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It's still a few weeks from opening, but today my camera was taken on a tour of the mammoth VIDA Fitness space on the northeast corner of 4th and Tingey, including the Bang Salon, Aura Spa, and Penthouse Pool Club offerings. (Does walking through four floors and 30,000 square feet of a fitness center count as a workout?)
I've put a pile of photos in this gallery as a narrated walking tour, so that you can see spots like the "experiential cycling studio" with a virtual reality wall, the "inner fitness" room (with its own HVAC system to allow for hot yoga and rapid cooling afterward), the locker rooms, the pool deck, and much more--you'll just need to pardon their dust as they race toward an opening probably in the first week in October.
The VIDA web site has much more information on all the offerings, which also will include a Kids Zone for babysitting while Mom and Dad sweat. I was told that VIDA expects to have about 900 memberships within the next few weeks--and pre-opening membership rates are still available. (There's also 50 on-site parking spaces, though be sure to appreciate the irony of driving to the gym.)
Here's a couple of shots, but check out the full gallery.
Meanwhile, just up the street, in the same Twelve12 complex, the Harris Teeter is looking very spiffy with its signage--but alas is seeing its own opening date slip, probably to early November.
 

A few tidbits to throw your way, but first let's start off with one of my favorite photos, taken eight years ago yesterday while standing at 1st and M. You can see more shots from Sept. 17, 2006 in the archive.
* UNLEASHED BY PETCO: It was rumored back in May, and there's still been no official announcement from Forest City, but a building permit issued last week seems to be the final confirmation that Unleashed by Petco is coming to the Boilermaker Shops.
* CSX: The Post reports that "It could be a few weeks before the Federal Highway Administration releases a decision on the proposed expansion of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel in Southeast Washington." The "Record of Decision" hasn't yet been finalized. In the meantime, the Committee of 100 has let it be known that any decision short of an indefinite delay will result in a lawsuit. (Shocker!)
* HALF STREET: WBJ talks to new Half Street poobah Jair Lynch about his group's plans for the Half Street hole, now that they've bought it from Monument Realty. "While the project is expected to remain a mix of residential, retail and hotel, Lynch said he is now considering condos in addition to apartments, tweaking unit sizes, adding green features and amenities and bringing in a 'completely different retail mix.'" (Longtime area observers note that in Monument's original plans, the two residential buildings at the south end of the block were planned to be condos and apartments. And of course it's easy to "change" the retail mix when there isn't any to begin with.) They hope to get underway by 2016, WBJ says.
* MLB LATE NIGHT WITH METRO: WTOP: "Although the Washington Nationals have clinched the NL East, the team has not reached a deal with Metro to keep trains running past midnight during home playoff games." The Metro policy is that the Nationals would have to pay at $29,500 deposit to stay open an extra hour during the week; some of you may remember that back in 2012, the Nats did not step forward to pay, so Livingsocial offered to foot the bill.
 

It always seemd a little odd that Toll Brothers chose "River Parc" as the name for the new apartment building now in its final stages on the southwest corner of 1st and K--after all, there's been the mid-century goodness of the River Park townhouses and apartments over in Southwest since, well, the middle of the 20th century.
A few weeks ago, promotional signage went up across street from the new building, trumpeting RiverParc.com, and all systems seemed go. However, a reader passed along the news today of an e-mail from Toll Brothers announcing that River Parc is now the Parc Riverside.
River Parc/Parc Riverside, which according to the e-mail is now expected to deliver in November, does now have a functioning web site, with floorplans, lists of amenities (hey, everyone gets a garbage disposal!), and a few new renderings, but not the rental prices that I'm sure people would like to see at this point.
And now I shall go do a River Parc/Parc Riverside search-and-replace all across my site.
UPDATE: And, oops, I guess I should have included that the leasing office will open this coming Monday, Sept. 22.
 

