Near Southeast DC: Past News Items - February 2011
Go to Full Blog Archive

 

22 Blog Posts
Go to Page: 1 | 2

Courtyard Hotel on New Jersey Ave. Bought for $68 Million
Feb 28, 2011 5:54 PM
Just crossing the wires: "Chesapeake Lodging Trust announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the 204-room Courtyard Washington Capitol Hill/Navy Yard located in Washington, DC for a purchase price of $68 million, or approximately $333,000 per key." The hotel, at New Jersey and L, SE, opened in spring 2006 along with its next door neighbor, the Capitol Hill Tower co-op; both were developed by Valhal Corp. (whose principals then formed Ranger Properties in 2007). It will apparently remain a Courtyard; no word of what if any impact this sale would have on Capitol Hill Tower.

Pre-Monday Tidbits (Van Ness Meeting Reminder, Links)
Feb 28, 2011 9:47 AM
* I imagine most interested parties do not need to be reminded that tonight at 6 pm at 900 5th St. SE is the meeting with DCPS to find out what they plan to do with Van Ness Elementary. With laser-like precision, they picked a date when I absolutely can't be there, so anyone who wants to pass along the news as it's happening, please do. (I will be keeping an eye on Twitter.)
And, two recently Tweeted links that might be of interest:
* The Yards was named one of Five Projects that Will Transform Washington by the Washington Business Journal. "When completed, the neighborhood may finally achieve L'Enfant's vision for a bustling center of activity on the waterfront."
* The DC Fiscal Policy Institute takes a look at the possible $8 million tax break to bring Whole Foods to New Jersey Avenue, asking "why it makes sense for the District to continue putting money into an area that has seen tremendous public investments and is already on the cusp of development" and why the project would require a special subsidy to move forward, since they say that "Whole Foods already would qualify for a set of tax incentives on grocery-store development, including a 10-year property tax break on the store itself."

Beer Garden Historic Preservation Hearing: It's 'Very Close'
Feb 26, 2011 3:28 PM
On Thursday the city's Historic Preservation Review Board took up the designs for the new building to be constructed at 720 L St. SE that is going to house a beer garden. You can watch the proceedings if you want (it's about 25 minutes long), which might be of interest if you're an architect or deeply interested in building design.
The commissioners all seemed to feel that the staff report (which I summarized here) was on the right track with its comments on the building's design: "You're close, you're very close," said board member Robert Sonderman to the building's team, and staffer Amanda Molson and other board members seemed to agree.
Before the board members had a chance to weigh in, applicant Mark Brody responded to some of the concerns in the staff report, offering to remove the rain screens that go up above the roof deck, reducing the number of finishes, providing more information about how the roof deck's lighting and sun-screening will be designed, and looking more at how the business relates to the 8th Street streetscape (Brody said that they'll be trying to include a sidewalk cafe in the final plans).
Architect Matthew Battin did seem a little frustrated by the amount of input the design has received, talking about how some design changes have been in response to comments, which have then generated comments that counteracted the initial comments. The board members seemed sympathetic to the "too many cooks" issue, and many focused on wanting the design to be simplified in order to "clarify the concept." They also seemed to like the industrial/warehouse feel, and were not concerned about it fitting in with the Capitol Hill Historic District. There was some discussion about using roll-up windows rather than the flat ones to further emphasize the warehouse feel (though costs do seem to be a concern in much of the design). There was also a suggestion that an archaelogist be brought to the site, given its location near the Navy Yard and on a hill with views of the Potomac where "the people before us" lived.
While the original staff recommendation was for the design to be approved by staff once comments are incorporated, chair Catherine Buell suggested it come back to the board one more time, "hopefully on the consent calendar." This was approved unanimously.

Wrapping Up Dad's Memories of Capitol Hill: The Late '60s
Feb 25, 2011 12:10 PM
My dad has handed in the final installment of his memories of life on Capitol Hill, this time covering the very tumultous late 1960s. While there are plenty of good memories (and home movies!)--swimming at the Skyline Inn, birdbath martinis at the Market Inn, the Gangplank, and my brother's days attending the nascent Capitol Hill Day School--Dad's essay focuses in large part on the 1968 riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the impact it had for people living on the Hill.
We left the Hill--and Washington--in late 1969 when Dad took a job in Chicago, but we returned to the area in 1977, living in Chevy Chase but always keeping our ties the Hill strong, both professionally through Dad and my brother's jobs and then personally when I moved to the Hill in 1994.
When my now-husband and I bought our house in June 1995, right as DC was hitting rock bottom and just before the financial control board was instituted, most of our friends were more than a little concerned about our decision, especially given that this was how many people thought of Washington outside of far Northwest and the National Mall. But Dad and Mom certainly approved of my decision to put down stakes back in the neighborhood where their life together--and my life!--had started.
So, this brings this nice wintertime diversion to an end, and I hope people have found it interesting. And maybe it's spurred a few of you to get your parents' memories of your childhood neighborhood (wherever it may be), and maybe some longtime Hill residents have shaken loose a few of their own recollections while reading this. (I know I've gotten a number of "Yes! The Oakland Inn!" responses.)
Thanks for doing this, Dad, and now go get back on your bike: spring is coming.
Comments (2)
More posts: Rearview Mirror

