11 Blog Posts
Report on ANC Redistricting Listening Meeting for 6D
Jul 29, 2011 11:00 AM
On Thursday night the Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force
held its "listening meeting" for residents and interested parties in ANC 6D to get input as to the feelings about the current ANC and Single Member District (SMD) boundaries and what changes people would be either wanting or not completely detesting.
Interestingly, many of the Southwest residents who spoke--starting with ANC 6D chair Ron McBee and longtime 6D commissioner Andy Litsky--spent much of their time focusing on how important it is to keep Near Southeast in ANC 6D. McBee said both areas have lots of similarities, from housing stock to traffic issues to transportation issues (Circulator, etc.) to the need to build retail, and that coming improvements to South Capitol Street
should improve the flow between the two neighborhoods. Litsky, echoing McBee by saying Near Southeast and Southwest "are more similar than dissimilar," also mentioned the coming South Capitol Street reconstruction and how much more difficult it would be to have any sort of negotiations be going on with two separate ANCs in the mix.
Current 6D07 commissioner David Garber did not take a position one way or the other on whether Near Southeast should remain with 6D, saying that he is waiting for his residents to weigh in, but that the vast majority of the feedback he's received so far indicates that residents feel much more "a part of" Barracks Row than Southwest, and that South Capitol Street is much more difficult to cross than going under the freeway. And that while Near Southeast shares a lot of similarities with Southwest, the reality is that a lot of people move to the neighborhood for its proximity to Capitol Hill. Finally, he mentioned the idea that Capitol Hill sees Near Southeast as "their waterfront community."
Residents who spoke at the meeting included Mary Williams, who lives just west of the ballpark in Southwest and who says her community has not been served well by being grouped in with Southwest concerns, and they want to "secede" to the Near Southeast ANC. Other Southwest residents also spoke of how often they go into Near Southeast to go to the ballpark, or the Yards Park. Only one Near Southeast resident spoke, Ms. McCarty (sorry if you're out there, I didn't catch your first name). She said she was "agnostic" about whether Near Southeast is in ANC 6D or ANC 6B to the north, but to please keep all of Near Southeast in the same ANC. She also commented on it being important that Capitol Quarter residents not be cut off SMD-wise from any of the commercial development going on in Near Southeast, since they will be impacted by those sorts of changes and want to have a say.
At the end of the statements, the group gathered around a map of ANC 6D's current boundaries
, and discussed issues. Again, there was very little conversation about Southwest other than some ideas for small tinkering.
There seems to be a desire within the task force to even out the number of single member districts across what will probably be five ANCs, and 6B already has eleven SMDs. So, task force chair Joe Engler brought up the concept of bringing the portion of 6B's western edge near New Jersey Avenue and Garfield Park together with Near Southeast to form a new SMD. Using some of the area just north of the freeway to pair with the eastern half of Near Southeast would create a properly sized SMD (or close to it) and could give ANC 6D eight single member districts rather than seven (or six if the eastern part of Near Southeast were moved to 6B), bringing it closer in size to other ANCs.
There seemed to be positive feedback from the group on this concept, with some discussion of the amount of cross-traffic there is between residents and dog owners of Near Southeast using Garfield Park and dog owners near Garfield Park using Canal Park (before it started construction, at least).
I've mocked up a map
that shows this general idea in a way that the numbers could work, keeping in mind that the green portion below the freeway was counted in 2010 as having 1115 residents and so would need at least 800 residents from north of the freeway to become a full SMD, presuming the task force adheres firmly to the numerical guidelines of 2,000 residents plus-or-minus 5 percent. You can see on the map (or on this one) that 6D02 in Southwest already bumps up to Independence Avenue, so doing likewise on the Southeast side of things would be somewhat symmetrical. And, given that New Jersey Avenue is also slated for a fair number of improvements as part of the South Capitol Street reconstruction
, this would put all of that corridor in the same ANC. It's also possible that the little "notch" near Lower Barracks Row, with only 27 residents, could also come to 6D, though the love of the Virginia Avenue Park by 6B residents might make that a flashpoint.
