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Yards Park Phase I Gets Zoning Approval
May 31, 2008 7:19 AM
In what chair Anthony Hood remarked might have been the Zoning Commission's first-ever landscape architecture-only case, the Zoning Commission on Thursday night approved the design for the first phase of the waterfront park at The Yards
, the nearly 6-acre green space along the Anacostia River on the site of the once walled-off Southeast Federal Center. My project page
has a number of the renderings that were displayed during the presentation, and additional descriptions of what's planned for the site can be found in these two
Representatives of Forest City said that they are committed to opening the first phase of the park in the summer of 2009
. The second phase, which will include the renovation of the Lumber Storage Shed and the construction of other retail pavilions and buildings, is expected to come before the Zoning Commission this fall. Phase 3 will be the piers and marinas. Somewhat surprising was the news that the floating boardwalk connecting the Great Lawn on the western side of the park to Diamond Teague Park
and the ballpark
is now going to be built by the city as part of the construction of Teague rather than by Forest City as part of this park.
Much of the discussion by the zoning commissioners (that I saw--I watched from home in my fuzzy slippers and the webcast went wonky a few times in the middle) centered around the pedestrian bridge that runs across the bulkhead and the new freshwater canal. Its very "forward" design---described by Commissioner Etherly as an "aggressive architectural play" and by vice chair Jeffries as a "Slinky," a moniker that I'm sure the developers would probably prefer to not catch on--was not met with universal acclaim. The commissioners did seem recognize its intended role as a piece of art and one of the iconic elements of the park. Jeffries emphasized--and others agreed--that because the designs for the buildings and for the "art tower" are coming at a later date, the bridge is setting the stage for the rest of the architecture at the park, and that the future designs must play off what the bridge has started.
Peter May did not like the bridge (though I missed a lot of his comments because of the webcast problems). He expressed a worry that the bridge, along with the not-yet-designed art tower and whatever's planned for Poplar Point, could create a series of "Look at Me" moments along the Anacostia, all trying to compete for attention. "The 'Look at Me' moment for a waterfront park should be the river itself," he said.
There were also discussions of the lighting plans, and concerns as to whether or not the bridge has a railing (it does). Jeffries asked a lot about the vegetation planned for the different sections of the park, and expressed a wish for some landscaping that is a bit more "wild" in nature, to which Forest City seemed receptive.
There were letters of support from ANC 6D, which voted 7-0 on May 12 to approve the plans, as well as from the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the National Capital Planning Commission, which approved the park's design back in February
. So, in the end, the commission decided to go ahead and vote for approval of the plans immediately, although the issuance of the final order is subject to the commission receiving some new renderings showing more clearly the railing on the bridge. The vote was 4-0-1, with commissioner Turnbull not present.
Ballpark Vendors Coming June 3; Map of Locations
May 30, 2008 3:44 PM
DCRA has selected via lottery
the street vendors who will get the 28 available locations in Near Southeast. Here's a map
of where they'll be hanging out their shingles, starting June 3. Note that there are none south of M Street; on the other hand, the spots at New Jersey and I might be a nice greeting for Capitol South-arriving fans. As mentioned a few days ago
, there will be new lotteries for the spots on the last Tuesday of each month.
(Boy, today is like the old days, with so much news. [So be sure to keep scrolling.] And I'm even sitting on two more items, waiting for the rush to die down!)
Meanwhile, Next Door at 100 M.....
May 30, 2008 2:24 PM
Getting the scoop on Onyx
today spurred me to check in on the doings next door at 100 M Street
, the 240,000-sq-ft office building that's been built in tandem with Onyx (though they are being developed by different organizations). Opus East tells me that they expect 100 M to be "substantially complete" in November, with tenants beginning to arrive in January 2009. Reports last year
indicated that Parsons Technology has leased about 30 percent of the building. You can check my project page
for before-and-after photos, especially if you want to gaze longingly at the On Luck Cafeteria....
And, since retail is what folks really want to know about, I can pass along that 100 M has SunTrust Bank signed up as their first retail tenant, and is looking for restaurants for their other spaces.
