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The public meeting process for the reconstruction of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel is about to get underway, with a date finally having been set for the first of the mandatory NEPA sessions: On Sept. 14, DDOT and the Federal Highway Administration will hold the Public Information and Scoping Meeting. This is an "open house," with no formal presentations to be made, but there will be maps and displays available, and officials will be there to receive comments from attendees. Written comments can also be submitted electronically, if you can't be there in person. The meeting is at Van Ness Elementary School at 5th and M, SE, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm.
After this, there will be a Public Design Concepts Meeting at some point in the fall, which is where the first detailed plans for the project will be laid out. Then the Environmental Assessment would be released sometime in spring of next year (with an accompanying public hearing), with the final decisions on the project's design being made about a year from now.
There's also now an official Virginia Avenue Tunnel web site, where hopefully documents, maps, and whatnot will be posted as the process moves along.
If you haven't been following along, there is a rail tunnel that has run under Virginia Avenue from 2nd St. SE to 12th St. SE for about 100 years now, and, as part of the National Gateway project, CSX plans to widen the tunnel to allow for double-tracking, as well as raise the height of the roof to allow for double-stacked train cars. In order to accomplish this, Virginia Avenue will need to be closed for 2-3 years (though the cross streets will still be open), and an open trench will be dug to allow trains to continue to run alongside the existing track during construction. As one might imagine, the residents of Capitol Quarter in the 300 block of Virginia Avenue are a mite concerned about exactly how this will work, as are people who use Garfield Park (just to the north of the tunnel) and drivers who come off the Southeast Freeeway at the 6th Street exit, since cars will not be able to continue east on Virginia during construction but will have to go left under the freeway and go up into the Capitol Hill neighborhoods.
In May, CSX announced that it would be investing $160 million of its own money to fund the project. There is a strong desire by CSX to get this work completed before the opening of the expanded Panama Canal in 2015.
You can also read all my previous CSX entries for additional details.
 

In a big milestone for the continued transformation of the old walled-off Southeast Federal Center into the huge mixed-use development known as The Yards, pre-leasing has begun for the Foundry Lofts, which developer Forest City has been transforming from its previous incarnation as the historic Pattern Joiner Shop building in Navy Yard shipbuilding days into a 170-unit apartment building. (Pre-leasing was officially supposed to begin today, but with the leasing trailer on site and open to visitors for the past week or so, interest from potential residents overtook the planned launch and leasings actually have already started.)
The units will have 12-14' ceilings, exposed brick, and concrete beams (befitting the term "loft"), along with the hardwood floors, stainless steel appliances, and granite countertops that would be expected in this sort of building. Rents will start at $2,000 a month, going up to $3,100 a month for one of the 33 two-level penthouse apartments in the new floors added to the top of the original building. (There are also a small number of affordable units available as well, though I don't have details on those.) Forest City expects move-ins to begin in October.
And, as previously announced, a Potbelly Sandwich Works and Kruba Thai and Sushi will occupy ground-floor retail space early next year. Plus it's pet-friendly, too!
With its location on Tingey Street SE, immediately north of the Yards Park (and surrounded by parking lots used by fans heading to Nationals Park), the Foundry Lofts building is probably already familiar to many people who've come to Near Southeast over the past few years. It's the first residential component of the huge Yards redevelopment to be coming to completion, and will be the first multiunit residential building to open in the neighborhood since 2009. The renovation of what used to be known as Building 160 began in 2008, but was halted for well over a year at the height of The Economic Difficulties before work began again in August of 2010.
There is also plenty of construction activity right around the Foundry Lofts that will bring additional offerings to the Yards over the next two years. Just to the north, work has begun on the renovation of the Boilermaker Shops into a retail pavilion (to house a number of restaurants when it opens later in 2012), and soon work should get underway a block to the east on the second Yards residential project, the apartment building at 401 M Street that will have a Harris Teeter in the ground floor. Plus, construction on the Lumber Shed building in the Yards Park to make it a retail pavilion (and home to Forest City's offices, temporarily) should begin later this year.
For more information, you can visit the leasing trailer now open from 9 am to 6 pm at 3rd and Tingey, SE, or go to FoundryLoftsDC.com, which hopefully will have some more complete information soon. (There's also their Facebook page, or Twitter feed, if you're feeling particularly social media-y about it all.) I haven't made it to the leasing office yet, having been gloriously unplugged in Wyoming for most of early August, but I hope to get there this week. And my Foundry Lofts page gives additional before-and-during photos of the construction and a few additional renderings, including one of the building's interior courtyard.
 

At a meeting on Monday night, the Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force voted 4-3 to keep Near Southeast in ANC 6D, which also includes (almost?) all of Southwest, rather than moving it to ANC 6B, which includes most of southern and eastern Capitol Hill. If this sounds like something I've already posted, it kind of is, because last week the task force voted to create ANC boundaries that would keep Near Southeast in 6D, but had left open for another vote whether those boundaries should be tweaked to move Near Southeast to 6B.
I was not there, but tweets from attendees indicated that it was a vote that came down to wanting to listen to the many residents of Near Southeast who advocated being moved to ANC 6B versus not wanting 6B to be a 12-member commission if that move were to have happened. (A poll on the task force web site shows a nearly even split between people wanting Near Southeast moved to 6B versus keeping it in 6D; the comments thread on the subject also became a bit of a war between residents supporting the switch and mostly Southwest residents wanting Near Southeast to stay in 6D.)
But this is still not the final decision on the matter. The task force will include the unapproved move to 6B in the initial task force proposal "as an information item." The decisions the task force makes are not binding--ward redistricting task forces report to their council members, who can then tweak the proposal if they wish, and then the entire council votes on the proposed new maps. The Ward 6 task force will be attending ANC meetings in September to present their proposal and get feedback, and then will meet again on Sept. 19 before making their final recommendations.
As for how ANC 6D with Near Southeast remaining will be divided into seven single member districts, I was hoping that the task force would post its maps before I got around to writing this, but alas, no. (They say they hope to have the maps posted sooner than their Aug. 18 date for posting their entire initial report.) Unless they plan to stray from the guidelines that look to have SMDs drawn with populations of between 1,900 and 2,100, some portion(s) of the western part of Near Southeast will be part of an SMD with blocks across South Capitol Street, in Southwest.
If you want to try to come up with your own way to divvy up the 14,359 residents of Southwest into seven SMDs, you can play with my redistricting map. It will let you create up to three SMDs on one map, by clicking on the map to choose one set of blocks, then clicking the "Show Map with Selected Blocks Highlighted" link, then repeating those steps two more times.
But hopefully the proposed map from the task force will be posted soon.
And now back to my mini-break.
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More posts: ANC News, redistricting
 