Of course, as has been discussed repeatedly, Near Southeast's population numbers are already higher than the 2010 census reflects, and with new buildings looking ready to start or open in the next two years at the Yards
, 880 New Jersey
, Florida Rock
, and Half Street
, and with Capitol Quarter
and the Capper redevelopment continuing to be built out, both of these SMDs would see plenty of new residents in the near future, and who knows how many before the next redistricting happens in 2021. (Dear God, don't let me still be blogging when that comes around.)
ANC 6B will be having its "listening meeting" on Monday, Aug. 1 at 6:30 pm at St. Coletta's at 19th and Massachusetts, SE, and the task force blog's list of questions for 6B residents
includes "Is the freeway the proper north-south dividing line? For example, is there an opportunity to move part of a western SMD to ANC 6D that uses the Third and/or Fourth street tunnels to 'connect' the residents on both sides of the freeway?" It will be interesting to see the response, along with how 6B people feel about potentially having their 11-SMD configuration shrunk.
There hasn't been much feedback here in the comments about redistricting--I know I find it more fascinating than most people (it's in my blood, since my father was involved in a lot of Congressional redistricting back in the day), but how do people feel about this concept that Joe Fengler was discussing? And how about the to-be-in-6D-or-not-to-be-in-6D question?
The task force plans to release its first draft of a new map on or about Aug. 18.
Georgetown University Applies for 'Medical Office' Building Permit in Capitol Hill Tower Retail Space
Jul 28, 2011 4:03 PM
A building permit application was filed today with DCRA for 1000 New Jersey Ave., SE--the Capitol Hill Tower
residential co-op--for "Interior Tenant Layout, First Floor, Medical Office. Georgetown University Health Disparities."
A Google search brings us to the Georgetown-Lombardi Health Disparities Initiative
, which could be (or, I guess, could not be) the tenant applying for the building permit. The web site says the office "actively engage[s] in research focused on reducing cancer disparities among the underserved and ethnic minority populations in the District of Columbia including African-Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans." They also state their mission as "addressing the biological and environmental basis of cancer health disparities via research, training, communication, and education." The group says it works closely "with the impoverished wards in the District, with particular emphasis on Wards East of the River," because the highest cancer rates in DC are found in wards 7 and 8.
This is first firm confirmation of the rumored tenant for the space; I tweeted about the possibility of a tenant
10 days ago and put out requests for confirmation, but received no reply from CHT's developer, and Georgetown University would not confirm their leasing of the space. A tenants' meeting at CHT seemed to provide little information other than that this 4,000-square-foot space would be used by Georgetown for some sort of "community outreach" effort. There is nothing as yet on the Disparities web site about a new location, though they do have a number of community
programs that could be needing space.
CHT tenants were told that construction is supposed to begin soon (though not until that building permit gets approved!). Perhaps now that the word is seeping out, a little more information will be forthcoming. I've contacted Georgetown again (no reply yet), but wanted to get this out there before too many resident heads explode, given the fretting in this comment thread
about who the tenant might be.
ANC Redistricting Task Force Listening Meeting in 6D Thursday
Jul 27, 2011 10:14 AM
The task force
put together by Tommy Wells to propose new boundaries for all of Ward 6's Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and their Single Member Districts will be coming to ANC 6D on Thursday night (July 28), for a "listening meeting" at 6:30 pm in the DCRA Hearing Room (E200) at 1100 4th St. SW.
Now posted on their blog is a series of questions
that task force chair Joe Engler is asking to "account for the 'sense' of where residents associate their daily living." Among the questions:
* "Do the residents living around the baseball stadium believe their community "core" is located in: (a) Barracks Row, (b) Waterfront Mall, (c) both, and/or (d) neither?" (There is also a poll widget on the site where you can vote on this question.)
* "Is the freeway the proper east-west dividing line? For example, is there an opportunity to create SMD that use the Third, Fourth, Sixth and Eighth streets tunnels to "connect" the residents on both sides of the freeway?"
* "Should large residential buildings or complexes be dispersed among multiple SMDs?"
* "While needing to build SMDs with a population of 2,000 residents - are there any creative ways to account for the hidden census? Either those people that are now living in ANC 6D (around the baseball stadium for example) that were not there at the time of the census. Or those empty buildings or pending constructions that will drive a significant increase in density over the next few years?"
