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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: February 2008
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I've been passed the news that a judge has granted Monument Realty's request for a preliminary injunction prohibiting WMATA from taking "any further action to dispose of" the Southeastern Bus Garage. The two sides are to file recommendations on further proceedings by Wednesday at noon, and the injunction stays in effect until the court orders otherwise. Monument filed suit in October, asking that the planned sale be invalidated.
(Adding that this shouldn't, as best I can tell, delay the removal of the buses from the garage by Opening Day, since just yesterday the WMATA board approved a plan to fund the relocation of the buses with monies from other accounts and from the District, and not from any proceeds of the expected sale of the garage site.)
UPDATE: I now have a PDF of the ruling, which gives a lot of background on how the bidding process for the garage site was handled by WMATA. My background in law is slim to none, so I'm wanting to be very cautious about how I characterize all this (I'm sure there will be plenty of media coverage coming soon), but the ruling does state that Monument has "demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that they were substantially prejudiced when WMATA considered Akridge's nonresponsive bid and participated in improper ex parte discussions with Akridge."
UPDATE II: Here's a short Post piece on the ruling.
 

Anyone hearing any booms? A source on Capitol Hill is reporting much noise coming from the south, so perhaps the fireworks testing that's been promised lately is actually happening....
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I'm still working my way through the tape of last night's council roundtable on ballpark traffic and management issues. But I think fans and neighbors alike will be interested in the PowerPoint slides shown by DDOT director Emeka Moneme. There's a lot of detail on traffic flow and restrictions, most of which exists in the huge TOPP but which are more easily understood in these new graphics.
Look at the slides if you want to know: how DDOT will be attempting to address potential traffic bottlenecks in congested spots before and after games; where traffic control officers will be stationed, where left turns will be prohibited, what streets will be closed, where drop-off/pick-up locations will be (South Capitol Street), where the post-game taxi stand will be (Half Street north of M), where charter buses will be parked during games (Buzzards Point), where variable messaging signs will be posted around the region, how traffic signals will be retimed before and after games, how traffic will be routed to and from the parking lots before and after games, and where the signed bike paths are to and from the ballpark (bike racks will be available at the two parking garages just north of the stadium, and there will be the bike valet, too). (New on-street parking restrictions are in there, too, and are explained more fully on my Stadium Parking page.)
You'll also see in the slides that DDOT is expecting 52 percent of stadium-goers to arrive via Metro, though Moneme in his testimony said that Metro thinks that number could be closer to 60 percent.
DPW director Bill Howland said that there will be 12 parking enforcement officers and 12 tow trucks working to enforce the on-street parking restrictions in the area.
Other items from the hearing include:
* The DC Sports and Entertainment Commission and the Nationals now have "an agreement in principle" to let fans park for free at RFK, and the city will be reimbursed through a somewhat complicated give-and-take. There will be 55 motorcoach-style buses.
* As mentioned elsewhere recently, season ticket holder parking has been awarded to all who applied for it without using up all 4,700 spaces in the lots near the ballpark. The Nationals say they are looking at whether to offer some parking in those lots to non-season-ticket holders, but are concerned about how that might contribute to congestion, and so are still determining their strategy.
More as I get through the rest of the hearing. But seriously, look at the PowerPoint slides. There's a lot of good traffic flow information there.
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From the Nationals, official word that the first baseball game at Nationals Park will indeed be the March 22 game between George Washington University and Saint Joseph's University, at 1:05 pm. As for the question that everyone's really asking: "The game will be privately ticketed and is not open to the public. A limited number of general admission tickets will be made available to the GW community after March 10. A valid GWorld identification will be required. Details will be released separately."
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* Today's the day that the Archdiocese of Washington is announcing the distribution of tickets for the April 17 Mass by Pope Benedict at Nationals Park to churches in the District and suburban Maryland. The Post reports on the pleas that church officials are receiving from parishioners desperate to get one of the hottest tickets in town. A spokeswoman says they've received nearly twice as many requests as there are tickets. There are even raffles where the winner gets a ticket to the Mass.
* Metro has decided to create a one-day "Pope Pass" for $9 for the estimated 25,000 Pope-goers who will be arriving at the ballpark on the subway. (Normally one-day subway passes can only be purchased after 9:30 am, but because of security concerns, those going to the Mass are going to be arriving much earlier than the 10 am start time.)
* Metro's board gave final approval to expanding the hours of the N22 bus route that runs between Union Station, Eastern Market, and the east entrance of the Navy Yard station at New Jersey and M. It will now run on evenings and weekends to help shuttle stadium-goers between those locations. And the board also gave final approval of some money-shuffling that will allow the closure of the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M. More on both of these items can be found in these two entries.
* And, in one final Metro item, the Post reports that council member Jim Graham says "he has been contacted by Washington Nationals representatives who wanted to know if the name of the Navy Yard Station could be changed to reflect the name of the corporation that buys the larger naming rights of the stadium." Answer? No way. Uh-uh. Nope. Forget it.
 

Let's take a breather from all this parking stuff (which I had my fill of about two years ago) and get back to the original JDLand modus operandi--posting lots of photos of the neighborhood. Yesterday's press conference on the-subject-I-just-said-I-wasn't-going-to-talk-about was held on the 10th floor of 20 M Street, giving me a chance to update my photos from that perch, with views of 70/100 I, Velocity (now working on floor #2), the 1015 Half Street site (where nothing seems to be happening just yet), 55 M, and the ballpark. You can see all photos I've taken from atop 20 M in the past 10 months, or just compare the oldest and newest ones (there's been a few changes!).
Switching to the opposite side of the neighborhood, I took a few shots from Poplar Point on Sunday of the ballpark and The Yards.
You can also see all the new photos (along with the ones taken inside the ballpark looking out at the surrounding neighborhood) on a single page.
I hope to get out this weekend and update the ground-level photos of all the latest happenings.
 

Passing along a reminder, via my Ballpark and Beyond column in today's District Extra of the Post: "A roundtable by two D.C. Council committees on the city's plans for traffic and parking at Nationals Park begins at 6 tonight in Room 120 of the Wilson Building. Considering that the last hearing on stadium-related parking issues lasted until almost midnight, you might prefer to watch tonight's session in the comfort of your home, where you'll have access to your kitchen cabinets and coffee maker. The roundtable can be seen on Channel 13 on D.C. cable systems or on the Web."
I won't be able to watch it live, but hopefully I can post a summary of it before too long, unless the current focus on the stadium by the local media takes care of it for me. If so, my feelings wouldn't be hurt. Really. It's all yours.
I should mention here that what's long been known as the Draft Transportation Operations and Parking Plan (TOPP) is now apparently the final version of how traffic is going to be handled, at least until they see how it works on Opening Day and then start tweaking it (which DDOT and other agencies fully expect to be the case). So if you want to know the nitty-gritty of traffic and pedestrian flow, the TOPP is the place to look. And I imagine the residents testifying at tonight's roundtable might have an issue or two with it.
Other items in today's column were the latest tidbits on Diamond Teague Park, a reminder of the meetings next week on the South Capitol Street Draft Environmental Impact Statement, and photos of the new freeway and bike route signage pointing to the ballpark. And just a note that the column will be taking the next two weeks off, and will be back on March 20--if there's anything left for me to write about that isn't already covered in this All Things Ballpark media blitz.
 

