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Friday Tidbits: CBS Radio Coming, Liquor License Applications
Apr 18, 2014 3:36 PM
If it weren't pouring rain at my undisclosed vacation location, I'd be leaving these until Monday, but boredom is overtaking me.
* MORE NEW NEIGHBORS: The move of CBS Radio to 1015 Half Street, rumored in February, is now confirmed, both in my inbox and now in WBJ. Mayor Gray is holding a press conference with various officials at the building Monday mornng. The radio folks are taking about 33,000 square feet on the second floor, and WBJ says they "will also lease about 3,000 square feet on the building's ground floor for use as a performance studio to host talent planning to play other venues during tour stops in D.C." (Maybe passersby will get to press their noses up to the glass to see who's there!) CBS Radio will be joining the National Labor Relations Board at 1015 Half, which announced its lease of 143,000 square feet in January.
* MORE BEVERAGES: Today's DC Register has two notices of alcoholic beverage license applications of note, both at the Yards. One is for 100 Montaditos, the Spanish small sandwiches restaurant coming to the Boilermaker Shops, and TaKorean, which will be bringing its Korean-style tacos to Twelve12. The apps say that Montaditos will have 74 seats, and TaKorean will have 60 seats, along with a 14-seat sidewalk cafe.
Now I shall return to watching the rain.

Wednesday Tidbits: Spring Break Edition
Apr 15, 2014 4:33 PM
The title of this post says it all (in other words, I am not in full blogging mode this week).
* PUMP IT UP: City Paper reports that DC Water is soliciting bids for the design of a new headquarters, which would move from Blue Plains to a new building atop the existing O Street Pumping Station. (NOT the beautiful Main Pumping Station just to the north!)
And, if one looks at the renderings that Forest City released during its quest for zoning approval to develop three blocks around the station, you can deduce that this idea did not crop up in the last few days. The rendering above shows the O Street station in the right foreground, and you can see how it does look similar to the description reported by City Paper: "[It] will have five stories of offices perched above the pumping station. The offices will be supported by columns; there may or may not be a small gap between them and the pumping station."
(Note that this is a separate issue from the stalled drive to move some of DC Water's operations before Forest City can start work on the proposed movie theater there.)
* THUMBS UP: The Zoning Commission has issued the final orders to allow veterinary hospitals in the Southeast Federal Center Overlay and for the Trapeze School to move to New Jersey and Tingey.
* BOTTOMS UP (OR NOT): An application for a Class C liquor license is now in the pipeline for the The Big Stick, the new restaurant coming later this year to 20 M Street, The application describes the venture thusly: "A sports bar featuring an alpine lodge theme and décor serving casual foods such as bratwursts, sausages and kielbasas, salads, sandwiches, wraps and crispy oven-baked macaroni and cheese. Occasional DJ. No nude performances."
That's all that's up with me. What's up with you?

Subway Cafe Coming to 20 M Street
Apr 12, 2014 4:48 PM
When news of Justin Ross's new restaurant The Big Stick appeared a few weeks ago, it was the first new tenant for Lerner's 20 M Street since then-Wachovia, now-Wells Fargo moved in back in 2008.
But within the past day or so signage has appeared in the retail space next to Wells Fargo announcing that a Subway Cafe is now coming soon as well.
For those not in the know (like me until a few hours ago), this is the mega-chain's "office building-oriented concept," with a full Subway menu but in a coffee shop vibe, with gourmet caffeinated beverages and baked goods alongside the sandwiches. The interiors also apparently feature flat screen TVs, updated lighting, and comfy chairs where people can park themselves for hours at a time. Here's a short piece by Esquire on the cafes (with a photo!) from when the idea first began being tested.
If you want to check one out and can't wait for this one to open, there are at least three in downtown DC, including at 455 Massachusetts Ave. NW and 555 13th St. NW.
And if you like your Subways traditional, there's still the one on 2nd Street SE across from Canal Park.
There will no doubt be grousing about this space not going to something a bit less, um, chain-y, but for office workers at 20 M, 80 M, 55 M, and the soon-to-actually-be-occupied 1015 Half Street, this will allow for a short lunch trek, so they can get back to their desks more quickly to continue slaving for The Man.

