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ANC Elections: Meet the Candidates, via Questionnaires
Oct 30, 2012 11:54 AM
With all of the Sandy stuff of the past few days, it seems like the One Week to Election Day mark has arrived today without the normal fanfare. But here we are with seven days to go, and as much as I tried to be lazy and avoid it (semi-retired! semi-retired!), I'm posting today the questionnaires I sent out last week to four candidates for the two ANC districts that now cover Near Southeast.
Click through to read the responses I received from three candidates for the new ANC 6D02: Ed Kaminski, Damon Patton, and current 6D02 commissioner Cara Shockley, running as a write-in. David Garber, 6D07's current commissioner, is running unopposed, but wanted a questionnaire too, so I obliged.
There are some questions specific to the two districts as well as general questions that all four candidates answered, along with one curveball (literally) at the end.
What do you think of the candidates' responses? Fire away in the comments.
And, if you don't know where to actually go to vote on Nov. 6 (or earlier), find your polling place here and check out the Ward 6 sample ballot. The full DC Voters Guide will also tell you everything you might want to know about voting this time around.
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More posts: ANC News, politics

Canal Park Grand Opening Set for November 16
Oct 25, 2012 5:58 PM
A flyer just sent out by the Capitol Riverfront BID is announcing that Canal Park will have a two-day Grand Opening, on Friday, Nov. 16 and Saturday, Nov. 17, kicking off with a ribbon cutting with the mayor and other dignitaries at 11 am on the 16th.
The park's much anticipated ice rink will be the center of attention for the rest of the festivities, and it will be open from noon to 9 pm on Friday and 10 am to 10 pm on Saturday--admission is $8 for adults and $7 for kids/seniors/military, with skate rentals costing $3. There will also be "ice performances" at the top of each hour from noon to 4 pm, and coaches available to help new skaters.
Saturday will also have live music in the park from 10 am to 3 pm, various art-y options, and a "Get Active" program from Results Gym with boot camp, a kids obstacle course, and a Zumba class.
Considering that it was nine years ago this month that I first wrote about the plans to remove the school buses from the park's three-block site along 2nd Street between I and M, SE, I'd say this opening indeed qualifies as a milestone in the neighborhood. See my Canal Park project page for photos of what the footprint has gone through over the years.
(The BID also says that the management of Kruba Thai and Sushi says that their restaurant in the ground floor of the Foundry Lofts at the Yards is opening on Monday, Nov. 12. Will that come true as well? We shall see!)
UPDATE: I should add there's no word in this whether the Park Tavern restaurant will open on this same weekend--my guess is that the pressure is pretty strong to have it open in some format, but there's no announcement.

Vida Fitness Finally Confirmed for Twelve12 at the Yards
Oct 23, 2012 11:18 AM
It took a loooong time to get past the unconfirmed stage (and even included an oopsie cat-out-of-the-bag last year by some PR folks), but today Forest City Washington is finally officially announcing that Vida Fitness is coming to the south end of the Twelve12 apartment building, now under construction on 4th Street SE between M and Tingey in the Yards.
Also in the 28,000-square-foot facility will be Vida's "affiliated concepts" Bang Salon and Aura Spa, and will also feature Vida's Penthouse Pool Club and Lounge, shown in the above-right drawing and described as a "membership-only urban resort featuring a rooftop pool deck with city and riverfront views and a variety of poolside lounging options and amenities."
Twelve12, when completed in mid-2014, will also be home to the neighborhood's first grocery store, a 50,000-square-foot Harris Teeter located on the north end of the block at 4th and M, in addition to the building's 218 apartments. There is also still 10,000 square feet of as-yet-unleased retail space. It is across the street from the Boilermaker Shops retail pavilion, set to open in early 2013, and kitty corner from both the Foundry Lofts and what will be a new 325ish-unit apartment building on the southwest corner of 4th and Tingey, expected to start construction in 2013.

