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After unveiling a draft Environmental Impact Statement back in April that did not name a "preferred alternative" out of any of the five sites studied as a new barracks location, the Marines have now apparently made their choice: .89 acres of land at the existing "MBW Annex" site on L Street SE between 5th and 7th Streets.
Quoting the EIS web site:
"The Draft EIS comment period concluded on May 26, 2015. The Marine Corps received comments from 14 agencies and individuals, most of which indicated a preference for one of the two alternatives that would construct the BEQ Replacement Complex on Department of Defense-owned land (Alternative 4 - Site D at the Washington Navy Yard or Alternative 5 - Site E at the MBW Annex). The Marine Corps identified Alternative 5 as the preferred alternative based on this agency and public input, as well as its proximity to the MBW Main Post and Annex, the elimination of the need for land acquisition, and the mitigatable environmental impacts of locating the replacement BEQ Complex at this site."
As described in the draft EIS, the choice of this location means that the Marines are expecting to build a six- or seven-story building that wraps around the BEQ that opened in 2004. They also expect to retain the underground parking at the 8th and I/Building 20 site they are trying to move out of (though there is already that nice big four-story aboveground garage at the L Street site that neighbors are so fond of). The playing field along Virginia Avenue is expected to be retained, however.
There is no mention of any possible closures of L Street between 5th and 7th, as had been discussed back in 2010 when the Marines were eyeing Square 882, where the Lofts at Capitol Quarter are now being built. And it was in 2012 that the Department of Defense relaxed its Force Protection Requirements, meaning that any new quarters would need only a 66-foot standoff from the street, compared to the 82 feet the original land search had been operating under.
This would seem to bring to an end the long, long road from when the Marines first launched the public process to find a new site back in 2010, which initially focused on various privately owned properties south of the freeway where the Corps though it could perhaps create a "public-private" location that would provide some services or benefits to the public. But as it became clear that businesses, officials, and residents weren't particularly excited about seeing blocks near Lower 8th Street and the Virginia Avenue Park being turned into secure, fenced locations (especially once the phrase "federal land acquisition will be unavoidable" cropped up), the Marines' choices seemed to narrow to the two federally owned sites, and now to the site that they have controlled all along.
The final EIS is expected in the fall, with the Record of Decision in early 2016.
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There is still no confirmation of anything at this point (which is why I haven't yet posted, because I, you know, wait for hard information before racing to the keyboard), but the Navy Yard has been on lockdown since before 8 am after reports of shots fired. There is a massive police (and media) presence on M Street, road closures everywhere, and helicopters circling, but still no official word one way or the other.
Will post updates as needed, though as I am hitting the Post button, reports are coming out that no injuries have been found and that "all indications are no shooting."
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Last Thursday the Zoning Commission held a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review hearing for One M Street, the building planned for the southeast corner of South Capitol and M Streets that is to be the new home for the National Association of Broadcasters.
Monument Realty had come to the commission back in 2013 with plans for a 328,000-square-foot office building, but now the developer is planning both this 120,000-square-foot NAB HQ (seen at right) and a 175ish-unit residential building immediately to the south that will come to the commission at a later date. (More on that below.)
Architect Bill Hellmuth of HOK testified that the location is a "gateway" that presents an "opportunity to make a building that is unique" to the city and also acts as separate gateway to the neighborhood by Nats Park. He also mentioned that having the very un-Washington curved facade start at an overhang 29 feet above the sidewalk is a "special moment" for the building.
Retail will make up about 35 percent of the ground-floor space, although there's a possibility that some of that space will be taken by a broadcast studio in the space facing M Street (and that there would also be a window to see into the studio from the lobby). NAB will apparently occupy about half of the building, which it will be buying from Monument Realty once it's constructed.
The filing contained a few new renderings, which I of course have pilfered (UPDATE: and two of which are now nice high-res versions, thanks to Monument Realty), showing the building as seen from both the west and east along M and also from the south on South Capitol:
All in all, there were no major issues, with most commissioners commenting on the "tremendous improvement" of this design over the original one, and the board was also happy that the developers will now be applying for LEED Gold certification.
There were also discussions about whether the concrete on the penthouse is light gray or dark gray, whether portions of the facade are a dark tan or a light tan, about whether the "rectilinear" facade is more appropriate for South Capitol and the curved one being better suited for M Street, and whether a small portion of the penthouse was in violation of the Height Act or could be handled by a special exception allowing for enclosing walls of different heights. There were also a few minutes taken to dicuss whether the glass in the building is the type that can help prevent birds from flying into it (WAKE UP, I'M STILL WRITING HERE).
It's expected that the commission will take its vote on this case at its July 27 meeting.
As for the 175ish-unit residential building being planned for the south half of this site, you can see its ghost in the new rendering up top and in two of the other new renderings, plus the filing had this keen photo showing a model of the two buildings, as seen from the northwest. You may note that the residential building has its courtyard open to South Capitol Street, in a very similar fashion to JBG's 1244 South Capitol Street residential project that will be at the south end of the same block (also ghosted in the main photo up top).
See my somewhat paltry One M Street project page for shots of the site's past (spoiler alert: it's the old Domino's site) as well as links to my posts about it over the years.
 

