19 Blog Posts
Mayor Officially Announces Plans for 225 Virginia
Oct 30, 2009 12:07 PM
This morning the mayor announced the city's plans for the old Washington Star/Post plant at 225 Virginia
(I would have gone, but didn't hear about it until after it happened). He confirmed that three city agencies will be moving in--Child and Family Services
, Office of the Chief Technology Officer
, and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities
. And, according to the press release, the building will include a ground floor public art gallery showcasing DCAH's "vast art collection."
The city is entering into a deal with Stonebridge Carras
to redevelop the building, with an expected (and required?) LEED Silver certification. It's expected it will take two years to renovate the building. Back in September it was reported that it would take $85 million
to fund the renovations, on top of the $85 million purchase price
; today's press release
says that the deal with Stonebridge will save the city "more than $60 million over the life of the new 20-year arrangement."
This would seem to bring to a close almost three years of wrangling over exactly how to use the building, after the Williams administration leased the building with little fanfare in late 2006, only to have the original plans to house MPD functions there fall apart, and attempts to sublease the building for development go nowhere, all while the city continued to pay millions of dollars each year in rent. My 225 Virginia page
has the background, if you want to relive it all.
A Roundup of Recently Tweeted Tidbits (Mostly)
Oct 29, 2009 1:07 PM
Not much big news these days, but here's some tidbits, most of which are links that I've Tweeted
in the past few days:
* The BID and the Washington DC Economic Partnership held a "Capitol Riverfront Storefront Summit" on Tuesday morning, which The Hill is Home summarized
, with quotes from the owners of Cornercopia and the Subway on Second Street. No splashy announcements of new retailers, though.
* The American Cancer Society is hosting Making Strides for Breast Cancer
, a 5K walk to fund breast cancer research, at Nationals Park
on Saturday. Two laps around the stadium, and one inside lap on the First Concourse. (I think I've done that walk a whole bunch of times over the past four years!)
Updated Photos of Capitol Quarter Progress
Oct 25, 2009 5:06 PM
I played cat-and-mouse with the clouds today and took some photos of the progress in the third block of Capitol Quarter
, where the townhouses have sprung up pretty quickly over the past six weeks, meaning that St. Paul's Church at Fourth and I (above) and the private homes along Fifth Street are no longer the lonely outposts they've been since late 2004.
It will be five years ago next week that the demolition began on the blocks where all these new townhouses are going up; paging through the photos I took during November 2004
while the wrecking crews worked, it in some ways seems a lot longer than that. The eastward view along K at Fourth is a pretty good representation of what these blocks have been through:
DDOT Unveils its Vision for DC Streetcar Lines
Oct 23, 2009 10:27 AM
Last night DDOT held the first of its eight public meetings
to unveil its vision for a 37-mile-long network of streetcar lines
connecting various portions of DC in three phases, the first of which
would include a line running from MLK Avenue in Anacostia across the 11th Street Bridge, eastward on M Street SE, and then terminating
one block west of Nationals Park. (Phase 3 would include a separate line starting from the same
terminus, running along M Street SW and up Seventh Street into downtown.) You can see a larger map of all three phases
at DDOT's Streetcar site
I didn't attend the meeting, partially because of time constraints but also because I figured the transit bloggers of the city would be all over it; here's GGW's first post on the plans
. These routes aren't set in stone, and in fact Tommy Wells has already expressed his preference that the line shown running along Barracks Row be moved to Hill East to support the expected development there. And I don't believe any timeline of when these phases could be expected was mentioned.
How do we all feel about not only the proposed Near Southeast route, but the plans for streetcars in DC in general?
(UPDATED Oct. 26 after a commenter correctly pointed out that the line is to run down First Street, SW, ending at R Street, not along South Capitol to the ballpark. I need new glasses.)
Monument Gets its First Tenant at 55 M
Oct 20, 2009 3:42 PM
, the news that government contractor Sayres and Associates
has signed a seven-year deal to lease 20,000 square feet at 55 M Street
, Monument Realty's office building on top of the Navy Yard Metro station at Half and M. Sayres currently is at Maritime Plaza, and is expected to move into 55 M in April of next year. This is the first tenant for 55 M; with the Bureau of Land Management moving in across the street at Lerner's 20 M
next year, all of the office buildings in Near Southeast completed since 2007 will have lease deals (100 M
was nearly 40 percent leased when it opened at the end of 2008).
