Near Southeast DC: Past News Items - October 2006
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Canal Park Concept Submission - NCPC Comments Favorably
Nov 2, 2006 9:22 PM
On Nov. 2, the National Capital Planning Commission will consider approval of the design of Washington Canal Park, and someone was nice enough to pass along to me the Canal Park Concept Submission document that was prepared for the NCPC (and also the US Commission of Fine Arts's meeting on Oct. 19)--40 pages of incredible detail, with a long design narrative and many many drawings. UPDATE, 11/2: At today's NCPC meeting, the commission "commented favorably" on the design concept. The next stage will be the preliminary design stage, and the NCPC has requested that AWC provide "More fully developed streetscape designs at street edges and crosswalks; Simplified overall design with consideration of durable materials and elements that require less routine maintenance; Lighting design that has minimal visual impact on adjacent streets and mixed-use development; Details of water elements that demonstrates their character when water is turned off; and Design details indicating accommodations for the physically disabled, including persons with visual or hearing impairments." Finally, the commission "commended the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and its design team for integrating low-impact development strategies that will minimize the effects of storm water runoff from the site."
More posts: Canal Park

Alley-Closing-Palooza; 2008 Start for Smith/NJ Ave, W Aloft Hotel Coming to Ballpark District
Oct 31, 2006 4:35 PM

Today was a bonanza of Near Southeast alley closing requests, as four pending bills received their public hearings in front of the city council "Committee of the Whole" (i.e., Chairman Cropp, the only council member in attendance).

The first was B16-0799, alley closings and new street designations as part of the Capitol Quarter/Capper Carrollsburg project. Nothing really new in the testimony, except that it has been requested that the bill be considered by the council on an emergency basis, in order to help speed the process of getting the project underway. Ms. Cropp called the project "very, very exciting" and seemed particularly enthused by the mixed-income aspect of the project, noting that the city's past creation of "economic ghettos" hasn't worked out well.
Next up was B16-0888, which seeks to reopen H and I streets between 2nd and New Jersey, and to close alleys and streets within those two blocks; I was not aware until today that a portion of this land is actually federal land (Reservation 17A), which is part of the land transfer bill currently pending before Congress. The northern block (Square 737, north of I) is where William C. Smith is planning a mixed-use project, which in their testimony they broke out as two office buildings totalling 600,000 sq ft, two apartment buildings totalling 600 units (with a 10% affordable housing component), 1100 parking spaces, and 80,000-100,000 sq ft of retail space. They mentioned that back when they first bought the land in 1999 they got a letter of intent from Whole Foods to include a grocery store in this location, but then Whole Foods came down and saw that at that point there wasn't a whole lot of development going on, they pulled out; but Smith is still very interested in getting a grocery store in this development. They anticipate beginning work on this project in 2008 and completing it in 2011. As for Square 739 (where the DPW trash transfer station currently resides), it is actually part of the Capper/Carrollsburg redevelopment, and plans are for a 322-unit apartment building with 115 affordable units, and also ground-floor retail. They don't anticipate beginning work on the building for at least another 4 to 5 years. Ms. Cropp did express some concerns about where the DPW vehicles will be relocated to, given the lack of industrial land left in the city.
After lunch was B16-0879, Monument Realty's request for alley closings on Square 701 between Cushing, Half, M, and N (in the block just north of the ballpark) as part of their "Ballpark Phase I" project, which also includes the expansion of the Navy Yard Metro station at Half Street, which Monument is responsible for as part of their purchase of the WMATA land on the southwest corner of Half and M. New news from the hearing is that there will also be a hotel in addition to the previously announced 275,000-sq-ft office building at Half and M and the 350-unit residential building (mix of rental and condo, with up to 20% affordable housing) at Half and N--Monument is working with W Aloft to develop a 200-key boutique hotel on Half Street. The entire project will have 700 parking spaces, and Monument is planning to begin construction in January 2007 so that these three levels of underground parking (as well as perhaps some of the 50,000 sq ft of planned ground floor retail) can be completed by Opening Day 2008; they will then continue work on the upper floors to have the entire project completed in 2009. UPDATE: I should also note that as part of their plans, Monument will be extending Cushing Place approximately 80 feet, so that it will run through to N Street
Finally came B16-0880, another request from Monument Realty, this time for alley closings on the west side of Square 700, just across Half Street from the Phase I project in the previous alley closing hearing. They are still negotiating with WMATA to attempt to purchase the bus depot land on Square 700, but in the meantime are moving forward with a 115,000-sq-ft/100 unit residential project on the northwest corner of Half and N, on the site of the Good N Plenty carryout (whose lease expires today, it was mentioned). This project will have 12,000 sq ft of ground-floor retail, which, given its location directly across from the stadium plaza entrance, will be quite a prime location. Ms. Cropp was concerned that the project will only have two levels/74 spaces of underground parking (you got the feeling that parking is very much on her mind these days!). There was no stated timeframe for this project, except to say "after Square 701." And of course by then they'll have probably secured the bus depot.
For all of these bills, the next step I believe is getting them on the council consent calendar, for votes to be taken.
Is that enough information? Can I stop now? :-)
UPDATE: These hearings are all available via DC Cable 13's on-demand video offerings.