The last question is an interesting one, given that the census numbers come from April 1, 2010
, and certainly another couple hundred residents have moved in since then. And with phase 2 of the Capitol Quarter townhouses
moving along, the Yards' Foundry Lofts
building about to start leasing, and likely construction of new residential buildings at 401 M
, 880 New Jersey
, Florida Rock
, and along Half Street within the next five years, any SMDs drawn in Near Southeast based on 2010 numbers are going to balloon well past the target population size of between 1,900 and 2,100 residents. At the kick-off task force meeting a few weeks back, attendees were told that the 2,000-plus-or-minus-five-percent is not a legislated requirement, but is a goal, and that the task force can choose to have non-conforming SMD sizes if they feel it is necessary. But it was also clear that some of the task force members consider non-conforming SMDs a no-no, especially if they're used to take into account populations not reflected in the census numbers
As for the "core community" question, a new map
suggested by ANC 6A02 commissioner Drew Ronneberg (but not endorsed by the task force) shows all of Near Southeast in a new ANC 6B, pairing the neighborhood with Barracks Row as its "core." Southwest would then be on its own in 6D, west of South Capitol Street.
You can use my interactive Ward 6 map
to play with the numbers, especially if you want to see how keeping all of Near Southeast in 6D is a pretty tough nut to crack if the 1,900-2,100 population targets are inviolate. But then the question becomes whether the neighborhood gets split between 6D and 6B, or moved completely to 6B.
Somewhere far down the road, of course, Near Southeast when built out could be its own ANC, but in the meantime the realities of the numbers mean that it has to be grouped with either a large number of Southwest SMDs or a large number of southern Capitol Hill SMDs. Which one do you think makes more sense?
will run for 90 minutes, with time alloted for public input by ANC chairs/commissioners, community and neighborhood organizations, business and merchant associations, residents, and business owners; there will be a sign-in sheet for those wishing to speak. Written statements and comments will also be accepted at the meeting, or by e-mail for up to three days after the meeting (firstname.lastname@example.org
The task force is scheduled to propose its first draft of new boundaries at a public meeting on Aug. 8, then forwarding the official draft to the ANCs on Aug. 18. The final draft would then go to Tommy Wells on Sept. 26.
Or, if you don't want anything to do with an ANC "listening meeting" Thursday evening, you can go on Tommy Wells's South Capitol Street Bike Ride
, scheduled for exactly the same time as the redistricting session. Representatives from DDOT, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, and Black Women Bike will be joining community members from Ward 6 and Ward 8 to discuss issues that affect pedestrians and cyclists on both sides of the river, focusing on improvements that can be had in the design of the future Douglass Bridge
, which already calls for far wider sidewalks than the current bridge.
BID: Rename Navy Yard Metro to 'Capitol Riverfront/[Curly W]'
Jul 26, 2011 7:28 PM
Michael Stevens, the executive director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District
, has sent a letter to the mayor, the city council, the WMATA board and other city officials, formally requesting that the Navy Yard station on Metro's Green Line be renamed " Capitol Riverfront/
" (aka Curly W
, for Nationals Park
With Metro letting it be known this week
that any new station names will have to be 19 characters or less thanks to the transit agency's decision to begin enforcing their own naming rules again, the BID's earlier desire to add their name
and the Nationals' logo to the existing station name would not be allowed. Therefore, in order to get Capitol Riverfront added, the BID feels that "Navy Yard" can be, well, shipped out to sea.
Stevens' letter says that "the name Navy Yard station has served this area well for approximately 20 years and was very descriptive 20 years ago when the federal government owned the majority of the land up to the metro station." But the letter also says that Navy Yard "no longer accurately describes the neighborhood and destinations served" by the station.
The letter goes on to describe the changing demographics of the area since the station opened in 1991, makes mention of the fact that Capitol Riverfront is "an established office submarket recognized and named by Co-Star," and notes that "the entrance to the Navy Yard is located at 6th St., SE and M St., SE, which is approximately a half mile away and a twelve minute walk from the metro."
In explaining how the name change meets WMATA's stated principle that a new name incorporate "customer input," the letter describes the "coalition of public and private stakeholders [who] conducted a study and provided input that led to the development of the Capitol Riverfront name for the neighborhood," back in 2007.
DC and the other jurisdictions are supposed to come up with any new station names by September in order to make the new June 2012 map that Metro will be preparing to coincide with the plans to realign the Yellow and Blue lines; the Examiner wrote earlier this week
about the plans to shorten 11 of the more lengthy station names.
