Near Southeast DC: Past News Items - July 2006
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Report from July ANC 6D Meeting
Jul 28, 2006 11:29 AM

Voice of the Hill has posted it's summary of the July 10 ANC 6D Meeting. It's a bit of water under the bridge at this point, but it's still worth noting here that the ANC did vote to oppose the Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness, which were then approved the next day by the city council. Also on the agenda had been William C. Smith's request for alley closings and street openings in preparation for its development project at 800 New Jersey Ave. The proposal was referred to the ANC's development subcommittee, with there again being debate about what "community benefits" the project would be providing. According to VOTH, the "William C. Smith representative pointed to amenities his company has already promised, including an affordable housing component and funding for a public park." The public park being Canal Park, which William C. Smith is helping to fund. (Note that the alley closing/street opening request is on the Aug. 3 NCPC agenda.)

Business Improvement District for Near Southeast?
Jul 28, 2006 8:46 AM
Today's Washington Business Journal (which as of this week is now holding all of their print content behind a subscription wall for 30 days) reports that the William C. Smith company--which has on the boards a number of projects on Near Southeast--is working to organize a Business Improvement District (BID) that would stretch from Maritime Plaza (east of the 11th Street Bridges) to just over South Capitol Street into Buzzards Point. The plan is being run by Michael Stevens, the former head of the city's marketing center. Forest City Washington (developers of the Southeast Federal Center, Capper/Carrollsburg, and the WASA/SFC portions of the Ballpark District) are quoted as being enthusiastic. Fifty-one percent of property owners within the zone would need to agree to a property tax increase to fund the BID, then the council would need to approve it. As for what exactly a BID would do, the article says: "At first ... making sure the area is clean, safe and friendly. That means a litter patrol, graffiti removal, and public relations. As the neighborhood matures, the BID's role would likely expand to tracking economic development in the area." (Yeah, if only someone were doing that now!)

Capper Demolition Moves South One Block
Jul 27, 2006 2:35 PM

I note here that demolition has begun on another block at Capper/Carrollsburg, this one bounded by 3rd, 4th, I, and K. They're starting with one of the two-story buildings on the interior of the block, so you can't quite see from the street unless you're really looking, but it is underway. (And if people are wondering why I've been so snippy about how long this demolition is taking--it took three months in late 2004/early 2005 for 2 1/2 blocks of demolition to be completed in the first Capper "ribbon" between 4th and 5th, which included many four-story buildings. The demolition on this second ribbon [which admittedly is a bit larger than the first ribbon, but there aren't as many of the taller buildings] has already been going since March, and they're only now approaching what I would consider halfway completed--they still have all of this block to do, plus the four-story buildings just to the rear of 300 M Street. At the current rate, they won't be done before the end of the year. And then there's still the third ribbon, the two remaining blocks of two-story flats between 3rd and 2nd, which you would hope wouldn't take that long, but if current performance is any indication.... And if you're EYA, do you really want to start sales on Capitol Quarter this fall with those abandoned buildings staring prospective owners in the face when they visit?)

More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter

Mayor Calls for Cease Fire with Lerners
Jul 27, 2006 8:02 AM
From the Post: "D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams called yesterday for a meeting to restore goodwill between city officials and the new owners of the Washington Nationals, saying that the family of Bethesda developer Theodore N. Lerner had been "condescending" in dealings with the city." Tony got in a few good licks: " 'We're both in this,' Williams said. 'You put up $450 million for the team. Well, we put up $611 million for the stadium, and we're trying to get some benefits for our people. Excuse me, we do not need the condescending attitude. Maybe I have not built a stadium, but we brought $40 billion of investment to this city. Someone must think we know what we're doing.' " Team president Stan Kasten attempted to dial back the hostilities by releasing a statement saying "The new Nationals ownership has nothing but appreciation and respect for the enormous work and political courage of Mayor Williams and the D.C. Council in making big league baseball a reality in the Nation's Capital. We have been consistently supportive of their commitment to Major League Baseball to deliver a first class ballpark on time and on budget." [snarky emphasis mine] Other tidbits in the article: Herb Miller is scheduled to present his financing plan for The Garages Wrapped Wth Development Goodness to the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission on Monday. And the Mayor has said that he would go to the council for more money (up to $83 million according to CFO Gandhi) if the Miller plan falls through. The WashTimes has a similar article, with the additional info that after the financing plan is presented to DCSEC on Monday, they will vote on it on Wednesday; at that point, it would then need the Lerner group's approval for it to move forward.