Grosvenor and Skanska (Finally) Close Square 701 Deal
Oct 12, 2012 1:11 PM
I can now finally stop obsessively checking Square 701 property records, as Grosvenor Americas and Skanska finally completed earlier this week their purchases of the former Willco properties along 1st Street SE between M and N, and each officially announced their plans for the site, which of course JDLand readers have known about for a while now.
The now-announced plans track pretty closely with what we've been hearing through the zoning process:
* a 224,000-square-foot Class A office building at the corner of 1st and M;
* a 180-unit hotel just to the south of the office building, separated by a 30-foot-courtyard;
* a 292-unit residential project south of the hotel in two buildings, both parallel to 1st Street, with a courtyard between them and a glass bridge connecting them; and
* 43,000 square feet of retail, 36,000 sf of which will be in the office/hotel/residential buildings, while the remaining 7,000 sf will be in a separate two-story retail-only building at the corner of 1st and N.
But we've also now learned that the office building (seen at left) will be developed by Skanska, is designed by Gensler, and will likely be self-financed, according to Bisnow. It will have 11,000 square feet of retail, and will be 11 stories tall. Looking at property records (always a somewhat dicey proposition), it appears that Skanska's Ballpark Square 701 LLC paid about $19.2 million for the multiple small lots at 1st and M where Normandie Liquors used to stand.
Grosvenor will be developing the rest of the project, with Hickok Cole designing the residential buildings and the hotel, and with McCaffery Interests providing "advisory services" and construction management. Grosvenor's Ballpark Square LLC appears in property records to have paid $25.8 million for its portion of the site.
Jon Carr of Grosvenor tells me that there is "strong interest" from potential tenants in the two-story 7,000-square-foot retail building at 1st and N (bet they wish they could have it built by tonight!) and that there are discussions with a couple of potential operators for the hotel.
Of course, the question most interested observers want to ask doesn't have an answer yet--neither announcement gives a start date. There's still the need for final approvals from the Zoning Commission (expected to come at the Oct. 29 public meeting), but for the Grosvenor portion of the site, there's one more pending item before the path to construction is truly clear, and that is the plans by another developer for the L-shaped lot between the residential buildings and the retail building.
Grosvenor apparently did attempt to purchase that property, but with no agreement able to be reached, those owners are now heading to the Zoning Commission in early December with their desire to build a 176-room hotel on the site (initial design seen at right, wrapping around Grosvenor's two-story retail building). If approved, Grosvenor's plans to have the courtyard of its residential buildings opened to the south would be impacted, and there is apparently an "alternative" design in the hopper if needed.
You can check my Square 701 page for more details about this site (including lots of Before photos from its days before becoming Nats Parking Lot F). The next steps to watch for, beyond how the L Hotel [copyright JD] turns out (which we may not know until early 2013), will be the filing of building permit applications, along with any announcements of office tenants, hotel operators, etc.

No, Honest, This Time It's Really Getting Demolished
Oct 6, 2012 11:58 AM
After many weeks of teasing, it's now pretty safe to say that the old trash transfer building at 900 New Jersey Ave. SE is really getting demolished. Click to embiggen:
And some before-and-nows show that the eventual new block of I Street between 2nd and New Jersey is starting to be more than just a dream:
If you haven't been following along, this site spent much of the 1900s as a trash transfer station, before the DC Department of Public Works turned it into an operations area for heavy trucks and plows. The block to the north is going to be developed by William C. Smith, starting with the Park Chelsea apartment building, once some deep (deep!) utilities running below the site get relocated. The block between I and K is part of the Capper/Carrollsburg Hope VI redevelopment footprint, and is slated to eventually have a large mixed-income apartment building, though no announcements have been made of when that might actually happen.
I think it's also now safe to declare it Demolished Building #170 since 2003.
If you're already missing the trash transfer station {snort}, here's my galleries from back in June of its interior and exterior, as pre-demolition abatement was underway.