* Washington City Paper's cover story this week is "Inside Baseball", a series of vignettes about "winners and losers" around the ballpark. It highlights neighbors such as the Market Deli at First and L and Positive Force around the corner on New Jersey Avenue (and former neighbors such as Ken Wyban, owner of the house at Van and N that was demolished), and talks about the "lost" views of the Capitol from many sections within the stadium. Plus there's quotes from a couple of residents of the nearby housing projects in Southwest that they've "been told" they're going to be moved out, despite vehement denials by the Housing Authority.
* A three-person arbitration board ruled unanimously that the Nationals and not the District should pay for "ancillary items at the new stadium, such as golf carts, fork lifts, and medical and office equipment," saving the city $4.2 million and keeping expenditures within the $611 million cost cap, according to WTOP.
* Links to the avalanche of stories about the new on-street parking plan around the ballpark are at the end of my entry about it from yesterday. Perhaps the saturation coverage--and the advertising campaign by the team scheduled to start next week--will indeed drill into the noggins of the public what's been said for months now: that really, truly, you're not going to find on-street parking, and traffic's going to be crazy anyway. So just take Metro. (And read this Dr. Gridlock blog entry and its comments to get a sense of the wide-ranging views of the public on using Metro. And have fun with the writer who discussed the "questionable neighborhood" the N22 bus goes through--you know, Capitol Hill.)
* And, what if nearby residents start scalping their visitors passes?
* But can we also drill into the collective conscience that there's not "only 1,200 parking spaces" at the ballpark? Yes, the ballpark footprint itself has only 1,200 spaces, but the team has contracted with close-by lots to cobble together more than 4,000 spaces. As we found out in the Post, those didn't even all get taken by season-ticket holders and in fact may now allow for a small number of spaces to be made available on gamedays to non-season ticket holders.
 

This afternoon the city is releasing the on-street parking plan for the streets in Southeast and Southwest near the ballpark, and here it is. There's a press conference in the mayor and other officials at 3 pm, so more will be revealed, but on my Stadium Parking and Transporation page you can now see which streets are considered "residential" with enhanced protections and which ones will have the new variable-rate meters.
* On the residential streets (marked in purple on the map), parking restrictions will be in effect from 7 am to midnight seven days a week. One side of the street will be for residents with Zone 6 parking permits only, and non-Zone 6 cars can be ticketed immediately. On the other side of the street, non-Zone 6 cars can park for two hours.
* On "retail" streets (marked in red), multispace meters will be installed that will have varying costs to park based on the time of day, and the price will escalate as the amount of time you park grows, in order to make it a better deal to park in an off-street lot for a long period of time rather than using up a metered space.
* There will be visitor passes mailed out (one per household).
Read the text beneath the map for more explanations of these different zones.
What the meters will charge, and what the fines will be for violating any of these parking restrictions, were not spelled out with the map. Perhaps that is coming at the press conference. I'll be back to update with additional news as I get it.
If you live in Southwest, or on Capitol Hill, or in Near Southeast, pass this page to your neighbors. If you're a Nats fan thinking about scavenging for on-street parking, look at this map to understand that you won't be getting it on any of the colored streets without risking a ticket (or maybe even getting towed). So click on the Take Metro! tab to get information on your transit options (including distances to stations other than Navy Yard, bus routes, and additional information).
UPDATE: Nope, no specifics from the press conference on meter rates or fines if you overstay; that will all come after the council (presumably) passes on March 4 the legislation that gives the mayor the authority to set rates. Also, there's a slightly updated map on my on-street parking page--dotted-purple streets have been added, which will get the same protection as solid purple streets, but not by Opening Day. And here's Tommy Wells's press release on the plan. There was a fair amount of media at the announcement, so I'll link to their reports as they come in.
UPDATE II: Here's News4's report (and video). It addresses the safety issue as well: "Officials said there will be a heavy police presence in the area on game days to ensure traffic and pedestrian safety."
UPDATE III: The Post writes on the curbside parking plan, and also mentions that the Nationals say "all season ticket holders who wanted parking spaces have gotten them or are in the process of getting them. The team is trying to determine how many spaces might be available to fans without season tickets." And, after ignoring the Take Metro mantra, Marc Fisher finally figures out that, gee, maybe driving to the ballpark isn't such a good idea. Apparently the Nationals' media push urging fans to use transit will begin next week, and they now have a Way to Go web site.
UPDATE IV: Wrapping up, here's the Examiner and WashTimes articles. And the mayor's press release.
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After reading this in Tom Boswell's column today--"On the other side of Half Street is a huge block-long hole, several stories deep, where construction by Monument Realty has stopped"--I contacted Monument to find out if this is indeed the case.
(For those just joining us, a little background: Monument owns the entire east side of Half Street between M and N, just to the north of the ballpark, and is currently building the 55 M Street office building on the north end of the site, on top of the west entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station, which was expanded as part of the office construction. The south end of the block is slated to be a 200-room hotel and a 340-unit residential building, and is current a half-block-long excavated hole.)
Monument executive vice president Russell Hines has told me that construction drawings for the the hotel and residential part of Half Street are being finalized, and construction will begin in late spring or early summer, with completion in late 2009 or early 2010. The entire block was excavated early in 2007 because it made economic sense to do it all at once, but that because of the need to complete the subway station improvements by Opening Day, the 55 M construction was "accelerated" and the hotel/residential part of the project is just now "catching up." In fact, Hines says, work on the office building is continuing, with the building "topping out" in the next week or so. (You can check the web cam for up-to-the-quarterhour progress.)
Hines also wanted to make clear that what Boswell called a "legal battle between two developers" over the Southeastern Bus Garage site is in fact litigation between Monument and WMATA, not Monument and Akridge.
 

It's not exactly a stunner, but it's still worth mentioning that a raze permit application has been filed for 1200 South Capitol Street, which is the now-boarded-up Domino's on the corner of South Capitol and M. When the store closed a few weeks ago, Monument Realty told me that negotiations were underway with the Nationals to use the site for a parking lot; I've heard nothing further on that.
And maybe now's a good time to mention that the sales-office-that-never-was for Onyx--the construction trailers deposited last spring just south of Normandie Liquors at First and M but never opened--was demolished within the past week. I had to make a value judgment, but I decided since the office never actually opened it doesn't get the honor of being added to my Demolished Buildings Gallery.
 

Wednesday's Post has a column by Tom Boswell ("Nationals Park: Best of a Bad Lot") listing the myriad problems he sees with the ballpark and its surroundings, with Opening Day now just a month away. The Navy Yard subway station. The parking situation. The Florida Rock site ("an enormous and inexcusable 5.8-acre eyesore" that will be "sitting there all season, damaging the river views from all the ramps to the first base upper deck"). (He does mention that fences to obscure the view at ground level will be going up, which I posted about a few days ago.) The WASA site (which "would be the Most Unsightly Thing Near Any Big League Park if Florida Rock and Gravel hadn't already retired the trophy.") The Monument Half Street site, where he says "construction has stopped." The fact that city views are only available in the cheap seats.
But he ends with a stab at optimism: "Someday, the Anacostia riverfront will amaze us, just maybe not as soon as we hoped. When it comes to fulfilling huge civic dreams, what's a few years, more or less. In for a dime, in for a decade. "
On the other hand, the article confirms that the garages, which have long been a focal point of much complaining, will indeed be covered, as has long been shown in the renderings, with "league logos, replicas of the 'Washington All-Stars' from the right field scoreboard in RFK as well as colorful baseball-themed ads."
 

This just in from the Metropolitan Police Department (on the MPD-1D mailng list): "Between 6pm - 7pm tonight, as part of their pre-game checks, the Nationals will be setting off fireworks at the new stadium. DCFD, the Fire Marshall and MPD will be on the scene."
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Feb 26, 2008 8:38 AM
* The Post says that 14,000 tickets to the April 17 Mass at Nationals Park will be distributed to 120 Catholic diocese outside of the Archdiocese of Washington, with the Diocese of Arlington getting 6,000 and the Archdiocese of Baltimore getting 2,500. And on Friday, parishes that are part of the Archdiocese of Washington will find out how many tickets they're getting--parish priests will then decide how to distribute tickets within the parish.
* The Examiner has a story about the Southeastern Bus Garage site and that the Nationals and Metro are in talks to provide 350 gameday parking spaces at the garage (plus three nearby WMATA-owned parking lots, though that's not specified in the article). The only real news in the article is that a judge is expected to rule this week on Monument Realty's lawsuit over the sale of the garage site to Akridge. For more background, read all my posts on the bus garage saga.
* Yesterday's scheduled council hearing on Monument's request to close the alley on Square 700 just north of the closed BP Amoco station was cancelled. No new session has been posted on the calendar.
* And the agenda for Thursday's WMATA Planning, Development and Real Estate Committee does not include anything on the joint development of the chiller plant site at Half and L, as had been anticipated back in January. Maybe next month?
* If you think you're excited about the local food vendors at the ballpark announced yesterday, you should read Marc Fisher.
* UPDATE: I've gotten word that the long article in the March Washingtonian on the ballpark is now online. The other related article, about residential developments planned around the stadium, won't be posted for a couple of weeks. So you'll just have to go buy it, I guess. And perhaps you too can then be like the poor soul at Safeway on Sunday reading that article, who got accosted by a pesky blogger in line in front of him pointing to a name on the page, saying, "That's me." Thankfully he didn't call security.
 