11th Street Bridges Meetings Wednesday and Thursday
Jul 27, 2006 7:51 AM
Don't forget, the two public hearings on the 11th Street Bridges Draft Environmental Impact Statement are Wednesday and Thursday night--Wednesday's is at 1105 New Jersey Ave., SE (St. Matthew's Baptist Church), and Thursday's is at 2041 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. (Anacostia Professional Building). Both are from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. UPDATE: Here are the meeting packet, opening presentation, and display posters for the two meetings. And the entire Draft EIS is available, too. UPDATE II: Having just now really been able to take a look at these materials, I highly suggest taking a few minutes to look at the display posters. They do a great job of showing the four different build alternatives currently under consideration for the bridges, how they would impact both sides of the river, and more. Whichever one they choose, being able to have access to northbound I-295 from the SE Freeway (and vice versa), without having to go across Pennsylvania Avenue and make that left turn, has to be considered a vast improvement.
More posts: 11th Street Bridges

Today's Garage News
Jul 26, 2006 7:40 AM
From the Post: "The District's chief financial officer has told Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) that the city will need up to $83 million in additional funds for construction of parking garages near the new baseball stadium if a plan from a private developer to finance the structures falls through. [...] But the report from Natwar M. Gandhi said the mayor will have to seek money from the city's general fund or approval for more construction bonds from the D.C. Council if Miller cannot make good on his proposal. Miller will try to win final approval from the Washington Nationals ownership group next week. The city has $21 million to build free-standing garages, but because the D.C. Zoning Commission approved Miller's plan for integrated development, the District would need more money, officials said." And here's the WTOP piece, headlined "Stadium Price Tag May Go Up Nearly $100M", which has more detail, saying that " Gandhi briefed the Mayor on three options that would promote revenue opportunities [...] One option would cost $44 million, another $58 million. Both options would provide 1,225 parking spaces. A third option would cost $98 million and provide 1,875 parking spaces, bringing the total stadium price to more than $700 million. At a recent stadium task force meeting, D.C. Council members were told they would need to amend the current stadium legislation to wave the cap on spending and approve the additional costs. If Miller's plan falls through, the additional costs could be covered by issuing more construction bonds, or the mayor could seek the money from the city's general fund. The additional spending would not be submitted to the council for a vote until after after the September primary." So now we wait to see if Herb gets his financing in place (though I remember reading somewhere that he had said he would have the financing for excavation in place by mid-August, and the rest of the financing ready by the time real construction would start, late in 2006, but who knows how CFO Gandhi feels about that), and whether the Lerners approve the plan.

All About Herb
Jul 24, 2006 10:00 PM
"Behind the Vision for a Ballpark District is a Man of Big Ideas" is a front-page story in Tuesday's Post about Herb Miller, the DC developer who persuaded the Mayor and the City Council to take a chance on his $300 million plan to wrap the 900 required parking spaces at the north end of the new Nats ballpark with condos, retail, and a hotel. (I'd quibble with the sense from the headline that this project is the entire Ballpark District, because it's not, but we digress.) While the plan has passed the City Council, it still requires approval from the Lerners (cue ominous music), who according to the article refer in private to the two structures as "Godzilla" and "Mothra" (scroll to the first rendering on my ballpark page to see the design as submitted to the Zoning Commission in June). The Lerners are to review Miller's plans and financing strategy early next month. So no, it's still not over. UPDATE: Wow, they changed the headline, it's now a much better "DC Developer Sways the City with Big Bucks and Big Ideas."
More posts: staddis, Nationals Park

New Additions
Jul 22, 2006 4:31 PM
A correspondent passed along an image from the paperwork filed with the Zoning Commission for the stadium hearing last month, which shows a concept rendering of the now-infamous condo- and hotel-wrapped parking garages on the north edge of the stadium site. I've put it at the top of my Stadium Renderings page, where you can scroll down to remind yourself of the plain parking garages originally planned for that location. Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to move all my discussions and photos of this land between N Street and N Place to my Ballpark District page without completely gutting my Stadium page :-). (I think I'll wait until the Ballpark District Master Plan is released.) In the meantime, I also added a couple of new photos to my M Street page, my Capper/Carrollsburg page (celebrating at long last the completion of above-ground demolition on the 3rd/4th/I/Virginia block), and the Capper Seniors #2 page (the 4th and M location is starting to look very different).

