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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: October 2010
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Homewood Suites Hotel
82 I
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Florida Rock
1244 South Capitol
Ballpark Square
Virginia Ave. Tunnel
New Douglass Bridge
Southeast Blvd.
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Yards/Icon Theater
1333 M St.
New Barracks
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250 M St.
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909 Half St.
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225 Virginia/200 I ('12)
Foundry Lofts ('12)
1015 Half Street ('10)
Yards Park ('10)
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909 New Jersey Ave. ('09)
55 M ('09)
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70/100 I ('08)
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Seniors Bldg Demo ('07)
400 M ('07)
Douglass Bridge Fix ('07)
US DOT HQ ('07)
20 M ('07)
Capper Seniors 1 ('06)
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Courtyard/Marriott ('06)
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18 Blog Posts

I'm now back after a week wandering the Midwest again, this time spending a few days in Chicago and then going up to Milwaukee, where touring time was cut short thanks to that epic windstorm (but at least I got to see the Historic Third Ward and the Milwaukee Public Market). Lots of photos of streetscapes and buildings are here, if you feel like looking at some non-Near Southeast images for a change.
To catch up....
* Dr. Gridlock gave an update on the progress of the 11th Street Bridges project, which is now more than 25 percent complete. A pretty showy part of the construction will be starting soon, "when steel girders arrive for the new bridge spans. They will be trucked out onto the old bridges and lowered onto barges in the river below." The story gives this timeline: in spring 2011, the new alignment of southbound 295 opens; in fall '11, the freeway bridges (the upstream ones) will open; in winter 2012/13 the local (downstream) bridge between Anacostia and Near Southeast will open, with the entire project expected to be completed in summer 2013. (If the alignments and uses of the new bridges aren't clear to you, check my 11th Street Bridges project page for more detail.)
There's also some new lane restrictions that started last week and will run through Nov. 23: the left lane of 11th Street SE from M to N is closed, and N Street SE between 11th and 12th is closed overnight Tuesdays through Fridays. There are other restrictions and closures as well on 295 and the SE Freeway.
* The Post's Capital Business weekly has more information today on the foreclosure sale of 100 M, including this part that is probably of most interest to residents: "Although thousands of fans pour out of the Metro station nearby for baseball games, the Opus bankruptcy has prevented retailers -- other than a SunTrust bank branch -- from occupying ground-level storefronts. Michael Stevens, executive director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District, said he hoped that with new ownership, that would change. The retail broker for 100 M St., he said, 'has had some tenants that were interested in that property, but he couldn't sign any leases because it was in bankruptcy.' "
* It wasn't exactly a shocker that Greater Greater Washington endorsed David Garber for ANC 6D07 commissioner. Along the same lines, there's a good piece by Housing Complex this morning on the dysfunctional aspects of the ANCs, with some ideas on how to fix them. Having been tortured by sitting through many ANC meetings for more than five years now, I can certainly vouch for a lot of the issues mentioned. Perhaps there needs to be a Rally to Restore ANC Sanity.
* If you've wanted to know about Ann of Ann's Beauty Supply and Wigs Co. at 125 L St., SE, People's District recently profiled her. (Except I think they either mistranscribed the date of her shop opening, or this interview was done when her store was still in the old Waterside Mall in Southwest, because her store opened on L Street SE in 2005, not 1995.)
* American River Taxi, which is working to begin boat service between Georgetown, the Southwest Waterfront, and Diamond Teague Park, is hiring deckhands and captains. No word on when they'll get underway.
* Work has started in the ground floor of 909 New Jersey for the new Harry's Wine and Spirits. Alas, their timeline for opening has slipped (as all construction timelines do), and the owners now have their fingers crossed that they will be open by Christmas.
 