A reader pointed me today to a new Facebook page for Willie's Brew and Que, the long-delayed sports bar that was first announced as coming to the Boilermaker Shops back in 2011.
It's been a busy day on the page, with a new logo posted ("Willie's, Est. 2014") as well as photos of the interior, including shots of the point of sale kiosks with the caption "Computers almost up and running!" There's no news there of an opening date, but the About page is well filled out with details. (The WilliesBBQ Twitter feed is silent so far, however.)
Certainly with October baseball looking staggeringly likely, it would behoove any restaurant or bar in the neighborhood to rush preparations to completion in order to capitalize on hordes of wild-eyed Nats fans converging on the area. However, the long delay in building out the space, followed by the bankruptcy and associated falderal surrounding owner Barracks Row Entertainment earlier this year, have made it easy to be skeptical that the restaurant would actually ever open.
So, keep an eye on the western end of the Boilermaker Shops (at the corner of 3rd and Tingey) to see if white smoke from barbeque equipment signals the arrival of a new restaurant.
 

Does everyone want some more Half Street news? Last night's Monument Realty news about the east side of the street isn't enough for you? Are you tapping your toes, wanting to know when the shipping containers are going to disappear from the other side of the street?
The Washington Business Journal, having now heard the same rumors I heard a few weeks ago (hence my sneaky comment in my Monument post about "whether Akridge is currently making any moves"), is reporting that Akridge is working to market its Half Street project to potential investors, with the company needing to replace a capital partner "that desires to leave the project." WBJ says that Akridge "expects to have some closure on a new partner by the fourth quarter," and that "All forms of transaction are on the table."
Akridge has been planning since 2008 to build two office buildings, a residential building, and 55,000 square feet of retail on the west side of the street. Whether those plans will stay the same once capital is found, well, We Shall See.
 

Documents filed today show that Monument Realty, which sunk its teeth whole-heartedly into the Nationals Park-fueled land rush of 2004 and 2005, is exiting Half Street, with the sale of the company's two remaining parcels, best known to baseball fans and residents as the location since 2009 of the big hole in the ground on the east side of the street.
The buyer of the properties is officially Half Street Residential PJV, LLC, which the Washington Business Journal is reporting is a new partnership of MacFarlane Partners and Jair Lynch Development Partners.
WBJ: "MacFarlane already owned a 50 percent stake in the residential portion of Half Street. With local partner Jair Lynch, MacFarlane essentially bought out Monument and Lehman," with an expectation that the "new team will bring this languishing project to life."
The price of the sale is roughly $12.5 million. (UPDATE, 9/17): A follow-up WBJ story on the new owners' plans for the site says that a check was cut for $34 million.
Monument had planned a hotel and 320 units of residential on this site, and went ahead and dug the hole back in 2007 and 2008 as it built the 55 M Street office building at the north end of the block. But the economy tanked, and the "Monument Valley" hole languished (and became quite the urban forest).
This move isn't exactly a surprise: it had looked a few months ago like something was coming, as Lehman had taken back a portion of this stretch of Half Street just as it had with two other Monument properties that quickly ended up being sold: the 50 M site that is soon to be a Homewood Suites, and the lot on the northeast corner of South Capitol and N that JBG is now planning to develop as a residential building.
Monument now is involved in only one property in the neighborhood, the old Domino's site at South Capitol and M that they made initial moves to develop as an office building a few years ago. (But, in what may or may not mean anything, there have been permits issued in recent days for soil borings on that site, which is often a precursor to a sale. I'm not saying--I'm just saying.)
This is the end of quite a chapter in the neighborhood's rise--and the beginning of a new round of toe-tapping about progress on what was once envisioned to be one of the liveliest stretches of street in town. It will be interesting to see how quickly MacFarlane/Lynch move, and what their new plans may be, (And, for that matter, whether Akridge is currently making any moves on its side of Half Street.)
 

