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News from Zoning Commission land: at Monday's meeting, the text amendment to the Capitol Gateway Overlay about the stadium was finally approved. As soon as it gets posted in the DC Municipal Regulations, I'll post it here, although in the meantime you can read the text of the amendment from the July 29 DC Register. In other DCOZ news, there will be a hearing on Dec. 19 on Capper/Carrollsburg, to consider Phase I Final Approval and modifications to the consolidated and prelimary PUD. Phase I final approval references the land between 3rd and 4th and K and M Streets, where they are proposing to build 91 3- to 4-story residential units (note that the existing private homes in these blocks will not be demolished); this application also addresses the plans to build a new community center on 5th Street between K and L Streets. At the ANC 6D meeting on Oct. 17, it was indicated that the breakdown of the 91 units would be: 51 units would be 3-4 bedroom townhouses sold at market rate or moderate (80%-120% median income), 11 would be section 8 ownership units, and 29 would be public housing rental units. These units are in addition to the ones already in the pipeline for the blocks between 4th and 5th and Virginia and M--there will be a total of 208 market-rate townhouse units in these first two phases. The community center will include a daycare facility for 66 children, a rec center, a computer lab, a gym, a game room, and meeting/classrooms. AND 6D will be voting on this at their Nov. 14 meeting.

 

The 11th Street Bridges Environmental Impact Statement project has released its first newsletter, which contains a lot of really useful information about what exactly the project is, and how it's going to work. There will be two more public scoping meetings on Dec. 13 and 14. The newsletter also notes that construction on new ramps could begin as early as Fall 2007.

More posts: 11th Street Bridges
 

DC Council Chair Linda Cropp has signaled that she will block any attempts at significant alternations to the baseball stadium financing package, reports Tuesday's Post. She will introduce as "technical" the amendments necessary to amend the financing package on Nov. 1, which limits the amount of changes that can be made. While councilmembers such as David Catania, Kwame Brown, and Vincent Orange have hinted that they would like to reopen the financing package, the article notes that two council members who voted against the package last year--Kathy Patterson and Adrian Fenty--have indicated they would probably vote to approve the amendments. Says Patterson: "The District is at some risk of not being taken seriously as a government if we renege on the deal we have. That said, we negotiated a lousy deal."

More posts: Nationals Park
 

The DC Zoning Commission will be taking up the stadium text amendment to the Capitol Gateway Overlay District at tonight's meeting. This should be when they vote for final approval--although with the discussions these days about building heights near the stadium, I wonder if there will be some revisions in the works.

 

According to the Washington Business Journal, owners of land north of the new stadium site recently met with DC council members Cropp, Evans, and Ambrose to discuss limiting the heights of their future developments in order to preserve views of the US Capitol dome, with buildings being able to get progressively taller as they near the Capitol. Russell Hines of Monument Realty is quoted as saying that they're willing to work with the city on this point. (A WBJ editorial supports this idea.)
 

Sunday's Post reports that Linda Cropp says she is committed to the Near Southeast location for the new baseball stadium, with aides for Mayor Williams saying that the council chair's support is crucial, given that she has power to limit changes to the original legislation if she brings forward the necessary revisions as "technical changes." UPDATE: in "If It Doesn't Come, Will They Still Build?" in Monday's Post, developers weigh in on how their plans for development around the stadium site would change if the stadium weren't put there after all. Some say it would slow down their plans, others say that the area is still ripe for new offerings. And one more article from the weekend deluge of Nats/stadium pieces, Saturday's piece on which groups appear to be the leading bids to buy the team also mentions the issues the council is having with the stadium lease agreement, and how the choice of a non-DC-based owner could impact those negotiations.
More posts: Nationals Park
 

Once again proving that nothing can ever be considered "done" in DC government, Vincent Orange's attempt to force Major League Baseball to pick an owner before a stadium lease agreement is in place, plus some technical errors in the baseball stadium financing agreement completed in late 2004, may be giving the DC Council an opening to revisit the terms, perhaps even taking another shot a trying to build the stadium at the RFK site instead of the site chosen in Near Southeast. Reps from the city's executive branch are trying to indicate that this is no big deal, and MLB is gently reminding the council that a deal's a deal, but who knows what will transpire. Read the Post and the WashTimes articles for more details.
More posts: Nationals Park
 

