Near Southeast DC: Past News Items - November 2006
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Capper Demolition Part III Moving Slowly; The End of the Cappers
Nov 30, 2006 3:42 PM
The demolition of the final two blocks of Capper/Carrollsburg buildings got off to a quick start last week with two buildings gone almost immediately, but since then only one building (along K between 2nd and 3rd) has been worked on (now about 75% demolished), and it doesn't look like they've done any work on the site for the past two days. That still doesn't stop me from taking pictures, so there's an ever-so-incremental update to the Capper/Carrollsburg page. Thanks to the current Google Satellite images of Near Southeast still being from about 2002, plus this overhead shot I have from 1999, I was able to count that there were fifty Capper/Carrollsburg buildings in the late 1990s (ranging from the seven-story Capper Seniors building at 7th and M to the three other five-story apartment buildings along Virginia between 5th and 7th to the four-story blue-roofed buildings along 4th and 5th streets to the two-story dwellings along 2nd and 3rd); there are now six left (well, 6.25), and five of those will probably be gone within the next month, leaving only old Capper Seniors standing--but with its residents starting to be moved to the new Capper Seniors #1 soon and to Capper Seniors #2 in spring, it too will probably be gone before too many more months go by. (If you're wondering, the first Carrollsburg Dwellings were built in 1941, and the first of the Capper apartment buildings opened in 1958; old Capper Seniors was originally "all-ages" public housing, but was closed in 1973, then reopened in 1981 [six years behind schedule] as a seniors building.)

Near Southeast Features Roundup
Nov 30, 2006 1:41 PM

Here's a few recent stories from some rather varied publications that reference Near Southeast in someway:

The Chesapeake Bay Journal has a long story about the Anacostia River ("There's Still Hope for the Anacostia In Spite of All the Strikes Against It") talking about the problems the Anacostia contends with (such as antiquated sewage systems resulting in untreated wastewater being dumped into the river, toxins that are giving fish tumors, and all the trash), then describes the efforts being made to clean up the river, including green roofs and other low-impact development possibilities (the DOT's green roof, the stadium's attempts to "be green") and the AWC's pledge to make the Anacostia a clean, healthy river.
It's not yet online (sacrilege!), but this month's Dwell magazine has a feature story on the Anacostia Waterfront ("Even if politics remain dirty, at least DC's ambitious Anacostia Waterfront will make the city a little cleaner").
The Financial Times Deutschland (JDLand scans the globe to bring you the news!) has a quick blurb detailing the city's "decade-long transformation from financial laughing-stock to boom town," mentioning specifically the rise of the Ballpark District.

Edge/Wet Try to Head to Northeast
Nov 30, 2006 1:34 PM
The Washington Times (worried about potential undesired neighbors at its offices on New York Avenue) is reporting that the gay nightclubs Edge and Wet, which operated at Half and L until September, want to move to 2046 West Virginia Ave. NE, not far from where its old neighbor Club 55 is trying to move (3350 New York Ave.). ANC 5B is opposing both moves.

South Capitol Street/I-395 Ramp Closures Dec. 4-7
Nov 28, 2006 3:57 PM

From DDOT: The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) advises motorists that the exit ramps from South Capitol Street to both I-395 northbound and southbound will be closed for maintenance from Monday December 4 through Thursday December 7 from 8 pm to 4 am. The below detour will be set-up to guide motorists:

  • Northbound I-395 traffic should continue north on South Capitol Street crossing under I-395. Traffic should then turn left onto Washington Avenue and turn left onto the ramp for northbound I-395 at D Street
  • Westbound I-395 traffic should continue north on South Capitol Street crossing under I-395. Traffic should then bear left onto Washington Avenue and turn left onto C Street. Traffic should then turn left onto Second Street and then bear left onto the ramp for Southbound I-395.
  • More posts: South Capitol St.

    Florida Rock Zoning Hearing
    Nov 28, 2006 10:57 AM
    The planned 1.1-million-sq-ft Florida Rock development at 1st and Potomac Avenues (across the street from the new Nationals ballpark) had another Zoning Commission hearing last night, to address some of the concerns expressed by the ZC at the first hearing in September, chief among them the design of the east end of the east office building (see map to orient yourself), which commissioners felt disrupted the line of sight to the Anacostia River from the stadium's grand staircase and viewing platforms. This section of the building--which will house a signficant portion of the project's retail offerings--has now been redesigned so that one will be able to see the Earth Conservation Corps pumphouse from the center of the staircase. This eastern end of the development also faces the new planned First Street Plaza, a 40,000-sq-ft public park to be placed at the terminus of First Street, to draw people to the riverfront. Florida Rock is proffering $3.7 million toward the design, construction and maintenance of this park that the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation will develop (total cost estimated to be $15 million). The record is being held open for two more weeks, so look for a vote on the project at the January 8 meeting; I hope to have updated renderings showing the redesigned east building by that point. As for a timeline, Florida Rock estimates that construction on the first phase--the east office building--would begin in early 2008; there has been no announcement from the AWC as to any sort of timeline on the First Street Plaza (which presumably also depends on the acquiring of the WASA land on that site).

