15 Blog Posts
Whole Foods Tax Abatement Dead; Is the Entire Deal Kaput?
May 1, 2011 5:15 PM
The Washington Post is reporting
that developer William C. Smith is "no longer seeking" a proposed $8 million tax abatement to bring Whole Foods to a planned 375-unit apartment building at 800 New Jersey Ave., SE
, and that in fact the news coverage of the proposal
may have killed the deal altogether.
The article quotes a statement from Whole Foods saying that the company "was not involved in any tax break or lease agreement negotiations" with WC Smith, and Michael Stevens of the BID is quoted as saying "I used to know that Whole Foods wanted to be in the neighborhood. After that article, I don't know anymore."
Whether the entire Whole Foods deal is truly dead or there's just some steam being let off is not 100 percent clear in the article, though it quotes an anonymous source as saying that Whole Foods could still end up somewhere in the area and is "fielding entreaties from other developers."
This is/was not the only grocery store planned for Near Southeast, with Forest City including supermarket space in the apartment building that it has planned for 401 M St., SE
at the Yards
, which could be getting underway late this year or early in 2012. (Standard statement whenever mentioning this: it's long been reported that Harris Teeter will be occupying that space, but neither Forest City nor the grocery chain have ever publicly announced a deal.)
Barry Wants the Ballpark Area in Ward 8; Residents Mobilizing
Apr 28, 2011 3:47 PM
During a long hearing on Wednesday on the need to redraw the city's ward boundaries as a result of the 2010 census numbers, council member Marion Barry made clear his interest in moving parts of the western side of the Anacostia River out of Ward 6 and into Ward 8 to bring its population to the required level. Tommy Wells's chief of staff Charles Allen live-tweeted the hearing, and you can scroll to read his many (many!) tweets
on what Barry and a number of people testifying said on the subject (I retweeted some of them as they came through, but he was lighting the keyboard on fire and I couldn't keep up!).
After mentioning both Near Southeast and the Southwest waterfront during the early part of the hearing, Barry eventually shifted his focus just to Near Southeast, saying (according to Charles
) that the move is a "perfect solution" that "won't divide a community." Barry also said (again according to Charles
), "Since no one from [Near SE] has come to testify against moving to Ward 8, I guess there's [no] opposition & we should move forward". Some commissioners from Southwest did get to the hearing to testify, but no Near Southeast residents or representatives ended up speaking on behalf of the neighborhood.
In the wake of all of this, some e-mailing and scrambling has commenced (judging by the way my inbox is lighting up, with people asking me if this is already a done deal). One example is that Near Southeast's ANC commissioner David Garber has today created his own Near Southeast Google Groups/mailing list
, and redistricting is the inaugural issue being discussed, along with the additional issue of if and where the current ANC boundaries should be redrawn, which is also part of this redistricting process. (The question will also be whether Near Southeast even remains a single district, given that its population of 3,300 is well over the 2,000 mark that is the normal SMD size.)
Also, the group Ward 6 Democrats have scheduled a public meeting
to discuss the redistricting plan as it impacts Ward 6. It's on May 5 from 7 to 8:30 pm at Friendship Public Charter School at 1345 Potomac Ave., SE, and the group has invited the three co-chairs of the council's special redistricting committee along with Tommy Wells (who already said a few weeks ago
that he "will defend the riverfront").
The record from yesterday's hearing remains open until May 12, so written comments can still be submitted.
UPDATE II: From the comments, there is now apparently also a Near Southeast community meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, May 4, at 6:30 pm at the Capper Seniors building at 900 5th St., SE.
Market Deli Landmark Status Application Officially Rejected
Apr 28, 2011 1:52 PM
Today the Historic Preservation Review Board voted unanimously to support the recommendation of preservation office staff, rejecting the historic landmark application
for the Market Deli on the northeast corner of 1st and L streets, SE.
The staff recommendation
seemed to be the primary driver of the board members' votes (with most board members having little comment on the application beyond "I support the staff recommendation"). Its author, Tim Dennee, reiterated its main points in his testimony, saying that while it would have been a good idea to keep the building maintained, the lack of underlying historic merit beyond the building representing the other old structures in the neighborhood that are gone does not allow the Market Deli to rise to the level of a landmark. There was also a lot of discussion about how the neighborhood "context" that would have allowed for a better understanding of the Deli's place in the history of the area is already gone, with so many buildings
having already been demolished.
Testifying in the support of the nomination was ANC 6D07 rep David Garber, who said he ran for the position because "there's such a clear opportunity in this neighborhood to develop something great." He described himself as "100 percent in favor of development in most cases," but feels that the Market Deli represents a "common building type for common people" and that "what's remarkable about the Market Deli is that it's unremarkable." Also testifying was Hayden Wetzel, who said he prepared at the application at Garber's request and who echoed Garber's comments by saying that it's a "sweet and pretty little building" and that the "ordinariness of the building speaks for itself." He said that he formed a task force within the DC Preservation League in 2000 to consider the buildings in the area, but that it didn't result in much interest.
