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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: July 2007
In the Pipeline
Ballpark Square
Homewood Suites Hotel
82 I Street
1244 South Capitol
Yards/Parcel A
Virginia Ave. Tunnel
New Douglass Bridge
Southeast Blvd.
Yards/Condo Project
Yards/Icon Theater
1333 M St.
909 Half St.
Akridge/Half St.
Ex-Monument/Half St.
Capper Apts.
250 M St.
New Marine Barracks
Nat'l Community Church
Factory 202/Yards
Congressional Square
1000 South Capitol
SC1100
Completed
Twelve12/Yards ('14)
Lumber Shed ('13)
Boilermaker Shops ('13)
Camden South Capitol ('13)
Canal Park ('12)
Capitol Quarter ('12)
225 Virginia/200 I ('12)
Foundry Lofts ('12)
1015 Half Street ('10)
Yards Park ('10)
Velocity Condos ('09)
Teague Park ('09)
909 New Jersey Ave. ('09)
55 M ('09)
100 M ('08)
Onyx ('08)
70/100 I ('08)
Nationals Park ('08)
Seniors Bldg Demo ('07)
400 M ('07)
Douglass Bridge Fix ('07)
US DOT HQ ('07)
20 M ('07)
Capper Seniors 1 ('06)
Capitol Hill Tower ('06)
Courtyard/Marriott ('06)
Marine Barracks ('04)
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Within the past few weeks I've posted a lot about the MPD move to 225 Virginia Ave. and the falderal over the surface parking lots zoning amendment including Canal Park, but if you can't get enough, the August issue of the Hill Rag has pieces on both items. And a summary of the July ANC 6D meeting, too.
 

The Zoning Commission shoe-horned in one last public meeting tonight before its August break, and took up a couple of Near Southeast-related items.
After having asked for revisions, clarifications, and refilings on three previous occasions, the commissioners once again had before them a first vote to approve the planned 276-unit residential project by Camden Development at 1325 South Capitol Street, across the street from the Nationals ballpark. The major sticking point in the last two meetings has been the design of the western side of the building, which is technically the "rear" of the building but will be on full display to much of Southwest because only low-rise buildings back up to the project site. Commissioner Turnbull had led the complaints in previous meetings about the need to "step up" the architecture, and while he was not jumping up and down for joy (calling the latest revisions "brutal at times"), he indicated that the plans had indeed made some progress. Commissioners Parsons and Hood agreed, and the commission voted to give first approval to the project three votes to zero, with commissioners Mitten and Jeffries not voting (having not participated in the case). The project now goes to the National Capital Planning Commission for its review, with a final vote by the Zoning Commission in the fall.
The Commission also gave its final approval to Case 07-08, which amends the zoning regulations to allow temporary surface parking lots on various blocks near the stadium. This is the case that stirred an outcry a few weeks ago when it was discovered after the commission's preliminary approval that the language specifying the parcels approved for parking included the three blocks slated for Canal Park. But with a supplemental report from the Office of Planning amending the language, and also with the report from the National Capital Planning Commission indicating its support of the amendment as long as the Canal Park boo-boo was fixed, the zoning commission approved the amended amendment three votes to zero, with commissioners Parsons and Jeffries not voting. And then they amended the original emergency amendment, too, just to make 100% sure that there were no loopholes big enough to build a parking lot on.
 

As expected, WMATA has re-posted its Invitation for Bids to purchase the Southeastern Bus Garage land at 17 M Street, with a new deadline of 2 pm Aug. 28, at which time the bids will be opened and a winner immediately chosen. Minimum bid price is still $60 million, and settlement is to be held on Nov. 30. The IFB still contains a leaseback provision, requiring that the bidder rent the land back to Metro for 36 months. UPDATE: Here's the Metro press release on the sale process being re-opened.
So, it looks like the temporary detour taken when the city briefly expressed an interest in buying the property and then withdrew that interest (would love to know the real story behind that) has only caused about a one-month delay in the bid process. But does this mean WMATA will still have to be operating this very busy garage when the ballpark opens a block away, or is there still enough time for them to get a temporary facility built at DC Village before April 2008?
On the bright side, this means there will be at least one Near Southeast news item in August; otherwise, I think it's gonna be a little quiet around here over the next few weeks, other than some photo updates of the stadium, the Douglass Bridge, Onyx, and 70 I. But it's not necessarily a bad thing--even obsessive-compulsive webmasters can use a bit of a breather once in a while!
 

The Examiner has a piece today entitled "City Considers 'Ballpark Fare' For Fans Who May Ride Metro to Games": "Concern about game-night gridlock on the roads surrounding the new Washington Nationals ballpark is leading D.C., transit and team leaders to consider a special 'ballpark fare' for those fans who ride Metro to the stadium." But most of the quotes in the piece seem to emphasize that this is not anything close to a done deal, that it is just one of many options being looked at as planners try to figure out how to get as many fans as possible off the streets and onto Metro or other transit options. And: "Neither side would release details of talks between Metro and the Nationals -- including what entity or government would absorb the cost." This idea is apparently mentioned in the latest Transportation Operations and Parking Plan draft.
More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

Yeeech. I managed to get out this morning before the rain started, and while there was a smidgen of sunlight at first, I've mainly got a bunch of gray, gray photos for you to look at. I updated the main Stadium Exterior Construction Gallery (and have added a few new angles), plus the north/south/east/west additional views for the diehards. New things to look for: the arched steel atop the scoreboard, the rounded steel marking the construction of the outfield restaurant, a lot more glass installed on the southwest side of the ballpark, and the ever-growing west parking garage. There's also now a big ole' trench dug down the middle of Potomac Ave. and rounding up onto First Street (two roads now completely closed south of N Street to anything but construction traffic). But with these photos being so dingy, if there wasn't something obviously new and different in the shot, I didn't update every angle on every page.
I also posted some shots of the Douglass Bridge extreme makeover, as work continues on the new ramp up from Potomac Avenue to the existing bridge. The rest the closed section of South Capitol Street doesn't look too different, although I did see that new sewer drains/curbs have started to be installed. (I also spied from the freeway a nice fresh layer of pavement on South Capitol heading into the underpass beneath M Street, but no pictures.)
And I also updated the Onyx on First and 70/100 I Street pages as both those projects now have an additional floor since last week. And 100 M looks to be getting close to coming out of the ground.
You can also just browse all of today's photos on a single page, and click the Click to see all available photos of this location. icon if you want to see older photos in the archive of a certain location.
 

From this morning's Post: "Metro is reopening bids for the sale of its Southeastern Bus Garage in the District. The board had been scheduled to consider a request yesterday to sell the property to the District, but a Metro spokeswoman said the District is no longer going to buy the property. [...] Metro had received three bids, but after the city decided it was not going to buy the garage and an employee parking lot, Metro decided to reopen the process, agency spokeswoman Candace Smith said. 'We think some firms were dissuaded from putting in a bid because the District had said it wanted to buy the property,' she said. The bidding period will last 30 days, beginning Monday, she said." (Note that one of the stories earlier this week said that no bids were received by the original deadline. Hmmmm.)
They've taken down the links on the bid process from this page, but here's the original Invitation for Bids, with a minimum bid set at $60 million. Perhaps the documents will be reposted on Monday.
 

With little discussion, the Zoning Commission tonight took final action and approved Case 07-17, the request for a special exception and a Southeast Federal Center Overlay District review of plans for temporary surface parking lots to last no more than five years at The Yards. The only news coming out of the hearing (other than the approval itself) was that just today it was decided to not include Parcel L, the lot just to the east of the WASA building, because of property line, fencing, and other issues still being negotiated with WASA. This means that approximately 785 spaces can be created at The Yards with this zoning approval (down from the 900 or so originally anticipated, though the Parcel L lot may still be requested at a later date). The National Capital Planning Commission will be voting on this case at its August 2 hearing, but zoning Commissioner Hood announced that the NCPC staff was recommending approval of the case as well. You can see the locations of the Yards lots on my Stadium Parking page, with the Parcel L lot now removed from the map. UPDATE: Should have included this link for folks looking for more information--the Office of Planning's report to the Zoning Commission on this case, which lays out the request in greater detail and explains OP's support.
More posts: parking, The Yards, zoning
 

The WMATA board of directors had on its agenda this morning a scheduled vote on the sale of the Southeastern Bus Garage property at Half and M Street to the District of Columbia (more on this proposed sale here). However, when it came time for the items from the Planning, Development, and Real Estate committee, it was announced that one of the items had been removed from the agenda--which turned out to be the Southeastern Bus Garage sale. The first 10 minutes of the board meeting were not included in the live and archived audio streams, so I don't know whether anything was explained during the "approval of the agenda" portion. I have a query into WMATA. UPDATE: WMATA posted a complete version of the audio file, but alas the sound isn't very good--with two sets of ears listening, it *sounds* as if the motion was made to remove the bus garage sale from the agenda and was then approved without any explanation or discussion.