Greater Greater Washington also wrote recently
on the plans to shorten names, and in describing the focus groups that WMATA conducted on current and proposed station names, said: "The participants did like two potential station name changes: 'Smithsonian-National Mall' and adding some information about the Nationals to Navy Yard, whether a curly W logo or the words 'Ballpark' or 'Nationals.' They didn't like also adding 'Capitol Riverfront,' the name of the BID."
The Navy Yard was established in 1799; from World War I until 1963, the Navy Yard's acreage included
the land south of M and east of 1st, in what then became the Southeast Federal Center and is now The Yards
. The neighborhood directly around the Navy Yard has also been known as "Navy Yard," with "the near Southeast
" starting to be used in 1960s if the Washington Post's archives are an accurate guide. (I have always avoided the "Navy Yard" moniker for the neighborhood so as not to have to spend every day of my life saying "No, not in
the Navy Yard, near
the Navy Yard.")
Rudimentary Ward 6 Block Population Map Tool; Other Tidbits
Jul 22, 2011 10:11 AM
* It's not as slick and ultra-cool as SOME online redistricting tools, but with huge thanks to Cody Rice for getting the data in order, I've built a rudimentary Ward 6 Census Block Population Map
. Right now it's mainly just for clicking on a bunch of blocks and having the populations tallied for you (and you can then have a URL to send to someone showing just those blocks). I will be continuing to tinker with it, so we'll see what additional options I add in. It's a bit of a beast, so be prepared for slow loading.
The Ward 6 Task Force on Redistricting has now set up a blog
, and has started its "listening sessions" in each ANC. They'll be having their ANC 6D meeting on July 28 at 6:30 pm in the DCRA Hearing Room at 1100 4th St., SW. The ANC 6B meeting (which may also be of interest to folks south of the freeway, given the realities of the numbers) is on Aug. 1 at 6:30 pm at St. Coletta's School, 1901 Independence Ave., SE.
* For those wondering about the lack of progress on the Little Red Building version 2.0 (the former Star Market on the northwest corner of 2nd and L, next to the Courtyard by Marriott), the new building permits finally came through last week, and the owner tells me that construction should be starting again soon. He says the new Lot 38 Espresso should be open in three months, though he hopes it's sooner.
Joint Venture in the Works for Florida Rock Site's First Phase; Would Be Apartments Instead of Offices
Jul 16, 2011 10:49 AM
A press release that went out on the wires on Friday has announced that a joint venture is being structured between Patriot Transportation Holdings (through its subsidiary Florida Rock Properties
) and MidAtlantic Realty Partners, LLC, to develop the first phase of RiverFront on the Anacostia
, just across the street from Nationals Park.
And, in an even more interesting tidbit, the release says that the companies are going to request a modification to the existing Florida Rock PUD
to make the first phase an apartment building, rather than the planned office building. They expect that construction could start in the spring of 2013, with leasing to start in the fall of 2014. This portion of the site is the eastern end, directly across from the ballpark's Grand Staircase, closest to Diamond Teague Park
and the planned expanded public plaza that will be adjacent to Teague.
It would be after the PUD modification is received that the joint venture would actually be formalized, and the current Letter of Intent "contemplates no commitments or obligations between the parties with respect to Phases II, III and IV of the Master Development Plan." MidAtlantic is apparently investing $4.5 million and receiving a 30 percent interest in the venture.
This of course will be huge news to everyone who looks out from the baseball stadium at the concrete plant just to the south, and probably is a more complete explanation for the filing of the raze permit
earlier this year. In late 2009 this first phase of the project was given a two-year extension
of the zoning order that had originally called for construction to begin by the middle of this year. FRP's representatives cited the difficulties of getting financing to get work underway in their request.
If you're just joining us, the Florida Rock site took about a decade to wind through the zoning process, with all sorts of changes along the way (especially when a major league baseball stadium was suddenly plunked down just across the street).
The design that was approved in 2008 calls for 1.1 million square feet of development on the 5.8-acre site, which would include a 75-foot-wide promenade along the river that would be part of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. Originally there were going to be two office buildings, one residential building, and one hotel, along with 84,000 square feet of retail and a number of large open public spaces, but we'll have to see as the new zoning request comes through how those numbers are going to change.