A slew of tidbits, some already tweeted, some not:
* The third Truckeroo food truck festival is now scheduled for next Friday, Aug. 12, from 11 am to 11 pm. They'll keep doing them monthly, through October.
* This isn't news for anyone who's seen the big holes punched in the sides, but work on the Boilermaker Shops retail space at the Yards is finally underway. It's expected to take about a year. This is where the new brewpub by the Churchkey folks will be, along with Buzz Bakery, Austin Grill Express, BRB, and Huey's 24-7 diner.
* Along with their announcement of a new Circulator route that will run from east of the river across the 11th Street Bridge and up 8th St. SE over to Potomac Avenue, DDOT has also announced that the Navy Yard Circulator route will no longer go into the Union Station garage. Instead, it will stop at a new location near the flagpoles in front of the building. There won't be any stop at Louisiana and D anymore, either. (See the DDOT presentation posted by DCist for the details, with the Navy Yard route stuff being on page 7.)
* The Capitol Hill Day School's blog is doing a good job keeping track not only of the renovation work at Dent School, but also on the progress on their temporary location at 5th and K, SE. The modular classrooms are arriving, plus there's now power!
* For people who don't stay glued to comment threads (for shame!), ANC commissioner David Garber recently posted with more details about the Georgetown University Health Disparities office moving into the retail space at Capitol Hill Tower: "I was reassured that this will not be a health clinic, and that it is better to think of it as the research center's "home base" on this side of the city. It will mostly be office space, and employees will spend most of their time outside the office at sites in Wards 6, 7, and 8, facilitating research on environmental health, obesity, and breast cancer research. I was told that no more than five clients would be visiting the office each day -- not as a medical clinic-- but that the space would likely also be used to hold meetings for the center's organizational and community-based task forces/committees."
* The Hill is Home gives an update on the 8th Street underpass, where a mural is about to be created to spiff up the space, and where the public parking lot is going to get new signage, lighting, and pricing to encourage Barracks Row visitors to use it.
* President Obama gave a big speech on jobs at the Navy Yard this morning, which will be notable mostly for how my Google News Alert for "washington navy yard" will take days to get back to normal.
There's probably more than this, but this has already cut into that mini-break I was trying to take....
 

On Wednesday night, the Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force approved new boundaries for five ANCs in Ward 6, with a map that keeps Near Southeast together, and keeps it in ANC 6D. However, it also included, as an "option for additional research," preparing Single Member District options that both keep Near Southeast as part of 6D (the Southwest ANC) or move it to 6B (the Capitol Hill ANC).
The committee will have a meeting on Aug. 8 at 6:30 pm to discuss this option along with two other options they are mulling elsewhere in the ward, and have posted on their blog polls for residents to vote on the options under consideration.
Before Wednesday's vote, Near Southeast's current ANC commissioner David Garber sent an open letter to the task force, indicating that his consituents have made clear that their interests lie with the areas north of the freeway where so many of them eat and shop: "As much as we are similarly scaled and share interests with the Southwest community, residents of Near Southeast simply do not associate with that community in the same way they do with Capitol Hill." And, along with this, he says that residents have made very clear that Near Southeast should not get split between the two ANCs. Garber has also started imploring his constituents (on his mailing list and Facebook page) to make their feelings known to the task force.
The numbers portion of this discussion is worth looking at--right now, ANC 6D07's 2,737 census-counted residents make up 18.8 percent of ANC 6D's population of 14,359. if you move all of those 2,737 residents out of 6D, that leaves the Southwest ANC with 11,622 residents, which will give it only six commissioners, and the layout of the neighborhood would make for a tough set-up to have all the single-member districts reflect the desired 2,000-count population, or even the 1,900 low-end-of-the-range target.
If you move those 2,737 residents to 6B, it ends up with 22,954 residents, which again will make for some interesting decisions on SMD population counts, and would also make 6B at least an 11-SMD ANC, compared to the other Ward 6 ANCs having as few as five or up to nine commissioners. It would also mean that Near Southeast would make up 11.9 percent of 6B's population.
It's also possible the task force could still decide to divvy up Near Southeast between the two ANCs, with the Capitol Quarter area being split off to join an SMD north of the freeway. This decision would keep ANC 6D at seven commissioners and would make the numbers easier to manage in creating new SMDs 6B. (And would then give 16 commissioners from other neighborhoods in two ANCs a whole lot of power over the future of Near Southeast!)
And even if the task force keeps the "status quo," with 6D's boundaries remaining unchanged (which would seem to have been their initial inclination, given Wednesday night's vote), there's still the question of whether an SMD will span South Capitol Street to include portions of both Near Southeast and Southwest, or if the task force will decide to allow for SMDs with fewer than 1,900 residents, which could possibly give Near Southeast two commissioners and raise 6D's total to eight.
Lots of decisions coming down the pike. But, judging by the utter lack of reader interest in my posts on this subject (looking at the dismal traffic numbers and lack of comments compared to other topics I write about, and in comparison to the outcry that erupted when the possibility of moving Near Southeast to Ward 8 was floated), perhaps most residents don't see ANC boundaries and SMD locations as an issue that effects them one way or the other.
UPDATE: The task force has a new post up as a place to specifically take comments on where Near Southeast should be placed.
Comments (9)
More posts: ANC News, redistricting
 