Nats Make the Playoffs, Beat the Neighborhood to the Big Time
Oct 2, 2012 9:51 AM
It was quite a night at the ballpark on Monday as the Nationals clinched the NL East Divsion Title, bringing Washington its first first-place finish since 1933.
As I watched the celebrations (and boy, that was some celebrating going on), I thought about the pretty woeful team that moved into the neighborhood in March 2008, and how if we had all been guaranteed that at the end of the fifth season at the new ballpark the team would be division champs, we would have thought it an amazingly short timeline (once we stopped laughing at the improbability of such a notion, especially after the dreadful '08 and '09 seasons).
Along those same lines, if we had been told on that night in March 2008 that no additional construction other than 55 M would be seen on Half Street by the time the Nats hit the playoffs, and that there would only be one new restaurant/bar south of the freeway/east of South Capitol available for post-season revelry, we might also have laughed at the improbability of such a notion. (Though by the end of that first season, with the global economy having all but collapsed, that same notion wouldn't have seemed quite so far-fetched.)
Even at the beginning of this year, with Davey Johnson fully installed, Strasburg coming back, Harper on deck, and Werth past his "rookie" struggles, a division title in 2012 looked like something that could happen, but that more likely 2013 would really be the year that the team would contend.
However, you wonder what developers, retailers, tenants, and the banks that control so many of the commercial real estate purse strings have been thinking as the team's stellar year unfolded, probably also having thought that 2013 would really be the year the team caught fire but then watching those tens of thousands of fans traipse down to N Street throughout 2012, and now realizing that the team will be bringing the national spotlight to Near Southeast, and the neighborhood is not quite ready for its close-up yet.
"Wait 'til next year!" is the symbolic phrase of eternal hope in baseball, and it does seem that 2013 may be the beginning of a new wave of openings and groundbreakings that have mostly been on hold for the past few years. Canal Park, with its Park Tavern restaurant and ice rink, should be opening this November, and maybe Kruba Thai at the Foundry Lofts will at last cross the finish line. Early 2013 should bring the launch of the Bluejacket Brewery and Willie's Brew and Que and other offerings at the Boilermaker Shops, two blocks east of the ballpark. Perhaps Gordon Biersch actually will open at 100 M in time for Opening Day. And later in the year Osteria Morini will come to the Lumber Shed at the Yards Park.
And there could be a wave of groundbreakings on major projects--residential projects at Florida Rock and the Yards have 2013 start dates currently attached to them, along with the Park Chelsea at New Jersey and I, and maybe the new office/residential/hotel/retail projects along 1st Street as well. (Note also that 2013 start dates for big projects would dovetail nicely with the rumored 2015 arrival of the MLB All Star Game at Nats Park.) But Akridge and Monument remain silent about start dates for their Half Street projects, and really, the only start dates that should matter at this point are the ones when dirt actually starts to be dug.
In the meantime, there will be much revelry as fans pass through the neighborhood to and from the ballpark in October, and everyone associated with Near Southeast can hope that Thomas Boswell is right, that this title could be "the first of many," so that the Ballpark District can begin to resemble the grand plans made for it with much optimism a few years ago at the same time that the Nats have already begun to resemble the grand plans made for them with much optimism a few years ago.
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More posts: Nationals Park

Negotiations Ongoing to Bring Movie Theater to DC Water-Yards Site
Sep 27, 2012 11:57 PM
The cat got let out of the bag during a recent neighborhood walking tour (probably a bit sooner than desired) that Yards developer Forest City Washington is working on bringing a "high-quality theater operator" offering an "elevated experience" to land currently controlled by DC Water along First Street SE between Nationals Park and the Yards.
FCW tells me that it is still early in the process, that an overall deal with the city and DC Water for the land needs to be finalized first, but that if it all moves forward, "the theater operator would be new to DC and would offer a premium quality option that is differentiated by quality of design, food and customer service."
It's probably worth noting that Forest City was awarded the right to "enter into exclusive negotiations" for a six-acre portion of the larger then-WASA site by the now-defunct Anacostia Waterfront Corporation in December 2005, at a time when a development strategy was being formulated by Forest City, Western Development, Cordish, and Monument Realty for the "Ballpark District" (remember that?)
Forest City's plans for the DC Water site would also include residential and retail in addition to the theater, and with this site being close to the possibly-getting-started-next-year residential building and plaza at the foot of 1st Street that will be Florida Rock's first phase, the ballpark's eastern and southern sides would certainly begin to be "activated," even on the 280ish days of the year when the Nats aren't playing.
However, despite the oft-stated desire of residents to have a movie theater in Near Southeast, as well as the continued yearning for more development in general, there has been a bit of trepidation about this particular plan in some comments on a neighborhood mailing list, especially given that it could be a pretty large theater. Would it bring too much traffic, would it be too much of a draw for boisterous crowds--Gallery Place was mentioned a number of times as an example to avoid at all costs. For others, of course, the notion of a theater so close to home is exciting news, and a plan to be supported.
Forest City anticipates it will go before ANC 6D sometime this fall to brief the community on the plans and to get feedback.
Earlier this year, there was an item about Landmark Theatres wanting to open a second DC location, with the Yards being a possible destination (though city officials apparently were/are for something east of the river). However, Forest City's statement saying that the operator they are talking to "would be new to DC" seems to take Landmark out of the running, along with AMC and Regal, the two largest chains in the US.

