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11th Street Bridges Open House (+ Boathouse News)
Jul 31, 2009 1:02 PM
On Wednesday, August 19
, there's going to be an 11th Street Bridges Open House
, billed as an update for Ward 8 residents about the status of the bridge replacement project. (But I'm guessing people from other wards can come, too.) It's from 7 pm to 8:30 pm
, at the Union Temple Baptist Church at 1225 W St., SE.
(This is on the heels of a Tweet from Tommy Wells
just a few minutes ago that says "Succesfully moved an amendment to protect Anancostia Community Boathouse Assoc.
Re: 11th st bridge const." I don't know anything more right now than what that says, but if you're a boathouse patron, keep an eye out for additional details. There have been concerns and issues between the boathouse association and DDOT about where to relocate ACBA during the estimated five-year construction project, and also getting commitments that the boathouse has a location to return to when the new bridges are completed.)
Outdoor Movie Thursday: Dirty Dancing
Jul 29, 2009 10:04 PM
The BID's Best of the 80s outdoor movie series
is winding down, and while I haven't been posting about them every week (I don't like to be a nag), I didn't want to seem as though I've been completely ignoring them, so I'll remind everyone that tomorrow (July 30) they're showing the epic tale of love, lust, and summer camp longing, Dirty Dancing
, which stars one of my all-time favorite actors, Jerry Orbach. (Plus some other people, too.) They're encouraging you to wear your snazziest legwarmers (though that's more of a Flashdance
reference), and there will be "free 80s candy giveaways," though I can't think right now of what candy was specific to that era. The movie will start 8:45ish at Tingey Plaza (on New Jersey Avenue behind USDOT
), and On the Fly will be there with its vending carts.
Next week was supposed to be the final movie of the summer (Big), but rainouts caused the rescheduling of Back to the Future to Aug. 13 and Ghostbusters to Aug. 20.
55 M Street Awarded LEED Gold Status
Jul 29, 2009 7:49 PM
Monument Realty just passed along word that 55 M Street
, the 275,000-sq-ft office building at Half and M that was home to Artomatic 2009, has been awarded LEED Gold certification by the US Green Building Council. A quote from Monument's head, Michael Darby: "This is a great accomplishment for us. We expected to earn LEED Silver certification at 55 M, so to be awarded Gold is a true testament to the hard work that all the team members put into this project."
The Stakes and Spray Paint at Canal Park
Jul 29, 2009 4:03 PM
A number of readers have written in over the past few days asking about some new stakes in the ground and spray paint that appeared on the Canal Park
site recently, asking if this meant that construction was coming soon. I checked in with the park's overlord, Chris Vanarsdale, and this is his explanation: "The stakes and paint on the lots reflect major design features as reflected in the current schematic design documents. Staking out the site was a design exercise in order to get a better sense of proportion and relationship of the features on the site before we make any final decisions -- the design may be modified somewhat as a result. We may stake it out again after the next iteration." If you want to see the early look and feel of the (new) preliminary design, check the official web site at CanalParkDC.org
Also, Chris mentioned some other changes folks will soon see on the site: "We will be taking down the orange fence on the south block and putting up "no dogs permitted" signs there in order to protect the sod. We will soon open the north block to dogs and place signs and plastic bags for dog waste -- we want to give the grass a little more time to establish before doing so. Folks should keep in mind that leashes will be required."
Domino's at 900 M Now Open
Jul 28, 2009 9:01 PM
Reader J passed me the word late this afternoon that the Domino's
at 900 M Street
appeared to be open, and I confirmed the tip with a quick drive-by a little while ago. The lights were on, a customer was at the counter, and the signs in the window were flashing. It's not yet available as a location on the Domino's web site, but I'm sure they'll take your call--the phone number (from a sign above the door) is 202-484-3030, the same as the old Domino's at South Capitol and M (not that I had it memorized or anything).