N Street Under 11th Street Bridge Ramps Closing Thursday
Feb 23, 2011 12:25 PM
From DDOT: "The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will close N Street SE between 11th and 12th Street SE on Thursday, February 24. Traffic that would have used N Street SE will be permanently routed to the intersection of 12th Street and M Street SE.[.]" There are stoplights now at 12th and M; I saw them on Saturday night, and thought they were pretty new (and indeed they are!).
This is all part of the 11th Street Bridges reconstruction; see my project page for more details. This closure would seem to mainly effect Navy Yard employees who come northward across the bridges and have been able to turn left at the bottom of the ramp on N to head toward the Navy Yard's gates, and who will now have to go up to M, turn left, and then turn left on 11th.
UPDATE: In looking at the plans, and parsing the press release wording, I think the "permanently" refers to drivers coming off the 11th Street Bridge inbound having to go to 12th and M. It looks like N will still be in existence, and in fact will be built through to 12th. I can't quite tell from the various graphics how traffic will flow on the new N. But basically, the way that N is used now (as a turn off the exit ramp) won't exist anymore.

DCPS to Announce Decision on Van Ness Reopening on Feb. 28
Feb 23, 2011 9:38 AM
DC Public Schools has scheduled a public meeting on Feb. 28 to announce its decision on the reopening of Van Ness Elementary School. Parents were already told back in December that the school won't reopen for the 2011-2012 school year, but residents hope that DCPS could decide to get the school back online for fall 2012.
If the school isn't going to be reopened in the near future, there might be the possibility of expanding the boundaries of Tyler Elementary (at 10th and G SE) to allow Near Southeast children to go there, rather than to Amidon-Bowen in Southwest, their current assigned school. (I don't know whether a decision on that would be announced at this meeting.) The meeting is at 6 pm at the Arthur Capper Seniors building at 900 5th St., SE. You can read my previous posts on Van Ness for more information.

Survey on Attitudes Toward Barracks Row Restaurants
Feb 23, 2011 9:31 AM
[While this is technically outside of my strict boundaries, I know a lot of Near Southeast residents patronize the restaurants and shops on 8th Street, so....] A survey is being conducted on resident attitudes toward restaurants on Barracks Row. It's being funded by the business owners, and is being overseen by Barracks Row Main Street. Deadline for completing the survey is midnight, Sunday, Feb. 27, and four participants will win a $25 gift certificate to the Barracks Row restaurant of their choice.

Comments (0)
More posts: 8th Street

Yet Another Redesign, Making It Easier to Keep Up With the News
Feb 22, 2011 6:37 PM
If you're actually visiting the default JDLand.com home page to read this post, you'll notice things look a little different. Again.
I've tinkered with the design, with the biggest change being the addition of a Latest News box at the top. Given the amount of content that flows through the site, it's easy for people who don't read it obsessively (i.e., most everyone) to miss big news as it quickly ages down the page and then off into the archive. And my Spidey Sense is tingling that 2011 is going to have more big stories from Near Southeast than it's seen during the past few years of The Great Recession, making it even more important that there's an easier way to catch up with the latest.
You won't see this box if you come to the site via a direct link to a blog post, but you can then just click on the "See the Latest News" link to get to it, which does nothing more than take you to the default home page.
However, note that I didn't do the Full Gawker and ditch the standard reverse-chronological display of blog entries. They're still on the home page, under "The Feed," requiring just a bit of scrolling or a click on the light-gray link at the top of the page. There's no change to the mobile home page, either.
And I couldn't bear to do away with the random before-and-after photos, though I moved them and shrunk them a bit.
But there is one fun addition: Current Weather Conditions! Since Weatherbug has a station at Nationals Park, I thought it'd be cool to have the local neighborhood weather report available, just like a *real* media site.
There's other tweaks here or there that few people other than me will notice, because I have to stare at this page way too much and after awhile I have to move the furniture around otherwise I'll go [more] insane.
I imagine there's a bug or two that I'll be stomping out over the next few days, but I hope that readers find this a useful addition, or at the very least not a tremendous imposition. (And, if you're reading this post via RSS or e-mail subscription or some other method, be sure to visit the home page to see the new additions.)
UPDATE: If the layout is acting weird, try doing a forced refresh (CTRL-F5). This is especially true with Chrome.
Comments (13)
More posts: JDLand stuff