Six people testified in opposition: three residents, Dodd Walker of Akridge (the owners of the building), Michael Stevens of the BID, and a woman hired by Akridge (whose name and affiliation I unfortunately missed) to investigate the building's history. Much of what was said by the residents, Stevens, and Walker were variations on comments made the ANC meeting
and in the Memorandum in Opposition
that was presented to the board with 39 co-signers. With concerns about how an ANC's position is given "great weight," resident Kitty Loyd focused her testimony on the ANC vote a few weeks ago, contending that Garber should have recused himself since he expressed an interest in saving this building before he became commissioner. (Loyd also apparently printed out the JDLand Market Deli comment threads
to give to the board, so you're all famous.) Both Michael Stevens and resident Adam Hall mentioned their feelings that there wasn't enough of a public process followed by Garber in submitting this application, while Hall also said that the building "gives the neighborhood a dangerous feel" because of the neglect.
Stevens also took time to list all the historic buildings in the neighborhood that are still in existence (from the Navy Yard to the Blue Castle to the beaux arts WASA Pumping Plant to the buildings being redeveloped at the Yards
, as well as the private homes and businesses along 3rd, K, L, Potomac, and lower 8th). He also mentioned the 10 to 12 years of planning and analysis (and studies
) by city agencies starting in the late 90s that have gone into the remaking of Near Southeast, back before the demolition of so many properties
--"would this history not have been discovered then?"
There was also a detailed (some might also describe it as "long") presentation from Akridge's historic preservation consultant about the history of the building, which apparently suffered a pretty serious fire in 1921 and appears to have been pretty well gutted at that time. Those who've never seen the interior of the Market Deli might be interested in seeing her presentation, which will be available when HPRB posts the video of the hearing
sometime on Friday.
There were few questions during the hearing from the board members, and, in the end, only chair Catherine Buell seemed anything less than fully supportive of the staff recommendation. She called it a "tough case," and said that she would like to see preservation plans and multiproperty listings done for the area (beyond just the "windshield survey" done by the Office of Planning back around the time of the ballpark). But in the end, saying that she didn't think the building was eligible for landmark status and that the ANC's comments (which are to be given "great weight") didn't really speak to the board's criteria, she called for a vote, and the board voted unanimously.
This was followed by a quick secondary vote on the Deli: the raze permit application for the building was also on the agenda
, in the event that the landmark application was approved. Because it wasn't, the board voted to support the staff recommendation that says the board no longer has jurisdiction over the property, and so the "city's issuance of a raze permit may proceed without further preservation review."
And that would seem to bring this matter to a close. Just after the hearing, Garber tweeted
: "I'm glad there was a chance for discussion on the matter, and I look forward to helping approve new plans to bring vibrancy to the site."
Tuesday Tidbits: South Cap Meetings, Barracks, Sub Horn, More
Apr 26, 2011 10:42 AM
News and notes, some already Tweeted
, some not:
* Don't forget the two public meetings
on the Final Environmental Impact Statement
for South Capitol Street
. The first one is tonight (April 26) at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School at 4th and I, SW, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. The second one is Thursday (April 28), at Savoy Elementary School, 2400 Shannon Place, SE, also from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. My entry from a few days ago
gives the rundown on what changes they are looking at to transform South Capitol Street into a "grand boulevard" rather than a commuter speedway.
* ANC 6B commissioner Norm Metzger passes along an update
from fellow 6B'er Kirsten Oldenberg on the status of the Marines' search for a new barracks site
. A quote: "Now in progress are Installation Master Planning and Support Studies and a Financial Feasibility Analysis. We were only given a brief outline of this work, which will not be made public. A briefing on this 'conceptual' material will be given to the Commandant of the Marine Corps sometime in late May (perhaps). Then once he makes whatever decisions are necessary, work will proceed on putting together the guts of an RFP. This information has to go to various 'stakeholders' and ultimately Congress before the RFP can be finalized and released. One of the developers at the meeting today tried to pin officials down regarding timelines but it proved difficult to do. Bottom line, if all goes smoothly (which is doubtful), a site and developer could be chosen by Fall 2012. (Don't bet on it.)"
* Dan Steinberg writes at his DCSportsBog today about how the Nats went from fireworks to a submarine horn
: "A few months ago, when people inside the organization began considering a move away from fireworks, they began researching naval horn options and even went to the Navy Yard
to check out alternatives. Their advisers at the Yard advised they go with the sub horn, both for the sound and for the way that sound would carry. The Navy folks also thought the three-blast signal would be appropriate. So the horn was taken to Nats Park
and hooked up to a special mic in the press box, where members of the marketing department can fire away after home runs and wins." Nats COO Andy Feffer says that the distinctive sound should make people immediately think "Nationals Park": "'The military is already part of game presentation and the Navy Yard is right next door; not only is it unique and distinctive, but it fit. It fit with our goals, and it fits with what Washington is. It's ours. Someone else can't copy it and say we're gonna do that too. It's Washington's.'"
* In a subscrbers-only piece
in last week's Washington Business Journal, the story of Red Hot & Blue's departure from Nationals Park after the inaugural 2008 season gets a bit, ahem, spicier. Five months into that first season, the BBQ outlet told the Nats it was no longer interested in being at the ballpark. "Hold it, says the team, Red, Hot & Blue was still on the hook for $235,000 in regular payments until the end of the 2009 season, still yet to be paid, according to a breach of contract suit that was filed in March in D.C. Superior Court."