Neighborhood Gumshoes Report on Cornercopia
Jul 27, 2009 10:53 PM
I personally don't have anything new to report on Cornercopia (I'm starting to feel a bit of deja vu to all the "no, really, the school buses
are leaving soon" statements I heard from 2003 to 2009), so I'll just pass off to two readers who couldn't bear the suspense and visited the store themselves this weekend, then wrote/Tweeted what they heard (and I'll note that there's been varying reports between "they have all their permits" versus still needing their liquor license):
First, reader J reported via e-mail: "They are going to open sometime next week (the exact day was not disclosed). They will be open from 7 am to 9 pm, 7 days a week. Besides the gourmet deli, they will have produce, fresh sushi delivered daily (not sure where it's coming from), limited frozen items, milk/eggs/cheese, sodas, gourmet beers, and a lot of wine. In fact, they are going to have a back room full of wine. There were a lot of rows of canned goods, pastas, etc. as well. They are doing a last push right now with painting, stocking, etc. All permits are in, just waiting on a few other things. There will also be an ATM inside the store, though they will accept all major credit cards. They said when they open, the credit card machine may not be working quite yet, though. Other than that, they are all excited about joining the neighborhood."
Then, mhoffy tweeted
an unintended followup: "met the owner of cornercopia yesterday and he said he is working on a contract with Sticky Rice for sushi. Yay!"
Will it happen this week? We shall see....
Closing the Budget Gap: Ballpark Taxes, 225 Virginia
Jul 27, 2009 10:29 PM
As the mayor and the city council try to figure out
how to close a huge FY09 budget gap and work to revise the FY10 budget to deal with expected shortfalls, a few items:
* The Examiner says
: "Mayor Adrian Fenty's revised 2010 budget plan shifts $50 million from the Ballpark Revenue Fund to the general fund over the next four years. There it would be used to help bridge shortfalls totaling more than $1 billion through 2013. The move has incensed medium- and large-business owners, who are charged an annual gross receipts tax to augment the ballpark fund -- a pot specifically created to pay off $535 million in stadium bonds." The Chamber of Commerce is pledging to fight the idea.
* And today, the city council met "privately" (with media in attendance) to discuss what it sees as the best approaches to find the money. Mark Segraves of WTOP and Mike DeBonis of City Paper were in the room Tweeting like mad. Here's what they said about the council's discussions of the mayor's idea to spend $160 million to buy and renovate 225 Virginia
, to get out from under the $6 million a year lease payments:
: Talk has turned to 225 Virginia Ave, the old Washington Star building near the SE Freeway.
: Council mulls purchase of 225 Va. Ave. to save on ridiculous rent. Vince Gray says let's look at the numbers.
MD: Lotsa handwringing over 225 Virginia Ave. SE and the astronomical lease thereto. 'Outrageous!' say several.
MS: City pays 12 mil per year in rent. Wells says mayor wants to. Buy building for 85 mil plus another 85 mil in upgrades. It would house CFSA
MS: DC has been paying rent on VA Ave since 2007. Other agencies slated to move there, OCTO and Arts and Humanities
MD: OCFO will have 225 Va. Ave purchase numbers by tomorrow. Evans calcs that $9M rent savings would float a $100M note.
New Fences on Canal Street by DPW Building
Jul 27, 2009 12:29 PM
A number of readers wrote in over the past few days with news of a new fence that has gone up across Canal Street west of Second
, just north of the DPW/Trash Transfer Building where I Street will someday be built to connect Second and New Jersey, as well as another fence across Canal at H
, across from the Charley Horse Stables entrance. (The photos are from just a few minutes ago, showing both fences open.) After asking DDOT about it (they said it wasn't their fence, although they did say they are doing some work on the freeway bridge across New Jersey Avenue), I've passed along the news to Tommy Wells's office. Hopefully they'll have further information. Technically the land being enclosed by the fence is on Square 737
, which is owned by William C. Smith Co
. (I believe these "streets" were technically "closed" in late 2006
in council bill B16-0888
Upcoming Zoning Hearings (Trapeze School, B & B)
Jul 24, 2009 8:57 PM
What could be more interesting late on a Friday evening than news of two upcoming zoning hearings?
Both of these have been entered on my calendar
--don't forget that you can easily add events from my calendar to yours if you're using Google Calendar, and you can also subscribe to its RSS feed
to be notified automatically.
12th Street Ramp Closures This Weekend (?)