 

The long-awaited draft version of the stadium Transportation Operations and Parking Plan is becoming available online, in either the full version (58 MB!) an executive summary, or individual chapters and appendices. According to a press release just out from DDOT and the DCSEC (not yet online), there will be an open house about the TOPP on Thursday, Aug. 2 from 6-8 pm at 20 M Street SE with information stations "manned by DDOT, Sports Commission and traffic consultants to allow residents to learn about Traffic Operations and Parking; Transit, Pedestrian Access and Bikes; and Residential Parking Permits, Curbside Management (including shuttle and charter buses)."
I haven't read it yet, so check back for any tidbits I find. But I didn't want to delay getting the link out....
UPDATE: Links are now working.
UPDATES, as I read: Immediate headline jumping out at me: plans for parking spaces and lots aren't completed. Not going to go over well. On the other hand, they are recommending that the restricted residential-parking-only areas (similar to what's been used around RFK) cover all of Near Southeast, Southwest (except possibly a few blocks in Buzzards Point), and Capitol Hill from South Capitol Street to 7th Street SE and from C Street SE to the freeway. (Map on page 20 of the main report).
As has been mentioned for months, they are trying to set up satellite parking at RFK, add a new Circulator line from Union Station, and perhaps get water taxi service running to the foot of First Street. But there's no updated status in the TOPP on any of these ideas (except for RFK parking, for which they are "securing agreements" and having shuttle companies test various possible routes). They're also now looking for between 5,000 and 7,000 total parking spaces. Parking for charter buses is still being worked on as well.
Note: This is a huge document. I'll try to hit highlights, but if there's something of particular concern to you, I suggest putting on your snorkel and flippers and diving in to get your answers, especially in the main report. If you want further background, there's my Stadium Transportation and Parking page, with presentations and flyers from the public meetings that were held as this was being drafted.

 

Back in mid-June there was a Saturday morning public roundtable by the city council's Committee on Economic Redevelopment on current development projects in Southwest and Near Southeast. If you didn't get to go, you can watch it tomorrow (Thursday June 26) at 6:40 pm on DC Cable 13, or via live streaming video. Of course, that's at the same time as the Zoning Commission hearing on Forest City's request to add temporary surface parking lots to the The Yards (also available via streaming video) so you'll have to make a choice.
And if you want to give over your entire day to monitoring developments (welcome to my world!), at 10 am Thursday is the WMATA board meeting where they will decide whether to sell the Southeastern Bus Garage to the city; this will also be available via live and archived streaming audio.
 

On Tuesday DDOT issued a press release with the latest roundup of news from the South Capitol Street/Frederick Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover. The project is still on time, and is still basking in the glow of last week's lowering of the remaining northern 200 feet of the span. They also have started working on the new "globe" street lights and the utility work along South Capitol Street. Up next? Quoting from the press release (so excuse the jargon): "Continue concrete deck repairs, utility work on South Capitol Street (D/B), form sleeper slab, continue setting and work of MSE wall panels, remove support/jacking towers from two column lines." Also, in addition to the time-lapse video of the lowering, they've posted some photos of the bridge work's progress. What a cool idea! (Hey, we kid because we love.)
 

Some people have written me saying that the work to upgrade the infrastructure around Capitol Quarter has begun--but while it's close, I've confirmed that it hasn't actually started yet, although it shouldn't be too long now. This is work on the water and sewer lines--"vertical" construction (i.e., buildng the townhouses) is still scheduled to start in January 2008.
More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 

News in Near Southeast has slowed a bit, so I'll toss another Poplar Point item your way (with the understanding that this in no way binds me to future coverage!). In the wake of the news that negotiations have fallen through with DC United over a new soccer stadium on the banks of Anacostia across from the Nationals ballpark and the Navy Yard, the city announced on Monday that is seeking competitive bids to redevelop the 110-acre site. Quotes of interest: "District officials are working closely with the National Parks Service to consummate the transfer, which is expected to close this fall. Under the terms of the agreement, the District must reserve at least 70 acres of the property for a waterfront park. The District will also engage in an extensive wetlands restoration, including Stickfoot Creek. [...] Initial planning studies indicate Poplar Point could accommodate more than 3.5 million square feet of development during the next 15 years. Desired uses for the site include a mix of housing, retail, commercial and cultural space. A soccer stadium has been proposed for the site, though the solicitation will not require developers to include a stadium in their proposals. At least 30 percent of all the housing built on Poplar Point will be affordable for moderate and low-income families, in accordance with a District-wide affordable housing policy announced by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty last week. The District will issue a solicitation to developers by the end of August. District officials expect to select a development partner before the end of the year." The Examiner has a piece on this new plan. UPDATE: Here's the WashTimes story.

More posts:
 

Both the Post and the Examiner have small pieces today on the city's desire to purchase the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M from Metro, which I wrote about last Friday. New tidbits: the Post says that "Metro had offered the property to developers through a bid process that began June 8. As of yesterday's 2 p.m. deadline for bids, the transit authority had not received any offers." The Examiner notes that "Metro routinely grants local governments the first chance to purchase surplus properties at market price." The WMATA board is scheduled to vote on this proposal Thursday; here's the proposed action item, which explains why the city is interested: "The Garage is currently being offered for public sale through an Invitation for Bids process. The Garage is located in the new Nationals Ballpark District, and the District of Columbia has an interest in the successful redevelopment of the area surrounding the ballpark and is concerned that WMATA's Invitation for Bids process for the Garage will not yield the high-quality, mixed-use development that is required to achieve its goals for this area. By letter dated June 27, 2007, the District of Columbia, acting by and through the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, requested that WMATA enter into direct negotiations with the District of Columbia for the sale of the Garage."
 

From Saturday's Washington Times: "The Washington Nationals have requested the use of an arbitrator to settle a dispute with the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission over millions of dollars in costs related to the construction of the team's new ballpark. The move comes after several months of negotiations over how much the team should contribute toward the cost of furniture, fixtures and equipment, commonly referred to as 'FF&E.' The team is filing to help reach a settlement on what it views as $9 million worth of disputed costs." As for the question that this brings up: "Sports commission officials, however, said they do not expect the dispute to affect the construction timeline for the ballpark. The commission already has begun ordering furniture and other items for the stadium and has no plans to stop during the arbitration process. The ballpark is scheduled to open in time for Opening Day of next year."
More posts: Nationals Park
 

Took advantage of a Simpsons-like afternoon sky to grab some quick shots of the construction on the residential projects Onyx on First and 70 I, which both now have their first floors built. You can look at those two pages to see the shots along with their "befores", or just browse all of my photos from today on a single page. It should be noted that I'm somewhat hamstrung with documenting 70 I's construction, thanks to the closure of I Street between Half and New Jersey--I can really only take shots from Half and I looking eastward. But as it comes farther out of the ground, I can go with other farther-away vantage points to get the good befores-and-afters.
More posts: 70/100 I, jpi, Onyx, Square 743N
 

Well, here's a bit of a stunner. While prepping myself for Monday's scheduled deadline for developers to submit bids to purchase Metro's Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M, SE, I peeked in on the agenda posted for WMATA's July 26 board meeting, and there's an action item about the sale: "Purpose: To request Board approval to enter into negotiations with the District of Columbia for the sale of the Southeastern Bus Garage."
Whaaa?
Quoting: "The Garage is currently being offered for public sale through an Invitation for Bids process. The Garage is located in the new Nationals Ballpark District, and the District of Columbia has an interest in the successful redevelopment of the area surrounding the ballpark and is concerned that WMATA's Invitation for Bids process for the Garage will not yield the high-quality, mixed-use development that is required to achieve its goals for this area. By letter dated June 27, 2007, the District of Columbia, acting by and through the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, requested that WMATA enter into direct negotiations with the District of Columbia for the sale of the Garage."
As best as I can tell (and I'm working solely off the agenda document, because it's hard to contact people for details at 11:55 Friday night), WMATA is going to sell the 97,000-sq-ft property to the city for "the appraised fair market value", allowing Metro to use the proceeds to fund the construction of a new garage at DC Village. (The property was assessed in 2007 at $34.5 million.)
But then there's a stipulation in the sales agreement that "if the District sells or otherwise transfers the Garage site for compensation greater than the sales price between WMATA and the District, then WMATA will receive 100% of the excess value." In addition, if "the property is increased in value due to approval of a higher density allowance or other similar action by the District of Columbia in the land use approval process, then WMATA will receive 50% of the 'excess value' so created." (Or are these two statements not supposed to both be in the resolution? They would seem to contradict each other.)
What does this mean? Is this the Deputy Mayor's office showing that it will act quickly and strongly in areas where the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation was considered to have foundered? Is it in some way allowing WMATA to get its hands on the sale proceeds faster? Are Monument Realty's stated desires to control both sides of Half Street north of the ballpark in jeopardy? Will this allow the west side of Half Street to be developed faster than if WMATA's bid process had gone through? There is digging to be done. Anyone with answers is encouraged to pass them along.
 