* Honda put out a photo gallery
of the new 2012 Honda Civic, which includes a number of shots taken at the Yards Park
, as well as Anacostia Park and other DC locations. (You have to wander through a bit to find them, but they are pretty neat to see.)
Spring Has Sprung Photos: 200 I, Capitol Quarter, Yards Park
Apr 25, 2011 9:18 AM
With the sun finally coming out, it shouldn't be surprising that I took camera in hand on both Saturday evening and Easter Sunday and did some wandering to catch up with the progress at two locations, and to get shots of a few new items I hadn't yet documented.
The old 225 Virginia
, on its way to becoming 200 I (boo), is now almost completely disrobed. (I think I'll go with that from now on rather than "deskinned.") It's been such a monolith for so many years that it's strange to see it broken up. You can take a virtual walk around the block
to see how the old Star/Post plant looked before along with its current state, and visit my 225 Virginia project page
for more info and background. (If you haven't been following along, by this time next year 200 I is expected to be nearly complete, with three DC city agencies on the boards to move there.)
Just to the southwest, work continues on the first block(s) in the second phase of the Capitol Quarter
mixed-income townhouse development, with bricking proceeding on the new houses along I Street while framing has made it around and up the new 3rd Place; plus, foundations have now been poured along 4th Street. Here's your walk around the block
to be reminded of the old public housing units that stood there for a long time and to compare them with the construction going on now. For more information, see my Capper
and Capitol Quarter project pages
Meanwhile, down at the Yards Park
, the flowers are in bloom, a geodesic dome that looks like the Earth is hosting foodies,
and work appears to have begun on the floating bridge that will connect the Yards Park to Diamond Teague Park
(right by Nationals Park
) later this year. You can see my quick gallery of photos
showing these items, along with a picture of the sign laying out the rules for using the Navy Yard portion of the riverwalk (since it was Saturday, I could only stand forlornly at the gate and look eastward), plus the progress on the Foundry Lofts
building just to the north of the park. And some shots of the Navy Yard buildings that are adjacent to the park, just because I like being in a spot where I can take photos of them without having guards chase me down the street.
HPRB Staff Recommends No Landmark Designation for Market Deli
Apr 22, 2011 12:04 PM
The staff recommendation
to the Historic Preservation Review Board on the application
for historic landmark status for the Market Deli
has just been posted, and the gist is right at the top: "After careful consideration, staff recommends that the Historic Preservation Review Board not designate the property at 1024 1st Street, SE (Square 740, Lot 802) nor that it forward the application to the National Register of Historic Places with a recommendation for listing."
Recognizing that the argument that as a "building type becomes scarcer in a neighborhood, it takes on the role of representing the whole class of similar buildings that has been lost" is not a "frivolous" one, the staff report nonetheless says that "to accept such an argument absolutely or uncritically would set an unacceptably low bar for significance and thus, designation." It goes on to discuss the history and historical context of the building, as well as the building type, not finding that the structure rises to the level of landmarking in any of the areas.
It then summarizes: "The Board has previously rejected nominations for properties that have been merely typical of their neighborhoods, taking the position that, by definition, these do not rise to the level of landmarks worthy of notoriety. In this case, the nomination and the resource itself do not demonstrate that they are sufficiently associated with historical periods or patterns of growth that have contributed significantly to the development of the District."
You can read my initial entry on the landmark nomination
for more background; it was championed by ANC 6D07 commissioner David Garber, and supported by ANC 6D
, but sparked a pretty vociferous backlash from some neighbors, as can be seen in the comments on those entries. (I hope to have the Memorandum in Opposition prepared by some of these neighbors soon.)
The hearing by the board itself on the landmark designation takes place Thursday, April 28
, so this is not yet a done deal; this is merely the staff's recommendation. There will be plenty of people testifying on both sides, I imagine. (At least it's first up on the agenda
, at 10 am.)
(PS: I'm not sure that the staff document as posted is complete; I'm only seeing two pages, and it seems to not really "conclude." Will see if a revised version pops up.)
Here is the very detailed Memorandum in Opposition
submitted by a group of neighbors; unfortunately there's no credit line as to who submitted it, and the names of the undersigned aren't included.
Outdoor Movie Lineup; FreedomFest; Harry's Grand Opening
Apr 22, 2011 9:33 AM
A couple of event tidbits:
* The BID has announced the lineup
for this year's "Best of the Oscars" summer outdoor movie series, running on Thursdays from May 26 through July 28. The movies, which are free and open to the public, will start at 8:45 pm (or sundown) at Tingey Plaza, which is directly behind USDOT
at the corner of New Jersey and Tingey. There will be food trucks, popcorn, cotton candy, and Micha's sorbet.
* The National FreedomFest
, a two-day music and arts festival, is coming to the Yards Park
on July 3 and 4. They are advertising "over 40 bands and DJs" on five stages, along with food and craft vendors (and yes, beer, since the event is co-sponsored by Budweiser). Tickets
are $19.99 per day or $29.99 for a two-day ticket, or if you're feeling special you can get special VIP and/or "Taste of Freedom" tickets, which get you access to VIP areas, free beer, private bathrooms (!), and more, but which are a bit pricier.
