Near Southeast DC: Past News Items - April 2008
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Monument Realty's Plans for 50 M Street
Apr 30, 2008 1:04 PM
The northeast corner of Half and M is home to Nats Lot J these days, with the Sunoco station that used to be there having closed in 2006 (taking with it my first Gas Prices in the Hood location). The land was purchased in 2007 by Monument Realty for $14.3 million, and they're currently marketing the site as 50 M Street, a 135,000-square-foot build-to-suit office building, targeting associations in the area as possible tenants. Monument was nice enough to pass along this early conceptual rendering of the building (bigger version here). Waiting for a tenant means that this building probably won't get started anytime soon.
The project's M Street location means it will have to go through a Capitol Gateway Overlay Zoning Review, which includes the requirement that all the building's non-entrance frontage along M Street be devoted to retail space, and that no less than 35 percent of the entire first floor be retail. (See page 15 for more of the overlay's M Street requirements.)
As for the one-story red brick building behind the 50 M lot, that's a warehouse owned by the Feds, which as of now doesn't seem to be going anywhere. But that little spot is getting kind of valuable, isn't it?
And, since I don't have much else to show you these days, take a few minutes to "drive" M Street, first heading east then back west, to see the changes since 2003. Remember to click on the Click to see all available photos of this location. icon for any location where you'd like to see the photos between the before and the after....

Unhappiness on the Hill About Parking; May 7 Meeting
Apr 29, 2008 2:33 PM
The new May issue of the Hill Rag has two articles on the not-very-positive response on Capitol Hill to the new Performance Parking regulations that have gone into effect, centered mainly around complaints that parking for visitors and guests via the one-guest-pass-per-household configuration is not working. You can read the report on April's ANC 6B meeting and the Rag Time column for more. And the latest Voice of the Hill also has an article about the ANC 6B meeting and the problems with guest parking. Feedback that perhaps the rules do not need to be enforced on non-gamedays seems to be growing, too.
These reports are all from outside my boundaries, of course, but we all know how much I enjoy covering parking. Anyone from Near Southeast want to weigh in and add to the fun?
It's also a good opportunity for a reminder about the May 7 community meeting organized by Tommy Wells on Performance Parking, at the Capitol United Methodist Church, Fifth and Pennsylvania/Seward Square, SE, from 7 to 8:30 pm, which ought to be a real barnburner.
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More posts: parking, Nationals Park

Afternoon Game on Wednesday
Apr 29, 2008 1:55 PM
A reminder that tomorrow (April 30) is the first and only weekday afternoon game at Nationals Park, where the Nationals will be taking on the Atlanta Braves with a 4:35 pm start time. (There's a 1:35 pm game on Monday May 26, but that's Memorial Day.) Traffic and Metro might be a bit hairy during the evening commute, so regulate your blood pressure accordingly.....
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More posts: Nationals Park

Quick Links on Nats Express, KegBus, Coyotes
Apr 28, 2008 3:32 PM
After a week's vacation, I'm still trying to remember how this whole blogging thing is supposed to work, so while I'm figuring it out, here are a few links:
* Dr. Gridlock looks at the Nats Express from RFK, and finds it acceptable. (Except for perhaps more signage.) And talks about the fun e-cruzer electric carts that are ferrying people for free between the shuttle stop at 300 M and the ballpark.
* Last week's Weekend section has a feature on the KegBus, which shuttles revelers from the bars on Pennsylvania Avenue and Eighth Street to the ballpark.
* Not to go all Prophet of Doom on you, but the Post's Sunday Magazine has a big piece on what DC may look like in 2025. In one scenario: "His mother didn't know it, but Paxten and his friends loved to wander around the mostly abandoned Nationals Park and the ruins of the entertainment complex, despite reports that coyotes had a den in the Nationals' former bullpen. The park had been neglected since Major League Baseball dissolved Washington's team in the second wave of contractions to hit the sport." Yes, but is Florida Rock built?????

