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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: June 2007
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The current batch of campers at 4th and L now have the end in sight, as an e-mail went out this morning announcing that the July release of five market-rate townhouses at Capitol Quarter will happen July 1 (tomorrow) at 11 am. However, if you were thinking about heading down there with tent in hand in anticipation of the next release, this paragraph from the e-mail might be worth digesting: "This will be the last market rate home release until later this year. Once we have established the date and procedures of our next release of market rate homes, we will notify you with this information via email." Sounds like maybe they're changing their release routine? We will have to watch and see.
Also, the lowest base price on the market-rate houses is now just a smidge over $600k, so certainly the prices have responded to the interest!
More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 

With less than a week to go now until early morning July 6, when the two-month closure of the Douglass Bridge to shorten and lower the bridge's northern portion begins, the media blitz is now getting underway. Here's the DDOT press release summarizing what's going to happen and what the impacts will be; it's a good link to e-mail around if you need to alert people to what's happening. The Post's Dr. Gridlock is mentioning the release and summarizing some of the other commuting impacts as well. One tidbit: they're telling people to expect morning delays of around 20 minutes, and afternoon rush delays of between 20 and 30 minutes.
My Douglass Bridge Fixes page has lots of links, drawings, and graphics explaining exactly what's going to be happening, and of course I will be there with camera in hand throughout the project to capture the changes. But while getting a new boulevard-like South Capitol Street is A Good Thing, I must take a minute to mourn what will be lost: three of my beloved perches where I've shot photos of the ballpark's progress over the past 15 months. (Though, it must be said, those spots would have lost their stadium view eventually anyway with the construction of the "knife-edge" Nationals administration building along South Capitol.)
 

With many thanks to Forest City Washington, I've posted a bunch of renderings of the four projects that are on the boards at The Yards in its first phase of development. These came from the submission on the first phase that FC made in advance of its July 12 presentation in front of the National Capital Planning Commission, and while they have some nice drawings of the plans that I've written about in the past for renovating three of the historic buildings at the old Southeast Federal Center, the big news is the first hints of what's planned for "Parcel D", currently a parking lot on the east side of 4th Street south of M: it's to be a residential building the south end of the site and an office building on the north end that would have a grocery store on the ground floor at 4th and M. The drawings also show the additional floors to be added to the brown-and-white Building 160 and imposing red-brick Building 202, both of which have interior atrium/courtyards I never knew about. And there's a few cool renderings of the plans for transforming the very industrial Building 167 that sits right behind the new DOT HQ into retail space. (Plans for the five-acre waterfront park and other areas in the Yards were not part of this submission.)
I didn't get the entire submission, so I'm not knee-deep in details, but everyone should definitely look at these drawings to see what's coming at The Yards. We should be seeing the beginnings of the streetscape improvements Any Minute Now (which include landscaping that barren area on the west side of New Jersey Ave. south of M), but the completion of the Building 167 retail and Building 160 residential won't happen before 2009, and the Parcel D/grocery store project *could* finish in 2010. So don't pack your bags or write your shopping list just yet.
 

I haven't seen it with my own eyes yet, but reader Scott reports that Congressional Cleaners has now opened on the ground floor of Capitol Hill Tower, on New Jersey north of L. No excuses for dirty clothes anymore!
UPDATE: .... And alas the new kids on the block promptly got robbed at gunpoint this afternoon. No one was hurt, thank goodness. But now everyone in the neighborhood really needs to stop by and give them some business. And let this be a lesson: never outsource the Welcome Wagon to the Bureau of Prisons.
 

Without any discussion, the Metro board has voted unanimously to select NJA Associates (a subsidiary of Donohoe) to develop the Navy Yard subway station's east entrance at New Jersey and M; there will now be negotiations for the sale itself. You can read my Monday entry for more background on the plan, or visit my 1111 New Jersey Ave. page for information on Donohoe's planned office building right next to the station, which the company apparently plans to expand onto this additional land. You can also look at the WMATA documents on the plan, although they aren't ridiculously heavy on detail. Next steps? Waiting for word of the actual sale, and keeping an eye out for Donohoe's revised design, which will now have to go through a Capitol Gateway Overlay zoning review since the expanded lot would front on M Street.
 

This week's Ballpark and Beyond column in the Post is on Tuesday's groundbreaking at Capper / Carrollsburg, and Monument's purchase of the Sunoco site. If you're visiting here for more information, you can check out my Capper / Carrollsburg overview page for more details and links on the project's redevelopment as well as photos from the groundbreaking, and my Capitol Quarter page has lots and lots (and lots!) of photos showing the area before, during, and after demolition. You can see what Monument Realty is up to at Half and M on my Monument Half Street page.
 

With all the recent news about various projects around Near Southeast (Monument's Sunoco site purchase, Navy Yard Metro east entrance sale, 250 M's delayed start, JPI's plans for 23 I, etc.), I took the time to update my various Detailed Development Maps for the Stadium Corridor, M Street, and New Jersey Avenue. The information on these maps is not any different from what you'll find on the homepage in my Project Directory, but I know some people are more graphically oriented, or maybe would rather look at the proposed projects based on location rather than type. It's just a way to repackage the ridiculous amount of information I have on the site in different ways for different tastes. You can always get to these maps by clicking on the links at the bottom right of my main homepage map or toward the bottom of the right-margin on any of my interior pages.
More posts:
 

In what has to be considered a good sign for the progress of the Nationals ballpark, a "Topping Out" celebration has been scheduled for July 11, signaling the completion of the exterior structural steel and the concrete work (or at least signaling that those milestones are reallyreallyreally close). These parts of the construction have to be completed so that the infield can be cleared of machinery and whatnot to allow for the start of digging to build the drainage system. The turf is scheduled to be planted in October.
Speaking of structural steel, eagle-eyed webcam viewers have already noticed that the installation of the steel started last week and is already pretty far along for the scoreboard in right-center field, which will be the largest in Major League Baseball (for now, anyway). In addition, the installation of the precast concrete facade has made its way around to South Capitol Street. The western parking garage is also taking shape. (Don't everybody cheer at once.) And I also hear that the first seats were delivered on June 22nd. Watch for the stands to start turning blue!
UPDATE: Speaking of the stadium, here's a Fox5 report from today about the "Washington Area Women in Trades" program that is helping get jobs in the construction industry for women who've had some rough times, and profiles two who are now working at the ballpark site.
UPDATE, 6/27: That didn't take long. Take a look at the webcam and you can see that the seats started being installed today, in the right-field upper deck at the far left in the photos. (You'll need to zoom in a bit, and peer through the raindrops on the camera lens, or go back to the 1:58 pm photo for a pre-downpour view.)
More posts: Nationals Park
 

Thanks to reader Barbara for the heads up that an electronic sign has appeared on South Capitol Street this morning saying that the Douglass Bridge is going to close at noon on July 5; at the briefing on the bridge's two-month closure and "Extreme Makeover" a few weeks ago, July 6 was announced as the date the bridge would close. I'm trying to find out if there has indeed been a change, and will update this post when I have details.
UPDATE: The bridge is closing at 12 midnight (not 12 noon), but at the end of the day July 5; in other words, the very start of July 6. Take your pick--think of it as closing at 11:59 pm on the 5th, or 12:01 am July 6.
 

Thanks go to eagle-eyed correspondent Mark for passing along the news this weekend that Mac's Tire Service shop in the old Miles Glass building at 8th and Virginia appears to have closed. I have no details to pass along, as to whether the property's been sold or if the shop just shut down on its own. Anyone with details is of course encouraged to drop me a line. It's quite a cool building, in a good location on 8th Street--it would certainly seem to have possibilities, but they'd better not involve demolishing it or getting rid of that festive sign!
UPDATE: I've been alerted that Mac's has not closed permanently, but has moved to 423 Florida Ave. NE.
More posts: 8th Street, square 906
 

For those of you who didn't feel like venturing out into the sauna (hello, DC summer!), I've posted photos from today's ceremonial groundbreaking at Capper/Carrollsburg. The tent was air-conditioned, at least, and there was a bit of a revival feel as DCHA executive director Michael Kelly, Ward 6 council member Tommy Wells, and other officials sang the praises of the federal/city/private partnership that has leveraged a $35 million HUD HOPE VI grant into a nearly $500 million revitalization project. Many former Capper residents were there, clearly excited about what they will be returning to; one woman, whose mother moved into the Cappers when it opened in 1956, spoke of being one of the 55 Capper households in the Community Support Services Homeownership Education and Counseling Program, which will help her to buy a home in the community where she's spent almost her entire life.
As for the timeline, infrastructure work at the site is now getting underway, to be followed this fall by "land development", which for us non-construction types is better known as Moving Dirt Around; the start of the houses themselves (i.e., "vertical construction") is scheduled for early 2008.
And the campers waiting for the next release of market-rate homes? They got to take the morning off, but will be back. You can watch the story Channel 9 did yesterday if you need your camping fix.