8th Street Beer Garden Design Historic Preservation Review
Feb 21, 2011 11:09 AM
Posted on Friday was the Staff Report from the Historic Preservation Review Board on the design for the proposed Bier Garden at 8th and L, SE, as the owners of the site at 720 L continue to work toward constructing a one-story building with an accompanying summer garden and roof deck. (You can look to the left, or see a slightly larger version of the design, as it was presented to ANC 6B last week; 6B voted to support the design.)
If you're not up for reading all six pages yourself, here's my Zagat-style report on the report:
It makes for good reading if you're interested in how new buildings in historic districts are evaluated; you might be surprised (I was!) that design guidelines actually "discourage the exact duplication of historic styles," opting instead to encourage applicants to consider a new building as an "enhancement" to the district "while respecting the historic context." The report discusses how the decision to go with a one-story structure could draw on "the vernacular of Washington's modest industrial buildings and alley warehouses," and in fact the report includes a photo of the Bier Garden lot in 1949, when a one-story building housing a laundry/tailor stood on the site.
The report finds that the proposed massing of the new building does reflect the character of the historic district and "references recognizable attributes" of both industrial buildings and traditional beer gardens. The report also sees the rain screen and other more contemporary design choices as reflecting the "whimsy, casualness and somewhat ad-hoc nature of many outdoor beer gardens."
However, there are concerns that there are so many finishes applied "in so many different directions" that the result is a "somewhat chaotic and unfinished appearance," and suggests selecting one or two key ideas that would allow the building "to be showcased in a less hectic manner." Other major issues cited include choices on the roof deck (and the lack of any lighting or shade up there in the current design), the proportions of the doors, and the designs of the rain screens, as well as how the building's "streetscape presence" along both 8th and L.
The report ends with a recommendation that the applicants "restudy the issues outlined [...] as they pertain to the principles of design cohesiveness, proportion and scale, and streetscape presence." It's also recommended that the board delegate final approval of the design to the board staff once the comments from staff and the board are addressed in the revisions.
The hearing begins at 10 am on Thursday, and can be watched live, or on demand starting the next day. (And this will actually be the first HPRB hearing I'll have ever watched!) You can read my previous Bier Garden posts if you're needing to get caught up.
UPDATE: And now we return back to "Beer Garden" from "Bier Garden," as Mark Brody informs me that it was a typo on the plans.

Monument Officially Announces FAA Lease at 55 M
Feb 17, 2011 3:19 PM
This was referenced in the flurry of stories on the company a few weeks ago, but Monument Realty has now officially announced that they have signed a 10-year 50,000-square-foot lease with the Federal Aviation Administration at 55 M Street, the building on top of the Navy Yard Metro station just north of Nationals Park. With this lease, DDOT's 150,000-square-foot lease signed last fall, and two other smaller tenants, the 275,000-square-foot building is now 85 percent leased, with only three smaller office suites remaining (as well as all of the building's ground-floor retail space).
The press release says that the FAA is expected to move into their new spaces on the 8th and 9th floors in April, and that DDOT is expected to complete its move to the fourth through seventh floors during the second quarter of the year.
As for the rest of the Monument Half Street project, which as designed includes a 200-room hotel and 332 residential units and plenty of ground-floor retail to the south of 55 M, the press release quotes executive vice president Douglas Olson as saying that they are"actively working to move forward with Monument's next phase of Half Street."

New York Times on 8th Street; NCC Moving Forward
Feb 16, 2011 4:09 PM
Flying around the Twitterverse yesterday and today has been a pile of links to "In Washington, a Historic Retail Strip is Revived," a New York Times article on Barracks Row, with a big focus on the portion of it south of the freeway often called "Lower 8th."
A quote: "But like many cities around the country, Washington is stuck with the consequences of allowing a highway to slash through an urban neighborhood. In 1962, the Southeast Freeway bisected Barracks Row. 'That became the moat,' said Michael Stevens, the executive director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District, which has helped to promote development around the new ballpark. 'It created a large physical barrier.'"
The article, which has a festive accompanying photo of Madison Marquette representatives outside of the Blue Castle, mentions the Lower 8th Visioning Report that I wrote about last week, and also the National Community Church's plans to build a church and performance space at the corner of 8th and Virginia, which the head of Barracks Row Main Street is quoted as saying "will definitely be a catalyst for development. We have a number of investors who just didn't want to be first."
Speaking of which, NCC's Mark Batterson has posted on his blog today that their Capitol Hill campus "footprint is finalized," which I would guess means that the deal has closed for the auto-repair garage at 7th and K that I mentioned NCC was trying to acquire (if in fact that's the lot they're looking at, because it's never been said publicly). Batterson also says NCC is "doing another set of conceptual drawings," and that with the site finalized "we're full-steam ahead with designs." And: "Looking forward to initiating meetings with Historic Preservation, ANC, Riverfront Bid, Barracks Row Main Street, Office of Planning, etc. I think our development will be a catalyst for and part of the renaissance that will happen in that part of the city."

