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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: January 2008
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1111 New Jersey
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1244 South Capitol
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1333 M St.
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909 Half St.
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Yards Park ('10)
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20 M ('07)
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Lots of ballpark and other news stories today:
* In case you missed it, last night I posted about the Feb. 9 and Feb. 21 job fairs for part-time and seasonal work at the ballpark.
* Velocity has sold 21 units since opening its sales center in November, according to this press release touting the development as the "fastest-selling new condominium project in the District of Columbia, and one of the strongest sellers in the entire National Capital Area."
* Coverage of Kwame Brown's hearing on the noose incident at the ballpark is available from The Post, ABC7, and NBC4. You can watch the hearing here once it's posted, and read Brown's press release on the hearing.
* The Laborers' International Union of North America, a major supporter of the ballpark's Project Labor Agreement, issued a report saying it should be a model for future projects in the city, and that more than $12 million has been injected into DC neighborhoods thanks to stadium paychecks to local workers. LIUNA says that 72 percent of all apprenticeship hours have been performed by District residents, while 87 percent of all new apprentices are from the District. (The report also touts the ballpark as being on-time and on-budget, though perhaps that budget part refers to the actual construction and not the land acquisiton costs, which have definitely gone over budget.) Reports on the union's numbers are on Tim Lemke's blog and at the Post and ABC7.
* The media apparently got brought in to see the scoreboard on Wednesday, and NBC4 has a piece on it (ABC7 mentions it in its labor piece.)
* Washington Times columnist Tony Knott rails about neighbors of the ballpark who are "coming up with apocalyptic visions" about the 41,000 "Ken and Barbies" coming from the suburbs to the ballpark, writing that urban dwellers who initially are drawn to a city's walking distance to services and entertainment turn against the "crush of humanity", "eventually endeavor to transform their stretch of the urban jungle into the Shenandoah Valley."
* Ballpark and Beyond in today's District Extra is a roundup of short takes from around Near Southeast, including the closing of Domino's and the demolitions on First Street, the Blue Castle's debut on Facebook, Gifford's ice cream coming to the ballpark, and Chocolate City, the documentary about former Capper/Carrollsburg residents and gentrification in Washington.
* Dear Leader picked to throw out the first pitch? (Hint: it's not the Dear Leader you might be thinking of, and it's SATIRE, people.)
 

.... and the council hearing on Tommy Wells's Performance Parking plan has just ended.
You guys owe me. (Though at least I'm home in my fuzzy slippers watching the telecast.)
But despite there being more than six hours of testimony (which I need to admit here I missed the 90 minutes of, since it wasn't broadcast), I don't really see a lot of new headlines, especially if you've been following along as I've posted on this bill over the past six weeks or so. Here's my impressions of the 4 1/1 hours I did see (I'm guessing the part I missed was a tutorial on the basics of Performance Parking, which I've now seen three times):
* The vast majority of the witnesses who testified were in support of this plan to regulate curbside parking in areas near the ballpark. Residents, business owners, smart growth advocates, and others expressed concerns about certain aspects of the bill, but there were only two people (unless I dozed off somewhere) that came out completely against it. Five ANC 6D commissioners testified (Litsky, Sobelsohn, Hamilton, McBee, and Siegel, and Moffatt was supposed to but wasn't there).
* DDOT director Emeka Moneme says that his agency expects to release specifics on the bill (streets, enforcement hours, meter prices) by the end of next week (so, Feb. 8ish).
* What parking is going to be like on Opening Day was not addressed during the portion of the hearing I saw, which at this point is probably as pressing as any other issue. You can see my report from last week's town hall on Opening Day parking information that filtered out during that session. This may be part of what DDOT is releasing next week.
* Enforcement, enforcement, enforcement. Witness after witness hammered on this point, that all the plans and fines in the world won't work if there isn't strict enforcement of whatever rules are put into effect. Tommy Wells did mention that more enforcement can be handled by the same number of workers under this new plan, since with printed receipts from kiosk meters a parking attendant only needs to check a vehicle once to see if it's within it's legal time limit, rather than showing up once to inventory the cars that are parked in a zone and then return hours later to see which ones are still there and parked illegally. Jim Graham seemed a tad bewildered that Ward 6 residents want *more* enforcement, when so many of his Ward 1 constituents complain about too much enforcement. His comments about lack of resources at DPW and "only so much of the pie" didn't go over too well. Moneme said that he has assurances from DPW that "the resources will be there."
* The desire for strong community involvement in not only the setting of rates but in determining the success of the plan was another theme hit on repeatedly by witnesses who fear that the draft version of the bill gives all power to the mayor and the executive branch without any sort of community input or council oversight. Wells, Moneme, and Jim Graham all seemed to get religion on this point, pledging to make sure that some sort of mechanism is in place to involve the ANCs and get feedback from businesses and residents.
* Guest passes are still a thorny subject, especially whether people will try to copy them (they're going to have holograms) or create a hot black market by selling them. Church parking is equally delicate, though Tommy mentioned the possibility of starting Sunday enforcement of parking laws at 1 pm, to better accommodate churches but prevent all day parking by baseball fans.
* Moneme mentioned a number a times the idea of being able to pay for your parking via your cellphone (which could also send you an alert when your meter was about to expire), although this raised the hackles of witnesses who envisioned Nats fans and Capitol Hill workers repeatedly "feeding the meter" from their seats in section 401 or their desks in the HOBs. (Tommy said that this could probably be addressed.)
* Michael Stevens of the Capitol Riverfront BID testified in support of the plan, but said that the BID feels there should be no on-street parking at all on game days in the blocks north of M between New Jersey and South Capitol, because of the likelihood of traffic congestion. He also asked for the plan to be expanded south to cover Buzzards Point, and mentioned that future revenues from the parking plan should go to amenities such as streetscape improvements and Canal Park.
I believe they will attempt to get this passed at the Feb. 5 city council legislative meeting as emergency legislation, though I don't have that confirmed.
If you want to watch the hearing, you'll be able to do so at your leisure, once it's posted and when you have 25 percent of a day to spare. I'll be checking it out when to see the first portion that I missed, and will update if there's additional news.
 

From TommyWells.org, official word that two job fairs for parking, catering services, security, maintenance, cleaning, and guest services jobs at Nationals Park will be held on Saturday Feb. 9 and Thursday Feb. 21 from 10 am to 2 pm at Greenleaf Recreation Center at First and N, SW.
Some highlights:
* The positions, most of which are part-time and seasonal, are open to persons ages 18 and older (including senior citizens).
* The Nationals are going to be looking with particular interest at residents of Ward 6 who will not need parking to get to jobs at the stadium.
* Residents who have little work experience but who are "reliable and willing workers" will be considered for positions that they have the skills for.
Make sure to read the entire post on Tommy's site for additional details if you're interested in applying.
The notice doesn't say how many jobs the Nationals are looking to fill.
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(Bumping this up in case people missed it yesterday. Today the display is putting out widescreen video, so it looks like they finally found the HD channels!)
Various Nats message boards have noted that the huge HD screen that makes up the Nationals' scoreboard is now undergoing testing, as you can see on the Stadium Web Cam. It started on Monday at around 11:30 am, first displaying the DirecTV logo; today's 10:39 image looks like, I dunno, turtles? (And, yes, this also means that the press box web cam is back up again, after having taken a breather for most of the past two weeks.) I don't know if they're still planning the big Super Bowl watching party for the stadium workers on Sunday, but if so, it's good to be checking out the screen more than a few hours in advance, so that someone doesn't end up having to stand up on the eastern parking garage with a really big set of rabbit ears ("Does it come in okay now? How about now?").
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On Thursday (Jan. 31) at 6:30 pm the Zoning Commission is having its Capitol Gateway Overlay review hearing for 1111 New Jersey Avenue, Donohoe's office building at the corner of New Jersey and M. As I've written before, this project has been expanded to include 220,000 square feet of office space with 5,700 square feet of ground-floor retail in a 130-foot-tall glass-facade building, and is now subject to a CG review because of acquiring some land from WMATA that fronts M Street. This was presented to the ANC two weeks ago, which did not support the project because of the lack of a community benefits package.
The Office of Planning is recommending that this project be approved by the Zoning Commission; you can see the OP report here, which lays out point-by-point how the project stands up against the various CG requirements. There's also a request for a zoning special exception to waive a rear yard requirement; the Board of Zoning Adjustment approved a similar waiver request back in May, but they're having to apply for the exception again because the building has grown in size since the BZA ruling, so there's now more building inside the rear yard area.
 

This morning's tidbits:
* It doesn't say anything about smoke machines or laser light shows, but this press release announces that "Showcall, Inc., an event production company based in Maryland, was selected by the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. to produce Pope Benedict XVI's public Mass at the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium on April 17, 2008." As for what that means: "Showcall, Inc. will provide stage and set design and layout, audio visual production, and overall show direction of the public Mass. Showcall will utilize its unique skill set in producing high-profile, high-threat level events and will coordinate with the Washington Nationals to host the first major event in its new baseball stadium. Showcall will work closely with GEP Washington, the overall DMC firm for the visit."
* Kwame Brown's Committee on Economic Development is having its hearing on the ballpark's "noose incident" today at 1 pm. I don't see it on the Channel 13 lineup, but perhaps it'll get shown live or will be broadcast later on.
* Today's two hearings on parking issues in front of the council's Committee on Public Works and the Environment are at 5 pm and 6 pm. My "real life" is on overload for the next few weeks thanks to Super-Duper Tuesday and the metro-area primaries, so I can't make these hearings in person, but I will watch the coverage later this evening and sum up.
* There's also now a joint hearing between the Public Works committee and Kwame Brown's Committee on Economic Development on the Ballpark Traffic Operations and Parking Plan (TOPP) scheduled for Feb. 28 at 6 pm. There should be explanations at this hearing as to how all aspects of getting to and from the ballpark are going to be handled (at first, at least). I believe that this information will be released to the public well before Feb. 28, though I don't know exactly when.
 

Last night ANC 6D held a special public meeting to decide whether or not to support Tommy Wells' Performance Parking bill when it has its council hearing on Wednesday. I was unable to attend, but reports from my vast network of moles indicate that the ANC will be supporting the bill, albeit it while "expressing strong concern" over some still-outstanding issues. (We'll find out what those are during Andy Litsky's testimony at the hearing.) The ANC vote was 4-2.
At almost the same time, the Zoning Commission held a brief special public meeting to take up the series of minor modifications that Monument Realty requested to its design for the east side of Half Street (yes, the area that's already under construction). I talked about these in slightly more detail a few weeks ago when this first came to the Zoning Commission; the ZC declined to approve these as part of its consent agenda at that meeting because the commissioners wanted a little bit more clarification, which they got in the filings for this second hearing. The only question that came from the dais was why Metro nixed the wire mesh panels with LED lights that Monument had originally envisioned as the walls around the Navy Yard station entrance at Half and M--the reply was that, in addition to weatherproofing concerns, Metro wanted its security people to be able to see into the station by shining a light from a car on the street, instead of having to go into the station. The wire mesh is now being replaced with a glass "frit" (yes, I had to look it up, too) that will be backlit with the lighting scheme Monument wants. With that, the commission approved the request 5-0; all the minor modifications are explained in the Office of Planning report.
 

