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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: June 2008
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The fine folks working the Wendy's drive-through window this evening at South Capitol and I tell me that their closing date is now the end of July. At this point (this is the third date I've now heard, starting with end-of-May, then end-of-June), I'm just going to not say anything more about it until I see locks on the doors. The property is part of the footprint for JPI's fourth Capitol Yards apartment building, 23 I at Capitol Yards, which JPI has said would be starting constuction this fall. We shall see....
 

The "Jefferson at Capitol Yards Block Party" was held Saturday afternoon, and I used it as an opportunity to get inside of this now-opened apartment building at 70 I Street to update the not-quite-finished-yet interior photos I originally posted back in May. You can see the new batch here, which includes lots of photos of the resident pub, the other amenities, two of the models, and of course the views from the roof. For now, the first three floors are available for leasing; the rest will open in phases over the next few months, with the building expected to be completed this fall.
I also added a few of the roof views to my Overhead Photos Archive, which you can compare with the ones I took at 70 I a month ago to see the progress in four weeks at 909 New Jersey, Velocity, and even the hole in the ground that will become 1015 Half Street.
Hopefully in a few weeks I'll be able to do the same thing for sibling 100 I when they open its public spaces and models.
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I've been coveting electronic versions of the newer twilight-styled renderings of upcoming Yards projects, which have been taunting me from the fence drapings along Tingey and Fourth streets; and now I've gotten my mitts on them. Above is an overhead shot of the Waterfront Park, showing not only the various landmarks planned for this stretch along the Anacostia, but also perhaps a first peek or two at designs for some of the later-phase buildings to the north of the 5.8-acre park. I've also now got dusk-time renderings for the brown-and-white Pattern Shop Lofts apartment building and the retail-to-be Boilermaker Shop. All three of these projects should open in 2009 (though the park's piers and retail pavilions will be happening in future phases).
 

If you've been wondering what this white tent-like structure is at the First and N entrance to The Yards (across from the ballpark), the nice folks at Forest City have told me it will be "The Yards Pavilion," which they describe as a "sort of marketing gallery for the project that will be open and staffed on home game dates for the Nationals for the remainder of the summer months. It will contain exhibit panels dealing with the proud industrial history of The Yards site as well as info and images of the development components to come. There will also be a fun 'Yards Personality Quiz' and helpful folks on hand to answer questions." It will also become home to the "Yards Street Team" that has been roaming the area during Nats weekend home games handing out Yards marketing material. The pavilion will make its official debut during the July 8 Nats home stand.
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I know nothing more than this right now, but the WMATA board just within the past minute voted unanimously to approve the settlement of the lawsuit brought against them by Monument Realty over the sale of the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M. The discussion was all held in executive session, and the audio feed of the vote contained no details of the settlement, but I imagine the media will be picking it up soon. More as I get it, so keep checking back. Read yesterday's preview entry for background on the story.
UPDATE, seconds later: With the darn WBJ RSS feed not working, I missed this from about 40 minutes ago: ""Monument Realty and Akridge will split a key Metro-owned property near Nationals Park under a proposed legal settlement. [...] Monument will pay $22.6 million for a parcel on Van Street SE, while Akridge will pay $46.5 million for the Metro bus garage on the site, said Candace Smith, a WMATA spokeswoman." The Van Street site is the parking lot (Nats lot "M") just south of the Domino's site already owned by Monument. This means that the Public Space Storage building would be the only parcel on the block bounded South Capitol, Van, M and N not owned by Monument. Akridge would not gain control of the entire west side of Half Street with its acquisition of the bus garage: Monument owns the southernmost portion, directly across N Street from the ballpark, up to the alley where the On the Fly vending cart sets up shop.
UPDATE II: Here's the Metro press release.
 

Another project for which I've posted a bunch of new photos in the past few days is the Velocity condo building at First and L streets. It's now topped out at 13 (gasp!) floors, and the exterior facings are starting to be hung on the western and southern sides of the building. When completed next year, it will have 200 units, along with some ground-floor retail. Eventually a twin 200-unit building will be built on the northern side of the block; the garage has already been dug, and is/will be covered with a plaza area until construction is ready to start. Phase 3 of the block, along Half Street, could be office or hotel space, depending on market conditions.
This block, which the Cohen Companies purchased in 2005 for $55 million, was home to a lot of small businesses, including the nightclubs Wet, Edge, and Club 55. At the bottom of my Velocity project page, past the photos of the sales center/model, you can see additional photos of how the block used to look, including some new ones from 2003 and 2004 that I've just added. And, if all of this isn't enough and you want to see still more images of Velocity's impact on the skyline, browse its Expanded Project Archive.
 

From WBJ (h/t to reader W), hints that a settlement may be close at hand between Monument Realty and Metro over the lawsuit Monument filed in October after WMATA awarded the sale of the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M to Akridge. This is the third Metro monthly board meeting in a row that has "Monument Legal Issues" on the agenda for an executive session, but maybe this time something will actually come out of it.
Back in February a judge granted an injunction to prevent WMATA from continuing with the planned $69.5 million sale of the garage to Akridge, saying that Monument "demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits of their claim that they were substantially prejudiced when WMATA considered Akridge's nonresponsive bid and participated in improper ex parte discussions with Akridge."
 