Monday Post Article on Florida Rock
Apr 28, 2008 5:16 AM
Monday's Metro section of the Post has "Beside the Diamond, a Lump of Coal", bringing readers up to speed on the Florida Rock concrete-plant parcel just south of the ballpark. Nothing in it that folks wandering through here on a regular basis won't already know (you can read the piles of entries I've posted on the project over the past five years for additional details, including my post about last month's surprise preliminary approval of the latest design, and my project page has plenty of renderings and photos).
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WTDW: Velocity Construction
Apr 27, 2008 10:50 PM
Within the past few days, I've gotten messages from a few people asking What's the Deal With the Velocity condos project at First and L, noting that construction has taken a vacation recently (like me!). I've been told that it should be starting back up again within the next week or so, and that it's still on schedule to be finished next year. It's still a condo project (not switching to rentals), and about 40 of the building's 200 units have been sold.
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More posts: Square 699n

401 M Review, Five Guys Sidewalk Cafe Approved
Apr 25, 2008 8:31 PM
Just a quick note that both the zoning review and special exception applications for the office/residential/grocery project planned at 401 M Street at The Yards and the Public Space Committee's consideration of an application for Five Guys to operate a sidewalk cafe appear to have been approved. (I didn't get to see either meeting, so I know nothing more than that.) See the entry below for additional links and details to find out what the heck I'm talking about. And normal posting here on the blog will resume very soon (I promise), since the JDLand batteries are now just about recharged.

Thursday Meeting Preview (WMATA, Yards, Five Guys)
Apr 23, 2008 10:36 AM
A somewhat busy Thursday (April 24) is on the boards:
* We might be getting some news on the state of Monument Realty's lawsuit against WMATA over the sale of the Southeastern Bus Garage to Akridge--the WMATA Board of Directors is meeting at 11 am, and the agenda for their executive session includes "Legal Issues - Monument vs. WMATA." I know nothing beyond that.
* Forest City's plans for the office/residential/retail project at 401 M Street will be getting a Southeast Federal Center Overlay District Review in front of the Zoning Commission at 6:30 pm at Suite 220 South, 441 4th St., NW; you can also catch it via live webcast, if it's working. Read more about this from my ANC 6D wrapup last week and an earlier entry on the project.
* And, if you want to make your voice heard about the public space application by Five Guys for a sidewalk seating area, the Public Space Committee will be bringing it up at its monthly meeting, at 941 North Capitol Street, NE, 7th Floor, starting at 10 am. This is the application that ANC6D refused to support last week because of the lack of a community benefits package for the "loss of public space."

On the Fly Daily Lunch Vending on Half Street
Apr 22, 2008 10:23 AM
If you're looking for more lunchtime food options in Near Southeast (and who isn't?), here's word from the Capitol Riverfront BID that local "eco-vending" company On the Fly, which has been setting up shop before Nationals games on Half Street about 100 feet north of the ballpark entrance, will now be offering lunch from their neon-green electric "smartkarts" at that location daily from 11 am to 3 pm, starting today (April 22). Quoting: "In addition to its spicy turkey chili, named a "Home Run" by the Washington Post, On the Fly will offer Rocklands BBQ sandwiches, soft tacos with your choice of chicken estafado, pork carnitas or veggie filling, Japanese edamame salads, Brazilian chopped salad with beef tenderloin, couscous, vegetarian sides, energy bars and other organic natural snacks and beverages." Here's a coupon for a complimentary side order or snack between now and Friday--and it mentions Julia's Empanadas as another of their offerings (yay!). On the Fly also has carts at Farragut North, Gallery Place, and the Arboretum.
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More posts: Monument/Half St.

Valet Stadium Parking at the WMATA Bus Garage; Paying Cash Now an Option at T, W, HH Lots
Apr 20, 2008 9:34 AM
The Nats continue to expand their single-game parking offerings, with new options for drive-up cash lot parking now posted on the official web site (and being mentioned during game telecasts). The latest offerings are: a) valet parking (at $50 a pop!) inside the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M (which the Nats are now leasing from WMATA), b) additional cash-lot parking in official Nats lots T and W (at Capper) for $20 and lot HH for $15; and c) pre-pay-only individual-game Red Zone parking at a mere $40 a game.
Even broadcaster Don Sutton remarked during a broadcast a few nights ago that perhaps the Nats did *too* good of a job of telling people how tight parking and traffic would be, and that now there's plenty of inventory. (Perhaps the Nats also saw the private cash lots cropping up and saw a little bit of $$ flowing away from their grasp....)
But will this additional traffic flow to parking lots increase congestion, causing angst about the volume of cars descending on the neighborhood? (Then again, if it does, perhaps the pendulum then swings back toward people using Metro or the Nats Express.)