UPDATE: WBJ says
that the new first-phase apartment building would have about 200 units.
Summer Doldrums Tidbits on All Sorts of Subjects
Jul 14, 2011 2:13 PM
All sorts of little items that you mostly already know about if you follow JDLand on Twitter
. But I'll start with some new items at the top:
* Still no word from Akridge about when they may get underway with their 700,000-square-foot mixed-use project on Half Street
just north of Nationals Park (where the Bullpen and its beergarden sibling Das currently reside), but I will note that in May they filed for building permits for two nine-story and one eleven-story building on the site, matching their announced plans
. The permits haven't been approved yet, and once they are they are good for one year, but can then be renewed.
* William C. Smith told me a few weeks ago that they expect to be doing some infrastructure work on their Square 737 site
this fall (sewer, water, etc) before starting on their 430-unit apartment building
there next spring, and I hear that the bidding process for that site work is now underway. (This also means to not get *too* excited when you see dirt getting moved there late this year.) And, speaking of 880 New Jersey, ANC 6D voted 7-0 on Monday night to support WC Smith's request for a circular driveway, a new curb cut on 2nd Street to access underground parking, and the general public space plan.
* Tonight (Thursday) is the Congressional Baseball Game
at Nationals Park, Republicans vs. Democrats. The $10 tickets might be worth it just to see if there are any bench-clearing brawls.
* The speculation is underway about the venues for upcoming baseball All-Star Games, with the previous conventional wisdom
about Nationals Park
being in line for perhaps the 2015 event taking some hits
, with the lack of development progress around the ballpark being cited as a prime reason.
* If you're all fired up to game out the new ANC/SMD districts, here's all the data you might want
, from the Office of Planning. And remember that the ANC 6D redistricting
"listening" session with the Ward 6 task force is on July 28 at 6:30 pm. There wasn't really much news out of the initial public meeting on Monday night, other than that while the 2,000-plus-or-minus-100 population levels per single member district aren't a legal requirement, there's still clearly a desire to have SMDs be as similar in size as possible. And, also, that an SMD can't be looked at in terms of how its size has changed (or will change) since the census data as of April 1, 2010 was recorded.
* I'm going to go ahead and post this now, but check back later today (or look for a Twitter heads up) for more Market Deli demolition photos, which I will wander down to get at some point.
A moment of silence, please, as the Market Deli has now been added to the Demolished Buildings Gallery
, as building number 161 and 162 that have been torn down since I started photographing the neighborhood. And the three garages on the north end of the block are in their final hours, with demolition underway on the southernmost one.
Demolition of the Market Deli at 1st and L Underway; Other Photos
Jul 11, 2011 3:41 PM
With raze permits for the old structures along 1st Street SE between K and L finally approved in mid-June, the days were truly numbered for the Market Deli and its neighbors, and today the demolition got underway, with most of the rear section of the Deli's structure knocked in. Fences are up
all around the 1st Street structures, which are all owned by Akridge, and with this initial wrecking underway I imagine it won't be long until the five buildings are added to my Demolished Buildings Gallery
, as entries 161 through 165.
There's a few more images here
, showing that the demolition isn't quite so obvious from 1st Street (yet). Also, hopefully the folks who have been tending to the cats living in the abandoned building can report in as to their fate. (I heard a rumor that some kittens were removed today, but would defer to an update from anyone with more knowledge. UPDATE
: In the comments of another post, reader jenniferp says that five very young kittens were indeed captured this morning, but there are several more still on the loose.) And, if you haven't been following along on the tale of the Market Deli for the past few years, here's some enlightenment
And, because it would have been silly to wander down there in the ghastly heat and humidity and walk past a whole lot of spots where I needed to take updated photos, you can see the latest progress at 225 Virginia
(aka 200 I Street)
and the second phase of Capitol Quarter
, where framing is being completed on the last portion of its first block, along Fourth Street.
Details on Ward 6 ANC/SMD Redistricting Process Released
Jul 8, 2011 2:27 PM
Ah, the lazy days of summer, when Washington all but shuts down so that its citizens can try to keep cool and take a bit of a break from politics--except this year, when July and August will be filled with a slew of public meetings as the redistricting process that was so much fun at the ward level now filters down to the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.
