44 Blog Posts
Go to Page:
Monday Morning Tidbits
Dec 31, 2007 8:52 AM
It's New Year's Eve, and I'm trying desperately to wring two more days of laziness out of this holiday season, but here's a couple items anyway:
* I'm not about to plunk down the $35 a month for a subscription to find out for sure, but this BidClerk.com posting
on a search for a general contractor sounds pretty familiar
: "Renovation of and a new addition to a multi-residential complex in Washington. Completed construction plans call for the construction of a six-story, 170-unit apartment building to include renovation of an existing four-story, 157,000-square-foot warehouse with a two-story, 49,000-square-foot addition above the existing roof. General contractor bids are due January 10, 2008." Could there really be that many buildings in the city other than the brown-and-white Pattern/Joiner Shop at The Yards
that would so perfectly fit that description?
* If you're driving through the intersection at Half and I
, you might be so distracted by the temporary blacktop that now cuts across the old southwest corner that you miss the new sign on the southeast corner advertising DRI/Transwestern's Square 696
project. There's a rendering but no other details.
* The DC Foreign Car garage at 31 K (on the 1015 Half Street
site) has just a few hours to become the last demolished building
of 2007. But maybe they're gunning for the honor of being the first one of 2008.
Another Photo Update - Ballpark West Side, 55 M
Dec 27, 2007 4:00 PM
In case you've already grown tired of the ballpark photos I posted on Monday showing the eastern
sides of Nationals Park, I've now updated the South Capitol Street
images, too. (The northern views will have to wait until the reconstruction of N Street eases.) The main Ballpark Exterior Photo Gallery
is now in pretty good shape after a short span of neglect (but as I said the other day, I think I needed the break).
A few other items of note: The BP Amoco station on the northeast corner of South Capitol and N
has fences up around it--I can't believe no one let me know! It's owned by Monument Realty, and I haven't heard about any near-term plans for the site. This leaves only one gas station in Near Southeast--the Exxon way over at 11th and M. There used to be three gas stations on South Capitol, now there aren't any. (And I've lost yet another source for my Gas Prices page
Also, new fences have gone up around the 1015 Half Street site
, taking up one lane on K Street and on Half Street. Some exterior work was done to the DC Foreign Car building, but the little building is still there. For now.
I hope to get updated photos of 70/100 I
and the pile of rubble that used to be old Capper Seniors
within the next week. There's just too much activity to document these days--I've got to break it up into manageable pieces....
New Page: Nationals Park FAQ
Dec 26, 2007 6:21 PM
I was trying
to take a few days off, but an idea popped into my head during an attempted nap that I just couldn't ignore. So say hello to a new page: my Nationals Park Frequently Asked Questions and Rumor Destruction Page
(call it the Ballpark FAQ
for short). I tried to pull together the questions that I hear and see the most often, from basics about the park's location to all the questions about Metro, parking, and entertainment options around the site. I'm going to keep it updated as events warrant--I know there's going to be a flood of information from the team and the city about how to get to the ballpark as Opening Day gets closer, which will allow many of the FAQ's "specifics haven't been announced" answers to be fleshed out with actual details. It also doesn't address much of the in-the-weeds detail of baseball at the ballpark--I'll leave that to Nationals fan sites.
This FAQ is now the default ballpark page, and replaces the old Stadium Renderings gallery, which has now been moved to a new page
(after all, renderings are less important when the dang thing is just about three months away from opening!). So if your bookmarks have changed, apologies. The exterior
and interior stadium photo galleries
are still in their proper places.
(As for why on earth I didn't do a page like this a loooooong time ago, I plead insanity. Yeesh.)
Ballpark Field General Rallies the Troops
Dec 26, 2007 10:17 AM
Wednesday's Post has a front-page profile of Ronnie Strompf
, Clark's project superintendent overseeing all the construction work at the ballpark
: "World War II had Patton. The Nationals ballpark has Ronnie Strompf." There's also a slideshow of photos of Strompf and the ballpark.