Three items for your perusal this afternoon:
* The Post's Al Kamen reports on the accessibility problems at the US DOT HQ: "Agency officials say the building -- the first entirely designed and constructed for a federal agency since 9/11 -- was built with guidance from disability experts and help from the U.S. Access Board and the General Services Administration. But dozens of employees with disabilities began to have problems -- some caused by security precautions -- as soon as the 6,000 workers moved in last summer. There were several safety issues, such as fire alarms without blinking lights for the hearing-impaired, and there were doors that required too much strength to open. Employees were especially frustrated by cafeteria tray slides that are so high that employees who use wheelchairs cannot reach their food, a violation of standards and a constant annoyance." DOT issued some "guidelines" that didn't exactly soothe the ruffled feathers.
* Yesterday the Nationals Dream Foundation unveiled the renderings for their planned baseball academy at Fort Dupont Park in Ward 7. As described by MLB.com, "Slated as a 16,000 square foot facility with three fields on 10 acres, the academy will be a year-round youth development program committed to helping youth with the skills necessary to succeed in life, and to become responsible, productive citizens in their community." The Nationals have put up $3.5 million, and the city has committed $3 million, and so the foundation is looking for corporate sponsorships to fund the rest of the $10 million price tag for the project, which is looking to emulate the Harlem RBI academy in New York. I was interested to hear in the presentation that the academy would not only groom baseball players, but teach groundskeeping, broadcasting, scouting, coaching, and other parts of the whole baseball experience. On hand for yesterday's announcement were Nats Dimitri Young, Elijah Dukes, Lastings Milledge, and Willie Harris, who you can see in this embarrassingly poor-quality photo.
* This passage from a New York Times piece on how the cost of fuel is changing the way America thinks about its "exurbs" is one that caught my eye: "Coors Field, the intimate, brick-fronted baseball stadium for the Colorado Rockies, has transformed the surrounding area from a desolate skid row into fashionable Lower Downtown, a neighborhood of restaurants and microbreweries in restored warehouses. Along the Platte River, new condos set on a park strip offer an arresting tableau of glass, steel, and futuristic geometry, attracting throngs of buyers at rising prices. 'This is a city where it's fun to be in the center,' said Tim Burleigh, 56, who sold his house in the suburbs and now walks to Rockies games from his downtown condo. To Denver's mayor, John W. Hickenlooper, $4 gasoline offers a useful incentive for such plans. 'It can be an accelerator,' he said[....] 'It's not going to be the dagger in the heart of suburban sprawl, but there's a certain inclination, a certain momentum back toward downtown.' "
 

Some items on upcoming ballpark festivities that might be of interest:
* With thanks to reader JM for catching word of this at last Saturday's game, I've found out from the Nationals that they will be showing baseball-themed movies on the HD scoreboard after Saturday night games. The first one wlll be Rookie of the Year, this Saturday (June 28) after the Nats play the Orioles. There will also be another one (title yet to be announced) after the July 12 game against the Astros. More details on this should be forthcoming from the Nationals in the next few days.
* If you ladies want to learn the ins and outs of baseball, this event on Saturday June 28 at 10 am is for you: "The Washington Nationals will host their second annual Baseball 101 Clinic, an exclusive opportunity for women to learn hitting, pitching and fielding with Nationals coaches and players. Following the on-field portion of the event, attendees will enjoy a buffet lunch and a question and answer session moderated by Nationals sideline reporter Debbi Taylor. Felipe Lopez, Nationals second baseman, and his wife, Nationals First Lady Jenn Lopez, will address the women about what life is like for a family in the Major Leagues. Nationals Massage Therapist Tatiana Tchamouroff will also speak to the group about her position with the team and what her job entails. The cost of attending the day's event is $85. In addition to the clinic and luncheon, participants will receive a Baseball 101 t-shirt and two Mezzanine Level tickets to that evening's game against the Baltimore Orioles at 7:10pm. Interested parties may register in advance via the Community Page at nationals.com Walk-up registration is available beginning at 9:00am on Saturday at the Center Field Gate and requires payment in full."
* Repeating an item buried in yesterday morning's update: If you can get your hands on a copy of the Southwester (the neighborhood newspaper of Southwest), there's a coupon for $3 off any $10 or higher ticket at the ballpark on "Neighborhood Nights" (i.e., every Friday night home game).
* And, while I was writing this entry, word arrived from the Nationals that they have "partnered with the Spanish Beisbol Network to launch Spanish radio broadcasts of all Nationals games. The broadcast will debut on WZHF 1390AM on Friday, June 27, when the Nationals face the Baltimore Orioles at 7:35pm." A Spanish language version of the official team web site, losnacionales.com, launched in April.
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Are you stuck inside, maybe not even near a window (like me), on this gorgeous summer day? Then take a few minutes to run through this new batch of photos from up high at the Courtyard by Marriott at New Jersey and L, SE, showing views east across the Cappers and west across New Jersey Avenue (both down toward the ballpark and up toward the Capitol), displayed alongside the 2006 "befores" from the same angles. If somehow the differences between "old" and "new" Near Southeast haven't quite been apparent to you before now, this batch of photos should finally take care of it--remember, it's a mere 27 months between the oldest and newest shots.
And, if you've got some time, you should really look at the complete lineup of images from these locations, taken approximately every three months since early 2007, to watch the progression of old buildings disappearing and new ones popping up.
As a special added bonus, you can also see proof that the USDOT's vaunted green roof is indeed green.
 

