Near Southeast DC: Past News Items - March 2009
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Design Ideas for South of the Capitol
Mar 31, 2009 7:50 PM
(h/t reader M.) Last week, the Congress for the New Urbanism named the winners of its 2009 Charter Awards, and one of them is the "House Office Buildings Facilities Plan and Preliminary South Capitol Area Plan." I won't go into too much detail, since the majority of the area that the plan looked at is north of the freeway, but it is worth noting that, while it's a very neat plan that looks forward to both 2025 and 2050 and takes into account the vision of the NCPC's Extending the Legacy (no more freeway!), the designers of the HOB facilities plan perhaps didn't do a lot of research as to the reality of the land ownership south of the freeway. If you look at the maps of their proposed 2025 and 2050 implementations, you see all sorts of new government buildings on the block now dominated by 70 and 100 I Street, as well as a big park at Second and H, which might come as a surprise to the William C. Smith Co., which owns the block and is planning a 1.1-million-square-foot mixed-use project on that square. And yet the Post Plant remains, 41 years in the future, which probably is not what city planners would consider an optimal solution. And the Capitol Power Plant is still there, too!
All this aside, if you live or work on the Hill, you might be interested in what the future could bring for the parking garages, House Office Buildings, and other structures that are part of the Capitol Complex. And, if I'm missing something about how this plan is approaching the privately owned land south of the freeway, I'd love clarification....

High School Baseball Tourney Returns to Ballpark
Mar 31, 2009 1:34 PM
The news has crossed my desk that the Congressional Bank Baseball Classic is returning to Nationals Park for its second year, on May 30, 2009. As with last year, it will feature four games showcasing high-school baseball talent--a game between the top two public schools, another between the top two private schools, followed by a title match between the two winners. There will also be an All-Star game. There's a fundraiser being held on April 19; more information on that at the official web site.
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One Year Ago Today....
Mar 30, 2009 3:04 PM
March 30, 2008, was cold, overcast, and damp. (I *still* haven't warmed up.) And, on schedule (which few people ever thought would happen), Nationals Park saw its official debut, with the 2008 Nats season opener against the Atlanta Braves. President Bush threw out the first pitch, and Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off homer to win the game 3-2. And there were long long lines at the Ben's Chili Bowl window. If you want to take a trip down memory lane, here are my photos from that Opening Night; for your added perusal, here's the batch from the exhibition against the Orioles the night before (and here and here). Somehow it seems a lot longer than a year....
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Bus Garage Demolition; School Buses Leaving This Weekend; Circulator Spotted!; Third and K Pics
Mar 30, 2009 1:10 PM
A brief morning walkabout brought the following items:
* The demolition of the old WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage at Half M continues; they had reached as far north as just across from the subway entrance at around 11:30, so the M Street facade could conceivably be gone by the end of today or early on Tuesday. You can see a couple of photos (like a bigger version of the one above) on my Akridge Half Street page, though the photos won't be as striking until the demolition reaches M Street.
* A nice fellow working at the schoolbus parking lot at Canal Park told me that the buses are being moved to their new home at DC Village on Saturday and Sunday (April 4 and 5), with drivers expected to report to work at the new lot on Monday morning, April 6. So, it does indeed sound like this is the last week of the Sea of Yellow.
* Look Mom, a Circulator bus! (This is the stop at First and K, before it turns right on I and circles back down New Jersey to the subway entrance.) You can see it lurking in a few other updated photos I took at New Jersey and M. UPDATE: There apparently was a boo-boo with the information on the DC Circulator site--the bus will be running from 6 am to 7 pm weekdays (it had said 6-6). They've also updated their service map to correct some errors.
* Here's my first shot of the repainted Third and K Market (now to be known as the Corner Copia Deli). You can compare it to its old profile here.
* The Nats are having a "soft launch" for their new food concessionaire (Levy Restaurants) via a series of invitation-only events this week. Tonight employees of the Navy Yard will be sampling the new food, and there will also be events on Tuesday and Wednesday for local businesses and invitees of the BID. On Friday the media will get its shot. I will report back later in the week, though I won't be able to provide doggie bags for everyone.