A few small items:
* There's been a competition to design the altar for the Pope's April 17 mass at Nationals Park, says The Post: the winning entry "uses a pattern of overlapping arches that is repeated on all the pieces, including the altar's base. [...] The chair has a very tall back with the papal coat of arms. The front of the pulpit, from where the pope will read, features images from the Bible."
* Howard University's student newspaper, The Hilltop, writes about Saturday's Anacostia Waterfront Community Fair: "The [Anacostia Waterfront Initiative Framework Plan], which calls for 6,500 units of new housing, 3 million square feet of new office space, 32 acres of new public park space and a 20-mile network of riverside trails, appeals to residents of wards 6, 7 and 8 who share a common interest in improving the area. 'I was surprised to find out that so much construction has already taken place,' said Anne Holdbrook, a resident of Anacostia. 'I hope that they continue the re-development because there are so many abandoned buildings that are around that make the place look very unattractive[.]' " (See my summary of the fair, too.)
* The DC crime reports data feed is back on line. However, apparently they've re-run all the data from 2006 and 2007, and feed consumers like myself are supposed to ditch the data previously downloaded and replace it with the new versions. With the files being H-U-G-E, though, it's going to take some time for me to do this. (UPDATE: Ahem. Guess that didn't take as long as I thought. This crime data archive is now updated.)
 

Buried in my Saturday morning update, I mentioned that there is now a second hearing on parking scheduled for Wednesday (Jan. 30) in front of Jim Graham's Committee on Public Works and the Environment. In addition to the originally scheduled hearing on Tommy Wells's Performance Parking bill, there is now also a roundtable on "Parking Management Strategies for New Columbia Heights Retail Development and the New Ballpark", where "DDOT will present data and strategies." The roundtable begins at 5 pm, followed by the hearing on Tommy's bill at 6 pm. If you want to sign up to testify at either of these sessions, you need to do so by 5 pm Jan. 28; information on how to do so is contained in the new revised hearing notice. (UPDATED to note the passage of the deadline, to avoid misunderstandings.)
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I wandered around on Sunday for a photo session, wishing that spring would hurry up and get here so that the sun will rise higher during the day and set farther west so that I can stop dealing with the damn glare whenever I face southward.
* I have new images along N Street just north of the ballpark between Half and First, which show the work at the entrance plaza at Half Street, including glass now being installed on the ground floor of the western parking garage, as well as the structures that will make up the entrance gates.
* In fact, I updated all 12 angles of the Half and N intersection, which now that it has its new wide sidewalks, curbs, streetlights, and an initial paving job, is really a stunning testament to 24 months of change, not only on the four corners of Half and N but the blocks to the north as well. It's definitely worth a look.
* I took a lot of photos of the now-demolished Willco stretch along First Street (and gave the project its own page as well), and of course I got all the usual angles of 55 M Street.
* On Half Street between I and K, where JPI's 23 I Street residential project is expected to start this year, a pile of red-and-black advertising banners have been hung on every available surface, and a "JPI Permit Parking only" sign has appeared on the entrance to the former towing company's parking lot on that block. I'm guessing JPI's purchase of the property just closed. I haven't heard anything about potential start dates for this project, or when the Wendy's might close.
* If you browse all the photos I took yesterday, you'll also see a smattering of 70/100 I and 100 M shots as well as images of the two blocks along Third Street where temporary surface parking lots are going in (so now my pictures of those blocks have changed from post-demolition views of nothing to pre-blacktop views of nothing). And the always popular shots from the SE Freeway at South Capitol are updated, too.
And don't forget to click on the icon wherever you see it to see all photos in the archive of a certain location.
 

The front page of this morning's Washington Times has "Office, Condos Flock to Be Near Nationals," highlighting the development that's exploded in Near Southeast over the past few years. Regular readers of JDLand will be familiar with most of it, and there isn't any news in there that I haven't posted on (though there might be some new tidbits for those who don't keep up with news items here on a regular basis). If you're looking for more information on any of the projects mentioned in the article, just click around the map at the top right of JDLand to your heart's content. You can also read my 2008 State of the Hood for a more detailed overview of the projects currently under construction and what's in the pipeline for 2008.
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This afternoon's Anacostia Waterfront Community Fair appeared to be very well attended, at least during the 90 minutes or so I was there. (Even Marion Barry showed up.) There were three long tables of displays and information from city agencies, commercial developers, and non-profit organizations, and Near Southeast was well-represented--JPI, Velocity, Monument Half Street, Williams C. Smith (250 M Street), Forest City (Capper/Carrollsburg, The Yards), the Anacostia Community Boathouse Association, and the ballpark all had people on hand. (There was also plenty of swag--hope you didn't miss out on your DC WASA lanyard!)
Two news items I came across:
* First, confirmation that 250 M Street will start construction in either late spring or early summer, although they don't yet have any office or retail tenants to announce.
* Second, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for South Capitol Street (including a new Frederick Douglass Bridge) is going to be released on February 8, with a public comment period to follow. There are two build alternatives that would reconstruct South Capitol Street and the Suitland Parkway (and its interchange with I-295), but neither has been identified yet as a "preferred" alternative. (No design from the four options for a new Douglass Bridge has been chosen yet, either.) There will be public meetings in late February about the Draft EIS, and the web site will be updated soon with information on the draft. I'll write more about this when the Draft EIS is officially released, but it's this study that will decide whether a big traffic oval is built at South Capitol and Potomac, and whether the South Capitol/M interchange could be reconfigured into an "at-grade" intersection (i.e., no more tunnel).
I should have asked about the status of the reconfiguration of the 11th Street Bridges now that that EIS is complete, but I could never get close enough to the table to talk to anyone. (See update below.)
Other developments such as the Southwest Waterfront and Hill East had displays as well, but since my brain can't process anything outside of my borders, you'll have to hunt down information on those projects elsewhere.
UPDATE: I'm finally looking through the pile of flyers I picked up, and here's a few timelines in the official brochure for the event (they're called "targeted schedules", so best not to pen them in just yet):
* Douglass Bridge Replacement: Begin construction Spring 2010, complete in Winter 2015.
* 11th Street Bridges Replacement: Begin construction Spring 2009, no completion date listed.
Also, the 500,000-sq-ft office building by Forest City at the site of the old Capper Seniors building at 600 M has a Spring 2009 start date in one of Forest City's flyers. The other Yards start/completion dates in the brochures are on target with what I've written about previously (see my Yards Phase I page for details).
 

A few items:
* This week the three low-rise buildings at First and N across from the ballpark met their maker, and have now joined the Demolished Buildings pantheon. The 55 M web cam shows that Normandie Liquors remains standing, for now.
* In addition to the official council hearing on Wednesday Jan. 30 at 6 pm on Tommy Wells's Performance Parking bill, there's now a public roundtable hearing on "Parking Management Strategies for the New Columbia Heights Retail Development and the New Ballpark," starting at 5 pm. (Apparently Jim Graham is interested in trying a Performance Parking-like plan near the new DC USA project.) There will be a presentation of data and strategies by DDOT at this hearing. Both sessions will be in Room 412 (note that this is room change for the 6 pm hearing).
* The Post has "Ex-Worker Calls Noose Incident an Overblown, 'Stupid Prank'", where fired worker Stephen White says a co-worker threw a tied rope to him and said, "Steve, I made you a necktie." He says he threw it back, and "I guess it fell on the floor. I got fired because somebody put a noose together to put around my neck." The Post says: "White said he never picked it up and did not know whether the co-worker had." A second worker--who White said was the thrower of the noose--was fired as well.
 

DCist alerts us to a new documentary, Chocolate City, which looks at gentrification in DC by following the story of the 400 families at Capper/Carrollsburg who have been moved out as part of the Hope VI redevelopment of the project. There will be a screening on Saturday night (Jan. 26) at Busboys and Poets at 2021 14th St., NW at 11 pm, and two other screenings in the next two weeks.
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Jan 25, 2008 2:53 PM
Reminding everyone that tomorrow (Sat. Jan. 26) from 1 to 5 pm is the Anacostia Waterfront Community Fair, which will "provide information to residents about the billions of dollars worth of development and transportation projects underway along the Anacostia Waterfront. [...] District government staff, developers, public officials and non-profit partners will be ready to discuss the status in developing and planning of highly anticipated projects including Hill East Waterfront, the Anacostia Riverwalk, Poplar Point, replacement of the 11th Street Bridges, The Yards and the replacement of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge."
The event will be at St. Coletta's, 1901 Independence Avenue, SE, which is next to RFK, and across the street from the entrance to the Stadium-Armory Metro station. I don't know what the parking situation will be. Questions should probably go to DDOT at (202) 673-6813.
Yes, I'll be there, roaming around desperately hunting for new tidbits, so say hi if you see me--I'll be the rapidly aging redhead in glasses. (That should narrow it down.)
 

Jan 25, 2008 12:22 PM
Thanks to sharp-eyed reader E. for the tip that there's now a sign on the Domino's at South Capitol and M that says they are "moving" to 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue. Monument Realty owns the land--I haven't heard of any plans for developing it (it's a pretty small spot), but perhaps a few stadium parking spaces could be squeezed in. I'm checking to see what might be transpiring....
UPDATE: Monument has told me that they are indeed "currently negotiating a parking deal for the property." Note that it's not a done deal. It's an 8,000-square-foot lot, if anyone's interested in doing the calculations of how many spaces could possibly be placed there (if the Domino's building were demolished).
And I just called the Domino's (because, ahem, I know the number by heart) and they said they're closing Monday (Jan. 28). And really, they're not moving to 15th and Pennsylvania, because that's an already existing Domino's location. The number is (202) 546-3030 if you need to update your speed dial.
 

Jan 25, 2008 8:20 AM
Ick. From the AP: "Two construction workers at the new Washington Nationals ballpark are being fired after a noose was found at the site. Officials with the city and electrical subcontractor Truland Systems say the noose was found Tuesday in a break room for construction workers. The decision to fire the Truland workers came after Truland and the joint venture building the stadium met with the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission. Truland spokesman John Jordan said that the company is deeply appalled." The Post has more details on the incident, the investigation, and an earlier incident between a Truland worker and African-American electricians. And here's the Examiner's piece.
Council member Kwame Brown sent out a statement late Thursday night calling himself "outraged": "I will fight tooth and nail to discover the truth of what happened. I will also do what's in my power to ensure that companies with a proven history of discriminatory practices never get contracts or do business with the District of Columbia. Hate crimes will not be tolerated." The release goes on to say that Brown "is also considering a measure that would require the District to take into account the proven discriminatory history of a company and its employees when awarding city contracts" and will hold an oversight hearing on the incident next week.
UPDATE: Here's the joint statement from the DCSEC and Clark/Hunt/Smoot.
UPDATE II: Kwame Brown's roundtable on the incident has been scheduled for Jan. 30 at 1 pm.
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Jan 24, 2008 9:51 PM
Letter #1
To: Dan Snyder, owner, Washington Redskins
From: JD
Dear Sir: I am writing to offer my services to photograph and blog about the construction of your new 100,000-seat domed football stadium at the current RFK site, should it come to pass. Please contact me for more information about my salary requirements.
Letter #2
To: Victor MacFarlane, owner, DC United
From: JD
Dear Sir: I am writing to offer my services to photograph and blog about the construction of your 26,000-seat open-air soccer stadium at Poplar Point, should it come to pass. Please contact me for more information about my salary requirements.
(What, you think I'd do this for FREE ever again?)
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Jan 24, 2008 1:24 PM
Just posted on TommyWells.org is an entry from the councilman himself, summarizing some of the concerns he heard from residents at the two Performance Parking town halls, and how he thinks his plan addresses them. Issues such as enforcement, lack of surface lot options from the Nationals, people who don't want their blocks included in the plan, and the idea that the plan somehow actually is *encouraging* stadium-goers to park on residential streets (uhhhhh....?) are addressed by Tommy. There's also links to post or e-mail your comments. You can also read his Curbside Parking Management Proposal page, my two summaries of the town halls, and my original post explaining the plan if you haven't gotten caught up yet.
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Jan 24, 2008 10:52 AM
This week's Ballpark and Beyond column is a shortened summary of last week's ANC 6D meeting; but here's the links to my more detailed reports on the what transpired at that meeting with 1111 New Jersey, an alley closing request by Monument Realty, and Florida Rock.
And, since it's been a busy week, you might have missed my 2008 State of the Hood, which rises above all the daily minutaie to look at what's happened in Near Southeast in the last 12 months and what's coming in 2008; if you're coming late to the party and are looking for an overview, take a few moments to browse it.
 