I'm anticipating that the next couple of weeks will be pretty quiet, at least the Foundry Lofts start their pre-leasing on Aug. 15, followed by the Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force release of its first draft of proposed new ANC/SMD boundaries on or about Aug. 18. So here's a bit of a potpourri, and then I'm going to probably take a blog-breather unless really big news breaks. (As always, I'll still be popping up on Twitter or Facebook with tidbits here or there.)
A smidge belatedly, I've added the three garages demolished a week ago on the southeast corner of 1st and K to my Demolished Buildings Gallery, as entries 163, 164, and 165. (It might soon be time to create a Not Demolished Gallery, which would be far far smaller.) I was surprised when digging in my archives to find a couple of photos of the garages still in operation (above), from 2006 and 2007. You can also see how that stretch of 1st has changed since 2003, looking south from K and north from L.
I also grabbed a quick photo of the progress on the new bridge bring built by the city that will link Diamond Teague Park to the Yards Park, scheduled to be completed this fall. (And I guess it's time to also officially get rid of the "floating bridge" nomenclature, because, as we've seen for months, there are big ole' piles in the river.) It'll be interesting to see if usage of the First Base Gate at Nationals Park at 1st and Potomac increases noticeably next season with this new riverside walkway available. (It will also make arriving at Teague Piers via water taxi to attend events at the Yards Park involve a much more enjoyable walk, compared to schlepping up to N Street and over.)
And, with people now moving into the first completed houses in phase two of Capitol Quarter, I updated my photos of 3rd Street between I and K. And it reminded me how the intersection of 3rd and I has become quite an illustration of change in all directions, with not only new townhouses replacing old public housing but also seeing lots of new high-rises in the distance. (The White Monolith that was the old Post Plant on the northwest corner getting a facelift is an added bonus.)
If you're looking for other links to help kill time over the next few weeks, take a look at the JDLand Headlines to be sure you haven't missed any big items lately.
 

On Thursday night the Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force held its "listening meeting" for residents and interested parties in ANC 6D to get input as to the feelings about the current ANC and Single Member District (SMD) boundaries and what changes people would be either wanting or not completely detesting.
Interestingly, many of the Southwest residents who spoke--starting with ANC 6D chair Ron McBee and longtime 6D commissioner Andy Litsky--spent much of their time focusing on how important it is to keep Near Southeast in ANC 6D. McBee said both areas have lots of similarities, from housing stock to traffic issues to transportation issues (Circulator, etc.) to the need to build retail, and that coming improvements to South Capitol Street should improve the flow between the two neighborhoods. Litsky, echoing McBee by saying Near Southeast and Southwest "are more similar than dissimilar," also mentioned the coming South Capitol Street reconstruction and how much more difficult it would be to have any sort of negotiations be going on with two separate ANCs in the mix.
Current 6D07 commissioner David Garber did not take a position one way or the other on whether Near Southeast should remain with 6D, saying that he is waiting for his residents to weigh in, but that the vast majority of the feedback he's received so far indicates that residents feel much more "a part of" Barracks Row than Southwest, and that South Capitol Street is much more difficult to cross than going under the freeway. And that while Near Southeast shares a lot of similarities with Southwest, the reality is that a lot of people move to the neighborhood for its proximity to Capitol Hill. Finally, he mentioned the idea that Capitol Hill sees Near Southeast as "their waterfront community."
Residents who spoke at the meeting included Mary Williams, who lives just west of the ballpark in Southwest and who says her community has not been served well by being grouped in with Southwest concerns, and they want to "secede" to the Near Southeast ANC. Other Southwest residents also spoke of how often they go into Near Southeast to go to the ballpark, or the Yards Park. Only one Near Southeast resident spoke, Ms. McCarty (sorry if you're out there, I didn't catch your first name). She said she was "agnostic" about whether Near Southeast is in ANC 6D or ANC 6B to the north, but to please keep all of Near Southeast in the same ANC. She also commented on it being important that Capitol Quarter residents not be cut off SMD-wise from any of the commercial development going on in Near Southeast, since they will be impacted by those sorts of changes and want to have a say.
At the end of the statements, the group gathered around a map of ANC 6D's current boundaries, and discussed issues. Again, there was very little conversation about Southwest other than some ideas for small tinkering.
There seems to be a desire within the task force to even out the number of single member districts across what will probably be five ANCs, and 6B already has eleven SMDs. So, task force chair Joe Engler brought up the concept of bringing the portion of 6B's western edge near New Jersey Avenue and Garfield Park together with Near Southeast to form a new SMD. Using some of the area just north of the freeway to pair with the eastern half of Near Southeast would create a properly sized SMD (or close to it) and could give ANC 6D eight single member districts rather than seven (or six if the eastern part of Near Southeast were moved to 6B), bringing it closer in size to other ANCs.
There seemed to be positive feedback from the group on this concept, with some discussion of the amount of cross-traffic there is between residents and dog owners of Near Southeast using Garfield Park and dog owners near Garfield Park using Canal Park (before it started construction, at least).
I've mocked up a map that shows this general idea in a way that the numbers could work, keeping in mind that the green portion below the freeway was counted in 2010 as having 1115 residents and so would need at least 800 residents from north of the freeway to become a full SMD, presuming the task force adheres firmly to the numerical guidelines of 2,000 residents plus-or-minus 5 percent. You can see on the map (or on this one) that 6D02 in Southwest already bumps up to Independence Avenue, so doing likewise on the Southeast side of things would be somewhat symmetrical. And, given that New Jersey Avenue is also slated for a fair number of improvements as part of the South Capitol Street reconstruction, this would put all of that corridor in the same ANC. It's also possible that the little "notch" near Lower Barracks Row, with only 27 residents, could also come to 6D, though the love of the Virginia Avenue Park by 6B residents might make that a flashpoint.
Of course, as has been discussed repeatedly, Near Southeast's population numbers are already higher than the 2010 census reflects, and with new buildings looking ready to start or open in the next two years at the Yards, 880 New Jersey, Florida Rock, and Half Street, and with Capitol Quarter and the Capper redevelopment continuing to be built out, both of these SMDs would see plenty of new residents in the near future, and who knows how many before the next redistricting happens in 2021. (Dear God, don't let me still be blogging when that comes around.)
ANC 6B will be having its "listening meeting" on Monday, Aug. 1 at 6:30 pm at St. Coletta's at 19th and Massachusetts, SE, and the task force blog's list of questions for 6B residents includes "Is the freeway the proper north-south dividing line? For example, is there an opportunity to move part of a western SMD to ANC 6D that uses the Third and/or Fourth street tunnels to 'connect' the residents on both sides of the freeway?" It will be interesting to see the response, along with how 6B people feel about potentially having their 11-SMD configuration shrunk.
There hasn't been much feedback here in the comments about redistricting--I know I find it more fascinating than most people (it's in my blood, since my father was involved in a lot of Congressional redistricting back in the day), but how do people feel about this concept that Joe Fengler was discussing? And how about the to-be-in-6D-or-not-to-be-in-6D question?
Feel free to play with my interactive map to come up with your own scenarios on how to reach 2,000 residents per SMD.
The task force plans to release its first draft of a new map on or about Aug. 18.
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More posts: ANC News
 