MLB Says DC in Default on Lease Agreement
Jul 21, 2006 10:41 AM

New from the Post: "Major League Baseball has declared the District government in default of the lease agreement for the new stadium, charging that the city has failed to meet several deadlines for turning over critical documents.In a letter to city officials Tuesday, Tom Ostertag, a lawyer for MLB, said the city had failed to meet 11 provisions called for in the construction administration agreement between the District and MLB." What does this mean? "Some city officials interpreted the default notice as a legal maneuver meant to establish firm deadlines in case the stadium project ever ends up disputed in the courts." Quoth incoming Nats president Stan Kasten: "We're doing all we can to build this team and to excite the fans again about life at RFK. And we're having trouble getting the simplest things done. We keep getting foot-dragging. . . . It does weight us down as we try to move forward. And we keep getting silly roadblocks that stop us." On the other side: "Mark H. Tuohey, chairman of the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, said lawyers for the city's attorney general's office are working on finalizing more documents to give MLB and that most of the baseball's concerns would be resolved today." UPDATE, 3:03 pm: Here's the official notice from MLB. UPDATE, 12:24 pm: Here's a nifty opinion piece by the Post's Steve Perlstein basically telling both sides to get a grip: "Less Hardball, More Humility." And here's the WashTimes story on the default.

More posts: Nationals Park

Police Blotter - Wet/Edge Robbed, $18k in Cash
Jul 20, 2006 6:50 PM
What was I just saying about crime in Near Southeast? The Washington Blade reports: "Two men, one armed with a gun, made off with more than $18,000 in cash after robbing the Wet/Edge nightclub complex, home to D.C.'s only remaining male strip club, on July 16, according to police." The clubs were open at the time; no one was hurt. The police are investigating it as a possible inside job. These clubs are part of the huge 2005 purchase of Square 699N by developer Ron Cohen; at the time of the purchase he announced plans for mixed-use development on the site, starting construction in 2006, but the businesses on the block are still operating and as best I've heard have not been given eviction notices, so I don't know when development is going to proceed.

Ribbon Cutting at Courtyard
Jul 20, 2006 9:51 AM

On Wednesday night there was an official "grand opening" of the Courtyard by Marriott--Mr. Marriott himself was there, helping to celebrate what is the 700th Courtyard hotel. A good crowd was on-hand, including Ward 6 council candidate Tommy Wells, although current councilmembers Linda Cropp and Sharon Ambrose were too tied up in the "crime emergency" legislation hearings to attend.

More posts: Courtyard/Marriott

ANC 6B Endorses 11th Street Bridges Plan
Jul 19, 2006 10:42 AM
Voice of the Hill reports that ANC 6B "voted unanimously July 11 to support preliminary plans for a project that would connect the Southeast Freeway with the Anacostia Freeway." This is the 11th Street Bridges project, which "would allow southbound motorists on the Anacostia Freeway to access the 11th Street Bridges and motorists on the bridges to go north on the freeway, thereby creating a link between the Anacostia and Southeast freeways." There are public hearings on July 26 and 27 on the project's draft environmental impact statement, and public comment is being accepted until August 28.

Hotels in Near Southeast
Jul 19, 2006 7:24 AM
Today's WashTimes has "Hotel Industry Gathers Momentum in Near Southeast", keyed to today's "opening" of the Courtyard by Marriott at New Jersey and L. (They're having a grand opening party tonight, but of course the hotel actually opened to customers in March.) The article mentions three other hotel projects on the boards, at Florida Rock (That's "FRP Development" in the story), Herb Miller's garage-wrapper plan just north of the stadium, Half and L (the Ron Cohen project, which I've heard nothing about for quite some time), and Maritime Plaza (east of 11th Street). The project it doesn't mention is the rumored sale at 50 M Street of the Sunoco station to a hotel developer of some sort--still no confirmation of that anywhere.

Plans to Extend H and I to New Jersey - 800 NJ Ave. Project Beginning to Move?
Jul 18, 2006 10:19 AM
The tentative agenda for the National Capital Planning Commission's August meeting has been posted, and there's one item of Near Southeast interest: a request for some street and alley closings, and also some street openings, in Squares 737 and 739 (see my terribly low-tech map of the Near Southeast Tax Parcels). What is being requested is to close the current 1st and Canal "streets" on Square 737, and at the same time allow H and I streets to be extended from 2nd Street through to New Jersey Avenue. Making the request is the William C. Smith Company, which owns the land on Square 737 that's currently a surface parking lot--they have plans for a big (900,000 sq ft) mixed-use development, although I've heard nothing about these plans moving forward. Perhaps this request is the first hint that they are thinking about it? And I know people will also be wondering if this means that the dreaded DPW station at New Jersey and K is also on the way out, to which the answer is: eventually, but I don't know when. (The DPW lot/Square 739 is actually part of the Capper/Carrollsburg planned-unit development, with an apartment building slated to be built there. Someday.)