* And, on a somewhat smaller scale (but sooner!), Harry's Reserve
has passed along word of its official Grand Opening, scheduled for Saturday, April 30, from 4 to 7 pm. There will be appetizers, wine tastings, and "high-end whiskey tastings" (wheee!). Savita also tells me that they've added a selection of cheeses, patés, and salamis to their lineup, as well expanding their lineup of spirits. Harry's also does wine tastings every Friday and Saturday from 4 to 7 pm.
* I should also mention Marcatus
, the "creative art market" being held on the first Sunday of every month at the Yards Park. It's from 11 am to 6 pm, and offers live music and food in addition to artists displaying their works. Next one is May 1.
* And, just as I posted this, the BID sent out the flyer on the summer Wednesday lunchtime concerts
, running from May 11 to August 17 from 11:30 am to 1 pm in the Yards Park. This is in addition to the Friday evening concert series at the park that begins on May 13
South Capitol Street Final EIS Unveiled, Public Meetings Scheduled
Apr 18, 2011 5:10 PM
It's been so long
since I've written about this that I forgot it was even still in progress, but DDOT has announced two public meetings to present the "preferred alternative" and the Final Environmental Impact Statement
for the South Capitol Street
Corridor, first on April 26
at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School in SW and then two days later
at Savoy Elementary School in SE. This is the long-term study of how to improve South Capitol Street on both sides of the Anacostia River to better address safety, traffic, pedestrian, and streetscape issues, and includes the construction of a new Frederick Douglass Bridge
If you are interested in this subject, there is more verbiage and documentation
accompanying the plans than you could ever dream of. (Traffic studies! Environmental consequences! Technical reports!) And I've written a lot about the process
, which began more than a decade ago with other studies before the EIS got underway. And I'm sure there will be posts on other blogs delving more specifically into portions of the plans. But, since most people probably want to know "what does this mean for me?", you can see this graphic
(from the 224-MB chapter 2
of the FEIS) giving a quick overview of what changes are planned along South Capitol Street if the final EIS is signed off on (and, more importantly, if funding is secured). The short version, for the west side of the Anacostia:
* Add "pedestrian amenities" and enhance the streetcape along South Capitol north of I and along New Jersey Avenue SE north of the freeway.
* Replace the existing ramp to the freeway from South Capitol and I with an at-grade intersection. (This would be a left turn onto a ramp to the freeway from under the freeway, near the current Nats HH economy parking lot.)
* Bring New Jersey Avenue SE
back to a 160-foot full right-of-way, and add streetscape enhancements.
* "Reconstruct South Capitol Street as an urban boulevard." This means bringing M Street up to an "at-grade" intersection (no more tunnel), and would include new signalized at-grade intersections to allow traffic to cross South Capitol on K and L streets. (M Street would also get reconstructed between the Halfs [SE and SW].) The section of South Capitol north of M would have the same streetscape that the south portion received during its 2007/08 makeover, with wide sidewalks and a tree-lined median.
* Build a traffic oval at South Capitol, Potomac, Q, as the gateway to a new arched bascule-design Douglass Bridge
that would have wide "multi-use trails" (i.e., sidewalks!) in both directions. The existing bridge would be demolished, after the new bridge is built somewhat downriver of the current location.
The Executive Summary
(220 MB PDF) gives a good overview of the FEIS
and preferred alternative (as it should!), but I also suggest wandering through the Chapter 2: Alternatives
section, especially if you came to the neighborhood or JDLand after 2008 and didn't get to follow along during the EIS process, or if you're interested in the additional plans for east of the river, which I'm going to leave to others to discuss. My previous posts on all of this
may be of interest as well. If you're wanting to see some of the earlier studies referenced in the FEIS, there are links to them at the top of my South Capitol Street project page
How much would this all cost? The preferred alternative is priced in this final EIS at $806 million (not billion! yeesh) in FY 2014 dollars. (New bridges are expensive, you know.)
(I know that this is a very quick overview of a big study and plan, but there will be plenty of time to talk more about it, especially with the upcoming public meetings.)
Roundup: Boilermaker Shops, WMATA Land Sale, Ward 6 At-Large Candidate Forum, Water Taxi News
Apr 18, 2011 11:37 AM
Catching up after a quick trip to Florida:
* A few readers have mentioned some work underway around the Boilermaker Shops
at The Yards
, but I'll burst the bubbles and note that it's not a sign of formal construction getting started on the 46,000-square-foot retail space. Forest City is taking care of some remediation on behalf of GSA, involving the paint inside the building along with some potentially tainted soil around the outside.
On the same subject, there was a tidbit in the April Hill Rag
on page 85
(hat tip reader J) in an article about Barracks Row restaurateur Xavier Cervera, who runs Lola's, Molly Malone's, the Chesapeake Room, and some other new ventures on the way: "And there's even more in his culinary sights: along the Southeast waterfront near Nationals Park
, Cervera has leased half of the glass-and-steel Boilermaker building (1100 New Jersey Ave. SE) for a classy, 450 seat sports bar." (Ay-yi-yi on that really incorrect address!)