A building permit application was filed today with DCRA for 1000 New Jersey Ave., SE--the Capitol Hill Tower residential co-op--for "Interior Tenant Layout, First Floor, Medical Office. Georgetown University Health Disparities."
A Google search brings us to the Georgetown-Lombardi Health Disparities Initiative, which could be (or, I guess, could not be) the tenant applying for the building permit. The web site says the office "actively engage[s] in research focused on reducing cancer disparities among the underserved and ethnic minority populations in the District of Columbia including African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans." They also state their mission as "addressing the biological and environmental basis of cancer health disparities via research, training, communication, and education." The group says it works closely "with the impoverished wards in the District, with particular emphasis on Wards East of the River," because the highest cancer rates in DC are found in wards 7 and 8.
This is first firm confirmation of the rumored tenant for the space; I tweeted about the possibility of a tenant 10 days ago and put out requests for confirmation, but received no reply from CHT's developer, and Georgetown University would not confirm their leasing of the space. A tenants' meeting at CHT seemed to provide little information other than that this 4,000-square-foot space would be used by Georgetown for some sort of "community outreach" effort. There is nothing as yet on the Disparities web site about a new location, though they do have a number of community and research programs that could be needing space.
CHT tenants were told that construction is supposed to begin soon (though not until that building permit gets approved!). Perhaps now that the word is seeping out, a little more information will be forthcoming. I've contacted Georgetown again (no reply yet), but wanted to get this out there before too many resident heads explode, given the fretting in this comment thread about who the tenant might be.
CHT's only other retail tenant is Congressional Cleaners, which opened in 2007. The residential building itself, with 340ish units, opened in 2006, along with its sibling, the Courtyard by Marriott.
Comments (40)
 

The task force put together by Tommy Wells to propose new boundaries for all of Ward 6's Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and their Single Member Districts will be coming to ANC 6D on Thursday night (July 28), for a "listening meeting" at 6:30 pm in the DCRA Hearing Room (E200) at 1100 4th St. SW.
Now posted on their blog is a series of questions that task force chair Joe Engler is asking to "account for the 'sense' of where residents associate their daily living." Among the questions:
* "Do the residents living around the baseball stadium believe their community "core" is located in: (a) Barracks Row, (b) Waterfront Mall, (c) both, and/or (d) neither?" (There is also a poll widget on the site where you can vote on this question.)
* "Is the freeway the proper east-west dividing line? For example, is there an opportunity to create SMD that use the Third, Fourth, Sixth and Eighth streets tunnels to "connect" the residents on both sides of the freeway?"
* "Should large residential buildings or complexes be dispersed among multiple SMDs?"
* "While needing to build SMDs with a population of 2,000 residents - are there any creative ways to account for the hidden census? Either those people that are now living in ANC 6D (around the baseball stadium for example) that were not there at the time of the census. Or those empty buildings or pending constructions that will drive a significant increase in density over the next few years?"
The last question is an interesting one, given that the census numbers come from April 1, 2010, and certainly another couple hundred residents have moved in since then. And with phase 2 of the Capitol Quarter townhouses moving along, the Yards' Foundry Lofts building about to start leasing, and likely construction of new residential buildings at 401 M, 880 New Jersey, Florida Rock, and along Half Street within the next five years, any SMDs drawn in Near Southeast based on 2010 numbers are going to balloon well past the target population size of between 1,900 and 2,100 residents. At the kick-off task force meeting a few weeks back, attendees were told that the 2,000-plus-or-minus-five-percent is not a legislated requirement, but is a goal, and that the task force can choose to have non-conforming SMD sizes if they feel it is necessary. But it was also clear that some of the task force members consider non-conforming SMDs a no-no, especially if they're used to take into account populations not reflected in the census numbers
As for the "core community" question, a new map suggested by ANC 6A02 commissioner Drew Ronneberg (but not endorsed by the task force) shows all of Near Southeast in a new ANC 6B, pairing the neighborhood with Barracks Row as its "core." Southwest would then be on its own in 6D, west of South Capitol Street.
You can use my interactive Ward 6 map to play with the numbers, especially if you want to see how keeping all of Near Southeast in 6D is a pretty tough nut to crack if the 1,900-2,100 population targets are inviolate. But then the question becomes whether the neighborhood gets split between 6D and 6B, or moved completely to 6B.
Somewhere far down the road, of course, Near Southeast when built out could be its own ANC, but in the meantime the realities of the numbers mean that it has to be grouped with either a large number of Southwest SMDs or a large number of southern Capitol Hill SMDs. Which one do you think makes more sense?
The meeting will run for 90 minutes, with time alloted for public input by ANC chairs/commissioners, community and neighborhood organizations, business and merchant associations, residents, and business owners; there will be a sign-in sheet for those wishing to speak. Written statements and comments will also be accepted at the meeting, or by e-mail for up to three days after the meeting (ward6rd@gmail.com).
The task force is scheduled to propose its first draft of new boundaries at a public meeting on Aug. 8, then forwarding the official draft to the ANCs on Aug. 18. The final draft would then go to Tommy Wells on Sept. 26.
Or, if you don't want anything to do with an ANC "listening meeting" Thursday evening, you can go on Tommy Wells's South Capitol Street Bike Ride, scheduled for exactly the same time as the redistricting session. Representatives from DDOT, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and Black Women Bike will be joining community members from Ward 6 and Ward 8 to discuss issues that affect pedestrians and cyclists on both sides of the river, focusing on improvements that can be had in the design of the future Douglass Bridge, which already calls for far wider sidewalks than the current bridge.
Either way, you'll probably still be able to make the showing of West Side Story at Tingey Plaza at 8:45 pm. Stay cool, boy!
 

