19 Blog Posts
Is a Deal on the Way for Empty First and M Lot?
Mar 4, 2012 6:51 PM
There is no official announcement of this, but after finding a detail buried deep in some public records that jibes with some whispering I heard a few weeks ago, I'm going to pass along the rumor
that a deal is in the works that would bring developer McCaffery Interests
to the empty Willco Companies
lot on Square 701 along 1st Street south of M, where Nats Parking Lot F currently operates.
The chatter I've heard says that McCaffery has the land under contract, but no transaction has shown up so far in online property records to confirm this. However, a number of just-issued permits for soil borings on the lot have McCaffery Interests listed as the "agent," though not the land owner. Perhaps due diligence before completing a deal, or....?
has been owned by a mixture of long-time DC development families for many years (some since 1948
!), and longtime observers may also remember it as the block where the old Normandie Liquors stood
along with a number of other small buildings until 2008. Willco has been marketing the site since 2006
as a 700,000-square-foot mixed use development that would have had an office building at M Street, a residential building at N Street, ground-floor retail, and underground parking.
is the developer behind the Market Common
residential/retail project in Clarendon, Georgetown Centre
, the renovation of Mazza Gallerie
, the big Potomac Yard redevelopment
across the river, and other local developments, but also has a number of big projects
in Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere. Its web site says the company's purpose is "to add value through the opportunistic acquisition and subsequent development or redevelopment of land or buildings in high quality urban locations," and that McCaffery's typical properties are characterized by "high pedestrian traffic; within or adjacent to vibrant shopping districts; proven residential and/or office appeal; access to public transportation; and proximity to cultural or sporting activities," all of which would certainly seem to describe a one-block-long empty lot directly north of Nationals Park
and right by the Navy Yard Metro station.
Any designs for the site would need to go through a zoning commission review because of its location in the Capitol Gateway Overlay
, and I've heard that there has been a recent meeting with at least one city agency, so *something* is afoot with this site. Whether the previous design concept of office/residential/retail is in play or something new is coming remains to be seen.
is one of the four "strips" of land directly north of the ballpark between M and N and 1st and South Capitol that have seen little movement since the stadium opened four years ago. Monument Realty's Half Street project
abuts it to the west across Cushing Street, with Akridge's Half Street project
to the west of that across Half, and then the final strip across Van along South Capitol that Monument owns most but not all of. Akridge has hinted
that they may begin work later this year on its side of Half Street, but there's no firm announcements from either developer.
If the chatter turns out to be accurate, it will be interesting to see what's in store....
Tidbits: K Street Closure; Potbelly Opening Date; Brewers Ball; More
Feb 29, 2012 11:14 AM
* The portion of K Street SE within the Canal Park
footprint will be closed through March 31 after workers found "major unmapped utilities" that have caused delays to the construction. Park head Chris Vanarsdale says that in order to meet spring planting requirements, it was necessary to close K now. (A little bit of hassle in exchange for purty plants this year, otherwise the planting would have had to wait until next year.) This means that to cross Canal Park drivers and pedestrians need to either use I Street or M Street.
* If you can't wait until the Nationals finish Spring Training to drink beer at the stadium, there's the 2012 Brewer's Ball
on March 13 at Nats Park
, benefitting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Guests can sample "a variety of handcrafted microbrews from more than a dozen of the region's best microbreweries and brewpubs, while also enjoying the cuisine of several popular restaurants." Individual tickets
are $115, and deadline to purchase is tomorrow, March 1.
Photos from All Over, Feb. 2012 Edition
Feb 27, 2012 11:34 AM
Take a gorgeous Sunday, add an obsessive-compulsive need to document all the change underway, and what do you get? Nearly eight miles of walking and a shameful number of new photos.
The Foundry Lofts
building is all but done, with only the retail spaces left to be built out, so I took a bunch of "after" photos that will probably last for a while. But that new Potbelly sign sure stands out! I also pressed my nose against the glass to peek inside the sandwich shop's space--it sure doesn't look far from opening.
Embarrassingly, I haven't had a camera in hand on the Navy Yard's portion of the Anacostia Riverwalk since 2004. (I'm always worried they're going to toss me in the brig as a security threat, especially after a run-in a few years back where I was chased down by both a gate sentry and the DC police after taking photos of the Hull Street gate from across M Street.) But I pushed forward yesterday and got a bunch of new shots that I've added to my Navy Yard page
, taking care to demonstrate to the many security cameras that I was photographing the river and not the installation. (Don't miss the especially cool before-and-after of the gate to the Yards Park.)