Public Meeting on Capper Community Center Set for April 21
Apr 10, 2014 4:19 PM
The "engagement process" between DCHA (and its consultants) and interested parties about the planned Capper Community Center now has its first public meeting scheduled, for Monday, April 21, at 7 pm, at 200 I St. SE.
The announcement flyer includes an FAQ with information similar to what I wrote about not too long ago when the agency announced that it would be working with the community to determine the "inside uses" for the 30,000-square-foot building at 5th and K streets, SE, which DCHA expects to be "a support for the community building process in this new mixed-income community" as well as a "multifaceted enrichment center" and a "hub for activities and positive civic interaction."
It also explains again that DCHA will not be running and funding the center's operations--though will remain "vitally interested" --so it needs to come up with ways to create the necessary revenue to support both staff and programs.
This meeting is planned to be an information session and also hear ideas about programs for the building, then a second meeting later this spring will present preliminary programming recommendations.
Check the flyer for additional information, including the reminder that government ID is needed in order to get into 200 I St.

New 11th Street Ramp to WB Freeway Closing for One Week
Apr 10, 2014 11:26 AM
The newish, somewhat hidden ramp from 11th Street to the westbound Southeast Freeway is going to be closed from Saturday, April 12, through Saturday, April 19, "to allow construction crews to continue the demolition of the existing inbound bridge," according to DDOT.
Drivers will be detoured to the long trek down I Street/Virginia Avenue to the ramp at 3rd Street, SE, as the latest arrow-filed map from DDOT shows. (So be careful at the 3rd and Virginia intersection, which might get a bit hairy.)

Wednesday Tidbits: Does Anybody Really Know What Time it Is?
Apr 9, 2014 11:37 AM
* UNARMED: Since I watched it get built (and remember the problems it's had since the beginning), I'll pass along the story of the woes of the Curly W scoreboard clock. (WaPo)
* THIS WEEK IN CSX: In case you haven't heard, a new date has been set for the DC council's hearing on a proposed resolution to tell the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to have a hearing about the Virginia Avenue Tunnel. It's now set for April 30 at 10 am (moved from March 25), and the announcement explains how you can be heard at this hearing, should you choose to be heard.
Other than that, I got nuthin. Unless you know someone who grew up in northeastern Wyoming many years ago and might be in this batch of uncaptioned photos handed down through my family. (Great-aunt Lucy was a teacher out there, so there's lots of pictures of kids in front of small rural schoolhouses.)
UPDATE: To flesh these tidbits out a bit, I'll add this just-posted WaPo piece on when the Nats should sell naming rights to the ballpark.

First Street Fields 'Social Sports Venue' in the Works
Apr 8, 2014 4:26 PM
Right as I was posting about all the fence signage in bloom, another batch of new banners appeared, at the Florida Rock site on Potomac Avenue at South Capitol Street.
The banners announce First Street Fields, and point to a placeholder website that says the "Social Sports Venue | Events Venue | Private Rentals | Beach Bar" will arrive in "Late Spring 2014."
The Hill Rag reports that the plan is for a "unique-to-Washington sports facility featuring playing fields for sports like bocce and whiffle ball, beach volleyball and kick ball." There would also be food trucks, pop-up "restaurants," farmers markets, and public and private field days.
And if this all sounds a bit familiar, that's because a similar proposal last year didn't quite make it through the process. Which is perhaps why the developers emphasized to ANC 6D during a presentation in March that it will be a "safe place to come," according to the Hill Rag, and that they "are looking at such issues as safety, medical issues, and crowd control[.]" The developers said that the sound would be carefully controlled with “integrated speaker management.”
The commission subsequently voted 4-2 to support the concept, once a settlement agreement is hashed out that covers issues like closing times, noise mitigation, and crowd capacity.
The Alcohol Beverage Control Board is having a fact-finding hearing on the venture tomorrow (Wednesday, April 9).
(I do wonder how that decontamination is going....)