Michael Stevens, the executive director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District, has sent a letter to the mayor, the city council, the WMATA board and other city officials, formally requesting that the Navy Yard station on Metro's Green Line be renamed " Capitol Riverfront/" (aka Curly W, for Nationals Park).
With Metro letting it be known this week that any new station names will have to be 19 characters or less thanks to the transit agency's decision to begin enforcing their own naming rules again, the BID's earlier desire to add their name and the Nationals' logo to the existing station name would not be allowed. Therefore, in order to get Capitol Riverfront added, the BID feels that "Navy Yard" can be, well, shipped out to sea.
Stevens' letter says that "the name Navy Yard station has served this area well for approximately 20 years and was very descriptive 20 years ago when the federal government owned the majority of the land up to the metro station." But the letter also says that Navy Yard "no longer accurately describes the neighborhood and destinations served" by the station.
The letter goes on to describe the changing demographics of the area since the station opened in 1991, makes mention of the fact that Capitol Riverfront is "an established office submarket recognized and named by Co-Star," and notes that "the entrance to the Navy Yard is located at 6th St., SE and M St., SE, which is approximately a half mile away and a twelve minute walk from the metro."
In explaining how the name change meets WMATA's stated principle that a new name incorporate "customer input," the letter describes the "coalition of public and private stakeholders [who] conducted a study and provided input that led to the development of the Capitol Riverfront name for the neighborhood," back in 2007.
DC and the other jurisdictions are supposed to come up with any new station names by September in order to make the new June 2012 map that Metro will be preparing to coincide with the plans to realign the Yellow and Blue lines; the Examiner wrote earlier this week about the plans to shorten 11 of the more lengthy station names.
Greater Greater Washington also wrote recently on the plans to shorten names, and in describing the focus groups that WMATA conducted on current and proposed station names, said: "The participants did like two potential station name changes: 'Smithsonian-National Mall' and adding some information about the Nationals to Navy Yard, whether a curly W logo or the words 'Ballpark' or 'Nationals.' They didn't like also adding 'Capitol Riverfront,' the name of the BID."
The Navy Yard was established in 1799; from World War I until 1963, the Navy Yard's acreage included the land south of M and east of 1st, in what then became the Southeast Federal Center and is now The Yards. The neighborhood directly around the Navy Yard has also been known as "Navy Yard," with "the near Southeast" starting to be used in 1960s if the Washington Post's archives are an accurate guide. (I have always avoided the "Navy Yard" moniker for the neighborhood so as not to have to spend every day of my life saying "No, not in the Navy Yard, near the Navy Yard.")
 

* It's not as slick and ultra-cool as SOME online redistricting tools, but with huge thanks to Cody Rice for getting the data in order, I've built a rudimentary Ward 6 Census Block Population Map. Right now it's mainly just for clicking on a bunch of blocks and having the populations tallied for you (and you can then have a URL to send to someone showing just those blocks). I will be continuing to tinker with it, so we'll see what additional options I add in. It's a bit of a beast, so be prepared for slow loading.
The Ward 6 Task Force on Redistricting has now set up a blog, and has started its "listening sessions" in each ANC. They'll be having their ANC 6D meeting on July 28 at 6:30 pm in the DCRA Hearing Room at 1100 4th St., SW. The ANC 6B meeting (which may also be of interest to folks south of the freeway, given the realities of the numbers) is on Aug. 1 at 6:30 pm at St. Coletta's School, 1901 Independence Ave., SE.
* For those wondering about the lack of progress on the Little Red Building version 2.0 (the former Star Market on the northwest corner of 2nd and L, next to the Courtyard by Marriott), the new building permits finally came through last week, and the owner tells me that construction should be starting again soon. He says the new Lot 38 Espresso should be open in three months, though he hopes it's sooner.
* DDOT posted a way cool set of photos from the construction of the 11th Street Bridges back in 1963-1964. For some reason, a series of photos first showing what an area looked like before construction, then documenting the construction itself, speak to me....
* The BID reports on the Dalai Lama's visit to the Yards Park last weekend.
 

A press release that went out on the wires on Friday has announced that a joint venture is being structured between Patriot Transportation Holdings (through its subsidiary Florida Rock Properties) and MidAtlantic Realty Partners, LLC, to develop the first phase of RiverFront on the Anacostia, just across the street from Nationals Park.
And, in an even more interesting tidbit, the release says that the companies are going to request a modification to the existing Florida Rock PUD to make the first phase an apartment building, rather than the planned office building. They expect that construction could start in the spring of 2013, with leasing to start in the fall of 2014. This portion of the site is the eastern end, directly across from the ballpark's Grand Staircase, closest to Diamond Teague Park and the planned expanded public plaza that will be adjacent to Teague.
It would be after the PUD modification is received that the joint venture would actually be formalized, and the current Letter of Intent "contemplates no commitments or obligations between the parties with respect to Phases II, III and IV of the Master Development Plan." MidAtlantic is apparently investing $4.5 million and receiving a 30 percent interest in the venture.
This of course will be huge news to everyone who looks out from the baseball stadium at the concrete plant just to the south, and probably is a more complete explanation for the filing of the raze permit earlier this year. In late 2009 this first phase of the project was given a two-year extension of the zoning order that had originally called for construction to begin by the middle of this year. FRP's representatives cited the difficulties of getting financing to get work underway in their request.
If you're just joining us, the Florida Rock site took about a decade to wind through the zoning process, with all sorts of changes along the way (especially when a major league baseball stadium was suddenly plunked down just across the street).
The design that was approved in 2008 calls for 1.1 million square feet of development on the 5.8-acre site, which would include a 75-foot-wide promenade along the river that would be part of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. Originally there were going to be two office buildings, one residential building, and one hotel, along with 84,000 square feet of retail and a number of large open public spaces, but we'll have to see as the new zoning request comes through how those numbers are going to change.
My Florida Rock project page has a slew of renderings and details on the development's design as it was approved.
UPDATE: WBJ says that the new first-phase apartment building would have about 200 units.
Comments (27)
More posts: Florida Rock
 