I will probably be creating a separate Riverwalk page before too long, but not today.
Then there's Canal Park
, where I mainly took some new photos of the pavilion under construction near M Street, since photos of digging and ground work don't quite rise to the level of "interesting." I also hit most of the angles for the Boilermaker Shops
, as well as for Capitol Quarter Phase II
, where the security guard expressed concern about my actions (I need a laminated Photography Approved card or something). And I wandered the 225 Virginia/200 I
11th Street Bridges
, 225 Virginia/Old Post Plant/200 I
, Boilermaker Shops/Yards
, Canal Park
, Capitol Quarter
, Foundry Lofts/Yards
, Navy Yard
, The Yards
Thursday Tidbits: Wagtime, Potbelly, Ballpark Taxis, More
Feb 22, 2012 10:33 PM
[Yeah, yeah, the title says Thursday but I messed up and pulled the trigger before midnight.]
For those not following my precious prose on Twitter
, some tidbits:
: "The D.C. Taxicab Commission will allow so-called 'shared riding' outside Nationals Park
to manage the chaotic jumble of pedestrians who leave in search of taxis and sometimes engage in what the agency calls 'aggressive behavior.' [...] The commission says shared riding, in which separate groups of passengers may get in the same taxicab if they are heading the same way, is needed to quell disorder and stop the use of unlicensed cabs from surrounding areas that are 'illegally pilfering' fares from the District's licensed drivers." There is already a taxi stand at Half and M; it sounds like the one the article mentions as where riders will need to queue up in order to get cabs.
* Forest City's Deborah Ratner Salzberg has been named co-chair
of Mayor Gray's new task force on affordable housing.
* The Coalition for Smarter Growth looked at 2010 census figures and determined that Near Southeast has one of the city's higher totals of households without a vehicle
, at somewhere between 53 and 67 percent.
Tidbits, Capper Edition: Trailers Leaving, New Curbs, More
Feb 22, 2012 8:05 PM
It's not often I have enough content for a location-specific tidbits post, but there's a few items of note from the Capper
neck of the woods worth passing along:
The trailers are scheduled to be hauled away sometime next week; I hear that the Housing Authority folks are looking into keeping the fence that CHDS put up and laying down some additional sod in order to create a small playing field for kids.
There's still no word on when the community center itself may get built, though DCHA is (still) working on getting the financing.
* If you've seen new granite curbs and gutters going in along 3rd, K, and L in front of Cornercopia and the "legacy" houses around which Capitol Quarter has been built, those are being installed by the Housing Authority as a small community benefit for those homeowners who have been surrounded by a whole lot of construction over the past few years. New brick sidewalks will be coming as well; new street lights are also a possibility, though that's not confirmed.
* Foundations are being poured for the townhouses along 3rd Street south of L that are part of the last block of Capitol Quarter construction. Didn't see framing underway when I rode by on Saturday, but perhaps that's started since?
* There's also apparently some kerfuffling these days within the CQ homeowners association, sparked by working on the community's response to the plans for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel reconstruction
(the project that continues to put a smile on everyone's faces!). I mention it here because I wouldn't want to be accused of sweeping such important news under the rug, but I'd really prefer that my comments section not become a place for the battle to be litigated.
Ruben Companies Planning 400-Unit Apartment Building at Half & I
Feb 20, 2012 12:36 PM
Another large apartment building for Near Southeast appears to be on the boards, with word filtering my way that Ruben Companies
has begun working with Shalom Baranes Architects
on designs for a 400-unit rental building on Half Street between I and K.
With the working name of "20 K," this building would be on the eastern portion of Square 697N
, which Reuben picked up via foreclosure
when JPI gave up on its plans for "23 I" on the site. There would be retail along the entire Half Street frontage, and Ruben is apparently looking around for any "organic markets" that might be interested. (Cue stampede of "OMG! OMG! OMG!" in the comments, but don't get ahead of yourselves, since there's no indication that That Particular Organic Market is displaying any interest in the site.)
Ruben owns the rest of the block
as well, and envisions an eventual Phase II project along South Capitol Street (where the Exxon used to be) that could be residential, commercial, or a hotel, depending on what the market will bear.
No timeline at this point, so don't start packing up your things for a move just yet.