Feb 25, 2008 4:59 PM
The Post is confirming this afternoon the rumors I mentioned over the weekend: "The George Washington University baseball team will inaugurate the playing field [at Nationals Park] in a game against St. Joseph's University on March 22, GW officials and Nationals executives will announce as early as tomorrow." But it would be a bit of a dry run: "Attendance at the college game, which would be in the afternoon, would not be open to the general public and would instead be limited to GW and St. Joseph's fans, said sources familiar with the plans[.]"
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Feb 25, 2008 1:14 PM
In a press release just sent out by the Nationals, the team announced partnerships with 10 local food vendors for the ballpark. They are: Ben's Chili Bowl, Boardwalk Fries, Southwest's own Cantina Marina, Kosher Sports, Krazee Ice, Hard Times Cafe, La Piccola Gelateria, Mayorga Coffee, Noah's Pretzels, and Red Hot & Blue. (A partnership with Gifford's Ice Cream was announced a few weeks ago.) Read the release for details on the offerings of each vendor.
And, speaking of partnerships, WBJ is reporting that JK Moving & Storage has signed a deal to be the team's official moving company.
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Feb 25, 2008 9:36 AM
The Southwest Freeway now says there's a ballpark in our midst, so it must be true! (And of course the Bike Route signs started telling us this last week.)
Other news of the morning:
* The March issue of Washingtonian (not yet available online, but now on newsstands) has two articles of possible interest. One is an overview of the ballpark itself. The other is called "Ballpark Living: Can the Nationals Stadium Do For an Up-and-Coming Waterfront Neighborhood What the Verizon Center did for Downtown DC?", in which yours truly gets a mention. It's mainly an overview of the neighborhood's offerings now and down the road, most of which should be no surprise to anyone visiting here on a regular basis. UPDATE, 2/26: The article on the ballpark is now available online, though the other one isn't there yet.
* Speaking of magazines with special ballpark offerings, I mentioned On Site magazine last week--I'm told it's available this week (bundled with the current issue of the Washington Business Journal) at CVS, Borders, and Barnes & Noble.
* In both of these magazines, there's an updated rendering of the Monument's 340-unit residential building slated to be finished by the end of 2009 on the northeast corner of Half and N, just across from the ballpark's Center Field Gate. Monument was kind enough to pass it along, and I've added it to my Monument Half Street page (scroll down past the 55 M stuff).
And, be sure to catch my new photos from inside the ballpark (both inside and INSIDE) if you haven't seen them.
 

Feb 24, 2008 5:17 PM
Yesterday I posted what I've always called the "interior" photos of the ballpark, showing the field and the seating areas. But of course, there's now much more to see than just bleachers and cupholders, with the many concession and operations areas inside the structure itself now nearing completion. So here's a gallery of the Interior of the Interior (ahem), including the locker room (seen above), the Presidents and Diamond clubs, the club lounge, and various other spots.
But that's not all. I took the opportunity to add some additional links to the "Interior Views" tab on my ballpark page:
* Views of the Neighborhood - I think one of the biggest surprises for fans making their first visits to Nationals Park will be the wide-ranging views of the city skyline at the ballpark, from the view at everyone's seats of the changing skyline of Near Southeast to gazing up and down the banks of the Anacostia River to the wide vistas of Southwest and Northwest. (Of course, these views look their best when the sun is shining, which I was robbed of in the photos taken yesterday. Yes, I'm still whining.)
* Interior Construction, 2006-2007 - This is a tossed-together automated page that simply displays in chronological order the photos I've posted from inside the ballpark since my first trip inside the fences in October 2006, through the unveiling of the turf in November 2007. They say this will be the fastest construction of a major-league ballpark ever--these photos show just how quickly it went.
* Demolished Buildings - Lifted from my main Demolished Buildings gallery, this page shows what was on the site of the ballpark before the wrecking ball arrived in May 2006.
If you haven't yet seen the dreary overcast photos from yesterday of the field, seats, and concourses, you can check those out, too. And there's also the images of the ballpark's exterior, last updated two weeks ago. (When the sun was out.)
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Feb 24, 2008 8:42 AM
It's probably best to steer clear of me today, because I'm going to be spending the entire day mumbling profanities as I look up at the gorgeous cloudless skies. But if you want to see what the ballpark would look like if it were transported to, say, Detroit in the dead of winter, be sure to look at my photos from inside the stadium taken yesterday morning. Later today I'll put up pictures from the interior of the building, where at least the weather didn't play quite so much of a role. In the meantime, here's some quick items on the ballpark:
* The Post has two articles today on Nationals Park--one looking at the resident hiring goals that were set versus the actual number of DC workers that have been hired, plus a much lighter look at yesterday's testing of the plumbing system, aka "Super Flush."
* A few people have written to ask me about news that has been mentioned either on the radio or in an MLB.com video that the first game at Nationals Park will actually be a March 22 game between George Washington University and St. Joseph's. GW's schedule shows the game as being played in Arlington, and I've seen no official word anywhere on this game, but the rumor is out there. Nationals owner Ted Lerner is a GW graduate and patron.
* I've also been asked lately about newer renderings of the stadium that no longer show the big baseball on top of the outfield restaurant (which is now called the "Red Porch Restaurant"). It is indeed no longer part of the ballpark plans. The cherry blossom trees will still be coming, though!
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Feb 23, 2008 6:42 PM
Sometimes you have to use your camera in the weather you have, not the weather you wish you had.
So, alas my first visit inside Nationals Park in more than three months came today, with heavy clouds and dampness in the air. Waaaaaaah! But at least these photos only have to last another five weeks or so.
I'm going to do this in two batches: tonight, enjoy a new lineup of photos of the ballpark's field and the seating areas. (I left a few from November sprinkled in, so that the pretty green turf and a smidgen of actual sunlight could be seen here or there.) There's also a slew of new very very large stitched-together panoramas from various vantage points, if you're wanting much closer views of the stadium's interior--there are links to them from the page above, or from the Stadium Panoramas page. They do take a long time to load, so be patient. (You can look at the exterior photos I posted two weeks ago if you can't bear the gray-itude of these shots and need sun and blue skies.)
Tomorrow I'll have for you a series of photos from the park's innards, including the restaurants and the locker room.
UPDATE: I forgot the best side-story of the day: Today was also "Super Flush", when the plumbing team brings in a bunch of people to flush the toilets at the same time to test the pipes. (And, not to be ungrateful, but perhaps my preference might have been that a big "Super Flush" banner not be running in HD on the scoreboard during all my photos.)
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Feb 22, 2008 12:24 PM
The rumors have abounded for many months that Onyx on First would be scrapping its original configuration as a condo building. As recently as November I couldn't get co-developer Faison to comment, but in today's WBJ/On Site piece (subscribers only) on the residential market in Near Southeast, there's the following: "But Canyon-Johnson Urban Fund and its partner, Faison, converted the project to apartments eight months ago, says Don Deutsch, Faison's senior managing director. Those apartments will be available for leasing in September."
The article also says that Monument Realty hasn't yet decided whether its 340 residential units on Half Street just north of the ballpark will be condos or apartments.
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Feb 22, 2008 9:23 AM
I believe it's only available to subscribers, but if you've got any way to get your hands on this week's Washington Business Journal, you'll probably want to see the quarterly magazine "On Site" that's included--seven stories on development around the ballpark, as well as a big map showing all the plans over the next few years (what a great idea!). Stories on Monument Realty and on the plans for The Yards, an interview with Michael Stevens of the BID ("Preaching Patience in Washington Nationals' New Neighborhood"), a piece highlighting how residential developers are feeling bullish about the area, and even a short profile of some pesky neighborhood blogger who's been tracking the area since 2003. I haven't read all the stories yet (it's gonna take a while!), so if I find some nuggets that I haven't covered here in the past, I'll post them.
UPDATE: Also, the March issue of Washingtonian is hitting the stands (though the articles won't be online for a while), with articles on the ballpark and also on the planned residential projects nearby.
 