* Outside the Boundaries I: On June 30 at 6:30 pm, the Zoning Commission is having a hearing on the creation of a new zoning overlay district for Hill East. Quoting: "The proposed HE District is part of the implementation of the Reservation 13 Hill East Waterfront Master Plan, which received final approval from the Council of the District of Columbia on October 15, 2002. The vision for Reservation 13 redevelopment is to be a mixed-use, mixed-income, vibrant city neighborhood with residences, retail, office, health care, and institutional uses. The redevelopment will extend the Hill East neighborhood street grid, and extend Massachusetts Avenue to end in a ceremonial circle at the waterfront."
* Outside the Boundaries II: The July Southwester (PDF, 7 MB) reports that the Marina Towers rehab is now going to result in apartments rather than condos. There's also blurbs on stadium parking and traffic issues as they impact Southwest, and other items of interest to folks on the west side of South Capitol.
* For those of you willing to hunt for the hard copies, there's also a coupon in the Southwester for $3 off any $10 or higher ticket at the ballpark on "Neighborhood Nights" (i.e., every Friday night home game). Then you can watch the fireworks from inside the ballpark for a change.
* Want to join the fun and run for a seat on ANC 6D? Petitions to get on the ballot can be picked up starting Aug. 6 at the DC Board of Elections.
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* Sorry I missed this until now: the Post reported that on Saturday evening "[a] motorcycle was headed west on M Street SE about 6:30 p.m. when a car traveling south on Seventh Street began to turn onto M Street. The car and motorcycle collided, and the motorcyclist was fatally injured, police said."
* The Post's Grounds Crew blog has only now discovered that there's a Five Guys just around the corner from the Navy Yard subway station east entrance (on Second Street north of M, if you haven't discovered it yet, either).
* The PSA 105 mailing list announced yesterday that they are having a "Summer of Safety Ice Cream Social" at Capitol Hill Tower "to show unity with the citizens of Capitol Hill and the Metropolitan Police Department by sharing some nice and cool ice cream while sharing information." The message said that the social is from 2 to 5 pm on June 25. A Wednesday afternoon? I wrote asking for confirmation, but haven't heard back. Anyone out there with the {ahem} scoop?
* Washington City Paper and WBJ both note layoffs at MacFarlane Partners through the prism of how it might affect the drive to put a soccer stadium at Poplar Point; I see the news and wonder about the capital that MacFarlane is supposed to be investing in both The Yards and Monument Realty's Half Street.
* Is the report in the July Southwester that Monument Realty and the Corcoran Gallery have received zoning approval to delay to 2015 (from 2011) their planned redevelopment of the the Randall School site at Half and I SW something to wonder about, too?
* And, while I'm heading off the reservation with all of this wondering, did anyone else read this Post story on fuel prices causing problems for school districts' transportation budgets and ponder whether buses would have to drive farther to and from their daily routes from a parking lot at DC Village as compared to one at Second and M, SE?
 

From JPI, in a press release announcing the official opening of the Jefferson at Capitol Yards (always known here as 70 I Street), an invitation to a "free block party for prospective residents on Saturday, June 28th, from 4:00 p.m. until game time at the nearby Washington Nationals ballpark. Visitors will enjoy barbeque, beverages, and tours of newly opened model apartments and amenity spaces."
While chowing down you can learn about the "resort-style swimming pool, rooftop deck, high-tech business center with private workstations and Internet access, executive conference center, movie theater with stadium seating, available bicycle storage and personal storage space, and 24-hour fitness center with cardio equipment, individual TVs, circuit training and free weights" as well as "a large pub room with plasma TVs, billiards, shuffleboard, foosball, darts, poker, Ipod docking station, and video gaming stations."
And all apartments are pre-wired for Verizon FIOS, easing the loading of all those resource-intensive JDLand photo pages, including my photos from a few weeks ago of the then-not-quite-finished interiors of Jefferson and Axiom next door.
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* DDOT told me these were coming a long time ago, and a reader whose e-mail I've lost gave me a heads up a few weeks back, but now I've finally visited for myself to see that the ugly cyclone fences on the South Capitol and M overpass have been replaced with pretty gray-painted ironwork.
* You have to look kind of closely, but construction has indeed started at Capitol Quarter, with pretty new curbs being installed on the south side of L Street between Fourth and Fifth. You can see them if you squint at the photos on my Capitol Quarter Phase I page.
* The owner of the Third and K Market at, um, Third and K must be keeping track of what's going on nearby, because there's now a For Rent sign tucked in the door. (Alas, all the info sheets were gone when I got there.) If you've ever dreamed of running a corner market, here's your chance. The market's been closed since about 2006.
* The "Wachovia Coming Soon" sign is back in the window at 20 M, so my building permit reading was on the mark. (It's in the window on the far western edge of the building.)
UPDATE: Speaking of 20 M, GlobeSt.com is reporting (tucked in a piece on LEED Gold certification for 1100 New York Avenue) that several leasing deals are pending for 20 M. So perhaps that's why Wachovia has decided to start moving forward.
* I did a bit of needed housingcleaning to the home page map and project directory--adding in 88 K as a "featured project", demoting 1345 South Capitol to "star-only" status until the project starts moving forward again, and adding a few additional stars for projects like the coming retail renovation of 900 M Street.
I also did some updating of the tabs with the lists of projects--if you don't realize the tabs are even there (look just above the map for "Residential/Office/Retail/Hotel"), take some time during this lazy summer to click on them and be stunned and amazed by the easy access to project information....
 

