Near Southeast DC: Past News Items - May 2009
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Quick Pics from Artomatic Sneak Preview
May 29, 2009 3:02 PM
Hard to believe, after the weeks of buildup, that the opening of Artomatic is going to turn out to be the *second* most exciting event in Near Southeast today, but it should still be noted that it did indeed open its doors at noon today, running for hours and hours between now and July 5. You can get all the specifics at the Artomatic web site, and I'm sure many local blogs and media outlets will give it coverage far beyond what my left-brain-ness is capable of providing, but I did take a few photos at the kick-off this morning that might whet your appetite to go give it a visit. And these shots were from just one of the eight floors' worth of offerings, so there's plenty that I plan to go back to see. (I also took a few photos of the surrounding skyline, since this was my first visit inside Monument's 55 M.)

Obama in the Hood: Lunch at Five Guys
May 29, 2009 1:15 PM
(h/t reader A) From Politico: "LUNCH: POTUS makes another burger run -- Five Guys near Nationals stadium." (This was only 20 minutes ago--is he still there?)
UPDATE: Apparently he had NBC's Brian Williams in tow, as today is the day that NBC is filming their "Inside the Obama White House" special.
UPDATE II: From my tweeting brother, watching the White House pool feed of the field trip: "Two blonde girls are chatting him up like they're at a cocktail party; 'Oh my God! Thank you! It's such an honor!' / Obama runs into people from Ireland. 'I've got to go to Ireland.' He had order number 41, three big grocery sized bags of burgers & fries. / Obama - 'I need one cheeseburger and one fries for me. Jalapeno, tomato, mustard. That's it for me...Plus lettuce on mine too.'"
UPDATE III: And here's the official White House pool report. And a slew of photos, from Getty (posted by Time). (The last one, of him returning to the White House carrying the bag with the food, is quite an image.) And the AP story. And the NYTimes's Caucus Blog, which notes that the NBC special is set to air on June 2.
UPDATE IV: Lots of video from NBC4. And C-SPAN. And ABC7.
UPDATE V: And from Politico, a transcript of an exchange that shows that the president doesn't know much more about those guys in the windowless building at First and M than the rest of the neighborhood.
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High School Baseball at the Ballpark Saturday
May 29, 2009 10:39 AM
Another item I've forgotten in my "Upcoming Events" posts lately: tomorrow (Saturday, May 30), the Congressional Bank Baseball Classic is returning to Nationals Park for its second year. As with last year, it will feature four games showcasing high-school baseball talent--a game between the top two public schools, another between the top two private schools, followed by a title match between the two winners. There will also be an All-Star game. You can get more information at the official web site; also, WAMU apparently did a feature about it this morning, which should be posted soon.
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Groundbreaking for the Park at the Yards
May 28, 2009 12:47 PM
I'll let the gaggle of "real" media that was on hand today cover what was said (check back later today for links), but I can at least provide some photos from today's groundbreaking on the $42 million five-acre Park at the Yards, the first phase of which is scheduled to open in the middle of next year. Mayor Fenty, councilmembers Tommy Wells and Kwame Brown, DC delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Forest City Washington president Deborah Ratner Salzberg did the honors of turning the dirt (the mayor and Eleanor took at shot with some heavier equipment, too, as you'll see in the photos). And, just for history's sake (and because it all looks kind of familiar), here's photos from the October 2007 groundbreaking for the Yards itself.
The park is being funded by the proceeds from the USDOT payment-in-lieu-of-taxes bonds, and the park will be dedicated to the city when it is completed. The Capitol Riverfront BID will be in charge of maintaining the park--in fact, my photo gallery from last year's announcement of the public-private partnership has some good renderings of the park, though for all the scoop and images on the park's three phases (and what the area looks like now), go to my Yards Park page.
UPDATE: First out of the gate is WBJ, using Fenty's "a world class city needs a world-class waterfront" quote that I was totally going to post myself, except I didn't bring a pad and paper and so didn't get it written down. (Also, the park isn't "five blocks east" of Nationals Park--more like two, from First to Third, and even that's being a bit over-cautious, since the western edge of the park will be a new extension of Second Street, just to the east of the WASA main pumping station.)
UPDATE II: Here's Fox5's report, which doesn't quite get that the groundbreaking was for the park and not all of the Yards, where work has already been underway. And their ID'ing of "Deborah Ratner Salisbury" doesn't help, either. NBC4's piece is more accurate. ABC7 appears to have run a report, but it's not on their web site (yet).
UPDATE III: WAMU's story, and the mayor's press release.
UPDATE IV: A new night-time overhead rendering:
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More posts: The Yards, Yards Park