Feb 21, 2008 1:03 PM
As the clock ticks toward Opening Day (38 days away!), it's normal to be wondering about the status of some of the other projects near the ballpark. I've just gotten an update from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development on Diamond Teague Park, the planned public plaza with water taxi piers on the banks of the Anacostia just across from the stadium's grand staircase at First and Potomac. The design of the park is being finalized, but you can see recent site maps and renderings on my project page (there are also links to enlarged versions of those images for better viewing).
The city is continuing to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to get permits for the piers. After the Army Corps signs off, some DC permits will need to be approved, and then construction on the park's first phase can begin--this will include all of the "in-water improvements" (i.e., the piers) and the portion of the park that's closest to the waterline. It's expected that this first phase will be completed by the time winter arrives in late 2008. The northern portion of the park site sits on land controlled by WASA, and must wait for those operations to be relocated before that part of the park can be built.
In the meantime, the park site will be "beautified" for Opening Day, with plans for a bit of a cleanup, new plantings, sandstone, etc.
As for the RiverFront site next door (which we all know as Florida Rock but which the developers want me to call either "FRP" or "RiverFront" to prevent confusion between themselves [Florida Rock Properties/FRP Development Corp.] and the not-involved-with-developing-the-site Florida Rock Industries)--I've been told that new fences will be put up around the site by Opening Day, to pretty things up a bit along that stretch as well.
 

Feb 21, 2008 9:40 AM
My Ballpark and Beyond column in today's District Extra of the Post covers last week's release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for South Capitol Street, the impending closure of Metro's Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M, tonight's zoning hearing on allowing additional temporary surface parking lots in Southwest, and a reminder about today's ballpark job fair.
(And I've been under the weather the past few days, hence the somewhat brief updates.)
 

Feb 20, 2008 8:52 AM
* City Paper points us to a new blog by the WashTimes tracking all the news surrounding the Pope's April visit to the United States. Including, of course, the April 17 mass at Nationals Park. There's also the news that a 14-foot-tall crucifix from St. Mark's Church in Hyattsville has been selected to be displayed at the stadium mass.
* Nats320 continues with its series of, um, lengthy interviews, this time with the man whose company is going to be "dressing" the ballpark.
* I'm not sure why some news organizations are only now reporting this (since it was announced last week), but in case you missed it, single-game tickets for Nats games go on sale March 4.
* On Feb. 28, there's a gathering planned for people to share stories of the gay businesses along O Street SE that were shut down to make way for the ballpark.
* Check the stadium web cam's images from last night to see the ballpark's lights all turned on.
 

Feb 19, 2008 10:03 PM
Tim Lemke of the Washington Times takes a look at today's Examiner editorial about the full cost of Nationals Park, which the Examiner says is now reaching $759 million but which may be reached thanks to, Tim says, "a few factual errors and a misleading statement."
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Feb 19, 2008 5:03 PM
From the Capitol Riverfront BID, word of a Happy Hour on Thursday (Feb. 21) being given by the Velocity Condos folks (so they just might possibly want to give you all the scoop about their offerings). It's at Sonoma (223 Pennsylvania Ave., SE) from 6 to 8 pm. There's also another one scheduled for March 13.
 

Feb 19, 2008 8:55 AM
A reminder that the second Nationals Job Fair for part-time and seasonal employement at the ballpark is scheduled for Thursday (Feb. 21) from 10 am to 2 pm at King Greenleaf Recreational Center at 201 N St., SW. Some highlights:
* The positions, most of which are part-time and seasonal, are open to persons ages 18 and older (including senior citizens).
* The Nationals are going to be looking with particular interest at residents of Ward 6 who will not need parking to get to jobs at the stadium.
* Residents who have little work experience but who are "reliable and willing workers" will be considered for positions that they have the skills for.
You can read the original announcement post at Tommy Wells's site for additional details.
More than 2,500 people showed up at the first fair on Feb. 9, according to the Post.
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Feb 18, 2008 7:53 PM
A shocking investigative report from NBC4, entitled "Parking May Be Tight At Nationals' New Stadium": "In just about 40 days, the Washington Nationals' new ballpark along the Anacostia River is set to open its gates for more than 40,000 fans. But while the stadium is expected to be ready, parking could still be a problem, News4's Tom Sherwood reported." Thank heavens that the lack of parking has finally been uncovered by the media, since it hasn't been talked about at all up to now. Coming soon, news organizations break the astonishing story that not all of Near Southeast will be built out and available for residents and visitors by Opening Day.
(Oh, come on, I get to be sarcastic once in a while!)
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Feb 18, 2008 9:36 AM
If you haven't checked the Stadium Web Cam in the past few days (or sneaked a peek through the gap on South Capitol Street), you haven't seen the fun "Nationals Park" lettering now added across the top of the scoreboard. There are also red seats now being installed below the outfield restaurant.
I'm also hearing that this is the week that the traffic and parking plans for Opening Day are going to be released, so watch this space for the latest on that.
UPDATE: Looks like one of Channel 9's staffers got a ballpark tour on Friday--he's posted a few pictures.
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Feb 16, 2008 11:56 PM
Saw one of these signs pointing cyclists to the ballpark for the first time today--I think they've only gone up in the past week or so. (This was on Fourth St., SE, just north of Pennsylvania Ave.) Sorry for the lousy quality--it was dusk and my camera phone wasn't cooperating. But you get the idea. (UPDATED with a better photo, finally.)
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Feb 16, 2008 1:38 AM
From the WashTimes: "D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray yesterday said a new soccer stadium at Poplar Point would help alleviate parking problems across the Anacostia River at the Nationals new ballpark. 'We have a horrific parking problem with the Nationals stadium,' Gray said. 'I'm not sure people know how close Poplar Point is. If we coordinate schedules, we could actually have parking for D.C. United used for the Nationals as well.' [...] Conceivably, Gray said, fans heading to Nationals game could walk from Poplar Point across a pedestrian walkway on one of the bridges crossing the Anacostia."
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Feb 15, 2008 10:28 AM
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement that describes two alternatives for reconfiguring South Capitol Street from just south of Firth Sterling Avenue north to I-395 has now been released, and is available online: there's the compact executive summary for folks who just want the basics, or the full shebang, with 80-plus chapters, appendices, and reports. Note that this draft EIS does not include a final choice for the design of the new Douglass Bridge that would be built to the southwest of the current bridge, though that decision will be made with the final EIS. (I'm a fan of the arched bascule design, because I'm old school.) There's no way I'm going to try to provide a comprehensive overview of what this project is envisioning, so here's some bullet points:
* For Near Southeast, both build alternatives would reconfigure the intersection with the SE/SW Freeway, replacing the existing ramp that begins at I Street with an at-grade intersection underneath the freeway that would have two left-turn lanes to a new ramp. With the removal of the existing ramp to I-395, the intersection and South Capitol and I would also be reconfigured. Also included in this project would be streetscape improvements to New Jersey Avenue, with two travel lanes and two parking lanes and much wider tree-lined sidewalks.
* The main differences between the alternatives for this northern stretch of South Capitol Street are the intersections with Potomac Avenue and with M Street. At Potomac Avenue, there would be either a reconfigured signalized intersection or a large traffic oval connecting South Capitol, Potomac, Q Street, and the new Douglass Bridge. At M Street, a decision will be made between keeping the current underpass for north/south traffic or replacing it with an at-grade intersection. And, in the second build alternative, the K and L street intersections would be opened to cross traffic. There are also many changes planned for South Capitol Street and the Suitland Parkway south of the Douglass Bridge, which are spelled out in the Alternatives section if you're interested. (I'm waiting for a reply from DDOT about whether portions of each build alternative can be chosen a la carte to create a final alternative. UPDATE: As was the case with the 11th Street Bridges EIS, the final plans can indeed take some portions of one alternative and some from the other. So it's possible, as an example, that the traffic oval from alternative #2 could be chosen, but the unchanged M Street intersection from alternative #1 could be chosen, too.
* Depending on which alternatives and which bridge design is chosen, the Draft EIS puts the estimated costs for this project at anywhere between $508 million and $781 million. Flyers given out at the Anacostia Waterfront Community Fair last month indicated that construction on the new Douglass Bridge could begin in 2010, with completion in 2015. The Draft EIS doesn't seem to lay out any timeline for completion of the entire South Capitol Street project.
There are two public meetings planned to discuss the Draft EIS: on March 4 at Birney Elementary School, 2501 Martin Luther King Jr., Ave., SE, and on March 5 at Amidon Elementary School, 401 I St., SW. Both will run from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. The public comment period ends on March 31, and methods for submitting your comments are spelled out on the report site. You can also see print versions of the Draft EIS at a number of local libraries in the area.
 