Quick Pictures from 225 Virginia/200 I Ceremony
Feb 15, 2011 12:07 PM
I keep saying I'm never going to take any more photos of politicians at microphones, but who can resist them slinging sledgehammers? This morning there was a brief ceremony officially kicking off the redevelopment of 225 Virginia Avenue, turning what was the old Washington Star building and then Washington Post printing plant into 200 I, a 320,000-square-foot LEED Gold office building housing three city agencies. Here's a slew of photos, not only of the ceremony but also a few images from inside the building, as well as two renderings of what the lobby will look like when it's completed.
Though the sun was out, the assembled guests (and gate-crashers!) probably wished this little shindig had been held yesterday, when it was about 25 degrees warmer. But at least it made for a quick event, which didn't seem to bother anyone too much.
The renovation is expected to be complete and tenants moved in by the second quarter of 2012. The Office of the Chief Technology Officer, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the Child and Family Services Agency will all be occupying the building, and there may also be some "incubator retail space" on the ground floor's southwest corner. There will also be an art gallery in the new lobby that will open out onto I Street and Canal Park, showcasing works from the Arts and Humanities commission's collection. There will also be 180ish parking spaces on site, some in the building's basement but about 100 of them in a two-level parking deck on the 3rd Street side of the building (where the current surface lot is). And the loading dock will now be just west of 3rd, on Virginia.
The building was bought by the city for $85 million in 2009, and then leased it to StonebridgeCarras in a 20-year lease/leaseback agreement to fund the construction. You can check out my 225 Virginia project page for lots (and lots!) of background on this building, though the page isn't quite up-to-date with today's stuff. Yet.

WC Smith Looking for $8M Tax Break to Bring Whole Foods to 800 New Jersey Avenue
Feb 14, 2011 10:06 PM
From Tuesday's Washington Post, confirmation at last at what has been reported since 2002, but with a bit of a twist:
"Whole Foods Market and a D.C. real estate firm are interested in building a new store in Southeast Washington near Nationals Park, but the developer says that luring the grocer would require $8 million in tax breaks. William C. Smith and Co. is proposing a 39,000-square-foot Whole Foods for 800 New Jersey Ave. SE as part of a building that would include 375 apartments."
More: "Smith said the $800,000 annual tax break would cover requests by Whole Foods including an additional level of underground parking, extra elevators and higher ceilings on the bottom floor. Without the tax break, he said, he would either wait to develop the site or build a smaller apartment building with little or no retail."
Tax breaks for developments are being requested more frequently during this Era of Economic Difficulties, but the city's own financial troubles, and the amount of assistance that has been going to Ward 6 in comparison to other parts of the city, may make a request like this a tough sell, the article says.
There are already plans to bring a not-officially-named grocery store (*cough*Harris Teeter*cough*) to the neighborhood perhaps in 2013 at 4th and M in the Yards. This Whole Foods site, though, would also be a draw not only for Near Southeast residents but for folks on the south side of Capitol Hill, given its location just on the other side of the Southeast Freeway. You can see some photos of the site here.
WC Smith has been planning a four-building, 1.1-million square foot office/residential/retail project on this block (Square 737) for some time. The transfer of a small plot of land known Reservation 17A was finally completed last year from the Feds to the city, clearing a long-time bureaucratic hurdle to getting the site redeveloped. (This will also allow I Street to be built through between 2nd and New Jersey once the DPW building just to the south is demolished, which may happen this year.)
There has been chatter over the past few months that Smith was pitching the entire site for the 1.1-million-square-foot Department of Homeland Security lease that GSA currently has out for bid--this movement on getting a residential building started might seem to signal a shift from that possibility, along with being another indication that developers are sensing Near Southeast is a strong residential market.
This lot is next to 225 Virginia Avenue, the old Star/Post plant that is hours away from starting its transformation into 200 I Street, which will be home to three city agencies when its "re-skinning" and renovation is completed within the next two years.
(A note: The article says that WC Smith purchased the land from the Post in 2000 for $50 million; I think a decimal point got lost somewhere, because DC Property Records say that the lot, which used to be home to an old warehouse owned by the Washington Star and then the Washington Post, sold for $50,000 in December 1999. That number might not be right either, but considering that even now, in a completely changed neighborhood 11 years later, the 800 New Jersey land is assessed at just over $19 million $58 million, I doubt that Smith paid $50 million. [UPDATED because I looked at only one assessment record instead of three.] The WC Smith parcels were assessed at about $2.5 million in 2001, the oldest records that I have.)