A Bit More on Monument's Plans for Ballpark District
Jul 17, 2006 7:32 PM
A correspondent passes along this link, a July 6 story originally from GlobeSt.com (which goes behind a paywall soon after publishing stories), "Monument Details Plans for Half Street." Nothing earthshatteringly new in this piece, but for folks who don't follow every iota of news in Near Southeast like SOME people, it's a good summary of what will be coming to the Ballpark District area just north of the stadium. Monument has bought all available land (the WMATA properties not being for sale) that faces Half Street between M and N, plus all the parcels facing N between Half and South Capitol, and about half of them between Half and 1st. They are planning to begin construction in mid-2007 of their Phase I, which apparently is the land on the east side of Half Street. There will be a 250,000-sq-ft office building on top of the Navy Yard Metro station at Half and M, and also a 450,000-sq-ft residential building along Half Street. The article says that "the tone of the street . . . is supposed to be celebratory, urban streetscape, . . . with restaurants on both sides." The news to me in this is that Monument will be able to develop the air rights above the Metro station as well as the WMATA lot in this first phase. Also possibly part of Phase I, according to the article, is a 125,000-sq-ft office building at the site of the Good and Plenty carryout on the northwest corner of Half and M. My Ballpark District page has lots of photos of these sites (now nicely festooned with the bright yellow Monument Realty signs). But we'll find out much more about these plans whenever the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation finally gets around to releasing the Ballpark District Master Plan. And, for those of you who often ask about the land bounded by 1st Street, Cushing, M, and N, I still have no news for you--it's owned by a couple of different families with ties to DC-area development, but no plans have been announced.

Building Permit for Stadium
Jul 17, 2006 11:23 AM
A small but fun tidbit--today a building permit application was filed for "1500 South Capitol Street SE" - yes, the Nats ballpark.
More posts: Nationals Park

DCSEC Roundtable on LSDBE/Workforce Contracting at Stadium
Jul 17, 2006 10:13 AM
Short notice, but on Tuesday July 18 the DC Sports and Entertainmnet Commission is sponsoring "Straight Talk and Lessons from the Field," a roundtable on LSDBE participation and workforce opportunities at the stadium. Scheduled attendees include council member Kwame Brown, along with representatives from various DC agencies and from Clark/Hunt/Smoot. See the flyer for details and RSVP info. Also, the DCSEC announced on Friday that the stadium construction "is meeting its contracting and employment goals as set by Mayor Anthony A. Williams and the DC City Council. Through the end of June, approximately $212 million has been awarded for construction subcontracts, supplies and professional services. Of that amount, $108 million has been committed for Local, Small and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (LSDBEs)."
More posts: Nationals Park

Last Nights for Nation
Jul 14, 2006 8:49 AM
Nation, the nightclub at Half and K, is closing its doors after Saturday night, and the Washington Blade has a look back at VelvetNation, the Saturday night gay dance party. I've not heard anything on when the building might be demolished, or when construction might start on 1015 Half Street, the 250,000-sq-ft office building planned for that site by Potomac Investment Properties (the people who brought you 300 M Street). Check my North of M page for information and photos about that little slice of Near Southeast.

Capitol Hill Tower Move-Ins Begin
Jul 14, 2006 7:53 AM

Residents on floors 1-6 have now begun the settlement process and are moving in to the co-ops at Capitol Hill Tower, after some delays and gnashing of teeth. Residents might be interested in the CHT Shareholder Community blog that was launched to organize unit owners.

More posts: Capitol Hill Tower

Parking, Parking, Parking
Jul 13, 2006 11:12 PM
With the squabble over the stadium's on-site parking garages finished, attention is turning to how the city will provide additional parking to the teeming masses who will insist on driving to the new Nats ballpark. Eventually (as certain sage local observers have noted on multiple occasions), the many new developments that will be sprouting in the Ballpark District will have plenty of underground parking that will be usable for baseball attendees. But until then, where will people park? Friday's Post has a big piece on the scrambling being done by the DC government (with considerable prodding by the Lerner/Kasten team) to line up existing lots (or create new lots) by Opening Day 2008 - here's the Post graphic showing the location of the lots. Some spots aren't surprising--the Southeast Federal Center, WASA, and Buzzards Point are all going to be developed in the future, but in the meantime can offer plenty of space for surface lots. But I also see that they're saying that the site of the current Capper Seniors at 7th and M could be available--putting aside that it's just a touch far away, could it really be emptied and demolished and paved by Spring, 2008? (Not if they hire the same folks currently using forks and knives to demolish the second ribbon of Capper/Carrollsburg.) Yes, some are a bit of a hike--but gosh, don't we all need more exercise these days, anyway? (it's a JOKE, people!) UPDATE: Here are articles on the city's parking presentation from the Examiner and the WashTimes. UPDATE II: Added the link to the Post map of the lots.
More posts: parking, Nationals Park
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