Near Southeast DC: Past News Items - October 2007
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My Favorite Before-and-Afters, Now in Convenient Single-Page Form
Oct 31, 2007 4:55 PM
With let's-not-even-admit-how-many pictures now posted on this site, and with so many locations and so many angles to look at, it's sometimes hard to know where the most striking reflections of the changes in Near Southeast might be found. So of course I had to go and build a new page: JD's Favorite Before-and-Afters (or, in a lot of cases, Before-and-Durings). There's no rhyme or reason to the order (except maybe my mostest favorite faves at the top), and quite a lot of them are from locations still undergoing changes, but these are the shots that make even my jaded brain stop and say, "whoa." These photos will be updated as new pictures are uploaded, and I'll probably tinker with the lineup, but you get the idea.
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Douglass Bridge Weekend Lane Closures Cancelled
Oct 31, 2007 2:22 PM
DDOT has cancelled plans to close two outbound lanes on the Douglass Bridge from 7 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 3 and 4). So now you can take a weekend jaunt and buzz the new South Capitol Street and its renovated bridge without backups!

Ballpark Turf Coming on Thursday
Oct 30, 2007 11:43 AM
It's now officially scheduled: the turf for Nationals Park will be cut at a farm in New Jersey on Halloween night, and trucked down here for installation starting Thursday morning. (I just hope the guys cutting it don't get distracted scanning the skies for the Great Pumpkin.) Unless the construction folks taunt everyone by pulling the plug, the press box web cam should give a great view of the field's change from brown to green. (If you haven't looked for a few days, don't wait until Thursday to check it out--the infield is now pretty well laid out.)
More posts: Nationals Park

RFK vs. Nats Park: How do the Seats Compare?
Oct 30, 2007 8:53 AM
WTOP talks to the man who's installing all 41,000-plus seats at the new ballpark, to see how they compare to RFK: "All of the seats are angled toward home plate, so fans will be able to see the batter and the pitcher, says Alveno, who is the foreman in charge of seat installation. Alveno says each seat is equipped with a cup holder and the size of the seats varies from 19 inches to 22 inches. Seats in the pricier sections -- such as behind home plate -- will be cushioned." There will be a "Meet Your Seat" event for season-ticket holders before the ballpark opens. Single-game ticket sales will start in February.
More posts: Nationals Park

'Build it Bigger' to Profile Ballpark (Repeat on 10/30)
Oct 29, 2007 10:01 PM
UPDATE, 10/29: Very last-minute alert that this show will be on tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 30) morning at 10 am on the Discovery Channel. In case you missed it.
UPDATE: Sorry, guess I should have bumped this up on Wednesday before air time. (What, everyone didn't mark their calendar and set their Tivo as soon as they read this last week?) The show was really well done (I must admit I wasn't expecting it to be very good), so try to catch it again when it re-airs on Oct. 30 at 10 am. There's also behind-the-scenes clips available now on Discovery's web site.
Original Entry: Next Wednesday night (Oct. 17), the Discovery Channel's Build it Bigger series will profile the construction of the new Nationals ballpark. The official blurb for the episode is: "In Washington, DC, 800 workers attempt to design and build a $650 million baseball stadium in less than two years. Danny Forster finds out if they can finish the 41,000-seat Nationals stadium, complete with the largest scoreboard in the US, on schedule." (Although the Royals have now pushed ahead in the Scoreboard Size Race, apparently.) It's scheduled to be on at 8 pm and 12 am; check local listings, as they say, for the bat time and bat channel in your area. There's also a preview podcast available. (h/t to 08Cubs)
More posts: Nationals Park

Verizon Center History, and How It Might Apply to Nationals Park
Oct 29, 2007 3:43 PM
Today's Washington Times has a long piece on the history of the Verizon Center (originally the MCI Center, for those of you not keeping up on your telecom mergers). The last portion of it deals with how the Verizon Center's success in revitalizing a somewhat moribund section of town might apply to Near Southeast as the baseball stadium opens.
More posts: Nationals Park

Monument Reiterates Navy Yard Metro On Time
Oct 29, 2007 8:48 AM
From the Post: "Monument Realty, which has filed a federal lawsuit against Metro over a land dispute, said Friday that the expansion of the Navy Yard station near the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium would be completed on schedule. Executives at the District company had threatened to slow work on the project because the transit agency plans to sell land near the stadium to another development company, Akridge. Jeff Neal, a Monument principal, said in a written statement that the project would be completed before the start of the 2008 baseball season. 'We have worked diligently and transparently to develop an aggressive timeline,' he said. Lisa Farbstein, a spokeswoman for Metro, said, 'We have every reason to believe that they will fulfill that pledge.' " Monument also stated that the station would be done on time a few weeks ago in a letter to ANC6D vice chair Andy Litsky and others, which I posted here. You can see my Monument Half Street page for more information on the station expansion as well as 55 M Street, the office building that Monument is constructing on top of it. (There's also the Half Street Web Cam for tracking the progress, but it's been offline for the past few days. UPDATE: It's back now.)
UPDATE II: There's also this interview with Russ Hines and Amy Phillips of Monument, conducted last Friday by the Nats320 blog, about the on-time-ness of the project.