Zooming in on the 11th Street Bridge's Phase 2 Plans
Sep 27, 2012 9:48 AM
The 11th Street Bridges folks were nice enough to pass along a more recent drawing (March 2012, Concept Only! Not for Construction!) that shows the 11th Street Bridges' project Phase 2 plans.
They were also nice enough to pass along a very large version of this more recent drawing, enabling me to post a very large image in on the new ramps and lanes along and over 11th Street on the west side of the Anacostia River, and how the new Southeast Boulevard with a new signalized intersection at 11th Street will be built along what used to be the eastern end of the Southeast Freeway. It also shows the extension of 12th Street north of M to the new boulevard, along with all of the turn lanes and other movements. (All of this assuming the designs don't change.)
It's also handy if you haven't committed all the Phase 1 ramps and flyovers and lanes and paths to memory--they are shown in yellow and orange, while the Phase 2 plans are in blue and pink, and decommissioned roads and ramps are in a subtle x'ed-out motif. So, for the heck of it, here's a not-quite-so-enlarged image showing the entire project, on both sides of the river. Also, if you missed it, my photo gallery of the project's current state, from earlier this month.
(I should note that this map doesn't include how upcoming changes to Barney Circle might look, because that's still under deliberation.)

Updated Bikeshare Usage Maps for Near Southeast's Three Docks
Sep 26, 2012 8:53 AM
With some free time for the first time in quite a while, I finally got around to including Bikeshare's Trip History Data for the first half of 2012 in my app that maps the usage of the neighborhood's three docks at 1st and N, New Jersey and M, and the 1st and K station that came online in February.
You can choose a station, a year, a month, or an exact date, and whether you want to see outbound or inbound traffic, and you'll get presented with a pile of pushpins showing the other stations that people rode to or from.
As with the 2011 data, Union Station is the top destination/origin, followed by 4th & M SW, and Eastern Market Metro Plaza, with the two stations north of the freeway on 3rd Street SE and the south Barracks Row/8th and I dock also getting a fair amount of use. (News flash: Bikeshare is used most often for short trips!)
I also updated the Wanderings of Bike W01000 map, where you can follow one bike as it travels from dock to dock all across the region.
(The data comes from the Bikeshare web site, if you feel like digging yourself.)

Milestone Blogging: Nats Make the Playoffs
Sep 20, 2012 10:28 PM
I think it can be considered a milestone that tonight the Nationals clinched Washington's first trip to the postseason in 79 years, and so playoff baseball will be making its first visit to Near Southeast next month.
As befits a team that has had the best record in baseball for a while now, the players and coaches are clearly still focused on the real prize: winning the NL East. But that doesn't mean that the fans can't be a bit excited about tonight's clinch. (Let me know if there was any rioting on Half Street.)
With lovely timing, the first Nats postseason tickets go on sale to the public Friday at 10 am, even though the actual schedule of games isn't nailed down yet.
The future is now!
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More posts: Nationals Park