Demolition Underway at Old Bus Garage
Mar 28, 2009 6:50 PM
Don't know if the work started on Friday or today, but a late-evening drive down M Street brought the surprise news that demolition is now underway on the old WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M. The demo is starting at its southeastern end (closer to N Street), and I can't imagine it'll take too long to dismantle the building. There's scaffolding now in place for a pedestrian walkway along the garage's M Street face. This is the first demolished building of 2009 in the neighborhood, and the 154th since I started photographing the neighborhood. (Browse the previous 153 via my Demolished Buildings gallery.) The bus garage site, now owned by Akridge, is slated to be replaced with 700,000-sq-ft of office, residential, and retail offerings, with construction perhaps beginning in 2010.
When I was circling the block to check the extent of the demolition (made more difficult by Half Street currently being closed so that infrastructure work can be done), I drove past the Center Field Gate at the ballpark and saw that the blank concrete wall that used to be the northern face of the Red Porch restaurant is now floor-to-ceiling windows, looking onto the plaza.

New Circulator Route Info Now Available
Mar 27, 2009 4:55 PM
With minutes to spare (given that the Metro N22 bus goes out of service after Saturday), DCCirculator.com now has the information for the new route that will run from Union Station to Eastern Market to the Navy Yard Metro station, beginning on Sunday, March 29. The site says that the buses will run every 10 minutes from 6 am to 6 pm 7 pm on weekdays (only), with extended service on Nationals game days. (Not sure I had heard before this that there'd be no weekend service, so I guess it technically starts on Monday, March 30.) The stops in Near Southeast (see the map) will be at Eighth and L, Hull and M (by the Navy Yard Hull Street gate), the 300 block of M, the Metro station entrance at New Jersey and M, and also at First and K as part of the turnaround-loop the buses will do to head back east. The fare is $1, and the buses accept cash, transfers, SmarTrip cards, and passes. (The info for the route replacing the 98 bus is available now, too.)
(UPDATED to correct the hours of operation, which were incorrect on the Circulator web site.)
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More posts: circulator, Metro/WMATA

Capitol Quarter Workforce Unit Lottery on April 18
Mar 27, 2009 4:41 PM
The Capitol Quarter folks (EYA and the DC Housing Authority) have just released information on the next offering of "workforce" houses for sale, the program where buyers who make between $80,000 and $115,000 annually and meet a host of other requirements and restrictions can buy a townhouse at Capitol Quarter for under $600,000. If you go to the workforce web site at EYACapitolQuarter.com, you'll find all of the information needed to register and be "certified" as eligible in advance of the April 18 lottery. There will be a maximum of 18 houses for sale in this lottery, though possibly fewer if previous Capper residents exercise their options to buy one.
The first workforce lottery was way back in November 2006, when 176 people entered the lottery for 20 houses.
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter

(Not Quite So) New Photos: 1015 Half, 55 M
Mar 27, 2009 4:15 PM
I was remiss in not mentioning earlier this week that I also posted updated photos on Saturday of the construction underway at 1015 Half Street (you old-timers can enjoy the shots of Nation one more time) as well as the all-but-completed 55 M Street (though the utilty work on Half Street prevented me from getting any photos other than of the northern part of the building).
For additional photos other than the ones on the project pages, check the Photo Archive for Half and I, K, L, and M, Van at M, and Cushing at L and M (which will also show you updated pics for other nearby projects, like Velocity).

Friday Morning Link Fest (Un-Nasty Version)
Mar 27, 2009 8:04 AM
Happy Friday, everyone! It's going to be a golden day! So get yourselves up, you sleepyheads, put a big smile on your face, and go take on the world!
{Yeech. That's enough of that.}
Here's some worthwhile links from the past few days, which have been piling up while I've attended to real life:
* Greater Greater Washington dug through the mayor's FY 2010 budget proposal and says that it would repeal the portion of the Performance Parking Act that sets aside a portion of the parking meter proceeds for the neighborhoods. As I wrote back in January after the quarterly Performance Parking public meeting, "legislation that created the pilot spells out that, initially, 60 percent of the program revenue will be put toward the repayment of the cost of the meters, with 20 percent of the revenue to be used "solely for the purpose of non-automobile transportation improvements in the zone." (The other 20 percent goes to the DDOT's operating fund.) "
* Also on the parking front, Michael Perkins of both Infosnack and GGW takes a long, detailed look at on-street parking around the Navy Yard: "Over the last two months, I've collected occupancy data for three blocks immediately adjacent to the Navy Yard. Between the prices and time limitations, more spaces are going empty than needed." He'll be writing again on the subject--including getting DDOT's reaction--today.
* DCMetrocentric throws open the floor to a discussion of the quality of architecture in Near Southeast. Opinions vary.
* Richard Layman thinks the Circulator replacing the N22 is a waste of money.
* The Post's District Extra on Thursday took a look at the Anacostia Waterfront forums that have been held the past two months, and will continue through June. (April's will be a "Green Living in a Green DC," on April 21.) Here are the presentation slides from the meeting described in the Post piece.
* This 1993 photo from Darrow Montgomery's archive looks to be on the field south of the old Capper apartment building at 900 Fifth Street (where Capper Seniors #1 now stands). The freeway embankment at rear is the giveaway.