I wasn't able to attend* today's foreclosure sale of 100 M Street, but word filtered to me early this afternoon that the 220,000-square-foot office building was picked up for a cool $57 million by Northwood Investors, a real estate investment management firm based in New York City. I've been told (and I'm trying to confirm) that Northwood had bought the original loan/note from Bank of America, and then had the high bid today against one other bidder, whose identity I don't know.
This appears to be Northwood's first foray into the DC market, and the rumor is that they plan to hold 100 M and get it leased up. Perhaps the DC biz media will have more on this sale in coming days....
As I wrote about previously, this sale was for the building itself and not the land, since 100 M's developers (Opus East) never bought the land and instead paid rent to the owners. You can read more about the building's history here; it opened in late 2008 and is currently about 43 percent leased.
[*My exile from blogging is coming to an end soon, I promise--though there really hasn't been much going on this week that I feel like I've missed completely, since I have managed to tweet from time to time.]
 

With election time nearing, there's some events coming up next week that might/should be of interest. (Coincidentally, election time means that my "real life" gets a bit hectic, plus I have some other stuff going on, which means that things might be a bit slow around here, and I'm probably not going to be able to make any of these events. So you have plenty of notice that you'll need to attend them yourselves!)
* On Monday, Oct. 25, from 6:00 to 7:30 pm, the Ward 6 Dems are hosting a Ward 6 School Board Candidates Forum at Maury Elementary School, 1250 Constitution Ave., NE. The two candidates -- Melissa Rohan and Monica Warren-Jones -- will be suitably grilled about their plans and vision for Ward 6's public schools.
* Also on Monday the 25th, starting at 7 pm, the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly is hosting a "Meet Your ANC 6D Candidates" event at St. Augustine's church, on the southwest corner of 6th and M Streets, SW. You may have heard that Near Southeast has two candidates for its one single member district (SMD) 6D07--incumbent Bob Siegel and challenger David Garber--but there are six commission spots in Southwest up for grabs as well. (Just beware when parking next to the church on Water Street--this past Monday, for the first time in all my times arriving at St. Augustine's just before 7 pm for ANC meetings, I got ticketed at one of the meters, which never even occurred to me would still be active at that time of night. Maybe I should take up a collection!)
* At 6:30 pm on Wednesday, Oct. 27, is Presumed-Mayor-Elect Vince Gray's Ward 6 Town Hall, being held at the Atlas Performing Arts Center at 1333 H St., NE. If you follow various local reporters on Twitter, you've been pelted with Tweets from the other wards' town halls over the past few weeks, but now it'll be Ward 6's turn. Here's the flyer with details.
* For something a little less election-y and more spirit-of-the-season-y, on Friday Oct. 29 the Navy Yard is once again presenting the "Ghost Ship Barry" -- "Hundreds have served onboard but some never left." Boo! The hours run from 6 to 7 pm for kids 12 and under, and 7:30 to 9:30 pm for ages 13 and up. But note that they want you to RSVP first, by calling 202-433-0280. And then you can see what the Navy Yard's portion of the riverwalk looks like without having to look through the fence at the Yards Park.
 

A few items from tonight's ANC 6D meeting, which is still going on (I bailed after the last Near Southeast agenda item).
* The commission voted 7-0 to support Forest City's zoning requests for its Parcel D project, the combination residential and retail (and grocery store) development on the southeast corner of 4th and M, SE. I wrote about it in detail a few weeks back, and you can see my Parcel D project page for renderings and additional information, but the short of it is it's a 220ish-unit residential building (with 20 percent affordable housing), a 50,000-square-foot grocery store, and an expected 24,000-square-foot fitness/spa company.
The Zoning Commission hearing will be on December 2, and Forest City is asking for two special exceptions (having to do with roof structures and the proposed 110-foot building height, which will be above the 90 feet that's allowed) and two variances (for a curb cut on M east of 4th for a new private service drive east of the new building and also for some balconies overlooking 4th). Forest City's Alex Nyhan also told the commission that, while the entire Yards project is designed to be LEED Gold, they are going to shoot for LEED Silver on this particular portion.
ANC 6D07 commissioner Bob Siegel commended Forest City on the plans, though he made very clear that he and his constituents want a sit-down restaurant more than anything. Nyhan replied that the Boilermaker Shop project one block to the west on Tingey will have four or five restaurants including at least one sit-down one when it opens next fall. Siegel then made the motion to the support the project, Commissioner Sobelsohn seconded, and the vote was unanimous. The National Capital Planning Commission and the US Commission on Fine Arts have both recently voted to support the plans and designs.
* During the public safety report, Capt. Gottert of MPD mentioned that while there were a rash of car thefts in PSA 105 (and 106 and 107) during the past few months, the police had a suspect in mind, and now that he's been apprehended, the thefts have stopped. Gottert had no additional information on Saturday's carjacking at 1st and L, SE.
* The agenda had as one of its items a request by the Nationals to add the stadium to the Navy Yard Metro station name (coming on the heels of the Capitol Riverfront BID's request last month to add their name to the station). However, ANC chair Ron McBee said that the Nationals hadn't yet been able to get their request completely lined up yet, and so the item was postponed.
* Next month's meeting will be on Nov. 8, and will be held at the Courtyard by Marriott at New Jersey and L, SE. Expected agenda items include an update from CSX about the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project, a plan to give historic landmark status to St. Paul's church on the southeast corner of 4th and I, SE, and an update on the 11th Street Bridges construction.
 

