8, 2011 1:29 PM
It was one year ago today that we heard the first rumblings of plans for a beer garden to be built on the northwest corner of 8th and L, SE. It would have 99 indoor seats and space for an additional 200 customers in a "summer garden," and would offer live music.
The project went through all manner of liquor license wrangling, followed by a lot of work on the design in order to satisfy the Historic Preservation Review Board (which it finally did, in March). At many of these sessions, the owner spoke of wanting to get the project underway as quickly as possible, but since the HPRB approvals in spring, it hasn't seemed like anything has been happening.
However, late last week, when I was playing around with DDOT's new Public Space Permit locator app and figuring out how to import its Occupancy Permit data into my own list of Near Southeast Public Space Permits, I saw that a construction staging area permit had been issued for 720 L St. SE on Sept. 22. Some digging into the city's building permits application also found building permits applied for on Aug. 18, but still not yet approved.
I contacted the owner, Mark Brody, and he tells me that they indeed are working on permits, but "it's taking longer than expected." (I know, this is a shocker.)
So, no timetable for the project's opening at this point, but it appears it hasn't fallen completely off the map.
(And, speaking of the permits feed on the JDLand home page, I've tinkered with both the public space and building permits so that they're now sorted and grouped by address.)

New Yards Park/Teague Park Bridge Dedication Scheduled for Nov. 22
Nov 7, 2011 3:27 PM
The word is going out that the official dedication of the new pedestrian bridge connecting the Yards Park and Diamond Teague Park will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 22, at 1:30 pm. The mayor is expected to be there, along with George Hawkins of DC Water (since the bridge runs right past the main pumping station) and I'm sure a slew of other dignitaries.
This is the bridge that will allow for an easier and more enjoyable stroll between the Yards Park and Nationals Park, depositing stadium-goers right across the street from the Grand Staircase/1st Base Gate at 1st Street and Potomac Avenue. And it will also allow water taxi customers disembarking at Teague Piers to get to the Yards Park without having to hike up to Tingey Street and then over a few blocks. (Eventually the Yards Park will have its own marina and water taxi piers, but not for another few years.)
It is part of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, and eventually will also connect to a larger public plaza adjacent to Teague Park, as part of the easternmost development of the FloridaRock/RiverFront project.
Hope they have good weather for the ribbon cutting!
(This is probably also a good time to make quick mention of AtlanticCities' recent naming of the Yards Park as one of America's Best New Parks.)

Navy Yard, Waterfront Metro Stations Closed Veterans' Day Weekend
Nov 7, 2011 11:25 AM
If you thought the closure of the Navy Yard Metro station over Halloween weekend was a blast, you get to relive it again over the upcoming Veterans' Day long weekend, as once again WMATA has major Green Line track work planned.
And, if you're someone who uses the Navy Yard station to get to work, hopefully your employer follows the full federal holiday calendar, because this time the closures begin at 10 pm Thursday, Nov. 10, since Friday is the Veterans' Day holiday. Through the system closing on Sunday, Nov. 13, Navy Yard, Waterfront, Anacostia and Congress Heights stations will all be closed. Free shuttle buses will run to the closed stations from L'Enfant Plaza and Southern Avenue, but Metro advises customers to "allow 30 minutes of additional travel time."
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Bridge Girders To Be Installed Over M; Nighttime Ramp Closures
Nov 6, 2011 10:22 AM
The 11th Street Bridges folks have put out the word that this week they will be installing girders across M Street SE between 11th and 12th Streets as part of the new freeway flyover. They'll be doing the work from 9 pm to 5 am Nov. 7 through Nov. 10, and it will require closure of the inbound 11th Street Bridge exit ramp to M Street as well as eastbound M Street between 11th and 12th. (Westbound M will have "limited access.")
This flyover is what will be connecting the new freeway bridge to the westbound Southeast Freeway. You can see recent photos showing the progress of the entire 11th Street Bridges project in this October 7 photo gallery. It's expected that the new freeway bridge will open by the end of this year. (Which isn't far off!)
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American Heart Association Heart Walk at Nationals Park Saturday
Nov 4, 2011 10:44 AM
If you see scads of people walking around the neighborhood tomorrow (Saturday, Nov. 5), it's the American Heart Association Heart Walk. It starts at Nationals Park, goes around the concourse, exits out to Potomac Avenue, goes up First to Tingey, then over to the Yards Park (and on the boardwalk), then up to M Street, back down Half, and over to South Capitol before heading back into the ballpark for the finish line. (Here's the map.) The event starts at 8:30 am, but it doesn't leave the ballpark until 10 am.