The up-tick in the development of mutlifamily residential properties in Near Southeast after a three-year lull during the Economic Difficulties is obvious: Forest City's 220-unit 1212 4th Street
is just underway at the Yards, William C. Smith's 430-unit Park Chelsea
is on the boards to get started later this year, Akridge is "hoping
" to move forward in 2012 with the 280-unit residential part of its Half Street project
, and Florida Rock's developers have replaced a planned office building with a 300-unit residential offering for the project
's first phase, which could get underway in 2013. (And it's worth noting, as mentioned in the comments, that every one of these is planned to be a rental building, not condos.)
And I wouldn't be surprised if there were more to come.
Front Flicks Outdoor Summer Movie Lineup Announced
Feb 16, 2012 10:19 PM
The Capitol Riverfront BID has announced the lineup for its 2012 outdoor Front Flicks summer movie series
, which will run on Thursday nights for 10 weeks this summer at Tingey Plaza behind USDOT at New Jersey Avenue and Tingey Streets. It's a "treasure hunting" theme this year:
May 24: Lara Croft, Tomb Raider
May 31: Sahara
June 7: Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl
June 14: National Treasure
June 21: The Goonies
June 28: Raiders of the Lost Ark
July 5: City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly's Gold
July 12: O Brother, Where Art Thou?
July 19: The Da Vinci Code
July 26: Muppet Treasure Island
They haven't posted their flashy flyer yet, and the e-mail says "stay tuned for more announcements on Pinkberry at the movies and Pacers Adventure Races before Thursday movies!"
2/23 with some switches
in the schedule.)
Old Domino's Building at South Capitol and M Demolished
Feb 16, 2012 2:53 PM
Not exactly stop-the-presses news, but I would be shirking my fiduciary duties if I didn't make note of the fact that the all-black building on the southeast corner of South Capitol and M
was demolished on Wednesday.
This building was a Domino's Pizza until it closed on Jan. 28, 2008
. The lot has been owned by Monument Realty since August 2005, and Monument also owns most of the other lots along that block of South Capitol except for the self storage business. There are no current plans for any development on the site, so expectations should be that its main function will be as a parking lot for the foreseeable future.
Florida Rock Zoning Update - Revised Plans OKed for Set Down
Feb 15, 2012 10:46 AM
I wrote recently about the bumpy first trip back to the Zoning Commission for the new designs for the project known as Florida Rock
. The developers (MRP and FRP) want to build a residential building at 1st and Potomac instead of the originally planned office building, and also are looking for some tweaks to the plans originally approved in 2008
by the Zoning Commission for the rest of the six-acre site.
At that meeting on Jan. 30, reactions of the zoning commissioners ranged
from generally supportive of the changes to concerned about specific aspects of them to labeling the new filing "an affront." Because commission chair Anthony Hood was not in attendance, and because there were a few items that the commissioners wanted from the developers, the vote on whether to "set down" the case for a full hearing was deferred.
On Monday, Feb. 13, the full commission took up the case again. Despite the developers offering to increase the total amount of retail for the entire site by about 11,000 sq ft (up to 36,370 sq ft total), vice chair Konrad Schlater again felt the retail offerings to be lacking, describing the designs as having "no vision" and a "missed opportunity" for one of the city's few large-scale waterfront developments, adding that he doesn't get the sense that the design takes full advantage of the site and "how it can meet the waterfront."
Commissioner Michael Turnbull, who had unleashed the strongest broadsides last time around, said that he was "not going to go down the same road," but echoed Schlater's concerns about the lack of retail, especially the design of the east residential building that shows "four red doors" along Potomac Avenue, with no retail on that street despite being directly across from Nationals Park. "This is a destination, a prime piece of land that begs for a gripping design," Turnbull said, agreeing that there is a lack of vision for the entire site.
Commissioners Peter May and Marcie Cohen both said there are parts of the new design they prefer, with Cohen mentioning how the old design "had its back to the river," and that the new residential building opens up toward the Anacostia. But May also echoed the others by saying the idea that the project is "lacking in vision and missing an opportunity along Potomac Avenue is certainly right on."
Chairman Hood also expressed his concern that this is a prime site and that "we don't want a lost opportunity," but is happy that there is a new residential component in the revised design.
"Are we fully satisfied? No," Hood said, and while he feels the designs need "some refining and revisiting," he felt that "the applicant has heard us." With that, the commission then voted 4-1 to approve the motion to "set down" the case, with Turnbull voting against. Now the developers will work with the Office of Planning to come back to the Zoning Commission with detailed plans for the new Phase 1 residential building and general revisions to the rest of the project that they feel can get the commission's approval.