A Christmas Present - New Stadium Exterior Shots
Dec 24, 2007 1:28 PM
Thanks to all the right people in all the right places, I've been allowed back along Potomac Avenue and First Street south of N, for the first time in more than two months. (Yay!) Which means I've updated my photos of the Nationals ballpark exterior
on its eastern and southern sides, not only on the main stadium page but also on the First Street
and Potomac Avenue
extended archive pages. Since the webcams no longer show any of the exterior work, it's nice to get a peek at the latest: the grand staircase on the southeastern side is not installed yet, though the grading is being done. The admin building's exterior is moving along nicely as well. And all the streetscape improvements along First and Potomac make for quite a different experience, too.
I hope to go back within a few days and update the South Capitol Street
views, since they're now almost six weeks old. (I was holding to a petulant moratorium of not updating those photos after the various run-ins I had had with security at First and N, though perhaps also I was just taking the opportunity for a bit of a rest break, which was sorely needed.) New shots from along N Street
will probably come before too much longer, though the construction work along there as well as the low December sun will make it hard to get too many good photos along the ballpark's northern edge for a while.
Happy Holidays to All - Light Posting Schedule Ahead
Dec 21, 2007 1:43 PM
With the Christmas downshift already kicking into gear (as I can tell by the tumbleweeds blowing through my inbox today), posting will be sporadic through New Year's. I'll probably have a photo update at some point during that time, and will of course keep scouring for news, but it'll all still add up to a more leisurely schedule for the next week or so. So in the meantime, Happy Holidays to all, and thanks for your interest in my site. I'm not sure it would be *quite* so detailed if there weren't actually people reading it, so I thank you for pushing me forward....
Ballpark and Beyond, and Stadium-Related Tidbits
Dec 20, 2007 9:06 AM
This week's Ballpark and Beyond column
in the Post is my summary of ANC 6D's deliberations
on the ballpark
liquor license. It also references a meeting held last night between community leaders and city and team representatives (though my deadline was before the meeting, so the column couldn't actually include anything *from* the meeting).
The meeting included updates on the road improvements in the area and the Navy Yard Metro station
upgrades, both of which are still on track to be basically done by opening day (the Metro station might "still need another coat of paint", it was said, but will be "serviceable").
The Nationals are still working out their parking plans, not only in terms of the lots near the ballpark but also the satellite parking at RFK, and all the additional planning that goes with it (traffic flow, signage, shuttle buses, drop off/pick up locations, etc.). It appears as of now that there might not be season-ticket-holder lots in Southwest at all, not even at Buzzards Point. There was also mention that stadium-goers will not be funneled through the South Capitol Street exit of the freeway--the team is going to try very hard to move fans through all the other close-by freeway exits, but not South Capitol Street.
Circulator buses will not be part of the transit plans for the first season. But they're planning plenty of bike racks around the ballpark perimeter, and are also still working on a bicycle "valet" parking service.
Also, there's tentative plans for two stadium job fairs, possibly on Feb. 2 and Feb. 26 (details still being worked out).
And, everybody knows that the first few games will be "a challenge."
The general tone of the meeting was more cooperative and collegial than some of these meetings have been in the past (maybe because Tommy Wells was there for the first part and everyone wanted to be on their best behavior). There's plans for more meetings and workshops between these "stakeholders" (I really hate that word) to try to hammer out the best plans for traffic, pedestrian flow, and "curbside management" (aka on-street parking) before it's all then unveiled to the community at public meetings. There was also agreement that the group should get together after the first homestand in April to talk about what works/what doesn't.
Speaking of public meetings, here is the official announcement
about the Jan. 11 city council Committee on Economic Development oversight hearing on "Parking and Traffic Plan for the Nationals' Stadium." It contains information on how to testify at the hearing, if you're so inclined.
Sign Makers Again, and Ben's Chili at the Ballpark
Dec 20, 2007 8:52 AM
Today it's Marc Fisher's turn to write about Gelberg Signs
, the signmakers at Nationals Park
; he talks mostly about their work in hiring disadvantaged DC residents, especially from the Artisans training program at Covenant House, a charity in Northeast that works with homeless young people. "Opponents of public investment in the baseball stadium scoffed at the idea that it would produce anything except the most menial jobs. But in addition to hundreds of construction jobs, the stadium is creating real, lasting positions in careers that, as Luc Brami says, 'can really support a family.' Jobs at Gelberg pay $10 to $30 an hour, with full benefits."