Feb 15, 2008 8:59 AM
Today's Washington Business Journal has a long piece about legislation making its way through the city council that would require site-specific permits for street vendors and that would create "development zones", "essentially specific geographic areas with a uniform design standard that would be established through a partnership of DCRA, neighborhoods and their business improvement districts." The Capitol Riverfront BID plans on applying to make the area around the ballpark such a zone. The article has quotes from the Nationals and the BID about what sort of vending they'd like to see. Gregory McCarthy of the Nationals says that the team thinks "it's in the city's interest to have a good fan experience and to have vending around the ballpark be regulated in a reasonable manner -- but also be of sufficient quality." Michael Stevens of the BID says that vendors shouldn't sell items that compete with those inside the ballpark: "I want to see a variety of vending food options, drink options. I'd like better-looking carts, [although] I don't know what that means yet." If the bill is not passed by Opening Day, "licensed vendors could set up shop at any site that meets current regulations for vendors -- which include such requirements as not obstructing the right of way for pedestrians. Near the stadium that could include spots along M, N, Half and First streets SE."
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Feb 14, 2008 5:12 PM
A bit on the run this afternoon, so I have to be brief: today Metro's Finance, Administration, and Oversight committee gave approval to two items I wrote about earlier this week: the plans to expand to nights and weekends the N22 bus service that shuttles between Union Station, Eastern Market, and the Navy Yard Metro station (the Post says until 10:30 on weeknights--hope that's late enough for baseball), and to move around some money to allow for the closure of the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M. Here's the WMATA press release on the garage closure, and do read my previous entry for additional details and links to WMATA documents. These two items are expected to be given final approval by the full WMATA board on Feb. 28.
Stadium parking aficianados should note that the closure of the bus garage--in addition to lessening the chance for "encounters" between buses and pedestrians--will open up two existing lots in the "Red Zone" just north of the ballpark, as well as space within the garage itself and just to its south. Also, WMATA has been using a surface parking lot at Buzzards Point that would be vacated with this move. There's no word at this point on when exactly the garage will be vacated, and if the space will be used for parking this season.
 

Feb 14, 2008 5:04 PM
Since I posted that NBC4 story crowing about a deal, I feel it necessary to follow up with this from the Post this afternoon: "Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said today that no deal has been struck to use public funds to build a professional soccer stadium in Southeast Washington. He also said his talks with D.C. United about a partnership do not represent a drastic departure from his stance against public financing of the Nationals baseball stadium." Read the rest of the article for details, including discussions of Fenty's stand on public financing of sports venues. [Will. Not. Get. Sucked. In. Must. Resist.]
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Feb 14, 2008 9:58 AM
This week's Ballpark and Beyond column in the Post's District Extra is about the new Waterfront Park at The Yards: "Although Nationals Park is getting the lion's share of attention these days as Near Southeast's biggest development, the 42-acre site two blocks to the east known as the Yards is starting its transformation away from its former life as the barren walled-off Southeast Federal Center. And we're now getting our first peeks at early designs for the development's 5.8-acre park on the banks of the Anacostia River. Designed by M. Paul Friedberg and Partners, the park will have "passive and active" recreation spaces, along with retail and entertainment offerings that Yards developer Forest City Washington believes will make it a lively year-round destination for residents and tourists in the daytime and at night." And it'll be right across from the soccer stadium!
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Feb 13, 2008 9:11 PM
Looking outside my boundaries long enough to pass along this: "News4 has learned that Mayor Adrian Fenty plans to propose building a $200 million soccer stadium on the banks of the Anacostia River across from the city's new Nationals ballpark. Sources told News4's Tom Sherwood that the soccer stadium would be part of a $1 billion development deal on about 40 acres of land at Poplar Point along the river. The sources said the mayor will announce as early as Thursday that he has selected Clark Construction to develop the land." As for the cost? "Under the mayor's proposal, which must be approved by the D.C. Council, the city would spend about $200 million on the soccer stadium. Funds to pay for the soccer stadium bonds would come from taxes and revenue that already are being generated by the new baseball stadium, which opens in late March."
UPDATE: I'm not going to be tracking this (yet {ahem}), but here's a more complete article, along with the more correct name of the winning bidder, Clark Realty Capital. Mayor Fenty is announcing the winner this morning at 10:30.
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Feb 13, 2008 2:35 PM
At Monday's ANC 6D meeting (which I missed because I had three meetings on my calendar for that night and the ANC never released an agenda for me to know whether I should go or not), there was apparently a big discussion of Zoning Case 07-08A, scheduled to be heard on Feb. 21, which seeks to allow temporary surface parking lots for no more than five years on a series of blocks in Southwest, mainly in Buzzards Point (squares 603, 605, 658, 661, 662, 662E, 664, 664E, and Square 658, Lot 7 for those of you with tax parcel maps handy, or look on the last page of this). A temporary emergency version of this text amendment passed with no discussion back in October; the Feb. 21 hearing is to make the amendment good for five years.
When the original case (07-08) establishing the ability to build temporary lots on a number of blocks in Near Southeast was passed, parking lots did not automatically appear on every block covered in the amendment. However, ANC 6D and residents of Southwest are apparently viewing this new amendment as the city going back on a promise to not build any parking lots in Southwest. Here is the ANC 6D resolution.
I've been at meetings over the past few months where city and team officials have said that there would be no ballpark parking offered in Buzzards Point this season because of the lack of sidewalks, streetlamps, and other improvements; the Office of Planning report for Case 07-08A says: "The Nationals have advised OP that, to date, no agreements with owners of individual lots have been reached so it is not likely that any of the temporary parking will be located on these sites prior to opening day in 2008[.]" I'm checking with the Nationals to see if this has changed. But certainly Buzzards Point would be still be viewed as a prime location for additional surface parking, if it's needed.
It's anticipated that the need for temporary surface lots will lessen as new buildings go up near the ballpark; in the next two years or so, underground garages that could potentially offer additional stadium parking will open at Monument Half Street, 100 M, 1015 Half, Onyx, 70/100 I, Velocity, and 909 New Jersey.
 