Cornercopia Sign Now Up
May 28, 2009 12:31 PM
Still haven't heard anything about an opening date, but it's probably worth noting that the Cornercopia (all one word!) Deli at Third and K now has a sign up on its facade (see a non-scrunched version of the photo here)....
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WalkingTown DC Capitol Riverfront Tour
May 28, 2009 8:52 AM
In yesterday's Upcoming Events post, I forgot to include one other item: this Sunday's WalkingTown DC tour of the "Capitol Riverfront," led by the BID's executive director, Michael Stevens and sponsored by the BID and Forest City Washington (developers of The Yards). It starts at 11 am at the Metro entrance at New Jersey and M, and no reservations are required. The description: "The Capitol Riverfront is DC's new neighborhood on the river, a growing district-within-the-District that extends the city's skyline to the water's edge. Discover the history behind the growth of this new neighborhood, its industrial heritage, and historic buildings now under renovation as part of The Yards development with a focus on sustainable development and riverfront renewal."
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More posts: Events, The Yards

Upcoming Events, Updates, and Whatnot
May 27, 2009 4:22 PM
* Tomorrow (Thursday, May 28) at 10:30 am is the groundbreaking ceremony for the Park at the Yards, the first phase of which is scheduled to be completed next spring. The mayor is supposed to be in attendance--I may have to create a Shovel-Wielding Fenty photo gallery, since I now have quite a few of those shots.
* Friday (May 29) at noon is the opening of Artomatic at 55 M Street. I'm giving everyone advance warning that I am hopelessly left-brained, so I won't really even be trying to cover it much beyond wandering through to get the flavor. It runs until July 5, so everyone has plenty of time to get there and check it out. (You can see some of the installations already through the windows.) See my calendar for the specific days and hours (it's closed Mondays and Tuesdays).
* An extremely helpful commenter in this thread has explained why some of the flyovers and ramps are missing from the new Skanska/Facchina schematic of the new 11th Street Bridges design that I linked to: "[It] does not show all the ramp connections in the FEIS design because the District could only find $260 million to fund the project, and the FEIS design is estimated to cost $360 million. The District asked for proposals to build as much of the project as possible for the availible $260 mill, and the schematic shows how much the winning bidder Skanska/Facchina proposed to build. It is a lane-mile more than the next best proposal. The District's plan is to build the rest when they can secure funding (maybe sooner than later.)"
* While not mentioning Near Southeast specifically, this Post article from yesterday talks about the very tough office-space market in DC and surroundings: "'Unless they're already in the ground, they're not starting,' said Steven A. Levin, managing director at Spaulding & Slye. 'Any development project needing a loan over $25 million requires multiple lenders, and the guarantees are onerous. The amount of money you can borrow is also reduced.' [...] Dennis K. Moyer, a commercial real estate lawyer with Goulston & Storrs, said some of his clients are reviewing their existing loans and wondering whether they'll be paid, even on properties that are doing well. 'The next wave that comes is likely the workouts, foreclosures and restructurings,' he said."

Trapeze School May Be Coming to The Yards
May 26, 2009 6:02 PM
Earlier today WBJ reported that Trapeze School New York is leaving Baltimore's Inner Harbor and coming to DC, to a spot at Ninth and H, NW, on the old Convention Center site. But with thanks to the Maryland Daily Record for the tip (which had the location right but not the timing), I can pass along that the school is negotiations to move to The Yards after this summer, most likely on Parcel "O", south of Tingey and east of Fourth, which is land that is not scheduled to be developed untl the Yards's later phases. The deal is not yet finalized, so more as I get it.