    Upcoming Zoning Hearings
    Nov 26, 2006 5:36 PM
    Just a reminder (in case you don't stay glued to my Calendar of Upcoming Events) that tomorrow (Monday Nov. 27) is the continuation of the Zoning Commission's hearing on Florida Rock's 2nd Stage PUD. It's available via live webcast starting at 6:30 pm. There are also three more Near Southeast ZC hearings in the next few weeks and months: on Dec. 7 is the zoning hearing for William C. Smith's 250 M Street office building, which could be interesting because the discussion at the July 10 ZC meeting about this project (starting on page 72 of this transcript) showed the ZC members to be, one could say, somewhat skeptical of the building's initial design. Then, on Jan. 11, Monument Realty will have its Half Street office / hotel / residential development zoning hearing. Finally, on Feb. 22, the Camden Development residential project at 1325 South Capitol Street will have its Capitol Gateway Overlay Review. Interested members of the public should note that there are mechanisms built into the zoning hearing process for public comment, and if you feel strongly one way or another about a project, this is a time when you should make yourself heard. Visit the Zoning Commission web site for additional details. (Of course, the time when I decide to highlight this public participation aspect of the zoning process is when only one of these four pending ZC hearings actually has a Public Hearing Notice--containing the instructions for participating--posted on the ZC calendar.)

    New Photos Here and There
    Nov 26, 2006 12:05 PM
    With the lovely weather, I've wandered out to take some photos around the Hood, and have posted a couple new ones here and there. First, I went to Anacostia Park and Poplar Point and took a bunch of new photos of the Near Southeast waterfront, and so now have my first shots of the stadium construction as seen from across the river. There's also now photos of the latest demolition at Capper/Carrollsburg (which also means two new entries on my Near SE's Demolished Buildings page), and a couple new shots of JPI's 70/100 I Street residential project (mainly showing the increasingly large hole in the ground). There's also a couple new photos on the Monument Realty/Half Street page as well as new additions and rejiggering (and a new waterfront shot) to the Ballpark District/More Photos page. Definitely look for the icon on these pages, because the additions are sprinkled throughout.
    More posts: 20 M, Capper, Nationals Park

    Akridge Pays $7 Million For 1st Street Land
    Nov 22, 2006 10:14 AM
    The DC Property Sales database runs about six weeks behind the calendar, so it's only now reporting that in late September the John Akridge Companies paid $7 million for six properties totalling 11,145 sq ft on the east side of First Street between K and L, currently home to an auto repair shop and an empty lot. Akridge has owned since the late 1980s an empty lot totalling 3,934 sq ft on this site, so they now own everything in this block of 1st Street except for the Market Deli land on the corner of 1st and L and the two car repair shops on the corner of 1st and K. No announcement so far as to any plans for this land. See my North of M map to orient yourself--and note that the photo at the top of the North of M page shows the block in question, with the two beige brick buildings at left being owned by the William Cohen/Willco Construction Company, and the red brick building and the empty lots to its right now owned by Akridge.

    Exxon Digging at South Capitol and I
    Nov 22, 2006 10:03 AM
    Reality is always a few days ahead of bureaucracy, so the Building Permits Feed is telling us what our eyes have already seen, that digging is going on at the closed Exxon station at South Capitol and I streets, excavating the underground gas storage tanks. I've heard no rumors about any impending development or sale of the land, but will of course post anything I hear (and if you know something about what's happening there, feel free to tell me). The station closed in May 2006, not long after its owner pleaded guilty to fraudulently double-billing government contractors more than $120,000 and was sentenced to 12-18 months in prison.
    More posts: South Capitol St.