Jan 23, 2008 8:53 PM
The second Performance Parking town hall has just wrapped up (read the FAQ on Tommy's web site, the bill itself, my post on it back in December, and my summary of Tuesday's town hall to get the background). Since this meeting was held on Capitol Hill, the focus was more on the impacts around Eastern Market, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Barracks Row. Since these areas are somewhat outside of my mandate, my report will be mercifully shorter than last night's.
It was a very different audience reaction than from the residents of Southwest at Tuesday's meeting--a surprising number of people spoke out about not wanting the plan on their blocks at all. But for those who think the basics are a good idea, there was a lot of talk about the need for serious enforcement (like immediate towing of non-residential vehicles) and concern about whether DPW is up to the task. And that even $50 tickets won't be enough to dissuade some ballpark goers from taking their chances on the residential streets. There was also a lot of griping about the shortage of surface lots and a strong feeling that RFK as free satellite parking won't work.
A surprising concern mentioned was Congress getting up in arms about the plan if their staffers who park all day on local streets with little fear of ticketing suddenly start getting clobbered with tickets, or if a Congressman's car gets towed under some zero-tolerance plan like some were advocating.
As with Tuesday night, questions on guest passes and church parking were met with "we're working on it."
Capitol Hill Tower residents should note that one of your own expressed a number of concerns about the parking plans for New Jersey Avenue and streets close by, and Tommy said he wants to set up a meeting at CHT to talk about issues specific to that block and the areas right around it.
There was no uniformity of opinion, but I'd characterize the meeting as definitely more intense and skeptical than the one with Southwest residents.
If you want to weigh in on anything you've heard about Performance Parking, go to the parking page on Tommy's web site and you can post your comments there.
Next step is the council hearing on the bill, on Jan. 30 at 6 pm. And I should also mention here that on Monday (Jan. 28) at 6:30 pm ANC 6D is having a special meeting to discuss and vote on whether they'll be supporting the parking plan at the council hearing. That meeting is at the ANC 6D offices at 25 N Street, SW, 2nd floor.
UPDATE: Be sure to see this blog post by Tommy Wells where he responds to some of the concerns brought up at the town halls.
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More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

Jan 23, 2008 3:27 PM
From a Nationals press release (emphases mine): "The Washington Nationals today announced a partnership with Gifford's Ice Cream & Candy Co. as the team enters its first season in Nationals Park. Gifford's, founded in Silver Spring, MD, will serve scooped ice cream and novelties through 2011 at the Nationals' new home in Southeast Washington. Gifford's will have a branded concession stand on the main concourse featuring their scooped ice cream. Additionally, Gifford's has partnered with the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation to create the "Dinger", a vanilla ice cream and chocolate cookie sandwich which will be sold at various concession stand locations and at Gifford's carts, located throughout the ballpark. A portion of the sale of each sandwich, also offered at all Gifford's locations, will be donated to the Dream Foundation. The "Dinger" will make its debut on March 30, 2008 at the Nationals Opening Night game vs. the Atlanta Braves at 8:05pm."
Also, if you go to a Gifford's between now and the end of the month wearing a Nationals shirt or hat, you'll get 10 percent off.
UPDATE: To prove I'm not lying, here's WBJ's report on the deal.
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Jan 23, 2008 12:15 PM
My eyes widened a bit late last week when I saw in the DC Register news that the "Ballpark Public Safety Amendment Act" had been introduced at the City Council's January 8th meeting. What tidbits could I find in this, I thought as I scrambled to find a copy of the bill (my District Extra column makes me a lot more desperate for content than you might imagine).
I found someone to send me a copy, I opened it up.... And found that it basically does nothing more than add ", the Ballpark as defined by D.C. Official Code ' 47-2002.05(a)(1)(A)," to four existing laws about various public safety issues so that the new ballpark is covered the way RFK and the Armory are.
But, for the record, here's what this new bill allows for:
* Police will be able to erect barriers to direct the flow of traffic or to keep the public out during riots or other emergencies;
* No one can bring disposable beverage containers into the ballpark (unless they're vendors);
* Unauthorized entry onto the stadium playing field is prohibited; and
* The ballpark is exempted from DC's law prohibiting smoking in public places (as RFK and the Armory are already exempted).
You can dig through the online version of the DC Code to find the existing pre-amended laws, or see a handy combined version here.
There will be a hearing on this earthshattering legislation on February 7 at 10 am by Phil Mendelson's Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary.|
UPDATE: No, I don't know how the "disposable beverage container" law is interpreted. I heard at an ANC meeting that containers at the new ballpark would be handled the same way they were at RFK--but I'm not familiar enough with how that worked to weigh in on what it means.
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Jan 23, 2008 8:17 AM
The Washington Times reports on what's left to be done at the ballpark: "There are 66 days left until the Nationals open the new ballpark with an exhibition game against the Baltimore Orioles on March 29. Opening Day follows the next evening, with a nationally televised game against the Atlanta Braves.
But much work still remains to be done, particularly on the portions of the stadium not immediately visible to passers-by on South Capitol Street. [... ] In theory, baseball could be played at the new ballpark now. The field is in place, nearly all the seats have been installed, and team clubhouses and the press box are nearing completion. Heavy work remains, however, on the concession and food-service areas, offices, control rooms and team store."
Some things might not be ready by Opening Day, though: "Mr. Haas and Mr. O'Dell acknowledged that some work on the stadium will continue even after the season begins. A video board the Nationals requested be installed in center field may not be ready, and some areas will lack final coats of paint and finishes. Sculptures and other artwork will be midseason additions." But, the last word from Stan: " 'I promise you that with two weeks left, in the middle of March, people are going to look at [the ballpark] and say, 'I don't see how it's going to be done,' ' Nationals President Stan Kasten said. 'But it will be done.' "
And, repeating this from last night, Wednesday's Post has a piece about how the architects of the ballpark have worked to bring the stadium from paper to reality.
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Jan 22, 2008 11:27 PM
With thanks to a diligent web searcher who taught me to check maps.live.com from now on, we've got the first satellite images I've seen of Nationals Park under construction. They look to be from Fall 2006, maybe early October, as best as I can tell from the ballpark progress as well as the cleared lots at 100 M/Onyx and 70/100 I. Capitol Hill Tower and Capper Seniors #1 are finished, DOT is getting there, and 20 M and 400 M are progressing.
Buried deep here at JDLand is my From Above page, comparing Near Southeast satellite photos from 1988, 2002, 2004, and 2005, and I've now added this new 2006 shot. And I also took the new one and highlighted what's already changed from when it was taken, only 16 months ago.
And speaking of the ballpark, Wednesday's Post has a piece about the ballpark's design as it speeds toward completion.
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Jan 22, 2008 9:30 PM
I've just gotten back from the first of the two town halls on Tommy Wells's Performance Parking plan to address on-street parking near the stadium, and it seemed to go pretty well. (I did not see any pitchforks or vats of boiling oil.) I'm not going to summarize the plan again, so please read the new FAQ on Tommy's web site as well as the bill itself and my post on it back in December to get up to speed. The audience comments were mainly to take issue with portions of the proposal (or to pose questions that indicated they had not digested much of the information Tommy and his staffer Neha Bhatt had just spent 30 minutes presenting), but no one rose to say the entire plan was bad.
As the meeting's scheduled ending time drew near, the topic was finally brought up of how on-street parking will be handled on Opening Day and until Tommy's pilot can be enacted. It appears that DDOT is going to be able to cobble together an initial version of the eventual plan; here are my notes on how they expect it to work, keeping in mind that this was not an official presentation of the plans and that the map displayed was hard to read (so don't take any of my boundaries or descriptions as gospel):
* New multispace meter kiosks will be installed to control and price parking on streets from Second Street, SE, over across South Capitol to Second Street, SW, north of M (I, K, and L streets), including New Jersey Avenue, and on the two frontage streets next to the freeway (I Street and Virginia Avenue). These will be "ballpark-area retail streets" as described in the plan, where on gamedays the meters will allow parking for four hours, but at a rate of $4 or $5 an hour. (There will also be "retail street" multispace meters installed on Pennsylvania Avenue, at Eastern Market, and along Eighth Street, but I'm concentrating here on Near Southeast boundaries.)
* New multispace meters will be installed on M Street SE/SW, First Street SE, and Potomac Avenue south of the ballpark, but no gametime parking will be allowed on those streets. These will allow parking for two hours at all other times.
* On pretty much any other street in Near Southeast I didn't mention above, and on most Southwest streets other than Buzzards Point and at the waterfront, the "residential" profile will be implemented, but because there won't be enough multispace meters yet, these streets will be controlled by signage and by supposedly very aggressive enforcement by DPW (which was met with a fair amount of derisive laughter). On these residential streets, Zone 6 stickered vehicles can park without restriction on either side of the street. However, non-Zone 6 vehicles must only park on one side of the street (marked with signs until the meters arrive), and can only park for two hours. Fines are expected to be raised to perhaps the $50 level for parking longer than two hours, and it's possible that non-Zone 6 vehicles parked on the residential-only side of the street will get towed. Eventually, when the meters arrive, parking will cost some nominal amount on these streets.
The questions that still are being worked on include how parking will be handled for guests of residents, and how church parking will be handled. Apparently some in the city government are wanting to not have any sort of enforcement on Sundays, but that did not go over well with the crowd and Tommy seemed to indicate a preference for extending the parking plan to Sundays and working with the churches on extra guest passes. There was also concern that the plan in its current state does not include Maine Avenue and Water Street, which could be inundated with stadium-goers if the parking there isn't regulated. Also not yet determined is when to extend the residential parking hours to in the evening, since some streets only have parking restrictions now until 6:30 pm--should it be extended to 8 pm, or 10 pm, both of which would thwart stadium-goers from trying to use those spaces?
I'm sure there will be more written about this in the coming days by other media outlets, but at least the first real news of how curbside parking will be handled on Opening Day has seeped out. Wednesday's Town Hall, at Brent Elementary School at 301 North Carolina Ave., SE, will probably focus less on stadium-area parking and more on Pennsylvania Avenue/Eastern Market/Eighth Street.
Maps and specifics will be coming from Tommy's office within a few weeks, after boundaries have been decided on.
There's also continuing concern about how Pope Day will work on April 17, since it's a weekday/workday and most parking lots will be filled with commuters. I have come up with a brilliant solution that I'm attempting to float at all levels of the DC government, so please pass it on: In DC, April 16 is now a city government holiday known as Emancipation Day. My simple solution is to move Emancipation Day one day forward, to April 17, to at least get non-essential city workers off the streets and out of the subway on that day while we're overrun with Benedict fans.
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Jan 22, 2008 12:03 PM
Madison Marquette, the new owners of the Blue Castle at 770 M Street, are dipping their toes into social networking by creating a Facebook page where people can comment on ideas and plans for the old trolley barn's redevelopment. Also, here's the press release from last week on the acquisition. Madison Marquette is also one of the finalists in the Poplar Point redevelopment sweepstakes.
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Jan 22, 2008 10:35 AM
The buildings along Potomac Avenue between Eighth and Ninth streets--the white corner building that houses Quizno's (810 Potomac) and the boarded-up brown brick apartment building next door at Ninth and Potomac--are now up for sale (asking price not listed). The current owners, ICP Partners, purchased the properties in February 2006 for $9 million; they're currently assessed at around $6.5 million. These owners are part of the group that has been trying to develop 801 Virginia Avenue since 2005--and I imagine it's a sign of what might be happening with that project that the splashy AdmiralCondo.com web site that they launched back in August is now gone. Perhaps someone with better access to commercial property listings than I have might want to peek and see if the 801 Virginia lot (0929 0007) is up for sale as well?
(I should also note that the Dogma lot on the *other* end of the block from the Admiral, at 821 Virginia, is apparently for sale, for $4 million. Dogma's lease runs through 2014.)
UPDATE: Thanks to reader A. for letting me know that the 801 Virginia lot is indeed listed for sale, for $4.5 million.
 