Feb 12, 2008 12:19 PM
The agenda is now out for Thursday's meeting of Metro's Finance, Administration and Oversight Committee, with votes on two items of interest to Near Southeast and to ballpark-goers:
* WMATA is proposing to expand the weeknight and weekend service of the N22 bus that currently shuttles between Union Station (and its Red Line Metro stop) and the Navy Yard station at New Jersey and M via Eastern Market (and its Orange/Blue Line stop) and the Washington Navy Yard. The buses would run every 10 minutes, and on nights and weekends the route would eliminate the loop to 12th and M streets, SE (see the map on page 2 of the current timetable), in order "to provide a shorter and faster route to the ballpark." The District of Columbia is apparently going to pay $432,000 to cover the cost of the additional service from March through August. If approved, the expanded service would begin in March. The agenda documentation doesn't say what times the expanded service would end on weeknights or operate on weekends. Read the agenda packet for more.
* The city is also apparently offering to cover the costs of relocating the buses out of the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M (one block north of the ballpark), as part of a $1.39 million monetary shuffling that WMATA is proposing to undertake because the $69.25 million sale of the site to Akridge still has not been finalized. DC would cover the relocation costs until the sale is completed, and presumably by doing this the buses can get out of the garage by March 30. Read the agenda packet for more details. The city is extremely interested in getting the buses out of the way, not only because trying to operate that garage with hordes of pedestrians on their way to and from games would be a disaster waiting to happen, but also because the Nats might be able to squeeze a couple hundred more $35 Red Zone parking spaces out of the garage land and the two lots adjoining it across Van Street (one to the north and one to the south of the Public Storage building).
These are just preliminary votes; if approved on the 14th, they would then go in front of the full WMATA board for final approval on March 28.
 

Feb 12, 2008 11:50 AM
Word is out that single-game Nationals tickets will go on sale March 4 at 9 am. Barry has all the details.
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Feb 12, 2008 10:24 AM
The new "Pay-to-Park" signs that have popped up around Near Southeast in the past few days (many without the accompanying multispace kiosks where one would actually *pay* to park) were brought up last night at a meeting last night with Tommy Wells and residents of Capitol Hill Tower. Rick Rybeck of DDOT seemed surprised that the signs were up already, and equally surprised to hear some residents reporting that they're getting ticketed for "expired meters" when parking by the signs, even though there's not as yet any meters to pay at. Neha Bhatt of Tommy's office said that the meter prices for parking still have not been determined, and that discussions are still ongoing as to whether high-cost meter parking will be allowed on I, K, L, First, and Half between New Jersey and South Capitol during ballgames.
But the main issue of the evening was that CHT residents are not as of now eligible for Residential Parking Permit stickers for their cars, which will leave them with no free on-street parking when the streets around their building are metered. (The plan is that everyone will have to pay to park on commercial streets, such as New Jersey, but on streets zoned residential, RPP-stickered cars will be able to park free but non-RPP cars will have to pay.) At first Tommy said that his impression was that trying to get RPP stickers for residents of a multi-unit building was not going to happen, but Rybeck said that it should be doable. By the end of the evening, it did appear that Rybeck and Bhatt had a bit more of an understanding as to the Catch-22 that CHT parkers could find themselves caught in if the Performance Parking plan is rolled in as currently envisioned. (The building does have an underground parking garage, but there is a long-simmering battle about garage parking between some residents and the building's owner that I'm way too chicken to try to characterize here, and so many residents park on the surrounding streets.)
 

Feb 11, 2008 9:51 PM
While hopefully you've already wandered through the pile of new stadium exterior photos I posted over the weekend, those aren't the only new pictures I grabbed during my camera time on Saturday and Sunday. Get your clicking finger going:
* The Velocity condo phase 1 building on L Street west of First is now one floor out of the ground, so that will now be added to my regular rotation of photo updates. For those who haven't been following along, this is a 200-unit condo building that will eventually be joined by a twin on the north side of the block (running along K Street). However, they decided to dig the entire parking garage and below-ground structures for both buildings at once, which is why only half the block is now rising above ground level. The other portion will be landscaped over until Phase 2 begins. (Phase 3, which will run along Half Street where the sales center is now located, could be either an office building or a hotel--I haven't heard of any decision being announced.)
* The Normandie-less corner at First and M has now been immortalized in digital imagery, and goodness gracious, has that spot changed. (Ditto for the other end of the block, at First and N.) This stretch is on its way to becoming temporary surface parking until Willco Construction moves forward with its reported office/residential/retail project on that site (no timeline).
* The road work on First Street continues, and on Saturday they put down the first asphalt between L and M (in front of Onyx and 100 M). Looking south and north you can see how much wider the street has now become. You can also see the windows starting to be hung at Onyx and at 100 M. Meanwhile, First north of L continues to be a war zone. They *say* it'll all be done (I Street, too) by Opening Day. First Street and Potomac Avenue appear to be pretty much done except for the striping.
* 55 M is almost topped out. As we heard a few days ago, they say the Metro entrance in 55 M's ground floor will be ready by Opening Day, too.
* How much has M Street changed in five years? Take a look. (This should be one of those list-the-differences-in-the-pictures contests.)
* Or you can just look at all the photos from Saturday and Sunday on one page (including the ballpark shots), though I cannot be held responsible for any sensory overload you may experience. Imagine how I feel, especially considering that what I've posted is probably only about a third of the photos I actually took....
 

Feb 11, 2008 1:49 PM
Late last week DDOT began installing "Pay to Park" signs and the green multispace kiosk meters on certain streets in Near Southeast--I've seen either the signs or the meters or both on K, L, M, N, First, and Potomac, but I didn't do a full-scale reconnaissance mission (I'm also seeing them around Garfield Park and I hear they're showing up on Barracks Row). These are indeed the beginnings of Tommy Wells's Performance Parking plan that is eventually going to regulate parking around the ballpark and in Southwest and on Capitol Hill. Right now I haven't heard any of the details like hours and prices, and whatnot, but hope to get some specifics soon. And yes, for a lot of you, this may mean your days of cheap on-street all-day parking could be coming to an end. More as I get it.
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Feb 11, 2008 10:12 AM
Last Thursday the National Capital Planning Commission gave unanimous approval to the early designs of the Waterfront Park at The Yards, which was not a surprise given the nice things said about it in the Staff Recommendation. According to the NCPC web site (I wasn't at the meeting), the commission "commended the applicant, the General Services Administration; the developer, Forest City Washington; and the team's designers for the quality of the design, the range of activities the park will support, its visual and physical connections, and for creatively adapting the design to the site's ground elevation constraints." The design was also endorsed by the Commission on Fine Arts last month.
I've now received a pretty fabulous aerial-view rendering of the park, which I've added to my newly rejiggered page for the project (I've finally separated out the five phase I projects at the Yards onto their own pages), where you can also see a few additional renderings of the design, keeping in mind that these are still preliminary plans--and the NCPC staff recommendation document has even more drawings and detail. Forest City's plan is to complete the first phase of the park in summer 2009, with the retail buildings and the piers and marinas to follow.
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Feb 11, 2008 9:06 AM
At the Anacostia Waterfront Community Fair a few weeks back, I picked up a card that indicated South Capitol Street Draft Environmental Impact Statement (which is centered around the construction of a new Douglass Bridge) would be released on Feb. 8. So, all last week, I kept checking in at southcapitoleis.com just to see if the site had been updated or if there were any "Coming Soon" announcements. Nada. Imagine my surprise, then, when on Saturday I received a brochure via snail mail (how wonderfully old school!) announcing the the EIS would be released on Feb. 15, with the two public meetings pushed to March 4 and 5, and the deadline for public comment moved to March 31. The web site still makes no mention of the impending release, though you can see the two build alternatives being evaluated. More about this when the draft is actually released.
 