It seems hard to believe that Tuesday, Sept. 16 will be the one-year anniversary of the terrible shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard that left 12 people dead.
The Navy will be holding its official remembrance ceremony within the walls of the WNY at 8 a.m., lead by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. Vice Adm. William Hilarides, commander of the Naval Sea Systems Command, will read the names of the victims, and a bell will toll for each of them.
Later that same day, there will be a community remembrance of the event, starting at 6 pm at Canal Park. Mayor Vince Gray, Councilmember Tommy Wells, Vice Adm. Hibarides, Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and other officials will be in attendance, as will the US Navy Ceremonial Guard. The memorial is described as including "prayers, readings, meditation, and music to honor the Navy Yard victims, survivors and heroic civilian and military first responders who acted to save lives."
This public ceremony is being organized by the Near Southeast Community Partners group, to honor not only the importance of the Washington Navy Yard to the neighborhood's past and future but also the many residents of Near Southeast who are connected to the military.
The remembrance at Canal Park is free and open to the public.
UPDATE: There is another remembrance scheduled on the 16th: the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic church at South Capitol and M will be holding a memorial mass at 12:10 pm for those killed in the shooting.
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Just out from City Paper's Young and Hungry, the news that has been rattling around as rumor for weeks: "The official tree of the District of Columbia--Scarlet Oak--will be the name of an American restaurant coming to 909 New Jersey Ave. SE from the owners of Adams Morgan's Southern Hospitality."
City Paper says "the menu will have some carryover from Southern Hospitality, including the fried chicken and chicken and waffles. But there will also be new stuff like pizzas and flatbreads. Drinks will include specialty cocktails and a large wine by the glass and beer selection." There will be about 100 seats, plus another 75 on the huge patio outside the space on the northwest corner of New Jersey and K.
(By the way, CP, it's not actually directly across from the Whole Foods site. Basically two blocks away.)
This will be the second tenant at the 909 apartment building, which was completed in 2009. Harry's Reserve Wine and Spirits opened there in 2011.
A December or January opening date is cited, but We Shall See.
 

The next step in the process to redevelop the Metro "chiller site" on the southwest corner of Half and L streets, SE, is expected later this week, with the WMATA board set to vote on the term sheet for the sale of the site to MRP Realty and CAS Riegler.
It was announced back in June that WMATA had chosen MRP/CAS's plan to redevelop the site with a 126-unit condo building with 6,000 square feet of retail.
The term sheet lays out the requirements of the sale, which include the preservation of the existing chiller plant operations at or below grade level, chiller plant cooling towers on the building roof, and 500 square feet of office space for ten years for Metro staff. In addition, Metro will have five parking spaces at the building, which is currently designed to have 55 parking spaces for the 126 units.
The documents prepared for Thursday's vote include the above drawing, showing the new building as seen from the northeast corner of Half and L. (That's 20 M at left and 1015 Half at far right.)
However, because nothing ever moves swiftly with this site, this vote just means that WMATA and MRP/CAS can then negotiate the full Joint Development Agreement, setting the terms for the purchase of the site, construction of the project, and continued WMATA operations on the site. It's not expected that agreement will come back to the WMATA board until spring--and then the closing of the sale of the site would be 24 months after that approval, which pushes the timeline into 2017.
 

Some additional progress updates, in convenient illustrated form. (click to enlarge)
First, a before and after of St. Matthew's, may it rest in peace. (More before-and-after photos here.)
Next, the progress on the Whole Foods at 800 New Jersey. At this point, it's just progress on the big hole in the ground, but still worth seeing. Note that the near part of this hole is actually not part of the 800 NJ footprint, but WC Smith is digging the garage that will be beneath the as-yet-not-unveiled third building on the block. (Whole Foods visitors will park in a two-story garage above the store, not in the basement with residents.)
And then I'll give you a peek inside the red brick Building 170 behind USDOT (left), where the 5x5 art project has one of its installations. And at right is the not-yet-open expansion of the parking lot at Half and I on Square 696. Good timing for the playoffs!
 