Jan 22, 2008 9:21 AM
Well, at least the "on-time" portion of the mantra still holds. From the Examiner: "The costs of acquiring land needed to build the Washington Nationals ballpark have exceeded original estimates by $50 million, busting the publicly financed stadium's $631 million budget with more increases yet to come, documents show. Thanks almost entirely to land acquisition, the tab for the stadium is now pegged at $674 million, an increase of $43.2 million over the original budget, according to a Jan. 16 report provided to the D.C. Council by the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission." Except that: "Land acquisition was not included in the stadium's $611 million price cap, meaning the sports commission can bridge the budget gap with excess revenues from the ballpark fund -- composed mainly of stadium sales taxes and a 1 percent tax on D.C. businesses. It also means that while the project is technically over budget, it has not breached the statutory cap."
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Jan 21, 2008 10:19 PM
Tuesday's Post has a feature on the work the Nationals are doing to try to get the parking and transportation for the new ballpark figured out: "Team executives, D.C. police representatives, officials from the city planning and transportation departments and Metro, and D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission staff members meet regularly in the situation room, working out the details of moving 41,000 fans in and out of the ballpark -- from identifying parking lots to figuring out where traffic officers will be." Not really anything new in it, but brings together items of note mentioned recently various other media reports (and blog entries) of late.
But this is a good place to sneak in yet another reminder about the two town halls on Tommy Wells's Performance Parking bill, with the first being Tuesday (Jan. 22) from 6:30 to 8 pm at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 400 I St. SW. It then gets repeated on Capitol Hill on Wednesday at Brent Elementary School (Third and North Carolina, SE).
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Jan 21, 2008 9:30 PM
If you have come recently to the tale of Near Southeast, or you're looking for a summary of what's happened in the past 12 months and what's coming in the next 12 months (hint: peanuts, crackerjack, gridlock), take a gander at my 2008 State of the Hood. With overviews as well as thumbnail sketches of the projects under construction and on the boards for 2008, you can get the big picture of what's happening in the neighborhood that's sometimes hard to grasp from the daily deluge of minutaie. From the SOTH intro:
"If you want some raw numbers on the changes the neighborhood has seen in the past 12 months, you can look at this table, or just digest this: a neighborhood that had 500 new-construction apartment/condo units and 1.2 million square feet of Class A office space 12 months ago is expected in the next 24 months to be home to 3.3 million square feet of office space, 3000-plus new apartment/condo/affordable housing units and 400 hotel rooms, not to mention a big shiny new baseball stadium."
I also took the opportunity to run some pretty scary JDLand stats as part of my 2007 year in review: "I posted 662 blog entries totalling over 135,000 words (averaging out to 1.8 posts/350 words a day, every day, and filling 191 pages if pasted into Microsoft Word). I also added more than 3,100 photos documenting the neighborhood's demolition and construction (and took thousands more beyond those). All this productivity on my end does not appear to have been for naught, judging by the estimated 1.3 million hits on JDLand's Near Southeast pages in 2007." I'm guessing 2008--at least the first four months or so--will probably match that pace. Fasten your seat belts....
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Jan 21, 2008 11:40 AM
I braved the chilly temps and gusty winds on Sunday morning for what turned out to be an abbreviated venture to get some updated photos. (I didn't post them yesterday because I thought I might go out this afternoon to get more, but it's a holiday, it's still cold, I'm pretty warm and cozy here on the sofa, and, and, and....) You'll see some shots of the demolition along First Street on the Willco site (which is about 50 percent completed), as well as a few updated shots of the ballpark, some of which show that the steps are now being poured on the grand staircase. There's also a smattering of shots of 55 M, 100 M, 70/100 I, and the at-ground-level Velocity construction, and some other vantage points that I got before high-tailing back indoors.
You can see the complete batch of photos, remembering to click on the icon if you want to see all archived photos of a certain view.
This is a good time to mention that I recently made a few changes to the Photo Archive. First, you'll now see links that allow you to toggle between seeing all photos of an angle and just the oldest and newest, which comes in handy as the number of photos continue to escalate. And, because the archive is getting pretty big, I've changed the default for when you choose to look at all angles of an intersection to show just the oldest and newest of each angle--you can then choose to see all photos for a specific angle.
 

Jan 20, 2008 3:31 PM
Five years ago this weekend, with nary a thought about what I might be getting myself into, I went and took some photos of some neighborhood near my house that I'd heard might be undergoing some changes. Then I came home and put them on my web site. And just like that, here we are. Thanks to everyone who's come by over the years, and I hope you'll continue to check in--especially during the next few months, as Near Southeast hits the big time. It should be quite an interesting ride, and I'm glad I stumbled into it.
PS: In the past I've posted my now-annual State of the Hood in conjunction with the anniversary, but time has been short of late. I hope to get to it this week.
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Jan 20, 2008 9:30 AM
In advance of this week's two town hall meetings on Tommy Wells's new plan to handle curbside parking in areas around the stadium, his web site now has a page with an FAQ and other detailed information about the proposal. Also, Wells's office has refuted the flyer I received late last week that said the Tuesday town hall will be about stadium-related parking and transportation issues other than just this proposal. The town halls are on Tuesday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 400 I St. SW, and Wednesday at Brent Elementary School, 301 North Carolina Ave. SE. Both meetings will run from 6:30 to 8 pm. The Committee on Public Works and the Environment has scheduled its hearing on this bill for Jan. 30 at 6 pm.
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Jan 20, 2008 8:41 AM
Back on Friday, WTOP posted "Soccer Stadium at Poplar Point Could Help Nats Parking," which will warm the heart of commenters and others who are starting to agitate for the idea of using Poplar Point for parking, and perhaps even building a pedestrian bridge across the Anacostia between there and the ballpark. City Council chair Vincent Gray is quoted as floating the idea: "You could park over at Poplar Point, come across a pedestrian bridge, or otherwise be transported the short distance to the baseball stadium." Of course, it would need to be a really *high* pedestrian bridge, to allow for naval traffic along the river (remember, the Douglass Bridge is a drawbridge). There's already a newly revamped pedestrian walkway on the Douglass Bridge that now makes it a lot less nail-biting to walk over, but it's a pretty long walk.
 

Jan 19, 2008 6:12 PM
The bulldozers have finally started to move on the land bounded by First, M, Cushing, and N (known for want of a better title as the Willco site on Square 701), and, as of late this afternoon, the warehouse buildings along Cushing across from 55 M are gone, as are the garages north of N and (I think) the Admiral Limousine building. The old storefronts along N are still there, but their backs were gone when I looked. Normandie Liquors is still standing, for now. I've added these first knockdowns to my Demolished Buildings page (numbers 144 to 147) and I'll be getting some "after" photos on Sunday, frigid windchills be damned. Word is a temporary parking lot will be built on this site; eventually Willco plans an office/residential/retail project.
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Jan 18, 2008 6:49 PM
DDOT has sent out a release (not yet online) advising that the stoplights on South Capitol Street at O and P (alongside the ballpark) are about to be activated. "Both signals went into 'flash' mode last Tuesday to alert motorists and pedestrians of their imminent arrival. The signals are scheduled to move into full-color operation mode on or about Tuesday, January 22, 2008. The new signals will enhance pedestrian safety and will be coordinated with neighboring signals. The new signals will also allow intersecting traffic to navigate safely." I haven't been by to see if the entrances to O and P from South Capitol were opened this week and, if not, if the activation of these signals means that they will be....
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Jan 18, 2008 1:35 PM
The last Near Southeast item on Monday's ANC 6D meeting was a request for the commission's support of the latest design of RiverFront on the Anacostia, better known as Florida Rock. This is the nearly six acres of land directly south of the ballpark, on the Anacostia River, where developers have spent 10 years trying to transition away from the concrete business currently operating there to a 1.1-million-square-foot mixed-use waterfront destination. They came close to an approved design in 2006, but in February 2007 the Zoning Commission unexpectedly sent the architects back to the drawing board, wanting a greater amount of residential space in the project, better views to and from the ballpark, and a better "expression of place."
After nearly a year, a revised design is ready to go to the Zoning Commission for approval. It now includes 323,000 square feet of residential space, 80,000 square feet of retail and 465,000 square feet of office space.
Some of the ideas floated early in the redesign process have been modified or removed, most notably "The Pitch", the plaza directly across from the ballpark's grand staircase and adjacent to the planned Diamond Teague Park. This space no longer has pitcher and catcher statues but is instead now a "festive" open plaza that will be more "integrated" with Teague and will help with the expected flow of ballpark visitors coming to and from the water taxi piers that someday may materialize out by the little red brick pumphouse.
Also, the residential and hotel buildings have had their heights grow to 130 feet, to allow for the extra square footage the zoning commission wanted. But the hotel's top two floors will now be "pure residential".
As for when some movement will actually be seen at the site, David Briggs of Holland & Knight set out a timeline based on zoning approvals, construction drawings, and the vaunted DC permitting process that estimates the start of construction on the first phase (the eastern office building) in probably fall of 2009.
He mentioned a number of times the amount of pressure that Florida Rock is under to shut down the concrete plant and to build temporary parking lots, but he explained that the site currently makes money for its company and shareholders, and there's little interest in closing it down sooner than necessary. (Briggs did say that a temporary landscaping of the eastern plaza, next to Diamond Teague, could be a possibility once the zoning approvals are received, but that the underground parking for RiverFront does extend beneath that plaza, and so excavation and construction work will need to be done there.)
It should be noted that this timeline is really about the first two phases (the eastern office building and the 160-unit residential building), because the western office building and the hotel can't be built until the construction of a new Douglass Bridge allows Florida Rock to use its land that is currently occupied by the old bridge. (The year 2016 was tossed around as a possible date for when these later phases could get started.)
Community benefits remain similar to past presentations, including an estimated 25 units of workforce housing, anticipated LEED certification for the buildings, First Source and LSDBE hiring, and a combined underground loading dock for the three western buildings, as well as the more basic amenity of replacing a huge concrete plant with shiny new buildings and access to the waterfront. The ANC has always been enthusiastic about this project, and this time around was no different, with the commissioners voting 5-2 to support the new design. The Zoning Commission hearing, for what is officially considered a modification to the project's second-stage PUD, is scheduled for March 20.
I'm really trying to just hit the newsiest items here--definitely take some time to look through my RiverFront page (have to stop calling it Florida Rock sometime) for much more detail on the current design. And read all the archived news items, too, if you want a better feel for the twists and turns this project has taken.
 