Free Learn-to-Row Clinic on Sunday at Boathouses
Apr 18, 2008 2:47 PM
The Capital Rowing Club and the Anacostia Community Boathouse Association are offering free lessons in "sweep rowing" on Sunday (April 20) from 1 to 4 pm at the boathouses on the Anacostia River nestled between the 11th Street Bridges on O Street. No reservations are required. Even if you don't want to learn to row, it might be a chance to make a visit to the boathouses if you haven't been there before. (And, don't worry, they won't be demolished by the upcoming rehabs of the bridges, though the boathouse operations will be moving to the north a couple hundred feet during construction.) If you can't make Sunday's session, there will be another one on June 7, as part of National Learn to Row Day.

Mass Wrap-Ups; Somewhat Light Posting Ahead
Apr 17, 2008 10:59 PM
So, I failed as a neighborhood blogger and archivist and didn't get down to the ballpark (or anywhere close by) for today's Papal Mass. But I didn't have a ticket and couldn't have gotten within a block of the stadium without one. And I figured it all just might get some coverage in the media. I'm not going to track down every article, but here's a sampling:
Check out the Post photo gallery of the day, along with the main article and a feature by Hank Steuver. The WashTimes Papal Visit blog proclaims "Wow--What a Mass!" NBC 4 has a page devoted to all of its video coverage--make sure to scroll down and see the little piece on the St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church that sits right at South Capitol and M. Channel 9 also has a story and a photo gallery, as part of all of their coverage.
Dr. Gridlock kept track of the roads and rails both before and after the mass, and there seem to have been no major meltdowns. Again.
And, in what baseball fans really want to know, NBC4 has the goods on the work it's taking to transform the ballpark back into a ballpark.
Despite my abject failure with the mass, this was a milestone day for me, because during the ridiculously busy home stretch of the ballpark's completion, I just kept telling myself that I only had to hang on through Opening Night and Pope Day, and then all would return to "normal." And now, after posting nearly 2,000 photos and 270 blog entries in these 108 days of 2008, I seem to have made it. Yay!
So, as a present to myself, posting will be a bit light over the next few days as I do a bit of battery recharging.

Nighttime Douglass Bridge Closures This Weekend
Apr 17, 2008 7:20 PM
From DDOT, word that testing of the swing span of the Douglass Bridge necessitates some nighttime closures this weekend. "To conduct a full test of the swing span, and ensure the safety of motorist and workers, the bridge must be closed during the testing activity. The first closure is scheduled for Friday evening, April 18th from 10 pm to 5 am. If all results return positive no further closures will be necessary. However, if minor adjustments are found to be necessary, additional testing and closures will be conducted on Saturday from 10 pm to 5 am and repeated again with test-dependent closures scheduled for Sunday from 10 pm to 5 am. Motorist will be detoured to the 11th Street bridges."

Council Hearing Friday Includes 11th Street Bridges
Apr 17, 2008 2:03 PM
On Friday (April 18) at 3 pm, the city council's Committee on Public Works and the Environment will be having the "initial segment" of the hearing on DDOT's proposed FY09 budget. And, quoting from the hearing announcement: "The initial segment of this hearing will focus on the proposed construction of new 11th Street Bridges. A project currently budgeted at $450 million."
I haven't quite been able to get an answer as to whether this means that some portion of the project will begin next year--a contact at DDOT told me that they will "begin work on the ramps to RFK late this summer/fall" and that "removal of these ramps was recommended in the Middle Anacostia Crossings Transportation Study." That *sounds* like they're demolishing those ramps later this year (which, you can see in the EIS Preferred Alternative are indeed slated to be removed, though not technically as part of the 11th Street Bridges project), but until I see it specifically announced (or mentioned in tomorrow's hearing), I hesitate to say that's actually what's about to happen. If anyone out there has insight..... I won't be able to watch the hearing right away, but will try to get to it within a few days.
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More posts: 11th Street Bridges