Onyx Opening Late July/Early August; Starting Prices
May 30, 2008 1:29 PM
I had a nice chat today with a representative of Onyx on First
, the almost-finished 266-unit apartment building on the southeast corner of First and L streets. Confirming what a commenter mentioned a few entries back
, they're expecting to deliver the first five floors of the building in late July or early August. Rents have not been set for the individual units, but are expected to range up from $1,950 for a studio, $2,050 for 1 br, $2,225 for 1 br/den, $2,500 for 2 br/1 ba, $2,450 for 2 br/2 ba, and $2,800 for 2 br/2 ba/den. (You can compare them to the out-of-the-gate rents at 70 and 100 I here
.) The new web site is OnyxApts.com
, though as of now there isn't much there beyond a sign-up sheet if you want them to contact you with more information.
Congressional Bank Classic on Saturday
May 30, 2008 9:24 AM
Just a reminder that tomorrow (Saturday May 31) is the first Congressional Bank Classic at Nationals Park
, showcasing the top baseball teams from DC's public and private schools. Starting at 9:30 there will be a game between Maret and St. Albans, followed by McKinley and Wilson. At 3:30 the city's all-star game will be played, and at 7 pm the winners of the two morning games will face off. Tickets are $5 for adults and free for school-aged kids. Rain date is Sunday, June 1. More information available here
250 M Gets Preliminary Zoning Approval
May 29, 2008 3:10 PM
Last night the Zoning Commission voted 5-0 to extend the allowed building height and expand the total square footage of the proposed office building at 250 M Street
in what is technically a modification to the Capper/Carrollsburg
second-stage PUD that this office building is part of. The building, which will be going for LEED silver certification and which will have ground-floor retail, will now be 130 feet high and have 233,405 square feet of space. The discussions at the hearing centered mainly on the penthouse structure, the "next generation" elevator technology that allows for less overhead space, and how exactly the agreement with ANC 6D should be viewed.
William C. Smith's Brad Fennell testified that the developer has agreed to additional amenities beyond those in the original PUD
(which included $325,000 toward the funding of Canal Park). He described the new amenities as "recruiting construction workers from ANC 6D by purchasing quarterly ads in the Southwester, creating an overall goal of 20% first-source employment for qualified ANC 6D residents, and providing contracting and new hiring opportunitiess for local residents and subcontractors by giving tiebreaking preferences to subcontractors headquartered in ANC 6D and for qualified construction workers living in that area." On May 12 the ANC tied 3-3 on the project, but apparently some subsequent tweaking of the proffer into this final form resulted in a letter from the ANC indicating that four commissioners would support the project with these additional amenities. The Zoning Commissioners felt that, since this was not an official vote of the ANC, it couldn't be given the required "great weight," but could be looked at the same as any feedback from a neighborhood association. The fact that no ANC members appeared at the hearing to testify in opposition also was noted.
You can read the Office of Planning report
for all the specifics you could ever want about the changes in the design; if you're really
interested, you can also read the original second-stage PUD approval
of 250 M from last July, that last night's ruling is modifying. (The original Capper PUD
is worth a look as well if you aren't familiar with what's been approved for the area's redevelopment.) Also, since I haven't mentioned it lately, it should be noted that this office building is technically a joint venture between WC Smith and the DC Housing Authority, with the monies from it helping to "financially leverage" the rest of the redevelopment of the Cappers.
This was the first vote; final action on this modification will be scheduled for a month or so from now. Earlier this year a WC Smith representative had told me that construction could begin in the middle of this year, but there was no mention of start dates at the hearing.
No Eagles at the Ballpark
May 29, 2008 2:52 PM
Looks like the negotiating to get the Eagles to Nationals Park on July 26 has fallen through. After first showing up on their tour calendar
, and then being removed a few days later
, the July 26 DC date is now posted again
, but at Verizon Center. Tickets go on sale June 9.