Jan 18, 2008 9:17 AM
Today's print edition of the Washington Business Journal reports that the Blue Castle at 770 M Street has sold again, this time for $25 million to Madison Marquette. The company's managing director of investment told WBJ that the building could be refurbished as a mixed-use development that would serve as an anchor to Barracks Row, and that "the space probably will have one or more major retailers as well as restaurants, an office or residential component and possibly a grocery store." The groups currently in the building have leases that expire in 2012. Preferred Real Estate Investments bought the building in December 2005 for $20.2 million, saying at the time that the building was ideal for retail stores such as a Barnes & Noble bookstore and a Whole Foods grocery, and that they hoped to start construction in 2007.
UPDATE: I guess I should have mentioned that the Blue Castle used to be a trolley barn.
 

Jan 17, 2008 8:43 PM
The Jan. 22 community meeting originally announced as focusing on Tommy Wells's new Performance Parking proposal is now being touted as a "Southwest Town Hall on Baseball Parking" according to this flier that's arrived in my inbox: "Find out how street parking in Southwest will change in the next eight weeks! Plans presented. Questions answered."
More: "Councilmember Tommy Wells will hold a Southwest Town Hall meeting to discuss Baseball Parking Plans that will be implemented in our neighborhood this season. He will also discuss his plan for Curbside Performance Parking that he believes will help protect residential neighborhoods from traffic and parking at the new stadium and help small business maintain access and availability for their customers. There will be a brief presentation of the parking plan to explain how it will work, followed by an open Question & Answer session with community residents."
So, I guess this will be the unveiling of how the city is going to handle parking near the stadium until Tommy's plan gets enacted? This should be fun. The meeting is from 6:30 to 8 pm at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 400 I St., SW. There's also a meeting for Capitol Hill residents the next night (Jan. 23) at Brent Elementary School at Third and North Carolina, SE.
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Jan 17, 2008 5:44 PM
At Monday night's ANC 6D meeting, Monument Realty presented its request for the ANC's support in closing a 2,417-square-foot alley that runs between South Capitol and Van streets not far north of N Street. This alley is north of the now-closed BP Amoco and south of what is now a WMATA employee parking lot on land owned by Monument (there used to be a neon yellow bungalow there, until late 2006). Christy Shiker of Holland & Knight told the commissioners that the Amoco property--which faces the ballpark's western parking garage--is too small to develop on its own, but with the alley closed and the lots combined, Monument would build a 130-foot-high residential building with approximately 150 to 200 units plus 14,000 square feet of ground-floor (or perhaps two-story) retail. Monument is not committing at this time to pursuing LEED certification for this building.
Shiker then described the community benefits package that Monument was offering to the ANC in return for the loss of this public space, including a $50,000 contribution to the community fund, the retail, First Source employment preferences, and an affordable housing component that would match whatever is called for whenever the city's Inclusionary Zoning mandates are finally hammered out. Monument would also work toward agreements on ANC6D resident preferences, to be determined with the ANC at a later date.
This became a sticking point, with Commissioner David Sobelsohn concerned about giving the ANC's support for this project merely on promises to make agreements later. Shiker pointed out that Monument has made these agreements before for their other Ballpark District projects, and also that the ANC will have another crack at the project when down the road it undergoes its mandatory Capitol Gateway Overlay Review. But Sobelsohn still felt that the ANC was being handed a "take it or leave it" proposition.
An audience member asked if Monument would be planning to build a temporary parking lot if the alley closing is approved, but Shiker said that Monument's goal is to develop the land, that they "want a building, not a parking lot." (Though one must admit that that is some pretty plum stadium-parking territory.) There were also questions about the Public Space Storage building just to the north (echoing my WTDW entry from last week), but Monument's representatives said that they didn't think the storage company would be moving.
Commissioner Bob Siegel moved to support the alley closing with further negotiations on the proposed benefits package as the project proceeds, but the ANC voted 2-2-1 and so the resolution did not pass.
The alley closing bill is B17-0552, and Shiker told the ANC that she expected a public hearing in late February, with perhaps council action in March or April. No date for actual construction of the project was mentioned.
Coming tomorrow--a recap of the Florida Rock portion of the ANC meeting, though you don't have to wait until then to see the latest project renderings that were presented. But my long-winded summary of what was said during the meeting will have to wait a bit longer.
 

Jan 17, 2008 3:59 PM
People ask me a lot about how I think the office/residential market will be in Near Southeast in 2008, to which I always give the following learned reply: "Uhhhhhhhh, how should I know?"
But the Washington Times has a piece today about Grubb & Ellis's forecast for commercial real estate in the DC area, which the Times summarizes thusly: "Washington's commercial property market will not be bad in 2008, just not as good as the past five years[.] ... With the downtown area inundated by new construction and tenants in recent years, developers are looking to build in sections of the city where lower land prices make them ripe for new projects[.] Chief among them are the North of Massachusetts Avenue neighborhood, the area around the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium and the District's Southwest Waterfront. That is where land is available."
You can drill down to the Grubb & Ellis report for DC by starting on this page. The actual text paints a slightly less rosy picture than how the Times depicts it:"The development pipeline in D.C. is going to grow as areas such as NoMa and Southeast, which already have elevated vacancy rates in Class A buildings, will break ground on a number of projects over the next two years. Developers in each market are hoping their lower economics will attract tenants, but until they do, both markets may have a temporary oversupply."
(Perhaps it's not the best timing to be posting this when the Dow is down 300 points.)
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Jan 17, 2008 9:27 AM
My Ballpark and Beyond column in today's District Extra of the Post is an abridged version of my big summary of Friday's hearing on stadium parking issues, so if you're coming from the print version, read the blog version for lots of additional detail, along with my Stadium FAQ and Stadium Transporation and Parking page for more information and background on it all.
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Jan 16, 2008 6:06 PM
Just drove by and saw that the little garage on the 1015 Half Street site now is gone, making it the first entry in the Demolished Buildings gallery for 2008, and the 143rd building that I've seen come down in Near Southeast since January 2003. This site--formerly home to Nation, itself demolished in May of 2007--is expected to see the start of excavation on Opus's planned 410,000-sq-ft office building Any Minute Now.
 

Jan 16, 2008 1:42 PM
(This is the first of three dispatches I'll be posting over the next few days from Monday's ANC 6D meeting. Can you feel the excitement building?)
The developers of the planned office building at 1111 New Jersey came looking for the ANC's support in advance of their Jan. 31 Capitol Gateway Overlay Review at the Zoning Commission. This project has been revised over the past few months after Donohoe was chosen by WMATA to acquire the 5,000-square-foot lot on top of the Navy Yard Metro's east entrance at New Jersey and M--by expanding 1111 New Jersey's footprint to this lot, which fronts M Street, the project became subject to a CG Overlay Review (boring tutorial here). While the WMATA land is being sold to Donohoe, this is in fact a joint development project with WMATA, who I imagine will receive a dollar or two over the coming years once the building is built and leased.
The new design was described by WDG Architecture as 220,000 square feet of office space with 5,700 square feet of ground-floor retail in a glass-facade building. While it uses a smidge of the WMATA land, the project will not be built on top of the station entrance as is happening with 55 M--the station canopy will remain, and a there will be a large public plaza at this "important corner", along with a 60-foot setback with a double line of trees stretching up New Jersey. (Non-obsessive observers might not remember that 1111 NJ's footprint does not include the site of St. Matthew's Church immediately to the north--that lot is being acquired by Ruben Companies for a rumored residential project, where no plans have yet been made, a Ruben rep tells me.)
Donohoe indicated that it plans to go for LEED certification for 1111, and mentioned that some of the ground-floor space would be designed with restaurant uses in mind, though the presenters said they remain aware of the requirements for community-oriented retail and preferred uses in the overlay area.
Beyond the LEED certification, retail, and public spaces, the developer offered no community benefits package to the ANC. Donohoe considers this project a matter of right that requires no additional benefits offerings, a stand which reopened the wounds from back in April when the earlier iteration of this project came before the ANC looking for support for a zoning special exception (and was voted down, though the BZA approved the waiver anyway).
The feelings of the commissioners hadn't changed in the intervening months, and they voted 5-0 not to support the project because of the lack of community benefits. (There was some procedural wrangling about the wording of the motion, but since the church where the ANC meetings are held is absolutely impossible to hear in, I didn't get the specifics--something about voting "not to support" versus voting "to oppose", I believe.)
No timeline for the start of construction was mentioned. Perhaps more information will be forthcoming at the Jan. 31 zoning hearing.
More ANC reports coming tomorrow--I'll have news of Monument Realty's plans for the BP Amoco site at South Capitol and N, followed by the latest in the Florida Rock saga. Stay tuned!
UPDATE: Donohoe was nice enough to pass along the rendering of the new design, which I've added to the top of my 1111 New Jersey page.
UPDATE II: Correcting a smidge of misinformation on the St. Matthew's site.
 

Jan 16, 2008 10:38 AM
A hearing is now scheduled for Jan. 30 at 6:00 pm on Tommy Wells's Performance Parking Pilot plan (B17-580), in front of the council's Committee on Public Works and the Environment. If you're interested in testifying, read the hearing announcement for instructions. And don't forget that two community meetings about the plan are scheduled for next week (Jan. 22 and 23). See my Upcoming Events Calendar for details; if you're not checking that calendar on a regular basis, you should!
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Jan 16, 2008 8:49 AM
Your morning linkage:
* The Washington Times has "Parking a National Crisis", detailing what it considers to be the daunting challenges of getting to Nationals Park this year: "[The Nationals reported] that there barely will be enough parking spots (5,000) to accommodate season-ticket holders and that holders of single-game tickets probably won't find any spots in the neighborhood at all. That leaves walk-up fans and holders of single-game tickets with two choices: take the Metro or park at RFK Stadium and hop on the free shuttle. Now, neither of those options sounds all that terrible. But it's easy to envision thousands of stubborn (or clueless) fans driving to Southeast in their cars only to end up circulating around like Chevy Chase in 'National Lampoon's European Vacation.' "
You might want to read my detailed post on Friday's hearing as well as my Stadium FAQ's sections on transit and parking, for more information on the current state of ballpark-related transportation and parking issues. Also, I've posted a shiny new map showing the four zones where the Nationals are offering season-ticket-holder parking, along with the lots that may or may not end up being ones that the team has contracted with. Not an official map, just showing what's out there.
And, two items outside my purview from the past few days, but big enough to worth noting:
* Financing plans to move the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront have emerged, with the mayor seeking to provide up to $200 million in TIF and PILOT financing; the city also has agreed to lease 15 acres of land along the waterfront to developers (Hoffman-Struever Waterfront LLC). Here's the Post on the news and concerns about so much public financing as the real estate market appears to be teetering, as well as article by the Washington Business Journal and the city's press release.
* Last week the city dropped the group led by Mid-City Urban from the short list of developers who could be awarded Poplar Point, leaving three teams in the running, two of which include a soccer stadium as an optional part of their designs. (Mid-City's design was the one that included the "aerial tram" across the Anacostia to carry passengers to Near Southeast.) The city issued a press release about the narrowing of the short list last week, and Post wrote about the status of the competition on Monday. The city could name the development partner next week. Near Southeast behemoth Forest City (of The Yards and the Capper redevelopment, as well as the Waterside Mall project in SW) is one of the remaining three teams. You can see more about the proposals at And Now, Anacostia (which also got mentioned in the Post article).
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Jan 15, 2008 5:52 PM
Metro has just launched a new web page to help stadium-goers plan their trips to Nationals Park via public transit. It's at wmata.com/nationals, and it gives links to Metro's Trip Planner, information on Metrobuses that stop near the ballpark, how to use the parking lots at Metro stations, and more. And, for you diehards: "Metro will soon be offering a choice of commemorative SmarTrip cards, available for a limited time only."
Also, the parking information for season ticket holders is starting to arrive in mailboxes around the area today. I'll link to the Nats' web site with the information once they've got it up, but until then, here's the map of the four parking zones and the prices per game that ticket holders will have to pay. (Note, none of the zones are in Southwest.)
I'll be updating my Ballpark FAQ and Stadium Parking/ Transportation pages with this new information as soon as I find the 25th hour in the day.
 