ANC 6D Doings: Bullpen Expansion Support, Canal Park Timeline
Feb 14, 2011 9:38 PM
Quick items from tonight's ANC 6D meeting:
* The commission voted 6-0 to support the Bullpen's plans to open an additional 632-seat beer garden at Half and M, across from the Navy Yard Metro station's west entrance just north of Nationals Park. Owner Bo Blair says that this new area, which I'm referring to as Das Bullpen until cease and desist letters stop me, would be a more "mellow" space than the current Bullpen, with little if any live music, and catering more to folks over 35 and families. It will be offering European beers and a "light" menu (though, are sausages ever really "light"?).
It was determined that this new operation, which will run in tandem with the existing Bullpen at Half and N for the 2011 baseball season, does not need its own liquor license. The ANC in its motion also requested that ABRA handle this license expansion request in an expedited fashion so that negotiations between the Bullpen and landlord Akridge can be completed and the beer garden can be opened by the end of March. It's expected that the original Bullpen will disappear after this season so that Akridge can begin construction on the southern residential portion of its 700,000-square-foot Half Street project.
While both Bullpens will only be open during stadium events, Blair said he's thinking about investigating whether food trucks could be coaxed to come to the Das Bullpen site during lunchtime on non-game days every so often.
You can read more about Das Bullpen here.
* Chris VanArsdale of the Canal Park Development Association gave a very brief presentation by request of 6D chair Ron McBee. VanArsdale said that the "construction kick-off" meeting was held today with Davis Construction, and that work on the site should start "by the end of the month." With a 14-month construction timeline, this would get the park "substantially completed" by March 2012, and finished by May.

BID Summer Movie Survey; 225 Virginia Kick-Off
Feb 13, 2011 11:22 PM
Two very small items to start off the week:
* The BID has posted a survey to find out which movies people are interested in seeing during the summer's Outdoor Movie Series, scheduled for Thursday nights beginning May 26. (The movies have moved back to Tingey Plaza behind USDOT, since Canal Park will presumably be under construction.) They're offering two themes to choose between: Summer Vacation Movies and Academy Award Winners.
* StonebridgeCarras has e-mailed invitations to VIPs (a list that doesn't include moi) announcing a "ceremony to celebrate the official beginning of the redevelopment" of the former Post Plant, aka 225 Virginia Avenue, aka 200 I St., SE. It's scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 15, at 10:30 am at the corner of 3rd and Virginia, with Mayor Gray and other luminaries expected to be in attendance. Will the Bobcats now parked on site then start punching out the walls from the inside, as was the case when the old Capper Seniors building was demolished? Of course, in the case of the Post Plant, they're only "de-skinning" it, not bringing down the entire building. You can see a rendering of the new building on my project page.

Dad's Rearview Mirror, Con't: Buying a Home, 60s Style
Feb 11, 2011 2:42 PM
Dad's been under the weather for the past few weeks (for the first time in about 30 years), but is thankfully feeling better and has now passed along another batch of memories of life on Capitol Hill.
This time he's written on a subject matter that's almost on-topic for JDLand: residential real estate, with a lot of detail from when he and my mother purchased 127 E St., SE, in early 1964. (He even dug into his files and found the paperwork from the sale, which amounted to all of about four pages, which I've included.) And he recounts a trip through the city bureaucracy to build the garage that's still out back of 127 E today--it wasn't smooth sailing, but I bet it was still a lot easier than it would be now!
He also talks a bit about the old Weisfeld's Market, from when it was at 131 E St. More recent Hill citizens may remember Weisfeld's in its later location, at the corner of 4th and E, where the Capitol Supreme Market now operates. There's also talk of The Rotunda, and a first mention of Mr. Henry's, which he says helped "extend the boundaries of where Hill people felt comfortable going." You know, alllllll the way out to 6th and Pennsylvania, SE.
I also took the opportunity to add some multimedia offerings to give everyone some looks at the 100 block of E during the mid-1960s.
Thanks again to Dad for taking the time to write this all down. Maybe when I get him and Mom down to the neighborhood for a baseball game this year, we'll set up for a bit beforehand somewhere (Das Bullpen?) and interested parties can swing by to chat.
Comments (0)
More posts: Rearview Mirror