For more details on the latest design, read my two recent
posts, and also check out my Florida Rock page
for drawings from the initial filing in December that will now presumably be tweaked before the hearing, whenever that may be. The developers will also need to come before ANC 6D before the zoning hearing to get that commission's support (or not) before going to zoning.
ANC 6D Supports Park Tavern, Willie's Liquor Licenses
Feb 15, 2012 9:17 AM
While nowhere near as flashy as the Half Street/Fairgrounds news
, it should be noted that ANC 6D on Monday voted to support the liquor license applications for Xavier Cervera's two upcoming restaurants
, the Park Tavern at Canal Park
and Willie's Brew & Que at the Boilermaker Shops
in the Yards
. The support is conditional on having voluntary agreements
signed for both applications within the next two weeks.
There was a bit of drama with this, with the commission's ABC subcommittee chair Coralee Farlee refusing to recommend this support because of what she considered a lack of communication from Cervera over the wording of the voluntary agreement; Cervera's lawyer had apparently replied with a few comments, but Farlee had not heard from Cervera himself (who seemed a bit bewildered by it all). David Garber stepped in to say that he had been working the voluntary agreement issue as well, which clearly Farlee wasn't especially happy about either.
Garber noted Cervera's desire to not have the process delayed, given Park Tavern's planned June 15 opening date
and the need for Cervera to have a license in place in order to move forward with Forest City and the Boilermaker Shops. Commissioner Cara Shockley expressed some concern about moving so quickly, and there was also discussion about how a vote to support without a signed VA is not 6D's standard operating procedure. (Audience member and former 6D secretary Roberta Weiner mentioned how at other ANCs the vote would be to protest the license until a VA is signed by all parties.)
But in the end, four commissioners voted to support the licenses, Shockley voted against, and Ron McBee voted to abstain. (Commission chair Andy Litsky was not in attendance.)
Late Tuesday Tidbits: Tweets Possibly Lost in the Deluge
Feb 14, 2012 9:02 PM
It's starting to feel a lot like 2007 around these parts, with all the big news flying. (In fact, today's posts brought JDLand its highest traffic since all the ballpark opening falderal in early April 2008.) But I wouldn't want people to miss a couple little items tweeted
over the past few days:
* New Dry Cleaners -
Buried in the press release
on Osteria Morini
is the news that a dry cleaners is now the first non-food retailer signed as a tenant at the Boilermaker Shops
. According to Forest City, Wells Cleaners will be taking 800 square feet of space.
* A Theater? Or Even A Theatre?
- The Examiner reports
that indy-friendly Landmark Theatres
is wanting to open a second location in the District to go along with its E Street Cinema
. While the article emphasizes that city officials are very much hoping that Landmark will consider an East of the River location, the director of the city's Office of Motion Picture and TV Development says that Landmark "is also looking at the Yards neighborhood[.]" Whether this truly means in the Yards itself
or somewhere in the general Near Capitol Ballpark River Yards area, this news is certainly the sort of tidbit that gets residents veeeery excited
. (Full disclosure: I see a lot of movies at E Street.)
Lumber Shed Restaurant Announced: Osteria Morini
Feb 14, 2012 2:25 PM
The first tenant for the Lumber Shed building
at the Yards Park
has just been announced by Forest City: the Italian restaurant Osteria Morini
, by New York City chef Michael White. It will be a 4,250-sq-ft space, and is expected to open in the summer of 2013.
Osteria Morini currently has two locations, in Soho and Bernardsville, New Jersey, and is described in Forest City's press release as a "mid-priced, casual restaurant with lunch and dinner menus featuring innovative pasta dishes, grilled meats, fish and regional specialties."
It is part of the Altamarea Group
, which also includes Marea
, Ai Fiori
, Due Mari
, Al Molo, and the soon-to-be-opened Nicoletta. Chef White is a James Beard nominee and was named best new chef by Esquire magazine in 2002.
The Lumber Shed is one of the Yards Park's planned retail pavilions, which will also (temporarily) house Forest City's offices on the second floor. The restaurant will be located on the southeast corner of the building (seen at right), facing the Anacostia River and the Navy Yard, and will have outdoor seating on the east and south sides. With this announcement and Forest City's occupancy, the building is 60 percent leased, with the unleased space all on the ground floor for additional retail/restaurants.