Jul 23, 2009 8:05 PM
DDOT hasn't sent out a reminder, but I'll post it anyway: the M Street/Washington Navy Yard exit off of I-295 North, along with portions of M and 12th streets, are supposed to be closed this weekend
to continue work on the demolition of the ramps to RFK. The closure times are listed as being from 6:30 pm on July 24 through 6:30 am July 27
; access to the boathouses and ramps along Water Street will be open, and the 8th Street SE exit off of I-295 North can still be used. They've posted three maps
showing the detours that will be in effect.
New Tweak: 'More Posts' Tags on Blog Entries
Jul 21, 2009 6:40 PM
Those of you who actually visit the site to read my blog (rather than using RSS or e-mail) may have noticed a little addition late last week: the "More Posts" links at the bottom of each entry. These take you to all previous blog posts about a certain subject/development/location--it was possible to get to these lists by going to the project pages and clicking on the "News" tabs, but there are some subjects (like Cornercopia
or the Little Red Building
or the inauguration
) that don't really have a project page but where people might want to easily browse past posts. You'll also find these categories (and there's a boatload of them) on my Blog Archive page
I haven't yet added them to my RSS feed--because I'm lazy.
Florida Rock Seeking Equity Partner
Jul 21, 2009 12:54 PM
(I Tweeted this a week ago
, then forgot to ever post it here.) From the WashBizJournal
: "Florida Rock Properties Inc. is on the market for a joint venture partner to help develop its much-anticipated 1.1-million square foot project, which will put retail, office space and a waterfront plaza on the land across from Nationals Park." My RiverFront page
has scads of renderings, showing the designs and planned phases; the initial plans were to construct the office building and public plaza on the east end of the site (by Diamond Teague Park
) first; the later phases can't be built until the new Douglass Bridge
is constructed and the old one demolished.
City Would Need to Spend An Additional $85M to Renovate 225 Virginia
Jul 20, 2009 11:28 PM
From the Examiner, in a piece called "Vacant Buildings Costing DC Millions
," this tidbit from today's council hearing on the mayor's proposed changes to the city's FY09 and FY10 budgets: "In its amended budget proposal now before the D.C. Council, the administration seeks permission to buy [225 Virginia Ave.
] for $85 million, subject to the availability of funding -- a long shot given the city's $150 million 2010 shortfall. Renovating it will cost an additional $85 million, City Administrator Neil Albert told the council Monday." (You can see this part of his testimony at about the 1hr9min mark of this video
Quoting again: "The capital improvements, Albert said, 'will increase the value and use of a property that the District actually owns.' The mayor's multi-year search for a firm willing to take over the lease failed. Fenty claims to have twice reached tentative deals with private groups that fell through as the economy collapsed. 'I think it makes sense for us to buy it, but we've wasted roughly $15 million to get to this point,' said at-large Councilman Phil Mendelson. 'The decision to buy should have been made two years ago.'" You can read more about this proposed purchase here
, and about today's hearing in this Examiner story
. The council will vote on the revised budget on July 31.
Velocity Move-Ins May Start in September
Jul 20, 2009 12:54 PM
Last last week the sales team at Velocity
began contacting residents-to-be with the news that they are planning to begin settlements on units in the building on Sept. 21 (unless issues crop up), and also will be moving the sales center into the building itself on Sept. 1 (there will also be three additional model units opened, on the 10th floor where the current model unit is, too).
The 200-unit building is still less than half sold, which is deduced from learning that the sales people are advising reservation holders who are planning to get an FHA or VA loan or who are making less than a 20-percent downpayment that it will be extremely difficult to find a mortgage lender until the building is 51 percent sold. Construction on Velocity began in Spring 2007, and the sales center opened that Fall.
Mayor's Revised Budget Includes $85 Million to Purchase 225 Virginia/Post Plant
Jul 18, 2009 6:54 PM
From the Examiner, at the very end of an article about the mayor's amended 2010 budget
(which "slashes previously approved earmarks, hikes fees, and eliminates numerous capital projects to close a projected $150 million shortfall"): "And the mayor is seeking council permission to spend $85 million on the outright purchase of 225 Virginia Ave. SE
, an empty, 421,000-square-foot warehouse that the city has leased for $546,000 a month since mid-2007. The Fenty administration, having ditched earlier plans to use the building, has failed to find anyone willing to take over the lease, which has now cost the city more than $13 million."