8th Street SE On-Ramp to Outbound Freeway Opening April 8
Apr 7, 2014 3:28 PM
DDOT has just put out word that the "new" on ramp to outbound I-695 (i.e., the Southeast Freeway to the 11th Street Bridge) will be opening "on or about" tomorrow, April 8.
"The opening of the new ramp provides a direct connection from Capitol Hill and the Navy Yard/Barracks Row area to northbound DC 295 and southbound I-295 via 8th Street SE."
This ramp, while technically new, is really just the replacement of the old ramp at 8th and Virginia, albeit now shifted a few yards to the north on 8th. My photo above, from a few weeks ago, shows the new ramp, with the outbound freeway lanes to the left, and at right, the under-construction ramp that will bring traffic from the freeway down to the new signalized interchange at 11th Street.
DDOT has also provided a spiffy map for the new ramp, showing all sorts of arrows.

Forest City Looking for More Residential Height in 'Yards West'
Apr 7, 2014 10:06 AM
Forest City Washington, desiring to begin development on the western portion of the Yards, is requesting a change to the Southeast Federal Center Overlay that would "align the height and density of any residential development in the Yards West with similar residential density to the west in the CG/CR Overlay and the south in the DC Water Sites PUD."
(And yes, this "Yards West" thing is new, but it does make some sense, given how the properties along 1st Street are mostly separated from the heart of the Yards between 3rd and 4th.)
As shown on the graphic Forest City provided to the Zoning Commission, the four parcels along N Street just east of 1st dubbed F, G, H, and I currently have a maximum allowed height of 110 feet, while to the north, south, and west there's a 130-foot maximum. (There's also a density difference that caps Yards residential development at 6.0 FAR versus 7.0-8.2 in the Capitol Gateway (CG) Overlay.)
This means that the SEFC Overlay permits less height and density than on the surrounding properties because, Forest City says, "no one fully anticipated the success of the tremendous public and private investment that is transforming the area."
Further proposed text amendments would "require Zoning Commission design review for any property utilizing bonus height and density for residential use" and would "authorize deviations from the ground-floor preferred use requirements, only after approval from the Zoning Commission."
During the zoning hearings a few weeks back to allow some changes to the NGA building site (known as Parcels A, F, and G, but which for now I just call Parcel A because I'm lazy), it was mentioned that Forest City was in the process of hiring an architect to design a residential building on Parcel H, which is on the southeast corner of 1st and N, with hopes of beginning development in 2015. Though I'm guessing they'll want to find out whether they can build to 130 feet instead of 110 before finalizing that design.
More as it develops.

Nats Park Parking Map Updated; Perhaps Some 1st Street News
Apr 6, 2014 2:42 PM
While normal people were streaming toward the ballpark on this bright sunny spring Sunday, I was wandering the periphery, taking notes and chatting up parking lot attendants, in order to get my Nats Park Parking Lot Map scrubbed and fresh for the 2014 season. (Three games late, I know.)
The prices are what were being charged today, though for some of the lots it might be that lower prices will be charged for games with smaller crowds. So use the prices on the map as a guide, not 100 percent gospel.
Since the 2013 season pretty much went down the rabbit hole for me, I can't say for certain what's truly new and changed among the offerings, but here at least is What's New to Me:
* There is a $10 lot in the McDonald's parking lot at South Capitol and I, SE.
* The surface lots on the former Monument Realty properties at South Capitol and N and Half and M are back, charging $30.
* The little parking lot that popped up on South Capitol south of N next to the Camden apartment building was charging $30 this weekend, but it sounds like their rates will be pretty fluid depending on demand.
* We already knew that the lot at the NGA building would disappear this year (as the building itself will be), but it should return next year.
* It looks like Lot W hasn't been cut in half yet by the start of construction at the Lofts at Capitol Quarter, but be prepared for that to happen.
There's also the story of Nats Lot F at 1st and M, which a few weeks ago had disappeared from the team web site's parking inventory. But it is now back, albeit shrunken to a footprint that looks remarkably similar in size to the one that the Skanska 99 M office building will be built on as part of the sizeable Ballpark Square mixed-use development.
Small traffic cones separate this new Lot F from a now-unofficial lot immediately to the south, and a birdie told me that this is because the owner of that lot--which looks remarkably similar in size to the mid-block portion of Ballpark Square being developed by Grosvenor--is planning to start construction there Any Minute Now, so that lot is expected to be closed within the next few months.
Whether this is actually the case, and whether it means both the planned 325ish-unit apartment building and the 170ish-room hotel will both get underway, or just one or the other, I guess we'll have to see. No announcement yet as to an operator for this hotel, which is different from the Hampton Inn now under construction at the south end of the block.
The new signs for 99 M say "fall 2016," so that would track with this smaller Lot F being able to remain in inventory through the end of this season.