Jan 15, 2008 2:05 PM
The official announcement will come soon, but Monument Realty has confirmed to me that today they are turning over to WMATA the west entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station --on schedule--so that "fare installation" can begin (i.e., making the entrance useable). Monument says they completed their building structural commitments to WMATA back on Dec. 21. (hat tip to Nats320)
If you look at the Half Street web cam, you can see that the station entrance at lower center does look like it's getting cleaned up somewhat. Monument's initial Half Street project--office, hotel, residential, retail--is not scheduled to be completed until the end of 2009, but the Metro station is expected to be reopened in time for the beginning of baseball. The 55 M Street office building is currently being built on top of the Metro entrance; the southern half of the block, which is currently a big hole but where a hotel and residential units will be offered, should see construction begin soon. Retail will line the ground floor (and some second-floor spaces) all along Half. No tenants have been announced yet for the retail spaces, and, as I mentioned this morning, Monument appears to be looking for a new chain to operate the 200-room hotel.
As for what Half Street will look like during the inaugural season of the ballpark while construction continues, the Office of Planning report on Monument's request for some minor modifications to their Half Street designs has a description: "As part of the original proposal, the applicant showed a covered walkway on the east side of Half Street as a temporary condition during construction. Present plans call for pedestrian traffic to be directed to the other side of Half Street on non-game days, and for the entire street to be opened to pedestrian traffic on game days. Therefore there is no need for a covered walkway. The applicant has committed, however, to maintain a decorative fence at the edge of their construction zone as generally shown in the original plans."
 

Jan 15, 2008 9:38 AM
On Monday night the Zoning Commission considered two Near Southeast cases on its consent calendar. I wasn't there (having chosen to go to the ANC meeting scheduled for the same time), and the ZC's web feed experienced technical difficulties, so I'm posting some bare bones info that folks at the meeting have been nice enough to pass along.
Monument Realty asked for 22 "minor modifications" to its previously approved design for the under-construction eastern side of Half Street. According to the Office of Planning report, the changes mostly centered on adjustments to the exterior architecture and the layout of the residential component. The most noteworthy change request is probably switching from a multicolored LED screen at the Metro entrance at Half and M (which WMATA turned down, apparently) to a backlit laminated glass panel. Also, nestled deep in the OP report is a request to modify the design for the hotel windows because the "hotel operator has pulled out" -- early on, the word had been that W Aloft would be running the midblock hotel on Half Street, but apparently this is no longer the case; I've heard nothing on any new operator. You can read the report to see the other requested changes. Though this was on the Zoning Commission's consent calendar, and the commission acknowledged that the changes are small, they still wanted to see some renderings showing the befores-and-afters of the proposed changes, and have scheduled a special public meeting for Jan. 28 at 6 pm to consider the request.
Now that the eastern side of Second Street (running along Canal Park) is considered "re-opened" (it's a long story), the developers of 250 M Street are requesting to base the office building's height on the width of Second Street, which is wider than M Street. This would allow 250 M to go up to 130 feet, which apparently is the same as the height of 1100 New Jersey on the west side of the park, although apparently the building's planned square footage would actually decrease slightly which would increase the total square footage to 233,405. Though this was on the consent calendar, the commission asked the Office of Planning to submit a report on this, and there will be a public hearing.
UPDATED to fix an error about 250 M's proposed new square footage.
 

Jan 14, 2008 11:48 PM
Having pledged to pace myself a bit better over the next three months so that I don't have to cover Opening Day from a padded room, I'll be posting the results of Monday night's ANC 6D and Zoning Commission meetings in drips and drabs over the next few days. So stay tuned, especially if you're interested in Florida Rock, or Diamond Teague Park, or Monument Realty's projects north of the ballpark, or 1111 New Jersey, or 250 M Street.
This of course means that all the local media outlets checking in at JDLand looking for leads and tips will have to wait too. (The information is all free, of course, but some small hat tip some day would be nice. Although I do enjoy being an assignment editor of sorts....)
 

Jan 14, 2008 11:23 PM
I mentioned in my mammoth post on Friday's parking roundtable that a community meeting on stadium parking and traffic plans is scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 16--although it was mentioned in a Kwame Brown press release as being a public meeting, it's actually just the monthly workshop for community leaders and city agencies trying to get all the plans figured out, and isn't quite meant for the huddled masses yearning to park free (or not free). When there's a plan, there'll be meetings for everyone. If you're desperate to get together with the community and discuss parking, there's still the public meetings on Tommy Wells's parking plans, on Jan. 22 and 23.
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Jan 14, 2008 2:01 PM
Just announced is an upcoming Anacostia Waterfront Community Fair, presented by the city on Saturday, January 26 from 1 to 5 pm, "to provide information to residents about the billions of dollars worth of development and transportation projects underway along the Anacostia Waterfront. [...] District government staff, developers, public officials and non-profit partners will be ready to discuss the status in developing and planning of highly anticipated projects including Hill East Waterfront, the Anacostia Riverwalk, Poplar Point, replacement of the 11th Street Bridges, The Yards and the replacement of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge." (It's like JDLand.com come to life!)
Also: "The Information Fair will allow residents, business owners and interested parties to review, discuss, question and comment on these and other projects which are under construction and/or study."
The event will be at St. Coletta's, which is across the street from the entrance to the Stadium-Armory Metro station.
UPDATED to add the link to the announcement.
 

Jan 14, 2008 9:26 AM
Just a quick couple of links:
* The Washington Times profiles Steve Cohen of Opus East, who's been promoted to vice president of real estate. Opus's two current projects in the District are both in Near Southeast: 100 M Street and 1015 Half Street (not "1015 F" as the article says). The article touches a bit on how Opus plans to handle any slowdown in the commercial real estate market.
* A few days back the WashBiz Blog on washingtonpost.com featured a quick overview of Monument's Half Street project and an interview with the company's executive vice president, F. Russell Hines. No news in the piece to any regular readers of JDLand--it mentions Monument's lawsuit against WMATA over the Southeastern Bus Garage, but gives no status report on where it stands.
* This is also a few days old, but I can't let an entry go by without mentioning parking, so here's a link to a WUSA piece from last week that, in a stunner, finds baseball fans who are upset at the idea of Tommy Wells's Performance Parking Plan, given that it might prevent them from parking for free on neighborhood streets for three-plus hours 81 nights a year.
 

Jan 13, 2008 8:23 AM
See the whole vista here.
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Jan 13, 2008 7:22 AM
I've been told by "someone with knowledge of the Ballpark District" that demolition of the old buildings on the Willco Construction site bounded by M, N, Cushing and First is scheduled to start on Monday. And that a temporary surface parking lot is slated to be built in this spot, just north of the eastern garage at the ballpark. We shall see if this does indeed come to pass....
UPDATE: Seeing that there's no bulldozers in action on this block today, I'm officially never believing a start-of-demolition rumor ever again. Though I did see heavy equipment parked near one of the buildings a few hours ago.
 

Jan 11, 2008 10:11 PM
Having just about reached my limit when it comes to writing about stadium parking, I'm going to cut to the chase and pass along the biggest items from today's hearing by the Committee on Economic Development on parking and traffic issues at the new Nationals ballpark. (It's a torrent of words, so I've bolded the most important items.)
The session began with ANC representatives testifying about the community's concerns that no traffic and parking management plan has yet been unveiled, and with not many days to go (no one was sure whether it was 82 or 81 or 80 days--it's actually 79, but I didn't pipe up), neighbors are getting increasingly nervous that plans and signage won't be ready by Opening Day. While Tommy Wells's proposed Performance Parking plan could eventually become the mechanism for handling on-street parking near the ballpark, it won't be able to be in place by Opening Day, and so residents want to know how parking is going to be restricted to prevent stadium-goers from descending on nearby streets in search of free parking and bringing what has frequently been referred to as "controlled chaos."
Kwame Brown became frustrated when trying to find out who is actually in charge of coordinating all the government agencies who have a hand in the ballpark and communicating information to the public--"Who do I call? Who's driving the train?" he asked a number of times. After much back and forth with Greg O'Dell of the Sports and Entertainment Commission and Judi Greenberg from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, it was finally agreed that DDOT is now in charge of organizing and implementing the stadium's traffic and parking plans.
Determining this was a good step for this hearing that had been convened to discuss those plans, except for one small detail--council member Brown's Committee on Economic Development does not have oversight responsibilities for DDOT, so no one from the agency was in attendance.
Oops. (Apparently there had been plans to hold this hearing jointly with Jim Graham's Committee on Public Works and the Environment, which oversees DDOT, but that did not come to pass.)
It was said that DDOT will be unveiling the traffic operations and parking plan next week, though of course no one from DDOT was actually there to confirm or deny this.
Greg McCarthy of the Nationals testified about the team's continuing efforts to plan for the onslaught of fans, ranging from the mailing next week of parking information to season ticket holders to a planned media onslaught beginning in February to educate stadium-goers about the best ways to get to the park. (Short version: Take Metro! Walk! Bike! Park in Metro parking lots! Don't drive to the ballpark unless you've already got a parking pass!)
There still is no signed agreement between the Nationals and the city for use of RFK as free satellite parking for non-season-ticket holders, though clearly both sides anticipate it will get done, especially since the Nationals are working out the best routes for the free shuttle buses they plan to provide from RFK to the new stadium. (But Kwame Brown did not seem too enthused that the city might not be getting any revenue from the parking spaces.)
The team anticipates having 5,000 spaces for season ticket holders available in lots within walking distance to the ballpark--and, other than one lot that sits on the west side of South Capitol Street underneath the freeway, all lots will be in Southeast and none will be in Southwest.
Tommy Wells focused a number of times on the idea of the neighborhood embracing the ballpark as part of its culture and part of the character of the community. How neat it will be for residents to be able to walk to games, he said, expressing his hopes that the ballpark is a positive experience for both fans and residents. (Putting the stadium there "was not a hostile act by the government," he said). He also spoke of how the stadium's on-time and on-budget completion should be a real celebration for the city, but that he doesn't want it to become known as the "ballpark with a traffic catastrophe."
My favorite moment of the hearing was when discussion turned to how exactly the onslaught of papal groupies will be handled when the Pope comes to the ballpark on April 17: I realized that all this time I had assumed Pope = Mass = Sunday, when in fact the event will be on a Thursday morning, which will make traffic and parking that much more of a challenge. Start planning your vacation day now.
Other items of interest:
* Charter buses are expected to be parked across the South Capitol Street bridge during games.
* The Nationals have secured 4,000 of the 5,000 spaces they are eyeing near the ballpark, and expect to have the other 1,000 by Opening Day. There will be about 3,000 spaces at RFK, in Lots 7 and 8, and the team will be running a test of the RFK shuttle buses on Friday.
* There will be 130 handicapped parking spaces in the two lots on the ballpark site.
* The Navy Yard Metro station is expected to be ready by Opening Day.
* The Nationals will be responsible for clean-up around the ballpark and surrounding streets after games, most likely through an augmentation of the Capitol Riverfront BID's "clean teams".
* There are still plans for two job fairs to be held in Southwest, perhaps on Feb. 9 and 23 at Greenleaf Rec Center.
There's probably other items I missed that some people might be interested in, but I think that's more than enough for a Friday night.
It's anticipated that a joint hearing of both the Committee on Economic Development and the Committee on Public Works and the Environment--which oversees DDOT--will be scheduled soon.
The broadcast of the meeting is already available on demand, if you have three hours of your life you're not doing anything with. I've also posted the prepared statements of the witnesses from today, which you should definitely read to get more information than I've been able to summarize here. Also available is a press release from Kwame Brown's office about the hearing, in which he calls for "enhanced coordination from DC agencies and increased public involvement."
UPDATE: Here's the WashTimes article on the hearing. And the Examiner's.
 