North End of Canal Park Cleared; Wendy's Gone
May 23, 2009 5:45 PM
The clearing of the northern block of Canal Park is now pretty well complete, so I had to go get some photos, from both the east and west sides (you'll see the new ones paired with their "befores", in case you've already forgotten the fences and overgrowth). I also scooted past Wendy's, where the demolition was continuing and is probably done by now, making it #155 in my Demolished Buildings gallery--as soon as I get around to actually adding it.
I also swung over to 12th and M to check on the demolition of the ramps to and from RFK, but the first few days of work appears to have been on decking (not viewable from street level), so no before-and-afters from there yet. Maybe next week.

Official Web Site for Canal Park Goes Live
May 22, 2009 2:55 PM
A birdie has whispered in my ear that Canal Park now has an official web site that's just gone live, at CanalParkDC.org. There's a lot of information there, including a first rendering of the new design. They are apparently committing to an ice skating rink, along with a restaurant/cafe pavilion, both near M Street. The site says March 2010 for the beginning of construction, with the park opening in March 2011. They're also posting photos of the progress, which I think is a *fine* idea. (heh heh)
UPDATE: Looks like maybe some Powers That Be weren't too happy that I heard about this, and have pulled the site down.
UPDATE II: And now it's back.
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Pre-Holiday Roundup of Tidbits and Links
May 22, 2009 12:47 PM
For those of you still in town....
* As Twittered yesterday, reports are that the Wendy's on I between Half and South Capitol was being demolished yesterday (haven't gone to look for myself yet). This is the site of JPI's proposed 23 I Street apartment building, though I've heard nothing about a timeline since its original Sept. 2008 start date came and went.
* If you didn't make Tuesday's Anacostia Waterfront Forum on "Waterfronts and the World's Great Capital Cities," here's Harriet Tregoning's presentation slides.
* If the demolition of the RFK ramps has you all excited about the new 11th Street Bridges (and I'll note that "excited" can connote either positive or negative energy), here's a new schematic from design/builders Skanska/Facchina showing their plans for the project. It says that 70 percent of the five-year project will be built "off-line," meaning away from the existing travel lanes. (UPDATE: But I should note that, upon closer inspection, this schematic seems to be missing a few components, such as the eastbound flyover and approach to the new bridges from the SE Freeway as well as the exit to I Street from the new inbound span.) In the meantime, I'm going to try to go get some photos of whatever's left of the RFK ramps this weekend.