Posting a link to the Post's Saturday A1 story "Talks Fall Apart on Stadium for DC Soccer Team", for those interested in the possibilities of DC United building a new soccer stadium at Poplar Point, right across the Anacostia from Near Southeast. The lede: "Negotiations to build a soccer stadium for D.C. United in Southeast Washington have collapsed, leading District officials to pursue other options for the site and team officials to threaten to move the franchise out of the city, government sources said yesterday."
More posts:
 

From MLB.com (via a hat tip from reader Kris) word that today members of the Nationals got a tour of their future home. (Alas, I didn't get invited, so we'll just have to depend on other media outlets for the scoop.) Tucked between quotes by the players marveling at the size of the new locker room compared to RFK is this fun nugget: "The tour drew plenty of attention, with a full swarm of local media on hand as well as the Discovery Channel. Danny Forster, host of the show "Build it Bigger," was spending time at the ballpark documenting the process for a future episode of the show. [...] The show featuring Nationals Park is tentatively scheduled to air in mid-September." Will update with additional links as they come in.
UPDATE: I should also mention that if you browse through the Camera 2 images of the Stadium Web Cam from today, you'll see the stadium's first escalator getting installed, and also you can see the first floor of the "knife-edge" admin building is going up. And on Camera 1 you can see that the excavating of the infield is underway, and that the last of the structural steel for the outfield restaurant is going in. And you don't even have to wait for the special on Discovery!
More posts: Nationals Park
 

DDOT has posted a time-lapse video of yesterday's lowering of the Frederick Douglass Bridge, and there's a link to it from this page with the press release on the lowering. If you want to study how it was done, my photos from the lowering don't go by quite so quickly (hee hee).
UPDATED: Here's a video clip on the lowering from WJLA.
 

The Washington Business Journal has a quick blurb confirming that today Mayor Fenty did indeed sign the billtoday's bill signing that merges the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and the National Capital Revitalization Corporation into the office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. Not much newsy, so I'll just quote from my entry yesterday: "Work has already begun on the merging of these two quasi-governmental agencies into the DMPED offices, but it is not anticipated to be completed until October. (My post on last Friday's hearing about the transition has more information.)"
UPDATE: Here's a Channel 4 piece on the transfer. And the DMPED press release. And audio of a piece on WAMU radio.
 

Two more pieces about Opus East's purchase last week of the Nation site at 1015 Half Street; the Washington Business Journal today has a pretty straightforward brief, while yesterday's Washington Times has a longer piece that also discusses the Near Southeast commercial real estate market. (But there's one small quibble with the second sentence of this piece: "Although office buildings are nothing new for Opus East, building one on speculation in Southeast is unusual" is kinda sorta forgetting about Opus's 100 M Street project a mere two blocks away.)
Of course, when you read these (and the others), don't forget who first brought you the news about the sale, back on Monday.
 

When I looked closely at the photos I took of the Douglass Bridge lowering yesterday around 5 pm, I thought that the hydraulic jacks looked like they didn't have much further to go--but everything DDOT had said indicated that the lowering was going to take 24 hours, at about two inches an hour, so I figured my layman's eyes just didn't understand what they were seeing. As it turns out, I was right--a press release just e-mailed out by DDOT (not yet online) says that the bridge lowering was completed about 90 minutes after I was there, having taken about 16 hours. (So they must have started around 2 am, not 8 am as I had thought.)
Watch for a time-lapse video of the lowering on the local newscasts later today, which of course I will link to. In the meantime, here's Dr. Gridlock's blog entry on the lowering.
I wonder if the rest of the work on the bridge and South Capitol Street will be completed in 60 percent of the time originally budgeted?
 

Today is the day that the northernmost 200 feet of the Douglass Bridge (north of the Anacostia shoreline) is being lowered by as much as four feet so that the bridge's approach can begin/end at Potomac Ave. I've got some photos of the initial work this morning, but the photos aren't exactly action-packed, thanks to the lowering pace of two inches per hour. You can see the jacks in place and all the hubbub of work going on, as well as the new earth-fill ramp leading up to the bridge (which was a surprise for me, I didn't realize how far along the ramp already is).
I'm going to head back down this afternoon, when the light is better, and take some shots of the progress, so check back later in the day; I'll also be adding links to the media coverage as they pop up.
The lowering is scheduled to be completed late tomorrow morning.
UPDATE: Here's WTOP's piece.
UPDATE II: I went and got some seven-hours-later shots, which you can see side-by-side with the morning shots. It's of course nowhere near as dramatic as the befores-and-afters of the bridge's demolition last week, but you can tell a difference.
 

On Friday at the Old Capitol Pumphouse at the foot of First Street and Potomac Avenue, Mayor Fenty is scheduled to sign the bill that transfers control of the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and the National Capital Revitalization Corporation to the city's Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. The ceremony is scheduled to start at 11 am. Work has already begun on the merging of these two quasi-governmental agencies into the DMPED offices, but it is not anticipated to be completed until October. (My post on last Friday's hearing about the transition has more information.)

 

My Ballpark and Beyond column in this week's District Extra of the Post covers the NCPC votes on the surface parking lots and The Yards design, the water and sewer special assessment on the blocks north of the stadium, and the $140 million in bonds that will help finance various projects along the Anacostia River, including Diamond Teague Park and its rumored ferry pier. The links above will take you to the news items originally posted here or to the pages I maintain on the various projects; in particular, check out The Yards First-Phase page for many of the renderings that were shown to the NCPC.
 

Tonight was the community meeting about the proposed consolidation of many of the Metropolitan Police Department's functions into the old Star/Post Plant at 225 Virginia Ave. The session was run by council member Tommy Wells, with Office of Property Management director Lars Etzkorn and MPD assistant Chief Brian Jordan on the hot seat in front of a crowd that was decidedly not excited about the proposal in its current form.
And for a good portion of the meeting, residents were unable to get an answer as to whether or not this plan is a done deal, but toward the end Wells and Etzkorn and council member Phil Mendelson (who arrived late in the session) seemed to indicate that perhaps there's still some wriggle room on some of the plans.
To summarize for folks who haven't been following along since news of this plan broke late in 2006, the District has signed a lease for the 440,000-sq-ft building and has formulated a plan to move 1,100 MPD employees in the following units into the building: the superintendent of detectives, the violent crimes branch, narcotics and special investigations, special operations, property and evidence, and the First District station that is currently at 4th and School streets, SW.
The building is going to need a fair amount of interior work, plus the construction of a 460-space garage, so up to $100 million of that cost is being built into the yearly lease. (My previous news items on 225 Virginia can give you additional background.) And, the relocation of the 1D station clears the way for the construction of the city's new Combined Forensics Lab on that site, which is clearly a priority for all branches of D.C. government.
The biggest concerns coming from the assembled audience were the move of the First District station out of Southwest, and the issue of parking, given that the new garage to be built is 188 spaces short of MPD's identified needs. Noise was also brought up as a worry.
Despite assistant chief Jordan's description of the First District station move as being "only 5,500 feet" (in other words, a mile) and his explanations of how the officers would only be at 225 Virginia during roll call and shift change and out in their PSAs the rest of the time, Southwest residents remained clearly opposed to losing their station.
As for the parking, the Powerpoint presentation showed a plan to create 108 spaces at the DPW Trash Transfer lot at Second and K streets, SE, and use 80 street spaces on the four streets that surround 225 Virginia. Etzkorn did make a point of mentioning that the use of the DPW site will be done in such a way that ensures that the site can still be developed, as it is supposed to eventually be home to a mixed-income apartment building as part of the Capper/Carrollsburg redevelopment.
There were discussions of creating "24-7" residential parking restrictions to prevent overflow MPD parking on certain blocks in similar fashion to how parking is handled at RFK for baseball games, but the idea of police cars ever actually getting ticketed for parking illegally was met with extreme skepticism. Assistant chief Jordan did pledge that the MPD would be a "good community partner."
There were even comments about whether it's a good idea to consolidate the city's emergency response infrastructure in a single building, one that's just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol, given the possibilities of a terrorist strike. (One woman went so far as to mention how easy it would be for evildoers to take out 225 Virginia by launching a missile from the Southeast Freeway.)
Etzkorn, taking pains to emphasize that this lease deal was created before he joined OPM, admitted that this project has been poorly handled from a community involvement perspective. The lease was approved by the council during the final days of the Williams administration, without any public meetings to discuss the viability of putting such a large traffic-creating target-rich development in such a residential area.
Mendelson said that if there's a lot of opposition to the move of the 1D station, then it needs to be looked at, and Etzkorn echoed that by saying that the Fenty administration needs to make sure that the plans are appropriate and that "this is not a fait accompli." Wells concluded by saying that everyone needs to respect that there were a lot of reasons for picking 225 Virginia and making these plans, but that he has now inserted himself into the discussion and will help to negotiate what's best for the community while weighing what's best for the city.
The participants pledged that there will be another community meeting soon. So, while you're waiting for that, keep checking back here for when I post the meeting slides, and also read Lars Etzkorn's June 7 testimony on the move (and my two summaries of that hearing). If you have strong feelings on the subject one way or the other, contacting Tommy Wells, Phil Mendelson, and Carol Schwartz wouldn't be a bad idea. And of course, as soon as I hear anything more, I will post about it.
UPDATED 7/19 with a link to the meeting's slide presentation.