It's Spring, and the Advertising Signage is in Bloom
Apr 5, 2014 6:46 PM
It ain't quite the cherry blossoms, but this year Near Southeast has spiffy fence signage erupting with full color as spring finally has sprung.
Ground zero for the new offerings is 1st Street between M and N (coincidentally, right where all those fans going to Nats Park will see them!).
Skanska has put up a new fence on the west side of the street and big ads for its 99 M office building (which also now has a web site, and the first clear rendering I've seen of the building). Click to enlarge:
Then, across the street, the Yards folks have unveiled their new logo along with other avatar-ready design elements and hipsteriffic promo photos:
A few blocks away, on the Tingey Street fence that will partially prevent me from watching the construction of Parcel N (boo), ads for the Twelve12 apartment building offer several tweet-appropriate slogans, though I will try to not add a magic marker-ed hashtag to "Find Your (#)Awesome."
I also got updated photos of the under-construction Park Chelsea and River Parc apartment buildings, but since they don't have new pretty signs on their fences they don't make the front page this time.

Happy Natitude Day, 2014
Apr 4, 2014 9:40 AM
Fans are already heading to the gates, the lineup has just been announced (yay, Jordan Zimmermannnnnn!), and there's a bazillion other outlets going deep with Opening Weekend coverage, so I'll wish everyone Happy Natitude Day, and re-pass along a few links that will be easy to find and use for the rest of the season when all of the Opening Day dabblers' offerings disappear:
* The rundown/map of Food Options Outside the Ballpark
* My Parking Lot Map (though I'll need to see today's lineup of parking before it's 100% updated)
Let me know what you see throughout the day around the neighborhood--parking lot changes, the scene at the new bars and restaurants, and anything else of note.
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More posts: Nationals Park

Tuesday Tidbits: Very Late Wednesday Edition
Apr 2, 2014 10:46 PM
* CSX I: Eleanor Holmes Norton tells USDOT to get moving: "I ask that you help ensure the prompt release of the Final EIS for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project so that the surrounding community is aware of the preferred alternative, any impacts this project may have on them, and any mitigation and benefits to the surrounding community."
* CSX II: ANC 6B writes to Mayor Gray: "We have serious concerns about the VAT project proposed in the draft environmental impact statement, and we urge you to ensure those concerns are adequately addressed before the District issues the requisite approvals for the project."
* POCKET CHANGE: The Wall Street Journal reports that "Investors who own the storied Hawk ‘n’ Dove bar and other Capitol Hill eating spots owe more than $9 million to D.C. restaurateur Xavier Cervera and his partners who sold the restaurants to them in late 2012." An earlier WSJ piece gives a wider view of the mess of financing this all appears to be.
* FOR THE RECORD: In Precinct 131 (Near Southeast), Muriel Bowser received 40 percent of the vote, Tommy Wells 30 percent, and Vince Gray 24 percent. And in the Ward 6 council race, Charles Allen beat Darrel Thompson 57-43. A grand total of 444 people cast ballots out of the 2,085 registered voters in the precinct. So, yay to 21.29 percent of you!
* BLUEJACKET AND BASEBALL: It seems like the brewery has already been here forever, but Bluejacket is about to embark on its first season of providing refreshments to Nats fans. They've announced that they will be "tailgating" on their patio at 10 am Friday for the season opener, and that their new outdoor grill will be open for business "weather permitting, all season long Thursdays through Sundays from 11 am until 10 pm and on all game days beginning two hours before the first pitch."
* SWEET!: Sweetgreen has gotten its tenant layout permit to begin the buildout of its space in Twelve12, on 4th Street across from Bluejacket.
* THROWBACK THURSDAY: I did a bit of purging in my office over the weekend, and found at least two museum-worthy items (here and here). That's in addition to the Canal Park groundbreaking shovel I still trip over on a regular basis.