Pope in the Hood?
Oct 28, 2007 1:04 PM
(I have no way of verifying the authenticity or the reputation of this story, as it's just being reported on one blog, but it's too juicy to ignore. All disclaimers apply. h/t Ballpark Guys)
The Pope is apparently planning a trip to the U.S. in mid-April, with visits scheduled for New York and Washington, and the "Whispers in the Loggia" blog reports: "While most of the previously-noted itinerary of the Catholic University of America and diplomatic courtesies at the White House appear to remain in place, one reported change has the venue for Benedict's DC Mass pegged not for the expanse of the National Mall, but -- as with New York -- the new stadium of the Washington Nationals, currently projected to open barely a week before the visit takes place. (On a related note, Major League Baseball's scheduling for 2008 is still in its tentative stages and has not been publicly released.) Built to house a game capacity of 41,000, Nationals Park would likely seat closer to 50,000 for a papal liturgy."
Even the author--who writes for a international Catholic weekly--adds a bunch of a caveats to the news: "[P]apal trips are not formally announced by the Vatican until three months prior to a visit's taking place, and the detailed final itineraries are held until weeks before the journey. Bottom line: everything can, and very well might, change. But this is where things are heading as of the present... even if 'Nothing is confirmed until the Holy Father signs off on it.' "
(See this September item from the Catholic News Agency for early news of the papal visit, saying that Mass would be held on the Mall.)

Commuter Ferry Makes Trial Run
Oct 27, 2007 9:04 AM
From NBC4 (this is the entire piece): "There could soon be a faster way to get from Prince William County to the District. The Potomac River Express commuter ferry took its first test run Thursday, traveling from Quantico Marina up the Potomac River to Navy Yard. During the trial run, the ferry got to the Wilson Bridge in 47 minutes. The ferry arrived at Navy Yard in just under an hour. That's nearly half the amount of time it can [take] by car during rush hour. More test runs for the ferry are planned for the spring. The company that will run it still needs to get approval to operate from the Virginia Department of Transportation." There's also a much more detailed story from the Potomac News. I don't think they actually docked anywhere along the Anacostia (since there isn't anywhere for a ferry to let people off--yet), they were just testing the time.
UPDATE, 10/29: Here's a Washington Business Journal piece on the ferry trial run and plans, and the press release it was written off of.
More posts: Navy Yard

Plans for the Post Plant to be Determined 'By the End of the Year'
Oct 26, 2007 3:00 PM
I had one ear tuned in this afternoon to Phil Mendelson's hearing on space needs for the police department (a follow-up to the Sept. 20 barnburner between him and Office of Property Management director Lars Etzkorn). This time it was Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Neil Albert in the hot seat, and he stated that plans for using the old Post Plant at 225 Virginia Avenue will be "finalized by the end of the year." He called the original plan to use 225 for the First Distrct police station, the evidence warehouse, and other MPD functions a decision by "a well-intentioned prior administration" that he can't advise the mayor to adopt. Mendelson disagreed strongly, and also said a number of times that if the eventual uses for 225 Virginia don't include any of the public safety agencies, then his committee has no jurisdiction, but that as a council member he will be very critical of any plans for the building that don't include the various urgent space needs of the police department.
Albert also talked about the plans for relocating the 1D station--it appears they have a location in mind, but Albert didn't want to discuss it in public. He did say that it is in Southwest, and that it is permanent space, not swing space. He also said that community leaders would be contacted for input before the plan is finalized. Despite skeptical questioning by Mendelson, Albert said that the timeline for a 2011 completion of the new Consolidated Forensics Lab at the current 1D location is still on schedule, and that with the 1D relocation sites being looked at, he's confident that 1D can be moved and built out without jeopardizing the planned start of construction on the lab in early 2009.
Mendelson is clearly frustrated with the decision not to use 225 Virginia, and with the run-arounds he feels he has received over the past few months (he had a long list of questions from the Sept. 20 hearing that he never received answers to), so it will be interesting to watch this continue to unfold.