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Metro Approves Subway Station Renaming to Navy Yard-Ballpark
Nov 3, 2011 1:28 PM
The long road to giving the Navy Yard Metro station a new name seems to have at last come to its resolution, as WMATA's board voted to approve "Navy Yard-Ballpark."
With the city having a "private commitment" (rumored to be the Nationals) to pay the costs of the change, and with rider surveys having shown a favorable response to the new name, the board opted to approve DC's request instead of its staff's recommendation of putting Ballpark in as a secondary name.
This all started more than a year ago, with the Capitol Riverfront BID initially wanting some version of "Capitol Riverfront/Ballpark/Navy Yard." Then the Nationals started pushing for adding the "Curly W", for some variant of Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront/. Then WMATA came out with its new naming guidelines, including a requirement that names be no more than 19 characters, which prompted the BID to ask for "Navy Yard" to be dropped altogether. ANC 6D then opted to support Navy Yard-, or Navy Yard-Ballpark if the Curly W wouldn't be allowed. DDOT then officially asked that Navy Yard-Ballpark be forwarded to WMATA for approval. Then we had the staff recommendation for a split primary/secondary naming. And then today's action. Wasn't that a cinch?
This change, along with dropping "SEU" from the Waterfront station name and other changes around the system, are to take place when Metro's new map debuts in June of 2012.
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First Look Inside the Foundry Lofts Building at the Yards
Nov 1, 2011 1:52 PM
The fine folks at the Foundry Lofts leasing office were kind enough to give me a hard-hat tour of the still-under construction building today, and of course I went with camera in hand. It was hard to pare down my photos to a manageable amount, but I think this Foundry Lofts Construction Progress Gallery does a good job of showing the general aura of the building's units and public spaces. (I even got to visit a few of the penthouse units, although there's still much work to be done on them.)
The 170-unit building is now about 43 percent leased, and the first residents are expected to move in at the end of this month. And within the next month or so, Potbelly Sandwich Works and Kruba Thai and Sushi will start work on their ground-floor spaces, with both looking to open during the first quarter of 2012.
One aspect of the building's design that many people may not be aware of--since it isn't visible from the outside--is the large interior open-air courtyard, which even includes a yoga platform complete with bamboo. (I did confirm, though, that attendance at the daily yoga sessions will not be mandatory for residents.)
And, because I can never resist, I also got a couple photos of the so-close-to-being-finished bridge between the Yards Park and Diamond Teague Park (which should be opening Any Minute Now), as well as the increasingly naked Boilermaker Shops building. Those photos are at the bottom of the gallery.
For more about the project, see my Foundry Lofts project page, which includes many "before" photos that are worth looking at to be reminded at just what an amazing job has been done in transforming this 1918 building. And for much more detail about floor plans, available units, and other information, visit the official leasing office web site. Rents, according to the web site, start at about $2,000 a month for the one-bedroom units, $2.900-ish for two-bedroom units, and $3,200 and up for the two-story penthouses. (The corner ones with the great views run at about $4,500 a month.)

Madison Marquette to Launch Blue Castle Redevelopment Process
Oct 28, 2011 1:44 PM
Today's Washington Business Journal reports (subscribers only, alas) that Madison Marquette, owners of the "Blue Castle" at 770 M Street SE and co-owners of a series of additional parcels across 8th, "will soon formally launch its Lower Barracks Row redevelopment process, hiring land use planners, wooing an anchor retailer for the historic car barn and tackling a range of hurdles that stand in the way."
It's that "range of hurdles" that the article focuses on--MM will need to figure out where will parking for the car barn be able to be placed and how much additional height can be added given not only historic and building height restrictions but the Navy Yard's concerns with having buildings that can look over their walls.
Then there's the looming CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel construction, which could impact all of the landowners along Lower 8th given the disruptions that will no doubt ensue during the project. Mark Batterson of the National Community Church, which now owns all of the properties along Virginia between 7th and 8th and is looking to build a large coffee house/performance space and offices there, says in the article that their planning is very much tied up in CSX's timeline. "It doesn't make sense to do our project and then have them come through and rip everything up and make it difficult for us to even access our property."
Back in 2009 and 2010 there was a long Lower 8th Street Vision Process, which suggested allowing building heights of 65 to 85 feet on new structures 20 to 30 feet behind existing historic 8th Street structures. (The process report has a lot of drawings on how the 45-foot limit along 8th could co-exist with these potential greater heights further off the street.)