 

The next big "moment" in the Douglass Bridge's Extreme Makeover is scheduled for tomorrow (Thursday, June 19), and that's the lowering of the elevated northern approach of the bridge by just over four feet. According to today's media advisory from DDOT, this will happen veeeeeery slowly--"coming down by approximately two inches per hour"--and is expected to take 24 hours from start to finish. Starting at 8 am, crews will "cut" the bridge's support columns, and then the bridge deck will be supported and lowered by more than 35 hydraulic jacks, with four jacks at each support pier. If you want to get a feel for exactly what's going to happen, DDOT's video on the Douglass Bridge changes has an animation of the lowering at about the 4:20 mark.
Look for TV coverage of it all tomorrow; and I wouldn't be surprised if a certain blogger posts some visuals of it, too.
 

GlobeSt.com has a piece (free for seven days) on Opus East's purchase of the Nation site at 1015 Half Street--not really anything new from what I posted on Monday (441,000 sq ft, construction starting in October, $41.5 million price tag) except that the developers will apply for LEED Silver certification on the project (i.e., it'll be a "green" building). But mainly I'm using this new article as a hook to mention that Opus has put its 100 M Street building on the market as part of a three-building Class A office building portfolio (see Grubb and Ellis's listings here, which include this portfolio.) From what I understand, Opus would stay on as developer until the certificate of occupancy on 100 M is obtained. Looks like the deadline for offers is tomorrow, so get your checkbooks out.
 

Just a reminder that Wednesday night, July 18, the Metropolitan Police Department is holding a Community Meeting on the Relocation of the Metropolitan Police Department to the old Post Plant site at 225 Virginia Ave. Tommy Wells will be in attendance, as will representatives of MPD, the Office of Property Management, ANCs 6B and 6D, and other officials. It should be a well-attended meeting: there's the residents of Southwest, who are not happy that these proposed relocation plans include the move of the First District police station from Southwest over to Southeast; and the Friends of Garfield Park and other close-by residents, who are concerned about the parking and traffic issues.
The meeting is at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 3rd and A Streets, SE, at 6:30 pm. If you want more background on this proposed move, scroll down through the "News" tab of my 225 Virgina Ave. page.
 

As I posted a few weeks ago, a request is now making its way through the process that would allow the construction of another batch of temporary surface parking lots, this time at The Yards, totaling an additional 950 spaces. Temporary surface lots are actually already allowed at The Yards under the Southeast Federal Center Zoning Overlay, subject to this mandatory review. The Zoning Commission hearing is on July 26, and the Office of Planning has completed its report supporting the request, saying among other things that these lots would actually improve the appearance of the parcels and surrounding area--if you've looked at the south side of Tingey Street, you know thiis isn't very far off. (The OP report has a lot of good detail on the Yards parking proposal, so be sure to read it.)
My network of moles inform me that at last week's ANC 6D meeting, after a presentation on the plan, no one made a motion to support it, and when one commissioner made a motion to oppose, no one seconded. (Voice of the Hill has a blurb on this meeting as well.) Ouch!
The case will also then be reviewed by the National Capital Planning Commission at its August 2 meeting.
If you want to know more about the state of ballpark-related parking, my Stadium Parking and Transportation page has the gory details, including a map of the possible lots and links to the slew of documents that have been generated over this subject. And the clock is now ticking on when that draft Transportation Operations and Parking Plan is supposed to be released (it was going to hit the streets in June, it was said...).
 

The city's Director of the Office of Planning, Harriet Tregoning, spent an hour on Monday talking about city development and planning issues with WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi; you can listen to it here. Topics covered included the H Street corridor, Southwest, industrial uses, retaining local retailers, green development, Poplar Point, and livability and walkability. She mentioned that retail around the stadium is going to be an issue at first, since there won't be much of it ready by Opening Day 2008, and seemed to indicate that vendors ("something other than hot dogs and FBI t-shirts") could be an option. When asked about the status of Canal Park by a Near Southeast resident (wave to the crowd, Sophia) She also reiterated what I've reported here over the past few days: there will be no overflow stadium parking on the Canal Park site, but negotiations have not yet been completed to get the current lease holders (i.e., the school bus lots) off the site, so there is no start date for the park's construction.
 

From a DDOT press release entitled "Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge Renovation on Schedule" (now online), a list of what's to come this week now that the demolishing is done: "Forming of new light poles, continuing the bridge deck repairs and the completion of the deck testing, utility work on South Capitol Street, setting of jack towers, [and] the lowering of the bridge of Thursday, July 19." Since it might be three or four whole days before I venture back down there for new pictures, you'll have to settle in the meantime for last week's shots and the Stadium Construction Webcam Camera #2.
 

The word has arrived that last week the rumored sale of the old Nation nightclub site at 1015 Half Street was completed, with Opus East (backed by institutional investors) paying a rumored $41.5 million for both the land and the existing plans for a 411,000-sq-ft office building. The fine folks at Opus tell me that they are planning to start construction (on spec) in October, with delivery of the building by October 2009. You can see a rendering of the glass-a-riffic building, which will front Half, K, and L streets, on my 1015 Half Street page.

 

With the area in the stadium corridor between South Capitol and First streets apparently in need of significant upgrades to its water and sewer infrastructure, the city council is working on a bill that would create a special assessment to fund the $15.45 million needed for the improvements. It was decided to take care of these upgrades now because the streets that the pipes lie under--South Capitol, Potomac, First, N, and I--are scheduled to be reconstructed in the coming months as part of the streetscape improvement project before the Nationals ballpark opens, and it was thought best to take care of the sewer work now rather than having to dig up newly renovated streets. Landowners (including the city and the U.S. government) would be assessed based on total land area and the gross building area as allowed by zoning for each parcel of land that abuts or benefits from the improvements, and would be able to pay their assessment either in an up-front lump sum or over time. With the city contributing $3 million toward the project up front and another $4.1 million to cover the assessments on public properties, the other landowners will end up funding $8.35 million of the project cost.
The bill was marked up on July 13, and apparently has changed somewhat, but you can read the original version of the legislation here. When the committee report is finalized and the revised bill is available, I'll post them as well.
It should be noted that the water and sewer improvements for the stadium itself have already been taken care of, and similar improvements for The Yards and Capper/Carrollsburg will be handled through their PILOT funding programs.
 

Steve Eldridge, in his traffic column in the Examiner today, reports he has heard very few complaints from readers related to the Douglass Bridge closure and its spillover effects. "It seems like the city did a very good job at planning ahead for this event including the decision to do the work during the summer months, when traffic volumes are at their lows for the year. [...] I know that we give the District a hard time in this space, but this project seems to be something that has been well thought out and well executed ... at least so far." Dr. Gridlock in the Post wrote a lot about it in his Get There blog early last week, but hasn't covered it for a few days.
 

I hit the pavement this morning (before it began to melt a few hours later), and have posted a pile of new photos in the Stadium Exterior Construction Gallery, the additional north/south/east/west stadium views for the fanatics, and the Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover page, which in particular has more new stunning before-and-afters of the South Capitol Street/Potomac Avenue intersection.
 

It's been rumored for ages, and even as of a few days ago I couldn't get confirmation, but reader Dave says we now have a "Starbucks Coming Soon" sign in the window of the little glassed-in annex on the DOT headquarters's northwestern corner, at New Jersey and M. I don't know when they plan on opening. But, fear not, pricey hot caffeinated beverages will be in your grasp before too long!
 