11th Street Bridges Project Photo Tour, September 2012
Sep 19, 2012 8:35 AM
There's a lot going on over yonder at 11th Street these days, as the initial 11th Street Bridges project continues toward its expected completion next year while the now-funded Phase 2 work is starting to get underway.
I was able to arrange a tour last week (thank you, bridge folks!), and have put together a photo gallery of the most interesting shots.
However, there's a lot going on and so I'm going to break out some of the information here as well. (But go look at the gallery too!)
New Ramps from/to 11th Street Local Bridge
By the end of the month (or maybe even by the end of the week), two new ramps on the 11th Street Local Bridge will open, providing access to southbound I-295 from the local bridge and to the local bridge from northbound DC-295. There are signalized intersections at both ramps, with turns allowed in each direction. And, once construction is finished to make 11th Street two-way from O Street northward, commuters driving north on 295 will be able to use the new ramp to the local bridge to then arrive directly at the Navy Yard's entrance gate at 11th and N.
Southeast Blvd., and Outbound Freeway Traffic
This week saw the first of the lane closures that within a few months will signal the end of the SE Freeway east of 8th Street. Once all lanes are closed, traffic taking the old two-lane flyover to outbound I-695 will be temporarily routed onto the completed-but-not-opened inbound flyover connecting I-695 and I-395. This will allow for the razing of the old outbound flyover, and construction of a new three-lane flyover in the gap between the old and new ones. The filling of the old sunken freeway will also begin, for the new at-grade Southeast Blvd.
Old Outbound Bridge Demolition
The old outbound 11th Street Bridge is now little more than a bunch of old girders, which are starting to be removed. Soon, all that will be left will be the river piers, though two of those will be used to create viewing platforms that will be accessed via walkways from the new 11th Street Local pedestrian path. (And can be reused if anyone ever decides to pony up the millions needed to create the 11th Street Recreation Bridge.) In the meantime, work continues on the downriver edge of the new local bridge, to get it to its full four-lane-plus-ped-path width.
But there's more than just these items and photos. There's photos of the under-construction ramp that in about three months will take traffic from outbound I-695 to northbound DC-295, plus the big piles of dirt waiting to be used to fill in the eastern part of the Southeast Freeway, and the work on the ramp from 11th Street to westbound I-395, and more. So go look at the entire gallery. (I've also incorporated some of the new photos into my 11th Street Bridges project page, to go with the before-and-afters.) I also wrote in more detail about the Phase 2 projects a few months back.

Plans Submitted for a 1st Street Hotel, With Interesting Details
Sep 16, 2012 1:35 PM
Late last week, "Capital Riverfront Hotel LLC" * submitted to the Zoning Commission plans for a 167ish-room hotel on the small L-shaped lot that the Welch family has owned for a number of years at 1st and N Streets just north of Nationals Park.
According to documents submitted as part of the required Capitol Gateway Overlay Review, the development would have no ground-floor retail along either 1st or N.
Also, the developers are requesting that they be able to provide zero below-ground or on-site parking instead of the 44 spaces that would be required by current zoning regulations, saying that the hotel would provide valet parking services, and also would emphasize the building's location near Metro, Circulator, and other transit options.
(Needless to say, it would be interesting to see exactly how valet service on 1st just north of N would work during a sold-out baseball game going on a few feet to the south, given how 1st fills up with traffic heading toward the parking lots at the Yards.)
As seen in the above rendering, the site for the proposed hotel wraps around the two-story retail building that has been proposed as part of its 660,000-square-foot Ballpark Square development that I've written about over the past few months, which would have its own 170ish-unit hotel, positioned between a 224,000-square-foot office building fronting M Street and a 285ish-unit residential building toward the south end of the street, as well as the retail building, separated from the rest by the Welch lot.
Recently "Ballpark Square LLC and SCD Acquisitions LLC" (which appears to be a team headed by Grosvenor, with Skanska and McCaffery Interests also on board) submitted updated designs for that project in advance of its Oct. 1 zoning hearing, in which the residential building just to the north of the L-shaped lot has had its U-shaped design reconfigured to open to the south, giving residents in the courtyard-facing units some amount of a view toward Nats Park. Which of course would completely disappear if the hotel were to be built right up against the property line. (You can compare the white box in the top rendering to the red-brick building at the right of this rendering to place the proposed hotel's location vis-a-vis the residential building.)
The updated filing by Grosvenor et al even gives oblique reference to the goings-on, saying "As will be discussed at the hearing, the Applicant is exploring alternative residential layouts to address the potential future development of the parcel to the south of the residential component."
It does lead one to wonder what if anything might be going on behind the scenes between the two parties. And also exactly how the Zoning Commission might feel about the hotel's designs as initially submitted.
* Points immediately deducted for the wrong spelling of Capitol.