Jan 11, 2008 7:37 PM
A feature story from MLB.com: "The new Nationals Park was the ultimate classroom Friday for a group of students from Cardozo High School who got to see and learn from construction workers finishing up the stadium. [..] The students are taking part in the Academy of Construction and Design, a public-private partnership at Cardozo that allows students to get hands-on experience in a trade before graduation."
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Jan 11, 2008 3:18 PM
Agendas are out for two public meetings on Monday night (Jan. 14) that have Near Southeast items of interest:
*ANC 6D's agenda includes presentations and requests for support on the following: a new request for an alley closing on the southern end of the block bounded by Half, M, N, and South Capitol (B17-0552, "Closing of a Public Alley in Square 700"); the Capitol Gateway Overlay Review for 1111 New Jersey Ave., which will be at the Zoning Commission on Jan. 31; and new design/modified second-stage PUD for RiverFront on the Anacostia (Florida Rock), which is expected to go to the Zoning Commission in the next few months. The meeting is at St. Augustine's Church, 6th and M Streets, SW, at 7 pm.
* The Zoning Commission will hear requests for "minor modifications" to William C. Smith's 250 M Street project and Monument's Half Street project; alas, I haven't been able to find out what these modifications are. That meeting is at 6:30 pm at 441 Fourth St., NW, and is also available via live webcast.
I should also mention here that last night the Zoning Commission voted preliminary approval of a series of text and map amendments at the Yards, most of which are far too dull for even me to get into; read the hearing announcement if you want more details.
 

Jan 10, 2008 8:38 PM
A reminder that on Friday (Jan. 11) at 10 am there's a public oversight roundtable by the city council's Committee on Economic Development on parking and traffic plans for the stadium. Note that this is not the official hearing on the legislation introduced this week by Tommy Wells to regulate on-street parking in areas around the stadium and Capitol Hill, though I would imagine it should get touched on. But there's plenty of other issues to talk about as well--parking lots, traffic and pedestrian flow, Metro, and so many other items that fans and neighbors are waiting to hear about. It's going to be broadcast live on DC Cable 13 (and on the web simulcast), but I'm expecting this hearing to be so lively and informative that I'm actually going to shut down the laptop, take off my fuzzy slippers, and attend in person. (For less brave souls, the hearing should be available via both replays and on-demand viewing within a few days.) Watch for my summary of it all later Friday afternoon.
UPDATE: I have indeed survived the hearing, but will need some time to pull together a summary. In the meantime, the one headline worth passing along immediately is that Nationals season ticket holders should expect to get their parking information in the mail next week. A package showing lot locations and prices is at the printer as we speak, and recipients will choose their preferred location and cost and return it to the Nationals; they'll then receive their parking pass and exact parking location after that.
More to come.
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Jan 10, 2008 4:25 PM
In the past few days I've mentioned the start of construction on the first of the temporary surface parking lots at Capper and the transformation of an existing lot at 1100 South Capitol into a monthly lot managed by Colonial Parking. Today I see that the dirt is being dug up at 1000 South Capitol, which had a public space permit approved a few weeks ago for the construction of a parking lot. This property is owned by Lerner Enterprises (yes, the same Lerners that own the Nationals) and they have eventual plans for an office building on the site, but it shouldn't be a surprise that they would give this land over at least temporarily to the Ballpark Parking Cause.
Additional dispatches from today's drive-around:
* Equipment has arrived on site at 1345 South Capitol, presumably for the start of excavation for this 276-unit residential project across the street from the ballpark.
* The DC Foreign Car Shop at 31 K Street and the buildings along First Street and N north of the ballpark are still standing;
* A very affable-looking "Hospitality Ambassador" from the Capitol Riverfront BID was answering questions with a smile at the Navy Yard Metro entrance;
* The amount of construction and roadwork from New Jersey Avenue west to South Capitol really is unbelievable. (I rarely drive through the neighborhood during the day on weekdays, so most of you long-suffering residents and commuters are already well aware of this.) But seeing it in full swing just reinforces my New Year's resolution to restrict my photo treks to Sundays, when the commotion is taking its Day of Rest.
UPDATE: One more tidbit: a permit has been approved to remove the underground storage tanks at the BP Amoco at South Capitol and N. I had thought that maybe it was only temporarily closed because of the construction on N Street, but this probably means it's gone for good. As for what might appear in its place--the land is part of Monument Realty's vast holdings north of the ballpark, but no development plans for the site have been announced. In the meantime, I bet it would be a handy spot for a parking lot!
 

Jan 10, 2008 9:04 AM
I haven't seen it with my own eyes yet, but reports are trickling in that work began yesterday to hang letters on the southwest side of the ballpark that presumably are on their way to spelling NATIONALS. I'll try to retrieve photographic evidence of it today.
UPDATE: Pat, I'd like to solve the puzzle:
UPDATE, 1/13: All done.
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Jan 10, 2008 8:12 AM
Time to dip back into the What's the Deal With...? mailbag, where once again I'm being asked fabulous questions that I don't actually have any answers for. But that hasn't stopped me yet....
* Readers B. and K. are the most recent readers to ask about the Public Space Storage building on South Capitol between M and N, just a few feet north of the ballpark, wondering whether it has any plans to close. I know that Monument Realty was interested in acquiring the building, since it owns the lots just to the building's south as well as all other parts of the block not owned by WMATA, but that was before Metro awarded the Southeastern Bus Garage and its parking lot (on the north side to the storage building) to Akridge. It's certainly a valuable piece of land, and I don't think it's going out on a limb to say that I doubt it will be there many years from now, but as of this point I've heard of no deals.
* Reader R. has asked about Canal Park, which continues to appear stalled, with no public pronouncements on it in months. (And with that "Spring 2008" still displayed for all to see on the sign at Second and M.) Is it still the school buses throwing up the roadblock, which is what we last were told? Is there some new wrinkle? I haven't heard anything, I'm sad to report.
* Reader F. asks about Ann's Beauty and Wig Shop, the dazzlingly pink building sandwiched between St. Matthew's and Onyx at 125 L Street, wondering if it's going to be sold. Ann's came to this block in 2005, after I believe being forced out of Waterside Mall in SW, and the owner has apparently been pretty vehement with potential suitors that she has no intention of selling. Perhaps the pending sale of St. Matthew's to Ruben Companies could change that, but as of now, I've heard nothing.
That's the best I can do for now--absolutely no useful information at all! No doubt there's scuttlebutt on each of these that I'm not privvy to, but I continue to be unsuccessful in my quest to get all city officials and private-sector parties operating in Near Southeast to inform me at all times about all their dealings. It's almost like they think I'm just some sort of powerless pesky neighborhood blogger or something....
Got a WTDW question? (maybe even one that I might know the answer to?) Pass it along. But I'll close with a hint--when it comes to oft-discussed projects around Near Southeast, as soon as I hear information that I can confirm, I post it. (I do tend to stay away from posting rumors, and considering some of the ones I've heard over the years that have turned out to be fabulously incredibly wrong, I don't regret this.) If you haven't seen any updates lately about Canal Park, or Capitol Quarter, or the Post Plant, or any other project, it's because nothing new has come my way. I'm as desperate to post the latest news flashes as you are to read them....
 

Jan 9, 2008 3:00 PM
January's Hill Rag is now online, with a number of articles on Near Southeast-related issues (most of which I've covered here in recent weeks). There's a big piece on Tommy Wells' Performance Parking Pilot Plan, though it was written before yesterday's official introduction of the legislation. Their Loose Lips-type anonymous columnist "The Nose" also talks about the parking plan, dubbing Tommy Wells "The Pimp of Parking." (Lovely.) There's also a piece spelling out the Capitol Hill Restoration Society's objections to DDOT's plans to renovate the 11th Street Bridges. And there's a wrapup of the December ANC 6D meeting, where representatives of the Nationals pledged much cooperation with the neighborhood and the ANC voted to support the ballpark's liquor license (I wrote about this meeting here).
 

Jan 9, 2008 8:51 AM
Back in September 2006, WMATA solicited proposals to develop four of its properties, including the east entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station at New Jersey and M and the 14,100-square-foot parcel on the southwest corner of Half and L streets, SE, where the Navy Yard Metro station's "chiller" is located. While the sale of the New Jersey Avenue land to Donohoe was approved by the WMATA board in December, there hasn't been even a smidgen of news about the chiller site in more than a year.
But now, nestled deep in the posted paperwork for Thursday's WMATA board meetings is an expected agenda for the Feb. 14 meeting of the Planning, Development and Real Estate Committee that lists "Navy Yard Station Chiller Site Developer Selection" as one of the action items. Citing the ongoing negotiations, Metro wouldn't give me any additional information, so we may have to wait for Valentine's Day for the "reveal," unless someone blabs beforehand. Once the mystery developer's section is approved by the WMATA board, the final negotiations for an agreement would begin. The property is currently assessed at just under $4 million.
The solicitation described WMATA as "looking for innovative plans . . . that will yield quality developments for the local communities, increase transit ridership, enhance the local tax base and provide a stream of revenue to WMATA for capital needs." Proposals were also supposed to follow the principles of "transit-oriented development" -- "providing safe, walkable, mixed-use communities that emphasize transit connections and reduce auto dependency." While doing all that, the site's developer would still have to replace the chiller operations either on site or somewhere close to the Navy Yard station.
There's also a 7,700-square-foot privately owned parcel next to the chiller on L Street, assessed at $1.72 million and currently home to the Empire and DC Flyer Cab Company. It has had "Build to Suit" signs flying for quite some time, so it's possible that the developer of the chiller site could acquire that land as well. And this spot is already surrounded by current and planned office projects, with the completed 20 M Street and the planned 1100 South Capitol on adjoining lots, and the starting-any-minute-now 1015 Half Street across L Street. See my Square 698 page for photos.
 