And, while not mentioned in the WBJ article, there's still the question of whether the Marines will end up building a new barracks in this area, as they have been hoping to do.
So, while the current Blue Castle leases are up in 2012, giving MM the opening to begin the process, the article makes clear that any makeover of Lower 8th will probably proceed slowly, at best.
Oh, and when it's all done, the Blue Castle probably won't be blue anymore:
(Rendering courtesy Madison Marquette. And maybe there's a hint in it of where they think the parking could go!)

Reminder on Weekend Events, Plus 11th St. Bridge Ramp Closure
Oct 27, 2011 9:47 PM
The weekend is almost here, so it's probably worth a reminder that the Navy Yard Metro station will be closed this weekend, starting at 10 pm Friday through the system's closure time on Sunday night. Waterfront will be closed as well, so if you're hoofing it to another station, make it Capitol South or another Orange/Blue station.
But it's still a big weekend for events in the neighborhood, with the Ghost Ship Barry festivities at the Navy Yard and "Truckerboo" at Half and M on Friday. (Note that the Navy Yard's portion of the Riverwalk will be closed starting at noon on Friday, so you need to go to the entrance gates at 6th and M SE in order to get to the Ghost Ship.)
Saturday is the BID's Community Planting Day, from 9 am to noon, and they're looking for volunteers to help to plant thousands of daffodil bulbs throughout the neighborhood. (UPDATE: This has been moved to Sunday at noon, because of the weather forecast.) Also on Saturday, Justin's Cafe is having a Halloween Murder Mystery event starting at 9 pm, where individuals and teams get a storyline and a clue and work to solve the mystery while, ahem, drinking some beers.
Then, just when you think you've made it through the weekend, DDOT will be closing the ramp at 11th and O streets SE to the outbound 11th Street Bridge from 10 pm to 5 am Monday through Thursday (Oct. 31 through Nov. 3). It's so they can demolish the remaining retaining wall that runs along the east side of 11th. The detour is to use the on-ramp at 8th and VIrginia, SE.

Reader Poll Results: Thanks for Helping Out, More than Expected
Oct 27, 2011 4:13 PM
My decision to do my first-ever reader survey was really just a lightning quick notion while I was on vacation. I whipped up the questions without a lot of thought, tossed it on the site, and assumed it would be a somewhat interesting diversion, though I was nervous about the sort of feedback I'd get (or whether I'd get much at all, since goodness knows *I* hardly ever respond to these sorts of pleas for input).
So I'm happy that 428 readers took the time to click a few boxes and type a few words, giving me a bunch of great data to chew over. A few numbers surprised me, a few confirmed what I've always suspected, and others really helped to refocus me on how people use the site and what is and isn't important. Some bullet points:
* The response that I think might surprise others but which I've always assumed to be the case is that only 41 percent of JDLand readers currently live in Near Southeast. This means that there are two somewhat distinct readerships who have different levels of interest about various goings-on. This is why you'll see additional breakouts for some survey responses by Near Southeast Residents and Not Residents. And this is also why I don't always go as deep into the weeds on neighborhood news and events as some residents would probably like, because I know a lot of readers are looking for more of an overview.
* Not surprisingly, nonresidents are more interested than residents in before-and-after photos (69 percent to 49 percent), since nonresidents (like me!) don't see all the new stuff every day.
* Another shocker: Near Southeast residents are most interested in restaurant/retail news! (The question might be, who are the 2 percent of residents who aren't?)
* This is the one that stunned me: 82 percent of respondents said that the amount of blog posts is "Poifect." Only THREE people said there's too many posts? There were about 60 people who said that there are too few posts, or that information is being missed, with residents feeling that way more than non-residents. While some people recognized that this is more a statement on the lack of actual news instead of my coverage being underwhelming, one critique raised a few times in the "Other" field was the overloaded "Tidbits" posts, which I had recognized as a problem even before starting the survey. You're already seeing a larger number of smaller posts rather than fewer bulleted ones....
* My employer will be happy to know that 87 percent of readers say they get local news from the Washington Post. DCist was the second-highest choice (46 percent), with City Paper third at 35 percent. (This question probably would have benefitted from more options, and people added quite a few in the Other field. Oh well. Next time.)
* Twitter is used by only about 25 percent of respondents to get either my content or local news. This is an important data point for me, because if you spend as much time deep in the Twitterverse as I do, it's easy to overinflate its importance in the overall news delivery and consumption scheme. (I'd also suggest reading this AdWeek piece from a few weeks back on how Politico's bloggers are trying to adapt in a Twitter world, where being first and fast is a whole heck of a lot harder than it used to be. It's an article that really resonated with me.)