Another Residential Building on the Boards at the Yards (Updated)
Sep 14, 2012 3:20 PM
With the Foundry Lofts having quickly reached 100 percent leasing earlier this year, and construction underway on the Twelve12 residential building with a Harris Teeter at 4th and M, it's interesting to hear that Forest City is starting to move on its next residential project at the Yards, an 11-story 325ish-unit rental building right next door to the Foundry Lofts, on the southwest corner of 4th and Tingey (where a parking lot now resides, across from the Trapeze School). That would also put it just to the south of the under-construction Boilermaker Shops retail pavilion and kitty-corner from Twelve12.
The 35 percent design drawings will be presented to both the Commission on Fine Arts and the National Capital Planning Commission over the next few weeks, with initial thoughts/plans/hopes that construction could begin in 2013.
That's all I know at this point--more will be revealed as the bureaucratic hoops are jumped through.
UPDATE: With thanks to Z. in the comments, here are some renderings, via the slides for the upcoming NCPC presentation, which has additional details. Note how the height of the building steps up so that it's not at its full 11-story height directly next to the six-story Foundry Lofts. And remember, these are just the 35 percent drawings--details are still to be fleshed out, and perhaps changed.
The view on the left is looking down 4th at Tingey; the right is looking pretty much from the Lumber Shed/Yards Park to the northeast.
Also worth mentioning, the design calls for 21,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, and 250-300 parking spaces in a three-level underground garage.

The Smokestack, Getting De-Smoked
Sep 13, 2012 3:56 PM
A moment many people have been looking forward to (but which at least one person might be lamenting):
Yes, demolition has started on the smokestack at the DPW/Trash Transfer station at New Jersey and K. It'll take a few days, I was told, so you have a little more time to say goodbye.
Check back in a few, when I'll have some additional photos in the main photo archive (UPDATE: here's a few, from New Jersey and K). But here's a couple more showing the first bite taken out of the top of Ye Olde Smokestack:

Updated Photos From Under-Construction Projects, Finally
Sep 12, 2012 9:28 AM
Isn't it great that the icky humid cloudy weather of the past few weeks finally broke? Aren't the skies glorious and blue? Does that mean I finally got to get out to take some photos? Why, yes!
First up are new photos from ground level at Canal Park, including the new L Street streetscape and the sculptures:
If you're big on Canal Park, you may also be interested in the many before-and-afters in the Canal Park Expanded Photo Archive, which leads off with the first decent bunch of photos from 2nd Place and L Street since construction started on the park many moons ago and then takes you on a before-and-after walk around the park's perimeter.
And then there's the progress on L Street between 3rd and 4th as the Capitol Quarter townhouse construction continues to wrap up:
I also added a few sunny-day Boilermaker Shop exterior photos and a shot of the hole in the ground at the Twelve12 apartment/Teeter project, because the ones I took on back Gloomy Thursday, when I got to go inside the Boilermaker building, drove me nuts:
External construction has pretty much wrapped up at 200 I/225 Virginia/Old Post Plant/Old Star Plant, especially on the south side of the building, facing Canal Park. There was a ribbon-cutting on Friday for the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities gallery in the building's new lobby on I Street, but unfortunately I wasn't able to make the event. Hope to get photos inside before too long. In the meantime, you'll just have to look at the outside, and compare it to the White Monolith that it used to be:
If these all aren't enough for you, you can spend some time in the Photo Archive, where you pick the intersection you want to see and then you can see the entire range of photos I've taken for all angles or just the ones of your choice. You may even end up in the Photo Archive without realizing it, if you click on the Click to see all available photos of this location. icon on any of the pages above, which also will give you the full range of photos for that angle. It's pretty much the Near Southeast equivalent of heading down the rabbit hole.