Possible Deal on Garages
Oct 31, 2006 10:04 AM
Today's Examiner reports: "Senior officials with the District and the Washington Nationals reached an understanding Monday to construct three aboveground parking garages adjacent to the new Southeast ballpark, The Examiner has learned. The informal pact between Nationals owner Ted Lerner, Democratic mayoral nominee Adrian Fenty and others would result in two garages on the north side of the stadium site, totaling 925 spaces and one 300-space garage on the south end, according to officials familiar with the morning meeting. [...] But Lerner, who has long sought freestanding garages, agreed to reconsider his opposition to retail and residential development a couple years down the road, sources said, which would likely require razing any existing structures." Despite trumpeting this as a deal, I'm not really sure what it's done--the article is vague on the details, saying that the project would cost $36 million, "within reach of the $611 million cost cap", but I'm guessing someone like Mr. Catania might have an opposing viewpoint on whether $36 million can be spent and still stay under the cap. And "Any aboveground parking will require nine of 13 council members to back a zoning exemption. And legislators have so far been unwilling to support freestanding garages."

100 I Street Building Permit Approved; Soil Borings at Canal Park
Oct 30, 2006 10:07 PM
Alas, the new DCStats Building Permits RSS Feed is still undergoing some birthing pains (updates daily around 10 pm instead of 9 am, leaving it well behind the other feeds, and seeming to miss some day's permit issuings), so I have to go back to the old-fashioned report to learn that last week the JPI's 100 I Street residential project received its building permit, so work can begin on its section of the lot, next to the already under construction 70 I Street. Together, the two towers will have nearly 700 units when they are delivered in mid-2008. Also, permits have been issued for six soil borings (4" wide and 30' deep) in two locations (200 L and 200 M streets) in the Canal Park footprint.
More posts: 70/100 I, Canal Park, jpi

More on Data Feeds
Oct 30, 2006 5:40 PM
I've made some more additions to the DC Gov't Data Feeds for Near Southeast. I've added the feeds for Government Service Requests (i.e., calls made to the 727-1000 citywide call center), Juvenile Arrests and Charges, and Alcoholic Beverage Licenses. Right now I've only added the Service Requests to the Data Feeds Box here on the home page, because the Juvenile Arrests feed, going back three months, hasn't had a single case listed yet for Near Southeast (!), and the Alcohol Licenses is only being updated monthly and I can't tell if the feed is going to only include new licenes from now on, or what. Anyway, they're now here for you to use or ignore at your choice. (I'm also going to keep a closer eye on the Crime Incidents and Building Permits feeds, which seem to maybe not be including everything in the daily update feeds); I told you that I'm at the mercy of what DC provides!). They appear to have completed rolling out the initial group of feeds--business licenses and adult arrests and charges have both been postponed until further notice as they try to work out various issues.
More posts: crime, process

Sign Announcing South Capitol Street Work - Update
Oct 30, 2006 10:23 AM
An electronic sign has appeared at South Capitol and I streets, warning of road work beginning on or about Nov. 6. There's been nothing about it announced yet anywhere on the DDOT web site, and I haven't heard anything about it through the grapevine; a correspondent reported earlier in the week that he had contacted DDOT to ask when the work would begin to remove the South Capitol Street viaduct between Potomac Avenue and O Street, and he was told that it wouldn't start before early next year, perhaps no later than April. I e-mailed DDOT to ask for confirmation, but have received no reply. There are plans for lots of streetscape improvements along South Capitol in addition to the removal of the viaduct, so perhaps this is the beginning of that work. Will post here as soon as I find out more. UPDATE: A correspondent passes along information received from DDOT that the signs are marking the beginning of the project to rehabilitate the South Capitol Street Bridge, which includes doing steel repairs and railings, and painting of the steel beams, which is what will begin Nov. 6, and which will necessitate lane closures. This DDOT communique with a resident also said that the lowering of the viaduct between Potomac and O would not start until July 2007, and which will see the entire bridge closed while the work is done. Will continue to keep my eye out for the official press releases from DDOT on the work.