If you want to wander through the budget yourself, it's online
. In the Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Support Amendment Act in the Nature of a Substitute*
, there is on page 44 Subtitle X, "Purchase of 225 Virginia Ave. SE," with this wording, should the council choose to approve it: "[T]he Council approves the exercise by the Mayor of the purchase option contained in the District's sublease dated December 15, 2006 between Washington Telecom Associates, LLC, as sublandlord, and the District of Columbia, as tenant, for the real property located at 225 Virginia Avenue, S.E., known for tax and assessment purposes as Lots 21, 36, 37, and 831 in Square 766 (the "Property"), and the Mayor may enter into a contract to purchase the Property in an amount not to exceed $85 million, exclusive of the costs of settlement, subject to the availability of budgeted and appropriated funds."
Also, in Chapter 2
of the Agency Budget Chapters, on page 442, you'll find this: "Within the past year, the District twice reached tentative agreements with private entities to assign the District's rights and obligations with respect to unoccupied leased property at 225 Virginia Avenue, SE. In large part, due to the dramatic slowdown in real estate markets and, particularly, the scarcity of affordable credit for real estate transactions, the tentative agreements failed to result in the transfer of the District's lease for this building. The District now plans to prepare the building for a public purpose."
Right now I don't know anything more than this--don't know what plans the city has for the buildings, and don't know how excited the council is going to be to spend $85 million on it when cutting jobs and services elsewhere in the city's budget. But maybe there's some sort of accounting sleight of hand that my unbudgetary mind isn't familiar with. (Bonds? PILOT/TIF funds from projects elsewhere in the city? Bake sale?) The current assessed value for the four lots that make up the site is just a smidgen under $84 million.
Diamond Teague Progress, Cornercopia Peek, Plus a Few Other Photo Updates and a Parking Lot Update
Jul 16, 2009 8:46 PM
I took advantage of the sunny evening to dart around getting some desperately needed photo updates. First up is Diamond Teague Park
, where progress on not only the water-taxi piers but the "on-land" portion of the park itself is now clearly visible from the viewing platform at Nationals Park
. The last projected opening date I heard, a few months back, was July, but while it looks like maybe the park won't be pulled together in the next two weeks, it definitely appears to be getting there. See my Teague page
for the latest pics.
Lastly, it only took me half the season, but I've now updated my Stadium Parking map
to show the many options for cash parking (official and unofficial), in addition to the official Nats season ticket lots. And to think that there was a time when *some* people were worried there wouldn't be enough parking.
Reminder: 12th Street Ramp Closures This Weekend
Jul 16, 2009 7:33 PM
A reminder that the M Street/Washington Navy Yard exit off of I-295 North, along with portions of M and 12th streets, will be closed this weekend and next
to continue work on the demolition of the ramps to RFK. The closure times are listed as being from 6:30 pm on Friday, July 17 through 6:30 am Monday, July 20
and from 6:30 pm on July 24 through 6:30 am July 27
; access to the boathouses and ramps along Water Street will be open, and the 8th Street SE exit off of I-295 North can still be used. They've posted three maps
showing the detours that will be in effect.
Upcoming Events, and Other Linky Goodness
Jul 14, 2009 12:14 PM
* This Sunday (July 19), there's going to be a "Grill-Off" at Nationals Park before the 1:30 game against the Cubs. Phil Bucco, who oversees the menus at the ballpark, will be competing against Teddy Folkman, the executive chef at Granville Moore's. It'll be an Iron Chef-like challenge, where the chefs won't know the ingredient they're working with beforehand. The event starts at noon, but the first-come first-served seats (in the Nats Family Fun Area) can be grabbed starting at 11 am, when the gates open. Plates will be judged at 1 pm.
* This is a ways off, but SWDC Blog reports
that the next ANC 6D meeting, on Sept. 14 (no August meeting) will be held in Southeast, at the Courtyard by Marriott at New Jersey and L. I've been attending ANC meetings off and on for six years, and this is the first one I remember that will be crossing South Capitol Street.