Monument is still looking for financing to complete the south end of the block, where they have been planning to build a hotel and two residential buildings.
ANC 6D Doings (Short Version: Three Thumbs Up)
Oct 19, 2009 8:56 PM
While my dinner is in the oven, here's the speediest of reports from tonight's ANC 6D
* They voted 5-2 to support Florida Rock Properties' pending request in front of the Zoning Commission to extend the deadline for the first building permit application at RiverFront
two years, to June, 2012, which would push the deadline for the start of first-phase construction to 2013. (Read this entry
for more details, and see my project page
for specifics on the development itself.) It's expected that this will be taken up at the November 9th ZC public meeting.
David Briggs of Holland and Knight, representing FRP, said that while the developer has worked "assiduously and tenaciously" since last year to find either equity or construction funding, the notion of starting the first-phase office building within the current zoning timeline is "just not viable." FRP does say, though, that they will be continuing to search for funding if they receive the extension. In the meantime, FRP made its required $800,000 payment to the city last fall to help defray the costs of Diamond Teague Park
next door; I asked if there were any possibility that perhaps the land on the very east end of the Florida Rock site, which will eventually be a public plaza that abuts Teague Park, might be cleared and opened as public space before the construction begins on the office building--they're "looking at options."
* The commissioners also voted 7-0 to support the zoning special exception request by the operator of the six-unit "Casa degli Angeli
" at Third and L
, which is currently operating as a month-to-month room rental and which is looking for a zoning change to become a full-fledged bed and breakfast. The Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing is scheduled for Nov. 17
RiverFront/Florida Rock Seeking Time Extension From Zoning Commission; More Zoning, CSX, CapitalSpace
Oct 18, 2009 2:49 PM
The agenda for Monday's ANC 6D meeting
has been posted, with two Near Southeast items listed. The first is that the developers of the RiverFront
(aka Florida Rock) site between the Anacostia and the ballpark
are apparently filing for a time extension on their zoning PUD ("planned unit development," for those of you mercifully unaware). When the zoning approval
for this project finally came through in 2008
(after years of slogging through the process), the developers were given until May of 2010 to apply for building permits for the first phase of the project (an office building on the east end of the site, near Diamond Teague Park
), with construction then required to start by May 2011. So, although it was recently reported
that Florida Rock Properties
is looking for an equity partner to help finance the development of the site, they clearly believe that it will be tough for them to meet the zoning order timeline.
Timeline extensions are increasingly common cases being heard by the Zoning Commission these days, as financing for commercial real estate development continues to be extremely difficult to procure; the Capper redevelopment
received one earlier this year
. I don't yet see a hearing date for FRP's extension request on the zoning calendar
In other tidbits:
* Also on the 6D agenda is the "Casa degli Angeli
" at Third and L
, which has a Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing scheduled for Nov. 17
. The six-unit building, which is currently operating as a month-to-month room rental, is looking for a zoning change to become a full-fledged bed and breakfast.
* The latest issue of Voice of the Hill has more detail
on the CSX plans to expand the Virginia Avenue tunnel; you can read the documents that CSX submitted
to the National Capital Regional Transportation Planning Board for some additional details. Quoting the Voice: "CSX spokesperson Bob Sullivan said the project would take between two-and-a-half and three years, while a District Department of Transportation Department official made a slightly lower estimate. 'We anticipate that there would be some traffic impacts during the course of this project, which is probably going to last a couple of years,' said agency spokesperson John Lisle.'" Neighbors in the area are concerned: ANC 6B will be getting a briefing about the plans at its Nov. 10 meeting.
* On Oct. 27, there's a public meeting
about the CapitalSpace plan
, "the first comprehensive analysis of Washington's parks and open space in almost 40 years," which is attempting to get the various federal and local agencies that run the many parks in the city more closely coordinated, along with other plans to improve the parks themselves. The meeting is at the MLK Library from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.