Work Starting Soon on Eventual Southeast Boulevard
Sep 11, 2012 2:49 PM
An advisory sent out by DDOT this afternoon (now online) has announced some upcoming changes to the traffic flow on the Southeast Freeway east of 8th Street, SE, as the work begins to get underway for the creation of the new at-grade boulevard that will take traffic to and from the Southeast Freeway and Barney Circle.
Starting Monday, Sept. 17, after morning rush hour, westbound traffic from Barney Circle to the freeway on the current below-grade lanes will be reduced to a single lane. By November, DDOT says, the westbound lanes will be closed completely, and by January the eastbound lanes will be, too.
DDOT also says that, starting Monday, vehicles will no longer be permitted to turn left from southbound 17th Street SE to reach the restricted access lanes under Barney Circle.
Over an 18- to 20-month period, the below-grade area between 8th and 13th streets SE will be raised about 20 feet, and the new boulevard will be created, as seen in this DDOT graphic. Since 11th Street currently crosses the below-grade lanes on a bridge, this means that that "bridge" will become an at-grade roadway as well.
And, speaking of that section of 11th Street, the advisory says that the new entrance to the westbound Southeast Freeway from 11th Street will open by Thanksgiving, allowing people on the eastern side of the Hill to get on the freeway at 11th rather than taking Virginia Avenue all the way to the 3rd Street SE ramp.
This work is all part of the now-funded $90 million second phase of the 11th Street Bridges project, and also will include a new three-lane outbound bridge from the SE/SW Freeway to the 11th Street/I-695 bridge. In addition, 12th Street SE will be extended north from M Street to connect to the new Boulevard, and there will also be a reconfiguring of Barney Circle itself.
In the meantime, work continues on the many Phase 1 connections still being built, including a new off-ramp on the east side of the river from northbound DC-295 to the new 11th Street Local Bridge, which should be opening by the end of this month. Quoting DDOT: "This will allow Navy Yard morning rush-hour commuters coming from Suitland Parkway and northbound I-295 with more of a direct route to their facility as well as local traffic direct access to Historic Anacostia. Traffic will exit on the Anacostia side of the river, travel across the 11th Local Street Bridge and enter the Navy Yard at the O Street Gate."
The much-anticipated ramp to northbound DC-295 from the outbound I-695 bridge is expected to open by Thanksgiving.
You can see more about the coming ramps on the east side of the river on page 31 of this DDOT community communications briefing. There's also my post from a few months ago with more detail on this Phase 2, and of course, my 11th Street Bridges project page.

Inside the Boilermaker Shops, Under Construction
Sep 6, 2012 12:52 PM
Construction continues at the Boilermaker Shops, the World War I industrial building at the Yards that Forest City is adapting into a retail and office space. And today I was able to see the interior for the first time since 2007, with camera in hand, of course.
None of the tenant spaces are looking like their final versions yet, but it's still cool to check out the bones before the spaces really get going with their installations. Though I sure wish it hadn't been pouring rain, to get a better sense of how much more natural light will come into these spaces when the sun is out. Next time....
The photo gallery shows the spaces where Bluejacket Brewery (above), Buzz Bakery, Willie's Brew and Que (below left), Huey's 24-7 Diner, and Wells Dry Cleaners will be, along with the office space being built out on a new second floor that runs along much of the interior of the building (below right) and some of the as-yet unleased sections.
The photos you see here are just a smattering, so be sure to check out the whole gallery.
It's too bad that the mondo-cool Shaw 15 Ton Crane left from the building's original incarnation is up in the office space, rather than somewhere in the public areas, but hopefully the office workers will take good care of it.
There are no official opening dates for any of the tenants, though it sounds like the dry cleaners will be the first to open (yay...?). Bluejacket has previously announced they are shooting for an early 2013 opening.
For additional information, including lots of (not especially new) photos of the exterior from when the sun is actually out, see my Boilermaker Shops project page.
I also tossed in a photo of the hole in the ground where Twelve12 4th will be sprouting, to be home to apartments and Harris Teeter. I was told that they've dug as deep as they're going to go, and pile work is next on the agenda.
UPDATE: Also, I was going to grouse about why I don't take photos when the weather is bad by pointing to this batch I shot along L Street catching the homestretch progress at Capitol Quarter, but strangely enough most of the "before" shots aren't exactly under bright blue skies. Juggling a camera and an umbrella is not my cup of tea, though.

Nationals Park, Five Years Ago Today
Sep 1, 2012 11:42 AM
Today is the five-year anniversary of one of my most favorite JDLand-related days ever, a gorgeous end-of-summer day when I got to traipse into all corners of Nationals Park, which was at that point just under seven months away from opening. Everyone was still concerned about whether it would open on time, but I spent most of my time marveling at the progress in comparison to what had stood there less than 18 months earlier--and being wowed by my first visits to the viewing platform above Potomac Avenue and all the other views looking out at the surroundings from the upper decks.
Back in this era, I wasn't doing single-page photo galleries on days like this, so I tossed together this new gallery of the best shots of the day. It's interesting to think about everything that's changed in only five years--not only the field itself, but the team on the field, and everything surrounding it.