With thanks to reader Mike for the tip, I can pass along that some additional portions of the Yards Park are now open: the "River Street Gardens" on the eastern side is now available for your perusal, with its more shaded benches and even some lounge chairs; and, along with it, the boardwalk is completed all the way to the fence at the Navy Yard. (Still no word on when access to the Navy Yard's riverwalk for the general public might happen.) There's still some construction being done north of the Gardens (south of the Trapeze School), but the showiest parts of the 6-acre spread's first phase are now all finished.
If you're pondering whether to make another visit to the park, all I can tell you is--if the weather today is anything like it was on Saturday, you won't be disappointed. My goodness gracious, what a fabulous tableau. So of course I had to take a pile of new photos--mainly to get shots of the new areas, but also just to take advantage of the bluest clearest sky I've seen in a long time.
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More posts: The Yards, Yards Park
 

From the MPD 1D Yahoo group, posted at around 5:30 this morning: "A short time ago, First District Units responded to the 1100 Block of First Street Southeast for the report of an Armed Carjacking. The suspect approached the complainant, produced a silver handgun, and made good his escape. Stolen was the complainants 2006 Honda Accord, dark grey in color, bearing MD tags 3ESG02. The suspect is described as a black male 25-30 years old, 5'7", 165 pounds, short hair, with a goatee. The suspect was wearing grey pants, and a white t-shirt, armed with a silver handgun. The suspect was last seen in the area of First and M Street Southeast. Anyone with information please call 202-727-9099, or 1-866-411-TIPS."
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More posts: crime
 

The agenda for Monday's ANC 6D meeting is now being circulated (slightly revised from one that went out earlier today). One item of Near SE interest is an update on the Yards Park and also the Parcel D residential/grocery project, which is now scheduled to go before the Zoning Commission on Dec. 2.
The revised agenda also now shows a new request to change the name of the Navy Yard Metro station; while last time it was the Capitol Riverfront BID requesting that the name be changed to Capitol Riverfront/Nationals Park/Navy Yard (which the ANC supported as long as "Capitol Riverfront" wasn't first), this time it's the Nationals themselves requesting that "Nationals Stadium" be added to the Navy Yard name. (I wouldn't put 100% confidence in the request being for "Nationals Stadium" and not "Nationals Park," but that's what the agenda says.) I'm trying to find out whether the first request has bitten the dust, or if these are competing requests, or what. Stay tuned. (See below for clarifications.)
There's also a request to add "Banneker Memorial Park" to the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station name. As well as a bunch of other stuff happening on the other side of South Capitol Street, which I leave to other people to pay attention to!
UPDATE: The BID has told me that this is just the Nationals requesting to be added so that they can be part of the Capitol Riverfront/Nationals Park/Navy Yard new name, though I'm not sure why they would need to have their own request separate from the one that the BID is already working on. Still trying to find out more, but may need to wait until Monday's meeting for clarification.
UPDATE II: Apparently the BID's request was officially just to add "Capitol Riverfront," but they recognized that the Nats would want the stadium included as well. So this ANC action will be to get whatever official name the Nationals want added to the station name into the mix.
 