Who could envision a more exciting Friday night than watching the Tivo'ed coverage of today's DC Council Committee on Economic Development Public Hearing on the plans for the transition of the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and the National Capital Revitalization Corporation into the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. (Maybe it's time for a new JDLand motto: We bore ourselves to tears so you don't have to.)
What is probably the biggest headline from the hearing for those with Near Southeast interests is that Deputy Mayor Neil Albert called "totally incorrect" the recent reports that construction would begin on Canal Park in August. Valerie Santos Young, now the Chief Operating Officer of the Deputy Mayor's office, said that negotiations are continuing with both the owner of the unused parking lot of the northernmost block of the park (Urban Parking Ventures) and with the group that owns the lease for the school bus parking on the other two blocks, but no agreements have been reached.
With that pleasant news out of the way, there really wasn't much else of note in the hearing that specifically impacts Near Southeast. There will be job cuts as the three organizations are merged into one, and employees should know their status in the new plan by Aug. 15; the number of positions being cut wasn't disclosed. They are planning to expand the DMPED office space in the Wilson Building, but will also be renewing the lease on the AWC offices at 1100 New Jersey Ave. for additional space. (They are working to break the lease for the old NCRC office space on M Street.) Accenture is being paid $320,000 for three months to help with the transition (which got some questioning from Kwame Brown as to why a local firm couldn't have been hired for the job). No documents on the reorganization were given to the committee before the hearing, which Brown wasn't too thrilled about, but Albert says that the new organization chart will be ready by August.
And, as much as I tried to close my ears to any non-Near Southeast discussions, I did hear that the city is not planning to sign the Memorandum of Understanding that the AWC had negotiated with the Southwest Waterfront redevelopment team, because the city's lawyers were concerned about possible exposure (which wasn't elaborated on). Albert said that they feel that an agreement can be reached that covers everything in the MOU without actually having an MOU.
There were also conversations about the management of the marinas, which baffled me until I realized everyone was saying "live-aboards" and not "liverboards."
You can catch a rebroadcast of the hearing on Saturday at 12:30 pm on either DC Cable 13 or via streaming video. If you subscribe to the Washington Business Journal, today's print edition had a short pre-hearing piece on the transition plans.
There will be additional oversight hearings in September and October, and Kwame Brown indicated that he plans to have additional hearings on every development project now in the DMPED portfolio, to make sure that the public is kept abreast of the plans and the timelines.
 

A press release just in over the transom is announcing that Forest City has hired CB Richard Ellis to handle the leasing of what's being called 401 M Street, the office building to be built on the southeast corner of 4th and M just east of the US Department of Transporation HQ. This is "Parcel D" on my Yards First Phase page, and is the building that will have a grocery store on the first floor in addition to the 300,000 sq ft of office space. Construction is scheduled to start next year, with delivery in spring 2010. (There's also an ad announcing this in today's print edition of the Washington Business Journal.)
 

They're not really that exciting to look at, but I now have a few photos from yesterday evening showing that the ground floor of the Onyx on First condo project has sprouted. (Its sibling 100 M Street, coming out of the same hole, is on a slower schedule, it appears.)
And with the Douglass Bridge viaduct now gone, I've started making some additions and deletions to my Stadium Exterior Construction Gallery to change out the photos I had been taking from up on the viaduct and replacing them with some new angles. And there will probably be more changes to come, especially with the western parking garage at South Capitol and N now clearly visible. If you scroll through the stadium page, you'll be rewarded about halfway down with a photo showing the first panes of glass installed on the southwest side of the ballpark. And I'll be doing my usual photo update on Sunday for the other three sides of stadium.
More posts: Onyx, Nationals Park
 

On this gorgeous late afternoon (which would have been PERFECT for a Topping Out ceremony!), I got back down to the Douglass Bridge demolition for the first time in a few days, and whether it was the deep blue sky or the new camera lens or what, I snagged some pretty striking photos of the changed landscape on South Capitol Street between N and Potomac. I've posted them on my Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover page, of course--I also added some more stitched-together panoramas of what the intersections looked like before. All the new shots today are from the west side--access to the east side of South Capitol is far more limited thanks to the stadium, so shots looking westward from anywhere other than Potomac Ave. may just have to wait until the work is all done. I'm going to be working on getting more photos of these intersections into the Photo Archive; but I've been just a wee bit busy over these past few days (!) and so haven't had the chance.
Speaking of the work, there was nothing left of the old viaduct on my visit other than the pile of dirt that used to make up the earth-fill ramp between O and P streets (well, there's whole lot of rubble, too). So we can say that the demolition took six days. Now we get to watch for the lowering of the northernmost remaining portion of the bridge, the building of the new earth-fill ramp up from Potomac Ave. to meet the existing bridge, and the streetscaping of the rest of South Capitol. And we get to see just how quickly the contractor can pull this off ahead of the eight-week schedule. (Up to $1 million in incentives are being dangled in front of them.)
Getting it done quick will certainly ease the burden of thousands of commuters, who are really taking it on the chin with this project. Today there's a number of stories about Metro ticketing the folks who are parking illegally in the lots on the east side of the Anacostia. Channel 9, Channel 7, Channel 4, WTOP, and the Post's Marc Fisher all weigh in. And the Southern Maryland Gazette writes about the traffic problems from an outside-the-Beltway perspective.

More posts: South Capitol St.
 

This afternoon, the National Capital Planning Commission gave their "does not adversely effect federal interests" approval to the recent zoning amendment allowing temporary surface parking lots on various blocks near the stadium, subject to the removal of the Canal Park parcels from the amendment and also that any of the temporary lots on waterfront parcels be set back a minimum of 75 feet from the Anacostia shoreline. They also want the final order of the text amendment to make clear that the five-year cap on these lots cannot be extended via a Board of Zoning Adjustment Special Exception.
The staff report indicated what we've heard in the last day or so, that the Office of Planning will indeed be modifying the amendment to take out Reservation 17 parcels B, C, and D (the Canal Park blocks) before the Zoning Commission's final vote on July 30. There was also slightly curt exchange between two of the commissioners during the discussion of the parking situation about why the US Department of Transporation headquarters can't make some accommodation to allow public parking (as the Reagan building does) in some of its 800 parking spaces; as is now so often the case in this city, "Sept. 11" was the answer.
The commission also approved the 35% design plans for The Yards--many of the renderings and drawings that were in the presentation to the board today are already on my Yards First Phase page. This submittal to the NCPC covered the streetscape, landscape, and infrastructure improvement plans, and the plans for the first four developments on the site--renovation of two existing buildings to create 430 residential units, the renovation of Building 167 into a 46,000-sq-ft retail space, and the construction of two new buildings at 4th and M that would have 320,000 sq ft of office space, a grocery store, and 170+ apartments. Work on the streetscape and infrastructure improvements will be starting this summer, and the first of the building renovations will get underway next year, with 170 apartments and the Building 167 retail to be delivered in mid-2009. This plan will also be in front of the Commission on Fine Arts on July 19.
I hope to get electronic versions soon of the staff recommendation documents for both of these votes, which contain lots of good summary information for people who haven't been following these cases quite as, um, closely as SOME people. I'll update here when I get them.
So, for Canal Park fans, everything seems to be pointing to the hoped-for conclusion, though it won't be 100% written in stone until the July 30 Zoning Commission meeting.
UPDATE: Here's the recommendation document for The Yards; I hope to have the parking one on Friday, so check back.
UPDATE II: Believe it or not, NBC 4 covered the meeting today. (Maybe they got the idea from today's District Extra!)
 

At Tuesday's council meeting, an emergency resolution was passed to allow the issuance of bonds that will bring $140 million in proceeds to fund various Anacostia waterfront projects, including the waterfront park at The Yards and Diamond Teague Park. The money is coming from a Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes agreement for the Department of Transportation HQ, land that can't be taxed by the city because it's federal property. The original PILOT bill laying out the specifics was passed last October and the city and DOT developer JBG signed the agreement in February. I'm not 100% sure why there's now this new emergency resolution, although my bleary-eyed morning reading of it sees that perhaps the council was required to officially approve which projects were designated to get the funding. And, in order to issue the bonds before the end of this fiscal year, the council needed to act quickly, hence the emergency legislation.
A tidbit from the resolution: one of the projects listed as needing this funding is "a new ferry pier at the foot of First Street, SE"; this is the Diamond Teague Park location that's right across the street from the ballpark. I've been hearing rumors lately that the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation has the building of this pier on a very fast track, with the intention of getting it ready by Opening Day 2008; there's scuttlebutt is that the permit applications have already been filed with the US Army Corps of Engineers, though I don't see evidence of that just yet. Perhaps we'll hear more about this at tomorrow's hearing on the move of the AWC into the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
 

My Ballpark and Beyond column in The Post's District Extra today covers the Canal Park parking lot brouhaha. If you're arriving here looking for more background, here's the zoning amendment that started it all, last night's news that the Office of Planning looks firmly committed to rectifying the oversight, my page with details on all the plans for stadium parking around Near Southeast, today's NCPC meeting agenda, and my Canal Park page for details on the plans for the park itself. I'll be posting later today on the outcome of the NCPC meeting.
More posts: Canal Park, zoning
 

In advance of Thursday's National Capital Planning Commission meeting that will review the surface parking lots zoning amendment, the Voice of the Hill has posted a piece about the controversial inclusion of the Canal Park blocks within the parcels approved for parking. Much of the piece covers territory I've written about over the past few days, but has some new nuggets. Money quote: "Joel Lawson, the Office of Planning's acting deputy director for neighborhood and long-range planning, said the portions of squares containing Canal Park were never intended to be used for parking and should not have been included. 'I can understand why people are concerned about this,' he said. But, he added, 'We knew the parking wasn't going to go there.' He said the planning office will amend its request to make explicit this provision." Another quote, from the spokesman for Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development Neil Albert: "We have no intention to use this three-block site for stadium parking, and we fully expect to move forward in building this important public amenity on schedule." This would appear to make the NCPC meeting less of a critical juncture, but I'll still be there to check it out. Besides, they're also having a big presentation on the first-phase plans for The Yards.
 