What stands out to you in the numbers?
There's a few parts of the survey I'd change if I had it to do over again (some demographic info, like gender and age, would have been good to know). And doing it after baseball season is over probably skews the results away from the Nationals fans who tend to come by to check out what's going on near the stadium. And of course I'm well aware that this isn't at all scientific, and that it's the most engaged readers who tend to make the effort to reply. Plus, the number of responses is a teensy percentage of what Google reports as my average monthly unique visitors, so a lot of visitors are no doubt unrepresented in these numbers. (And the people who think I'm excessively wordy or post too often or don't do a good job have probably already moved along.)
But, all of that said, I'm so glad I did this, because one thing I never ever expected was the huge number of positive comments (and almost complete lack of negative ones) in the optional feedback field. (I'm not going to post them publicly, because I can only imagine the grief I'd get for such a display of look-how-wonderful-people-think-I-am.) A lot of what I do can feel like "whistling into the wind," because you're never really sure how much people are reading and enjoying the site (page view statistics are nice, but don't tell the whole story), so to get message after message of encouragement was a wonderful surprise.
It's no secret that I go through phases of wondering whether I should really keep at it, and during my week in Florida I was seriously teetering on the edge of "it's time," with a lot of self-doubt about whether a "neighborhood blog" in the area of Facebook and Twitter is something people are still looking for. Most unexpectedly, this survey really ended up reinforcing for me that basically I've still got the right idea after all this time.
In other words, a big thanks to all who replied. You had a lot more impact on JDLand than you might have anticipated.
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Clean Rivers Project Launches, Work Zones Coming (Eventually)
Oct 26, 2011 11:45 PM
Two weeks ago, while I was busy biking around Florida's Space Coast, DC Water (aka WASA) had the groundbreaking for its massive Clean Rivers Project. This is a 20-year, $2.6 billion initiative to control the city's "combined sewer overflows," which is what happens when the current system where wastewater and rainwater move in single pipes gets overwhelmed during "certain rainfall conditions", causing the diluted sewage mix to empty into local waterways before it can get to DC Plains to be treated.
This map gives a good overview of where the Clean Rivers work will be done along the Anacostia, and it should be no surprise that Near Southeast is on the docket for some of the construction zones, given that DC Water's main pumping station is that lovely 1905 Beaux Arts building nestled between Nationals Park and the Yards Park. There are two components of the project that will directly impact the neighborhood:
The first workzone ("Division E") will appear next spring, to allow for digging along M Street SE between 9th and 14th Streets, with the work expected to take about two years. Parking along M will be restricted between 8th and 9th streets and 12th and 13th streets, and M will be completely closed during the project at the not-quite-an-intersection with 14th Street and Water Street.
The second workzone ("Division I") will be in a more central location, and for a longer period of time, as 1,200 linear feet of combined sewers and other infrastructure needs will be installed on Tingey Street SE between 2nd and 5th streets. (For those of you not 100 percent familiar with the grid, Tingey is the street just behind the US Department of Transportation that runs through the Yards.) They are estimating this work will begin in the fall of 2013 and last until the summer of 2017. But no major hauling during stadium events, they say! There will be some lane closures along Tingey, and parking will be restricted along Tingey as well.
These two projects, along with the much larger Tunnel Project That Shall Not Be Named along Virginia Avenue, will no doubt try the patience of residents and office workers, but DC Water says they are working closely with all manner of stakeholders (including the Navy Yard, the BID, DDOT, the Nationals, CSX, WMATA, and the Maritime Plaza folks) and will be coordinating with ANCs as well. (They gave a presentation on the project at the October ANC 6D meeting, which I alas missed.)
The web site for the project has a lot of information if you want to know more--plus DC Water's chief George Hawkins has his own blog with links about the groundbreaking and more.

Last Call on JDLand Reader Poll - I Need to Know!
Oct 25, 2011 6:18 PM
I certainly can't complain about the level of response to my quickie JDLand Reader Poll, but that doesn't mean I don't still want to hear from as many people as possible. I'm going to shut it down late Wednesday, so you've got about 24 hours to answer just a few questions to help me better understand who the heck out there is reading this stuff.
(It may seem like I'm giving an awful lot of advance warning for a Last Call, but that's for the folks who mainly read my posts via e-mail, which go out overnight.)
I'll write about the results and provide all sorts of tables and number-crunching later in the week.
UPDATE: Time's up! Poll is closed. Thanks for playing!
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