More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 

Thanks to the weekly update of the public version of the DC Property Sales database (which runs about five weeks behind), I can confirm what has been rumored for a little while now: on May 21, Monument Realty paid $14.26 million for the old Sunoco site at 50 M Street, on the northeast corner of Half and M. There's been no announcement as yet as to their plans for the 15,500-sq-ft site located between 20 M, 80 M, and a US government warehouse, and right across the street from the Navy Yard Metro west entrance and Monument's Half Street extravaganza. Just think--if Monument is the successful bidder later this year for WMATA's Southeastern Bus Garage, they'll control three of the four corners at Half and M. Monument Valley, indeed!

 

WMATA's Planning, Development, and Real Estate subcommittee has recommended to the full board that NJA Associates LLC (a subsidiary of Donohoe) be picked to purchase and develop the 5,612-sq-ft east entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station at New Jersey and M. Donohoe already owns 16,406 sq ft directly adjoining this property, and has received zoning approvals for its plans to build the 1111 New Jersey Avenue office building on the site; however, they would apparently expand the building's design to 206,000 sq ft with the new land acquisition, or go up to as much as 220,000 sq ft if the Zoning Commmission approves. And since the building would front M Street with this expanded configuration, it would also need to go through a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review to make sure it conforms with the design requirements now expected of M Street buildings.
The full WMATA board will consider approval of the plan to begin negotiating this sale at this Thursday's meeting; you can see a rendering of Donohoe's pre-expansion design on my 1111 NJ page, and also feel free to look at the Joint Development Solicitation from last fall that started this process. (And, anticipating your questions: no, there's been no movement that I've heard or seen on the sale of the Chiller Plant site on the southwest corner of Half and L.)
UPDATE: Of course, the west side of the Navy Yard station is already getting developed and expanded, as work continues on 55 M Street, the office building that will fill the northern portion of Monument's Half Street development.
 

The DC Housing Authority is having a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday (June 26) at 11 am for the first phase of the Capper/Carrollsburg mixed-income townhouses (i.e., Capitol Quarter), at 4th and L by the EYA sales office. This isn't a signal for the actual start of "vertical" construction, though--that won't begin until later this year.
And maybe this makes for a good time to have a refresher on what exactly "Capper/Carrollsburg" is:
In 2001, DC received a $34.9 million Hope VI grant to redevelop the 23-acre 700-unit Capper/Carrollsburg public housing project as a mixed-income development, replacing every one of the low-income units and then adding to them another 700-plus market-rate and workforce-rate rental and ownership units. The redevelopment project is being handled as a joint venture by Forest City Washington, Mid-City Urban LLC, and the Housing Authority.
The townhouse portion of the redevelopment, being marketed by EYA as Capitol Quarter, will have approximately 121 market-rate and 91 "workforce"-rate ownership houses; an additional 65 townhouses will contain 111 subsidized rental units and Section 8 ownership units. The market-rate houses are already being made available for reservations in monthly blocks, with the attendant tent cities popping up at the sales center as hopeful homeowners stake their claims. There was a lottery back in 2006 for the first 20 workforce units; I imagine another will be coming before too long.
Three hundred low-income rental units have already been completed (or are about to be) as part of the new Capper Seniors #1 and Capper Building #2 projects. The rest of the public housing rental units will be included in four mixed-income apartment buildings planned along Canal Park, three on the eastern side of the park between 2nd and 3rd and I and M, and a fourth on the site of the DPW Trash Transfer lot at New Jersey and K. None of these are anticipated to start construction before 2010, so in the meantime, temporary surface parking lots will soon appear on those blocks to help ease the expected Nationals stadium parking crunch.
Additionally, 700,000 sq ft of office space will eventually be built within the Capper redevelopment area; 250 M Street is a 190,000-sq-ft joint venture between William C. Smith and the DC Housing Authority, and although it now has all of its zoning approvals, we just learned a few days ago that Smith is going to wait until the building is 30 percent leased before beginning construction. There will eventually be another 500,000 sq ft of office space developed at 7th and M on the site of the old Capper Seniors building (itself scheduled to be demolished late this year), but with no current timetable for that project a temporary surface parking lot is coming to that site as well. There will also be another 30-45 townhomes built along L Street behind these new office buildings, but those are a long ways off.
Topping it all off, a new 28,000-sq-ft community center is planned at 5th and K, replacing the one demolished earlier this year. It could start construction in 2008, but those plans might change if, say, a developer or the Housing Authority manages to snag from DCPS the Van Ness Elementary School site at 5th and M, which was closed in 2006 and is now administrative space. A new elementary school could be then constructed to serve families as they move into the rebuilt Capper neighborhood, and the community center could be part of the school rather than being a standalone project. But with the changes in the structure of the public schools' governance, who knows when any decision like this could happen, if at all. Just some Sunday morning speculation for you.
(This info has all been available on my Capper overview page, but it's good to get it out front once in a while.)
 

From Saturday's Post: "Under a clear blue sky perfect for a baseball game, 500 construction workers responsible for one of the most expensive and most important projects in the District took a break yesterday for a quick pep talk. 'The closer we get to next year, the more people are looking at us to bring this project in on time and on budget,' Mayor Adrian M. Fenty told them on his first trip to the stadium site near the Navy Yard and South Capitol Street in Southeast." And while the article is based around Fenty's visit, the meat of it is really about the handoff of responsibility for ensuring the ballpark opens on time from outgoing DCSEC chair Allen Lew (heading off to try to repair the DC schools) to his replacement, Greg O'Dell.
Some quotes:
* "Lew said this week that the ballpark is on schedule, and remains within budget, with no indication that will change."
* " 'I'm going to be involved in this a lot more than I was," said [council member Jack] Evans, who keeps a small countdown clock on his desk, showing the number of days, hours and minutes until the anticipated first pitch at the stadium next April. 'I had kind of taken a step back because of the confidence I had that Allen would get this thing done. There was no need for me to be calling everybody up every week, saying: 'Where are we? Where are we?' But now I'm going to reinsert myself in terms of being in the loop constantly.' "
* "The stadium's steel framework and concrete seating decks are largely in place, as are miles and miles of ducts, electrical wires and pipes. Workers are drilling tens of thousands of holes in the decks to anchor seats. And a 200-foot tower crane has been erected to lift concrete and other materials for construction of a Nationals office building. Next month, workers plan to complete the steel framework for the ballpark's restaurant and main scoreboard and to start putting in the stadium seats. The project's schedule calls for installation of the scoreboard to begin in August. Then, in October, sod will be laid. The grass will take root before going dormant during the winter and then spring to life for Opening Day." [Dedicated readers of JDLand know all this already, of course!]
* "Still, problems remain, including a long-vexing issue that O'Dell will inherit when he takes control of the project. 'The biggest thing still out there,' Lew said, 'is coming up with an inventory of parking spaces to meet game day requirements.' " (The article says that 9,200 spaces will be needed; the March transporation presentation and various Office of Planning documents have been quoting 4,900 as the maximum needed for a sellout game. I guess when the draft Transporation Operations and Parking Plan comes out [Any Minute Now!], we'll see what the real number is.)
Read the entire article for additional details. And of course you can look at my stadium construction photo galleries or the official webcam if you want to see what it's looking like.
More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