On July 18, the Metropolitan Police Department is holding a Community Meeting on the Relocation of MPD to the old Post Plant site at 225 Virginia Ave.; Tommy Wells will be in attendance as well. Word is already going around about the meeting to residents of Southwest, who are not happy that these proposed relocation plans include the move of the First District police station from Southwest over to Southeast. I imagine parking questions will also be part of the discussion. The meeting is at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 3rd and A Streets, SE, at 6:30 pm on the 18th.
 

As soon as I dry off (which might take until 2008), I'll post pictures from today's rain out of a Topping Out celebration. Keep checking back.
UPDATE: Here are my photos from the Topping Out. No prize-winners in the bunch, but I'm lucky at this point that my camera didn't fill up with water. If you're really wanting to see what the interior of the stadium looks like on a sunny day, here are some shots of it from 10 days ago. Enjoy.
UPDATE II: And now the media pieces begin to flow on the ceremony. Here's WTOP's, to start. And yes, it's on time and on budget.
UPDATE III: MLB.com.
UPDATE IV: Washington Post. Channel 4. Channel 7. Channel 9. Associated Press. And, to go backwards a bit, Channel 5's piece on the topping out from before the ceremony. And, last ones, the WashTimes and the Examiner.
More posts: Nationals Park
 

The demolition of the beams from the old Douglass Bridge viaduct along South Capitol Street north of Potomac continues apace today, and you can really "watch" it over the next few hours on Camera #2 of the Stadium Construction Webcam, which updates every 20 minutes or so. Just keep hitting the "View Most Recent Image" box under the calendar (and zoom in for a better view). I'm betting they'll be finished with the beams by the end of the day or tomorrow, and will have only the earth fill approach ramp north of P left. Then there'll be the cleanup and the work to create the new roadway over the next few weeks, but that won't be anywhere near as much fun to check out on the webcam as the demolition is..... (Plenty of other work will be happening out of the webcam's view, of course, such as the lowering of the portion of the bridge just north of the Anacostia shoreline and the building of the new ramp down to Potomac Ave.) And note that the concrete pillars you see in the ground in front of the bridge demolition are for the "knife-edge" Nationals office building that will be attached to the stadium. You can see the concrete already starting to be poured for the south point of the building. And the line of steel beams in front of the admin building construction are for the sloped promenade that will come from Potomac Avenue up to the stadium.
We do need to offer them a hankie to clean the lens, though!
UPDATE. 5:15 pm: The girders are now all gone--all that's left of the viaduct is the brick-lined ramp between O and P, and it won't last much longer, either. As fun as it is to sneak peeks of it on the webcam, I had hoped to have new photos of my own today--but the deluge during the stadium topping out dampened my enthusiasm for further picture taking. More pics soon, I promise.

 

If you want to know what the views of the field will be from any section in the new Nationals ballpark, you can use this pretty cool interactive seating chart -- click on a section, and a window will pop up that displays renderings of the stadium from that vantage point. (The overhead view of the stadium's bowl is pretty nice, so I've added it to my stadium renderings page, too.) Nats ticketholders and fans have already been playing with this for a while, but even if you're not in either of those categories, it's a neat little app to check out.
The ballpark "Topping Out" party is today; I should have some photos from it posted later this afternoon.
More posts: Nationals Park
 

They haven't officially announced its launch, but I happened to wander by this evening and found that the Velocity Condos official web site is now live. It's got a sign-up form if you're interested in this 200-unit building at 1st and L, and a long list of the planned amenities, but no drawings of the building (you can see one of those along with more details on my own Velocity Condos page). The new site also says that sales center (at Half and K) will be opening soon, and it will have a "detailed scale model" and a "furnished model home right in the sales center." Digging has just gotten underway, and delivery is expected in 2009.

 

The US Navy Museum has released its July/August schedule of events, which I've added to my Upcoming Events calendar. So take the Little Skippers down to the museum for some maritime craft-making!
More posts: Navy Yard
 

The city council has approved today the creation of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District, covering all of Near Southeast as well as much of Buzzards Point in SW. They enacted not only the permanent legislation but also an emergency bill allowing the BID to be created immediately, rather than waiting for the permanent legislation to wind its way through Congress. (Check out my previous BID entries for more background on what a BID is.) Welcome to the neighborhood, BIDders....

 

Removal of the steel girders along the old northern approach of the Douglass Bridge viaduct continues today, and that work has now come into view when looking at Camera #2 of the Nationals Stadium Construction Cam, starting with the 12:32 pm image. (And, for the fun of it, check out the 2:27 and 2:41 images for the Noah's Ark view of the site.) Dr. Gridlock's blog has another entry today about the traffic fallout from the bridge's closure. And of course my Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover page has my photos of the site, with more to come tomorrow. UPDATE: Another Dr. Gridlock post discusses the now-overflowing state of the Anacostia Metro station parking lot.

 

Once again venturing reluctantly into the world of live human beings, I went to last night's Zoning Commission meeting. Here's a wrapup:
* After waiting a month to get input from the Office of Planning, the ZC gave some guidance on Florida Rock's revised plans for its 5.8-acre site on the Anacostia. The phrase uttered most often was "on the right track" -- each commissioner mentioned something in the new designs that they weren't completely crazy about (the glass "campanile" viewing tower on the east building seemed not to have wowed them), but they were mainly complimentary, making clear that the new design was an improvement over the last go-round and is closer to what the ZC wants to see on the site. (Read my entry from February for more background on the ZC's objections to the last design.)
This was not any sort of decision-making stage--the Florida Rock developers were wanting to make sure that they didn't expend vast amounts of energy pursuing a design that would end up again being nixed by the commission, and now with the sense that their latest idea has the ZC's support, they can work on their designs in more detail and apply for a modification to their second-stage PUD, which would then have a public hearing. I don't have any idea at this point what the time frame on this would be.
* Camden Development's planned 276-unit residential building at 1325 South Capitol Street was looking for a vote to approve its PUD, after a hearing a few weeks ago when Commissioner Turnbull complained that the western side of the building (facing Southwest) wasn't designed well enough given how "on display" it will be, and Commissioner Hood wanted more information on how the affordable units would be allocated throughout the building. So tonight, after some revised submittals, it came before the commission for a vote to approve its design--and Commissioner Turnbull complained that the western side of the building wasn't designed well enough given how "on display" it will be, and Commissioner Hood wanted more information on how the affordable units would be allocated throughout the building. In other words, neither felt that their concerns from last time had been addressed, and so have requested further filings before a scheduled vote on July 30.
* In an easier item, the commission voted 5-0 to give final approval to the design of the planned office building at 250 M Street. But, as reported a few weeks ago, developer William C. Smith has indicated that they are waiting for the building to be about one-third leased before starting construction.
* Finally (yay), the commissioned approved for setdown (meaning there can be a hearing) on Forest City's request for various amendments to the Southeast Federal Center Overlay as part of their plans to develop The Yards. These requests address some pretty darn technical issues in the overlay and are pretty baffling, even for obsessives like me, so I will just point you to the Office of Planning report if you really want to know what's happening. Please note that this is not the case requesting surface parking lots at The Yards--it's having its hearing on July 26.
 

UPDATE: With a mere 14 minutes to spare, I've just now been informed that the 30-day comment period on the zoning text amendment ends today at 4:30, so if by chance you're reading this in the next few minutes, you can fax your comments and contact information to the DCOZ at (202) 727-6072 so that it can be considered when they take final action on July 30.
Maneuvering continues today on the No-Parking-on-Canal-Park front: there is word that the National Capital Planning Commission staff is recommending that the NCPC board should request at its Thursday meeting that the Canal Park site be excluded from the proposed zoning amendment that is allowing temporary surface parking on certain lots in Near Southeast. (The NCPC weighs in on all zoning changes that might "impact federal interests," and they are considering Canal Park an amenity for US Department of Transportation workers across the street, thereby making it of "federal interest." Heh.) It should be noted that the NCPC board does not have to go along with its staff's recommendations. In addition, the zoning commission does not have to incorporate the NCPC's comments when it takes its own final action on the parking lots, but I imagine the word will get to the zoning commission as loudly as it did to the NCPC about the strong desire to exclude the Canal Park blocks from the final parking amendment.
I'm waiting now for some clarification from the Office of Zoning of exactly what the future votes and procedures are on the parking amendment--it was adopted as an emergency measure in May, which I believe means that at some point the temporary amendment must be made permanent. That would appear to give time and wiggle room for additional changes to the amendment if desired by the ZC, but I'm checking to be sure.