GreenSpace May Move into Retail Space at Some Ballpark in Southwest, WBJ Says
Oct 16, 2009 10:04 AM
I am so close to just not linking to this story at all, because I can't believe that after all this time the Washington Business Journal can't figure out that Nationals Park
is in Southeast and not Southwest. But here you go.
In an article entitled "GreenSpace may get housed in lonely Southwest D.C.
" (subscribers only), WBJ tells us: "If negotiations turn into reality, the Washington Nationals' stadium may score an unlikely tenant in one of its empty retail spots by the end of this year: nonprofit purveyors of green affordable housing. If a deal is struck for 16,000 square feet of arched space at Nationals Park, the nonprofit, GreenHome, will branch beyond its original mission of environmentally aligned, price-conscious residential buildings and set up its new GreenSpace concept: a classroom, conference center and vendor showroom for green development." Apparently they are negotiating to have either the city or the Lerners cover their rent in the space.
UPDATE: WBJ has corrected the online version of the article.
Streetcar Meetings; Corus/Starwood Deal; ANC 6D; Seniors H1N1 Shots
Oct 15, 2009 10:23 AM
If you can wait an extra minute or to before going back to bed and pulling the covers over you until this cold rain is over, here's a few (very) small items:
* DDOT sent out a press release late Wednesday announcing a series of public meetings to "engage residents and businesses in the implementation of improvements proposed for the transit system for the city, including streetcars", the first phase of which should eventually run across the 11th Street Bridges
from Anacostia to H Street NE. They haven't posted the release on their own web site
yet, but Streetcars for DC has it
: it's now posted at DDOT, and amended slightly
). The closest meeting to Near Southeast is the first one, Oct. 22 from 7 to 8:30 pm at J.O. Wilson Elementary, 660 K St., NE. For more information, visit DDOT's Streetcar pages
And, via BeyondDC
, the WBJ is reporting
that the H Street portion of the first phase will be completed first, thanks to lobbying by Tommy Wells. Wells is also working to overturn the longtime ban on overhead wires in parts of the city that include H Street, according to the article. But no timeline for the start of construction has been mentioned. (UPDATE 2: In a tweet
, DDOT says this: "Our official target date is still late 2012 for Anacostia, but we are working to accelerate that line as well as H/Benning.")
* ANC 6D
's October monthly meeting is Monday, Oct. 19, at 7 pm at St. Augustine's, 6th and M streets, SW. No agenda released as of yet
(which is why I cry when I see other
ANCs that post their agendas well over a week [sometimes two] before their meetings).
* Tommy Wells
has arranged for free seasonal flu shots (not H1N1) to be given to senior citizens in Southwest and near Southeast on Saturday, Oct. 17, from 9 am to noon at the Greenleaf Recreation Center, 201 N Street, SW. The shots will be free for seniors with Medicare Part B as their primary insurance, or $30 otherwise.
* (ADDED) I linked to a story about this idea a few weeks back, but here's a detailed post from TSArchitect
(cross-posted at GGW) on "McMillan Two," which would radically remake the Anacostia Waterfront by filling in much of the river to narrow it to a width of about 500 feet, the same as the Seine in central Paris.
No Bids at 23 I Foreclosure Sale; Land Now Owned by Ruben Companies
Oct 13, 2009 10:40 AM
I attended my first-ever foreclosure sale this morning (yay...?), where the two lots at 23 I Street
(the old Wendy's site) that JPI had purchased in 2007 for $28.6 million were to be auctioned off after JPI defaulted on its $25 million loan. However, there were no bidders for the 47,000-sq-ft piece of land (which doesn't include the Exxon next door), and so the property is now owned by Ruben Companies
, which bought the original note from Key Bank earlier this year.
Ruben Cos. also owns the 1100 South Capitol lot
(plus 1101 South Capitol, across the street and outside of my boundaries), and had at one point been working to purchase the St. Matthew's Church land at New Jersey and L before opting out.
The company has no plans to build anything soon on the 23 I lot--but if anyone's interested in renting the land for some interim entertainment use (a la
Akridge's deal with the Bullpen on Half Street
and even the trapeze school
at the Yards
), Ruben says they'd be willing to listen. Maybe the neighborhood could get a putt-putt course or something!