Final Countdown on the School Buses (Updated)
Mar 26, 2009 10:59 PM
This is *still* I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it territory, but tonight I'm hearing that DC public schools poobahs have signed off on the new parking lots out at DC Village, and have authorized the moving of the buses currently parked at Canal Park. A date in the first full week of April is being bandied about, though I'm too gun-shy from years of move dates passing by to post it just yet. Will this finally be the time when it actually happens?
UPDATE: It totally slipped my mind during a very busy week to mention reader M. passing along an e-mail they received from the Mayor's office saying that "we anticipate that the school buses will be relocated as of April 6, 2009", which is the date I was hearing yesterday would be the start of the exodus. So, with two sources, let's say that April 6 could very well be the day that the buses are either gone or starting to be gone.
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More posts: Canal Park

City Paper's Best Local Web Site Pick (or Not)
Mar 26, 2009 2:12 PM
City Paper's new Best of DC issue is out, and their staff picks include one for Best Local Web Site, where Brightest Young Things is marked as best, but another site gets all the verbiage: "Credit JDLand with thoroughness. If there is a development--however puny, however bureaucratic--regarding the commercial and residential layout of near Southeast D.C., this site may well break the news and will certainly have all the analysis and documents behind it. The site's blog items refresh very regularly and there are cool interactive maps and the like. JDLand, in fact, might just deserve a higher ranking, if only it weren't so nasty." The entry goes on to target my list of highlighted-in-red items on my contact page as the chief example of my nastiness. Perhaps Erik would like to serve as frontline secretary for my inbox without all of those caveats (which I have always considered to be wry, not nasty), and I'd like to think that the people who do contact me via that page get a pretty nice response 99.99% of the time. But oh well. I still very much appreciate the pick.
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Third and K Market to Become 'Corner Copia Deli'
Mar 24, 2009 12:18 PM
From the newest BID newsletter: "Corner Copia, specializing in made-to-order deli sandwiches and pre-made sandwiches, will open May 1st at Third and L Streets, SE, the site of a former corner store. Currently under renovation, Corner Copia will also sell a selection of snacks, cold beverages, beer, wine and convenience items." {It's actually at Third and K, of course--you can see photos of how it's looked over the past four years.}
UPDATE: And, as reported in the comments, the building has been painted today and is now a grayish-olive. Glad I got one last batch of pre-paint photos! Will post new ones in a day or two.
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Player Statues, Other Art To Be Unveiled
Mar 23, 2009 3:19 PM
From a hot-off-the-presses Nats press release, an announcement that on April 8 the Nationals and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities will unveil two public artworks at Nationals Park: bronze statues of Washington baseball legends Frank Howard, Josh Gibson, and Walter Johnson, which will be placed in the Center Field Plaza; and "The Ball Game," which has "four suspended mobiles with approximately 48 hand-painted figures hanging in action," which rotate to the tune of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and which will be hung on the concourse at the top of the grand staircase.
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Peeking at Changes in Nats Parking Lots for 2009 (Updated)
Mar 23, 2009 9:54 AM
Sometime within the past few weeks the Nats updated their parking information pages for season ticket holders and individual game parking, which I've brought together in an update of my stadium parking map. In comparing them to the last year's parking options, you can see the following changes:
* There's no "official" parking at The Yards anymore (the "blue zone" from 2008, lots E, Z, and Y). Perhaps they'll be available as cash lots, but I haven't heard. (See Update II below.)
* Lot "S" way up at Second and H has been dropped, too.
* New official lots have cropped up at the WMATA bus garage site (lot G) and underneath 55 M Street (lot O). The WMATA garage was offered as $50 valet parking starting about mid-season last year.
* Individual game-day parking prices have dropped by $5 for most of the lots that were same-day purchase lots last year (though the purchasing system doesn't seem to exactly match the map when it comes to the red zone, which says $35 for the lots other than the official garages while the purchasing system says $40 for all red zone parking).
As for whether the Nats Express shuttle from RFK is going to run, there's been no announcement, and the page for it on the official web site, looks like it hasn't been updated since last season. (It hasn't been updated to replace the N22 references with news of the new Circulator route, either.) The "interactive trip planner" also has not yet been updated to show the 2009 parking options.
I imagine more info will be coming soon.
UPDATE: The Nationals have passed along word that the Nats Express shuttle from RFK will be running again this year. Also, the lot under 55 M won't be an official lot after all.
UPDATE II: The folks at the Yards say that they will be offering both cash parking and "season subscription" parking in their lots that were formerly lots E, Y, and Z last year. (They'll just be doing it on their own and not as part of the lineup of "official" Nats lots.) More info to come soon.
UPDATE III: Reader J. rightly notices that Lot R (under 1100 New Jersey) is also gone from the 2009 lineup.