ANC 6D Agenda; Framing at Capitol Quarter
Feb 11, 2011 12:37 PM
* It's that time of the month {ahem}, with ANC 6D meeting on Monday, Feb. 14, at 7 pm at St. Augustine's Church at 6th and M streets, SW. What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than with the commissioners and interested residents of Southwest and Near Southeast? Not a very meaty agenda, except that one item is "Canal Park Groundbreaking Update." When the park got its building permits last month, I was told to look for a mid-February start for major construction, and it looks like that may indeed be coming to pass. We'll see what the word is at Monday's meeting.
Also on the agenda is the Bullpen, and it's under "Alcohol Licenses" with the word "revised" attached, so perhaps some decision has been made as to whether the new beer garden operation (I'm just going to keep calling it Das Bullpen) can operate under the existing license of the original Bullpen, as opposed to needing an entirely new license.
* In other news, for those who haven't wandered around 3rd or 4th Street in the past couple days: the "sticks" have started to appear on the first block Capitol Quarter's second phase, with framing now underway. EYA expects the first move-ins on this block (bounded by 3rd, 4th, I, and K) to start in May or June.

More Property Moves on Lower 8th; The Visioning?
Feb 10, 2011 3:25 PM
In my post about the Bier Garden plans for the northeast corner of 8th and L, SE, I promised a couple of extra tidbits about Lower 8th Street. To wit:
* Rumors abound that the National Community Church has acquired the auto repair garage at the corner of 7th and K/Virginia, SE, but despite someone saying otherwise at Tuesday's ANC 6B meeting, I'm told that no deal has been completed as yet. But even that at least confirms my not-terribly-hard-to-guess suspicions that NCC would be eyeing that lot for their new coffeehouse/performance space/offices, since they now own the land to both the east and south of the site. The garage's lot is 5,300 square feet, and was assessed in 2010 for just under $1.5 million.
* Madison Marquette, the developer who owns the Blue Castle at 770 M St., SE and is also now a partner in the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, is entering into a joint venture with the ICP Group, owner of the gray building (with Quizno's) at 8th and Potomac and other Square 929 properties that have been suffering from extended financing troubles. WBJ reported on this in late January, noting that those familiar with the deal "say Madison and its 'fairly deep pockets' will take over as lead developer for all the parcels." This also presumably gives Madison access to ICP's properties on Square 929, just across 8th Street from the NCC/Bier Garden block and to the north of the Quizno's block.
Squares 929 and 930 have been the subject of a lot of discussion as one of the sites that the Marines might be looking at as a location for their new barracks, because a development team could submit a proposal for a public/private partnership on that site if they controlled all properties on those two blocks. (This assumes the Marines do decide to go the public/private route; they could instead build additional barracks space on their existing land at 7th and L or manage to acquire some other government-owned site, such as the old Capper Seniors/Square 882 site, which is owned by DCHA but which seems to be stalled in its attempts to get funding for the mixed-income apartment project on the north side of the block.) There's also the Navy's potential plans to expand outside their walls, which could include some of the close-by lots along 8th or maybe the old Exxon site at 11th and M.
In fact, in an e-mail to me last month, ICP President Leon Kafele referenced these possibilities by saying that the joint venture with Madison Marquette will "position [ICP's] assets to better respond to the Marines Corps and Navy Yard supply and demand for a BEQ, retail, and office space on or around lower 8th Street Barracks Row." And Madison has mentioned in public meetings that the Blue Castle could become home to some of the "shared uses" that the Marines are hoping to have be part of any new barracks venture.
So, with NCC and the Bier Garden making moves on Square 906, Madison Marquette increasing its presence by making deals on Squares 929 and 930, and the Navy and Marines in the mix as well, does this mean that Lower 8th is starting to perk up? And, how will any new projects tie in with the Lower 8th Street Vision Report developed by the Capitol Riverfront BID along with all manner of representatives of Barracks Row, the Navy and Marines, business owners, and local residents?
I haven't written much about the whole vision thing, especially once the discussion of the Marines' land needs began to focus south of the freeway and it became clear that until they decide what they're doing about their barracks, any real discussion of what Lower 8th may look like in the future is very much up in the air.
That said, the vision report has mostly general recommendations that aren't exactly controversial: "Encourage a Mix of Uses," "Historic Preservation is a Must," improve the underpass to encourage pedestrians to come down from north of the freeway, address parking/circulation issues, and others.
But there is one concrete suggestion in the report: increasing height and density limits on some of these squares. The current 45-foot limit on 8th would be maintained for new structures, but greater heights (65 to 85 feet) could then allowed 20 to 30 feet behind existing historic 8th Street structures.
You can see on page 17 of the report some drawings of what the Bier Garden corner at 8th and L would look like with a 45-foot building on the site, and there are other drawings depicting height changes on the following pages, including allowing the less-historic western side of the Blue Castle to be built up higher.
The Bier Garden's one-story-plus-roof-deck design would seem to be not exactly what the visioners envisioned, but the developer has said he anticipates it to be a temporary structure (though that's not a guarantee). There's been no public opposition to the Bier Garden from the BID or Barracks Row Main Street--but no letters of support, either.
It will be interesting to see what the National Community Church comes up with for their design, and whether it'll try to take advantage of the desire for larger building heights set out in the vision document, if that idea ends up being embraced by the city.
And, there's still the Marines' decision to look for, which could be the biggest driver of all for redefining Lower 8th.