Pope Day Arrives in the Hood; This Week's Column
Apr 17, 2008 8:56 AM
So, the faithful are streaming toward the ballpark as we speak. Although the 55 M cam showed the upper decks pretty empty with about 90 minutes to go, Channel 9 (already on the air with its coverage of the mass) gives a better view of the tens of thousands already inside. (48,000 people are expected.) How's everyone faring, either trying to get out of the neighborhood or into it for work? Or is everyone just staying home? And, for those reading this later today who went to the mass, how did your trip go?
In other news, my Ballpark and Beyond column this week is yet another one about stadium parking, taken mainly from my Monday night post about ANC 6D's muted reaction to parking and traffic issues (along with the Zoning Commission's approval of having additional lots built in Southwest if landowners want them). I also tossed in a quick roundup of the private cash lots springing up.

Post Graphic on Ballpark Mass
Apr 16, 2008 12:31 PM
An interesting graphic in this morning's Post gives the lowdown on Thursday's papal mass at Nationals Park. There's even a diagram showing how the interior of the park will be laid out, which is handy, since we can't see it anymore on the web cam. No seating on the infield, for those of you concerned about any wear-and-tear.
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Positive Nature Getting Help from the City
Apr 16, 2008 9:54 AM
From Bruce Johnson's blog, word that the city council has introduced the "Positive Nature Property Tax Exemption Forgiveness Act," which will provide some temporary relief from the property taxes that have endangered the youth program's existence at 1017 New Jersey Avenue.
I've received a draft version of the bill (even though today is Emancipation Day and government offices are closed--good service!). It says that Lot 18 on Square 740 is exempt from real-property taxation as long as it is leased to Positive Nature. Further, "The Council orders that all unpaid real property taxes, interest, penalties, fees, and other related charges assessed against real property located at Lot 18, Square 740 for tax year 2008 shall be forgiven."
This is still just pending legislation at this point, of course, and is a short-term solution while (Bruce says) Tommy Wells, David Catania, and the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development search for new space for Positive Nature.
UPDATE: And who did I just run into at 15th and K, NW--none other than Bruce Johnson himself, doing Man on the Streets about the pope. I took a minute to introduce myself as "that blogger whose photos of the ballpark you've used on your blog." He laughed, and apologized for not originally crediting the photo (and rightly noted that he did so after what I'm sure was an avalanche of feedback from JDLand readers), and we talked for a moment or two about this Positive Nature news. It's a small town....

NY Times Looks at the Hood (Whatever It's Called)
Apr 16, 2008 5:38 AM
After writing about the revitalization of Capper/Carrollsburg a few weeks ago, the New York Times now looks at Near Southeast/Ballpark District/Capitol Riverfront: "But everyone agrees that the change in the neighborhood in the 22 months since work began on the 41,000-seat stadium has been astounding. In what was an urban wasteland of trash-strewn lots, sex clubs, and taxi and auto repair shops, developers have invested in new offices, condominiums, rental apartments, stores and restaurants. This undertaking is still very much a work in progress, but that progress is palpable in the sights and sounds of jackhammers, scaffolds, bulldozers and other heavy construction equipment. Fenced-off areas and hard-hat crews are everywhere." It's a pretty good overview for folks who don't know what's been happening in the area, but JDLand readers will be familiar with most of the descriptions and players. If you're wandering onto this site after reading the Times article, looking for more information (and pictures!) about the changes, just start clicking on the map at right to see what's been happening in these here parts.
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More posts: Nationals Park