A few weeks ago I wrote about the purchase of the "Miles Glass" site on the southwest corner of 8th and Virginia by the National Community Church, the "theater church" group that's also behind the rehabbed Ebenezers Coffeehouse near Union Station. Now, in a post on his blog, NCC leader Mark Batterson says that he has "just locked in another contract on an empty lot that abuts 733 Virginia Avenue, SE."
Given Batterson's description that the church will now have frontage on 7th, 8th, Virginia, and L, it would appear that the new lot under contract is the empty one directly across from the Marine Barracks on 7th, where a few years back a small developer had dreams of an apartment building, but never followed through; the lot then sold for $400,000 through a foreclosure sale last year.
Batterson says that this lot will enable NCC to add about 15,000 square feet to their final footprint--"and I don't think we're done yet." (Maybe that auto garage on the southeast corner of 7th and K is noticing that the church will soon own the land on both sides of it.)
The church is buying the properties because they're running out of space for services and staff at Ebenezers, Batterson has written. There's been no official announcement of what exactly they're planning for the site, but in a tweet to me right after I wrote about the first land purchase, Batterson said, "definitely another Ebenezers and we'd like to design a theater."
 

You can't swing a cat across the DC blogosphere these days without seeing self-written profiles of current Advisory Neighborhood Commission candidates. And while it's great that the ANC races are now getting more coverage than they have in the past, the political cynic in me* is not a big fan of platitudes and general won't-anger-anyone stands. ("I'm for development! But also for the residents! And the schools!")
So I decided to ask ANC 6D07's candidates, incumbent Robert Siegel and challenger David Garber, a series of questions about Near Southeast, their impressions of the role of an ANC commissioner, and what they see as some of the issues the neighborhood is currently facing. And they were generous enough to respond!
I tried to ask questions that would elicit some actual information to help voters choose between the candidates, and so hopefully their answers will be enlightening. And no, I didn't ask about CSX and the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, because I didn't see the chance that one or the other might suddenly pop out with a big pro-tunnel-construction viewpoint. But I did ask which potential new Marine Barracks site each candidate would support, although it's worth noting that most of the sites that the Marines are looking at aren't actually in 6D07, but are in 6B.
So, read both Siegel's and Garber's answers (all the way through, you low-attention-span blog consumers!), and then remember to actually vote on Nov. 2.
(* I am a poster child for Generation X Watergate-instilled political cynicism, aided by the fact that Nixon resigned on my eighth birthday. I also broke a finger in a playground fight the day Jimmy Carter got elected, but I don't think we were fighting about politics.)
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More posts: ANC News, politics
 

The Ward 6 Dems are hosting two public forums in the next two weeks that will give residents a chance to hear about and weigh in on issues of particular interest to this section of the city.
The first, on Oct. 19, is a Special Forum with Kwame Brown, the presumptive next chair of the city council. Presumptive-Chair-to-Be Brown, along with Tommy Wells and several of the council's at-large members, will be talking about the future of the council, along with topics such as how the council will keep education reform a priority (especially given today's news) and how the council and Presumptive-Mayor-to-Be Gray will work together. It's also expected to delve into what Kwame sees as the council's role in the continued growth of Ward 6 neighborhoods like Near Southeast as well as H Street NE and the Southwest Waterfront. (What other subjects you'd like to hear discussed at the forum? Leave your thoughts in the comments.) The meeting is from 6:30 to 8 pm at the Southeast Branch Public Library at 403 7th St., SE, right across from the Eastern Market Metro plaza.
Then, on Oct. 25, a Ward 6 School Board Candidates Forum will be held, from 6 to 7:30 pm at Maury Elementary School, 1250 Constitution Ave., NE. Candidates Melissa Rohan and Monica Warren-Jones will be asked about their plans and visions for Ward 6's public schools.
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More posts: politics
 

I mention this from time to time, but it's worth bringing up again. Any advertising that you see on JDLand should in no way be construed as any sort of endorsement by me or the site of any product or candidate. My ads are served through Google Ads, and I have no direct contact with any advertisers nor even know what ads readers are necessarily seeing (given Google's high-quality algorithms). Just in case anyone is thinking differently....
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More posts: JDLand stuff
 