Three weeks is way too long to go between updates when a building skeleton is on its way up, so seeing 909 New Jersey now starting its 11th story is a bit of a shock. The latest photos on the project page capture the building from all angles (and show that the facing work is already starting on the lower floors), and the Expanded Gallery includes photos from farther away showing the impact 909's rise is having on the Near Southeast skyline. This 237-unit rental building will have 6,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, and is expected to be completed next year.
And, on the pages for both 909 NJ page and its siblings 70 and 100 I, I've now added a few more "old" photos of the lots before they were bought and cleared. I've been so focused on matching before-and-afters, which is simplest when done standing at intersections, that I've forgotten how many mid-block photos I used to take, especially waaaaaaaaay back during 2003 and 2004 (heh). As always, let the icon be your guide for the latest additions to the project pages, and use the Click to see all available photos of this location. icon wherever you see it to view all photos in the archive from a certain vantage point.
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During two looooong photo treks today I found a new fence draping on First Street between I and K, advertising the three-building office-and-retail project on Square 696, now dubbed The Plaza on K. It indicates, as I was gleaning a few weeks ago, that DRI/Transwestern are indeed planning to move forward with 88 K, the first phase of the project, later this year, with delivery in mid-2010. There's now an official ThePlazaonK.com web site, for those of you looking to lease office or retail space.
Thankfully the nice sunny day allowed me to snag really good photos of the two renderings on the fence sign, which are shown above but which you can see in non-micro version on my Plaza on K page (scroll down a tad to see them--you have to be looking pretty close to realize they're not digital files). Both renderings show the planned 8,000-sq-ft public plaza on K Street just west of First Street. The project page also has lots of photos showing how much Square 696's "neighbors" have changed in the past few years.
Now we're just waiting to see when the old cab garage at First and K gets demolished....
(And--lots more photo updates coming over the next few days, so keep checking back.)
 

It's now becoming almost a monthly occurrence, watching for the WMATA Planning, Development, and Real Estate Committee agendas to be posted, to then find that the agenda item for naming a developer for the Navy Yard subway station's 14,000-sq-ft "chiller plant" site on the southwest corner of Half and L has been pushed to a "subsequent agenda"--and it's now happened again, with a July 24 date now attached to it. (It was last marked for June 26.) This site would be a joint development between WMATA and whoever gets chosen, and beyond that there's no hints as to what sort of development it could be, or whether they'd try to acquire the Empire Cab company next door on L. You can read all my previous entries on the chiller plant here--and I bet you didn't know that the blog has such a spiffy search interface!
 

* The Washington Business Journal says in today's print edition: "The debate about whether Poplar Point should include a soccer stadium could take a back seat to whether Poplar Point should be developed at all. A coalition of environmental groups wants to stop a $2.5 billion, 40-acre mixed-use project by Clark Realty Capital LLC and transform the 110 acres along the Anacostia River into an urban public park -- "a Rock Creek Park for residents of Southeast," one of the coalition's leaders calls it. The coalition plans a June 24 announcement to kick off its campaign to derail the development." The Earth Conservations Corps is one of the groups. Meanwhile, this effort "comes on the heels of a Government Accountability Office report that raises questions about how quickly the site, owned by the federal government, can be transferred to D.C. and how much environmental cleanup will be required. The June 13 report estimates it could take three years before the transfer, which was established by a 2006 law."
UPDATE: WBJ now also reports that the groups plan "to sue D.C. and the federal government for failing to clean up toxic waste on Poplar Point after the city received $3.4 million from the federal government to do so in 2002."
* Also in the WBJ, word that the transfer of 67 acres of federal property along the Anacostia in Hill East is snagged because the Architect of the Capitol has rejected DC's four proposed sites for a new AOC mail-sorting facility.
* This week's City Paper is a huge "Hoods and Services" issue, giving cutesy names to various areas of the city (Capitol Hill becoming C-Spanistan, for instance) and ranking them on various categories. Near Southeast and Southwest become one area called "Nats Flats," though it's not clear from the accompanying essay that they really understand that most of the streets right by the ballpark are actually in Southeast and not Southwest.
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From the Nats, word that the new bar(s) located in the wide-open area behind the scoreboard will be officially opening tonight: "The Miller Lite Scoreboard Walk Bar will open on Friday, June 20, prior to the Nationals 7:35pm Interleague contest against the Texas Rangers. The Grand Opening, beginning at 5:30pm, will feature live music, Miller Lite giveaways and the opportunity to win Nationals prizes. Located on the Nationals Park Club Level in Center Field, the 1,000-square-foot bar is open to all Nationals fans during home games. The area will feature local bands before each Friday home game from 6:00pm to 7:30pm." I hope this doesn't now mean that there will be a bunch of tipsy knitting hooligans running around....
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Jun 19, 2008 12:46 PM
With thanks to architect Gregory Powe, I've got the early elevations for the planned renovations of 900 M Street, the beige one-story building that is being converted into a retail space. (You can see a larger version here, showing both the M Street and Ninth Street facades, which you can compare to current photos of the building). As I wrote a few days back, this building that was once a Hudson automobile dealership and more recently a dialysis unit is looking to become home to "three national tenants," though none have been named. Historic Preservation Review Board staff have now approved the design, and it's also been presented to the Capitol Hill Restoration Society and ANC 6B's Planning and Zoning Committee. Building permits for the exterior renovations are expected to be applied for this summer.
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Jun 19, 2008 10:25 AM
Today's Post has a profile of the Earth Conservation Corps, noting how the environmental awareness group "aims to have events in the children's play zone at Nationals Park as soon as this week. The ballpark plans include having young corps members interacting with an owl and a hawk, and having members facilitate educational games and activities. The group will also encourage fans to walk to its facility in the Old Capitol Pumphouse, steps from the ballpark, at Diamond Teague Park, after games." The ECC is also the recipient of a three-year grant totaling $120,000 from the Nationals Dream Foundation. The article says that the city is still planning to build the new docks at the pumphouse this summer or fall, to enable water taxi service to begin there by the opening of the 2009 baseball season. You can see my ECC/Diamond Teague Park page for photos and renderings of the plans for the park.
 