Meanwhile, at the Beer Garden to the East....
Feb 8, 2011 11:33 PM
While the neighborhood's big Beer Garden News last week was the plan by the Bullpen folks to create one at Half and M, SE, the other proposed beer garden in the area, at 8th and L, SE, is continuing to proceed through the city's bureaucracy. With its liquor license having been dealt with last month, this "Bier Garden" is now undergoing the Historic Preservation Review process, a necessary step thanks to its location within the Capitol Hill Historic District (which I'm sure Das Bullpen is thankful to be well outside of).
Original plans for a temporary structure were undoable thanks to historic district restrictions, so now the applicant, Mark Brody, and his architect have opted to go with a one-story building with a roof deck, in addition to the proposed ground-level summer garden. The look of the building (which is closer to 1 1/2 stories high) is very industrial, with large multi-paned windows and lots of "wood rainscreening" on the exterior and the roof deck. (I've asked for electronic versions of the color renderings that were shown at Tuesday night's ANC 6B meeting, but Mr. Brody is still pondering whether to pass them along.) UPDATE: Since the renderings have been submitted to the Historic Preservation Office and have been shown at a public meeting, an interested party passed them along. (UPDATE 1A: And Mr. Brody's architect has now sent it to me as well--thank you!) Here is the main image, looking at the corner of 8th and L:
The ANC's Planning and Zoning Committee had a first look at the designs on Feb. 1, and, according to the committee report, expressed a number of concerns about "the proposed materials, the open deck design, and the lack of letters of support from other establishments and or affected neighbors" as well as the "unfinished appearance" and issues with not having received details such as "views of the affected area with relationship to existing structures and plat specifications."
By the time the full commission met Tuesday night, Brody had made some changes to the initial designs, and forwarded letters of support from two neighbors on L Street as well 18 letters from Capitol Quarter residents (thanks probably to an e-mail that went to the private CQ mailing list asking for support). When asked, Brody said that Mark Batterson of the National Community Church (which is buying up the north side of this "Saints and Sinners" block to build a new office and performance space) has decided that he "will take no position" on the beer garden plans.
There ensued much discussion, with the bulk of concerns coming from Kirsten Oldenburg (in whose SMD this is) and David Garrison, who both clearly are unhappy with the design, especially the roof deck. (Perhaps Kirsten will write more about this project on her blog so I don't have to try to summarize, HINT HINT.) But other commissioners made clear their desire to get something built on this portion of Barracks Row south of the freeway to help jump-start the area.
After an initial motion to oppose the designs while the applicant and the city's Historic Preservation Review Board continue to make refinements failed 3-7, a second motion to take no position failed 4-6, followed finally by a motion that passed 7-3 to support the designs, with an accompanying letter to the Historic Preservation Office detailing the commission's concerns about safety on the roof deck, the design of the doors (too stubby, Oldenburg says), the "parapet" that is above the front door, and the design's "historic character." Commissioners Oldenburg, Garrison, and Norman Metzger were the three commissioners in opposition. The HPRB may hear this case at its Feb. 24 meeting, though that agenda has not yet been set. (Note that the Capitol Hill Restoration Society will be a source of comments about the project as well.)
Interestingly, the liquor license apparently will not cover the roof deck, so Brody will have to come back to the ANC if he intends to serve alcohol in that space. There was also mention made of wanting to have sidewalk tables during warm weather, which will require a public space permit and another trip back to the ANC (athough the bus stop right out front might make for a space issue).
There's probably more to write about this, but I'm pacing myself, since I'm guessing there will be plenty of additional chances to cover the process. And hopefully I'll get some renderings to post soon, but when the project gets onto an HPRB agenda they'll become part of the public record, so I'll definitely have them then.
There were some additional South of the Freeway tibits that came out during these discussions, but I'll save those for another post.
UPDATE: Here's Kirsten Oldenburg's thoughts and concerns about the design.