All sorts of little items that you mostly already know about if you follow JDLand on Twitter or Facebook. But I'll start with some new items at the top:
* Still no word from Akridge about when they may get underway with their 700,000-square-foot mixed-use project on Half Street just north of Nationals Park (where the Bullpen and its beergarden sibling Das currently reside), but I will note that in May they filed for building permits for two nine-story and one eleven-story building on the site, matching their announced plans. The permits haven't been approved yet, and once they are they are good for one year, but can then be renewed.
* William C. Smith told me a few weeks ago that they expect to be doing some infrastructure work on their Square 737 site this fall (sewer, water, etc) before starting on their 430-unit apartment building there next spring, and I hear that the bidding process for that site work is now underway. (This also means to not get *too* excited when you see dirt getting moved there late this year.) And, speaking of 880 New Jersey, ANC 6D voted 7-0 on Monday night to support WC Smith's request for a circular driveway, a new curb cut on 2nd Street to access underground parking, and the general public space plan.
* Tonight (Thursday) is the Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park, Republicans vs. Democrats. The $10 tickets might be worth it just to see if there are any bench-clearing brawls.
* Friday (July 15) is the second Truckeroo food truck festival, along Half Street by the Bullpens. It runs from 11 am to 11 pm.
* The speculation is underway about the venues for upcoming baseball All-Star Games, with the previous conventional wisdom about Nationals Park being in line for perhaps the 2015 event taking some hits, with the lack of development progress around the ballpark being cited as a prime reason.
* If you're all fired up to game out the new ANC/SMD districts, here's all the data you might want, from the Office of Planning. And remember that the ANC 6D redistricting "listening" session with the Ward 6 task force is on July 28 at 6:30 pm. There wasn't really much news out of the initial public meeting on Monday night, other than that while the 2,000-plus-or-minus-100 population levels per single member district aren't a legal requirement, there's still clearly a desire to have SMDs be as similar in size as possible. And, also, that an SMD can't be looked at in terms of how its size has changed (or will change) since the census data as of April 1, 2010 was recorded.
* I'm going to go ahead and post this now, but check back later today (or look for a Twitter heads up) for more Market Deli demolition photos, which I will wander down to get at some point.
UPDATE: A moment of silence, please, as the Market Deli has now been added to the Demolished Buildings Gallery, as building number 161 and 162 that have been torn down since I started photographing the neighborhood. And the three garages on the north end of the block are in their final hours, with demolition underway on the southernmost one.
 

With raze permits for the old structures along 1st Street SE between K and L finally approved in mid-June, the days were truly numbered for the Market Deli and its neighbors, and today the demolition got underway, with most of the rear section of the Deli's structure knocked in. Fences are up all around the 1st Street structures, which are all owned by Akridge, and with this initial wrecking underway I imagine it won't be long until the five buildings are added to my Demolished Buildings Gallery, as entries 161 through 165.
There's a few more images here, showing that the demolition isn't quite so obvious from 1st Street (yet). Also, hopefully the folks who have been tending to the cats living in the abandoned building can report in as to their fate. (I heard a rumor that some kittens were removed today, but would defer to an update from anyone with more knowledge. UPDATE: In the comments of another post, reader jenniferp says that five very young kittens were indeed captured this morning, but there are several more still on the loose.) And, if you haven't been following along on the tale of the Market Deli for the past few years, here's some enlightenment.
And, because it would have been silly to wander down there in the ghastly heat and humidity and walk past a whole lot of spots where I needed to take updated photos, you can see the latest progress at 225 Virginia (aka 200 I Street) and the second phase of Capitol Quarter, where framing is being completed on the last portion of its first block, along Fourth Street.
 

Ah, the lazy days of summer, when Washington all but shuts down so that its citizens can try to keep cool and take a bit of a break from politics--except this year, when July and August will be filled with a slew of public meetings as the redistricting process that was so much fun at the ward level now filters down to the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.
Tommy Wells posted this afternoon the first details on the process for Ward 6, announcing (somewhat belatedly) that the first meeting of the task force will be on Monday, July 11 at 6:30 pm at Miner Elementary School (601 15th St. NE), which unfortunately overlaps with the ANC 6D July business meeting at 7 pm. (Which meeting do you guys want me at? All that's on the 6D agenda for Near SE is a public space permit for the new apartment building at 880 New Jersey, which could possibly bring additional details from what I posted recently on the project, but which I think probably won't.)
There will then be "community listening" meetings in each of the ANCs, with 6D's scheduled for Thursday, July 28 at 6:30 pm, and 6B's on Monday, Aug. 1 at 6:30 pm. Then there will be meetings on the first draft of the new boundaries, which is scheduled to be sent to the ANCs on Tuesday, Aug. 18. The task force will then make the rounds of the September ANC business meetings, submitting a final draft to Tommy Wells by Sept. 26, which he then will submit to the council by the required Sept. 30 deadline.
The task force (which isn't yet finalized) includes lots of familiar Ward 6 names (including Near SE resident Tyler Merkeley), and is chaired by former ANC 6A chair Joe Fengler. The current list of names, along with the laying out of the process, is available in this memo from Tommy Wells.
As I wrote last week, The vast majority of Near Southeast has up to now been in one Single Member District (6D07), but with SMDs needing to have populations between 1,900 and 2,100 and Near Southeast counted at 2,794 in the 2010 census, it's going to be split: the question is just how, and where. The quick-and-dirty map I posted of the numbers shows that the area west of 2nd Street has a population of 2,054, making it a perfect size for an SMD, but the rest of the population is not enough for a second SMD that is 100 percent south of the freeway, so there's going to have to be an SMD either crossing the freeway or crossing South Capitol Street. We shall see!
 