Restaurant Permit Application at 100 M; Gordon Biersch, Finally?
Aug 31, 2012 10:38 AM
A building permit application has been filed with DCRA for an "interior alteration for new restaurant" at 100 M Street, one block north of Nationals Park at the corner of 1st and M SE.
The application information as seen online doesn't give any specifics of the applicant, but I wouldn't be surprised that this is at last the signal that brewery/restaurant Gordon Biersch is indeed coming to this corner ground-floor retail space in the 220,000-square-foot office building, as was first rumored last October.
I know absolutely nothing more than this, and perhaps now the hounds will now be released to get something confirmed. But no matter what tenant ends up in there, a restaurant in that space will be most welcomed by residents and fans.
(I'm guessing a by-the-playoffs timeline might be a bit aggressive, though.)
UPDATE: Meant to include that the application mentions 236 seats indoors, and 94 outdoors. And remember, this is still just an application, it's not approved yet.

When It's Time to Change, You've Got to Rearrange
Aug 30, 2012 9:27 AM
So....
After nearly a decade of documenting the changes in Near Southeast DC, the time has come for some change of my own, as I've decided to dial back the intensity of my blogging at JDLand.
Astute readers have probably already noticed the beginnings of a shift over the past few months, but it's time to make an official declaration of intent.
Since I've always been a historian at heart, I'll still write about the neighborhood's major moments, its new developments and other big arrivals. (Call it Milestone Blogging.) But while sometimes my output won't really seem that different from what it's been, it won't always be with the speed I prided myself on in the past, and I probably won't post about all the tiny steps in a project's road to fruition.
And there will still be plenty of photos, not only for the block-by-block archive that really is the heart of the site but also from big events and projects under construction, as my schedule allows.
But the day-to-day life-in-a-neighborhood stuff and aggregation-type "tidbit" and event items will mostly fall by the wayside on the blog, though should continue on Twitter/Facebook, where a mouse click or two can get the word out easily. And really, it's not so much me giving it up as it is finally admitting that I mostly gave it up already and have no intention of getting back to it.
When I started back in 2003, there were few places to get information about Near Southeast. (Remember, there wasn't even a ballpark back then--South Capitol Street was just one of four potential locations for a team that no one ever really thought would come to town.) The major news outlets might publish something once in a while, and there was the monthly Hill Rag and the late Voice of the Hill, but if I really wanted to know what was going on with development plans, I had to dig pretty deeply for it myself.
Now, as the neighborhood becomes a destination, not only for Nats fans but also for people heading to the Yards Park or other spots, coverage of goings-on in the area has expanded considerably. Plus, the number of outlets has expanded considerably--not only are there the newspapers and TV stations, but all manner of web sites covering development, entertainment, nightlife, food, urbanism, and whatnot. And then you have Twitter/Facebook feeds coming directly from developers, and the BID, and the restaurants, and the parks, and the politicians, and the city, and the residents....
With all that easily accessible information, my original goal of posting the things I dug up so that other people wouldn't have to do the digging seems pretty outmoded, and it makes it hard for me to keep doing what my brain tells me isn't really "needed." (I'm just not wired to be mostly an aggregator.)
There's probably all sorts of ways that the site could evolve to keep up with this high-volume new world, but there's also the reality that, after years of pretty intense commitment, I am starting to want to do other things, and to perhaps find some other kewl new concept to channel my energies to. But it can be hard to let your mind wander enough to figure out The Next Thing when you're still buried in The Current Thing.
Plus, there are now some new realities in my life that aren't leaving quite so much room for JDLand.
I hope that, by stepping back a bit from the content firehose, I can find a comfortable niche to continue writing about and photographing Near Southeast's continuing redevelopment, especially since I think I still have a lot to contribute in terms of "institutional knowledge" of how the area has evolved.
This probably would have happened awhile ago if it hadn't been for all of the great interest and feedback I've had during this amazing ride, and all of you have my heartfelt thanks and appreciation for all the interest and support. I've often described blogging as "whistling into the wind," but the incredible amount of positive response this little endeavor has received over the years has truly been what's kept me going. (It certainly ain't the money!)
I do hope some folks will continue to stick around as I transition into this new Blogger Emeritus role. After all, the comments threads are always open!
So, this isn't a goodbye. It's more like a necessary nod to the fact that things change, and it's time to allow JDLand--and JD--to change too.
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