Navy Yard Circulator's Summer, Extended Gameday Hours Return
Apr 1, 2014 12:58 PM
It's the annual, non-April Fool's update to remind folks that the Navy Yard-Union Station Circulator route begins its summer hours today. Through September, the red buses will run Monday through Friday from 6 am to 9 pm, and on and on Saturdays from 7 am to 9 pm.
Plus, as in past years, the buses will have extended hours for Nats games: For every game beginning at 4:05 pm or later, the buses will run until midnight. For Sunday home games, this route will run from 10 am to 10 pm.
This route also stops at the Eastern Market station on the Orange and Blue lines, and also runs along Barracks Row, so your $1 gives you a lot of options.
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More posts: Traffic Issues

Election Day is Here. Go to the Polls and Vote.
Apr 1, 2014 8:32 AM
It's DC Primary Election Day, in case you haven't heard. I'm not a rah-rah #spiffyhashtag get-out-the-vote cheerleading type (nor will I tell you who to vote for), but I do firmly believe that you forfeit your right to bitch about government if you make no effort to participate.
* The main Near Southeast polling place is at Van Ness Elementary at 5th and M Streets, SE. If you aren't sure of where to vote, search for your polling place.
* The Post offers Five Things About Voting in DC You Were Too Embarrassed to Ask. (Starting with, "Can I vote?" Short answer: Yes!)
* The official Voter Guide can help you prepare, in case you don't want to just wing it once you're in the booth.
And then we'll do this all again in November, adding in ANC elections to boot!
(A thousand bonus points go to the [likely not young] reader who knows where this entry's title is from, especially when coupled with the line that follows: "Vote for the Kennedy of your choice, but vote!")
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More posts: politics

DCHA Starting 'Engagement Process' for Community Center
Mar 29, 2014 8:58 AM
With the construction of the long-delayed Capper Community Center at 5th and K getting ready to start, and with residents having recently made clear their desire to be consulted on the center's programming, the DC Housing Authority has announced that it will be reaching out "to the Capper HOPE VI community (homeowners and renters/former residents/current residents) and the broader Near Southeast neighborhood to solicit input into the future programs that will be offered."
Additionally, because the agency says that they have been unable to find funds for the staffing and programming of the center once it opens, it will be looking to contract with some organization or entity to operate and develop programs at the center "that will be responsive to the community's needs and the long-term vision for the center."
Brailsford & Dunlavey and Justice and Sustainability Associates have been hired to (I'll just quote the consultant mumbo jumbo): " 1) develop a process with the purpose of defining impacting programs that will foster personal and community enrichment, and civic participation; 2) create an asset map that will allow the future operator to understand the programs that are offered in the neighborhood; 3) develop financial models and pro forma to guide DCHA in approving future programming; and 4) [work] with our architects to define square footage within the building’s walls so that each space can have the potential of multiple uses."
There will be a series of meetings with the community over the next three months (including all-important charettes) and will also be developing a survey and "other forms of communicating the community's vision and desires for the building."
With the construction funds expiring by November 2015, DCHA has a goal of finding an operator for the center by this September, which would give the new operator one year to prepare for the center's opening.
You can read the entire release from DCHA about the process for more information.
The new community center has had a long, long path to fruition, since even before the original one closed and then was demolished in 2007.
There should also be a construction trailer and a sign announcing the project going up at the site (if not there already), as DCHA gets ready to prepare the site for construction.
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More posts: Capper, Community Center

Park Tavern, Willie's, Other Cervera Restaurants Declare Bankruptcy
Mar 29, 2014 8:32 AM
The DC Twitterverse lit up Friday night when the Wall Street Journal (?) reported the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by Barracks Row Entertainment, the company behind the slew of neighborhood restaurants opened by Xavier Cervera, including the revamped Hawk & Dove, Lola's, Molly Malone's, Boxcar, Senart's, The Chesapeake Room, and Pacifico Cantina.
Barracks Row Entertainment is also behind the Park Tavern at Canal Park, and the will-it-ever-open Willie's Brew and 'Que at the Boilermaker Shops at the Yards, and those two entities are part of the bankruptcy as well. The filing says that the company has "between $1 million and $10 million in debt."
What does it all mean? I guess we will just have to see....