More posts: Canal Park, zoning
 

Dr. Gridlock ventured into the first "real" morning commute since the closure of the Douglass Bridge, and gives his impressions on his Get There blog. As for the progress on the Extreme Makeover, Camera #2 of the Stadium Construction Cam shows that demolition of the road surface on the viaduct is just about finished, with only girders and their support columns still in place south of P Street. (Beware, the construction cam shot gets blinded out by the sun during late afternoon.) And if you're desperately refreshing my Makeover page hoping to see new photos, I don't anticipate posting a new batch until Wednesday afternoon.
 

While the standard disclaimer applies--"I don't cover Poplar Point, despite the public clamor to suck me into its vortex"--I know there's a lot of interest, so I will take a moment this morning to post this link to DC United's page with details and designs for their proposed new stadium (and attached hotel) right across the Anacostia River from Near Southeast. The soccer stadium would be on the eastern portion of Poplar Point, with its open north side facing the Navy Yard. If you click on the "View Photo Gallery" link and browse through the renderings, you'll see one that has a site map that gives a better feel for the proximity of the soccer site to the Nationals ballpark and other Near Southeast landmarks. There's also a copy of the presentation on their plans, which envision creating an entire neighborhood anchored by the stadium. They're looking to get Mayor Fenty to commit to getting this project underway so that the stadium could be ready for DC United's 2010 season. (hat tip to reader Brett for the link)
More posts:
 

There's already not much left of the Douglass Bridge from Potomac Avenue southward, a mere three days into the Extreme Makeover. So of course I've posted photos (scroll down a bit). I was there when the big shears toppled one of the last beams standing south of Potomac Avenue, which was quite a sight. North of the viaduct, the South Capitol street bed is pretty much completely dug up, and they're working their way onto the raised portion at O Street. (No time to lose!) It should all be coming into better view on the Stadium Construction Webcam's Camera #2 tomorrow.
UPDATED with the correct link to the demolition photos. YEESH!
 

With the calendar inching toward DC's annual August shutdown, there's a boatload of meetings and hearings on the agenda this week as everyone tries to get their work done before heading for the beach. Here's a not-very-detailed rundown, so follow the links if you want more detailed information:
* Monday starts bright and early with the "public hearing and preliminary finding" by the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development on the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District application, in Room 301 of the Wilson Building, 10 am.
* The Zoning Commission's monthly public meeting on Monday night includes a final vote on the plans for the 250 M Street office building and a first vote on the 1325 South Capitol Street residential project. In addition, there's a new case looking for various amendments to the Southeast Federal Center overlay; here's the Office of Planning report spelling them out. The commission is also scheduled to address Florida Rock's request for guidance on its revised design, which has the support of the Office of Planning. The meeting is at 6:30 pm at One Judiciary Square (Suite 220 South), but also can be watched via live webcast.
* At about the same time, ANC 6D is having its monthly meeting, and will be having a presentation and vote on Forest City's July 26 zoning hearing to allow temporary surface parking lots at The Yards. This meeting is at 7 pm at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, 6th and M Streets, SW. (Having to make a choice, I'm opting for the zoning meeting, so it might take a little while before I find out what happened at the ANC.)
* Tuesday's city council meeting at 10 am will include a final vote on the bill to create the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District.
* On Tuesday night WMATA is having a public hearing on the proposed move of the Southeastern Bus Garage from its current location at Half and M to a new facility at DC Village in Southwest. (It's probably geared more toward residents near the new location.) There's an open house at 5:30 pm, and the hearing itself starts at 6:30, at 2700 Martin Luther King Dr. SE.
* The Nationals ballpark is having its "Topping Out" party on Wednesday at noon.
* WMATA's Planning, Development and Real Estate Committee is meeting in executive session on Thursday morning to address something having to do with the Southeastern Bus Garage, but they're not saying what.
* Thursday also sees the National Capital Planning Commission meeting that Canal Park fans mobilized for, with the NCPC's agenda including the zoning commission case approving temporary surface parking lots on various blocks in Near Southeast that include Canal Park in their boundaries. There's also a presentation on the the first phase of The Yards. The meeting is at 12:30 pm at 401 9th St., NW, Suite 500.
* Wrapping up the week (pant pant pant) is a city council Subcommittee on Economic Development hearing on the transition plans for folding in the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and the National Capital Revitalization Corporation into the office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development; it's in the council chamber at the Wilson Building at 10 am, and may also be broadcast on DC cable channel 13 and via streaming video.
And then I will spend the weekend alseep.
 

Another day of lightning-fast developments in Near Southeast, so apologies for the disjointedness.... A letter has been posted on Tommy Wells's blog, to the chairman of the National Capital Planning Commission, making it clear that council member Wells does not want to see any delay in the construction of Canal Park (see my earlier entry for background on all of this). The rest of the blog entry says that these concerns have been communicated to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Neil Albert as well (and Mr. Albert agreed). The letter specifically tells the NCPC: "The temporary parking zoning amendment must be modified to include clarifying language to protect the park site from any zoning changes, temporary or otherwise. Specifically, no temporary surface lots should be permitted on US Reservation 17, parcels B, C and D, which are the location of the proposed Washington Canal Park." Crisis averted? The NCPC meeting is July 12.
And, as a bonus, Wells's post says that Canal Park is scheduled to begin construction in August, the first start date I've heard. But until I see yellow school buses driving off into the sunset, I'll remain merely cautiously optimistic.
More posts: Canal Park, zoning
 

Posts about the closing of the Douglass Bridge for its Extreme Makeover are SO five hours ago; now it's time to focus on what's actually happening down on South Capitol Street between N and Potomac Avenue. I ventured down to see what I could see, and have posted new photos of the scene today on my Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover page. Alas, no impressive displays of demolition just yet; work has started on breaking up the asphalt on the southbound side of South Capitol just north of O Street; as of a few hours ago, the surface of the viaduct had so many holes drilled in it that it looked like a fairway at Hains Point. The lightpoles are also now all gone from the bridge. Other than that, and the arrival of a whole lot of fences to surround the bridge worksite, it's not looking drastically different in the first 18 hours. (Faster! Faster! Demolish! Demolish!) But with work on two shifts covering 20 hours each day (according to news reports), changes should start to be apparent pretty soon.
One additional impact that stadium lookeeloos especially should be aware of--with 1st Street and Potomac Avenue now essentially being one long dead-end cul-de-sac south of N Street, it hasn't taken long for the heavy construction vehicles to just completely take over the street. So in addition to the stadium "circuit" being shut down now that you can't turn from Potomac north onto South Capitol, even trying to just follow 1st to Potomac with the intention of making a u-turn is life-threatening thanks to all of the huge trucks going in and out of there with now only one exit for their use . I fear that my photo sojourns on the south side of the stadium might be curtailed a bit until the bridge work is done. So, to make up for it, here's a fun new before-and-during of the stadium that I came up with today, on South Capitol south of N, showing the sharp stadium facade along South Capitol. Trust me, it's really the same location in both shots.
Don't expect new bridge demolition photos on a daily basis--I'll definitely make visits frequently, but I don't like construction that much.
As for how the commute went on the first morning of the shutdown, Dr. Gridlock has some initial impressions on his Get There blog.
UPDATE: Here's the roundup of "Bridge Closes, Commuters Angry" pieces: WJLA, NBC4, and WUSA; the Post, however, opts for "Closing's 1st Day Made Easier By Light Traffic" (but with a subhed of "Officials Warn of Worse Next Week").
 

While I've been following for weeks the zoning procedures around the plans for temporary surface parking lots in the blocks north of M Street, I'm hearing today for the first time that there may be some pressure behind the scenes to delay construction of Canal Park, so that its three blocks of space could be used for temporary surface parking to help fulfill the necessary spaces for Nationals ballgames.
It is indeed true that those three blocks are covered under Zoning Case 07-08, which was approved back in May, but because of some odd tax parcel configurations (where the parcels 767, 768, and 769 actually stretch across the eastern half of 2nd Street over to 3rd and so also include the three blocks where Capper buildings were demolished earlier this year), I always just assumed that those references in the zoning requests were merely for the Capper portions of the parcels and not the Canal Park portions. Plus, plans seemed to be moving forward for Canal Park to begin construction in time for a Spring 2008 opening, so it didn't appear to be an issue (much the way that Case 07-08 asked for the ability to build temporary lots on the Pepco site in Buzzards Point even though Pepco says they wouldn't be vacating those blocks anytime soon).
However, with apparently some salivating going on in some quarters over those additional lots (where school buses currently reside), some people fear that the near-term building of Canal Park could be in jeopardy. There is a meeting on July 12 of the National Capital Planning Commission, where approval of Case 07-08 is on the agenda; if this issue of parking lots/no parking lots on the Canal Park site is something that concerns you one way or the other, you may wish follow the NCPC guidelines for participation in the meeting. And getting in touch with the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation (which is in charge of the park's development) and/or Tommy Wells's office may also be an approach you want to take.
UPDATE, 7/6: I'm now hearing whispers that the salivating over Canal Park might not actually be completely stadium-related, but also a part of the continuing need for the Metropolitan Police Department to find about 150 extra spaces to have enough parking for their proposed move into 225 Virginia Avenue....