In a wonderfully short hearing on Thursday night, the Zoning Commission voted 5-0 to approve Forest City Washington's request for an amendment to the current Southeast Federal Center Zoning Overlay to allow the company to temporarily move its offices to the second floor of the historic Lumber Shed building at the Yards Park.
The company made the request because, while there has been "great interest" from potential retail tenants for the first floor of the building, the second floor has not as yet been as enticing, and filling the ground-floor spaces alone is not enough to get construction financing secured. Because Forest City is "anxious" to get the building started, their move to occupy the second floor can settle the financing issues and finalize deals with interested tenants, which means that construction on the 34,000-square-foot building could begin this year and be open by early 2013.
There had been some concerns at the setdown hearing back in April about the "temporary" request being for a period of 20 years, but Forest City's representatives emphasized (as they also did to the ANC in April) that their intent is to be in the Lumber Shed only until there is office space elsewhere in the Yards to which they can move. Alex Nyhan of Forest City explained that getting retail uses into the second floor is currently "challenging" because the building is "by itself" at the Yards (without much built out around it), which is exacerbated by the fact that it's a somewhat seasonal destination. But Forest City feels that once the other projects in the first phases of the Yards are built out, there will be a demand for the second floor, plus "the onus is on us" to make the Yards into a location where second-floor retail not only at the Lumber Shed but in other Yards buildings is attractive to tenants.
The discussion seemed to satisfy the zoning commissioners, and with the Office of Planning in support of the change and no voices in opposition, the unanimous vote came quickly.
Nyhan also gave the commission a quick update on the status of the other first-phase Yards projects, to help illustrate that "after many years of planning" things are starting to move:
* The Foundry Lofts 170-unit apartment building will begin pre-leasing in August, and will open in October;
* The Boilermaker Shops retail space has announced five restaurant tenants, and will begin construction this month, opening in Fall 2012;
* And 401 M Street, home to a planned Harris Teeter and 200ish-unit apartment building, is expected to start construction this fall.
If you want to give up 30 minutes of your time to check out the proceedings yourself, the hearing should be available for on-demand viewing sometime on Friday. My post from the ANC deliberations on the request also has more information.
 

Deeds have been recorded this afternoon indicating that the Ruben Companies has bought the two empty Exxon lots on South Capitol Street, at I Street SE and K Street SW.
The purchase of the 35,000-square-foot lot at South Capitol and I gives Ruben control of the entire block known as Square 697N; the company picked up the other 47,000 sq ft of the block back in 2009 after developer JPI defaulted on its loan for what was then the site of a Wendy's restaurant.
The other lot Ruben bought from Exxon, just south of the Capitol Skyline Hotel at South Capitol and K streets SW, is about 31,000 square feet and also gives the company control of that entire block, known as Square 648, after Ruben bought the other two lots in 2005 and 2007.
This now makes four sizeable sites that Ruben owns on this three-block stretch of South Capitol Street, since the company also owns 1100 South Capitol St. SE and 1101 South Capitol St. SW across the street, both of which are being marketed as office buildings.
The South Capitol and I Exxon closed down back in 2006, when the station's operator pleaded guilty to fradulently double-billing government contractors more than $120,000.
I don't know any more specifics about the sales at this point, and it's unlikely any buildings will be immediately sprouting on either site. But it is yet another bit of commercial development news that would seem to indicate that the worst of the downswing is past.
 

With July 4 being nice enough to fall on a Monday this year, the three-day holiday weekend is particularly chock full of events, with plenty of goings-on in Near Southeast. Here's a rundown. (Though, judging by how sparsely populated my office already is, just on Wednesday, I'm not sure how many people are left in town to read this.) And, for neighborhood residents, even if none of these events are on your dance card, you still might want to be prepared for heavier than normal crowds wandering around.
* For a headstart on the weekend, there's two events on Thursday, June 30. Ryan Zimmerman will host his 2nd annual "Night at the Park" fundraiser for his zIMS Foundation, which raises money for Multiple Sclerosis. It starts at 6 pm, and tickets are still available. Country star Rodney Atkins will be performing, as will David Blaine (for the VIP ticketholders). More details at the official web site.
* A few blocks away, in what could be considered a bit of counterprogramming, the Capitol Riverfront BID's Outdoor Movie Series will be showing "Shakespeare in Love," starting at 8:45 pm at Tingey Plaza behind USDOT.
* On Friday, the weekly Yards Park concert series continues, with rhythm and blues by the group Special Occasion rhythm and blues band Framewerk [my boo-boo, sorry], from 6 to 8 pm.
* The weekend at Nationals Park will be a busy one, starting with Saturday's doubleheader against the Pirates, the first of the Nats' upcoming 11-game homestand leading into the All-Star brealk. The first game (which won't be broadcast on TV, by the way), is at 3:35 pm, with the second game starting at 7:05 pm or later. The $2 tickets are sold out, but tickets bought for Saturday get you in to both games. And, bang zoom, there will be fireworks after the second game, "presented by Marvel Studios' new motion picture Captain America: First Avenger." (Might be interesting to wander to the Yards Park to watch from there, to see if it's a good vantage point.)
Sunday's 1:35 pm Pirates game is also "Nickelodeon Day" at the ballpark, with all sorts of family-friendly activities featuring SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer.
And, on Monday, July 4, the Nats will be hosting the Cubs at 1:05 pm, which will probably be a hot ticket. There's a series of special ticket offers for this "Patriotic Series" game.
See this Nats press release for additional details on all the promotions and festivities.
* Meanwhile, on both Sunday and Monday, the National FreedomFest concert will be in full swing at the Yards Park, from 2 pm to 9 pm on Sunday and 1 pm to 9 pm on Monday. The organizers say there will be more than 40 bands and DJs on five stages, along with food vendors, craft vendors, and more. Tickets start at $25, and are available via the web site, along with more information about the lineup and other details.
(Note that the concert and the baseball, running at the same time, may make finding spaces in the neighborhood surface parking lots a bit tougher than usual.)
I was going to include some other upcoming events in this post, but nobody's reading this anyway, so I'll save those for another time.
As always, if you want continuing updates on these sorts of events, my Near Southeast Businesses/Organizations Twitter list, which are also displayed in a box on the JDLand homepage, will give you all the news and late-breaking tidbits.
 