New Photos: 909 New Jersey
Mar 22, 2009 9:31 AM
Part of my trek(s) on Saturday included getting a slew of updated photos of 909 New Jersey, the 237-unit apartment building between I and K that's now all-but-completed. The landscaping is done, and the fences are down from most of the sidewalks--which will make baseball fans walking to and from the Capitol South subway station happy, I imagine. No word yet on any tenants for the ground-floor retail spaces.
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More posts: 909 New Jersey, jpi, Retail

New Photos: Capitol Quarter
Mar 21, 2009 5:45 PM
If you haven't been by Capitol Quarter in the past few weeks, you might be a bit surprised to see how it's progressing. I've posted a bunch of new photos from Fifth and Fourth streets, where you can see the progress ranging from nearly completed exteriors along L Street (getting painted!) to framing now reaching the Fourth and K intersection.
I took a ton of new photos today (even though the bright blue skies of mid-morning got replaced by icky high clouds), but am rushed at the moment and so will go through the rest of them tomorrow. But these ought to keep folks busy until then.
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter

4 1/2 Hours of Capper Zoning in Capsule Form
Mar 20, 2009 7:04 PM
How can I possibly summarize in this small space the never-ending parade of testimony and questions at last night's hearing on the various Capper zoning modification requests? (I just thank the heavens I watched the web cast and didn't attend in person.) If you didn't avail yourself of this entertainment, you'll just have to wait for the transcript to come out to get all the specifics, but here's a few bullet points on issues that were brought up (read the Office of Planning report on what was actually being requested):
* Commissioner May was displeased that there were no "sample boards" of the exterior finishes for the two new apartment buildings, as is apparently required for a stage 2 planned-unit-development approval.
* The commissioners were clearly befuddled by the scope of the requests, variances, and exceptions before them, even though last year they had requested that the three separate filings be grouped together in a single hearing.
* There was much discussion of the request to further delay the construction of the community center until at least 2011, with the Housing Authority testifying at length as to the financial realities of the bond and lending markets (see more about that here), and members of the public and ANC commissioners (Siegel and McBee of 6D) emphasizing as they have in the past "the community's" need for the center and questioning DCHA's idea that the neighborhood needs to reach a "critical mass" before the center should be built (does 300 completed units out of a planned 1700 meet that threshold?). DCHA said repeatedly that building a community center is a promise they have made that will not be broken, but that right now it's just not a possibility.
* Two former Capper residents testified to their belief that the Housing Authority is not adhering to what's required in terms of job training and other social services that are supposed to be provided while residents are waiting to move back, which got chair Anthony Hood into a bit of a dander. (Read pages 12-14 of the 2004 Capper zoning order to see what is expected in this realm.) This and the other public comments (such as the "why can't you use Obama's stimulus money?" question that had come up at ANC 6D) brought a somewhat forceful response from David Cortiella of the Housing Authority as to what they're doing for the former residents, and he again went through the current barriers to financing the center. There was then a minor dustup between commissioners Jeffries and May, with May pressing the housing authority on its performance and timeline and Jeffries expressing some level of surprise that the zoning commission was questioning a Hope VI redevelopment's financial problems "in this economic climate."
By the time the hearing wrapped up at 11:15 pm (and I'd be lying if I said I had paid attention to every word), the commission was requesting a series of additional filings from the housing authority and its team, and put it all on their April 27 agenda. (And look for this to be back on the ANC 6D agenda on April 13, too.)
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More posts: ANC News, Capper, meetings, zoning