This building is just to the south of the Foundry Lofts
that opened in late 2011, and one block south of the Boilermaker Shop
, where six restaurants
will be opening over the next year or so. All three buildings are "adaptive reuse" projects of structures from the site's old days as part of the Navy Yard.
Half Street 'Fairgrounds': Shipping Container Market, Events Space
Feb 13, 2012 11:56 PM
After three years of operating The Bullpen(s) on one of the empty lots just north of Nationals Park
, landowner Akridge and Bullpen/Georgetown Events
owner Bo Blair are opting to try something new for the 2012 season: "Fairgrounds," a combination food, market and events space that will be open seven days a week from the beginning of baseball season through October 1.
Modeled on Brooklyn's Dekalb Market
and designed by Schlesinger Associate Architects
, Fairgrounds will use salvaged shipping containers as retail spaces for vendors, in a program overseen by Diverse Markets Management
, the people behind the flea market across from Eastern Market and the downtown holiday market. DMM touts a database of more than 2,000 vendors that it says it will tap into to "keep the market busy and diversified."
The Market (seen above and at left, click to enlarge) will be positioned on the Das Bullpen site at Half and M, across from the Navy Yard Metro station entrance. It will include "permanent" food truck versions of two of Blair's restaurants: Bayou
and its New Orleans/Southern-themed food and drinks, and Surfside
with its beach-type offerings. There are also plans still being worked out to have a rotating roster of additional food trucks every non-game day.
This space will open at 11:30 am every day; on game days, the market and food trucks will remain open until two hours after the game ends; otherwise, it will stay open at least through Happy Hour, or later if patrons are still around. There will be a "spectator" deck built on top of the shipping containers as well as a music stage, with plans to continue to have local and regional bands play on game days. And of course there will be 20 HD televisions and plenty of cornhole sets. (Which I totally don't get, but you kids have fun with it.)
Nats fans already quivering in fear can rest easy knowing that the two liquor licenses that were in place for the Bullpens are still active for this new venture, and a permanent bar will be built in addition to the drinks served by the Bayou and Surfside trucks.
To the south of the main food area, there is a larger open area where Fairgrounds can offer bigger events. The site will host another series of Truckeroo
food truck festivals throughout the summer, along with potential music events, arts festivals, farmers' markets, etc. Every Sunday, there will be a "Family Day," with children's concerts, face painting, balloon artists, and the like. The area can also be rented for private events.
The Market's offerings can also be expanded on days when there are ballgames that might be bigger draws than others (*cough*Yankees*cough*).
Shipping containers and pallets will replace the existing long black fences all along Half Street and along M (as you can see in the drawing at top left), with possibly some work done by local artists to liven up the containers even more.
But, in what will probably be even bigger news to people who have been watching this area closely for a long time, Akridge says that they hope
to begin construction this summer on the first phase of their 700,000-square-foot Half Street mixed-use development
. Their intent would be to start with the 280ish-unit residential building on the south end of the block (directly across from the stadium), and the Fairgrounds' design would make it easy to just move the wall of containers further north on the site to still leave an events area available if indeed they do get underway before the end of the baseball season. The project
also includes plans for two office buildings on the north end of the block, along with ground-floor retail along Half, M, N, and a pedestrian walk between the office buildings.
At Monday night's ANC 6D meeting where these plans were presented, the commissioners expressed enthusiasm, and a resolution of support was passed 6-0. Blair and his team are working with DCRA and other city agencies to get necessary approvals and permits in place so that containers can be brought in and the market can get underway by the start of the baseball season. (Whether that means the official home opener on April 12 or the April 3 home exhibition vs. the Red Sox remains to be seen. It will certainly be easy to see when the shipping containers start to arrive.)
Rearview Mirror: Photo Gallery, Five Years Ago Today
Feb 10, 2012 1:16 PM
I usually just toss these out only on Twitter every so often, but after sneaking a peek at my February 10, 2007 photo gallery
(thanks to that "This Day In Near Southeast History" box on the JDLand home page), I thought that it merited an actual blog post.
Early 2007 is the optimum time for seeing the last vestiges of the old neighborhood west of New Jersey Avenue juxtaposed with the stampede of new construction. There's a lot of "holes in the sky" where we're now used to seeing 70/100 I, 909 New Jersey, Onyx, 100 M, 55 M, Velocity, and 1015 Half.