Plus, buried at the end is this item that will perk up everyone's taste buds: "Another bit of welcome news: They're making a sign to go above a Ben's Chili Bowl stand. The legendary U Street eatery will have an outpost at the ballpark."
DCist does a bit of calling around and determines that Ben's Chili Bowl
at the ballpark is not quite a done deal
: ""We are in a good faith conversation with them, but it would be premature to say it's definitely happening. There is no signed contract yet."
And all the stories about Gelberg signs in the past few days make a bit more sense now that I see that there was an unveiling of the ballpark's exterior signage today at Gelberg's offices in Northwest. (Here's a link to the PR NewsWire piece
, but the site hasn't been responding for the past few hours.)
Old Capper Seniors Skeleton All Gone
Dec 19, 2007 8:30 PM
Having driven by this evening, I can report that the last wing of the old Capper Seniors building
has come down in the past few days. Nothing left but a big pile of rubble. I'll go back and get photos when it's not, um, DARK.
Dec 19, 2007 1:18 PM
WTOP put together a short profile yesterday
of the Gelberg Sign Company
, the small local company that won the contract a few months back
to create all the signage for Nationals Park
: "The signs include everything from huge metal letters that will spell out 'Nationals Park' in front of the ballpark, to signs leading to seats, concession stands and rest rooms. [...] With opening day just about 100 days away, crews this week began the process of installing signs, mounting clips and installing hardware."
Official 2008 Nationals Schedule Released
Dec 18, 2007 12:02 PM
In case you're wanting to schedule your 2008 around when the Nats are (or aren't) going to be in the neighborhood, here's the just-released 2008 schedule
, posted over at Barry's place. I'm slowly adding the home games to my calendar
so that locals can have an easy spot to check on home games. And of course this schedule shows that the March 30 Sunday night opener on ESPN against Atlanta reported last week
is now confirmed; ESPN has a quick blurb
on the opener. (UPDATED
to fix ESPN link, and to pass along that MLB.com says
that President Bush has been invited to throw out the first pitch. Start lining up now in order to get through the metal detectors before the fifth inning.)
First Parking Lots About to Start, RFP Issued for Management
Dec 17, 2007 10:27 AM
While the plan that Tommy Wells announced last week
to address on-street parking around the ballpark and on Capitol Hill is just beginning its trek through the legislative process, the first of the new parking lots that the city and the Nationals will want stadium-goers to use will get underway soon. Building permits have been approved in the last few weeks for temporary surface lots in the Capper
footprint at Second and K, Second and L, and Sixth and M, and work on the first two should be starting this month. (The third lot will get started in January, after the wreckage from the almost-completed demolition of the old Capper Seniors building is cleared away.)
At the same time, a Request for Proposals
has been issued by DC Housing Enterprises
for the management of these lots, offering a one-year contract with up to four one-year renewal options. The RFP, while chock full of selection criteria, required certifications and other specifications, also gives a few details about the planned operations of the lots themselves, which together will have about 670 spaces (or more, if valet parking is used). They will be offering monthly prepaid public parking on weekdays from 6 am to 7 pm, at a rate of not less than $150 per month; some daily parking may be allowed as well.
But users of the lots will have to vacate prior to any Nationals game, since the lots are "expected to be subject to an exclusive arrangement" with the team that gives all spaces over to ballgame parking from two hours before the game until three hours after. And a nice arrangement it is--the DC Housing Authority will apparently receive $10 per parking space per game, whether all spaces are used or not.
The zoning rule
passed earlier this year that allowed the creation of temporary ballpark-area lots such as these says that they may also be used for a "seasonal or occasional market for produce, arts or crafts with non-permanent structures," though no plans for anything like that have been announced. The rule also states that the lots can only last until April 2013, since it is believed development around the ballpark will bring plenty of underground parking that will negate the need for these surface lots. The three Capper lots will eventually be replaced with a mix of apartment buildings, townhouses, and office buildings, though start dates for those projects have not been announced.