Bullpen Looking to Add Beer Garden at Half and M
Feb 2, 2011 9:22 PM
The Bullpen, the outdoor bar and festivities spot that has operated just across the street from Nationals Park during stadium events since 2009, is making plans to open a "Beer Garden" at the northern end of their current block, at Half and M streets, SE, facing the western entrance to the Navy Yard Metro station. (See my high-quality graphic at right.) With 79 picnic tables holding eight people each, it would have a seating capacity of 632 people, and would offer draft German beers (and perhaps other European beers) along with German sausages, kielbasa, and other light (ahem) fare.
"Das Bullpen" [copyright JD] is being envisioned as having a very different atmosphere from the current Bullpen, with the beer garden not having game areas with lots of kids running around. There would be no amplified music, and it would operate during the same hours as Bullpen 1.0 (which will be remaining open this year as well). It would have its own entrance, right across from the Metro station's entrance, and would be fenced in and partially covered/tented in the same way as the existing Bullpen.
At an ANC 6D ABC subcommittee meeting tonight, a Bullpen rep explained that Akridge, the owners of the entire block bounded by M, N, Half, and Van, has informed the Bullpen owners of plans to begin construction perhaps as early as October of this year on the southern end of the block, where Bullpen 1.0 is located. (There seems to have been some sort of "hint" that if the Bullpen wants to have a shot at a permanent home in the new ground-floor retail spaces that will be available when the block is completed, they need to expand to this additional area this year.) If Akridge's plans are unchanged from what went through the zoning process a few years ago, the southern end of the block would be a 300-unit residential building with ground-floor retail. You can see renderings on my Akridge Half Street page.
As you can see on my cruddy map, there will still be substantial parking available between the two locations. (For old-timers, this new site is where WMATA's old Southeastern Bus Garage entrance was located.)
The Bullpen's lawyers are trying to determine whether this constitutes an expansion of the current operation, to allow Das Bullpen to open under their existing liquor license, or whether a new license (and then a new voluntary agreement with the ANC) will be needed. More to come, I'm sure.
UPDATE: And it should be noted that this is a completely separate venture from the Bavarian Beer Garden plans at 8th and L, SE. Beer gardens to the left! Beer gardens to the right!
UPDATE II: To clear up any confusion, they are intending to have Das Bullpen open this spring, with Bullpen 1.0 open as well through the end of the 2011 baseball season.
UPDATE III: Another clarification: The new site has no official name yet. "Das Bullpen" is purely my invention, because I wanted something catchy to describe it.
22 Posts:
Go to Page: 1 | 2



Near Southeast DC Home Page
Top of Page | RSS Feed | Contact JD
Advertise on JDLand.com

© Copyright 2014 JD.
All photos © Copyright JD unless otherwise marked - See information on photo uses, licensing and purchasing.

  
More JDLand.com/Near SE DC:
JDLand Home Page
Contact JD | About
Advertise on JDLand
E-Mail Updates
Near SE Development Map
Live Transit Info
Upcoming Events
Knight-Batten Award
Photo and Blog Archives
Browse/Search Photos
Photo Galleries
Demolished Buildings
Photos from Rooftops
JD's Favorite Photos
Blog Archive, '03 - Present
Tag Cloud
Underway
  
Nationals Park
Food Options Map
Parking Lots Map
Other Transportation Info
In the Pipeline
 
Completed
Lumber Shed ('13)
Boilermaker Shops ('13)
Canal Park ('12)
Capitol Quarter ('12)
225 Virginia/200 I ('12)
Foundry Lofts ('12)
1015 Half Street ('10)
Yards Park ('10)
Velocity Condos ('09)
Teague Park ('09)
909 NJ Ave. ('09)
55 M ('09)
100 M ('08)
Onyx ('08)
70/100 I ('08)
Nationals Park ('08)
Seniors Bldg Dem. ('07)
400 M ('07)
SoCap Bridge Fix ('07)
US DOT HQ ('07)
20 M ('07)
Capper Seniors 1 ('06)
Capitol Hill Tower ('06)
Courtyard/Marriott ('06)
Rearview Mirror
Rearview Blog Posts
Demolished Buildings
Historic Photos & Maps
Past Events Timeline
On the Hill, '59-'69
From Above, '49-'08
Gas Prices Gallery
Posts on Food/Fun
Retail News
Restaurants/Nightlife
Overviews
Capper/Carrollsburg
Anacostia Riverwalk
New Jersey Ave.
M Street
South Capitol St.
North of M
The Yards
Lower 8th Street
East M Street
Boathouse Row
Guides/Maps
Project Directory
Stadium Corridor
M Street
New Jersey Ave.
Near Southeast Datasets
Recent Data
Crime Incidents
Public Space Permits
Building Permits