Tomorrow is the First Annual Ward 6 Family Picnic and Celebrity Softball Tournament, hosted by council member Tommy Wells; "Join the Nationals' Felipe Lopez, Jesus Flores and Jesus Colome as they play tee-ball with the kids and become celebrity coaches in the Softball Tournament. Plus, we have over a $1,000 worth of raffle prizes to give away (including autographed Nationals' jersey, autographed DC United soccer ball, 100 Nationals' baseball tickets, gift certificates to dozens of local restaurants and businesses, free sponsorship for a 3-day youth soccer camp, and many more)!" The event will take place at the Rosedale Recreation Center at 1700 Gales Street, NE, starting at 10:00 am, with activities running until 4:00 pm. See Tommy's blog for more details.
More posts:
 

Today's print edition of the Washington Business Journal has an article summing up what's going on right now with various commercial projects around Near Southeast. (The online article is for subscribers only for the first 30 days; sorry.) Here are the new items:
* William C. Smith is planning to hold off breaking ground on its 200,000-sq-ft building at 250 M Street until it pre-leases at least 30% of the building.
* Opus East has leased 80,000 sq ft at 100 M Street (33% of the building) to government contractor Parsons Corp.
* Lerner's 20 M Street does not as yet have any office tenants.
* It also mentions that Opus East is planning to build the 440,000-sq-ft office building at 1015 Half Street (the old Nation site) on spec; but it should be noted that Opus hasn't yet officially announced its purchase of this property or its plans.
(The article also summarizes what's going on at Florida Rock, using some source materials that are hard to find anywhere other than here at JDLand. Note to reporters and other professionals using my site: yup, lots of stuff is posted here, and it's all free, but be a grownup and say where you found it.)
In addition, there's an ad in the print edition giving us our first peek at the Shalom Baranes design for 1100 South Capitol Street, Ruben Companies's planned 350,000 sq ft office building on the southeast corner of South Capitol and L. There's currently no timeline for development of this project.
The print edition also has a piece written by GSA about the US Department of Transportation completing its move to its new headquarters at New Jersey and M. It describes the HQ's interiors and exteriors, and mentions that this project is the largest lease ever executed in DC.

 

Friday's In the Loop column in the Post reports that Friday is moving day for the muckety mucks at the US Department of Transportation, heading to their new digs on M Street. Says Al Kamen: "Good thing there was a shakedown period [with lower-level staff move-ins having gone on first over the past few months]. Seems the mid-level staff have reported toilets with little pressure and sinks where the water blasted out. (Unclear which is worse.) Some folks apparently got locked in their own offices. But the biggest problem in the two buildings, one eight stories and the other nine, is that cellphones and BlackBerrys didn't work. This was because the structures were built according to post-Sept. 11 government specs, with extra-thick walls and windows. So the buildings are being rewired -- work's almost done, we were told -- so they are almost a virtual cellphone tower and the reception quality will be superb."

 

Just a quick sleep-inducing update on actions at today's City Council legislative meeting (have I mentioned that you people don't pay me enough?):
* B17-0208, creating the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District that would cover all of Near Southeast and Buzzards Point, passed on the consent agenda on its first reading. There will now be a Public Hearing and Preliminary Finding on the BID application by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development on July 9. The bill's second reading will be on July 10. (See my previous BID entries for background.)
* Bill 17-0011, the "Ballpark Hard and Soft Costs Cap Act of 2007," makes permanent the legislation passed in 2006 that set a city spending cap of $630 million. There was some bickering when council member Catania asked to add an amendment updating the soft costs amount in the bill to $117 million from the originally specified $111 million as a result of the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission's May 31 report. Council member Evans was quite vehement about not changing numbers on dais without consulting the CFO's office to be sure that even an innocuous-seeming change like this one wouldn't end up having unintended consequences (and he also was miffed that Catania hadn't shown him the amendment before the meeting), but in the end the amendment was agreed to.
Council member Kwame Brown said that a new report by the DC Auditor indicated that the stadium remains on budget at this time, although there items that will need "close attention paid" to them. Catania expanded on that by citing a series of numbers from the auditors' report indicating that the city still has up to $95 million in additional costs when there is only $6.7 million left in the contingency fund; however, $72 million of that is the amount that the eminent-domain'ed landowners are seeking from the city in compensation, which may not be exactly how much they receive once the hundred years' worth of court battles are finally completed. Catania said that the council needs to face these potential problem numbers instead of "putting our head in the sand."
* Finally, Bill 17-0021, the "Ballpark Parking Completion Amendment Act of 2007," was passed, creating permanent legislation exempting from zoning restrictions the parking garages on the north end of the stadium site; council member Mendelson asked that before second reading, a sunset provision originally in the emergency legislation that requires the exemption to end by the end of 2008 be inserted into this permanent legislation.
 

If you are coming here after reading this week's Ballpark and Beyond column in the Post, here are my information/photo/news pages on Capper Building #2, Capper Seniors #1, the old Capper Seniors building at 6th and L, and the entire Capper/Carrollsburg Hope VI redevelopment. And if you liked all those purty stadium photos displayed next to the column in the print edition, here's my Stadium Construction Gallery for plenty more of those....
 

A day with no news! I remember these--they used to be the norm rather than the exception!
So as not to lose everyone's attention during this unacceptable lapse in updated content, I'll take a moment and highlight some of the more interesting recent posts that you might have missed during the blistering level of activity over the past few weeks:
With the closure of the Douglass Bridge now only a few weeks away, I imagine this might be the calm before the storm.

More posts:
 

The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts is having its monthly meeting on Thursday (June 20), and one of the agenda items is "Washington Canal Park, 2nd Street between I and M Streets, S.E. Sculptures by David Hess." Apparently earlier this year the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities put out a $300,000 Call for Artists for "permanent public artworks" at Canal Park, and Mr. Hess was the winner. The commission will be reviewing his submission and providing final recommendations; alas, there doesn't appear to be any documentation anywhere out on the web of exactly what his winning submission looks like. Hess's web site shows much of his other work, but I haven't found anything on a Canal Park project. More as I get it.
More posts: Canal Park
 

Channel 9 News has a story on how the designers of the Nationals ballpark are trying to "go green" and win LEED certification for the stadium; the lights, the water filtration system, and recycling plans are all part of trying to meet the qualifications set out by the US Green Building Council. You can also read an Examiner piece from a few weeks back on the stadium's green-itude.

More posts: Nationals Park
 

At the groundbreaking ceremony a few weeks ago for JPI's new residential project at 909 New Jersey Ave., an updated rendering of the 70/100 I Street project just across the way was on display as well. JPI was nice enough to pass the image along to me, and you can now see it on my 70/100 I Street page. And it looks like within the next few weeks the 70 I building will start to peek up above ground level, giving me a new site to photograph relentlessly.
Speaking of the groundbreaking, DC Cable Channel 16 will be showing it on Wednesday and Friday (June 20 and June 22) at 11 am, and perhaps later times as well. You can watch it on your District cable, or on live streaming video. And don't turn it off right when it's finished, because at 11:30 they're replaying the April check presentation ceremony at Canal Park.
More posts: 70/100 I, jpi
 

The Post's Dr. Gridlock has a blog entry today about the Maryland Transit Administration's plans for how MTA commuter buses will be diverted during the two-month shutdown of the Frederick Douglass/South Capitol Street Bridge that begins on July 6. Quoting: "MTA says that after listening to passengers, it has decided to bring some of its routes into the Branch Avenue and Suitland Metrorail stations for those who wish to transfer to the subway, but continue in and out of dowtown Washington for the other riders willing to tough it out through the congestion. (The buses will be stuck in the same congestion as the cars.)" See the entry for specifics on each bus route. Metro's bus route changes were announced a few weeks ago. (And thanks for the link, Dr. G!)
 