I asked Forest City about the report, and received this response: "Forest City Washington expects to announce soon a number of great restaurant and retail venues that will be located at The Yards. Upon completion of these leases we will commence redevelopment construction of the Boilermaker Building. At this point, we are not able to specifically respond to the inaccuracies in the Hill Rag piece. These inaccuracies will become evident when we make our official announcement." Hmmm.
* After having a contract for more than three years, WMATA and Donohoe have finally completed the $3 million sale of 5,165 square feet of land at New Jersey and M
where the east entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station sits. This allows Donohoe to build its planned 220,000-square-foot 1111 New Jersey office building
, as soon as they find tenants. (The building won't sit directly on top of the entrance, as 55 M does with the west entrance of the station, but is pretty close, as you can see in the rendering on my project page
* And, in other land transactions in the 100 block of M, the longtime owners of the tiny 1,500-sq-ft sliver of land between 100 M and the alley have sold the property for Northwood Investors, the new owners of 100 M
. (The property records say the price was $250,000, which, if accurate, would seem to a good deal less than what they might have been offered back when Opus East was acquiring the property to build 100 M.)
* On Tuesday, April 19 (tomorrow!), there's a Ward 6 Candidates Forum
with the large field of candidates for the open at-large seat on the city council (you didn't know there's an election on April 26? You're not alone). It's in the North Hall at Eastern Market from 6:30 to 8 pm, and being hosted by the Ward 6 Democrats (but it's labeled a non-partisan event, so there will be no endorsement vote). You can submit a question for the candidates
, whether you're attending or not.
* American River Taxi
is getting some press as it gets its service underway between Georgetown, the Southwest Waterfront, and Diamond Teague Park
across from the stadium (though Saturday's rains and the subsequent flooding
along the Potomac have put a crimp in their schedule over the past few days). WTOP
and the The Hoya
have posted articles in the past few days.
ANC Recap No. 3: Traffic Study, 10K Race, Liquor License Items
Apr 13, 2011 11:14 AM
Last missive from Monday's ANC 6D meeting..:
* It's apparently going to be "Neighborhood Day" at Nationals Park
on Saturday, April 16. The Nationals said in a press release on Monday that residents will be able to purchase discounted tickets, but you apparently have to be in the know to find the nationals.com/neighborhood
ticket sales link. (ANC commissioners got their free tickets for Saturday handed out at the meeting, since they'll be introduced on the field before the game.)
* With a unanimous 7-0 vote, the commission passed a motion authored by David Garber to request that DDOT fund a "comprehensive" traffic study of the M Street corridor and its neighboring streets in both Southeast and Southwest. Much of the discussion ended up centering around the wording of the motion (as is so often the case), with much concern about whether Maine Avenue should be specifically mentioned, especially given that the developers of the new Southwest Waterfront will be undertaking their own traffic study along Maine and Water Street. Commissioner Andy Litsky wondered about the traffic study in Southeast that the Capitol Riverfront BID is looking to fund
, and Michael Stevens of the BID said that they would support a "holistic" approach to combining the various studies already done or on the boards (including the one CSX has apparently completed to look at the impact of their planned construction along Virginia Avenue, plus the reports done for the 11th Street Bridges EIS
and the in-progress 14th Street Bridges EIS
The motion was then amended to say that the ANC supports directing DDOT funds "to conduct a comprehensive traffic study and plan for the M Street SE/SW corridor and its feeder and surrounding streets and that all other area studies be integrated for DDOT's review in order to produce a comprehensive study, and that ANC 6D urgently supports the subsequent design process and implementation of a 'complete streets' plan to decrease the speed and volume of automobile traffic, and increase multi-modal transportation safety and efficiency as neighborhoods in 6D continue to evolve and develop."
(If you want to know more about the concept of Complete Streets and how it might inform a redesign of M Street, you can read my report on last year's public meeting
held by Tommy Wells to start an "initial dialog" on the subject.)
* The commission also voted 7-0 to support the Pacers Home Run Classic
10K race, to be run on Saturday, June 18. Original plans to start and end the race at the Yards Park
ran into some issues with the city's Emergency Management folks not wanting the race to run by the DC Water/WASA plant (and there was no explanation beyond that). So the race will now start and end at Half and N, across from the ballpark
, then circle the ballpark down to South Capitol and Potomac before crossing the Douglass Bridge, running along Anacostia Drive in Anacostia Park to the skating pavilion, then doubling back. It's expected there will be 2,000 runners for the 8 am race. (Next year they expect to be able to start and end at the Yards Park and use the new floating bridge to Teague Park
to get to Potomac Avenue and the Douglass Bridge.)
* In liquor license matters, it was reported to the commission that Das Bullpen
did end up needing to get a new liquor license separate from that of The Bullpen 1.0, and that a new voluntary agreement was written up as well. This was all apparently done very hurredly, on the Tuesday before Opening Day, in order for ABRA to approve the new license on Wednesday in time for Opening Day on Thursday (though as we know Das Bullpen didn't open that day anyway). There's a full hearing on the license scheduled for May 31. If you haven't followed the Twitter flurry, Das Bullpen opened Tuesday (April 13) for the Nats/Phillies game.