    Capper Demolition Moves to Last "Ribbon"
    Nov 21, 2006 1:01 PM
    Today there is demolition being done on the two-story Capper buildings on the block bounded by 3rd, L, 2nd and K. It's the second-to-last remaining block of Capper structures (along with those one block to the north), and one would think these shouldn't take that long to demolish (famous last words). The three blocks between I and M and 2nd and 3rd that face the school bus lots/Canal Park site will eventually be home to three mixed-income apartment buildings totalling 550 units--a six-story 147-unit building between I and K, an 11-story 295-unit tower between K and L, and a 10-story 107-unit building south of L, on the north end of the block that will also be home to the 250 M Street office building. There has been no timeline announced for when construction on any of these three apartment buildings would begin.
    More posts: Capper

    Alley Closings and the Council - Schedule Change
    Nov 20, 2006 2:22 PM

    The four alley closings bills that had their public roundtables last week have now been added to the agenda for the Nov. 21 City Council Committee of the Whole session. This is a quick procedural step, where council officers report as to whether the bill is in good legal standing and whether the record is complete; if approved, the bills then are scheduled for their first readings, when bills can be debated by the council and amendments offered, and then voted on or tabled. Speaking of first readings, the fifth currently active Near Southeast alley closing bill (B16-0818, for the east side of Square 701, along First Street between M and N) will have its first reading and vote on Nov. 14.

    UPDATE, 11/20: The Nov. 21 session has been postponed to Dec. 5, so these four bills will have to wait a few extra days. Note that the Dec. 5 session is also scheduled to have second reading/final votes on two other bills of interest, the Square 701 (west side/Cohen family) alley closings bill and the Capper PILOT funding bill. See my Upcoming Events calendar as always for details.

    Developer Reaction to the Stadium Garages
    Nov 20, 2006 9:21 AM
    In the second part of today's Dana Hedgpeth column in the Post, various developers of projects near the stadium (Monument Realty, Faison, and Ron Cohen) are quoted about their feelings on the tortuous process that led to the aboveground parking garages at the baseball stadium. Said F. Russell Hines of Monument Realty, who owns much of the land directly across N Street: "It's an unfortunate solution[.] Our development would be better if there was complimentary retail and a mix of uses on the other side of N Street. It's not a disaster . . . but this is a significant setback[.] We spent months and months of great plans of what this area was going to look like with the Anacostia Waterfront Corp., and in the end it feels like it's every man for himself. We're going to do what we can to create an area where people come off the Metro and they walk along the streets, where there's restaurants and stores and a real experience." (I wonder if this could be interpreted as also a bit of a smack against the AWC's still-never-released "Ballpark District Master Plan" process.) One of Monument's principals, Jeffrey T. Neal, is quoted as saying "We have a vision for Half Street SE between M and N streets Southeast that has the potential to be one of the most exciting neighborhoods in the mid-Atlantic, but that vision won't happen if the process looks like the one that produced two parking garages[.] There's a better solution . . . than two parking garages. Let the private sector do it. There are zoning laws already in place." For balance, there's Ron Cohen, developer of Square 699N (bounded by Half, K, L, and 1st): It's not going to be good, bad or indifferent[.] "It would have been nice to have buildings lining the parking but there's so much activity and energy in that corridor that it doesn't make a heck of a difference one way or the other."

    New E-Mail Notification System for Near Southeast Updates
    Nov 19, 2006 4:04 PM

    You can now receive automated daily e-mails with the latest blog entries from here at the Near Southeast web site; if there were new entries posted the previous day, an e-mail will be sent early in the morning containing all of them. If there were no posts, no e-mails will be sent. You can also get your Near Southeast fix via RSS feed, especially now that RSS feeds are built into IE7 (you HAVE upgraded, right?); if you want to learn more about RSS (web) feeds, this Wikipedia entry is a good start. If you're a subscriber to my existing mailing list (which goes out more or less twice a week), be advised that that list's days may be numbered (and it's no longer accepting new subscriptions), and so you may need to move to the automated daily e-mails list or a feed reader (like Bloglines, or My Yahoo, or Google). Or you can just come visit the web site nine or 10 times a day, like the cool people do.

    More posts:

    Workforce Lottery - 172 Entrants for 20 Homes
    Nov 17, 2006 10:33 PM
    With the Capitol Quarter workforce housing lottery mere hours away, I've been told that 172 interested parties have been certified and will be entered in the drawing Saturday morning at 9 am. There were a few last-minute changes made by DCHA in the rules governoring the workforce program because of the huge response (though, again, I hope if you're in the lottery you're registered with the EYA web site and not depending on me to tell you this a mere 11 hours beforehand!)--quoting from an EYA e-mail, "the three-bedroom Elliott model may not be reserved by purchasers with a household size of less than two"; and "the Price Control Period will be enforced with a soft second-trust rather than a restrictive covenant. In addition, the Price Control period has been modified to encourage initial occupants to remain in the workforce homes for the first three years after initial settlement." If this makes no sense, read the Workforce Housing Guidelines for more details. I'll be there at 9 am to view the festivities (unless I oversleep, which with my lazy bones is always possible), so wave and say hi. And remember, there will be about 70 more workforce homes available for purchase as more of Capitol Quarter comes on line, so there will be more opportunities in the coming months for qualified buyers to purchase one of these moderate-income-level homes. UPDATE: As you can see from the photo above, it was just like the lottery shows on TV--ping pong balls in a barrel with numbers on them. Fifty numbers were picked, and 20 of those people (going down through the list in the order they were picked) will sign reservation contracts. Four of the top 20 already appeared to not be staying around to sign reservations, so folks lower down the list who thought they didn't have a chance might still see a glimmer of hope....
    More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter

    Old Near Southeast Nightclubs Still Struggling to Relocate
    Nov 17, 2006 1:02 PM
    Washington City Paper surveys the state of the strip club business in DC, and describes the difficulties that nightclubs formerly of Near Southeast--Wet/Edge, Club 55, and the O Street gay nightclubs owned by Robert Siegel--have had trying to relocate elsewhere in the city. One big item that needs better explanation in the story--the Nexus Gold Club isn't just "contemplating" leaving Near Southeast, the land it sits on is soon going to become JPI's 909 New Jersey Avenue residential tower, and the scuttlebutt continues to be that Nexus will be closing by the end of the year.

    Feds Hand Over Land to DC
    Nov 17, 2006 11:18 AM
    The big news of the day yesterday for DC was the Senate's passing of HR3699, which will transfer a number of federally controlled properties to DC, including Poplar Point and Reservation 13 (which are both large parts of the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative). The Post article mentions that this also includes some small properties along Potomac Avenue by the baseball stadium. There's also one other Near Southeast parcel (that I know of) in the land transfer bill, and that's Reservation 17A, a small bit of land along New Jersey Avenue north of the DPW trash transfer station at I Street, which now helps clear the way for the reopening of I Street between 2nd and New Jersey, a plan currently awaiting city council approval.

    CG Overlay Hearing Tonight - And Your (Extremely Long) Zoning Lesson of the Day
    Nov 16, 2006 11:28 AM

    Tonight the Zoning Commission is having a public hearing on case 06-25, a text amendment to the Capitol Gateway Overlay that would include the west side of South Capitol Street in the CG Overlay and also establish a ZC review and approval process for new developments that abut South Capitol (as is currently the case for new projects along M Street). The Capitol Gateway Overlay spells out in extreme detail exactly what the requirements are for developments along South Capitol, M, and in the Ballpark District and over to Buzzards Point, and I suggest that anyone who is interested (or concerned) about the type of development that may be coming to Near Southeast should pour themselves 9 or 10 cups of coffee and read this document. (It's not a complete version because one doesn't currently seem to exist, I cobbled this together from various ZC documents.) The preamble is worth highlighting, to see how the city has spelled out what it envisions for the area:

    The purposes of the CG Overlay District are to:
    (a) Assure development of the area with a mixture of residential and commercial uses, and a suitable height, bulk and design of buildings, as generally indicated in the Comprehensive Plan and recommended by planning studies of the area;
    (b) Encourage a variety of support and visitor-related uses, such as retail, service, entertainment, cultural and hotel or inn uses;
    (c) Allow for continuation of existing industrial uses, which are important economic assets to the city, during the extended period projected for redevelopment;
    (d) Provide for a reduced height and bulk of buildings along the Anacostia riverfront in the interest of ensuring views over and around waterfront buildings, and provide for continuous public open space along the waterfront with frequent public access points; and
    (e) Require suitable ground-level retail and service uses and adequate sidewalk width along M Street, S.E., near the Navy Yard Metrorail station.
    From there, you are treated to pages and pages and pages of very specific requirements set out for developers (i.e., items like "Each new building shall devote not less than thirty-five percent (35%) of the gross floor area of the ground floor to retail, service, entertainment, or arts uses ("preferred uses") [...]; provided, that the following uses shall not be permitted: automobile, laundry, drive-through accessory to any use, gasoline service stations, and office uses (other than those accessory to the administration, maintenance, or leasing of the building). Such preferred uses shall occupy 100% of the building's street frontage along M Street, except for space devoted to building entrances or required to be devoted to fire control.")
    There is also a separate Southeast Federal Center Overlay, again laying out much detail about what is required and allowed for that development. There's even a great map on the last page that clearly shows the allowed uses, with the 5.4-acre waterfront park and residential-zoned areas being closest to the water (so there's no plan in place to allow office buildings right on the water or even near it; the commercial zones of the SEFC are all along First Street and M Street).
    I think even just casual browsing through these documents can be a bit of an eye-opener for people (like me) who don't realize exactly how many requirements are already in place for these two areas. Of course, developers can ask for relief from certain rules (or the city council can just override the ZC altogether), but having documents such as these are a solid foundation. So it's good to know what's in them.
    UPDATE: (like you're still reading) The Case 06-25 CG Overlay text amendment hearing was over last night in a flash; the record is being held open until Nov. 30, with action most likely to be taken at the ZC's Dec. 11 meeting.