Jun 18, 2008 1:47 PM
I'm back. Here are some news and links that came down the pike during my respite:
* Tonight (June 18) the Capitol Hill Restoration Society is having a community forum with DDOT director Emeka Moneme, at which DDOT staff will be "prepared to discuss all the various transportation initiatives that are being planned or implemented that affect Capitol Hill, including the Anacostia River and Reservation 13 areas, the 11th Street bridge expansion, H Street light rail, and other issues relating to streets, parking, commuter traffic, and mobility on Capitol Hill." The program will begin at 7:45 pm, after refreshments at 7:15 and CHRS business at 7:30. It's at St. Peter's Parish Hall at 2nd & C Streets, SE
* The Post profiles Robert E. Boone, the founder of the Anacostia Watershed Society, and looks at the strides that have been made in cleaning up the river over the past 20 years: "Boone did not make the Anacostia clean, but he made it visible again, reconnecting it with a city that had used the river and then forgotten it."
* City Paper updates the status of Positive Nature, the program for at-risk kids housed at 1017 New Jersey Ave., SE. A few months ago, legislation was introduced that would have exempted the property from real estate taxes as long as Positive Nature was there; but the bill has never had a hearing. Apparently the city is still looking for a space to move the program to.
* The DCMud blog interviews Capitol Riverfront BID executive director Michael Stevens about the changes happening in Near Southeast and the development planned for the area.
* Voice of the Hill looks at the changes to the parking rules along Pennsylvania Avenue and Eighth Street. And also brings up the problem with credit card transactions often not working with the multispace kiosks. Cellular transmission interference of some kind, DDOT says, with the hope that it should be fixed within a few weeks. (Those of you who receive CIA broadcasts through the fillings in your teeth might notice the same issues.)
* This weekend's Nats homestand against the Texas Rangers includes "Thanksgiving in June," the third-annual food drive in partnership with the Capitol Area Food Bank. Bring nonparishable food items (canned proteins, fruits and vegetables; pasta and sauces, soups, cereals, apple sauce, rice and flour) to Friday's, Saturday's, or Sunday's game, and drop them off outside the Center Field Gate. Heck, you don't even have to go to the game to donate.
* On the other hand, the planned Youth Jersey Giveaway at Sunday's game has been canceled due to circumstances beyond the Nats' control. But the first 10,000 children 12 and younger to attend the 1:35 pm game will receive a voucher for two tickets to any future 2008 regular season Nats game.
 

Jun 16, 2008 12:24 PM
Taking a break from my break to pass along word from JPI that, as of today, the first three floors and the clubhouse of the 70 I Street/Jefferson at Capitol Yards apartment building are complete and officially open for business, so visitors can stop by and see the spaces for themselves. They'll be working on the rest of the building with plans to have it completed in the fall; its official web site is at JeffersonCapitolYards.com. Sibling 100 I/Axiom will be following suit in the next month or so.
(PS: Looks like the jdland.com server has been taking some vacation time itself today--hopefully it'll be mended soon.)
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Jun 15, 2008 2:09 PM
No, I haven't disappeared--there just hasn't been a lot of news, and rather than doing some hard-core scrounging I decided to just take a short vacation. Will return to scrounging later this week.
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Jun 13, 2008 3:22 PM
From today's print edition of the Washington Business Journal (subscribers only): "Since announcing his takeover of GVA Advantis, Monument Realty co-founder Jeffrey Neal has remained mum about his future at Monument, one of the region's largest developers. [...] [P]rivately, several insiders said it is also an indication that Neal is parting ways with Monument, the 50-person company he formed with business partner Michael Darby in 1998. [...] For almost three months, Monument's equity partner in 15 transactions, Lehman Bros., has been seeking to sell its interest in the Monument projects it has backed, according to sources close to the deal. Lehman announced on June 9 it expects to lose $2.8 billion in its second fiscal quarter, its first loss since going public in 1994. Since April, Lehman has shed some $130 billion in assets to raise capital and to reduce its exposure to mortgages and loans used to finance leveraged buyouts, according to The New York Times. Lehman has invested about $620 million in Monument projects, according to Monument's Web site, including The Chase at Bethesda, a failed condo conversion. The Chase partnership's loan was 'transferred to special servicing on Feb. 4, due to maturity default,' according to Fitch Ratings." The article doesn't specifically mention any of Monument's Ballpark District projects.
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More posts: Monument/Half St.
 

Jun 12, 2008 2:08 PM
From GlobeSt.com: "20 M St. SE, a 190,000-sf office building developed by Lerner Enterprises and designed by WDG Architecture, has been awarded LEED Gold certification--the first in the city to achieve this certification level for Core & Shell Development, according to the US Green Building Council. [...] Green features include roofing that reduces heat island effects, plumbing fixtures that reduce water consumption, high-efficiency HVAC systems and humidity control, extensive use of recycled materials and locally manufactured products, low-emitting paints, carpet, adhesives, and sealants, monitoring systems for environmental comfort, advanced stormwater management measures and easy access to public transportation." The blurb also states that 20 M is expected to be 50 percent occupied by the end of the year. But so far, no tenants have been announced. (Although perhaps Wachovia's moves toward opening a branch at 20 M hint toward some tenants coming soon.) 20 M is the big silver building at Half and M, visible to most everyone in the upper decks at the ballpark.
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More posts: 20 M, Retail
 