* Also on the alcohol front, apparently both Harry's Reserve and Cornercopia are inquiring as to the possibility of the sale of "singles," in their cases to be the sorts of higher-end European beers that typically come in 20 oz or larger bottles. Coralee Farlee, who chairs the 6D ABC subcommittee, asked for some guidance as to whether the ANC is wanting to continue to not consider any exceptions for single sales, as has been the practice. David Garber and other commissioners expressed their support for the higher-end type of sales, and Andy Litsky said that 6D never really had the "singles" problem that lead the H Street NE corridor to ban those sales. Chairman Ron McBee instructed Farlee to check how other ANCs are handling the issue (apparently 6B allows sales of the 20-oz. bottles?), with an eye toward reexamining 6D's stance.
ANC Recap No. 2: Lumber Shed Zoning Change Request OK'ed
Apr 12, 2011 2:31 PM
Although the Yards Park
has been open since September of last year, the historic Lumber Shed that sits just south of Water Street between 3rd and 4th is not yet in its final form. Second-phase plans
have always been for the shed to be turned into a glass-enclosed retail pavilion; however, as Forest City has been seeking tenants they have discovered that the vast majority of leasing interest has been for the first floor, not the second.
In order to get the building to the required percentage of leased space in order to get financing to start construction, Forest City is wanting to move their offices to the second floor of the shed, which requires a text amendment to the site's zoning
. It would be on an interim basis, for no more than 20 years, and would allow Forest City to move its offices elsewhere before the end of that 20 years, and would require a return to retail or restaurant uses on the second floor after they move out. If the Zoning Commission approves the change, Forest City says they are looking to start construction this year and open the building in 2012. As part of the process for this zoning change, Forest City prepared a series of renderings of the completed renovation, which they have been kind enough to pass along to me. (Click on them to see enlarged versions.)
When Forest City first came to ANC 6D with information about this zoning text amendment request in March, the commissioners had concerns on three areas: the design of the roof (and whether it would be "green"), whether there would be controls in place to prevent the office workers from marring the look and feel of the glass walls by hanging posters or papers on them or putting other clutter too close to the glass, and whether the nighttime lighting of the shed on both floors would be designed to create a desired "jewel box" look.
Forest City addressed these issues at Monday's meeting. A green roof was studied, they said, but ultimately it was decided that it couldn't be implemented in a fashion that would respect the historic profile of the roof and the building, and given that the building is surrounded by almost 100,000 square feet of "permeable" surface (i.e, the park), they felt that another 300 or 400 square feet was not a necessity. The color of the roof will be a charcoal gray. As for the "Post-Its on the Glass" issue, Forest City said that they will stipulate rules as to not hanging items on the glass and how far away other items should be. And the company also agreed to the "jewel box lighting" concept of both floors, provided that it's left up to Forest City to determine the appropriate lighting levels. The rendering at top right (see larger version
) shows the nighttime lighting of the building as envisioned.
In addition, David Garber suggested/requested that a sign or plaque of some sort be affixed to the building (but not on the glass!) to explain its historic significance, which Forest City also agreed to.
With questions answered, agreements reached, and plaques affixed, the ANC voted 6-0 to support the zoning change. No date for the hearing with the Zoning Commission has been set as of yet.
The Lumber Shed is not the only retail pavilion planned for the park's later phases--designs call for two additional buildings along Water Street on the empty lots to the east of the shed. You can see more information and renderings on my Yards Park page
(scroll down a ways if the link doesn't jump you down to the Second Phase section).
(Coming tomorrow, one more post on 6D's meeting, with a roundup of the other Near Southeast-related items on the agenda.)
ANC 6D Votes to Support Market Deli Landmark Nomination
Apr 11, 2011 11:11 PM
ANC 6D voted on Monday night to support the historic landmark nomination
of the old Market Deli at 1st and L
, lending their "great weight" to the application
to save the wood-framed building constructed in 1885, which 6D07 commissioner David Garber (who helped prepare the nomination) has described as being the only remaining wood frame corner store in existence south of the freeway.
In moving the motion, Garber mentioned "vocal" support both for and against the nomination; two of the three 6D07 residents in the audience who spoke to the issue were against saving the building, with the third supporting it as long as it doesn't mean the building will just sit there in its current state (all of them live in the Velocity
condo building across the street). Also speaking from the audience was an employee of Akridge (Dodd Walker
a Mr. Walker, whose first name I didn't catch
), which now owns the lot. He indicated that Akridge is not in favor of this nomination, and mentioned that there were surveys done of historic buildings in the neighborhood back when the ballpark was first proposed that went through the Historic Preservation Office and the DC Preservation League, and there was no move at that time to landmark the building. (I should note that I do not recall any studies like this, but if they happened anytime before 2006 I was not steeped enough in the city's planning and preservation processes to have necessarily been aware of them.)
Commissioner Roger Moffatt was unhappy that the Akridge rep didn't bring any copies of these reports, and Garber was skeptical that they existed at all (referring to "these supposed reports"). Commissioner Andy Litsky felt that if these reports are available, the ANC should be able to study them in order to have more information before taking a vote that would throw the fabled great weight of the commission behind the application.
Michael Stevens of the Capitol Riverfront BID spoke to agree with Litsky, saying that the commission should take time to look at all the available information, and that perhaps a community meeting to discuss the nomination should be scheduled (if the Historic Preservation Review Board could postpone the April 28 hearing). Stevens also mentioned that he was historic preservation officer for the city of Dallas for five years, shepherding many landmarking cases through the city's process, and that he does not believe that the Market Deli would qualify for landmarking status.