Hey, Ladies! (June 5 Ballpark Night Out/Happy Hour)
May 29, 2008 12:07 PM
From the Nationals: "The Washington Nationals will host the first of two Ladies Night Out and Home Run Happy Hour
promotions on Thursday, June 5
when the Nationals take on the [St. Louis Cardinals] at 7:05pm. The happy hour will take place at 5:00pm in the Rooftop Party Zone
, located on top of Nationals Park
Garage B and will include live entertainment, happy hour drink specials, complimentary hors d'oeuvres, wine tasting, massages and manicures. Demonstrations and product samples will be offered by 20 exhibitors and guests will have the opportunity to meet Nationals players. The Savvy Girls of Summer will present and sign copies of their new book, It Takes More Than Balls
, a female's guide to understanding and enjoying the game of baseball. Tickets may be purchased for $30 by visiting nationals.com/ladiesnight
. A ticket to the event includes admission to the Home Run Happy Hour as well a Scoreboard Pavilion game ticket for the evening's game. Scoreboard Pavilion Seats are located on the Mezzanine Level in Sections 240 through 243 and are valued at $27 apiece." Exhibitors include Anheuser Busch, Cantina Marina, Honest Tea, Jewelry By Paula, Kysela Pere et Fils, Ltd w/ The Curious Grape, Nail Taxi, Noah's Pretzels, Potomac Massage Training Institute, Slumber Parties by Beth, and Washington Sports Clubs.
(This is the first I've heard of the Garage B "Rooftop Party Zone." And the team name is in brackets because of a boo-boo in the Nats press release. But the game is indeed against the Cardinals.)
A Smattering of Ballpark and Soccer Links
May 29, 2008 9:41 AM
* The Post's DC Wire blog is reporting
that at 5 pm today DCRA will be having a lottery for the 28 street vending spots near Nationals Park
. "Winners will enjoy their spots for one month, starting on June 1. Then the process starts all over again with a lottery on the last Tuesday of each month until the baseball season ends." (Vendors grumbling about neon-green On the Fly's vending on Half Street have found out that the eco-vendor is actually on private property.)
* From the Examiner
: David Catania gets back into the baseball carping business, saying the city should get its money back from the consultants who predicted in 2005 that the Nats would average 39,000 fans in the first year at Nationals Park
, since there's only been an average of 29,000 fans during the first third of the season. Catania says "that ERA may have seriously overestimated ticket sales, which represents a major portion of stadium-related revenues." However, DC CEO Natwar Gandhi has replied that "the ballpark bonds are structured in such a way "that a significant drop in attendance would not hinder our ability to pay debt service" and that "in a worst-case scenario, total attendance at the new stadium could drop to approximately 10,000 people per game without affecting debt-service payments." The Examiner also says: "Ticket prices at the new ballpark are 20 percent higher than the consultant predicted, Gandhi said, which will drastically reduce the effect of reduced attendance." I wonder if the consultants factored in cold and miserable April weather? The Post's DC Wire
has more on this.
* The Nats announced earlier this year that tours of the ballpark are available on non-gamedays; yesterday they sent out word
that proceeds from those tours will benefit the team's Dream Foundation, which currently has a number of initiatives underway, including the Neighborhood Initiative that's providing three years of funding to the Earth Conservation Corps
. Info about the tours is available here
* Also in the District Extra is a big piece
on whether the diversity of the Nats' roster, "combined with their state-of-the-art stadium, will be enough to attract young blacks and Latinos to the game in the District."
* DC United wants the city to pay $225 million for its Poplar Point stadium, which the Post says
is "far more than some city leaders say they would support" and that "even the amount officials have considered, $150 million, has raised some concern with D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, whose analysis has concluded such a deal could push the government above a Wall Street debt ceiling that he recommended last year." In the meantime, Marc Fisher thinks it's all a bad idea
Square 700 Alley Closing Hearing Thursday
May 28, 2008 4:08 PM
It's nowhere near as exciting as zoning hearings (then again, what is?), but I see that the City Council hearing on the bill to close a 2,400-sq-ft alley on Square 700 is happening tomorrow (May 29)
, after having been canceled back in February
. The alley is just north of what used to be the BP Amoco station on South Capitol Street at N
(which is now Nats Parking Lot N). Monument Realty is requesting this closure to allow for the combining of both the Amoco site and the parking lot to its north, with plans to build what was described in January as a residential building with 150-200 units and 14,000 sq ft of ground-floor retail space, as part of Monument's Half Street projects
. Additional details are in my January report
on Monument's request for ANC 6D's support (which they didn't get, thanks to a 2-2-1 vote). The bill is B017-0552
, if you'd like some light afternoon reading. The hearing is scheduled be televised
on DC Cable 13, starting at 10 am.