After all the big news of late, downshifting into a Tidbits post doesn't really seem like much fun, and of course if you're following me on Twitter or Facebook (or checking out the Twitter box on the JDLand home page every so often), you've already been alerted to many of these. But, onward:
* If you're wondering how the ANC redistricting process will work (especially since the ward version was so much fun!), here's the official memo on the procedures going forward. As in previous years, ANC single member districts will have populations between 1,900 and 2,100 residents. Census Tract 72, which covers all of Near Southeast and so includes all of ANC 6D07 plus the small number of houses from 7th Street east to 11th that are in ANC 6B04, was counted at 2,794 residents in the 2010 census.
The Office of Planning has the census-block-by-census-block numbers, but, ahem, I don't actually know which blocks are which, though if I had to guess by looking at the numbers and how the blocks are organized, I'd say that 6D07 probably came in at 2,743 and south-of-the-freeway 6B04 at 51. Ish. (Perhaps an ANC version of the GGW Redistricting Game isn't far off!) It isn't enough to split 6D07 into two single member districts, but it also can't stay as is. The question will also loom large as to whether new boundaries will split the neighborhood even more between ANC 6B (Capitol Hill) and 6D (Southwest), or move it all into one or the other. UPDATE: Thanks to IMGoph in the comments, I got a look at the map, and it appears the actual residential split is 2,767 to 27. Read my comment for details. I'll make a map at some point.
UPDATE 2: And here's a quick and dirty map, showing block by block what the census folks recorded the neighborhood's residential population at, as of April 1, 2010. As I mention in the comments, the residential buildings west of 2nd Street SE add up to 2,054 residents, perfectly within the numeric requirements for an SMD. But how SMDs will actually be divvied up is anyone's guess right now, beyond the fact that there's no way the vast bulk of Near Southeast will continue to be in just one SMD.
Council members are supposed to appoint their ward task force members by Friday, with progress reports due on Aug. 1 and Sept. 1. The entire process has to be completed by the end of 2011.
* The Hill is Home has posted the first of a two-part look at the history of the Washington Canal, which used to run along where Canal Park is under construction. (Speaking of which, I grabbed a quick cellphone shot from above the park last week showing the work on the southern block, where the foundation for the pavilion is being built.)
* Housing Complex writes about the deal finally being finalized for Greenspace to move into the empty retail spaces in the 1st Street facade of Nationals Park, creating a "12,000-square-foot center for green building and design." This has been in the works for nearly two years, but even though there was a "launch" of the space on Tuesday (which I didn't hear about until people at the event started live-tweeting it), Housing Complex says that the project won't come to fruition until Greenspace "is able to raise another $600,000 in cash and in-kind contributions, adding up to the $2 million necessary to build out what's currently a blank shell." Perhaps someday, when Florida Rock is built out to the south and later Yards phases along 1st Street are completed, the "real" retail envisioned for this portion of the ballpark will come to pass. Here's the press release on the Greenspace project.
* Madison Marquette, owner of the Blue Castle at 770 M St. SE, has now apparently completed a joint venture deal with local landowners ICP Group for all ICP's various properties on the east side of 8th Street south of the freeway, including the gray building at 8th and Potomac that houses Quizno's and the other properties along the 800 block of Potomac, and others. No news as to what might be done on those blocks, though if the new Marine Barracks site search ever crops back up, a group owning all of the land on Squares 929 and 930 could conceivably submit a proposal for a public-private partnership.
Coming later today, an equally bulleted post highlighting the slew of upcoming events in the neighborhood, both for this holiday weekend and beyond.
 

A press release went out this morning with the news that so many residents and office workers have been waiting for: the initial list of restaurants that will be opening at the Yards, along with confirmation that Harris Teeter is coming to the building at 401 M Street.
At the Foundry Lofts apartment building currently heading toward completion, there will be a Potbelly, plus Kruba Thai and Sushi, from the operators of Teak Wood Thai and Sushi, Regent Thai, and Galae Thai and Sushi. Both are expected to open in the first quarter of 2012. (Pre-leasing of the residential units is expected to begin in August, with move-ins starting in October.)
The Boilermaker Shops, the 1919-era building nestled between the Foundry Lofts and the US Department of Transportation, will have a number of different offerings:
* There will be Buzz Bakery, a full-service bakery, coffee shop, and "dessert lounge," plus an as-yet-unnamed craft brewery, both operated by the Neighborhood Restaurant Group, the people behind the Evening Star Cafe, Vermilion, Rustico, Tallula, EatBar, Columbia Firehouse, Birch and Barley, and ChurchKey.
* Austin Grill Express, a "casual, funky Tex-Mex restaurant drawing on the experience of Austin Grill to deliver a unique menu and environment."
* BRB ("be right burger").
* Huey's 24/7 Diner, a "classic diner experience." (But will it actually be open 24/7?)
It's expected that Huey's, Austin Grill, and BRB will open in the fall of 2012, with the others in "late 2012."
And, at the 401 M Street residential building (the only one of the three buildings that is 100 percent new construction), a Harris Teeter will be coming to the ground floor, which has been rumored for a number of years but is now finally confirmed. The press release says it will open in 2013, though for that to be the case, they need to start work on the building pretty much, um, now.
More as I get it, and you can read the official press release for additional details. For more on each project, see my Foundry Lofts, Boilermaker Shops, 401 M, and main Yards project pages, or see the official Yards web site. Especially don't miss the photos from the interior of the Boilermaker Shops, which is a space very much unlike anything else in DC.
UPDATE, June 2012: Because this post is linked to in so many places, it's necessary to update that in late June 2012 it was revealed that Austin Grill Express and BRB would not be coming to the Boilermaker Shops after all. However, Willie's Brew and Que sportsbar had been announced as another tenant in late 2011.
 
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