The final touches are starting to be put on Capper Building #2, the wraparound addition to the Carroll Apartments at 4th and M. It's expected that new residents will start arriving in July, with full occupancy by the end of the summer. While this was originally planned as a building for low-income senior citizens, there was a modification to its zoning back in March to allow younger residents with lower incomes as well. Seniors who have lived at Capper / Carrollsburg but chose not to move to the new Capper Seniors #1 when it opened in December get first dibs on units in this second building, followed by other former Capper residents who meet the requirements of having an earned income and having participated in their community supportive services program. Applications are also being accepted from non-Capper residents who have incomes between 50 and 60 percent of the area median income (just under $38,000 for a single person or $54,000 for a family of four). If you meet the income requirements and are interested in applying, you can visit the BallparkApts.com web site for more information, or call 202-546-1024.
As for the old Capper Seniors building at 601 L Street, it is scheduled to be demolished sometime this summer late this year. Temporary surface parking lots will be built on the site in time for the opening of the ballpark in spring 2008, but long-range plans call for office buildings to be eventually developed there.
UPDATED 6/19 with the revised timeline for demolition of the old Capper Seniors building; it's now scheduled to happen toward the end of 2007, thanks to hazmat abatement needing to take longer than originally planned.
 

It seems like it's been forever since I updated my Nationals Ballpark Construction Gallery, but I'm actually only a week behind my usual schedule--it's now updated with a pile of pictures I took during yesterday morning's beautiful weather, but beware that some of the showiest shots didn't get updated this time around thanks to actual construction going on at the construction site.
But to make it up to you, I have a whole new series of photos from inside the stadium so you can see stuff that the Webcam might not be showing real clearly.
And I've also finally expanded the construction gallery to include four additional pages of befores-and-afters (well, befores-and-durings) that have vantage points you don't see on my "main" gallery page. So knock yourself out looking at more shots from First Street, Potomac Avenue, South Capitol Street, and N Street. (There's also links to these new pages from the top of the main gallery.)
I also updated the Photo Archive with a fair number of photos from other spots around Near Southeast. You can see every new photo posted on this page; if you look really closely, you'll see a few shots that include the campers' tents at the Capitol Quarter sales office on 4th Street, as well as photos of the colorful new fence drapings that now surround the Velocity Condos site.
 

The Post profiles the hardy souls giving up weeks of their lives to camp out for the next release of Capitol Quarter townhomes, in "Line Forms and Sleeps Here to Live Near Stadium."
More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 

I'm hearing a rumor--that I haven't been able to get confirmed/denied yet--that the Normandie Liquors site at First and M (which has a raze permit now winding through the bureaucratic maze) is going to be home eventually to the sales center for Onyx on First, one block to the north. Like I said, unconfirmed as of now, but intriguing (and logical) nonetheless. This of course would just be temporary until Willco Construction moves forward with its office/residential retail plans for that stretch of First between M and N, though no dates for that project have been announced.
UPDATE, 6/16: Duh, I'm an idiot. The trailers have been on 1st Street south of M for weeks now, south of the Normandie. And the building permits in the trailer window say that they're for a sales center. But no doubt the Onyx folks would prefer to not have the Normandie in their sales front yard, hence the raze permit.
More posts: staddis, Square 701
 

If you're visiting here after reading this week's Ballpark and Beyond column on the plans for Florida Rock, here's my page with more background and photos on the project. (And thanks for dropping by!)
More posts: Florida Rock
 

From today's Post: "Allen Y. Lew, who managed construction of the Washington Convention Center and is overseeing completion of the Nationals baseball stadium, has agreed to become the director of a new city department created to carry out the D.C. public school system's $2.3 billion modernization program, government sources confirmed yesterday. Lew, 56, has served as chief executive of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission since 2004 and is respected by city leaders for his ability to deliver large, complicated public construction projects on time and on budget. He is expected to resign from his position at the sports commission next month to join Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's administration, the sources said." That sound you hear is the anguished cry of baseball fans devastated at the news, led by DC council member Jack Evans: " 'Do you want to take the main guy out of the picture, the guy who is able to get it done on time and on budget on opening day?' Evans said. 'If you take him out of it, who will replace him? Getting the stadium done is not automatic.' "
UPDATE: Well, that didn't take long--Mayor Fenty has named Lew's successor at the DCSEC: Gregory A. O'Dell, who currently serves as the chief development officer in the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
More posts: Nationals Park
 

A raze permit has now been filed for 83 M Street, which is the address of the defunct Normandie Liquors on the southwest corner of First and M. It's working its way through the approval process, so who knows when demolition might actually take place. Willco Construction is planning an office/residential/retail project for that entire stretch of First between M and N, but haven't as yet announced any timeline. Plans submitted during the request to close an alley on that side of block indicated that the project would have 324,000 sq ft of office space and 430 residential units; I don't know whether that's still the case. Hopefully we'll hear something soon. (Hint, hint, Willco.)
UPDATE: I forgot to also mention that raze permits have also been requested for the properties on the site of Camden Development's 1325 South Capitol Street residential building, across from the stadium.

 

The legislation creating the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District had its hearing on Tuesday in front of the DC Council Committee on Finance and Revenue. (Need to know what the heck a BID is? Start here.) It was a pretty straightforward session, with BID executive director Michael Stevens giving a quick summary of the amount of investment coming to Near Southeast and Buzzards Point, repeating the mantra about how the area will eventually rival the downtowns of medium-sized cities. There were also representatives of the CFO's office and RestoreDC testifying in support and one concerned resident of Southwest testifying about his wish that the BID's boundaries be expanded across South Capitol Street instead of stopping in the middle of the street.
Along those lines, council member Tommy Wells expressed his concern about not covering both sides of South Capitol, given the work DDOT is going to be doing on streetscape improvements, and not wanting only one side of the street to be maintained. He also talked about M Street's importance as the "Main Street" of this part of town, especially since it will eventually be connecting the revitalized Southwest Waterfront to the revitalized Waterside Mall to the revitalized Near Southeast.
There was some discussion about how currently the new ballpark is not part of the BID (because it is government-owned property), but that there are negotiations to see if the BID's "clean and safe services" could be extended to the stadium site during the 81 home games each year, which would cost about $250,000. The Capitol Quarter townhome development is also not a member of the BID, even though it is surrounded on all sides by the BID; Wells questioned that area being left out of the BID's services, but the BID's executive director Michael Stevens mentioned that residents of Capitol Quarter will be paying monthly public-space maintenance fees. He also said they hope to cover the three Capper apartment buildings that will eventually be constructed east of Canal Park, but it depends on the amount of market-rate units.
The bill (B17-0208) will be marked up on Thursday June 14 at 11 am, and is expected to have its first vote in front of the full council on June 19.

 

Last night there was scheduled to be a discussion at the Zoning Commission's public meeting about Florida Rock (aka "RiverFront on the Anacostia"); the developer and architect had requested guidance from the commission about whether the project's new design is what the commission was looking for when it asked for revisions back in February. However, chair Carol Mitten announced that the agenda item was being deferred to the commission's July 9 public meeting, so that the Office of Planning can submit comments on the plans. That'll teach me to drag myself down there and show up in person instead of just hanging out at home watching the webcast!
More posts: Florida Rock, zoning
 

I check Google Maps every so often to see if they've updated the satellite photos of Near Southeast, which have been of a 2002 vintage since, well, sometime after 2002. So imagine my excitement today when I pulled up the link and there were finally buildings on the DOT HQ site! Woo-hoo! One small problem--after inspecting further, I've determined that the "new" photos are from Spring 2005. If you look at my Satellite Comparisons page, you'll see MapQuest's shots are from Fall 2005 (and have been for quite some time), so this new Google view isn't even the most recent one available. Dadgummit. I was really hoping that we'd finally have a bird's eye view of the stadium construction.
More posts:
 