I was recently successful in pestering David Cortiella, grand poobah of the Capper/Hope VI realm at the DC Housing Authority, into giving me an update on the various projects in Near Southeast that he's currently working on. Here's the latest, while always keeping in mind that dates, especially in These Uncertain Economic Times, are not written in stone:
* At Capitol Quarter, the public infrastructure work on Phase 2 has already started, as people can see by the earth that started being moved in late September on the block bounded by 3rd, 4th, I, and K. The financing for this block's construction is expected to close at the end of this week, which would allow for the completion of the first houses by the middle of next year. The entire Capitol Quarter development is expected to be finished by the middle of 2013.
* On Square 882 (the block bounded by 5th, 7th, L, and M), the Housing Authority continues to work toward the construction of an 189-unit mixed-income apartment building on the north side of the block (along L Street, seen below). Their application for an FHA mortgage loan guarantee was submitted earlier this month, and DCHA is expecting that financing for the project will be in place by the end of the year, with construction starting in late winter or early spring of 2011.
As part of 882's new construction, the existing parking lot (known to Nats fans as economy Lot W) will be downsized somewhat, but not eliminated altogether. DCHA is estimating that there will be 190 parking spaces in the new lot, and that the lot will continue to be available during the construction of the new apartment building. There will probably be some disruptions when the building construction gets underway, but DCHA expects them to be minor. There's no timeline for when the 600,000-square-foot office building that's also part of the Capper Hope VI plans would get built along the M Street portion of the block, so people who use the lot on a daily basis are probably safe to bet on having it for a while.
* Residents may not be aware that DCHA is also involved in the disposition of the current DPW operations at New Jersey and K, since that block is part of the Capper redevelopment and is slated to eventually have a 322-unit mixed-income apartment building on it. A new site for DPW's trucks has been identified (I don't know where), and once DPW drives off the lot for the last time, the environmental assessments and abatement of the site can get underway. And, as much as it pains me to imagine the neighborhood without that smokestack, it's anticipated that the building and the smokestack will be demolished by the end of 2012.
* Some of the money that DCHA recently obtained on the bond markets to pay for the second phase of Capitol Quarter is earmarked to go toward the infrastructure work around Canal Park, and DCHA is working with the Canal Park Development Association get this funded. [I'll note that not much seems to have happened along 2nd Street since the park's ceremonial groundbreaking, which would seem to jibe with the delicate "working with" phrasing here.]
 

* The Marines have officially scheduled their "public forum" on their search for a new barracks location (officially dubbed the easy-to-remember Community Integrated Master Plan [CIMP] process) for Tuesday, Nov. 30, starting with an open house at 5 pm, followed by "speakers representing the community of stakeholders" who will "present their viewpoints," followed by a discussion period. It will be held in the North Hall of Eastern Market, at 7th and North Carolina, SE.
This won't be a meeting where the new location will be unveiled; in fact, ANC 6B commissioner Norm Metzger says "it will be a year or more" before a Request for Proposals for a new site will even be issued, with construction to start in 2013 at the earliest. (This is perhaps a little longer than the timeline that was talked about just a few weeks ago, which included a hoped-for start of construction early in FY13, better known as late 2012.) For more info, you can see the map of the remaining possible sites, as well as an updated version of their "Comparison of Key Components and Consensus Elements" of potential sites. And of course all of my previous entries.
* At the September ANC 6B meeting, I was told that CSX was expecting to announce that their first "public scoping meeting" for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project would be on Oct. 20; however, that planned session is being postponed, with a new date to be announced.
 