Demolition of Ramps to RFK Underway
May 20, 2009 12:51 PM
Reader T reports from Maritime Plaza that demolition has begun on the decommissioned ramps between RFK and the 11th Street Bridges. (You can see some photos in the archive or check out the Google Maps overhead view if you're not quite placing them; they're the ones that bend east from 11th Street, not the ones that bend west across 11th.) This is a first step in the five-year plan to reconstruct the 11th Street Bridges and the various approaches; there are also plans to eventually bring the sunken spur of the freeway that goes to Pennsylvania Avenue up to street level as a boulevard, but that's not part of the bridges project. See my 11th Street Bridges page for more on the project; it's expected that initial in-water work on the bridges reconstruction will begin in August.
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Hearing Today on Ward 6 Parking Bill
May 20, 2009 9:32 AM
Today at 11 am (both on DC Cable 13 and via streaming video) there will be a hearing on the new "Ward 6 Residential Parking Protection Pilot Act of 2009." I haven't written about it before now because I haven't been clear whether there's really much of an impact from it on Near Southeast, and in fact, according to Tommy Wells's blog, this new bill mainly will be bringing to all of Ward 6 some of the enhanced parking rules that went into effect last year in Near Southeast, Southwest, and areas of Capitol Hill near Barracks Row.
The one new item in the bill for Near Southeast is to start charging multi-vehicle households higher amounts for more than one residential parking permit. One permit will still cost $15 a year; however, the second permit in the same household would be $50 a year, and any permits beyond that would be $100 per year. (See Tommy's FAQ for more.)
The one question I haven't seen addressed is whether apartment buildings in Ward 6 will now be allowed to get RPP stickers. Via Greater Greater Washington, the Ward 1 bill also currently working its way through the council specifically says that all Ward 1 zone residents will be eligible for RPP stickers, but the Ward 6 bill only says that all residents will receive visitor pass placards.
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Quick Photos From North End of Canal Park
May 19, 2009 4:47 PM
With a couple commenters giving the scoop that workers were starting cleanup on the northernmost (and most neglected) block of Canal Park, I had to go see what was up, with camera in hand of course. Here's the batch of photos, and you can use the icons on that page to see them paired with their befores. (You'll also see a few shots of the southernmost block.) While snapping away, I ran into Chris VanArsdale of the Canal Park Development Association, who was also taking photos of the new-look block. He said that the trailers in the middle block should be gone this week, and that the southern block (at M Street) will be sodded while the other two blocks will have grass planted.
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NatsTown 'Green-Up' on Friday May 22
May 19, 2009 3:32 PM
Just out from the Nats, an announcement about a clean-up day they're holding this Friday (May 22) along the banks of the Anacostia near the ballpark. If you're interested in participating, you can contact Lisa Pagano with the Nats (Lisa.Pagano [at] nationals.com) for more information:
"The Washington Nationals Dream Foundation will host the inaugural NatsTown Green-Up, an Anacostia Clean-Up Day designed to bring attention to the works of the Dream Foundation and their partner, the Earth Conservation Corps. Close to 100 volunteers from the Washington Nationals front office, Alion Science & Technology, Capitol Riverfront BID, Capital Rowing Club, HNTB Corporation, and Sidwell Friends, will "Rally 'Round The River" and help to clean and beautify the nation's most polluted waterway. The day's activities will include mulching, planting and trash pick-up at the Matthew Henson Center, the base of the Earth Conservation Corps located at 2000 Half Street, SW, and removal of trash from the shoreline of the Anacostia at Poplar Point. Boats will take volunteers across the river to the Poplar Point location.
"Waste Management, a Nationals corporate partner, will provide the dumpsters for materials removed from the river banks during the event, along with t-shirts for all volunteers. Hard Times Cafe and Gifford's Ice Cream & Candy Co. will provide complimentary lunch for the volunteers at 1:00pm in the Nats Family Picnic Area. During the lunch portion of the event a Nationals player will meet with the volunteers and thank them for their participation. Each person will also receive two tickets to Dream Foundation Day at the ballpark on Sunday, May 24 when the team faces the Baltimore Orioles in the final game of the homestand. The pre- and in-game entertainment at Sunday's game will highlight the works of the Nationals Dream Foundation and provide fans with information on how they can get involved."
Registration starts at 8:30 am on Friday at the Henson Center at 2000 Half St., SW.

Fun With Permits; Meeting Reminder; Bullpen
May 19, 2009 9:38 AM
The city's building permits feed hasn't been working with perfection of late, so I'm only now seeing some recent permits of interest:
* As many folks have seen (and as I Twittered last week), the asphalt is being pulled up on the southern end of Canal Park (here's a photo from last Friday, taken at Second and M). Two building permits have been approved for the southern two blocks, allowing for "interior cleaning [...] to remove pavement import top soil and plant grass." Hopefully the northern block will get a makeover too. (UPDATE: Commenter Scott says that work on the northern block is already underway.)
* Monument Realty has gotten a six-month extension on the raze permit for the Domino's at South Capitol and M. And, though it's outside my redrawn boundaries, I'll mention that 1244 South Capitol (home to the stalled Camden Development apartment building) got a final six-month extension on a raze permit for that site. (Though I was bummed to see on Opening Night at the ballpark that the little red brick building that had been left standing for so long was finally gone.)
* A final (belated) reminder that the latest Anacostia Waterfront Forum is tonight at 6:30 pm at the MLK Library. The topic is "Waterfronts and the World's Great Capital Cities," with office of planning director Harriet Tregoning.
* The Post wrote a piece in the Sunday Business Section about Bo Blair, the Georgetown Events "restaurateur / entrepeneur." Fun fact: he's paying $25,000 a month in rent for the space on Akridge's land at Half and N.