On Monday night, with all of about three minutes of discussion, the Zoning Commission voted unanimously to approve the Capitol Gateway Overlay Review for Jair Lynch's new residential and retail plans for the northeast corner of Half and N Streets, immediately north of Nats Park.
At the initial hearing for the project back in May, commissioners reacted positively to the design, which includes at least 60,000 square feet of retail on two floors topped with somewhere between 350 and 445 rental and condo residential units and possibly a small hotel as well.
The issues that prevented a vote back in May appear to have been addressed, among them the removal of plans for catenary lights to be strung across Half Street and for bollards that had been placed to protect pedestrians on the curbless sidewalks during non-game times, when traffic will be allowed on Half.
New renderings were also provided to the commission, showing the view of the building along both Cushing Place and the new "Monument Place" between this building's north end and the south side of 55 M. And of course it is required that I snag them from the filing and show them to you, with the Cushing Place view looking down from M Street, showing the "intersection" with Monument Place, and then the Monument Place view looking in from Half Street:
The developers have said that their plan is to begin construction in 2016, with completion by 2018, a timeline that gets speeded up somewhat since the bulk of the excavation was done, ahem, about eight years ago.
For much more about this project, including additional renderings, you can read my summary of the May zoning hearing, my look at the initial submission, and the project page.
 

I'm now back from a much-needed respite in north-central and northeast Wyoming, where the buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play (sometimes in your yard), and where the skies are (mostly) not cloudy all day.
While I'm miffed that all work in Near Southeast did not grind to a halt while I was gone, I will still pass along these quick tidbits of news, for those who weren't doing their own newsgathering over the past 10 days.
* CRANES A'PLENTY: The residential projects at 801 New Jersey and 1111 New Jersey have now joined the lineup of sites where tower cranes are in place. This of course means that vertical construction at these locations won't be too far off, should everything go according to plan. And there's probably a crane coming before long at 909 Half as well. (Speaking of cranes, they are often lightning rods--literally, as the Dock 79 crane found out last week.)
* ROADS A'CLOSING: On Wednesday, June 24, Virginia Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Streets SE was closed and fenced, as part of initial Virginia Avenue Tunnel work. And a missive from CSX a few days ago says that the expectation is that Virginia will close between 4th and 5th "on or about" Wednesday, July 1. (But the cross streets will remain open.) Drivers will need to use K Street over to 5th to then continue north under the freeway, or to continue east on Virginia Avenue until that portion of road is closed as well.
* PIZZA PIZZA: There's still the pesky detail of actual construction, but at last a building permit has been approved for Nicoletta, the pizza/pasta carryout kiosk long planned by Osteria Morini's Chef Michael White in one of the small retail bays beneath the Yards Park overlook, on the Riverwalk.
* BARDO DELAYED: The plans for an outdoor park and "brew garden" on the west end of the Florida Rock site are "now looking like a fall opening," according to WBJ--"if we're lucky." "Red tape" is the reason given. WBJ also notes that the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign that was looking for $200,000 to help fund the venture closed with $4,330 in contributions.
There's probably more to come, but that's good enough for now.
 