WASA Meeting on River Cleanup Efforts; Kojo Audio
Oct 12, 2009 3:55 PM
* Tomorrow (Oct. 13), WASA is having a public meeting
on their $2.1 billion Long-Term Control Plan
to handle the pollution and flooding problems from the city's combined sewer system. It's from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at the Southeast Library at 403 Seventh St., SE (directly across from the Eastern Market Metro station.) Here's the meeting flyer
. (Thanks to reader S. for passing this along.)
* We had a good session on the Kojo Nnamdi Show today about blogging, development, and transportation in the DC area; they've posted the audio
if you want to check it out. It was also great to finally meet David Alpert
and Michael Perkins
after years of only "knowing" them electronically. And Kojo may have given JDLand a new tagline--"Jacqueline Dupree, letting facts get in the way of a good argument."
JD (and GGW) on Kojo Nnamdi Show on Monday
Oct 9, 2009 2:45 PM
Just a heads up for folks who will still be in town on Monday (a holiday for SOME people) that I'm going to be on the Kojo Nnamdi Show
(WAMU 88.5 FM) from noon to 1 pm, talking about development, transportation, and the blogging thereof, alongside David Alpert of Greater Greater Washington
and Michael Perkins of infosnack.org
(and GGW, too). Call in or e-mail your questions! If you can't catch the broadcast live, it should be posted online afterwards. (Here's the link to the specific page about the segment
Nine Foreclosed Lots Net $2.46M; Weekend Green Line Closures; Ballpark Rules Fundraising Roost
Oct 7, 2009 2:20 PM
* The nine lots on Potomac Avenue, Ninth Street, and L Street formerly owned by ICP Partners were sold at auction on Tuesday; according to the auctioneer's web site
, they went for $2.461 million. (The defaulted loan was for about $2.3 million.) I don't know yet who the buyer was. ICP still owns the gray building at Eighth and Potomac that houses the Quizno's.
* Metro is doing a ton of work this holiday weekend, which includes the closing of the Waterfront and Archives stations on the Green Line. Tommy Wells's blog has the memo
that spells out what this means for Green Line riders. The short version? Walk to Capitol South! (UPDATE: The WMATA version of the memo
also has a nice graphic.)
* Nationals Park beats out FedEx Field and the Verizon Center as the top location for political fundraising events, says The Hill
Velocity Says Restaurant Opening 'This Fall'
Oct 7, 2009 11:18 AM
From the new "Velocity Voice
" newsletter that a reader was nice enough to pass along, a blurb that says "Justin's Cafe
" in the ground floor of Velocity
(at First and L) will open "this fall." The menu will feature "fresh salads, sandwiches and wood oven baked pizzas," and there will be a full bar. Earlier this year a "late August/September" date had been being given for the restaurant's opening, but clearly that has slipped.
I've been scrounging around for a bit more detail, but don't have much more news. Judging from the city's building permits database, it looks like the restaurant's construction permit was filed in June but hasn't been approved yet (I'd link to it, but DCRA rebuilt their pending apps database to make any links to inside pages impossible--boo). The city's Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration site
doesn't show any current liquor license for the site, nor does there appear to have been any recent notification
to ANC 6D about one, but the ABRA web site isn't always up-to-the-minute accurate; I've got a question into them about any pending license. (I'll update when/if I hear back.) UPDATE:
ABRA doesn't have any liquor license already on file, and no new application has been filed yet. Doesn't mean that one isn't coming, of course, just that it hasn't happened yet.
Additional Capper Funding in the Works
Oct 5, 2009 6:52 PM
On the heels of the $9.5 million grant received from HUD
last week to help kick-start the second phase of Capitol Quarter
townhouses, the DC Housing Authority and the city are working on a plan to to help pay more of the start-up costs associated with phase 3 of the redevelopment of Capper/Carrollsburg
, in which four mixed-income apartment buildings
will someday be constructed on blocks surrounding Canal Park
. (See my Capper map
for details and locations of these various phases.)
This infrastructure work would be some as-yet-undetermined combination of underground work on the Second Street blocks, the relocation of the DPW operations at New Jersey and K and demolition of that block, and the construction of I Street between Second and New Jersey. These projects were originally expected to be funded by the sale of unrated municipal bonds, but the current Economic Difficulties have made those sorts of bonds all but extinct, and additional attempts to secure loans from banks for the money have been fruitless as well.