Feb 10, 2008 2:30 PM
As promised, I've now updated the rest of the Stadium Exterior Construction Gallery, where in addition to the usual spots you'll see some photos of the touches that are now being added to the ballpark, such as the directional signs, gates, the grand staircase, and even (if you have good eyes) the gold pendant lighting in the club lounge. There's also a shot or two of the outfield restaurant and the N Street Plaza, though the light still stinks for taking photos there. If you want more before-and-afters, there's also the First Street, Potomac Avenue, and N Street expanded galleries (as well as the South Capitol Street photos, which were updated yesterday), though be sure to look for the icon to make sure you're seeing the most recent images. (And don't forget to click on the Click to see all available photos of this location. icon to see every photo in the archive for angles you're interested in.)
Speaking of the ballpark, the Post says the first of the two job fairs for part-time and seasonal positions at the stadium drew 2,500 hopeful applicants. The second fair is on Feb. 21.
As for photo updates of the rest of the construction going on in the Hood, I'm going to string you along for another day or so. There's an awful lot of intersections to cover....
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Feb 9, 2008 6:34 PM
Thanks to some unexpectedly good weather this afternoon, I ventured down South Capitol Street and took a slew of updated photos of the ballpark's western facades. (I even walked about halfway across the Douglass Bridge, which is always an adventure for a white-knuckler like myself.)
You can all today's new shots on my main Stadium Exterior Gallery (where you'll want to look for the icon, since the new photos are sprinkled throughout the page) as well as additional images in the Expanded Gallery. Come back Sunday evening when I'll have another batch of photos, from the eastern and southern sides of the ballpark.
Of course, these days I'm far from the only blogger trooping around down at the stadium--Screech's Best Friend has a pile of new photos, inside and out. (My own Interior Gallery will be updated soon, I promise.)
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Feb 8, 2008 2:28 PM
In our latest edition of What's the Deal With...., reader JD of JDLand.com asks: "WTDW with the old trash transfer site at 900 New Jersey Avenue, that place with the smokestack and all the Department of Public Works operations?"
At Wednesday's marathon capital budget hearing (no, I'm still not done watching it) the agency's director mentioned both the New Jersey Avenue site and the maintenance yard on O Street beneath the 11th Street Bridges as DPW locations that will eventually be moving to make way for development associated with the city's Anacostia Waterfront initiatives. I e-mailed DPW to get some clarification on his remarks, and have been told that the street sweepers that currently operate out of 900 New Jersey will be relocating in November to DPW's Bryant Street, NW, facility, but that other DPW functions are going to remain at New Jersey and K until the Office of Property Management can find them a new home.
This site is eventually supposed to be redeveloped as a mixed-income apartment building under the Capper/Carrollsburg Hope VI plan, but no timeline has been announced. And William C. Smith's plans for a 1-million-square-foot project on the block just to DPW's north, which include reopening I Street between New Jersey and Canal, would seem to need DPW to move out before they can get started.
As I wrote about over the summer, neighbors have been wanting that building closed for a long, LONG time.
 

Feb 8, 2008 8:49 AM
* Today's Washington Business Journal print edition (subscribers only) is reporting that the Nationals are finalizing a deal that would make Capitol City Brewing the "official local beer and the exclusive brew provider at the new stadium's beer garden." WBJ quotes Cap City's president as saying that the company is also negotiating for additional distribution points inside the stadium.
* From the Post, word that Benedict XVI will now be hauling out the Popemobile for two trips through the streets of Washington, adding public appearances that weren't originally part of the plan for his April 15-18 visit so that people who won't be able to get into the April 17 mass at the ballpark might still have a chance to see him. The routes haven't been finalized. Also, the Post says that information on tickets for the Mass is expected to be released this month.
* National Public Radio, which has been looking at locations in Near Southeast as well as NoMa and Silver Spring to consolidate its offices in 400,000 square feet of space, says it will make its decision by the end of May, according to the Montgomery Gazette, in an article that says Montgomery County has made a formal offer to lure NPR to Silver Spring. It's been rumored that NPR is the "preferred option" for DC officials to take over the city's lease at 225 Virginia Avenue (the old Post Plant).
 

Feb 8, 2008 7:50 AM
The Washington Times's Tim Lemke reports on his blog: "The D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission has arranged for the city's high school baseball title games to be played at the Nationals new ballpark on May 31. The day will feature three games, plus an all-star game." So, that now makes two non-Nationals events scheduled for the new stadium (along with some Pope guy on April 17).
 

Feb 7, 2008 6:43 PM
For those (like myself) who have been wondering: John Catoe, Metro's General Manager, said at Wednesday's mammoth City Council capital budget oversight hearing that the agency is planning to be out of the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M by "the beginning of baseball season." He only briefly mentioned "legal issues" about the site's sale to Akridge that they "hope to have resolved" within a few weeks, and didn't say anything about what plans Akridge might have for the site.
Catoe also said (a couple of times) that the west entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station will be ready for Opening Day. If you've been sneaking peeks at it from the 55 M web cam (the station entrance is at bottom center), you've seen some concrete poured over the past couple of days for the floor and also the arrival of the escalators' steps.
(I've made it about half way through my recording of the six-hour-plus meeting, listening with one ear when I can spare a few moments. I still haven't gotten to the testimony from the Sports and Entertainment Commission and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, which might also yield a tidbit here or there.)
UPDATE: I'm not the only one reporting on the station's status today. Friday's Post has a piece with the latest: "[T]he station renovation is back on schedule, with all of the inside work to be finished by the end of this month. Work is also proceeding at street level, where the kiosk, ticket machines and turnstiles are to be installed. Fans will come up three escalators or one of the new elevators into the office building's lobby. One wall will be open, fenced with chain link, as construction continues." It also has some tidbits that people are always asking about, such as: "Metro plans 14 extra trains on game days." And there's this: "Metro is also considering flat-panel TVs at the station entrance, which would post train information and perhaps carry video telecasts of the games." (Hmmmm.) The article also mentions WMATA's Nationals page, which was announced a few weeks back.
 

Feb 7, 2008 10:26 AM
With thanks to reader PK for the news flash (confirmed by the 55 M web cam), we can officially mark this morning's demise of the Normandie Liquors building at First and M by adding it to the Demolished Buildings pantheon. (The irony is not lost on this former lover of high-alcohol-content rum that a liquor store is Demolished Building #151.) I'll get photos of the Normandie-less corner this weekend.
In fact, so many buildings have been torn down in Near Southeast since 2003 that I've now had to break up the Demolished Buildings page by year, so that the dang thing doesn't take three weeks to load. This has also allowed me to separate out the buildings demolished in the Nationals Park footprint into their own mini-gallery, which will be handy in the coming weeks as no doubt many people will want to know what got leveled to make way for the stadium.
 

Feb 7, 2008 9:26 AM
Your morning reading:
* Another worker has been fired at the ballpark for allegedly making "insensitive racial remarks," according to the Examiner and the Post (can't find this one online, though it was in the print edition). The Examiner says it's "the fifth dismissal of an employee at the stadium site over racially charged incidents in less than two weeks. D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission spokeswoman Chinyere Hubbard says a white carpenter made the remarks to two black electricians. She didn't specify what language prompted the action. The carpenter was employed by Mahogany Interiors, a minority subcontractor."
* Maryland congressman Steny Hoyer is concerned enough about the impact of the ballpark on the commutes of his constituents that he met with officials from the Nationals, DDOT, and Metro, and then sent out a press release about it: " 'With weekday evening games that begin at the tail end of peak commuter periods, it is critical that we explore all available options to streamline the flow of traffic and minimize congestion,' stated Rep. Hoyer. 'As opening day approaches, I intend to continue working with officials to mitigate the impact on motorists in our region.' "
* Hundreds are expected to compete this weekend to snag spots in the choir that will sing for Pope Benedict at the ballpark on April 17. About 550 people are signed up to fight for 250 slots.
 