Quick Morning Links and Site Updates
Oct 26, 2007 9:44 AM
I don't normally do this, but I've got a bunch of pretty small items, so I'll just run them together:
* There's finally a small piece in the big media about the plans to redo the 11th Street Bridges, from WTOP. Nothing new, except that DDOT hopes to begin the construction in 2009, contingent on that pesky little thing called federal funding.
* Monday's kick-off ceremony for the Capitol Riverfront BID is making its debut on DC Cable 16 tomorrow (Saturday), at 3 pm, with additional showings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday also at 3 pm. If you don't have cable, you can watch its feed via streaming video.
* I've now posted Monument's 90-second animation of what the east side of Half Street will look like when finished. If it goes by too fast (or if you can't get it to work), you can see the stills I took from it on my Monument Half Street page. There's no sound, and in order to make it small enough to download in less than 12 hours, the quality is lower than the crystal clear original. But you'll get the idea.
* You may notice that the map at right on my homepage has acquired a bunch of new stars. Showing that razor-like sharpness I'm known for, I took just under five years to figure out that I could display projects on the map even if I didn't have enough room for them under the "selected projects" lists at left. But at least the stars are color-coded! Just hover your mouse over them, and you'll get the descriptions. And don't forget that you can also click on the tabs above the map to get to the directory of all completed, under construction, and in-the-pipeline projects. Now I just need to work on freshening up some of the neglected interior pages of the site; I'll do it during all that spare time I have.

Velocity Sales Center Sneak Preview
Oct 25, 2007 8:38 PM
I got a sneak peek today at the new Velocity Sales Center trailer at Half and K, which is scheduled to open to the public at 10 am Friday. The big eye-catcher about this sales trailer is that they've built right into it a full-scale replica of one of their one-bedroom-with-den units. I took some photos of it, which I've put on my Velocity page (you'll also see at the top of the page a new rendering of the building itself). To start they're selling 24 of the building's 200 units, with prices starting just above $300k for studios. The building will have a rooftop pool, and the ground-floor units along L Street will have outdoor patios below the sidewalk line. The building is scheduled to be completed in 2009, followed eventually by a mirror Velocity II building running along K Street and an office building along Half Street, with a shared courtyard between them. The official web site is at VelocityCapitol.com. Stop by the sales center and tell them you read about it on JDLand, and you'll receive.... a big smile and lots of information about the project.
UPDATE, 10/26: In honor of today's launch of the sales center, the Washington Times Friday New Home Guide has a piece about the Velocity project.
More posts: Square 699n

In Case You Missed It - Recent Headlines
Oct 25, 2007 9:21 AM
No Ballpark and Beyond column in the Post this week, but news has been coming so fast over the past few days that it might be a good time to highlight some headlines that you might have missed in the flurry:
* I posted a ton of new photos from all around the neighborhood, and from inside the ballpark, and also put up new renderings of Monument's Half Street project;
* The Velocity Condos sales center opens on Friday, as the crane arrives to begin vertical construction;
* Demolition on the northwest corner of South Capitol and O is scheduled to start Monday, to clear the site for the 1345 South Capitol residential project;
* The Market Deli and its two neighbors along the 100 block of L Street have jointly put themselves on the market for $11 million;
* The old Capper Seniors building is scheduled to start being demolished Nov. 5, and at about the same time move-ins will start at the new Capper Building #2 at Fourth and M;
* Look for the turf to be laid at the ballpark right around Halloween; in the meantime, read the press release from the Nationals about parking at the new ballpark and at RFK.
And of course, you can scroll down to read other items I didn't mention here. But news is aging off the homepage after about six days right now, so don't dawdle!
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Crime Lab Not Ever Planned for 225 Virginia Ave.; Another Council Hearing (Update)
Oct 25, 2007 8:56 AM
I wouldn't have linked to this Examiner article on funding for the proposed Consolidated Forensics Lab normally (since it isn't really a Near Southeast story), but there's a couple of errors in it that need fixing. Here are the two sentences containing boo-boos: "Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration two months ago scrapped plans to build a long-awaited crime lab at the First District police headquarters in Southeast Washington, stalling construction indefinitely" and "In September, Fenty's administration decided not to locate the crime lab in leased space at 225 Virginia Ave. SE, a location that he had chosen five months earlier."
The writer appears to have mixed up the scuttled plans for 1D with the plans for the crime lab; contrary to these statements, there have never been plans to build the lab at 225 Virginia; the plans that were scrapped were the move of the 1D headquarters to 225 from its current home in Southwest, to free the location for the crime lab to be built there. I don't believe (unless things have changed since the ANC6D meeting two weeks ago) that plans to build the lab at the 1D site have been scrapped at all; they just can't build the lab there until they find a new home for 1D.
UPDATE: I'm just now seeing that tomorrow (Friday, Oct. 26) there's a public hearing by Phil Mendelson's Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, "Follow Up on Capital Projects and Space Needs for Public Safety Agencies," which presumably is going to be talking about the combined lab's construction. The last hearing, on Sept. 20, was a pretty tense affair between Mendelson and Lars Etzkorn, director of the Office of Property Management. (I mention tomorrow's hearing because I know Mendelson does still seem to be holding out hope that some MPD functions could still move to 225 Virginia.)

RFK Parking: Nationals vs United
Oct 25, 2007 8:48 AM
One of the issues with having satellite parking for the new Nationals ballpark at RFK, according to today's Examiner, is what would happen when both the Nats and DC United have games scheduled for the same time. The article says that there's still no agreement between the city and the Nationals on any plan to park baseball fans at RFK.
More posts: parking, Nationals Park

New Half Street Renderings Posted
Oct 24, 2007 8:17 PM
Monument Realty has created a high-tech animation of what its under-construction project on the east side of Half Street will look like when completed; some images captured from the animation are now on my Monument Half Street page. (I'm waiting to find out where the animation will reside, and hopefully will be able to link to it.) Compare the drawings of the Half and M corner with the latest shots from the Half Street construction web cam, and you'll see that the steel beams are now being put in place that make up the distinctive pattern around the Navy Yard Metro entrance. (But don't look too closely at what's shown for the west/right side of the street, since that's the site of the WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage, which Monument thought it was going to acquire but which has been won by Akridge with a $69.25 million bid. And which is now subject of a Monument lawsuit.)
UPDATED, 10/25: I've now got a low-bandwidth version of the animation posted. Please note that in order to not have it be huge file that you'd need an afternoon to download, the animation is not as sharp as the original.

Garfield Park - Canal Park Connector Meeting Wednesday
Oct 24, 2007 4:09 PM
One more reminder that Wednesday night (Oct. 24) there is a public meeting on the project to create a more appealing connection between Garfield Park north of the Southeast Freeway and the to-be-built-hopefully-eventually Canal Park, one block to the freeway's south. The meeting is from 6 to 9 pm at St. Peter's Catholic Church at 2nd and C streets, SE. Here's the project web site, for more information, along with a DDOT press release on the meeting.
More posts: Canal Park

The Return of Capitol Quarter Camping
Oct 24, 2007 11:47 AM
It has been observed that a camper has set up shop within the past week or so outside the Capitol Quarter sales center at 4th and L, even though no date has been announced for the next release of market-rate homes. Too bad the weeks of dry weather just gave out! Campers were of course a fixture at the site over the summer, when five house sites were sold each month. It will be interesting to see how long this intrepid soul (and presumably the cadre of friends helping save the camper's place "in line") will have to wait....
More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter

DC on Ballpark Parking at RFK: Not so Fast
Oct 24, 2007 12:10 AM
In response to the e-mail sent out earlier today from the Nationals saying that non-season ticket holders will be able to park at RFK and ride a shuttle to the new ballpark for free, the city is saying that the deal isn't done, according to Wednesday's Post: "The Washington Nationals said for the first time yesterday that the team expects some fans to park at RFK Stadium next season and ride a shuttle bus to the new ballpark more than two miles away. But the team's announcement that fans will be able to park for free at RFK, property controlled by the city, surprised D.C. officials, who said they have not signed off on the plan." And, in addition to the negotiations not being yet finalized, there's questions on how such shuttles would work, given how traffic-filled the routes between RFK and South Capitol Street can be.
More posts: parking, Nationals Park

All Nats Season Ticket Holders to Get Parking
Oct 23, 2007 5:11 PM
From a Nationals press release, via e-mail:
"The Washington Nationals announced today that all season ticket holders will be offered parking for games at the new ballpark. Fans purchasing season ticket packages, including full season, half season and partial game plans, will be able to purchase parking in the area surrounding Nationals Park. Available surface parking spaces and/or garages are currently being designated, and the process is an ongoing one. The Nationals and the District have been working very diligently for over a year to provide parking for their fans.
" 'We are very excited to announce that, due to the hard work of many, many people, we now feel confident that we will be able to provide parking spaces for purchase by any season ticket customer account,' said Stan Kasten, President of the Washington Nationals. 'We understand there has been a great deal of concern and speculation regarding parking availability at the new Nationals Park for 2008.'
"For fans without season tickets that choose to drive to Nationals Park, or season ticket holders who choose not to purchase parking, there will be free parking at RFK Stadium with a speedy and free roundtrip shuttle service to the games.
"The process of selling tickets and acquiring parking spaces will continue throughout the offseason. More details about parking, including policies and prices, will be announced at a later date."
See my stadium parking page for all the parking-related news up to now. I know nothing about actual locations of lots for season ticket holders, etc., etc. Just passing along what the press release says. Hopefully specifics will be coming along soon. (And it will be interesting to see if this truly means that all non-season ticket holders wanting to drive to the new ballpark will be sent to RFK for parking and shuttled.)
More posts: parking, Nationals Park
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