Nats Park Most Valuable Building in DC
Mar 20, 2009 9:14 AM
Today's DC Examiner reports that Nationals Park, with its nearly $1 billion new assessed value, is the most valuable property in Washington, "roughly $4 million more than the city's assessment of the White House, $400 million more than the U.S. Capitol and $550 million more than either the Library of Congress or the Verizon Center." The article also notes that the land beneath the stadium has a higher value than the building itself ($511 million to $489 million).
It then segues into how the ballpark assessment has helped to raise the total value of Near Southeast by $1.5 billion just since last year, as reported on a local blog. "'I think at heart is just the reality that finished buildings are assessed higher than unfinished lots, and Near Southeast had five buildings and the ballpark finished in the past year,' Dupree said in an e-mail. 'Some of the buildings that have been standing for a few years did see their assessments decrease.' 'Still,' she added, 'going from $221 million to $6 billion in nine years is quite a leap.' "
There's also this quote from councilmember Kwame Brown: "'The economy is down but the area is hot,' Brown said. 'It'll only get better."
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A Pile of Little Items
Mar 19, 2009 4:19 PM
All sorts of tidbits came down the pike in the past 24 hours. In no particular order:
* I didn't make Tuesday night's Anacostia Waterfront Forum, but the presentation slides ("Economics of Developing the Anacostia River") have been posted. The slides have a good batch of economic data and detail for those interested; it's estimated that there could be nearly $6.7 billion in public investment along the river over the next three decades. In addition, the February forum is now available via streaming video, and the next forum has been scheduled for April 21, with the topic being "Green Waterfront, Green Jobs, Green Living in a Green DC." (The March "Waterfront Watch" newsletter has these additional tidbits, plus stories on the DC streetcar project and the Diamond Teague Park groundbreaking.)
* The WashTimes's Tim Lemke gets a first peek (along with suiteholders) of what new concessionaire Levy Restaurants might have in store for Nationals Park this season.
* Via the eckington blog, a list of the "shovel-ready" transportation projects in the district being funded by ARRA (aka "the stimulus package"). Apparently the demolition of the ramps connecting the 11th Street Bridges and RFK were on the request list, but didn't make the final cut. DDOT's been saying for a while that this demolition would happen Any Minute Now. (Read more about DC and the stimulus package at recovery.dc.gov.)
* Back in December, the owners of the 810/816/820 Potomac Avenue properties (the building that houses Quizno's, the abandoned apartment building, and the space between) announced a sealed bid sale for the lots. While some bids have been submitted (interest from hotels keeps getting mentioned in the communiques I've received from the landowner), the original March 15 deadline has been extended by another 30 days.
* A link that I saw this morning that I've subsequently lost says that the Circulator route replacing the N22 from Union Station to New Jersey and M will begin on March 30.
* Two readers reported that the 55 M construction cam has been turned off. For the first time since 2006, there are no active web cams in the neighborhood. Waaah!
* Another reader reported that the sign put up in 2006 at the corner of Second and M advertising 250 M Street ("Delivery 2008") has been replaced with a new sign, minus any delivery date.
* I know that it's been a *long* time since I've posted new photos. I had grand thoughts of going out this morning, until I looked at the radar. I'm hoping to take some this weekend, though I have a very tricky schedule to work around. But at least know that I'm now feeling guilty about it.

Capper PUD Hearing on Thursday; New Renderings and Background Info
Mar 18, 2009 1:52 PM
I've just about reached my recommended yearly allowance of writing about the various Capper zoning requests that are pending right now, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel, since the hearing is finally being held Thursday night at 6:30 pm. If you've grown tired (as I have) of my haphazard attempts to describe exactly what's being requested, you can now pour through the Office of Planning report, which gives far more detail than I've ever attempted. Even if you don't want to know that much about it all, there's a pretty good map on page three of the report that details the plans for every block of Capper/Carrollsburg (though without any timelines for the future projects). I have a similar map on my main Capper page, but this one does add a lot of detail.
I've also managed to snag the first renderings of two of the planned Capper apartment buildings, which I've added to my project page. One (seen at top left) shows the 171-unit building planned for L Street, next to Canal Park and behind the proposed 250 M Street office building. There's also now a first look at the 189-unit building planned for the 600 block of L Street (seen above), on the north side of the old Capper Seniors lot and just south of the Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters. In the original Capper plans, this site was going to be townhouses, but it was decided that an apartment building would fit in better with the larger surrounding structures.
The Thursday hearing will be available via live web cast, if you're so inclined.
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