I admit, it's been a while since I've done any wandering south of the freeway (newcomers to JDLand may not be aware that I don't actually live in the neighborhood I've been photographing for the past 11 1/2 years). So on Saturday morning I went out to check on the progress in various locations.
Thanks to the demolition of Spooky Building 213 (STILL not done!), it was at New Jersey and M where I was able to catch my first glimpse of exactly how behind I've gotten. My exact words can't be printed on a family blog, but I quickly hustled down to 1st and N to document the vertical construction of the Hampton Inn, now five floors above ground.
The developers are looking to have the 168-room hotel open by mid-2015, and clearly they aren't dilly-dallying.
And if you're wondering about the space in between the wings of the hotel, where the white fence is, that's not part of the Hampton project--it's an annex of the big Ballpark Square residential/hotel/office/retail project that will be filling up the rest of 1st Street between M and N. As you can see on the project page, a two-story retail building is planned for that site.
As for a before-and-after of the Hampton Inn site, let's go to the north side of N Street, just across from the stadium's Parking Garage C, and see the difference:
A bit of a change from the Quality Carryout.
And when I say that the Spooky Building 213 demolition isn't done, here's all that's left, other than rubble. So close. So very close.
 

The Washington Post is reporting this afternoon that hockey is coming to Nationals Park in a few months: "The NHL and the Washington Nationals have reached terms allowing the 2015 Winter Classic game, set for Jan. 1 between the Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks, to be played in the D.C. ballpark, according to three people familiar with the negotiations."
It was announced almost a year ago that the game would be coming to DC, and there were "reports" in December of 2013 that the ballpark had been chosen as the location, but apparently there were "several issues" needing to be resolved. An official announcement is expected "very soon," says the Post.
It's been a long road to this, with rumors first flying back in 2010 that the Winter Classic would come to Nats Park in 2011.
Now let's hope it's not 70 and sunny on Jan. 1.
 

Washingtonian is reporting that Korean fried-chicken chain Bonchon is coming to the neighborhood next year, in a 200-seat space that ANC Commissioner David Garber says is going to be in the 1015 Half Street building two blocks north of Nationals Park.
Quoting: "The menu will mostly mirror Arlington’s (here’s a sample), with a focus on spicy and soy-garlic fried chicken, plus Korean specialties like pork buns and bulgogi. ... [Y]ou'll find a spacious bar for pre-and-post game gatherings. A list of 16 craft beers, both domestic and Asian, are in the works, plus a specialty cocktail menu. Takeout, delivery, and catering services are also planned, as well as reservations for large parties."
Washingtonian says that the space is being designed by GrizForm, which also worked on Bluejacket and Agua301. There are also plans are an outdoor patio. (UPDATE: The restaurant will apparently occupy ground-floor space on the L Street side of the building.)
The building housing the new venture is the one that stood empty for many moons before the announcements earlier this year that the National Labor Relations Board will be moving there, as will CBS Radio. That a restaurant is going into the building at all is a bit of a surprise, since the retail spaces were always a somewhat wishy-washy subject.
 

ANC 6B commissioners Brian Flahaven and Kirsten Oldenburg have both written about a new batch of design concepts for Southeast Blvd., the planned stretch of road between 11th Street SE and Barney Circle where the sunken far eastern portion of the Southeast Freeway used to run.
Almost a year ago, DDOT presented five designs for the new road that basically, as Flahaven puts it, "replaced the freeway with ... a freeway completely separated from the neighborhood grid." The designs were not well received, and with a push from councilmember Tommy Wells, the Office of Planning stepped in to conduct a "rapid response" study of the neighborhood and the project. And on Aug. 4, these new designs were unveiled at a public meeting.
The boards show both two-lane and four-lane designs for the road, some with direct access to the Anacostia Waterfront and extension of the street grid to the boulevard, some without. The Office of Planning now plans to take community feedback--which apparently was considerably more positive this time around--and move forward with three final concepts that can be presented to the community and to DDOT this fall.
However, it also turns out that DDOT is planning to go ahead and reopen this stretch of road by the end of the year, with the traffic flowing through the new signalized intersection on 11th Street SE where the exit ramp from the Southeast Freeway recently opened. Oldenburg describes what she see as the "major implications" of this move: "First, this freeway segment becomes the No Build option in the study. Second, in my view, it will take the pressure off city officials to get the NEPA study completed in a timely manner, hopefully, incorporating some of the fresh ideas generated by the OP study."
Flahaven is urging residents to contact Mayor Gray and council members with their thoughts on this.
 