Natitude Returns for the 2014 Season (Exhibition Version)
Mar 28, 2014 11:56 AM
Can it really be possible that the Nationals are about to start their seventh season on South Capitol Street? Yes, it's true, with Saturday's exhibition against the Tigers giving a taste before the home opener on April 4.
Here's my offerings for fans coming to the neighborhood:
* What's New To You in the neighborhood around the ballpark is my page for fans who haven't been paying attention since the end of last season. (Short version: Bluejacket. Osteria Morini. Agua 301. Four under-construction apartment buildings and one under-construction hotel. And much more!)
* Food Options Map outside the ballpark helps you find where the food is (and will be).
* My parking lot map is a bit provisional until I find out exactly which lots are open and for which prices, but it's a start. (Let me know what changes you see.)
* You may also wonder what the deal is with the big murals and holes punched in that spooky building at 1st and M....
Meanwhile, here's some Preseason Preview linkage:
* Going Out Guide has a roundup of drinking options near the ballpark from Going Out Guide, including Bluejacket's new patio bar (and grill!), new hop-filled creations at Biersch, and "Oberon Day" at Justin's.
* Yesterday was the big media tour of the stadium, so lots of coverage of all the new stuff inside the ballpark. From Byron Kerr/MASN: "Further ballpark element changes include the new Norfolk Southern Club, which replaces the Stars & Stripes Club in sections 206 through 221, the Gold Glove Club, the Silver Slugger Suite, Heineken Red Star Bar near Section 205, a clubhouse team store ladies boutique located behind Section 141 and an expanded Nationals main clubhouse team store, which will be upgraded and moved to the right field side of the Center Field Plaza." And WNEW has a few photos of the club spaces.
* There's also going to be an "interactive wall" hiding the construction on the new team store in the old Playstation space. (WP)
* More from Byron: the Nats "will feature 55 beers. Many of them are local and craft choices, including offerings from Port City, DC Brau, Mad Fox, Allagash, New Belgium and Dogfish Head." There's also a listing of all the new food offerings (including poutine!), and Mike Isabella's G sandwiches.
And sandwiched somewhere in between all of that is some baseball.

Southern Style Food Coming to the Lumber Shed?
Mar 28, 2014 11:49 AM
From Going Out Guide's preview of drinking options around the ballpark, there's this little tidbit: "By May 1, you’ll see a food truck preview of an as-yet-unnamed Southern-style restaurant, which Fairgrounds owner Bo Blair and Bayou chef Rusty Holman plan to open in the Lumber Shed in Yards Park, currently home to Osteria Morini and Agua 301. (Holman is a native of North Carolina.)"
If so, this would go into the empty space on the northwest corner of the building (across from Kruba Thai). It would also join Ice Cream Jubilee, which should be opening soon in the northeast corner of the building.
Forest City, as always, does not comment on leases before they are executed, so there is no confirmation of this as yet.
(Those Forest City staffers up on the second floor better all be getting memberships at Vida.)

Three Bids Received for WMATA Navy Yard Chiller Plant Site
Mar 25, 2014 12:25 PM
WBJ reports today that three developers have submitted proposals to WMATA for projects on what's known as the Navy Yard Chiller Plant site, on the southwest corner of Half and L, SE.
Sayeth Michael Neibauer: "Akridge wants to build office there. Trammell Crow has bid to construct a residential building, as has a joint venture of MRP Realty and CAS Riegler. All three buildings feature ground floor retail."
Apparently the next step will be public forums "to gauge community interest" in the proposals, and WBJ says that Metro is looking to make selections as soon as mid-summer.
This is not the first time that WMATA has looked to redevelop this 14,000-sq-ft parcel, but a two-year negotiation with Donatelli broke off in 2010 when the developer pulled the plug on a planned 84-unit condo building, saying that the neighborhood was "getting saturated" with residential and that "it didn't look like condominiums were a viable alternative."
WMATA has been looking to get this lot developed since 2006, and you can relive all the twists and turns through my many posts on the subject.
Most likely any developer chosen would buy the 7,700-sq-ft lot with the two-story building next door (which has a big For Sale sign draped on its western side) to expand the site. (That building has quite a history, for those who weren't around for my post on it back in 2010.)
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