One block south of Capper, at the Yards, another batch of temporary surface lots
are planned, which would have about 700 spaces. Beyond these and the garages with 1,225 spaces on the ballpark site itself, no other stadium parking locations have been publicly identified, though the Nationals have said they have found enough parking spaces for all season ticket holders--they just haven't said where they all are yet. And the city and the team continue to say that Metro will be the best way to get to the ballpark.
You can check out my stadium parking map
to see where these new lots are--it also shows the other locations where zoning allows temporary lots, plus existing lots and underground garages where parking could be made available.
Updated Photos, Albeit With Gray Skies
Dec 16, 2007 11:47 AM
Before the snow-that-never-was arrived yesterday, I took a quick spin to get some updated photos. There was still a smidgen of sun when I visited the old Capper Seniors
site, where only the southwest wing of the huge building remained standing when I was there (but even that could be gone by now). I also wandered along Tingey Street
behind the DOT HQ
for the first time in a long time to see what's going on with the work at The Yards--they're now preparing to build some temporary parking lots and are doing their infrastructure work before starting the rehabs next year
of three existing buildings into residential and retail offerings. I also took some shots along M Street and at Onyx on First
and 100 M
to take advantage of the overcast skies in those spots, since the building shadows on winter days when the sun's out are almost impossible to work with. Finally, I got updated photos of 55 M Street
, the northern portion of Monument's Half Street project
, where the section along M Street is now three stories high and a fourth story is underway on the southern edge of the building.
City Working on New On-Street Parking Plans Around the Ballpark, in Southwest, and on Capitol Hill
Dec 14, 2007 8:31 PM
There has been much discussion by residents and city officials over the impending "apocalypse" of traffic and parking
congestion with the opening in April of the new ballpark
. Residents not only in Near Southeast (all 400 of you) but in Southwest and on Capitol Hill have been waiting for the city to announce exactly how on-street parking will be handled during games, as there is great concern as to whether residents will still be able to park on their streets and won't have to deal with hundreds or thousands of cars circling the neighborhoods looking for free parking.
It's been thought that the model used at RFK--special parking permit stickers for residents to put on their cars--would be ported over to the new ballpark area, but over the past few months council member Tommy Wells and his staff, along with DDOT, have been working on a pilot plan they hope could address not only the parking issues at the ballpark but also the parking problems seen on Capitol Hill along Pennsylvania Avenue, Barracks Row (Eighth Street), and the streets around Eastern Market. They are looking for ways to balance the needs of residents with the impact on businesses if parking is hard to come by, and are looking at a concept called "Performance Parking." Here's my five-cent summary:
"Retail" streets would have the hours of metered parking extended to seven days a week until late in the evening, and with the prices to park at the meters raised to a level that would discourage some people from arriving by car, opening up more spaces and reducing double-parking and congestion. The adjacent residential streets, now covered by Zone 6 parking rules that ostensibly only allow two hours of visitor parking during weekdays (but are dependent on the parking enforcement folks tracking the cars to know how long they've been there) would see the installation of meter kioskson one side of the street, where nonresidents could park for no more than two hours even until late in the evening and on weekends. (Residents could park on both sides of the street as long as they want.)
These rules would extend with slight tweaks to the streets around the ballpark: "Retail" streets in these areas would allow longer stretches of parking (four-plus hours), but would have rates for metered parking comparable to the amount charged in pay lots, to discourage ballpark-goers from believing that on-street parking would be any cheaper than what's available in existing lots and garages. And with the residential streets having meters that wouldn't allow parking for longer than two hours, most people going to three-hour-plus baseball games would avoid parking on those blocks.
In other words, these restrictions would tell visitors--park in a lot, or take Metro, or walk, or ride your bike, but don't expect to drive down and find a space for free on a street somewhere.
One other facet of this plan would be to use the revenue from these much higher on-street parking rates to pay the cost of the new kiosk-type meters (that cost about $7,800 a pop), the cost of the extra enforcement needed to make the plan work, and also improvements to the streets and the communities to make alternative modes of transportation more enticing (fixing sidewalks, adding bike racks, making bus shelters better, etc.).