Just passed my way from the Capitol Riverfront BID, a statement taking strong exception to the WalletPop/NeighborhoodScout.com ranking of "L Street, SE" as the 9th Most Dangerous Neighborhood in the US.
[Note: If you want to peruse the crime statistics for the neighborhood from 2005 to today, here they are, viewable by year, crime/type, etc. The information comes directly from the city's data feed for crime.]
"In direct contradiction to recent media reports, the popular Capitol Riverfront neighborhood around L Street, SE hosts one of the safest streets in the nation's capital, according to the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District (BID).
"'The Capitol Riverfront is a safe and welcoming neighborhood,' said Michael Stevens, executive director of the Capitol Riverfront BID. 'The Capitol Riverfront BID District takes crime very seriously and will not allow fictitious reporting about crime rates in our neighborhood to go unchallenged.'
"On October 4th, the Website walletpop.com posted a ranking of the 25 most dangerous neighborhoods in America based on data credited to another site, neighborhoodscout.com. The ranking listed the L Street SE neighborhood, a significant portion of the Capitol Riverfront BID, as the ninth most dangerous neighborhood in America, a fact the BID vigorously refutes.
"'We demand that walletpop.com and Dr. Andrew Schiller of neighborhoodscout.com remove L Street SE from their ranking and correct this inaccurate and fictitious data,' said Stevens.
"According to the Metropolitan Police Department 2009 statistics for the L Street SE corridor, there have been zero homicides in the area since 2004, and the violent crime rate was 8.98 crimes per 1,000 people, in sharp contrast to the overinflated and erroneous violent crime rate of 111.34 per 1,000 reported by neighborhoodscout.com and walletpop.com. The scant rate of 8.98 of violent crimes per 1,000 along the L Street SE Corridor, is below even Walletpop.com's overall DC average of 14.59 violent crimes per 1,000 residents. Even as far back as 2007, the L Street Corridor SE saw only 45 violent crimes.
"'NeighborhoodScout.com's disclaimer that "Although we work hard to provide premium quality information, the content contained in any NeighborhoodScout Report is a work of art" is not a justification for inaccurate data, erroneous conclusions, and the posting of unsubstantiated rankings and misinformation about a safe neighborhood to the public,' said Stevens."

 

Some news on Near Southeast, still not the 9th Most Dangerous Neighborhood in the US:
* The National Capital Planning Commission's staff has recommended approval of the new designs for 401 M Street at the Yards, the new-construction building now redesigned to have residential units on top of a grocery-store-that-totally-isn't-Harris-Teeter-because-they-haven't-said-so-officially. The staff "recommends that the Commission recommend" [I love that] "that the massing and facade scale and articulation of the new building on Parcel D be studied and refined further as the design is developed. Staff notes that the grocery store should be treated with cladding that differentiates it from the residential tower and clearly acknowledges the presence and complements the scale of the sentry tower." You can see the designs on my 401 M page. The NCPC meets Thursday, Oct. 7, but this is a consent calendar agenda item, so it won't be discussed at the meeting.
* A subscribers-only WBJ piece discusses the new "Austin Grill Express" food-court concession that serves wings, burritos, tacos, and salads, that already has 11 locations since it launched about a year ago. There's another 11 on the way by the end of the year, and the owner is hoping for another 40 to 50 of them next year. One of the locations the owners are talking to? Nationals Park.
* What would the Blue Castle look like if it weren't blue? Madison Marquette included a rendering of a revamped 770 M (with what looks like a grocery offering of some sort) in the slides it showed at last week's Southwest Waterfront public meeting. There's been no official news of plans for the building, or a timeline on when work might happen. For those just joining us, the Blue Castle was originally a "car barn" back when DC had trolleys and then streetcars.
 