Last night at its monthly meeting, ANC 6D passed a resolution opposing the proposed relocation of the First Distrct Police Station currently at 415 4th St. SW to the old Post Plant at 225 Virginia Ave. SE. There's a series of 11 bullet points describing the ANC's opposition, many of which were brought up at the city council subcommittee hearing last week, most notably of course being the potential impact on "community policing" if the police are no longer housed right in the community. Other issues such as parking at the new site, the "massing" of so many police functions in such a small area given that the 1D1 substation is just four blocks away, and the potential loss of easy walk-in visits to 1D if they are housed in the same building that contains high-level MPD functions such as the chief's office, the Special Operations Division, the evidence warehouse, and other departments.
I also finally got a chance to see the portions of the hearing that weren't originally broadcast, and one of the items that jumped out at me (and that is mentioned in the ANC resolution as well) is that the Office of Property Management is already looking for 10,000 square feet of "swing space" for the 1D substation, because it needs to be out of its current location by early 2009 to make way for the new combined forensics lab. Because of timing issues with getting the 225 Virginia building ready for occupancy (a project that could cost up to $100 million), 1D may not be able to move directly to the new building. (OPM said it should know within 60 days if 1D will need to move to swing space.) Both Carol Schwartz and Tommy Wells were quite skeptical of moving 1D to 225 Virginia, with Schwartz saying "Have you thought of how ridiculous that is?" (But she said it really nicely.) The council members pressed OPM and MPD about why the forensics lab couldn't be at 225 Virginia instead, but issues with ceiling heights and ventilation seemed to be stumbling points, although former OPM head Carol Mitten testified that it wouldn't be impossible. There was also a lot of discussion about the possibility of buying 225 Virginia outright, rather than leasing it.
And of course, as I mentioned in my initial summary, parking issues were a large part of the conversation as well. Neither OPM or MPD would commit to Wells's idea of a ban on employee on-street parking; and as I said last week, OPM and MPD were floating the DPW trash transfer lot at 2nd and K as a parking alternative without seeming to be aware that that lot is already going to the DC Housing Authority as part of the Capper/Carrollsburg Hope VI project. (I shouted it at the TV as loudly and often as I could, but apparently they couldn't hear me.) As described, a new parking structure built on top of the surface lot at 3rd and I would have about 520 spaces, 200 of which would be for police vehicles and another 100 for 1D staff, leaving only 200 spaces for the remaining 500 employees at this new headquarters.
Next steps? OPM is now looking at getting architectural drawings and guaranteed maximum buildout costs to the council by October (two months later than originally forecast); there is also supposed to be a parking plan given to the committee within the next two weeks, and also at some point a meeting between OPM, MPD, and ANCs 6B and 6D. A separate Zoning Commission hearing on adding the site to the Capitol South Receiving Zone originally scheduled for this week has now been postponed. I imagine there will be a fair amount of behind-the-scenes maneuvering on the project that we won't hear much about until it comes time for the city council to vote on paying for the renovations to the building.

 

As a public service to developers, planners, and other folks looking to name their upcoming projects, I've put together this handy list. Just pick one or two words from Column A and one from Column B, and presto! Your Near Southeast development has been christened!*
Column A
Capitol
Navy
Southeast
Waterfront
Ballpark
Stadium
Canal
Nationals
The
Anacostia
Column B
Yards
Riverfront
Waterfront
District
Quarter
Center
Landing
Plaza
Esplanade
Riverwalk
* credit to the JD Spouse for the idea.
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As expected, there is now a request in front of the Zoning Commission to approve temporary surface parking lots on parcels totaling 396,000 sq ft in the Southeast Federal Center (i.e., "The Yards"), to last no more than five years and to be available for Nationals ballpark parking (among other uses). There are four lots, which I highlighted a few months back on my Stadium Parking page map: on the southeast corner of 1st and N (where there is already a parking lot, along with a one-story brick building scheduled to be demolished); two spots on the SEFC land south of Tingey and DOT and east of the WASA pumping plant; and on the southeast corner of 4th and M, behind the red brick wall, where a surface lot already exists. According to the meeting notice, temporary lots at the SEFC are already permitted under the existing Southeast Federal Center overlay, subject to approval by the Zoning Commission.
I don't know anything more about this other than that there will be a ZC hearing on July 26; I'll be working to find out exactly how many spaces these lots may make available, although in the presentation slides from the March public meeting there was an indication that 1,700 additional spaces could be available at the Federal Center. These would be on top of the other temporary surface lots recently approved, and would bring the count of potential available spaces on all temporary lots to 5,475 spaces, on top of the 1,225 spaces being constructed on the stadium footprint (adding up to 6,700 spaces, higher than the 4,900 spaces that planners anticipate will be needed for the highest-attendance games). Of course, not all of the identified potential lots will end up being used, and the likely total count from all lots is probably closer to 5,200, but this is clearly a healthy-sized addition to the lots approved last month. More information as I get it.
UPDATED with corrected numbers on the potential spaces, because math is apparently not my strong suit late on a Friday night. But these new numbers are still just speculation on my part based on that March public meeting on parking--we have to wait to see exactly how many spaces planners are anticipating at the SEFC.
UPDATE, 6/11: This zoning request apparently would allow for 925 paking spaces in four lots at The Yards; so it's far lower than what was projected for the SEFC at the March public meeting on the stadium transportation planning. It does mean that, if approved, up to 5,925 permanent and temporary spaces are in the mix around the stadium site (1,225 on the ballpark site itself and the rest from the temporary surface lots). And that doesn't count any possible spaces in lots beneath already-constructed buildings near the stadium. But hopefully some clarity will arrive when the draft Traffic Operations and Parking Plan is released by the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission, supposedly this month.
 

Today's Ballpark Update in the Post: "Though it's not the most significant structural breakthrough at the new Nationals ballpark, it might be the most symbolic development of the week. Construction crews this week excavated the site for the Nationals' bench. Or, as Rick Buckovich of the construction company Clark/Hunt/Smoot said, "We dug out the dugout." Crews also placed the last wood-framed elevated concrete deck in left-center field, the last major concrete pour in the park."
More posts: Nationals Park
 

I must admit to dragging my feet on writing a summary of yesterday's hearing in front of the council's Committee on Workforce Development and Government Operations about the potential move of portions of the Metropolitan Police Department to the old Post Plant at 225 Virginia Ave. The main issue is that the TV feed of the 4 1/2-hour hearing switched to a different hearing for 45 minutes, right at the start of testimony by representatives of MPD and the Office of Property Management, so I don't feel like I got the full picture. It's scheduled to be replayed on Channel 13 (available both on DC cable and streaming video) a couple times over the next few days, if you can't bear to deal with this broaching of my responsibilities and want to watch it yourself. (Though, as I always say, remember that the motto of JDLand is: The Site Where You Get What You Pay For.)
I'll post more once I get to see that missed 45 minutes, but I can tell you that the main issues discussed during the portions I saw were the concern of Southwest residents about losing the 1D station to a location quite a few blocks away (putting a crimp in the idea of "community policing") and where exactly 1,100 MPD employees are going to park and the problems of traffic flow and parking especially at the daily shift changes. (The double- and triple-parking a few blocks away at the 1D1 substation on E Street were frequently referenced.) MPD and OPM seemed to be talking about using the Trash Transfer site at 2nd and I as a parking solution, but unless I missed something during the non-broadcast portion, none of them seemed to realize that that parcel is part of the Capper/Carrollsburg Hope VI redevelopment, and is supposed to eventually be redeveloped with an apartment building. There were indications from Tommy Wells that he'd like to see on-street parking by MPD staff completely prohibited; alas, with the building's location being about five blocks from a Metro station (compared to being basically on top of one at their current location on Indiana Avenue), I'm sure that proposal will go over real well. I'm not sure if there's going to be additional hearings, though clearly council members Schwartz, Mendelson, and Wells had a fair number of concerns.
 

The folks at ADC Builders have passed along to me a new rendering of the Velocity Condos building planned for 1025 First Street (on the Square 699N block), which you can see on my Velocity page. Digging has now begun on the underground parking that will be shared by both this Velocity and its Phase II sibling; and within the next week you should see banners advertising the project hung on the fences surrounding the site. Work is continuing on the sales center trailers at Half and K, and it's projected to open in late July or early August. And the official web site, as I posted last week, is now "Coming Soon", but should be launched later this month. And, in answer to the question everyone *really* wants to ask, it's expected that the 200 units will start in the $300s; completion is expected in 2009. With all of this, I've now moved Velocity to a coveted "Under Construction" slot on my project directory.
So, on the New Development Tote Board, we're now loooking at 950 new residential units delivering in Near Southeast in 2008, and at least 800 in 2009 (not counting Capitol Quarter). And I can envision another 800-plus in 2010 (with JPI's 23 I Street and the residential projects at The Yards the likely candidates). Maybe someone will build a grocery store by then!