This plan has been previewed for local businesses and the ANCs (today it was the media's turn), and it's hoped that a bill creating this special pilot project can start its path through the city council process in early January. Alas, this would not be enough lead time to get it all in place before Opening Day, so there will probably be some tumult during the early part of the season as the city tries to keep stadium visitors from taking over the residential neighborhoods.
You'll no doubt be reading much more about this idea over the coming months, and there will be public meetings and refinements and many words written about it all, I'm sure. And of course one other piece of the puzzle--the locations of the various lots
where the Nationals will be directing season-ticket holders to park--has yet to be made public. Eventually Wells's office will release maps (perhaps soon) showing the streets that could be designated as retail or residential, along with other documents providing far more detail than what I've previewed here.
In the meantime, I'm going to do something I've never done in the nearly five years that I've been running this Near Southeast site--I'm going to open up the floor to comments about this idea, that then hopefully can be read by city officials and other residents to see what people's impressions are of the plans. But be forewarned, if this little low-tech experiment goes off the rails and people start getting out of control, I'll close it down and won't be inclined to give it another shot. So behave. Of course, you'll be commenting on something you probably need to learn much more about to truly be informed, but when does that ever stop anyone on the internet?
Here's a story from the Post
on Wells's parking plan. " 'The ballpark visitors are going to be very tempted to look for cheap parking' on city streets, said Neha Bhatt, a planner in Wells's office. 'We've got to get that out of people's head that free parking exists here.' " The story also reminds me to mention that plans are to make Buzzards Point off-limits to on-street parking during ballgames (though it's likely some cash lots will be built there).
Also, there's going to be an Committee on Economic Development oversight roundtable
on "Parking and Traffic Plan for the Nationals' Stadium" on Jan. 11 at 10 am. (It was originally scheduled for this Monday, the 17th, but they felt like there hadn't been enough public notice. I'll say--I hadn't even heard about it!)
Nationals March 30 Home Opener Approved?
Dec 14, 2007 7:32 PM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting
that the long-rumored debut of Nationals Park on the special March 30 ESPN Sunday night season opening broadcast has gotten its last batch of approvals (from the players association) and is now a "go." (No official confirmation yet.)
The Post is reporting
that this is a done deal as well, though still without confirmation from MLB.
OPM Director Etzkorn Apparently Booted
Dec 14, 2007 6:21 PM
So, I'm scanning this late-Friday-afternoon press release
from the Mayor's office about a new location for the MPD evidence warehouse (a location so secure they won't actually say where it's going to be). The warehouse was one of the functions that was supposed to go into 225 Virginia Ave.
, and reading this took me back to some of those public events
earlier this year where Office of Property Management director Lars Etzkorn tangled with council members when first defending the plan to move MPD there and then when defending the decision not to move
MPD there (the exchanges described here
are my favorites).
So imagine my surprise when reading the end of the warehouse press release: "At the same property news conference, the Mayor introduced Robin-Eve Jasper as the new interim director
of the city's Office of Property Management. The former director, Lars Etzkorn will be nominated to a full-time position on the Contract Appeals Board." Perhaps his absence from the October hearing
on MPD space needs and November's announcement
of the city's plan to get rid of the 225 Virginia lease spoke more than I realized at the time. He did testify just yesterday in front of the city council, with no mention in his remarks
that he'd be leaving his post.
Updated Florida Rock Renderings
Dec 14, 2007 9:12 AM
I've received two new renderings of RiverFront on the Anacostia
, the 5.8-acre mixed-use development planned for the Florida Rock site that sits on the Anacostia River just south of the ballpark. There's a view from the river showing the four buildings that make up the project (two office buildings, one residential, and one hotel), and a detailed view from Potomac Avenue and First Street showing the eastern office building (which would be the first building under construction) and the others along Potomac Avenue that would face the ballpark. The developers will be having a hearing in front of the Zoning Commission sometime within the next few months to get this latest iteration of the design approved; once that process is complete, construction could begin. The entire project will take a number of years to complete. As for the question most often asked--when will the concrete business still operating on the site be shut down?--my learned answer is: I don't know.