Deadline for WMATA Land Bids Approaching
Oct 30, 2006 10:15 AM

Today's Post writes about the two lots in Near Southeast that WMATA has announced will be made available for private development, the 14,000-sq-ft lot on the Southeast corner of Half and L and a 4,000-ft patch around the eastern entrance to the Navy Yard station at New Jersey and M. Not really too much in the piece that I didn't address in my own entry eight weeks ago when WMATA announced the search, but it's also a nice way to be able to post here that the deadline for developers to submit their proposals is Nov. 17. The article does mention, however, that sometimes these joint development opportunities don't always move like wildfire: "Once WMATA chooses a developer, the proposals must be reviewed by local jurisdictions and the Metro board. Getting the appropriate permits can be a lengthy process. Developers at the Prince George's Plaza Green Line station were selected by WMATA in 2000 but broke ground only last year."

801 Virginia Ave. Update
Oct 27, 2006 1:18 PM
After some delays, it appears that the mixed-use project on the southeast corner of 8th and Virginia may be moving forward soon. 801 Virginia Avenue will have 15 residences on it's upper floors, with 3,200 sq ft of retail at ground level and 4,750 sq ft of office space. The developers were nice enough to pass along a new rendering, which I've added to my 801 Virginia page. They are anticipating delivering the project in 2007.
More posts: 801va, 8th Street

Club 55 Moving to New York Ave.
Oct 27, 2006 10:40 AM
A quick note here that strip club Club 55, which left its location at Half and K last month, is looking to move to 3350 New York Ave. NE. The neighbors (including the Washington Times) aren't happy about the idea.

DC's CrimeMap Site/Data Feeds
Oct 26, 2006 3:07 PM
Local blogs are buzzing today about the DC government's launch of crimemap.dc.gov, which allows users to drill down by address, neighborhood, ANC, Ward, whatever, and get a graphical representation of reported crimes. It's using the same DC Stat RSS feed that I've used to launch my Near Southeast Crime Incidents list (which has been wonderfully low on new data recently!). But if you're looking for a splashy graphic version to display crime trends, rather than my boring text-only list, give it a shot (but be warned, it's moving very slowly today thanks to all the publicity). And remember to scroll down and check my Near Southeast Data Feeds box every day--the crime and public space permits are updated by noon, the building permits update in the late evenings, and the recent property sales (which have a lag time of about six weeks) update once a week or so depending on the city's interest in updating their database. UPDATE: I've also tinkered with my Data Feeds box to show all currently in-effect public space permits, in addition to new/updated applications, as well as to expand the timeframe on offerings to 14 days from seven. I can't imagine this interests anyone other than me, but just in case....
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MacFarlane Partners in Near Southeast
Oct 26, 2006 12:57 PM
GlobeSt.com has a brief on MacFarlane Partners, the San Francisco-based real estate investment firm that has fronted 25% of the capital for the development of the Southeast Federal Center (hey, buddy, that's "The Yards" to you!). The article says that "the company plans to make significant investments in the Baseball district" and that "MacFarlane says he expects to announce three mixed-use projects in the area by the end of the year. These will consist of residential, retail and office totaling some $300 million to $400 million. Right now these projects are in the early planning stage, but MacFarlane says that, depending on the density patterns, he expects the projects will cover between one million sf to two million sf." I've seen MacFarlane mentioned recently as part of the group working on Herb Miller's stadium garages plan, but I don't know whether this statement about the three soon-to-be-announced projects would include the garages, or if it includes any part of the SFC/Yards, or if it's partnering with Forest City and Western Development (Herb's company) on the AWC's drive to develop the WASA site, or if it's three completely new projects. I guess we shall see. (Read the GlobeSt brief quick, because they archive after seven days.)

Voice of the Hill Voters Guide
Oct 26, 2006 12:54 PM
The Oct. 27 Voice of the Hill is now posted online, with it's extensive coverage of the Nov. 7 local elections--Near Southeast is in Ward 6 and ANC 6D (single-member district 6D07). Get yourselves good and educated, and then vote!
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Mayor Now Supports Aboveground Garages
Oct 26, 2006 12:14 PM
From the DC Examiner: "Constructing free-standing parking garages at the new Southeast ballpark would be preferable to risking tens of millions of dollars by not producing at all, Mayor Anthony Williams said Wednesday. [...] 'We tried to maximize development on this site within the constraints we had, and we haven't been able to. So we're going to go at it this way and hopefully everybody will come to their senses in two, three, four years and do the right thing.' Williams indicated he now supports 'regular old, garden-variety structured parking.' 'And try to pretty it up,' he said, 'put a ribbon on a pig.' "

The Yards - Yup, Southeast Federal Center
Oct 25, 2006 11:55 AM
I don't quite know what to make of this, but here goes, from NBC4: "The fast-redeveloping Southeast Waterfront next to the Navy Yard and near the new baseball stadium is being turned into new offices, condos and shops. But, the area will now be called 'The Yards,' in honor of its nautical history." Putting aside for the moment why they didn't instead choose a catchy name like "JDLand", I'm trying to divine from this piece actually what area they're talking about. My initial thought is that this is just for the 44-acre Southeast Federal Center land, which is indeed next to the Navy Yard and near the stadium, and is in the hands of a single private developer (Forest City Washington) and also the Feds, which dovetails with the spot being described as a "federal entity" at one point in the article. If I'm guessing correctly, I actually don't mind rechristening the SFC as "The Yards." But if they're trying to rename all of Near Southeast, including the Ballpark District and everything, we might have a problem. Anyone out there (with CB Richard Ellis or with the city) have any light to shed? And, if I pegged it correctly as being the Southeast Federal Center, does this mean that they're about to get moving on their first phase? UPDATE: A little birdie passed along this link to (not quite launched) dcyards.com, confirming that "The Yards" is indeed the Southeast Federal Center. And construction apparently will begin in 2007. Man, I'll tell ya, NBC4 had to work pretty hard to make sure that almost no useful information was in that article, seeing as the who/where/when (Developer? Location? Timeline?) were all AWOL.

Sigh. The Garages. Again.
Oct 25, 2006 12:58 AM
From the Post: "The District government's chief financial officer warned yesterday of serious penalties if the city fails to provide parking garages for the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium, encouraging the D.C. Council to reconsider a proposal it voted down last week. In an eight-page letter to council members, Natwar M. Gandhi says the city faces significant financial liabilities if members of the council continue to oppose a plan to build aboveground garages at the ballpark near the Anacostia River in Southeast Washington. The city might have to pay tens of millions of dollars to the Nationals for failing to meet contractual obligations, and the District could suffer shortfalls in potential stadium revenue." Same words as always--spending cap, underground, aboveground, zoning, revenue streams, yadda yadda--just arranged differently. Here's CFO Gandhi's letter, containing much detail, spelling out the options, etc. UPDATE: Here's the Examiner's story.
More posts: parking, Nationals Park

Near Southeast Projects in the Long-Range Transportation Plan
Oct 23, 2006 10:22 AM
Monday's DC Examiner reports: "The Transportation Planning Board added more than $1 billion in projects for the District to the region's long-range transportation plan, according to officials. The stratagem, called the Constrained Long Range Plan, estimates about $4.5 billion will be available each year for the next 24 years to complete projects in Maryland, Virginia and the District. Projects can only be added to the board's long range plan if there is a solid funding mechanism in place. " Three of the DC projects will impact Near Southeast: the rehabilitation of South Capitol Street including transformation of the street into an at-grade boulvard from I Street to N Street and the construction of a new Frederick Douglass Bridge (costing $625 million and completed in 2015); the reconfiguration and reconstruction of the 11th Street Bridges (costing $377 million and completed in 2011); and $3 million for the Anacostia Streetcar Study, which would run light rail across the 11th Street Bridges from Anacostia down M Street SE to South Capitol Street. (The first phase of actual construction of the Streetcar Project has been added to the CLRP as well.) Here's an explanation of the CLRP as well as the Transportation Improvement Plan, which describes the schedule for federal funds obligated to state and local projects.

Capitol Quarter Sales Begin Saturday
Oct 20, 2006 2:50 PM
The Capitol Quarter sales office will begin accepting contracts on Saturday (tomorrow, Oct. 21) for the first phase of townhomes being sold (I believe there are about 20 19 total market-rate and workforce units available in this first batch); I'll wander over a bit before 11 to see how many people are camped on the front doorstep; be sure to wave for the camera if you're one of them. UPDATE: Maybe I should try to remember what I've already written--the first 20 workforce units will be available via lottery on Nov. 18, not tomorrow. Duh. Starting tomorrow there will be 19 market-rate homes going up for sale. And word is that camping out began on Wednesday.... UPDATE, Saturday a.m.: 19 units released for sale, 19 buyers in line (and more turned away). So if you didn't make it down there, you'll have to wait for the next batch.
More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter

Metro Board Approves Navy Yard Station Expansion
Oct 20, 2006 9:57 AM
At yesterday's WMATA board meeting, a resolution was approved to expand the Navy Yard Metro station at a cost of $20 million (to be paid with federal funds). The changes will be, to quote the Post, to "increase the number of fare gates and vending machines, add two elevators and relocate the station kiosk, fare gates and fare vendors from the mezzanine to the west entrance. The changes are planned for completion before the first home game of the 2008 baseball season." At the same time, the board approved the sale of the WMATA land above the Navy Yard station and the adjoining parking lot to Monument Realty, and also approved a Construction Agreement with Monument, whereby Monument will handle the construction of the station upgrades in concert with it's construction of an office building with ground-floor retail on the corner of Half and M. Monument has also agreed to reserve 20 percent of the residential units in it's other Half Street project for low- and moderate-income purchasers. And buried in the Construction Agreement documents I found a pretty snazzy rendering of Monument's planned building at Half and M, which I've added to my Ballpark District page (scroll down a tad past the map). The Construction Agreement also has detailed drawings of exactly what will be done to the station. You can also read the Sept. 21 WMATA Board Meeting minutes to see the discussion about the sale of the land. Or you can really go wild and listen to the audio from yesterday's meetings. And here's the Examiner's story on the agreements and plans.

Hearings, Hearings (Updated)
Oct 20, 2006 9:45 AM
City Council hearings have now been scheduled for October 31 for three Near Southeast alley closing bills (Monument's Square 700/west side and Square 701 requests, and William C. Smith's Square 737/739 request). I've added them to my busy Neighborhood Events Calendar; I've also (belatedly) added the DC Register announcement of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration hearing on the license request for a new liquor store at 156 L Street (the old Star Market) scheduled for Nov. 8. Note that the Square 701/east side alley closing bill had its hearing on Oct. 10. UPDATE, 10/20: The starting times of the three alley closing hearings on Oct. 31 have been revised, and an additional council roundtable has been scheduled for the same day on the Capper alley closings and new streets bill. All the hearing notices are available in this file, which also includes the notices on the Oct. 23 hearing on the Capper PILOT funding bill and also an Oct. 26 roundtable on LSDBE participation in the baseball stadium. My Neighborhood Events Calendar has been updated as well. Also, the Square 701/east side alley closing bill has been placed on the council's Nov. 14 consent agenda.

Near Southeast Datasets Now Available
Oct 19, 2006 10:07 PM
Sharp-eyed visitors to the site might have noticed the new "Dataset" links that arrived atop the home page and in the right-hand margin of other pages early this week (a "soft launch", I guess). Over the past few months the DC government has been launching various RSS feeds, and I've built an application to cull out the Near Southeast items from their Crime Incidents and Public Space and Building Permits feeds and display them here, both in individual archives but also in a new Near Southeast Data Feeds box here on the home page. These feeds update daily; when each launched, they also included some amount of historical data (crime incidents back to Jan. 2005 and public space permits back to 2000; the building permits feed is just getting going, seems to be working out some kinks, and has so far provided data from Oct. 2006 and some records from 2003-2005). Then, drunk with power, I decided to also add in basic list views of the Property Sales and Assessments data since 1999 I've accumulated for Near Southeast parcels (neither are available in RSS feeds). Assessments data will only update yearly; sales data should be updated weekly, but it's usually about six weeks behind. This of course is all DC goverment data that I'm merely filtering and displaying--I just take what they give me, and have no responsibility for errors, omissions, etc. Data from approximately the last seven days will display in the box on the home page, but sometimes old records get updated, so the display might sometimes be a bit squirrelly. Just always remember--JDLand is the web site where You Get What You Pay For :-).
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