City May Pay $150 Million for Soccer Stadium
May 28, 2008 12:23 AM
Across the mighty Anacostia, plans are apparently coming together for the proposed soccer stadium at Poplar Point, says the Post
: "A coalition of D.C. Council members is drafting legislation that would authorize Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to spend $150 million in public money to subsidize construction of a soccer stadium for D.C. United in Southeast Washington, city government sources said. [...] The city would finance construction bonds with excess tax revenue being collected by the District to pay for the baseball stadium. D.C. United would be responsible for paying for any costs above $150 million[.]" (See, it mentions Nationals Park
, so I'm allowing myself to link to it.) Read the article
for more on the possibilities, and whether there's enough support from the council and the community, and how the ballpark tax revenue could be used.
Wednesday Lunchtime Concert Series Launches
May 27, 2008 10:25 PM
Starting Wednesday May 28, the Capitol Riverfront BID
and US DOT
are launching a 10-week lunchtime concert series, to be held every Wednesday at noon on the Southwest Plaza behind DOT at New Jersey and Tingey. Quoting from the press release
: "Capitol Riverfront Concerts is a ten week summer concert series with lively and diverse musical artists, performing everything from original pop to Latin Jazz, R&B, bluegrass, Caribbean and more. Bring your lunch or enjoy a special outdoor grill menu provided by the U.S. DOT cafeteria."
Folks desperate for outdoor recreation space in the neighborhood might note this line from the release: "The concerts are part of a growing number of programs that you will see in the Capitol Riverfront as several new parks begin to open next spring 2009." (There could indeed be three parks opening in some capacity next year, if previously announced [or hinted at] timelines hold: Canal Park
, the waterfront park at The Yards
, and Diamond Teague Park
This Week in Zoning: 250 M, Yards Park
May 27, 2008 2:03 PM
There's two Near Southeast projects with hearings in front of the Zoning Commission this week:
* On Wednesday (5/28) the ZC will hear the request to extend the height of the office building planned for 250 M Street
. I've written about this here
, and you can read the Office of Planning's final report
for much more detail on the request (and see the latest design). OP recommends approval of what is technically a modification to the Capper/Carrollsburg
second-stage PUD (yes, this office building is part of the Capper redevelopment). After initially refusing to vote on the plan because of a lack of community benefits, ANC 6D voted 3-3 on it at its May meeting, which means there will be no support from the ANC. (I wasn't at this meeting, so I can't give you the specifics of what the developer offered to the ANC, or why the resolution didn't pass.) It's possible that 250 M will begin construction this year, but there's no confirmation of that.
New Overhead Vantage Points: 70 and 100 I
May 27, 2008 12:10 AM
Watching from ground level as new buildings pop up is all well and good--but when they are completed, it also means a new vantage point for overhead views of the neighborhood (as long as I can convince the owners to indulge a pesky camera-toting neighborhood blogger). So, thanks to the folks at JPI, I'm now able to add 70 I
and 100 I
to the Overhead Photo Gallery
, joining existing perches on top of 1000 New Jersey
, 20 M
, and various spots at the ballpark. Even though it wasn't a brilliantly sunny day when I visited, I still got some good photos of the current state of Near Southeast (such as 100 I's southward view seen above, showing the renovated First Street, Onyx
, 100 M
, Nationals Park
, and 20 M
). In these new 70 I
and 100 I
overhead galleries, you'll also see 909 New Jersey
, the hole being dug for 1015 Half
, and even some views east toward 225 Virginia
and west toward Southwest. Enjoy. (And, if you want to see the photos I took *inside* 70 and 100 I this week, check out the project page
Last Scheduled Weekday Afternoon Game in 2008; Big Pile of Neglected Recent Items
May 26, 2008 1:36 PM
* The Post has an article
on how today's Nationals game against the Brewers is the second of only two weekday afternoon games at Nationals Park
this season. " 'We love afternoon weekday games but had to hold off this year due to the uncertainty about daytime parking availability,' Nationals President Stan Kasten said. 'We'd certainly like to have more next season, but no decisions have been made about '09.' " The article also talks to hookey-playing grownups who miss these games. Given that it's a holiday, and the gorgeous weather, and Sunday's second-highest-of-the-season attendance (35,567), this final weekday game might see a pretty big pile of people.