Take a look at my RiverFront page
for much more detail on the current design for the site, which also includes a public plaza at the eastern end of the site that will abut Diamond Teague Park
(and that helps to give unobstructed views of the river from the ballpark
's grand staircase). The planned Anacostia Riverwalk runs all along the site's south side, with a promenade area no less than 75 feet wide (and with separate bike and pedestrian paths). There's also "Potomac Quay", a glass-enclosed retail walk running between the eastern office building and the residential building and a huge water feature at the "Piazza Cascade", tieing together the three western buildings of the project. And, for a look at some of the long and winding road that this project has traversed over the years, scan the news items
WMATA Approves Plan for New Bus Garage, Navy Yard East Entrance Sale
Dec 13, 2007 2:47 PM
While the main stories in the media coming out of today's WMATA board meetings will no doubt be the approval of fare increases
, my focus was on other action items:
* The board also approved
the plan to build a new 114-bus garage at DC Village
to replace the Southeastern Bus Garage
at Half and M, contingent on not only a series of land transfers between the city and WMATA but also on the $69.25 million sale of the current bus garage site to Akridge, since the proceeds from that sale are necessary to both fund the new garage and the interim costs associated with continuing the old garage's functions until the new site is ready. Marion Barry spoke forcefully in support of the move, speaking not only of his constituents' strong support for building a new facility in Ward 8 but also that the current garage is "in the way of progress," situated as it is smack in the middle of the fledgling Ballpark District.
No timeframe for closing the current garage was discussed by the WMATA board, and it was only mentioned in passing that Monument Realty's litigation surrounding the sale of the old garage is still pending. WMATA employees who I've talked to at Half and M in recent days have said they were initially told the garage would be vacated this month, then were told it would be next month, and are now being told that there's no firm date planned.
If indeed WMATA is not planning to close the garage before Opening Day, it will need to come up with plans for moving their buses in and out of that space while dodging tens of thousands of pedestrians, or how they'll shut down the garage during game times. It would also mean that the garage's possible use as a temporary parking facility would be off the boards.
Dec 13, 2007 10:32 AM
Here's your dreary Thursday morning reading material:
* The Post writes
about the labor disputes at the ballpark: "Labor leaders are defending the hiring practices at the construction site of the new Washington Nationals ballpark, saying that efforts to give jobs to D.C. residents have been an 'unequivocal success.' [...] [T]he leader of the Metropolitan Washington Council of the AFL-CIO said the project has been successful in hiring District workers. The letter disputed criticism from some local activists that the ballpark had not come through with jobs for city residents."
* The Examiner, NBC4
, and the Post
write about the presentations last night of the four finalists' plans for redeveloping Poplar Point
. Channel 4 also includes a slideshow of the designs
and links to information on each plan's community benefits. Apparently one of the propsals includes "an aerial tram
that would carry passengers across the river to the new baseball stadium." And Now, Anacostia
has some bullet points on the various presentations as well.
I should also add this opinion piece in the Examiner
by Phil Wood on his impressions of the new ballpark
. "If you asked me to describe the place in a single word, I'm ready to answer. Compelling."
WTDW: South Capitol Boarded-Up Properties
Dec 12, 2007 10:23 AM
Time again to dig into the What's the Deal With....?
mailbag. Reader BH has asked about the two boarded-up gas stations and the old KFC along South Capitol Street
, wondering when they're going to be demolished.
I have no answer, alas, for the former Exxon station on the east side of the street at I, which has been closed since May 2006
after its owner pleaded guilty
to double-billing government contractors for more than $120,000; JPI was apparently somewhat interested in acquiring it so that they could build 23 I
on the entire block, but that doesn't seem to have happened.
The KFC/Taco Bell closed in June after being bought by Ruben Companies
, which has long-term plans for an office building
on the site, to match their SC1100
on the east side of the street and 21 L Street
to the north. However, they are not planning to demolish the KFC anytime soon, and in fact are looking to rent the space to a food-related business in the near-to-medium term.
(I went 1 for 3 on this. Yeeech. This is what I get for not anticipating that WTDW....
questions wouldn't necessarily be ones I know the answers to! But I'm willing to keep trying--if you have a WTDW.... question, pass it along
. Be advised, though, that I'm posting these as I can get to them, so submissions may not get addressed right away.)
Go to Page: