Near Southeast DC: Past News Items - July 2007
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August Hill Rag Articles
Jul 31, 2007 10:59 AM
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.

Zoning Commission Actions on 1325 South Capitol, Canal Park Parking
Jul 30, 2007 8:39 PM
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.

Revised Invitation for Bids on Bus Garage Now Available
Jul 30, 2007 4:21 PM
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!

Special Ballpark Metro Fare Under Consideration?
Jul 30, 2007 9:59 AM
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

Rainy Days: Good for Droughts and Naps, Bad for Construction Photography
Jul 29, 2007 6:19 PM
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.

Bidding Reopened for Bus Garage; City Decides Not to Buy
Jul 27, 2007 10:10 AM
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.

Zoning Commission Approves Temporary Surface Lots at The Yards
Jul 26, 2007 8:16 PM
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

No WMATA Board Vote on Bus Garage Sale to City
Jul 26, 2007 10:49 AM

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.

Unveiling of the Stadium Transportation and Parking Plan
Jul 25, 2007 3:14 PM

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.

Broadcast of Recent Economic Development Roundtable; Other Thursday Events
Jul 25, 2007 10:04 AM
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.

Douglass Bridge Update from DDOT
Jul 24, 2007 11:00 PM
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.)

Capper Infrastructure Work - Not Quite Yet
Jul 24, 2007 10:17 AM
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

City Seeking Competitive Bids on Poplar Point
Jul 24, 2007 8:02 AM

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:

More on Bus Garage Sale to City
Jul 24, 2007 7:48 AM
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."

Dispute Over Stadium Fixtures Going to Arbitration
Jul 22, 2007 8:28 AM
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

Quick Photo Update - Onyx and 70 I
Jul 21, 2007 5:46 PM
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

DC to Purchase Metro's Southeastern Bus Garage
Jul 21, 2007 12:48 AM
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.

Plans for Soccer Stadium at Poplar Point Falling Apart
Jul 20, 2007 11:52 PM
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:

Nats Get a Ballpark Tour
Jul 20, 2007 7:24 PM
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

Time Lapse Video of Bridge Lowering
Jul 20, 2007 6:05 PM
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.
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