If you're in the mood for a spit-take with your morning coffee, this link should do it. WalletPop.com has posted what it apparently thinks is a legitimate study of the "25 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods" in the country, and coming in at #9 is.... Near Southeast???? Near Southeast, which hasn't had a murder since 20052004, and has had a grand total of seven assaults with a deadly weapon this year? And yet somehow this "exclusive data developed by Dr. Andrew Schiller's team at NeighborhoodScout.com" is predicting that there will be 240 violent crimes in the neighborhood each year. As reader A put it when passing the link along, "I think I could name at least 9 neighborhoods in DC more dangerous."
Perhaps when pulling together this clearly rigorous study they wandered by my map of the murders in Near Southeast between 1987 and 2004 and forgot to read the dates on the data. More likely is a glitch with their algorithm comparing crime reports with the size of the population (which has been pretty small in Near Southeast over the past few years). Or a mixup with addresses. But otherwise, my goodness....!
UPDATE: Further ruminations on this travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham [ahem] from DCist and NBC4. And DC Urban Turf finds that this list has gotten into trouble in the past.
UPDATE II: Here's ABC7's video report on the story, which includes an extremely rare on-camera appearance by yours truly. As should be clear by now, if there's anything that gets me riled up, it's factual inaccuracies.
UPDATE III: And NBC4's 11 pm report. If indeed the study included number of stolen cars to consider a neighborhood "dangerous," then yes, I can see how Near SE's numbers would skew high, especially if they used 2008 crime data. (A lot of cars got stolen during the 2006-2008 era, when construction workers came to the area to build the stadium and other buildings, and there were few people on the streets during the day to act as "eyes and ears.") But still, does that make a neighborhood *dangerous*? Yeesh.
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More posts: crime
 

While normal people have spent their weekend recreating and taking it easy, I've been trying to find out more about the just-announced foreclosure sale of 100 M, the 220,000-square-foot office building that has been tied up in Opus East's Chapter 7 liquidation.
My big question was about why this is being billed as a sale of a "60-Year Leasehold Interest," and what I've found out is that Opus never owned the land, but instead had entered into a lease with and paid rent to the landowners. (Who are the people behind "Square 743 Inc"? I'd love for someone to tell me!) When Opus's operations went south, their lender (Bank of America) stopped funding the construction loan, so contractors stopped being paid, liens were filed, bankruptcy case got ugly, etc. etc.; basically, it's been a mess.
BoA is now washing its hands of it all, and is looking to get back some amount of the $58 million currently owed on the construction loan. (The land ownership is not being foreclosed on.) I've heard that BoA contracted with CB Richard Ellis earlier this year to sell the loan, and there's speculation that BoA may have a deal with an investor already, even though the Notice of Foreclosure Sale still lists BoA as the holder of the note. This would be similar to the way JPI's empty lot at 23 I Street changed hands a year ago, with SunTrust Bank selling the note to Ruben Companies, who then instituted foreclosure proceedings and took ownership of the property when no bidders came forward.
However, while the word "foreclosure" usually conjures up feelings of doom and gloom, for 100 M this should be a step up from Opus's liquidation. Instead of continuing to be tied up with companies and lenders and courts who have no interest or wherewithal to spend the money needed to clean up the mess and to market and lease the building's office and retail spaces, there may now be at least one investor--and maybe others, if the foreclosure sale brings bidders--who feels that the building is worth taking a gamble on now for a return on investment later. (Though it's worth noting that there is not a similar feeling of optimism about any new office projects in the area any time soon, with on-spec construction still completely DOA.)
We shall see how it all shakes out.
The auction is scheduled for Oct. 28 at noon, so this building can be yours for a mere $5 million deposit and an all-cash winning bid. It's currently 43 percent leased.
 

[Great--big news at 5 pm on Friday. Hope somebody actually reads this] On Sept. 21, a notice of foreclosure sale was filed for 100 M Street SE, the 220,000-square-foot office building built by Opus East and completed in late 2008. A few months later, Opus became the biggest Near Southeast casualty of the recession, filing for Chapter 7 liquidation and leaving their 440,000-square-foot office project at 1015 Half St. unfinished. While 1015 Half was soon picked up by the Douglas Wilson Companies and is now being completed, 100 M has remained at sea, despite a rumor a year ago (quickly shot down) that Mayfield Gentry was buying it for $80 million.
The 100 M auction is scheduled for Oct. 28 at noon; I admit to being pretty clueless on foreclosures and auctions and CRE minutiae, so I don't know if the fact that it is technically an auction of a "60-Year Leasehold Interest" in the building has any significance to us lay folks. I imagine the business press will have more on this story.
According to the auctioneers, 100 M is currently 43 percent leased.
(And, by the way, the blue sky in the above image is not faked. I've never ever seen as electric blue a sky as I did the morning I took that photo.)
[hat tip to reader J]
 




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