 

Proving that WMATA's plans to move the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M to DC Village are proceeding, there's an ad into today's print Washington Business Journal announcing that the property at 17 M Street is for sale. It's two parcels (the garage itself and the parking lot across Van Street) totaling almost 100,000 sq ft, and the sale is through a leased bid process; Metro is asking for a leaseback provision for 36 months with an early termination provision with 90 days' notice. There's supposed to be more information on this page, but it's not there as of yet.
In looking around, though, I did find this page they've created on the bus garage move, though I think it's probably geared more toward the residents around DC Village. And the various board of directors meeting documents I've linked to in the past probably have more detail.
UPDATE: The Invitation for Bids and other accompanying documents are now available on the WMATA site. Minimum bid price is $60 million; bids are due by July 23 at 2 pm, and the IFB calls for settlement on whichever bid is approved to take place on Oct. 26. And if you feel like bidding, you need to include a deposit check for $300,000 and a security deposit of $3 million.

 

This morning DDOT had a big press briefing about the plans for the coming Douglass Bridge "Extreme Makeover"; there was a gaggle of media in attendance, so I imagine there will be lots of play on TV tonight and in tomorrow's papers, so in the interest of time (mine, not yours), I'm going to hit the high points right now and wait for the reports from the big players to roll in for additional detail.
*The bridge will be shut down on July 6 (after the July 4 holiday). As soon as it's closed, crews will be on site beginning the demolition of the viaduct from Potomac Avenue northward, using "big shears" (DDOT's description) to drop it down. At the same time, the existing South Capitol Street will be ripped up, with infrastsructure and utility work done, and with the streetscape improvements started as well, which will include new "globe" lighting, a median with trees, etc. (Incidentally, by spring 2008 there will also be some sprucing up of the M Street overpass, with the chainlink fences removed and new historic iron railings installed.)
* It is expected that the 580 feet of the bridge from the Anacostia River to Potomac Avenue will begin to be lowered on July 20. They are going to put jacks under the bridge, cut the existing columns, and then lower it down. They should sell tickets for this part.
* The bridge itself will see its roadway milled, and the existing rails and chainlink fences replaced with a new special fancier railing; this railing will be affixed to the outside edge of the bridge, allowing the sidewalks on both sides of the bridge to be widened. (The bridge has already gotten a new paint job, have you noticed?)
* DDOT is creating an additional lane on I-295 between the Suitland Parkway and South Capitol Street to help improve the traffic flow.
* The closure of the bridge is planned for 60 days; however, the contractor (Corman) can receive up to $1 million in incentives if the work is finished sooner.
There are some new before-and-after renderings of what the approach to Potomac Avenue will look like, and I've added those to my Douglass Bridge makeover page, along with some photos taken on a barge tour today beneath the bridge. (You get to see the osprey nests!)
DDOT has also produced a spiffy video about the plans for the bridge (as well as information about a new Douglass Bridge, which is a few years and $300 million away from now); when they post it on their site, I'll link to it (UPDATED: now online). You'll probably see portions of it in tonight's media coverage. And just to warn you, a certain Near Southeast blogger puts in a very brief appearance, but don't let that prevent you from watching.
I'll update this entry as the day goes on with other media coverage.
UPDATE I: .... such as Dr. Gridlock's posting on the briefing, discussing the commuting impact of the closure. And the DDOT press release.
UPDATE II: And WTOP. And NBC. And ABC. But not a lot of news in any of them.
UPDATE III: Here's the Post and the Examiner.
UPDATE, 6/11: And another Examiner piece, focusing a bit more on the eventual new bridge. (But I wish their headline writer had correctly spelled "South Capit*ol*.")

 

Yup, there's a new bunch of campers now staked out in front of the Capitol Quarter sales office at 4th and L, even though the next release of market-rate houses isn't expected until July.
More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 

If you're interested in what's happening with the proposed move of the Metropolitan Police Department to the old Post Plant at 225 Virginia Ave., the Committee on Workforce Development and Government Operations hearing is being simulcast on DC Cable 13 right now, and the streaming video is available here. I'll be summarizing the hearing later today (but first I have the big Douglass Bridge briefing to go to).
 

Both today's Post and Examiner cover a "scathing" new audit (which you can read for yourself at the DC Auditor's web site) about the money being paid by the city to law firm Venable for legal work tied to the still-going stadium land eminent domain cases going well above and beyond the $1.87 million initial budgeted. According to the Examiner, "Venable was awarded the contract in 2005, during Mayor Anthony Williams' administration, for one year plus four option years, at no more than $950,000 annually. But the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of Contracting and Procurement 'did not develop and document a realistic projection of costs, or the source and amount of funding available for such services,' the audit reported, and no one in any agency monitored the deal to ensure the firm's billings were appropriate -- many were not." And it wasn't just those offices that dropped the ball; the Post adds, "All contracts worth more than $1 million must be approved by the D.C. Council. However, it appears the Venable contracts were renewed several times without the matter ever appearing before the council, Nichols's report found."
So, now what? All sorts of big problems with getting the money, because of the $611 million stadium cost cap? Examiner: "The D.C. Council nevertheless approved an emergency resolution Tuesday to pay Venable up to $3.8 million over the next two years [after paying them $1.2 million the first year] 'in support of the District's eminent domain litigation to determine the amount of just compensation due to the owners of parcels of land on the ballpark site.' The firm has performed many hours of discovery in preparation for mediation and trials expected to start later this year."
(The problems with the Venable contract were initially reported about a month ago.)

More posts: Nationals Park
 

The speed of events is leaving me breathless these days. Today JPI held a groundbreaking ceremony at 909 New Jersey Avenue, where digging is about to get underway for the 237-unit residential building to be built on that block (former home of the Nexus Gold Club). You can see the obligatory photos of Dignitaries-With-Shovels here. (Yes, I did get my invite after all. Thank you!)
But there was big news tucked into the press release touting what JPI is now calling its "Capitol Yards" neighborhood along I Street (with 70 and 100 I Street across the way from 909 New Jersey about to sprout out of their deep hole): the announcement of plans for 23 I Street, a fourth JPI residential project on I Street, slated to have 421 residential units and as much as 35,000 square feet of retail space. Its location would be on the south side of I Street between Half and South Capitol, from Half over to (and including) the current Wendy's lot. (The moribund Exxon station does not currently appear to be part of the plans.) Construction wouldn't start before 2008. I haven't added it to my main map yet, but I've put up a few boring shots of what the block looks like as of now.
With that, the number of not-spoken-for lots in Near Southeast has just about dwindled to zero. Pretty much there's the block on New Jersey across from Capitol Hill Tower (though Akridge now owns a portion of it), the Exxon at South Capitol and I if JPI doesn't grab it, and the Metro Chiller Plant on the southwest corner of Half and L, which might not be made available anytime soon. (And I'm assuming that the rumors of Monument Realty picking up the Sunoco site at 50 M are true.) Everything else west of 7th Street is now spoken for. So if you were hoping to make your millions in Near Southeast and you haven't already staked your claim, your time's just about up, unless you can wrest some parcels out of some other developer's hands.
UPDATE, 6/11: Five days later, here's the Post's blurb on Capitol Yards.
 