Feb 6, 2008 9:15 AM
Readers with bird's-eye views of the southwest corner of First and M are writing in to say that fences and equipment have been put in place around Normandie Liquors, with perhaps the final bell ready to toll. I'm on Super Tuesday duty in "real life" tonight, so anyone with a view (either in real life or via the 55 M web cam) should feel free post any updates on the little building's fate in the comments.
(The Normandie is on the Willco/Square 701 site, which in the near-term is expected to be a surface parking lot, followed eventually by an office/residential/retail mixed-use project that little is known about.)
UPDATED, 2/6: Demolition is indeed underway this morning, as seen from the web cam and by folks at 80 M and elsewhere.
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More posts: staddis, Square 701
 

Feb 6, 2008 7:53 AM
An abbreviated list of Nationals Park links:
* On Tuesday the Post's Raw Fisher Radio talked about the ballpark and its related transportation issues with various big names, including Neil Albert and Andy Litsky. (I must admit I haven't had a chance to listen yet.) The podcast is available here for the rest of the week, and Marc blogged about the broadcast, too.
* Speaking of transportation, WTOP's Adam Tuss reports that DDOT is about to release the parking plans for the streets surrounding the ballpark. They say that the dry runs of the shuttle buses from RFK have taken about 15 minutes (about double the time the Nationals were quoting), and that "anyone who parks illegally will face consequences." The "Take Metro" mantra will be hitting the airwaves soon thanks to a Nationals' publicity campaign that's about to start.
* In the wake of the "noose incident" at the ballpark last month, City Council member Kwame Brown has introduced a bill that would make it a criminal offense to display a noose on any public or private property if the intent "is to deprive equal protection of the law, injure someone, to intimidate a person exercising a federal right or to cause fear of personal safety." Similar zero-tolerance laws already exist in the District for displaying a swastika or a burning cross with those intents.
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More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

Feb 6, 2008 7:41 AM
It's the start of budget season for the DC City Council, a process which Tommy Wells's blog explains better than I ever could. (Bleary-morning-after-Super-Tuesday-brain doesn't help.) I've added the hearings that will probably have the most impact on Near Southeast to my Upcoming Events Calendar; the entire lineup is available on the City Council web site.
Today at 11 am is the 07-08 budget performance oversight hearing for DPW, DMV, DDOT, WMATA, the Sports and Entertainment Commission, and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, which means there's a good chance that the ballpark and related issues will come up at some point. The hearing will be broadcast live on Channel 13 and streaming video, and will be available on demand a few hours after the broadcast ends.
 

Feb 5, 2008 11:50 AM
From Barry Svrluga's blog, rounding up some of the items from yesterday's media tour he didn't initially write about: "[Stan] Kasten didn't mention this, but the Nats have been discussing with the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum the possibility of haivng a permanent branch in Washington at Nationals Park. There is a two-story space down the left field line -- along South Capitol St. near the northernmost corner of the park -- that could house a museum. What Kasten did allow is that they're trying to figure out what to do with that space, if it could be a conference room or convention hall or museum or some sort of combination. In any case, it's unlikely it'll be done this year."
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More posts: Nationals Park
 

Feb 4, 2008 5:09 PM
There apparently was a media tour at Nationals Park today--check out Barry's blog to see updated photos of the stadium. And MLB.com has a long description of all the locales seen on the two-hour tour, including the locker room, the club lounges, and more, such as the outfield plaza, which includes the " 'Strike Zone' kids' area, featuring games, activities, picnic tables and a baseball-themed jungle gym for children four and under. Running along the side is a series of shops, including 'Build-a-Prez,' a shop operated by the Build-a-Bear company that will allow kids to construct their own racing president."
UPDATE: Here's the Examiner's the Associated Press's piece on the tour. And there's a second MLB.com article about the logistics of the new ballpark, addressing issues such as acquiring parking lots and including the news that "The park will usually open 90 minutes before games -- two and a half hours before in the outfield plaza -- but on Opening Day it will open at 3:30 p.m. ET for the 8:05 p.m. game against the Atlanta Braves, giving fans extra time to walk around and see the stadium that Sunday afternoon, as well as deal with any delays that occur."
UPDATE, 2/5: The Baltimore Sun describes the ballpark, as does the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. And Tim Lemke posts about the tour on his WashTimes blog.
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More posts: Nationals Park
 

Feb 4, 2008 12:10 PM
A thought: With more than a dozen DC public schools closing at the end of this school year, and the Fenty administration stating that they have no intention of selling off the buildings, wouldn't one or two of them make a good location for a school bus parking lot? Or, at the very least, a better location than some of the locations currently being used?
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More posts: Canal Park
 

Feb 4, 2008 11:20 AM
It's a slow morning (when is the world going to do the right thing and make Super Bowl Monday a holiday?), so I'll just take a moment to point to Planetizen's 2008 Top 10 planning, design, and development web sites, where JDLand gets an honorable mention, nudged out by those weasels over at Rethink College Park. (As always, we kid because we love. Nice job, Rob and David!)
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More posts: JDLand stuff
 

Feb 2, 2008 11:43 AM
A slew of site plans and renderings showing the designs for the Waterfront Park at the Yards have now entered into the public record, thanks to requirements that early designs (35%) be shown to the National Capital Planning Commission. The NCPC will be voting on the designs at this Thursday's meeting, and NCPC staff is recommending is that they be approved.
The staff recommendation document is must reading for anyone interested in the park, as it lays out many of the plans for the 5.5-acre site. There will be a huge "Great Lawn" on the western portion of the site (south of what will be an extended Second Street). The currently existing inlet will be extended northward for a shallow "Canal Basin", with an elaborate pedestrian bridge above it. The designs also show the basic location of piers, marinas, and a water taxi stand (cue Nats fans salivating), although the review of their designs will come later. The existing Lumber Storage Shed (Building 173) will be renovated into glass-enclosed retail and entertainment offering, and two other buildings will eventually come to the park as well. At the eastern end will be a "River Garden", a shadier, more lush area of greenery. There will also eventually be some sort of "vertical iconic element" erected on the pier at Third Street, but no details are yet divulged.
It's estimated that the park will open in 2010. I have some photos of what the park area looks like now, and have also included a few of the new renderings, but it's been a tough spot to get to over the years. (If your browser doesn't jump you to the right place, scroll to the bottom of the page. I'm gonna have to revamp my Yards stuff--it's too much going on to try to shoehorn into my current design scheme!)
UPDATE: I should also mention, for those of you interested in parking issues, that blacktop is now being put down on the open lot at The Yards south of Tingey between New Jersey and Third.....
 

Feb 1, 2008 10:39 AM
Last night the Zoning Commission heard the Capitol Gateway Overlay Review case for 1111 New Jersey, Donohoe's now 220,000-square-foot office building on the northwest corner of New Jersey and M. The Office of Planning report laid out how the project properly adheres to the requirements of the CG Overlay, and there was actually very little discussion by the commissioners of the building's design or landscape (save for a few questions about the width of the sidewalk on M Street, which is wider than what the CG Overlay calls for, because of various hardware for the Navy Yard Metro station below).
What took up the bulk of the discussion was whether the building's parking garage should be accessed via New Jersey Avenue or via the block's alley that runs north-south between L and M (which is shared with 100 M, Onyx, and whatever gets built on the St. Matthew's site). The original design had the garage driveway on New Jersey, but DDOT is asking that it be moved to the alley because of both a desire to not have curb cuts on a major state street like New Jersey and because the alley is an existing curb cut where pedestrians expect vehicular flow. But the commissioners were uniformly unhappy with the alley solution, given the narrowness of the alley (14 feet), the heavy amount of traffic there will be, and the very awkward garage entrance/exit that Donohoe has had to come up with in order to make the alley entry work. Donohoe didn't appear to be especially happy with the alley solution, either, but DDOT was pretty firm in their desire to have it there.
The record was left open, and DDOT and Donohoe said they would continue to work on the garage issue. A ruling on the overlay review could come at the March 11 Zoning Commission meeting.
Chairman Anthony Hood also briefly touched on ANC 6D's opposition to the project because of a lack of a community benefits package--Hood said that this project is not a PUD, and any desires to have amenities packages be part of CG Overlay reviews should have been dealt with when the Overlay was created, so the ANC's opposition was viewed as not germaine.
 
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