And there was this big project underway south of N Street:
There's a lot going on in the neighborhood once again these days, but it'll never be anything like 2007 and 2008. So check out both pages
of the gallery, and prepare to be amazed! (Or not.)
t might also be interesting to look at my gallery from one year later, Feb. 10, 2008
, to really get a sense of how much things changed in 12 months.
New Bikeshare Station Now Operating at 1st and K SE
Feb 9, 2012 10:37 AM
As announced by David Garber over the past few days
, the neighborhood's third Capital Bikeshare
station was installed yesterday, on the northwest corner of 1st and K, SE. It has 15 docks, and is now the closest station for residents of the neighborhood's large residential buildings. It's also three blocks north of Nationals Park, for people concerned gameday dockblocks at 1st and N.
I've added its status data to my Live Transit Page
, where in one shot you can get neighborhood and nearby Bikeshare capacity information, Navy Yard Metro Next Train status, Circulator "Where's My Bus?" information for the Navy Yard-Union Station route, and WMATA Next Bus times for the P2 and V7 buses.
Plans have been announced
for one more neighborhood dock, at 3rd and Tingey, SE, but there's been no news on when that one might arrive.
DPW: Move From New Jersey Ave. Scheduled for March 31
Feb 8, 2012 9:37 AM
File this under Sometimes Twitter is Actually Useful:
On Monday, DDOT was plugging a "Parking Chat"
being held with their head Terry Bellamy and the top dogs at DMV and DPW, and asked readers for "parking questions."
Because I can't ever resist being a smart ass, I replied
: "My parking question: When will DPW be parking its truck fleet on Okie St. NE instead of New Jersey Ave. SE? :-)" (See that smiley? I was at least acknowledging I was being a smart ass.)
"The move is scheduled to take place on March 31st."
As I've written a number of times, this move needs to happen so that old trash transfer building at New Jersey and K can be demolished, which will allow for the transfer of a smidge of that property to William C. Smith so that they can begin work on the Park Chelsea
apartment building on the block just to the north. It will also clear the way for the punching through of I Street from 2nd Street to New Jersey Avenue, which WC Smith will handle as part of the Park Chelsea construction.
This is a later time frame than we had last heard (which is nothing new for this spot), but it sounds like they certainly do expect to be moving at the end of March.
Tuesday Tidbits: Briefer-than-Brief Briefs
Feb 7, 2012 9:26 AM
I'm a bit under the weather these days, so I'll go with a minimalist approach of mostly Tweeted
* Lost in the digital piles on my digital desktop was the CapBiz tidbit about a Bang Salon
being housed in the new Vida Fitness gym that is supposed to be coming to the neighborhood as part of the Yards' Teeter/Residential project
on 4th Street. (As for the "at the Navy Yard" description, I'm pretty sure that this project isn't happening inside the walls of the Washington Navy Yard.) Note that Forest City has yet to officially announce Vida as a tenant for the project, though they sure came close
a few weeks back.
* DDOT tweeted
that the 11th Street Local Bridge
"is expected to open in late spring." This is the bridge with the pedestrian/cycling path that will run from 11th Street south of N by the Navy Yard into downtown Anacostia.
Landmark Designation for Pumping Station; New Structures Coming
Feb 3, 2012 2:38 PM
I'm a week or so behind on this, but, honestly, I've moved slowly because I just can't believe that only now is the beautiful Beaux Arts WASA O Street Pumping Station
being moved through the city's historic landmark designation process.
But it's true, and on Jan. 26 the Historic Preservation Review Board voted 8-0 to designate the 1907 building a landmark to be entered into DC's Inventory of Historic Sites. Then, after being "enhanced by additional research and context," it will be forwarded to the National Register of Historic Places.
The staff recommendation report
describes the building, designed by local architect Clement A. Didden, as "an example of a high-style public works project and ... a premier example of Beaux Arts architecture and an important manifestation of the City Beautiful Movement." If you have spent much time looking at it, my refreshed DC Water page
has photos from many angles (except inside!).