In case you don't have enough Near Southeast items on your calendar:
· The October meeting of ANC 6D (which includes about 85% of Near Southeast in its borders) will be held Monday, Oct. 17. The agenda includes two presentations of Near Southeast interest: one on the Capper/Carrollsburg Second Stage PUD, and one on the Florida Rock PUD. [entry repeated from a few days ago as a reminder]
· The Capitol Hill Restoration Society will be hosting a forum about the Anacostia Waterfront Initiatve on October 25. In addition to outlining the framework of the redevelopment plans (from the South Capitol Street corridor to the new stadium (!) through the Navy Yard up through Reservation 13 and RFK), the presentation will highlight how the initiative will relate to Capitol Hill in terms of business opportunities, urban density, and historic preservation. 
· The small mixed-use project at 801 Virginia Avenue winds its way through the bureaucracy with a hearing in front of the Historic Preservation Review Board on October 27. The developer wishes to demolish the auto repair shop and replace it with a four-story building with 17 residences and ground-floor retail.
 

Today's DC Register has published an ever-so-slightly corrected version of the Capper/Carrollsburg first-stage PUD approval from 2004. Since the second-stage PUD should be coming before the zoning board in the near future (and is being discussed at the ANC 6D meeting on Monday 10/17), perhaps printing this is one of those arcane zoning rules I'm unaware of. Anyway, anyone interested in the plans for the Capper/Carrollsburg site should take the time to plow through these 40 pages.
 

Friday's print edition of the Washington Business Journal reports that developer Ron Cohen has purchased the entire block bounded by Half, K, L, and 1st Streets, SE (square 699N), for $55 million, with plans for a mixed-use project that may include 650 condos, a hotel with condos, a stand-alone 250,000 sq ft office building, and possibly retail as well. Tenants on the block--including the nightclubs Wet, Edge, and Club 55--have been told that the buildings will be razed in late spring 2006. Phase I of the project will have 250 condos, and hopes are to begin construction in October 2006, and to have the entire project completed in four years. A few pictures of the block in its current state are on my South Capitol Street Corridor page (you'll have to scroll down a bit for them--this project will eventually get its own page, but not just yet!).

 

I haven't covered a lot of the news over the sale of the Nats, since it doesn't really have much to do with the stadium itself--except when Vincent Orange gets involved, now that he has said that he will introduce legislation at the Nov. 1 council meeting that would bar city officials from signing a lease agreement with Major League Baseball for a new stadium until baseball selects an owner for the Washington Nationals. (He wants to ensure that a owner with strong local ties is picked.)

More posts: Nationals Park
 

The Oct. 13 Voice of the Hill (PDF here) has pieces on two Near Southeast items: the cleanup of the Virginia Avenue Park at 9th and Virginia in the East End (on page 4), and an item (page 14) on the vacant Washington Star/Washington Post building at 3rd and Virginia, and the Washington Canal Park project just to the plant's south. (Scroll to the bottom of my Canal Park page, and you can see rough drawings of how the building could look after a conversion to office or mixed-use.) The article mentions a target date of 2007 or 2008 for Canal Park, which is a pretty fair delay from the original 2006 completion timeline. You can also look at my Capper/Carrollsburg page for more information about the housing that will be going up around the park.

 

The Anacostia Waterfront Corporation has posted Responses to Questions to the Baseball-Related Development Request for Expressions of Interest to go with the RFEI. Responses are due to the AWC on Oct. 21, with plans to begin negotiations with developers by the end of November.
 