Now, a bill is expected to be introduced
at Tuesday's city council session amending the 2006 Capper PILOT law
to allow for bonds to be issued, guaranteed by the CFO's office (and thereby able to reflect the city's rating on the bond markets), which would be "supported" by real estate tax revenues being collected from various existing TIF projects in the city. If the expected timeline of council approval is met, the bonds--totalling somewhere in the neighborhood of $28 million--could be issued by the end of 2009.
(But don't look out your window on Jan. 1, 2010 expecting to see the trash transfer station's smokestack being smacked by a wrecking ball--they still have to find somewhere for the DPW operations to relocate to, which I'm guessing is more difficult than finding somewhere to move a bunch of schoolbuses, and everyone knows how long that took.)
The proceeds won't all be used for construction, since there are loans to be repaid and other high-finance maneuvers that are well above my level of understanding. But this influx of funding, along with the HUD grant
, would give Capper's redevelopment a push forward at a time when few projects are seeing any sort of progress, and would get the money-hungry city closer to being able to start reeling in the property taxes from all these blocks that aren't currently generating any revenue.
Calendar Items (Confirmed, Cancelled, Moved)
Oct 5, 2009 2:40 PM
A few changes and confirmations to note:
* From The BID: "Due to lowering fall temperatures, the BID has decided to cancel the rescheduled outdoor showing of Star Wars this Thursday, October 8th."
* And the Lower Eighth Street Visioning
Community Input meetings originally scheduled for Oct. 7 have been moved to Oct. 20, at 8:30 am and 7 pm.
Construction Starting Again at 1015 Half
Oct 3, 2009 11:47 AM
I'm hearing that the Douglas Wilson Companies
--a San Diego developer specializing in "distressed properties and crisis management" that was appointed in late July as receiver for both 1015 Half Street
and 100 M
--is getting construction moving again at 1015 Half (along with "aggressively" marketing and leasing of the building). Also, a "disposition strategy" for 100 M is expected to be in place later this month. This appears to be Wilson's first foray into the DC market, though the company also has branches in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Miami, Orlando, and San Francisco. This San Diego Business Journal profile
of Wilson and his company gives a bit more info not only on the organization but on the role of a receiver in dealing with distressed properties. The two buildings hit the skids when Opus East collapsed and liquidated.
Canal Park Needing More Funds?
Oct 1, 2009 11:31 PM
From this Examiner story
about today's various National Capital Planning Commission actions
, news that not only did the commission (as expected) give approval to the conceptual designs for Canal Park
, but that the park's development association
is needing more money to complete the project: "But designs have already surpassed the $13.5 million grant the CPDA received from the D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. [CPDA executive director Chris] Van Arsdale estimates an $18 million total cost based on the design approved by NCPC, which includes a large playing field, a rain garden and a plaza that would accommodate in-ground water fountains in the summer and an ice rink in the winter. Van Arsdale said CPDA was trying to use new market tax credits through the Treasury Department to raise the millions still needed for the project."
Closed Exxons at South Cap/I and 11th/M Demolished
Oct 1, 2009 3:33 PM
On Tuesday reader F. reported that the long-dormant Exxon at South Capitol and I
was being demolished; and today neighboring blogger DG_Rad
that the not-quite-as-long-dormant Exxon at 11th and M
is being torn down today. There's been no big movements that I've heard for either of these lots, both of which were "sold" by the main ExxonMobil Corporation to its nonprofit ExxonMobil Foundation. Perhaps the city's recent blighted property tax doings
spurred the demos?
For those of you who haven't been around for the long haul, let's revisit the tale
of when the South Capitol Exxon went out of business:
[Here's the] link to a DOJ press release
[now dead, alas] from January detailing that the Exxon's owner pleaded guilty "to fraudulently double-billing government contractors more than $120,000. [Mahmud] Rashid, 46, of Raleigh Lane, Stafford, Virginia, entered a plea of guilty yesterday in United States District Court to one count of wire fraud. According to the terms of the plea agreement, Rashid could be sentenced to between 12 to 18 months of incarceration when he is sentenced before the Honorable Richard J. Leon on June 2, 2006."