    Zoning Filing to Move WMATA Parking - Update: Approved
    Nov 16, 2006 11:09 AM

    In order to start construction ASAP on both the expansion of the Navy Yard Metro entrance at Half and M and mixed-use offerings along Half Street, Monument Realty and WMATA are asking the DC Zoning Commission for an emergency text amendment to the Capitol Gateway Overlay to allow a temporary parking lot for WMATA employees to be built, replacing the one currently atop the Navy Yard station. This new lot would be on South Capitol Street between M and N, on the lot just south of the Public Storage building and just north of the Amoco station (lot 0700 0046 for those of you with parcel maps), and would be accessed from Van Street. The text amendment would restrict the parking lot's life to three years--by that point, Monument's construction along Half Street should completed and WMATA employees would then be able to park in those underground lots. This will come before the Zoning Commission for setdown on Nov. 13; because it is being requested on an emergency basis, the Office of Planning is recommending that the text amendment take effect immediately upon setdown, and is requesting that it be set down for a hearing at the earliest possible date. Good to see that Monument and WMATA are moving fast. UPDATE, 11/16: This text amendment was approved on an emergency basis, which means that it goes into effect immediately and for 120 days, but Monument still has to go to the ZC during that time for a hearing to get permanent approval of the amendment plus approval of the parking lot itself because it lies in a CG Overlay mandatory review area. (See the above entry for more on THAT!)

    Capitol Quarter Workforce Housing Lottery
    Nov 16, 2006 8:44 AM
    Hopefully the people who are interested in purchasing a workforce housing unit at Capitol Quarter are already registered with the EYA web site and are receiving the e-mail updates, but I'll still mention here that the first lottery for workforce (i.e., moderate income) units will be held this Saturday, Nov. 18, beginning at 9 am. There are a series of requirements that must be met in order to participate in the lottery, and a visit to the Sales Center at 4th and L on either Nov. 16 or Nov. 17 is required to be certified. And, like all good drawings, you must be present to win. More information is available on the Capitol Quarter Workforce web site or by getting in touch with EYA (202-484-0360). UPDATE, 11/16: The Washington Times published a piece today on the lottery this Saturday, but I bet EYA wishes that the article mentioned that you can't just show up on Saturday for the lottery, that you need to go to the sales center either today or tomorrow to be certified.... (And also the comment that EYA decided to do a lottery for the workforce housing because the first market-rate units sold out immediately isn't quite right, the lottery concept was announced before the market-rate units sent on sale.)
    More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter

    Reading the Tea Leaves on Nation/1015 Half
    Nov 15, 2006 10:16 PM
    The city's Issued Building Permit data feed just updated (and guys, isn't it time to admit you're only updating it weekly and not daily?), and lo and behold there's an issued permit listed for 1015 Half Street, the site of the defunct Nation nightclub, where Potomac Investment Properties is planning 420,000 sq ft of office space with 20,000 sq ft of retail. The permit info seems a bit incomplete--no actual permit number, some other info missing on the complete entry, and the building permit application submitted two years ago still shows one discipline needing to be approved. But I note that there's also a Public Space Permit that went into effect last week for water and sewer excavation at 1015 Half, a permit that can sometimes signal preparations for demolition (because the water and sewer lines into the property need to be capped before a building can be demolished). But certainly even the existence of these permits--along with the sign on the north side of the Nation building from Cushman and Wakefield advertising office space "coming soon"--would seem to indicate that movement isn't far away. The other half of this block (where the parking lot is, fronting South Capitol) is owned by the Lerner family, who are proposing 1000 South Capitol (320,000 sq ft office building) on that lot, but have not announced any timetable. See my North of M map to get your bearings. (And I guess it might be time for 1015 Half to get its own page. It never stops!) Anyone with the scoop (c'mon, Mr. Gewirz, I know you're lurking out there) feel free to fill me in.
    More posts: 1015 Half, mnorth
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