And, catching up on a recent few links that I've been slow to post:
* Columnist George Solomon Saturday's Post
has a brief preview of the upcoming Congressional Bank Baseball Classic
, which will showcase the the first-ever, city-wide high school baseball championship game, at Nationals Park on May 31. Games begin at 9:30 a.m., with private schools St. Albans and Maret meeting, followed by the DCIAA's Wilson High facing McKinley. Tickets are $5, and kids get in free--read more here
* Dr. Gridlock hears
that using the Capitol South station on the Orange and Blue lines and then walking down New Jersey Avenue to go to games is a great idea. Yes, it certainly is, even if it isn't exactly a news flash. (But use the JDLand Recommended Route
In non-ballpark news:
* For those of you counting the moments until the armed encampment at First and M
departs, here's a May 14 story
from the Mount Vernon Gazette on the progressing construction at Ft. Belvoir of the new home for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
. It's expected to be completed by August 2011, with NGA employees from Reston, Bethesda, and the windowless white box on the old Southeast Federal Center
footprint starting to move in early in 2011. Eventually that First-and-M site will be redeveloped as office space as part of The Yards
Onyx: New Web Site, and Leasing This Summer
May 25, 2008 8:42 PM
Mere moments ago I saw for the first time new banners hung on the temporary plywood walkway that runs along M Street between First and New Jersey, announcing that Onyx Apartments
at 1100 First Street is now leasing. (Perhaps the signs have been there for days, but if so, my vast network of eyes-on-the-ground missed a spot.) There's also a new URL, OnyxApts.com
. The web site itself says "Leasing Summer 2008," and is nothing more than a slightly updated rendering and a sign-up form. But for folks who've been wondering if Onyx was going to be making any sort of progress toward opening, it is evidence of some forward motion. Between Onyx and 70 and 100 I
, close to 1,000 rental units will be opening in Near Southeast over the next few months.
Florida Rock Gets Its Final Zoning Approval
May 23, 2008 10:35 AM
With a unanimous 5-0 vote after a brief discussion, the Zoning Commission approved last night the plans for "RiverFront
," the 5.8-acre mixed-use project on the Anacostia River south of Nationals Park, ending the decade-long trip through the zoning process for the site long known as Florida Rock
Before the final vote, chairman Anthony Hood quoted from the recent ruling
by the National Capital Planning Commission that the RiverFront project "would not adversely effect" any federal interests. Remarking that the passage "says it all," Hood read: "This project is expected to bring activity and amenities to the Anacostia waterfront and is respecting the planning for the South Capitol Street
corridor and the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge
. Furthermore, it is enhancing the connection of the Nationals Baseball Park
and surrounding district to the Anacostia waterfront, goals supported by the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative[.]"
Now it's onto construction drawings and a trip through the city's permitting process. It's not expected that work will begin until sometime in 2009 on the first phase of the site, which includes an office building with ground-floor retail and a public plaza across Potomac Avenue from the ballpark's grand staircase. [see update below for caveat]
If you want to know more (dear heavens, I'm not going to go through all the details AGAIN), look at my project page
for renderings and also scroll through five years' worth of news items
on it all. UPDATE:
The press release is out
, and I'll note that it gives no indication of when the first phase could start. Given the Monument Realty news
of financing troubles, Camden's pause
at 1345 South Capitol, and the commercial real estate biz in general, it's probably best to now be pretty skeptical of start dates until permit approvals start popping up and shovels start digging into the ground.