Jan 8, 2008 11:02 AM
As expected, Tommy Wells just introduced to the city council the "Performance Parking Pilot Zone Act of 2008", which would create a three-year pilot project to "better manage curbside parking, especially around the stadium and the impacted area." Wells said the goals of the bill are to protect residential parking in neighborhoods and to support local business, and commented that "it is clear that a couple thousand well-managed curbside spaces are better than two-to-three times as many unmanaged spaces." Council chair Vincent Gray co-introduced the bill, and council members Catania, Brown, Barry, and Bowser signed on as co-sponsors. I should have a link to the text of the bill itself later today, but if you can't wait, read my entry from a few weeks ago describing the plans, since I'm too lazy this morning to re-summarize.
UPDATE: Here is Tommy Wells's press release, which is a handy overview of the new legislation, and the bill itself. Some bullet points:
* The areas to be covered by the pilot include all areas south of the Southeast-Southwest Freeway from 10th Street SE to 12th Street SW and from the freeway north to East Capitol Street between Washington Avenue, SW and 11th Street, SE.
* Fines would start at $50 for parking overtime and would just upward if needed "to dissuade ballpark patrons from parking illegally in neighborhoods";
* Sixty percent of the meter revenues would be used to repay the cost of the new multi-space meters (pictured at left) and related signage, 20 percent would be deposited in the city's Transportation Unified Fund, and the rest would be used for "non-auto transportation improvements" within the zone, such as streetscape upgrades for pedestrians, biking infrastructure improvements, and better bus and rail signage.
* A "pay-by-cell phone" zone could be created to allow for electronic payments for parking. (Cool!)
Specifics still to be spelled out:
* Designations of streets as residential, retail, or ballpark-adjacent, which will govern which type of parking restrictions a street has;
* Rates for the meters;
* Days and hours of meter operations;
* Parking time limits and Residential Permit Parking restriction hours;
* A guest-pass system to allow residents to better handle visitors.
Two community meetings have been scheduled, on Jan. 22 at 401 I Street, SW, and Jan. 23 at 301 North Carolina Ave., SE. Both are from 6:30 to 8 pm. There will also be a hearing at some point by the council's Committee on Public Works and the Environment, chaired by Jim Graham. And it will also no doubt come up for discussion at this Friday's council Committee on Economic Development oversight roundtable on "Parking and Traffic Plan for the Nationals' Stadium" (Jan. 11 at 10 am).
Here's a Tommy quote from the press release: "Some of the best thinking in the country has gone into this proposal. Parking is already at a premium in our neighborhoods, but giving free curbside parking to ballpark visitors isn't managing the problem, it's only inviting more congestion and traffic."
I imagine this is just the beginning of a flood of information on the plan. Stay tuned.
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Jan 8, 2008 9:35 AM
Two quick items to start the day:
* Nearby neighbors who've been concerned about recent early morning work at the Onyx/100 M construction site (before the allowed start time of 7 am) should note today's Public Space Permit feed, showing that a permit has been approved for 100 M that allows work from 6 am to 8 pm Monday through Friday until March 4.
* Miss Chatter of Just a Nats Fan took a boat ride up the Anacostia to the ballpark, and posted both video and photos.
More news expected later, since the city council meets in a few minutes and it's expected that Tommy Wells will introduce his "curbside management" bill (what those of us who are a bit slow on the uptake would better know as "on-street parking"). Live video here.
UPDATE: If anyone working at 80 M Street, or living in Capitol Hill Tower, feels like peeking out the window and looking over at the old Nation site today, let me know if you see that last remaining building being demolished. A reader reports talking to folks on-site yesterday who said that the building could be coming down today....
 

Jan 7, 2008 10:14 PM
Tuesday's Post has the first details emerging about Pope Benedict XVI's April 17 mass at Nationals Park: "At first, the decision was made to put the altar at second base, which is where Yankees Stadium places the altar for papal Masses." But "organizers realized that they could fit in 4,000 more seats -- for a total of 45,000 -- if they placed the altar at centerfield." If you're going, plan to get up early: "The doors will open about 6:30 a.m. for pre-Mass activities, including music and videos." As for tickets? "Plans for distributing tickers have not been completed. But, in the past, tickets to major Catholic events have been distributed through parishes and Catholic organizations." Who gets to go? "The archdiocese has been asked whether non-Catholics can attend (yes) and whether the Mass is part of the Nationals baseball ticket package (no). The archdiocese is trying to keep the free tickets from popping up on e-Bay and falling into the hands of scalpers."
 

Jan 7, 2008 10:49 AM
Sometime within the past few weeks, the surface parking lot at 1100 South Capitol Street has come under the management of Colonial Parking. The spiffy new sign (and the Colonial web site) indicate that it is open for monthly parking only, at a rate of $80 a month. It's on the site where Ruben Companies plans eventually to build its SC1100 office project, but no start date has been announced for that.
As for whether it could possibly be one of the lots that the Nationals are planning to use for season ticket holder parking, I have no information on that, but it's certainly interesting that this lot has suddenly gotten big-time management....
And, in case you didn't see it mentioned in my photo update yesterday, work has begun on the Capper parking lots along Third Street. Some PVC pipes are piled up on the two blocks, and some trench digging is underway at Third and I.
 

Jan 6, 2008 9:32 PM
It was time this weekend to catch up on photos for a bunch of locations, including the most aged batch of them all, the views of the ballpark's northern footprint along N Street, which haven't been updated since September, so you can now have your fill of photographs of imposing parking garages. The curbs and historic streetlamps are now in, and N Street has been paved from South Capitol to Half, and it looks like the paving east to First isn't far behind. So even though the half-shadow half-sunlight conditions weren't the best to work with, I took full updates of the First, Half, Cushing, and Van intersections along N, all of which you can see here.
One thing that really struck me today for the first time is just how wide First Street is becoming, as you can see in this batch of northward-looking photos. I also saw that all the businesses on the west side of First south of M have now vacated--as you can see above, it's odd to see those old about-to-be-demolished buildings with sparkly new sidewalks and streetlamps in front of them.
I also trudged around the road construction along First Street north of M as best I could to update photos of 100 M, Onyx, and 70/100 I, and also got a good new batch of 55 M photos as well as the always showy views from the freeway at South Capitol. And I finally got the last set of old Capper Seniors photos to show that the building is indeed gone. And heaven help me I even took a photo of the new sign advertising the Square 696 project, and also a few shots barely showing that work started this week on the first Capper parking lot at Third and I (because there's nothing more exciting than documenting the construction of a parking lot). There's just too much change, and I couldn't stop until it had all been documented! Aaaiiiieeeeee!!!!
For those of you brave enough to try, here's all the photos from the past two days on one page. (Thank heavens I've done a lot of work over the past year or so to automate the update process as much as possible.) Don't forget to click on the icons to see all photos of a location over the years....
 

Jan 4, 2008 4:52 PM
Digging in the DC land records database late on a Friday afternoon (isn't that what everyone does to get ready for the weekend?), I see that the ExxonMobil Corporation deeded its land at South Capitol and I in November to the ExxonMobil Foundation. There's nothing stated in the deed about any planned uses for the land, except to spell out restrictions on future uses and requirements for cleanup since the site may have contaminated soil. As for the foundation itself, a little blurb describes it as the "primary philanthropic arm of the Exxon Mobil Corporation in the United States. The Foundation and the Corporation engage in a range of philanthropic activities that advance education, health and science in the communities where ExxonMobil has significant operations." Is this the prelude to selling the land (assessed at $16 million in 2008) and having the foundation get the proceeds? Or is something else afoot?
 

Jan 4, 2008 3:32 PM
The crime feed data I display on the home page has been temporarily suspended, according to the city's Office of the Chief Technology Officer. No word on why (other than that it was at the request of MPD) or when it will return....
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Jan 4, 2008 9:51 AM
The Washington Business Journal has a huge "Looking Forward" piece in today's print edition, and its first prediction is this: "The place to be in D.C. in 2008 will be the Southeast waterfront." It then gives a quick run-down of what's going on (some baseball stadium project leads the list), and references the expected lack of amenities near the ballpark until Monument Half Street opens in 2009. Also: "Real estate insiders will be watching to see when the first major private office tenant lands in Southeast. Both CNN and National Public Radio have short-listed sites, but no company has committed to pioneering the private office sector yet." And: "Major work is expected to get under way in 2008 at The Yards, which Forest City Washington is developing in the area formerly known as the Southeast Federal Center. The first offerings at the 42-acre project will be residential and retail, with projects slated to open in 2009." But JDLand readers knew all this already....
 

Jan 4, 2008 9:02 AM
In today's attempt to read the Building Permit tea leaves, I see that a plumbing and heating company has received a slew of permits along N, Cushing, and First streets, where Willco Construction is planning a 500,000-square-foot office/residential/retail project. I'm not an expert in these things, but a few years of watching the flow of permits has shown me that plumbing and heating companies get permits to shut off the pipes prior to buildings being demolished, and these addresses do have raze permits approved for them. Details about the Willco project are few, and there's been no announcement of any start date.
And now that 55 M's construction has mostly obscured these lots from the view of the Half Street web cam, I'm hoping those of you at NGA and 80 M Street with bird's eye views of these spots can drop me a line if you see any demolition happening.
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Jan 3, 2008 1:16 PM
Nineteen building permits for various addresses around Capitol Quarter have been approved in the last week, as you can see in the Building Permits feed (check it out, homeowners-to-be--your address might be there!). These don't mean that houses will start popping up next week, but it is another step in the long process toward work getting underway. As I've mentioned before, the digging you see currently in the old Capper area is the work on the public infrastructure; the laying of the pipes and utilities under the homesites themselves (known as the private infrastructure) will come next, followed by the "vertical construction" of the houses, which people are still telling me should start in the spring.
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Jan 2, 2008 4:18 PM
A hearing had been scheduled for today in front of the Alcohol and Beverage Control board about the ballpark's liquor license application; but I've been told that no one filed a protest about the application, so the public hearing was cancelled. The ABC board still must review the application and rule on it, presumably in the near future. For a little more background, read my post from last month about the ANC's decision to support the application--there were concerns that a protested ABC license might spur either the city council or the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission to enact a license outside of the ABC's regulatory reach.
 

Jan 1, 2008 11:02 AM
Happy New Year! I hope everyone made it through last night's festivities relatively unscathed, and are enoying a day of rest, relaxation, and college football. A lot of blogs are using the calendar change to look back and look ahead, but I generally wait until late January to do that as part of my annual State of the Hood report, so you'll just have to hang on a few more weeks. But it doesn't take a lot of surfing around the site to get a feel for the changes that came to Near Southeast in 2007--35 demolished buildings, one nearly completed baseball stadium, and a bunch of new skeletons and holes in the ground. I've updated my somewhat neglected Development by the Numbers today to accurately reflect the stats on construction in the neighborhood since the first wave of development began in 1999, and suffice to say the difference between "completed" and "under construction" tallies shows that things accelerated just a touch in 2007. But as I said, I'll be doing a much more complete report soon. In the meantime, I'm trying to charge my batteries for the onslaught that 2008 will bring, especially leading up to Opening Day.
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