Jun 12, 2008 11:21 AM
From the Nats: "The Washington Nationals will host fans who enjoy both baseball and the needlearts for the second annual Stitch N' Pitch event on Friday, June 20 when the team takes on the Texas Rangers at 7:10pm. Hundreds of fans will sit in the stands and knit, crochet, needlepoint, cross-stitch and embroider as they root for a Nationals victory. Fans interested in learning more about the needlearts may visit demonstration tables located in the Conference Room Four on the Mezzanine Level of Nationals Park. The National Needlearts Association will partner with 26 Major League Baseball teams for Stitch N' Pitch events this summer.
"Tickets for Stitch N' Pitch may be purchased for $13 by visiting nationals.com and selecting the group events page. Tickets are also available through the Mid-Atlantic Needlearts Retail Association website, manra.net. The first 300 people to purchase advance tickets to the event will receive a complimentary Nationals Stitch N' Pitch gift bag filled with needlearts items donated from local stores.
"Fans attending Friday's game are encouraged to participate in the Nationals fourth annual Thanksgiving in June canned food drive to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank. The team will collect non-perishable food items throughout the weekend series with the Rangers."
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More posts: Nationals Park
 

Jun 11, 2008 2:30 PM
It's almost hard to believe that in 2001 there were only two buildings taller than five stories in Near Southeast; gazing now across the neighborhood from the vantage point of the Southeast Freeway gives off a decidely different vibe, with 14 taller-than-five-stories buildings completed or under construction. (And there's a baseball stadium, too.)
You can see the changes via the Photo Archive, where I've just added updated photos from the freeway at South Capitol Street that you can browse by looking at just the oldest and newest shoots or by including all the photos in between. And, in honor of 909 New Jersey now being visible from the freeway, I've added photos starting in late 2005 of the view down New Jersey Avenue while zooming east on the freeway at [redacted] mph.
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More posts: 909 New Jersey, jpi
 

Jun 10, 2008 1:04 PM
As I was walking on Third Street toward the ballpark last night, I squinted east down L Street and thought I spied construction equipment on the south side of the street east of Fourth, which is where work is supposed to be getting underway on Capitol Quarter's first townhouses. This spurred me to finally give some long-needed TLC to my Capitol Quarter page: I've now split out onto separate pages the before-and-during photos of the Phase I blocks (between Fourth and Fifth and L and Virginia), the Phase 2 blocks, and some additional photos of the sales center and its street-layout model.
If you're somewhat of a newcomer to Near Southeast, or if you've forgotten what Capper/Carrollsburg used to look like, these pages have a lot of images from 2003 and 2004 that you might find of interest, showing the months when the eastern end of the Cappers was slowly boarded up and then demolished.
If the Phase I page isn't enough for you, I've also created a Capitol Quarter Phase I Expanded Photo Archive, showing every view in the archive of the blocks that make up Phase I. I took a lot of photos last week of the Phase I blocks, so look for the icon, and also remember to click the Click to see all available photos of this location. icon to see all photos between the oldest and the newest ones (especially if you like demolition photos). I'll now be taking photos every few weeks of the Phase I blocks where construction is underway. (This area is substantially larger than the 21-acre tract where I almost killed myself trying to keep track of the ballpark's construction, but hopefully it will be a bit easier to handle.)
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 

Jun 10, 2008 10:55 AM
From Tommy Wells: "All Are Invited to the 2nd Annual Ward 6 Family Picnic & Softball Tournament hosted by Councilmember Tommy Wells, Saturday, June 21, 2008, 11 am - 5 pm at the Rosedale Recreation Center, 1700 Gales Street, NE. Free Food and Fun for All Ages!!!" It starts at 11 am with a cleanup of the Rosedale Rec Center, followed at noon by the "Celebrity Softball Tournament," with swimming, soccer, basketball, tennis, music, and more between noon and five. Read Tommy's site for more, including how to sign up for the softball tournament. I've also added it to my spiffy new Google Calendar, so if you use Google Calendar you can easily view all Near Southeast calendar items along with your own appointments.
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Jun 9, 2008 12:46 PM
With interest high in Monument Realty's Half Street developments (and with recent speculation in WBJ as to Monument's financing situation), I'll pass along this portion of a press release I just received:
"GVA Advantis, a full-service real estate services company specializing in development, construction, property management and brokerage needs, announced today that it has completed a recapitalization with a private equity group based in Washington, DC, and controlled by Jeffrey T. Neal. Neal's firm will have controlling interest in GVA Advantis; providing equity, leadership, and strategic vision for the company. [...] Neal's private equity group is comprised of individual investors with specific real estate and other industry experience and expertise that will be instrumental to Advantis's future. The group was assembled to assist senior management with setting the strategic direction and leadership of the company. The most significant change will occur in the culture of delivering a full line of services. GVA Advantis will be able to take advantage of the intellectual capital within the company, as well as Neal's and his investors' diverse expertise, and strengthen its service and leadership to their clients. Immediate steps will be taken to size the company for growth within the markets already served by the company, as well as other markets in the United States. In addition, the headquarters of GVA Advantis will move from Atlanta to Washington, DC."
Neal is now GVA Advantis's newly appointed Chairman; I'm told that he remains a principal at Monument Realty and "intends to remain active" in Monument's business. Will update if there are news stories with additional information.
UPDATE, Minutes Later: WBJ says: "Neal declined to comment on the deal or on his future with Monument. He did say it's unlikely that GVA Advantis will merge into Monument."
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More posts: Monument/Half St.
 