There will then be "community listening" meetings in each of the ANCs, with 6D's scheduled for Thursday, July 28 at 6:30 pm, and 6B's on Monday, Aug. 1 at 6:30 pm. Then there will be meetings on the first draft of the new boundaries, which is scheduled to be sent to the ANCs on Tuesday, Aug. 18. The task force will then make the rounds of the September ANC business meetings, submitting a final draft to Tommy Wells by Sept. 26, which he then will submit to the council by the required Sept. 30 deadline.
The task force (which isn't yet finalized) includes lots of familiar Ward 6 names (including Near SE resident Tyler Merkeley), and is chaired by former ANC 6A chair Joe Fengler. The current list of names, along with the laying out of the process, is available in this memo from Tommy Wells
As I wrote last week
, The vast majority of Near Southeast has up to now been in one Single Member District (6D07), but with SMDs needing to have populations between 1,900 and 2,100 and Near Southeast counted at 2,794
in the 2010 census, it's going to be split: the question is just how, and where. The quick-and-dirty map
I posted of the numbers shows that the area west of 2nd Street has a population of 2,054, making it a perfect size for an SMD, but the rest of the population is not enough for a second SMD that is 100 percent south of the freeway, so there's going to have to be an SMD either crossing the freeway or crossing South Capitol Street. We shall see!
Zoning Commission Approves Office Space in Yards Lumber Shed
Jul 7, 2011 7:33 PM
In a wonderfully short hearing on Thursday night, the Zoning Commission voted 5-0 to approve Forest City Washington's request
for an amendment to the current Southeast Federal Center Zoning Overlay
to allow the company to temporarily move its offices to the second floor of the historic Lumber Shed building at the Yards Park
The company made the request because, while there has been "great interest" from potential retail tenants for the first floor of the building, the second floor has not as yet been as enticing, and filling the ground-floor spaces alone is not enough to get construction financing secured. Because Forest City is "anxious" to get the building started, their move to occupy the second floor can settle the financing issues and finalize deals with interested tenants, which means that construction on the 34,000-square-foot building could begin this year and be open by early 2013.
There had been some concerns at the setdown hearing back in April
about the "temporary" request being for a period of 20 years, but Forest City's representatives emphasized (as they also did to the ANC
in April) that their intent is to be in the Lumber Shed only until there is office space elsewhere in the Yards to which they can move. Alex Nyhan of Forest City explained that getting retail uses into the second floor is currently "challenging" because the building is "by itself" at the Yards (without much built out around it), which is exacerbated by the fact that it's a somewhat seasonal destination. But Forest City feels that once the other projects in the first phases of the Yards are built out, there will be a demand for the second floor, plus "the onus is on us" to make the Yards into a location where second-floor retail not only at the Lumber Shed but in other
Yards buildings is attractive to tenants.
The discussion seemed to satisfy the zoning commissioners, and with the Office of Planning in support
of the change and no voices in opposition, the unanimous vote came quickly.
Nyhan also gave the commission a quick update on the status of the other first-phase Yards projects, to help illustrate that "after many years of planning" things are starting to move:
Ruben Companies Buys Two Exxon Sites on South Capitol Street
Jul 5, 2011 5:36 PM
Deeds have been recorded this afternoon indicating that the Ruben Companies
has bought the two empty Exxon lots on South Capitol Street, at I Street SE and K Street SW.
The purchase of the 35,000-square-foot lot at South Capitol and I gives Ruben control of the entire block known as Square 697N
; the company picked up the other 47,000 sq ft of the block back in 2009
after developer JPI defaulted on its loan for what was then the site of a Wendy's restaurant.
The other lot Ruben bought from Exxon, just south of the Capitol Skyline Hotel at South Capitol and K streets SW, is about 31,000 square feet and also gives the company control of that entire block, known as Square 648, after Ruben bought the other two lots in 2005 and 2007.
This now makes four sizeable sites that Ruben owns on this three-block stretch of South Capitol Street, since the company also owns 1100 South Capitol St. SE
and 1101 South Capitol St. SW
across the street, both of which are being marketed as office buildings.
I don't know any more specifics about the sales at this point, and it's unlikely any buildings will be immediately sprouting on either site. But it is yet another bit of commercial development news that would seem to indicate that the worst of the downswing is past.