Here we go again. The Post reports: "The D.C. Council reopened debate yesterday over the financing and location of a baseball stadium for the Washington Nationals, prompting fears from some city officials that the timetable could be set back on the high-stakes project" ("Council Seeks to Revisit Stadium Deal"). Perhaps it's a touch of mayoral-race-jockeying between Vincent Orange and Linda Cropp that has the two of them getting all itchy: Orange "proposed a resolution asking Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) to allow the council to review an agreement with Deutsche Bank, which would provide some private financing for the stadium."  Then Cropp "responded by warning Orange that she could raise the ante by resurrecting an idea she broached last fall: building the ballpark at the site of Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. Locating it there, Cropp has said, could save the city as much as $200 million." The resolution, which passed 9-4, was nonbinding, meaning that the mayor can decide whether to send the financing deal to the council. CEO Natwar Gandhi "said the Deutsche Bank deal must be finalized by next month for the city to meet its goal of getting the stadium financing in place by the end of the year." And, just to add to the fun, "some council members also are seeking to review a lease agreement for the new stadium being negotiated between the sports commission and Major League Baseball. The lease negotiations have held up the sale of the Nationals."

More posts: Nationals Park
 

The construction companies Clark Construction, Hunt Construction, and Smoot Construction, which have banded together under the moniker Clark/Hunt/Smoot, A Joint Venture to win the contract to build the new DC baseball stadium, have launched the web site DCBallpark.com. No, there's no details there on the design of the stadium! Just general information on the companies, their experience in building stadiums, and their ties to the community.
More posts: Nationals Park
 

News Flash: CEO Andy Altman resigns from the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, to take a private-sector job in New York. Details at the Washington Business Journal (reg. req.). UPDATE: The Post weighs in with "SE Development in Limbo as Official Plans to Resign" (a headline that sounds a bit more dire than the story itself): "Local developers said yesterday that the unexpected resignation of the District official who oversees development along the Anacostia River could slow down the multibillion-dollar initiative and hinder the planning of what should be built around the new baseball stadium in Southeast. [...]  The Anacostia group has a strong board of directors, including Eric W. Price, the city's former deputy mayor for economic development, and Mitchell N. Schear, a Crystal City-based developer, local developers said. And Stephen Goldsmith, chairman of the corporation's board of directors, said the organization will move quickly to replace Altman. 'We're going to keep our commitments. We're actually going to accelerate our commitments,' Goldsmith said. 'We've got a whole slew of really important things going on. It can't wait.' While Altman said the corporation is in good condition to weather change, developers said finding the right replacement, promptly, will be critical to progress on Anacostia development." UPDATE II: And one more WaPo piece on Altman's departure, from Monday's biz section.
 

This week's Washington City Paper's cover story is "Rich Fan, Poor Fan," all about how rotten the new DC baseball stadium is going to be for the average fan. One small nit: since the stadium design hasn't been made public yet, I'm not altogether sure what they're working off of (it appears to be a mix of HOK's original submittal when vying for the job, plus some of the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission's requests, plus tidbits from the AWC's Ballpark District ideas, and a June 30 sketch, but they make no mention of seeing what the current state of the design is...). But if you're looking for lots of bitching about the new stadium, and don't want to wait for it to be unveiled let alone constructed, this is a good place to start.
More posts: Nationals Park
 

The Post reports in Thursday's paper that Major League Baseball won't choose a new owner for the Nationals until negotiations over the lease of the new stadium are complete, but it appears that the lease negotiations don't have much of a chance of being finished until lead MLB negotiator Jerry Reinsdorf's Chicago White Sox are eliminated from the playoffs.

More posts: Nationals Park
 

DC is ready to begin using eminent domain by the end of this month to acquire parcels of land at the site of the new baseball stadium, according to today's Washington Times. City officials said they expect to file court documents to take over at least some of the 21-acre site in the coming weeks, and also say that the 24-month timetable for having the stadium construction begin in March 2006 and finish by March 2008 remains realistic. Also in the article, details of a squabble between the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission over where parking for the stadium should be located (AWC wants it underground, DCSEC doesn't).

 

Dear DC Government: I totally dig your web site, which makes so much information available to Interested Members of the Public. But maybe someday I could hope for an RSS feed of all of your news releases? Or at the very least a mailing list I could subscribe to? Because, not to put too fine a point on it, I'M GOING INSANE having to visit page after page after page after page after page after page after page each day checking for news!  I've actually built a workaround to preserve my sanity, but I bet I'm not the only one who'd want this.  Love, JD.
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