Jun 8, 2008 7:18 PM
Within the past few days there has been some news from the eastern end of the neighborhood (and thanks go out to the folks who live up that way for passing along the information). Here's what I've heard:
* The Exxon on the northwest corner of 11th and M will apparently be closing this week, having been sold. There's rumors of development of some sort planned for the site, so I'm trying to find out if there's any details available yet, and will post if and when I find something out. This is the last gas station in Near Southeast, joining the departed Exxons on South Capitol at I and K, the Sunoco at Half and M, and the BP Amoco at South Capitol and N. Nowhere left for me to track gas prices anymore!
* The low-slung building at 900 M Street, which apparently was once a Hudson automobile garage and most recently was home to a dialysis unit, is going to get a facelift to become a retail space, with most likely "three national tenants" who presumably would be seeing the many Navy Yard employees across the street as an enticing opportunity. I'm told the plan is to reintroduce the historic storefronts that this building apparently used to have, and designs have been presented to the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, ANC 6B's Planning and Zoning Committee, and the DC Preservation Office; I'm hoping to get some renderings soon. The current expectation is building permits for the exterior renovations will be applied for this summer.
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More posts: 900m, M Street, Retail
 

Jun 8, 2008 9:52 AM
My retrieval this morning of the DC Building Permits Feed (which has been on vacation for a few weeks) lets the cat out of the bag that Wachovia Bank is preparing to come to the first floor of 20 M Street. For most of 2007 there had been "Coming Soon" signs in the ground floor window of 20 M for both Wachovia and FedEx/Kinkos--when those disappeared earlier this year, there were concerns among observers (read: me) that the two retailers had bailed, but now it does appear that Near Southeast's Bank #2 will be opening before too long. (Bank #3--SunTrust--is expected early next year at 100 M.)
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More posts: 20 M, Retail
 

Jun 6, 2008 2:00 PM
Two articles from today's Washington Business Journal (online for subscribers only at this point):
* Arlington-based Harry's Tap Room has signed a partnership deal with concessionaire Centerplate that could include a plan to put a Harry's in at the ballpark where the Red Porch currently is. There could also eventually be Harry's outlets at FedEx Field and the DC Convention Center, both locations where Centerplate provides the concessions.
* After last week's piece that detailed what WBJ described as the "pinch" that Monument Realty is feeling in the current real estate climate, Monument principal Michael Darby has penned a WBJ Guest Comment, rebutting many of the points made in the original article. As for Monument's Half Street projects, where the southern part of the block has a deep hole where the hotel and residential offerings are planned, Darby writes: "We have not had trouble finding construction financing for the residential building in the first phase at our Half Street project. We could not start construction until we received construction pricing after the building design was completed. We received prices from three prominent Washington contractors last week. These prices will be incorporated into our financing package and sent to lenders. Once we agree to terms and complete the loan documentation, we can begin construction."
(This would be a good place for my mea culpa that I've not yet gotten around to writing a summary of last week's council hearing about the alley closing Monument is requesting for the BP Amoco site at South Capitol and N. I'm trying to pace myself.)
 

Jun 6, 2008 11:41 AM
It's that time of the month again (wait, that didn't come out right). Monday night is ANC 6D's monthly meeting, and the agenda has now been posted. (Yay!) No specific Near Southeast items are included, but there will be a discussion of changes that are coming to the Performance Parking Plan, some of which were telegraphed at the community meeting last month and described in the latest Hill Rag.
These parking plan changes include an earlier end on weeknights and making Sundays free for the metered parking on the commercial strips north of the freeway. There have also been changes made already to the multiple-guest pass system (for all those dinner parties and book clubs that everyone on the Hill is apparently having every night)--residents don't need to gather visitors' car and license info anymore, they can just go to the 1D or 1D1 police stations and pick-up one-day passes that can be filled out at home.
I won't be able to be at the ANC meeting, but I'm sure it will as always be a scintillating and uplifting discussion of the issues.
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More posts: ANC News, parking
 

Jun 5, 2008 11:57 PM
I guess I must still be missing my treks around the ballpark, because I decided to venture there tonight with camera in hand to take my first exterior shots of the stadium at sunset and into the evening. Here's the result, a Nationals Park at Night Gallery, which starts with shots from South Capitol Street and out on the Douglass Bridge and ends with a few interior photos from the Beer Pen, which was pretty darn crowded (thanks probably to the Ladies' Night promotion).
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More posts: Nationals Park
 

Jun 5, 2008 10:03 AM
Thanks to yesterday's monsoons, the Nationals are giving hooky-loving fans another crack at sneaking out from work to the ballpark, with last night's game against St. Louis rescheduled to 1:10 pm this afternoon, still to be followed by the scheduled 7:10 pm game.
And the debut Riverfront Reel event at Tingey Plaza behind DOT, including the showing of Field of Dreams on a 32-foot screen, has been rescheduled to tonight, with the fun and games starting at 6:30 pm and the movie itself starting at 8:50 pm.
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More posts: Nationals Park
 

Jun 4, 2008 4:27 PM
Instead of watching the heavens erupt this afternoon, I hunkered down and did what I should have done a long time ago, which was to move my Upcoming Events Calendar into a Google Calendar interface, which not only displays in a somewhat festive embedded version here on my home page but which allows Google Calendar users (and people who can handle iCal feeds) to add/view the items directly in their own calendars. (There's also an RSS feed.) I've added the various Capitol Riverfront events coming over the summer, and all Nats home games, and will add neighborhood meetings and whatnot as they come down the pike. As is the case with most of the stuff I do on this web site, I did it mainly for myself, but figure if there's anyone out there who wants to benefit from my labor, go right ahead.
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More posts: JDLand stuff
 