I've now added to my Florida Rock page the new proposed site map and some watercolors illustrating the revised design of "RiverFront on the Anacostia." As I said yesterday, the architect has written to the Zoning Commission asking if these new plans are in line with what the ZC was looking for when it sent the planners back to the drawing board in February (by the way, here's the transcript of that meeting); the commission will be addressing this letter at its Public Meeting on Monday, June 11. It would be expected that then more hearings would be held on the new designs later this year.
I've tried to highlight the changes and new features of the plan beneath each of the new images, but apologies in advance if my text comes up short; I'm not exactly known for flowery prose and colorful descriptions.
More posts: Florida Rock, zoning
 

Tucked in the stories (Post and WashTimes) about the bill that passed its first reading in front of the council yesterday--allowing the relocation of the strip clubs that have left Near Southeast because of the arrival of the stadium and surrounding development--was word that an amendment to the bill had passed allowing clubs to relocate to certain zoned areas within 5,000 feet of the ballpark. People are already e-mailing me with the vapors, so here's what I've been able to find out.
The circle covered by a one-mile radius around the stadium site stretches across all of Near Southeast, most of Buzzards Point, a fair amount of Southwest, and even into Anacostia and small portions of Capitol Hill. But the text of the amendment says that the clubs can relocate "in any C-3, C-4, or C-5 zone within 5000 feet from the Baseball Stadium footprint"; once you take into account those restrictions, when you look at the zoning maps you'll see that there are very few locations that have those zone designations; in Near Southeast, the only areas meeting that criteria are the land bounded by South Capitol, I, M, and New Jersey (what I call the "North of M" area) and the area just south the freeway over to the Post Plant. In Southwest, the area between I, M, South Capitol, and 2nd St. SW, and the Waterside Mall parcel, are the only C-3/4/5 zones within the 5,000-foot radius. And across the river in Anacostia there is only one small area zoned C-3-A.
But, given the character of the areas in Near Southeast where these one-time strip club relocations would be allowed, it would appear to be a remote possibility--after all, what the clubs generally look for are large spaces with low rents, and with most C-3 parcels in Near Southeast now purchased by developers with grand plans for shiny new buildings, it would seem that the large-space/low-rent options east of South Capitol are few and far between. Unless the club owners decide to build big tents beneath the freeway.
 

When last we left the planned redevelopment of the Florida Rock site that sits on the Anacostia River just south of the new baseball stadium back in February, the Zoning Commission had surprisingly sent the architects back to the drawing board, concerned with how the project's design was fitting in with its new neighbor to the north and with the its now-prime location as a gateway to the Capitol Riverfront area. It's been quiet for a few months, but I received word today that Florida Rock Properties and Davis Buckley Architects and Planners have a revised design for this project, as well as a new name--RiverFront on the Anacostia--and are requesting that the Zoning Commission review the new plans (described as "a holistic re-thinking", especially of its public spaces) to confirm that they "respond positively" to the concerns expressed by the ZC back in March.
There are still two office buildings, a residential building, and a hotel, but the configuration has now changed to create three distinct public spaces, including a large new commercial public plaza called "The Pitch" (with sculptures of a pitcher and catcher on a grassy mound) directly across from the grand staircase of the ballpark and next to the proposed Diamond Teague Park. There is also a "multi-story transparent atrium space" called "Potomac Quay" linking Potomac Avenue to the riverfront, and a large oval "Piazza Cascade" with a central water feature that is at the center of three of the four buildings on the site. The esplanade and bike path running along the riverfront remain unchanged.
Although the overall density of the development remains unchanged (4.4 FAR for those of you in the know), residential space is now 557,700 square feet or 2.2 FAR, which is 50% of the density (up from 40%); to achieve this, the residential building and the hotel building (which in the new plan would have two residential floors on top) would be 130 feet high; the east office building by "The Pitch" would be 92 feet high, and the west office building 112 feet. The amount of retail has also been expanded, to 85,000 square feet.
I hope to have electronic versions of the new site plan and some early watercolor imaginings of the revised design within the next day or so, and when I post them I'll include better descriptions of what the new design is hoping to accomplish. (Yes, I'm looking at hard copies right now, so I can see all these designs and you can't. Nyaaah! But hopefully you won't have to wait too long.)
The Zoning Commission has put this request for review of the new plans on the agenda for next Monday (June 11); if the commission indicates that the revised design is on the right track in terms of how it responds to the issues that the ZC brought up in February, then there would be a hearing scheduled on this proposed modification for the second-stage PUD, probably in the fall.
UPDATED to fix the incorrect amount of total residential space, which is 557,700 square feet.
More posts: Florida Rock, zoning
 

From the Washington Business Journal, first word that Mayor Fenty won the battle of wills on the fate of the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and the National Capital Revitalization Corporation, as apparently the city council voted today to fold both agencies into the mayor's office, under the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Development. An alternate plan pushed by council member Kwame Brown had called for the creation of a new single quasi-independent "Economic Development Agency" that would have assumed control of a few of the largest projects currently under the auspices of the AWC and NCRC, with the rest going to the deputy mayor; that idea now falls by the wayside. Deputy Mayor Neil Albert (whose plate just got a whole lot fuller) is now tasked with creating a plan for the integration of the two agencies into his office, to be presented to the council in August and to the city in a series of public forums this summer. I'll add more links as the additional news stories come down the pike. To start, here's the press release from the mayor.
UPDATE, 6/6: Here's the Examiner's story. And the Post story.

 

A few days back, I posted about the WMATA board's approval on May 24 of a resolution to take first steps toward moving the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M to a new facility at DC Village in Southwest; however, when it was approved, there was an amendment added by council member Jim Graham that required that the city come up with a plan for relocating the homeless families currently living in the shelter at DC Village within seven days, or else the WMATA board's resolution wouldn't take effect. It took a few days of digging, but today I've been forwarded Mr. Graham's confirmation that the resolution did indeed take effect, meaning (it would appear) that an agreement on finding new accommodations for the homeless families has been reached. There is a WMATA Planning, Development, and Real Estate Committee meeting on June 14, so at that time we should hear more about the next steps laid out in the May 24 resolution (holding a public hearing on the project, advertising the Phase 1 construction contract, negotiating with the city to aquire the DC Village property, applying for a Federal bus facility grant, and authorizing the sale of the garage and its parking lot).
More posts: Metro/WMATA, staddis
 

I gave you the short-and-sweet update yesterday on the progress at the Nationals ballpark, but if you want the real nitty-gritty of all aspects of the project, here's the 10-page Monthly Report submitted by the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission to the City Council on May 14 (posted on Councilmember David Catania's ballpark page). It describes the current state of the schedule, budget, procurement, design, construction, coordination, and public outreach. For example, you can learn from it that approximately 65% of the stadium's structural steel and concrete is now in place, as well as 58% of the precast concrete. Typical daily manpower on the site in April? 432 workers.
One piece of development-type news in the report: the DCSEC is "drafting a request for proposals for the sale of the First Street retail development rights as a means to offset any hazardous material cleanup costs in excess of the budgeted amount and to provide the non-program retail required by the Zoning Commission final order while remaining in conformance with the Council cost cap legislation."
Also, as I've mentioned in other posts, it's expected that the draft Transportation Operations and Parking Plan will be released sometime in June.
But, if you're interested in the state of, say, the sand filters or the service level slab-on-grade concrete, this is the document for you.
UPDATED because the original headline made it sound like the DCSEC *might* report, as opposed to this being their report for the month of May. Oops.

 

Today's Post has an overview of the tussle going on between the mayor and the council over what to do with the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation (AWC) and the National Capital Revitalization Corporation (NCRC). The council is voting today on whether to create a new quasi-independent agency, the Economic Development Authority, that would oversee the largest of the land projects in the city, while letting the smaller ones fall under the mayor's office for planning and economic development. The council is supposed to vote today on Brown's proposal.
 