I get distracted with other things for, like, a minute, and all of a sudden the Capper Community Center on 5th Street SE between K and L starts looking like a real building!
The masonry work appears all but completed on the south end, where the gymnasium will be. If you compare these photos to the rendering, you'll see that most of the "holes" left in the construction are where glass or exterior flourishes are planned.
As for the picture at bottom right, it was my not-particularly successful attempt to show in a single shot the progress at the Community Center, the current state of the Lofts at Capitol Quarter a block away, and the boarded up windows signaling renovations at Van Ness Elementary.
(These blah pictures also show why I generally avoid taking photos when it's overcast or hazy or humid or, heaven forbid, all three. I also pretty much turned into Frosty the Snowman in the greenhouse in the brief time it took to take them.)
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It's hard to believe that in a few months the first batch of students will return to Van Ness Elementary, for the first time since 2006. With initial renovations and plans for the 2015-16 school year underway, the school is hosting a "Showcase" community meeting on Wednesday, June 17, from 6 to 8 pm.
Note that it is at 200 I St., SE, not at the school itself.
The Head of School, Cynthia Robinson-Rivers, will be there, as will the initial teachers. The interior and exterior renovation plans will also be on display, as will the new playground designs.
The school is opening with PK-3, PK-4, and kindergarten classes, with plans to add one grade each year until 5th grade is reached.
 

It took a little while longer than it seemed like it would, but I have confirmed with my own eyes that the Banfield Pet Hospital on Tingey Street east of 4th has finally opened its doors.
I inquired within (ignoring the bewildered look of the nice lady at the front desk when I explained that I was merely the "neighborhood blogger" requesting information), and apparently they are dubbing this a soft opening, so they are not offering the full slate of care just yet.
In the coming weeks--perhaps in late July--there will be an official Grand Opening.
Banfield will be open seven days a week, from 9 am to 7 pm Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday, and 10 am to 5 pm on Sunday.
With the spaces at Twelve12 and the Boilermaker Shops all but filled, those desperately hungry for news of more retail at the Yards will probably start casting glances toward Forest City's next delivery, the 325-unit Arris apartment building and its 20,000 square feet of ground-floor space (though there's been no announcements as yet, and the building is still a number of months away from completion).
 

After weeks of not-especially-sly references to this in my comments threads, I can now report that national eats-and-brews-and-whatnot chain Buffalo Wild Wings is looking to take about 6,000 square feet of ground-floor space on the block of Half Street SE between the subway station entrance and Nationals Park.
A tenant layout permit for a restaurant in 55 M has recently been applied for, referencing an occupancy of 233 seats/260 total, but my understanding is that no lease agreement had yet been signed with the owners of the 55 M Street office building where the space is located.
If this all does come to fruition*, retail space that has sat empty for five-plus years while millions of people trekked past may be finally getting a tenant.
* Exercising my normal amount of caution, given the lack of a signed lease or official announcement.
 

The meat of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel expansion project appears to be edging closer, as CSX sent out an announcement today with a preliminary heads up that the first full "for the duration" closures could happen by the end of June:
* Virginia Avenue between 2nd and 3rd Streets, SE, will close to traffic and parking "as soon as Monday, June 22."
* Virginia Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets, SE, will close to traffic and parking "as soon as Monday, June 29."
In both cases, fencing will be installed along the project site's perimeter, plus a temporary sidewalk will be installed between 2nd and 3rd.
Look for traffic to increase on the detour routes along I and/or K Streets in these blocks.
In addition, the recreation area under the Southeast Freeway/I-695 at 2nd Street will not be accessible from the south, which means no walking to and from Garfield Park in that spot until tunnel construction is cleared from that location. (The rec area will still be accessible, but only from the north/Garfield Park side.) There will also be fencing installed along the south side of Garfield Park by the rec area.
There will also be temporary closures of the left lane of Virginia Avenue between 5th and 7th Streets for a few weeks, starting perhaps as early as June 17.
This doesn't mean the start of actual digging or pile driving is nigh in these blocks--there are still apparently utility relocations and "other preparations" to complete before excavation work is to begin.
And when they say "as soon as," they really are doing a bit of ballparking. So if the blocks don't close on the above dates, don't assume that they've changed their minds.
For more about the project, check out my Virginia Avenue Tunnel page or the official web site.
Note: I'm not going to pass along every single construction update from CSX, so best to join the mailing list or follow the project on Twitter if you require minute-by-minute information, but I will highlight big milestones as they are announced.
UPDATE: I've said it so many times that I didn't think about mentioning it AGAIN, but I will mention AGAIN that the cross-streets in the zone of the project--3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, and 8th--will all remain open, allowing for continued vehicle and pedestrian traffic across Virginia and under the freeway. At some point there will be closures of a number of days to install the wooden planking on the intersections above the tunnel digging, but those streets are not scheduled to close for months and months. And neither is the exit ramp from the freeway to 6th Street, though all cars will have to turn left/north and go under the freeway.
 
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