Jun 4, 2008 1:59 PM
* From the Nats: "Nationals catcher Wil Nieves and pitcher Saul Rivera will visit Tyler Elementary School on Thursday, June 5 for the Everybody Wins! DC year-end celebration. The players will speak to the students about the importance of reading and help distribute medals for the 5th and 6th grade graduating students. Anthony Bowen Elementary school will host an Appreciation Day on Friday, June 6 in advance of the school's permanent closure. Nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca and outfielder Rob Mackowiak will attend the appreciation day and visit with the students and teachers of the school."
* Neither of these have to deal with parking by the stadium per se, but I'll point to two articles in the new Hill Rag that discuss the impact of and negative response to Performance Parking on Capitol Hill and Barracks Row.
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More posts: Nationals Park
 

Jun 3, 2008 7:04 PM
It's only taken three months for me to finally get over to Seventh and M with camera in hand, but at last I've completed my mission, and have added the "afters" to my Old Capper Seniors page (and no, I'm not going to rename it my Nationals Parking Lot W page). Eventually, a 500,000-sq-ft office building by Forest City is planned for the site, but no timeline for getting that underway has been announced. (UPDATE: Link fixed. Oops.)
 

Jun 3, 2008 12:40 PM
From the Nationals (emphases mine): "The Washington Nationals have partnered with Planet Green, Discovery's new 24-hour eco lifestyle and entertainment channel, for a 'Get Your Green On' promotion on Wednesday, June 4 when the team takes on the St. Louis Cardinals. All fans attending that evening's game are encouraged to wear green and participate in the night's promotion.The first 5,000 fans who exit the Navy Yard Half Street MetroRail Station will receive a loaded farecard for their trip home. Fans who enter the ballpark via Half Street, SE will walk up a green carpet to the Center Field Gate. Nationals players and ushers will don green hats for the night and the Nat Pack & Racing Presidents will sport green t-shirts. Nationals fans will benefit from 'Random Acts of Greenness' throughout the game.
"Planet Green will flip the switch to their new programming from Nationals Park at 6:00pm. Discovery President & CEO David Zaslav will throw out the ceremonial first pitch from the green pitching rubber. Capital Blend, an a cappella group comprised mostly of Discovery employees, will perform the National Anthem. The line-up card delivery to the green ceremonial home plate will be handled by Eileen O'Neill, Planet Green President and General Manager. Emeril Lagasse, star of Planet Green show Emeril Green, will start the game by announcing 'Washington--Let's Play Ball'.
"Nationals Park is the only LEED-Certified sports venue in North America."
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More posts: Nationals Park
 

Jun 2, 2008 4:11 PM
The Capitol Riverfront BID launches another summer series to go with its Tuesday DOT farmers market and Wednesday noontime concerts; now it's "Riverfront Reel" on Wednesday nights, starting June 4. The shindigs start at 6:30 pm on the plaza behind DOT at New Jersey and Tingey with "inflatable baseball themed interactive games, snacks, beverages, music", followed at 7:30 pm by big-screen Wii baseball competitions, and then heading toward home with movies at 8:50 pm on the 32-foot screen. You can see the lineup of baseball-themed films on the promotional flyer, and I've added them to my Upcoming Events calendar.
They open up this week with Field of Dreams, followed on July 11 by what is truly the greatest baseball movie ever, Bull Durham. As for the July 2 showing of Bad News Bears, it darn well better be the untouchable original one with Tatum O'Neal and Walter Matthau, though I fear it'll be the totally weak remake. (Boo.) Five of these movie nights coincide with games at Nationals Park, so you can either stop by for food and the inflatable games (?!) before heading to the ballpark, or plop down for the movie after you leave the game. Or both.
 

Jun 2, 2008 10:11 AM
There was a big pile of news this past week from Near Southeast, so I'll boil it down to bullet points and links in case you couldn't keep up:
* Construction is really about to begin on the first townhouses at Capitol Quarter, now that financing has been closed for the public housing units;
* The first phase of the waterfront park at The Yards got the thumbs up from the Zoning Commission, and is expected to be completed by summer 2009;
* Onyx on First will be opening its first five floors of apartments in late July or early August, and initial rents have been announced;
* 100 M will be substantially completed in November, and tenants should start moving into the office building early in 2009. SunTrust Bank is the first retail tenant, and the developer is looking for restaurants for the other spaces;
* The planned office building at 250 M got Zoning Commission approval for a modification to its design; and
* Street vendors will start popping up for ballgames north of M Street on Tuesday (June 3). You can see the map of where they'll be.
 

Jun 1, 2008 9:43 AM
On Friday, the DC Housing Authority successfully closed the financing for the 39 public housing rental units scattered within the 121 market- and workforce-rate townhouses at Capitol Quarter. The $5.1 million in bonds and other high-finance actions outside of my limited ability to explain will fund the $10 million in construction costs needed for these Phase 1 rental units, which will be available to persons making between 30 and 60 percent of the area's median income (adjusted for family size).
Because the private financing is already in place for the for-sale townhouses, the closing of this deal and the acquisition of various other approvals, permits, and whatnot allows EYA to start construction forthwith, and they tell me that the construction phase will indeed start tomorrow (Monday) with "land moving." The first buildings should start coming out of the ground in July on L Street between 4th and 5th, behind the 400 M Street apartment building, and residents should start moving in by the end of the year or early 2009. The rest of phase one houses will be built on the blocks between Fourth and Fifth streets and the triangular block bounded by Virginia, I, Fourth, and Third.
EYA also tells me that the next workforce housing release should be coming later this summer.
For more information, you can see my Capitol Quarter project page, or EYA's web site for additional details and contact information.
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 
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