[Adding this after initial posting, because I missed it in my notes but didn't want to not include it.] Commissioner Ron McBee mentioned that he knows of one restaurant (unnamed) that is interested in buying the building, which would speed the process of getting the corner perked up (since as of now Akridge has no immediate plans to develop this site). McBee also said that he's not a historian, and would vote the motion forward so that the Historic Preservation Review Board could act on the nomination.
In the end, the commission voted 5-0-2 to support the nomination, with commissioners Litsky and Bob Craycraft abstaining.
The Historic Preservation Review Board will hear this nomination on April 28--the staff recommendation on the nomination should be available on the HPRB web site on April 22. I'm also trying to track down the studies mentioned at tonight's meeting.
(I'll have more from the 6D meeting over the next few days, but figured I'd start with the item that is probably of most interest.)
[UPDATED here and there to clean up some messiness.]
UPDATE II: According to a source I've talked to in the Office of Planning, apparently the survey referenced by Mr. Walker of Akridge was an informal ("windshield") survey done of buildings in the ballpark area by the Historic Preservation Office to look for any buildings that might be candidates for landmark designation, and no written documentation was created.
Sensorium, Nats, Water Taxis, and Other Events and Tidbits
Apr 10, 2011 10:55 PM
Sorry I went off-grid most of last week--when I said that the weather on Opening Day reminded me of 2008, I wasn't expecting to then come down with pretty much the same bug that clobbered me after the big event three years ago. (I'm also getting too old to traipse around outside for many hours over multiple days in 40-and-rainy weather.) I'm still not 100 percent, but here's a few items I'm passing along as I work my way back into the swing:
* As already posted, ANC 6D is meeting
Monday night at 7 pm at the Courtyard by Marriott at New Jersey and L SE. There's lots of Near Southeast items on the agenda, including the Market Deli landmarking nomination
, a call for a combined M Street SE/SW transportation study, and Forest City's desire to move its offices to the Lumber Shed at the Yards Park
. ANC 6B then meets on Tuesday, but there don't appear to be any south-of-the-freeway items on their agenda
, so I'll be skipping that.
starts its six-week run at the Yards Park
on Tuesday, April 12. The Post's Going Out Guide posted some photos of the dome
last week during construction, as did the Sensorium folks
themselves. If you haven't been following this, Sensorium pairs a 12-course tasting menu with visual/performance art into a production that sounds like unlike anything on the current or recent DC agenda. There are two seatings every night (except Mondays), with tickets
$150 per person. If you go, tell us all about it!
* Also at the Yards Park this week is the DC Challenge
race and festival on Saturday the 16th, where you can test out your Amazing Race-type abilities in this "Ultimate Urban Scavenger Race."
* The Nationals have a big home
stand, starting with the Phillies Tuesday through Thursday (so beware the descending hordes) and then the Brewers Friday through Sunday. All weekday games are at 7:05 pm, Saturday's game is at 1:05 pm, and Sunday is the usual 1:35 pm start. I haven't heard yet if Das Bullpen
will be making its debut this week or not. UPDATE:
The owner of the Bullpen told me on Monday afternoon that Das Bullpen will be open on Tuesday evening for the Nats/Phillies game.
* American River Taxi
has begun its service between the Georgetown Waterfront, the Southwest Waterfront (which we're now calling The Wharf, I guess), and Diamond Teague Park
. They have an 8 am commuter run on weekdays from the Wharf to Georgetown, then regular runs between the three stops starting at 10 am until 6 pm weekdays and 9 pm on weekends. (If you're wanting to try out the service to get to any of the Nationals games this week, they say
that the boat leaves Georgetown at 6:05 pm [updated time].) Ticket kiosks are at Tony and Joe's at the Washington Harbor in Georgetown and the Gangplank Marina in Southwest, and tickets can also be purchased on the ship. Tickets will normally be $9, but are currently discounted at $8, according to SWill
, who's doing a fine job following the venture's launch. ART has just one boat so far (the Dolley Madison), they are still adjusting their run times (right now it takes 20-35 minutes between stops), so following them on Facebook
is a good way to keep up with their service. They hope to eventually expand their offerings to National Airport, Alexandria, and National Harbor. (As of now, the Potomac Riverboat Company
is the only outfit sailing to Teague from Alexandria, and that's just for Nationals games
* Harry's Reserve
at New Jersey and I had its first wine tastings on Friday and Saturday. If you want to keep up with their news and events, you can friend them on Facebook
(they've set themselves up as a Facebook "person" rather than a product page to "like"--perhaps they'll rejigger that soon.)
Also, a site note: with more neighborhood information being tweeted these days than I could hope to write about or even retweet, I've created a Near Southeast Businesses/Organizations Twitter list
, which you can also browse on the JDLand.com home page, in the box below the map in the right margin--which is below the box with my own latest tweets
, so clearly you can get a lot of Twitter content right here if you haven't joined the
social media outlet yet. I'm trying to keep this list to very-very local businesses and groups (and not DDOT or the Nationals or other feeds that aren't mostly about goings-on in this area). If I'm missing any, let me know.