I have not yet seen it with my own eyes, but photographic evidence points to demolition now being underway on St. Matthew's church on the southwest corner of New Jersey and L.
When finished (and it doesn't look like it's going to take long), the church will be the neighborhood's Demolished Building #172 since I started watching back in 2003.
This is a step on the path to construction of Donohoe's 1111 New Jersey apartment building, which should truly commence Any Minute Now.
 

Today marks what was probably the biggest event in the neighborhood until the Nationals moved to South Capitol Street: It was 200 years ago, on Aug. 24, 1814, that US troops burned the Washington Navy Yard to prevent it from falling into the hands of the advancing British forces during the War of 1812.
The US Naval Institute blog gives a rundown of the day in the form of a photo tour of current structures and locations inside the walls.* And the Post has a big piece on this part of the War of 1812 all around Washington. (Makes you wish the Anacostia RIverwalk Trail had been completed to Bladensburg by today.)
There are a number of events at the Navy Yard today to commemorate the day as I mentioned earlier this week, including a new exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Navy called "Defeat to Victory: 1814-1815," along with family activities from 12 to 4 pm, music by the Chanteymen, and gun demonstrations at the still-docked Pride of Baltimore at 1:15 and 3:15 pm.
Note that on weekends, access to the Navy Yard by visitors is via the gate at 6th and M, SE, and a government photo ID is required to enter.
* And the events of this day 200 years ago had a much longer-lasting effect on the neighborhood than people may realize. Quoting from the Naval Institute Blog:
"But what likely burned the backside of the Yard's commander, Commodore Thomas Tingey, even more was the discovery upon his return Aug. 26 that his house on the compound (known then as Quarters A, and known today as Tingey House, home of the Chief of Naval Operations) had been thoroughly looted and stripped of all hardware as well as doors and windows... not by the invading Brits, but rather by his D.C. neighbors outside the then short, wooden fence that marked and obviously inadequately protected the base's perimeter.
"Shortly thereafter Tingey ordered the fence around the Navy Yard to be fortified and increased in height to 10 feet."
 

These are all items I had hoped to write about more fully, but at this point I'd better just pass them along.
* FLORIDA ROCK: MRP Realty is now in control of the land at the Florida Rock site that will become the 350-unit apartment building that is the first phase of RiverFront on the Anacostia. A $65 million loan is expected to be finalized soon, and the developers say that the project will "commence construction by late summer 2014." (WBJ)
* BEVY OF PERMITS: If you browse the teeny type in the right margin of the JDLand home page, you'll already know that building permits have been approved in the past few weeks for the apartment projects at 1111 New Jersey and 1331 4th Street (aka Parcel N at the Yards, aka Arris). A tenant layout permit has also been approved for CBS Radio's first-floor performance studio at 1015 Half Street. Also, fresh off its zoning approvals, developers of the Homewood Suites at 50 M have filed for shoring/sheeting/excavation permits.
* LATEST ON 1333 M: Late last year plans were filed with the Zoning Commission for a three-building, 673-unit residential project on M Street east of the 11th Street Bridges. After some delay, a Dec. 1 hearing date has been set, and WBJ takes a look at recent filings, including some new renderings.
* THE YARDS, ONE PIECE AT A TIME: "Rather than purchase all 42 acres up front, Forest City buys each parcel from the General Services Administration as it is ready to build. The latest: The $28.37 million acquisition of 1331 Fourth St. SE, site of the 327-unit Arris apartment project." Total land costs so far across the Yards? $46 million. (WBJ)
* TUNNEL LATEST: With a council hearing about the project coming on Aug. 26, the Federal Highway Administration has postponed its final decision on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel until at least Sept. 15. But the delay is affecting residents and businesses. (WaPo)
* SCHOOL BOUNDARIES: The planned reopening of Van Ness Elementary next year passes another milestone, as its boundaries get included in the city's revamped map, released earlier this week. The final boundaries cross into Southwest south of M Street, shifting some students over to Van Ness from Amidon-Bowen, "to better align school building capacity with population and with boundary participation rates, and to support racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, where possible." (WaPo)
 