* Even farther off (well, the next day), Urban Land Institute Washington is holding its third Urban Marketplace Conference and Expo
, which brings together "the private, nonprofit, and public sectors to explore redevelopment opportunities and best practices in emerging neighborhoods and corridors across the Washington metropolitan region." One of the day's discussions will focus on the ballpark district (and I'm one of the panelists). Early-bird registration ends July 31.
* In non-event news, Fox 5 reports
on how the Nationals' problems on the field "are making the city's $700-million stadium look like a bad investment." To wit: "Before the stadium was built, the city projected average attendance at 34,708 per game and tax revenues from tickets and merchandise of $15.1 million for this season. The reality, average attendance is about 23,213, ranking the Nationals 24th out of 30 teams. Based on attendance figures through June, the city now estimates tax revenues of about $8.9 million. The office of the Chief Financial Officer says tax revenues could increase because average attendance has improved slightly since June." However, "The office of the Chief Financial Officer estimates the city will raise $50.2 million through its Ballpark Revenue Fund, more than enough to make the $32-million bond payment on the stadium with money left over. The bulk of that however does not come from the Ballpark itself, but rather from a utility tax and a business tax in the city."
* For your (off-topic) Real Estate Development Collapse reading pleasure, a long piece on Williamsburg, NY
: "Most unsettling are the cases of the developers who seem to have vanished, leaving behind so many vacant lots and half-completed buildings--eighteen, to be precise, more than can be found in all of the Bronx--that large swaths of the neighborhood have come to resemble a city after an air raid."
Don't Fret if You See a Big Balloon
Jul 14, 2009 10:06 AM
This has just been passed my way from an unnamed source: "Be advised that, weather permitting, an approved aerial photography balloon will be flown at various altitudes in the vicinity of 3rd and D Streets, SE at times between sunrise and sunset on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, July 14-16, 2009. This is in support of a commercial real estate development near the Nationals Stadium." I'm trying to find out which development they're talking about, but, in any event, don't panic.
Details on the Trapeze School at the Yards
Jul 13, 2009 7:02 PM
I've gotten out of practice at this zoning stuff, so I didn't make clear that tonight's Zoning Commission hearing action with regards to moving
the Trapeze School New York
to the southeast corner of Fourth and Tingey
at the Yards
was going to merely be a vote for "set down," meaning that the commissioners would vote on whether the case can move forward to a full hearing. And, with no discussion or objection, the ZC did just that, 3-0-2 (commissioners May and Turnbull weren't present).
However, all is not lost, because as part of tonight's action, the Office of Planning prepared its set down report
on the case
, which has more detail for those who might be interested. Section IV is probably what most people want to know, so I'll just copy and paste (hey, it's summer, and I'm lazy):
"The applicant requests a text amendment that would allow the location of a trapeze school and aerial performing arts center, in the SEFC/R-5-E portion of the site, as a matter of right use for a period of five years. Additionally, the Zoning Commission would be able to extend the use beyond this time frame by special exception.
"The amendment would allow the relocation of an existing trapeze school, which currently operates on the site of the former D.C. Convention Center at 9th and H Streets, N.W, to Parcel O of the SEFC site. The trapeze school operates in this location on a temporary basis as well, and must vacate the premises by September 2009. The amendment is required to allow such a use within a residential district and would specifically limit the commercial use allowed to a trapeze school, to be permitted on a temporary basis.
"The proposed facility would be comprised of an indoor trapeze rig located within a tent structure as well as an outdoor flying trapeze rig. The tent is proposed to have a footprint of 50' by 80', which would be surrounded by walkways. The outdoor rig could be easily moved to different locations on the site and would be surrounded by a temporary fence. The proposed entrance to the trapeze facility would be on 4th Street, SE. The maximum height of the tent and outdoor rig would be 36' and 32' feet, respectively. The trapeze school would offer a variety of classes, for groups and individuals, as well as entertainment.
"Proposed activities include flying trapeze classes, trampoline classes, and team building corporate workshops. Performances and shows would also be held by participants of the intensive flying trapeze class as well as staff members. As parking for teachers, students, and participants is proposed to be provided adjacent to the site, OP recommends that the text amendment also include language to allow the required parking to be located off site (on Parcel N of the SEFC site), directly across 4th Street, SE."
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