Monument Realty's Financing Problems (No Money Yet for Half Street Residential)
May 23, 2008 9:13 AM
From today's print edition
of the Washington Business Journal: "With two failed condominium projects seeking apartment investors, incomplete financing at two major D.C. projects and at least one empty office building, Monument Realty
is feeling the pinch from today's constricting real estate economy. [...] And, contrary to industry speculation, Monument is not for sale, [Monument co-founder Jeffrey] Neal said. In the coming weeks the company hopes to nail down financing for two ongoing projects -- the residential portion of its Half Street project
and The Watergate Hotel -- and finalize negotiations to sell two residential projects, he said."
As for the status of Half Street, where the 55 M Street office building is topped out and a hole is dug awaiting the start of a planned 200-room hotel and 340 residential units: "Monument recently secured $72 million in construction financing for the office portion of Half Street, along with an undisclosed sum for the hotel piece. The development company is still in the hunt for financing for its planned 340 residential units, Neal said. Once that is in place, the residential and hotel portions 'will come out of the ground this summer,' he said."
, which has a lot of detail on the difficulties Monument is facing on its other projects, also mentions that the litigation
between Monument and WMATA over the sale of the Southeastern Bus Garage
"has been put on hold while the parties mediate their dispute."
First Look: 70-100 I Street Interiors (and Roof Decks!)
May 22, 2008 3:07 PM
The folks at JPI were kind enough to take me on a walk-through today of their getting-close-to-opening Jefferson
apartment buildings (better known as 70 and 100 I Street
). Jefferson, with its warehouse/industrial feel, is about a month away from opening its shared spaces and first few floors of apartments, with all 12 stories expected to be open to tenants by late fall; Axiom will see its first units open in July, and also is expected to be completed before the end of the year. Together, the two buildings total nearly 700 apartments, and will be the first rental units to open in Near Southeast.
My interior photos of Jefferson/70 I
give you a glimpse of the huge "sports pub", the interior courtyard, the other shared spaces, and the roof deck and pool, with hints of the amazing views of the city from up on high. (Don't worry, I'll be adding lots of big images to my Overhead Photos Gallery
Since Axiom/100 I is not quite as far along in its construction, the interior photos
don't hint as much at the final look-and-feel of the shared spaces; but I actually got more photos inside the units in 100 I. And it's on 100 I's roof deck that I got the above photo.
The temporary rental office in the trailer at Half and I is open for business. At Jefferson, rents start at about $1,600 for a studio, $1,855 for a 1-bedroom ($2,225 for a 1 br/den), $2,555 for a 2-bedroom, and a $3,320 for a 3-bedroom; Axiom's prices are a little higher. For both buildings, a single parking space is $200 per month, or $275 a month for a tandem space. And pets are allowed, but there are size and breed restrictions, and additional fees. There are also some special deals being offered on lease terms.
$100k/Day Question: Was the Ballpark Finished On Time?
May 21, 2008 10:49 PM
The Post's Marc Fisher writes
for Thursday's paper about the behind the scenes battle between the city and the Lerners about whether Nationals Park
was completed on schedule, with the owners pointing to the $100,000-per-day damages owed to them according to the stadium lease agreement if construction was not finished on time. Quoting: "But nearly three weeks after the stadium played host to its first game, the Nationals were still demanding $100,000 a day because, among other items, the team offices at the new ballpark were not yet completely ready. The city conceded that the offices weren't done as soon as the ballpark itself, but sports commission chief executive Gregory O'Dell reminded the Nationals that the offices make up less than 3 percent of the stadium project. He called that delay a "minor inconvenience" and noted that the District allowed the team to stay at its old RFK Stadium offices rent-free."
UPDATE: Tim Lemke has more on the $100k/day issue, saying that it does appear to revolve around the admin building. He also has a bit about the upgrading of some of the stadium bonds from BBB+ to AA, which I'm sure is faaaabulous!
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