 

Let's get this party started: a few hours ago the Douglass Bridge closed for its extreme makeover, so the media stories will transition from yesterday's "it's closing" pieces to today's "it's closed" pieces, to be followed no doubt by the "how it went" stories later today and tomorrow. First out of the blocks is the Post's "Dead End at the Anacostia", which gives the basics of the project, details the various alternate routes, and has a graphic of the detours. WTOP has a piece as well, as do the Examiner and the Washington Times. And no doubt the local television news networks will have lots of updates from the bridge site throughout their morning and afternoon broadcasts (I'll wait to link to them until later today).
You might want to keep an eye on today's traffic reports, which here at the crack of dawn are already indicating a fun morning on the 11th Street Bridges thanks an accident that has two of the northbound lanes closed. (Alas, there are no traffic cameras showing the 11th Street area.)
If you want to try to get a glimpse of the demolition without venturing down to the site, you can look at this South Capitol-at-M traffic camera, which this morning is pointed southward and has a grainy view of the viaduct with what appears to be some construction action underway on the southbound side of the street (UPDATE: It's now pointing to the east; perhaps it'll just keep switching throughout the day). There's also the far right side of the Stadium Construction Webcam Camera #2 for the portion of the viaduct around P Street.
I'll no doubt be updating throughout the day (probably with pictures at some point as well), so keep checking back.

 

From today's Washington Business Journal (subscribers only), word that the Blue Castle at 770 M Street is up for sale, after having been purchased in 2005 for $20.2 million by Preferred Real Estate Investments (who might be needing the money to pay for their way-too-overly-Flash'ed redesigned web site). It's nearly 100,000 square feet on a 1.6-acre site, and is zoned for development of up to 200,000 sq ft. The WBJ blurb quotes Bill Collins of Cassidy & Pinkard Colliers as saying there's much interest in the building and proposals are already being received. But it's noted that the two charter schools currently in the building have leases through 2012.
More posts: Blue Castle, 8th Street
 

(I found out the hard way that my subscription to Metro's press releases doesn't seem to be working these days, so this item is about a week late.) In WMATA's press release announcing their choice of NJA Associates (aka Donohoe) to develop the east entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station, it's mentioned that Metro will receive at least $2.3 million from the sale of the 5,612-sq-ft property, but that that could grow to $3.4 million if Donohoe can get zoning waivers to expand their planned 1111 New Jersey office building up to 220,000 sq ft. (Its original design came in at 146,000 sq ft, and with the new land but no zoning waivers they could go to 206,000 sq ft.) (UPDATED because of switched numbers in the original headline.)

 

Friday's Weekend section of the Post has a nice feature about rowing on the Anacostia River. It mentions of the Capitol Rowing Club and the Anacostia Community Boathouse Association, which are located between the two spans of the 11th Street Bridge. You can see a few photos of the boathouses and what the river looks like in that spot on my East M Street/Anacostia Rowing Center page.
More posts: Boathouse Row
 

Enjoy your access to the South Capitol Street/Douglass Bridge today, because that's it until August. As I've mentioned ad infinitum here, it's closing tonight (12:01 am Friday July 6) so that the portion of the viaduct north of Potomac Avenue can be demolished and the rest of the northern approach lowered so that the bridge comes to ground level at Potomac Avenue. Here's my page with the graphics, links and photos explaining it all. Dr. Gridlock addresses it today in his Get There blog, and there are short blurbs out today by WJLA and Fox 5. While the plans are for the bridge to be closed through the end of August, the contractor can receive up to $1 million in incentives by finishing sooner.
And we'll see what happens with tomorrow's rush hour; officials are warning commuters to add 30 minutes to their normal expected commute time while the bridge is closed. Feel free to send me your Day 1 traffic experience.
UPDATE: More stories in advance of the closure, from WTOP (which says that the contractors will be working 20-hour days), NBC 4, WUSA, and another reminder from DDOT.
 

If you wandered over here from today's Ballpark and Beyond column in the Post's District Extra, here are a few links you might want to follow for additional background: Capitol Hill Tower is the home of the dry cleaners that had the bad first day of business; my Capitol Quarter page has lots of photos and details on the mixed-income townhouse development replacing Capper/Carrollsburg that has generated so much camping activity; I've got plenty of recent exterior and interior photos of the Nationals ballpark and renderings of what it's supposed to look like when it finishes next spring; my 1111 New Jersey Ave. page has details on the Donohoe office building project that will now be expanded after their purchase of the Navy Yard Metro station east entrance; and my Upcoming Events Calendar has links for the pile of meetings and hearings scheduled for next week.

 

I've already written almost exactly the same story, but for people who can't bear to miss anything, there's a brief Associated Press piece out this morning mentioning that the ballpark's structural steel and concrete work is almost complete, and that the "Topping Out" party has been scheduled for July 11. (This WTOP rewrite of the piece jumps the gun a little--the work isn't done just yet; but there is a fun picture of a worker installing the seats in the right field upper deck.) And, as mentioned before, they need to get the construction equipment out of the infield so that digging for the drainage system can begin; the turf will be put down in October. (UPDATE: In fact, the AP piece sounds a lot like my DC Extra blurb today on the topping out.) And just to clarify, the steel and concrete work probably won't be 100% finished on the day of the party, but will likely be finished by the end of July.

More posts: Nationals Park
 

We know that I only grudgingly look at what's happening on the west side of South Capitol Street given how full my hands are with all points eastward, but I did manage to notice within the past few weeks that the KFC/Taco Bell on the southwest corner of South Capitol and L (barely visible here and from M Street) has been boarded up. And I now see in the DC property sales database that on June 1 the property was purchased for $5.5 million by "URA Venture LLC." Quick searches don't yield me anything concrete on this company name, so I guess we'll have to wait and see who it is and what they're up to. If you know, feel free to share.
UPDATE, 5 minutes later: The contact address for URA in the sales database appears to match with this entry in the city's LSDBE database for Urban Realty Advisors LLC, which has now led me to their web site. (And I was unaware that Cary Grant and Humphrey Bogart had entered the DC real estate market!) Still no words on the plans for the KFC site, though. And e-mails to their contact address bounce.
More posts: South Capitol St.
 

From today's Washington Times: "The Washington Nationals have contacted commissioner Bud Selig to make their pitch to play host to an All-Star Game in their Anacostia Waterfront ballpark, which is scheduled to open in 2008. [...] 'My guess is it would be sometime between 2010 and 2013, whenever they decide to give us one and based on other requests from other teams,' [Nationals owner Mark] Lerner said."
More posts: Nationals Park
 

I've been posting over the past couple days all sorts of new photos: first off, there's the usual update to the exterior views in the Stadium Construction Gallery's main page and the more detailed north-south-east-west pages. The big change is the arrival of the scoreboard steel on the First Street side, which has also helped to give the stadium its more rounded feel when looking at it from the north. And, if you know what you're looking for, you can see the first real shots of progress on the west parking garage at Half and N, although it's still kind of hidden by trees and construction equipment. There's also my final shots from up on the South Capitol Street viaduct north of Potomac Ave. (waaaah!).
You can also see some new shots from inside the stadium, where you can get a better view of the scoreboard's progress and also of the seats being installed in right field. And the outfield restaurant is moving along as well.
I got a big surprise when I rounded First Street onto Potomac Avenue Saturday morning--all of the trees and growth on the south side of Potomac were removed this week, and the fence marking Florida Rock's property was moved back, in preparation for the widening of Potomac Avenue. I posted a bunch of new pictures showing the change on my Florida Rock page, but I'm not sure the photos do it justice. And of course it's about to change even more late this week when the Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover starts.
And finally there's a lot of new shots from various locations north of M that I took on Thursday, catching things like a new "Capitol Yards" sign at 909 New Jersey, progress on the Velocity Condos sales center, and even the new sidewalks on the northern portion of New Jersey Avenue if you have x-ray vision. It's hard to see in the photos, but the vertical construction at both Onyx on First and 70 I Street is now right at street level, so in the coming weeks expect those buildings to burst on the scene. You can see all these non-stadium updated photos compiled here if you don't want to poke around on the project pages.
That ought to keep everyone busy during a slow vacation-tinged week....
 
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