Making the Photo Archive More of an Archive
May 18, 2009 4:55 PM
When I first started taking photos of Near Southeast more than six years ago, I had no grand plan. Every few months, I went out and snapped a few shots here or there, rarely ever even getting out of the car. As time went on and development projects got underway, I found a methodology that worked for me--stand on each corner of an intersection and in the crosswalks, and take the same angles. This allowed me to build the automated displays of before-and-afters, where I'd pick the best of the "before" angles of a certain location (even if that photo wasn't necessarily the oldest one in my collection showing that angle) and then focus on replicating that angle as construction progressed.
This was all well and good to watch buildings go up, but it hasn't really done the job of being a full archive of all of the photographs I have of the 150-plus buildings that have been demolished since 2003. So, this weekend, I did a lot of work (a *lot* of work) to redesign my online photo archive to make room for close to 700 additional old photos from all parts of the neighborhood, allowing them to now be displayed without messing up the official "paired" before-and-afters that you see on the home page and throughout the site.
Many of these images aren't prize-winners--a lot were shot haphazardly, often through a dirty windshield or into bad light, with an old-model point-and-shoot digital camera (since I didn't take the plunge and get a digital SLR until early 2006). But, with more people arriving in the "new" Near Southeast who may not really know what it looked like only a few years ago, I felt it was important to make as many of these old shots available as I could.
A large number of these newly added images were taken "mid-block", showing angles and buildings that have not been well represented up to now. And I think some of these photos will be of interest the people moving into Capitol Quarter, giving them a better chance at seeing what their lot looked like when the Capper/Carrollsburg buildings were still standing. The images of many of the old nightclubs and hangouts may also be of interest to old-timers. (And Nats fans might get a kick out of the additional photos of the area just north of the main entrance to the stadium.)
To make the archive easier to use, I've redesigned its main browsing interface, giving a couple different methods of entry to the additional photos. You can click on the map as before, which will take you right to the "paired" before and afters for all angles of an intersection; using the See All Photos of This Angle icon will then reveal the complete set of photos for a particular angle, including images taken further along "inside" a block. But you can now also search by year or month or date, or by a combination of dates and locations, to better hone in on what you're trying to find. So, if you want to see all photos I've posted from May 2003, it's now much easier to do. (Though, if you're looking for mid-block images, you may need to "approach" your location of interest from the intersections on both sides to be sure you're seeing all the available photos. Knowing your geography and having a good sense of direction will be a big help!)
There's probably still a bit of tweaking (I see a few of the official paired before-and-afters have gotten broken and need some back-end tweaking, and I still need to plow through 2006 and into 2007 to add more photos of the buildings that were demolished more recently), but hopefully having these photos included will be a welcome addition, if not now then as the years pass and the old Near Southeast fades from many peoples' memories.
So, spend some time wandering through it all, and see what captures your eye.

Quick Photos from the Bullpen
May 15, 2009 7:13 PM
The somewhat threatening skies held off before gametime tonight and allowed the Bullpen to open its doors for the first time. When I arrived around 6 pm, there was a healthy crowd, and the spirits (emotional and liquid) seemed to be flowing well. I didn't stick around for long, but I did take a few photos.

Live Chat Friday at 12:30 at Urban Trekker
May 14, 2009 3:32 PM
I mentioned this in a link roundup earlier this week, but now it deserves its own entry: tomorrow (Friday, May 15) at 12:30 pm I'll be doing a live chat as a guest of the Urban Trekker blog at MetroDCLiving.com. So, come on over and ask a bunch of questions.
UPDATE: I think this is the direct link to the chat. Starting soon.
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Bullpen Officially Announces Friday Opening
May 13, 2009 2:38 PM
This was reported in the WBJ yesterday, and now is confirmed via an e-mail from the Bullpen folks themselves, announcing that they will have their grand opening at 5 pm on Friday (May 15). "Enjoy delicious food, cold beer and margaritas, and live music before, during, and after the Nationals game." Plus, as mentioned on their web site, there are "interactive sports games for children sponsored by Headfirst Camps and Under Armour." It will be open until midnight; there's no music act listed for Friday's opening, but there are bookings listed for May 17 and 23. And I see they're now using the phrase "beer garden" themselves!
(Also note: "The Bullpen is available for private events on game nights and non-game nights. The Bullpen welcomes happy hours, political events, fund-raisers, company outings and other large group events.")
See the few pictures I've posted of the venue if you can't bear to wait.
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