More ANC 6D Doings (Yards, 250 M, Five Guys, Vendors, Ziegfield's)
Apr 15, 2008 1:03 PM
I'm just going to bullet-point all this stuff. Follow links for additional background. (See my entry from last night for news on the ANC's discussion about parking and traffic issues during the first games at the ballpark.)
* The commissioners voted to support Forest City Washington's plans for an office/residential/retail project (including a grocery store) at 401 M Street in The Yards. This support hinged on a Memorandum of Understanding on community benefits being offered by Forest City, including a lottery that could allow a 25 percent preference (or higher) for ANC 6D residents when it comes to the 30ish affordable housing rental units in the 194-unit project. (The final verbage of the MOU was hashed out at the meeting; talk about watching the sausage get made.) An audience member complained that LEED certification for the project should not be considered an amenity, but Forest City replied that the city's green building law does not go into effect until 2012, and these buildings are expected to be completed in 2011. Other components include preferences for ANC 6D certified business enterprises and a promise to report yearly to the ANC about the project. A lack of a community benefits package had tripped up this request for support at the ANC's April meeting. This project now goes to the Zoning Commission for a Southeast Federal Center Overlay Review on April 24.
* A request to support William C. Smith's modifications to its plans for 250 M Street (raising the height of the building to 130 feet) was postponed, as the commissioners expressed their unhappiness at the lack of any community benefits. The developer's representatives said that community benefits were part of the original approval of the project as part of the Capper/Carrollsburg PUD, and that this modification is not resulting in any increase in square footage from that original plan. Commissioners had no suggestions for what benefits they would be seeking, only that they want more. This project may be back in front of the ANC at its May meeting, since the Zoning Commission hearing on the PUD modification isn't until late May.
* A request to support a public space permit request by Five Guys to add an outdoor seating area at its Second Street location was turned down, not only because the commissioners said that Five Guys had not provided information on the request to all the commissioners in a timely manner but because there's no offer of, you guessed it, a community benefits package in return for the "public space" being taken.
* A representative of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs updated the commission on plans to add 40 vendors on the streets surrounding the ballpark, thanks to emergency legislation passed on April 1 by the council. The mayor is expected to sign the act today, at which point DCRA will have 21 days to identify sidewalk locations for the vendors to set up shop. It's not expected that any will be on South Capitol Street or on M Street (thanks to narrow sidewalks), and rules prohibit vendors on residential streets. However, in a few months a larger initiative will get underway, with the Capitol Riverfront BID's involvement, to create a "Development Zone" allowed for in the recent overhaul of city vending regulations, which will give the city and residents greater say in where vendors are placed, what they sell, and the appearance of their carts. And, in response to questions from commissioners and audience members: no cigarettes or alcohol will be sold at these carts, and there don't appear to be any concerns on the city's behalf about terrorism related to these carts or their operators. (I'm just reporting what was asked.)
* The commission voted to support the liquor license application of former O Street clubs Ziegfield's and Secrets to reopen at 1824 Half St., SW, at the site of the old "Lime" nightclub. A voluntary agreement with the clubs' owner was reached to address concerns about traffic, cooperation with police, and community input.

More Pope Stories Than You'd Ever Want
Apr 15, 2008 8:20 AM
* The Post, the WashTimes, and the Examiner all do their "preparing Nationals Park for the Pope" pieces. (There must have been a press tour, perhaps as part of this Archbishop Wuerl tour that WJLA reports on.) There's also plenty of detail in the Post story about how to get to the ballpark early, expected crunch on Metro during morning rush hour, etc. etc.
* The Post's Federal Diary looks at government plans to deal with what a e-mailer to me called "Take Your Pontiff to Work Day." Both USDOT and the Navy Yard will be open for business (as will all government agencies), with adjusted arrival times for employees allowed; DOT is apparently using this as a "large-scale test of its telecommuting program."
* A reminder again of the planned street closings this week, including the biggie that South Capitol Street (including the Douglass Bridge) will be closed from 2 am to 2 pm Thursday. And WUSA notes that there are river closings too, with the Anacostia closed from the 11th Street Bridges to the Potomac.
* The Capital News Service (seen here via the Miami Herald) talks about the desperation among the flock to get tickets, and how scalping is not being tolerated.
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