, Harry's Reserve
, Nationals Park
, Teague Park
, Water Taxis/Riverboats
, The Yards
, Yards Park
ANC Agenda: Market Deli, M Street Traffic Planning, Lumber Shed
Apr 6, 2011 1:51 PM
There's nothing I like more when fighting a cold than to think about an upcoming ANC meeting, but these are the sorts of sacrifices I make for you people. Miraculously, ANC 6D has already posted the agenda
for Monday's meeting, which is chock-full of Near Southeast-related items and is coincidentally being held in Southeast this time around, at the Courtyard by Marriott at New Jersey and L. Up for discussions and/or votes:
* The Market Deli historic landmark application
, which will get a vote from the ANC as to whether or not to support it (and of course we know that at least one 6D commissioner will be voting for it!). The hearing
in front of the Historic Preservation Review Board is scheduled for April 28.
* A presentation on the zoning request
to allow Forest City to "temporarily" include office space in the Lumber Shed building in the Yards Park
. I've written about this Lumber Shed request
before, and in fact Forest City did a information presentation on this at last month's ANC meeting, but I was hoping to get copies of the new pretty renderings of the buildings before writing anything, and that never happened, and I knew they'd be back again in order to have a vote on whether the ANC will support the zoning request, so.... I promise to write about it this time.
* A resolution on a long-term traffic and transportation study for M Street SE and SW, also to include a "complete streets" plan, according to David Garber
. This would appear to be wider in scope than the transporation study discussed in the draft Performance Parking report
I wrote about recently that seemed to only cover the east side of South Capitol, but I imagine all will be clarified at the meeting.
* It turns out that Das Bullpen
needs a new separate liquor license rather than operating on the Bullpen 1.0 license, so that's on the agenda as well. The hearing for that is scheduled for May 31
, but the ANC will be voting on a "stipulated license," which I believe means that the bar could operate while waiting on the full license hearing. (And no, I haven't heard when they might be opening, though it wouldn't be before the next Nats home game, on April 12 vs. the Phillies.)
* And the BID is looking for support for the "Home Run Classic Pacers 10K Race" on June 18, that appears to start and/or end at the Yards Park
and which I would guess (but don't know for sure) would involve some street closings.
The meeting begins at 7 pm, and does allow for short audience questions/statements on any agenda item where a vote will be taken, just in case there's any particular agenda item that people may feel strongly about one way or the other. (And all of this assumes that a government shutdown wouldn't affect an ANC meeting? Anyone?)
NGA Move From 1st and M to New Springfield Campus Underway
Apr 4, 2011 8:35 AM
It can be hard to get much information when you're dealing with one of the more cloak-and-dagger-y agencies of the US Government, but word is filtering out that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
has begun the BRAC-mandated move of its employees from the windowless fenced-off building at 1st and M SE
to its $1.7 billion new Campus East
facility in Springfield.
According to NextGov
, the first of NGA's 8,500 employees arrived at their new home in January with more continuing to make the move, and I've confirmed that this includes some employees from the Near Southeast location as well as NGA's other locations in Bethesda, Reston, and Ft. Belvoir. The moves are happening in a staggered fashion, working toward the required "fully operational" date of September 15 in Springfield. (You can see construction photos of the new campus on Flickr
, or learn more about the history of NGA via Wikipedia
The 1st and M building, known as Building
213 in Southeast Federal Center parlance, is the northwestern-most portion of the footprint of The Yards
, and the long-term plans for the site are for new office space with ground-floor retail. Perhaps once NGA has completed the move there will be a freer flow of information about the site (if the building will be torn down or used for other purposes in the interim, if the fence will come down, etc.). It also is more than likely that there are other somewhat shadowy outfits operating in this space as well, and I'm not sure whether they're heading for even more shadowy pastures elsewhere during this move.
But the departure of NGA is a step toward replacing the armed encampment one block from Nationals Park
with something a bit more welcoming--and I'm sure the building's security folks aren't terribly unhappy about no longer being surrounded by red-clothed hordes (toting cameras! the horror!) 80 days a year. (I will admit to once starting to point a camera at a few of the guards behind the fence--without coming close to squeezing the shutter--just for the fun of showing the people I was with how quickly the guards would reach for their guns.)
It's not like there's ever been a whole lot of detail about the goings-on on this corner: the Post reported back in 1964 that the CIA moved into the renovated Naval Weapons Plant warehouse in January 1963 with "no announcement, no little ceremony, no welcome-to-the-great-southeast-sector fanfare." There also hadn't been any announcement in November 1961 when the GSA awarded a no-bid contract to get the building renovated.
(Current residents and observers will get a kick out of the Post's 1964 description of the building's surroundings as "liquor stores, run-down shops, a railroad spur, and, right around it, a formidable chain link fence topped by five rows of unfriendly barbed wire," which WaPo said made "the six-story cream-and gray building [...] positively glamorous" in comparison.)
If you look at this map of the future layout of the Yards
, you can see the 1st-and-M site at upper left, with plans for three buildings and a new east-west street (which this map
says will be called Quander Street) about halfway down the block, along with the new "1 1/2 Street SE" running north-south from Quander to N Place.