I missed Wednesday's groundbreaking for what is now officially called the "Capitol Quarter Community Building," but one of the tweets from the event caught my eye: this spiffy new rendering.
It's just a little better than the one we've been seeing up to now, which I first posted in October of 2005.
And since I failed you by not getting to the event (just add it to my ever-growing List of Shame), here's the Housing Authority's press release on it.
(Though one thing not in this rendering that was at least hinted at in the old one: the Marines' parking garage.)
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More posts: Capper, Community Center
 

Materials filed with the Zoning Commission earlier this month are giving a first glimpse at JBG's plans for 1244 South Capitol Street, on the northeast corner of South Capitol and N, just across from Nats Park's Parking Lot C.
It will be a residential building with 290ish units and about 26,000 square feet of retail, and the renderings indicate that the design by architect Eric Colbert and Hariri Pontarini isn't a "typical" Washington DC box-like building. Images show the building's west side, facing South Capitol Street, with only six floors of height at its middle, allowing the interior courtyard to be open to South Capitol from the 6th floor on up, breaking up the pure U-shape that is so often employed 'round these parts. A few more views (click to enlarge):
At left is a stylized version of the view that you'd see standing at Van Street one block west of the Center Field Gate, looking toward the big self-storage building and points to the northwest. At right is a closer view of the South Capitol Street facade and the courtyard, upper floors, and roof. (Note that in these three drawings you can see hints of Akridge's proposed Half Street residential building on the perimeter, though that's not appearing to be getting underway anytime soon.)
The 26,000 square feet of retail will of course warm the hearts of stadium-goers, and the filing indicates that the retail spaces will wrap around on three sides of the building. This rendering depicting the corner of South Capitol and N (with a certain dome in the distance) shows two stories of retail along both streets, with more ground-floor spaces designed along Van Street.
There would be 176 parking spaces on three levels below ground for vehicles and and 100 spaces for bikes. Residential units would range from studios to 2 BR/den. The courtyard and 6th-floor open space would have plantings and seating areas, while the roof would have a pool, lounge areas, and a bocce court (!). These plans also show "rooftop dining" at the far northwestern corner. (And will residents be able to sneak a peek at games while hanging out poolside? The image up top seems to show an angle for that to work, but it's hard to tell if the entire field would be visible.)
The design will get its Capitol Gateway Overlay District Review hearing on November 13, and it will be interesting to see how the Zoning Commission members react to the design.
 

History is in the air this week!
* SHIP DOCKING: The Pride of Baltimore II, a reproduction of an 1812-era topsail schooner privateer that bills itself "America's Star-Spangled Ambassador," will be docking at the Navy Yard from Wednesday, Aug. 20 through Monday, Aug. 25. Free public tours will be available from 1 pm to 4 pm each day.
In conjunction with the Pride's arrival, the U.S. Navy Museum is holding several events on Sunday, Aug. 24, including riverwalk cannon salutes at 1:15 and 3:15 pm. There will also programs in and around the Museum that day, including performances by the Chanteymen and more. (I'd link to a web page with details on the museum's offerings on Sunday, but can't find one anywhere.) Going to the Navy Museum requires entry at the O Street Gate on 11th Street, SE.
(And, on a side note, because I know people will ask, the Douglass Bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic from 2 am to 5 am late tonight/tomorrow morning to "allow water traffic to pass." Not a stretch to guess that these are related items.)
* SHINER LECTURE: Did you know that a slave named Michael Shiner, born in 1813, kept a diary of life in and around the Washington Navy Yard, where he started working as a child? It apparently recorded all manner of day-to-day observations of both citywide events and neighborhood details, and on Saturday, Aug. 23 at 10 am, there will be a lecture about the diary and its significance, given by Leslie Anderson. It's at 200 I Street, SE, so be sure to bring a government-issued ID to get in the building. The lecture is being presented by the Near Southeast Community Partners.
(A walking tour about the Navy Yard neighborhood of 1814 is happening at 11:30 am on Saturday, but it's all booked. Oops.)
UPDATE: One more bit of more recent history I can pass along. Not too different from my early shots, except to see that the site of the self-storage building wasn't quite so monolithic. And more gas stations, naturally.
 
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