From yesterday's Post "Get There" Blog, Dr. Gridlock reports that the Maryland Transit Administration is asking for comments from Southern Maryland commuters about how the agency should handle the diverting of buses and altering of schedules during the two-month shutdown in July and August of the Douglass Bridge. The column says that the "the commuter bus staff is inviting riders to talk it over with them on Wednesday [JUne 6] between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Hall of States building [at 444 N. Capitol Street NW, between E and D streets], Room 283. Make sure you have a photo ID with you, because the security staff at the front desk will ask to see it." Don't forget that WMATA has already announced its plans for altering bus routes and fares during the shutdown, and the Bridge Bucks program has now been launched, where DDOT will bribe pay commuters to switch to buses, trains, or vanpools during the "Extreme Makeover."
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For those of you not obsessively checking the Stadium Construction Cam at five-minute intervals, I've got a few recent highlights of the stadium construction's progress you might be interested in:
A 200-foot-tall crane is now in place along South Capitol Street, which will be used to help construct the Nationals' new office building adjacent to the ballpark.
On the north end of the site, concrete columns are now being poured for the two aboveground parking garages.
Inside the stadium itself, along the first-base line, the first area of "cast on slope" seating is almost complete; in addition, the drilling of what will end up being nearly 100,000 holes for anchoring the seats in the stands has begun, and workers are also now installing the cast-in-place aisle steps between the seating sections.
And, away from the camera's glare, drywall framing is in progress in the locker rooms and other service level areas.
But if you decide to drive down there for a visit, beware of dust clouds, massive potholes, and heavy construction vehicles. (Actually, right now that description pretty much applies to all of Near Southeast between South Capitol Street and New Jersey Avenue. Enter at your own risk!)
UPDATE: And the Washington Business Journal is reporting that a small DC company, Gelberg Signs, has been hired to make and install more than 3,000 signs for the stadium, in a contract worth more than $1 million, with the work starting next month. The contract was awarded under the ballpark's Local, Small, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. Gelberg has been in business since 1941. UPDATE II: Here's the press release.
More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

The antiwar group US Labor Against the War is protesting against the oil law that many in the U.S. government want to see the Iraqi government pass; the group contends that the U.S. company BearingPoint is the one writing the law, and so on Tuesday at 5 pm they will be holding a demonstration at BearingPoint's offices at 80 M Street SE, followed at 5:30 by a march to the U.S. Capitol--here's their flyer about the demonstration. And joining in the protest are people who are supporting the three Marine reservists facing possible disciplinary action for wearing parts of their uniforms during antiwar protests (read this Washington Post story for details on the Marines' tale). So, if you see some tumult on Tuesday, that's what it is.

More posts: 80m, M Street
 

Thanks to the latest update of the DC Property Sales database, I can now report that the entire block known as Square 696 (bounded by 1st, I, K, and Half) changed hands on April 12; the Pedas family sold its three lots, totaling 54,700 sq ft, for $49.834 million; Potomac Development Corporation received $19.544 million for the 19,600-sq-ft lot on the northeast corner of the block (home to a firewood business for many years). The database lists the buyer as "99 I Street SE LP"; we know from the signs that have gone up that the square is being developed as an office/retail project by DRI Development Services (a wholly owned subsidiary of Transwestern). No details yet on exactly what's coming, or when. (And a hat tip to the Pedas family, who adds this $49.8 million take to the $51.6 million payday they were part of when Ron Cohen bought Square 699N one block to the south in Sept. 2005 and the $4.5 million garnered from their sale of the Domino's lot at the corner of South Capitol and M in August 2005. Apparently you can make some money in this real estate biz.)
With this transaction now official, I've created a DRI/99 I Street page, with not-terribly-exciting photos of the block and my previous news items, and have added it to my main map and project directory.

 

I'm not sure how often readers look at my DC Government Feeds box on the home page, but I wait with baited breath each day as they're released, hoping for some tidbit of news; and today there's a double reward in the Building Permits list.
First, at the Velocity Condos lot at 1001 First Street, a sheeting/shoring/excavation permit has now been approved, so that digging work can begin on the three-level underground parking garages that will serve the two condo buildings that are the first phases of this project on Square 699N, the block that used to be home to Wet/Edge and Club 55. (I'm trying to make the switch away from the 699N designation, so for a few weeks I'll be referring to both the old and new names.) The first condo building is scheduled for completion in 2009; we should see the official web site launching soon, and the sales center at Half and K opening this summer. If you can't bear to wait to see what the first building is going to look like, I've added a rendering to my Velocity page (scroll down a bit); there are others on ADC Builders web site, but you'll need to click on "Portfolio", then on "Planning", then on "L Street Project" to page through them. (Damn Flash sites!) These renderings have been there for a while, but I've only recently confirmed that they are indeed of Velocity; but I've also been told that far nicer ones will be available with the official web site comes online. Anyway, look for the digging to begin along the west side of First between K and L soon.
The other issued building permit is for 909 New Jersey Avenue, the site of the old Nexus Gold Club and where JPI is building its second residential project in Near Southeast, across the street from the soon-to-be-above-ground buildings at 70/100 I Street. Quoting directly from the permit, but with typos fixed: "INSTALL ONE 40X70 TENT: NO LIGHTING GENERATORS COOKING PROPANE OR HEATERS. TEMPORARY USE FOR GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY EVENT ON JUNE 6TH 2007." Fun! So if you see a big party at New Jersey and I on Wednesday, that's what it is. Alas, I haven't been invited; but there's still time to contact me, JPI!
 

Just a heads up that the June issue of the Hill Rag (not yet online) has a number of round-up stories that might be of interest, ranging from reports on the May ANC 6D meeting and the Zoning Commission's approval of surface parking lots (see my already-posted reports on these events here and here) to a story on the two recent public roundtables on Community Benefits (my preview of the meetings here) and the story of the DC students who recently produced a documentary on the Anacostia River. There's also an overview of how the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation is moving forward with the plans for Hill East. The Hill Rag can be picked up at many businesses and street corners around the Hill.
More posts:
 

The mixed-use project on Square 699N (the block bounded by Half, K, L, and 1st, which was cleared of all of its buildings during April) now has a "placeholder" web site--Go to http://www.velocitydc.com, and you'll see a "Coming Soon" image for Velocity Capitol Riverfront. (Does "Velocity" refer just to the first 14-story condo building getting underway soon on the northwest corner of 1st and L, or the entire development? I don't know.) This first phase of the block's redevelopment is expected to be completed in 2009, and the sales center should be opening this summer; eventually there will be a "sister" residential building built at Half and K; the final phase could be office or hotel or Whatever The Market Will Bear When the Time Comes. For pre- and post-demolition photos, see my now-renamed Velocity page.
(And what the heck, I'll give myself a public pat on the back for guessing the URL--I've been checking it for weeks, wondering if I was right or not, and today finally got my payoff.)

 

EYA has just sent out an e-mail announcing that they will accept reservations on the next five market-rate homes at Capitol Quarter starting tomorrow, June 2, at 11 am. So the tent city outside the sales office at 4th and L will presumably be folding up shop--at least until the next batch of campers arrives in anticipation of a July offering.
More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 

On Thursday night the Zoning Commission had another hearing on Case 06-41, Camden Development's 276-unit residential project at 1325 South Capitol Street. It's been a long trek for this project, having been caught in limbo as the Capitol Gateway Overlay was expanded to include their location and as the city's Inclusionary Zoning law came into being, and so they were back for another hearing because it was decided that in order to properly handle the case it needed to be resubmitted as a Planned Unit Development--I can't bear to try to get anymore specific than that, so here's the transcript from the March ZC hearing on the matter. The submitted plan last night was basically same as at their February hearing (here's the transcript).
Commissioner Turnbull led the questioning, and he seemed exasperated by the western facade of the project, expressing much concern it since will be facing the low-rise residential neighborhood in Southwest; even though the developer had added some additional articulation since the last hearing, he considered it "bland" and remarked that it's not just the back of a building, because it's very visible to the surrounding neighborhood. Turnbull also asked for information on where the affordable housing units will be in the building, wanting to make sure they wouldn't only be on the west side of the building; the developers responded that they are spread throughout floors 1-6 on three sides of the building. Turnbull also took issue with the non-green design of the roof, but the developers explained that they had to put the air conditioning mechanics on the roof to lessen the noise impact on the neighbors. The other two commissioners present, Hood and Parsons, expressed their strong support for all of the issues brought up by Turnbull.
Joel Lawson of the Office of Planning testified in support of the project, mentioning that the landscaped courtyard in the back will be a "nice feature" for neighbors; he said that additional articulation of the rear of the building would be fine, but that OP was happy with the current massing. It was also noted that ANC 6D supports the project as well. And the wife of one neighbor who had originally wanted to testify in opposition to the project announced they were now supporting it, after the ANC negotiated a deal for the neighors at 2, 4, 6, and 8 O Street to be able to lease parking spaces in the project's garage for 50% off the market rate.
The commission asked for documentation on the affordable-housing unit layout and some additional work on the rear side of the building; the submittal, response, and draft order process is to be completed by June 21, with a vote to be scheduled soon afterward.
 
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