The first few minutes of the hearing actually are very much worth watching
if you want to learn about the building's history and architecture. (Kind of like getting a building tour without going inside.) And it was good to see a representative of DC Water testify that it "stands ready to help" the landmarking: "we are proud of this beautiful building and its prominence on the waterfront." The staff recommendation report
gives more information about the application, and you can even wander through the original 2005 (!?!) application
This was not the only action taken in regards to the Pumping Station, however. DC Water needs to build two new structures--the Shaft Structure and the Tide Gate Structure--on the building's north side (facing Tingey Street) as part of the DC Clean Rivers/Combined Sewer Overflow
project. Unfortunately, there are no drawings of these designs in the HPRB's staff report
, but there are some descriptions, indicating that DC Water and city staff have worked to make them smaller and placed farther apart from each other to lessen the impact on the view of the main building from Tingey. "Overall, staff believes the new structures have been designed to be as compatible as possible with the Main Pumping Station given the significant design constraints." The conceptual designs were approved by HPRB 7-0. (You can watch that part of the hearing, too
, should you wish.)
The board did request that Forest City work "to develop and incorporate interpretive signage for the site that will feature historic photographs of the Lumber Shed and narrative information about the history of the structure."
Florida Rock Zoning, Take 356: Concerns About New Design
Feb 2, 2012 5:43 PM
On Monday night, the city's Zoning Commission had its first crack at the new request for modifications
to the existing Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the Florida Rock site
across the street from Nationals Park, as the commissioners deliberated on whether to "set down" the request for a hearing. As mentioned previously
, the developers want to change the site's first phase from office to residential, and also have done some reworking of the rest of the design for the six-acre site that the Zoning Commission approved after much deliberation and tweaking back in 2008
Commissioner Michael Turnbull was first out of the gate with comments about the new designs, and he was not at all happy, calling it a "major gut" to the original PUD, saying that he felt the applicant should start the PUD process all over again. Describing the new plans as "bastardized," "stick architecture from the suburbs," "boxy," "10 steps backward," and "an affront to the Zoning Commission" and city residents, Turnbull pledged to be "so damn critical" if the new design moves forward. (If you've got a few minutes, you can watch his remarks for yourself
Commissioner Peter May, on the other hand, said that he is actually more comfortable with the new design, given that there were features he "really questioned" in the 2008 design, but that the latest filing is "pretty simplistic" in terms of the drawings, and did say that the architecture is "kind of boring," especially from the waterside view. (The image at right is the Phase 1 residential building, as seen from the river.) He also wanted to see more comparisons to the previously approved design so that they could understand more what they may be giving up with the new design, but that he found the overall plan "more appealing than before."
Vice-chair Konrad Schlater's biggest concern was over the scaling back of the retail component, which has gone from 80,000 square feet of "retail and service uses" in the 2008 PUD to about 23,400 square feet in the new filing, with 7,000 sf of that being turned over to residential amenities "until a retail market is established." "It seems like a missed opportunity to have space on the boardwalk that is not retail," Schlater said, adding that the city does not have a lot of projects right on a waterfront like this, and that the entire development really should be a retail destination. (He also caught that, while the 2008 PUD called for LEED certification for each phase, the new filing says that the project "will be LEED certifiable for each phase." Semantics, or...?)
With commission chair Anthony Hood not in attendance, the four commissioners decided to defer a decision on the set-down request until Hood can weigh in with his thoughts; this would also give the developers time to file additional information, such as comparing the new designs with the 2008 plans. This could come up at the next public hearing, on Feb. 13.
So, what are the differences?
With the entire filing available online (if you search
), I was able to go through and cull out some of the most representative drawings from this new design
, which I've put on my Florida Rock project page. At the bottom of that page you can also see some images of the designs that were approved in 2008. The first image at left, from 2008 (click to enlarge), shows the four buildings and the public spaces with a lot of curves and glass and "articulation."
Compare that to the latest design. While this is clearly a very early drawing, it does show four much more boxy structures, as commissioner Turnbull said. You can also see the curves-versus-corners differences in the site-plan comparison graphic I created
, which also shows the differing layouts of the public spaces, again going from a lot of flowing, rounded paths and open areas to straighter-edged movements, with the total amount of "lot occupancy" going down to 44 percent in the new design from 58 percent in the old. The phase 1 apartment building is the most fleshed out in the renderings
, but there are additional drawings giving a general sense of the site layout.
The Office of Planning's setdown report
goes through the changes requested in a fair amount of detail.
It will be interesting to see how this the Zoning Commission handles this, as well as ANC 6D, which has always been very supportive of this project during its long gestation but has not yet had an opportunity to weigh in/vote on the new design. (And of course, we here at JDLand want to know what YOU think!) The developers are hoping to begin construction on the first phase apartment building in Spring 2013, but it would appear that this zoning process, like everything else tied to this project up to now, may not be as speedy as they might want.