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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: August 2008
In the Pipeline
Homewood Suites Hotel
1111 New Jersey
Yards/Parcel A
1244 South Capitol
Florida Rock
Ballpark Square
Virginia Ave. Tunnel
New Douglass Bridge
Southeast Blvd.
Yards/Condo Project
Yards/Icon Theater
1333 M St.
New Barracks
Akridge/Half St.
Monument/Half St.
Capper Apts.
250 M St.
Nat'l Community Church
909 Half St.
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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37 Blog Posts
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It was too pretty of an afternoon to pass up a new batch of photos at Fourth and L, to document 10 days' worth of framing work on these first Capitol Quarter townhouses. (I'm sure the novelty of this construction will wear off soon. Hopefully before my camera gives out.)
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 

Not quite a month after sending out a request for expressions of interest, DDOT has now released the official Request for Qualifications for what is now being referred to as the 11th Street Corridor Design-Build Project, the heart of which is the reconstruction of the 11th Street Bridges. According to the press release:, DDOT will then create a short list of between two and five submitters, and will release the official Request for Proposals to just those entities. The procurement schedule says that the statements of qualifications are due by Sept. 29, with the shortlisters to be notified by October 10, and a final RFP then released by Dec. 1. The entire selection process, up to an including a contract, is targeted for completion by June 1, 2009. DDOT is shooting for completing the entire project by Dec. 31, 2013, with a budget of $260 million. (Mark your calendars--I have!) The new Anacostia Waterfront web site has more about the 11th Street Bridges project, and the other plans along the river from the Southwest Waterfront up to Kingman Island.
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More posts: 11th Street Bridges
 

From today's WBJ print edition (subscribers only): "D.C.-based Akridge closed on Aug. 27 its $46.5 million purchase of the Metro bus garage site, which rival D.C.-based Monument Realty had intended to include in its opulent Half Street mixed-use development just north of Nationals Park." Akridge has hired HOK (designers of the ballpark and the Plaza on K), Esocoff & Associates (Onyx) and StreetSense Inc. to design what will be a 700,000-sq-ft mixed use development on the west side of Half Street. WBJ says that Akridge is hoping to break ground in 2010. (And, one small correction in the piece: the WMATA land that Monument gets the right to buy via the settlement of their lawsuit against Metro is not at the corner of South Capitol and M--which Monument already owns--but the parking lot just to the south, known as Nats lot M.)
 

From Tommy Wells: "President Bush will be attending the Twilight Ceremony on Friday (8/29) at the Marine Corps Barracks on 8th St. @ I St. SE. Due to his visit; street closures will affect the normal route of the Nats Express. Beginning at 5:00PM, the 8th St. exit will be closed from the Southeast/Southwest Freeway. In addition, 8th St. will be closed from E St. to the Freeway Bridge. [...] Closures will take place until approximately 9:00PM."
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More posts: Nationals Park
 

A little over a year after entering into a purchase agreement, Ruben Companies and the St. Matthew's Baptist Church at 1105 New Jersey have terminated their contract, I have confirmed this evening. Can't tell you a single thing beyond that (no "why," or "what now," or anything else). Ruben continues to own properties at 1100 South Capitol and the former KFC at 1101 South Capitol SW.
 

Aug 27, 2008 9:15 AM
Saturday was the Youth River Sports Day at the Anacostia Community Boathouse, and there was a good turnout of parents and kids learning how to row or paddle or just getting acquainted with the Anacostia River. I took a batch of photos, all from dry land. (If the captions have any incorrect terminology, let me know.)
The ACBA is going to have to temporarily relocate from this spot during the five-year reconstruction of the 11th Street Bridges. They may be moving a couple hundred feet upriver to a site owned by Washington Gas (as laid out in the final Environmental Impact Statement for the project), or they may end up on the eastern side of the river closer to the Sousa Bridge. They are working with DDOT and are hopeful they can get the plans straightened out before too much longer.
 

Aug 26, 2008 2:52 PM
From the Nationals:
"The Washington Nationals will host Kids Day at Nationals Park on Sunday, August 31 when they face the Atlanta Braves at 1:35pm. The team will offer $1 tickets for children under the age of 12 with the purchase of any adult ticket valued at $33 or more. These tickets are available only at the Nationals Park Box Office and children must be present at the time of the transaction. There is a limit of two $1 tickets per adult ticket purchased.
"The fourth annual "Kids Run the Show" program, in partnership with The Washington Post, will also take place during Sunday's game. The Nationals have selected 22 children, ages 5-12 to "run the show" and work at various positions during that afternoon's game. Applications were posted in The Washington Post Sports, Weekend, Real Estate and KidsPost Sections, Tuesday, August 5 through Monday, August 18. Children were then selected to fill the following positions: grounds crew (1); Nat Pack member (1); in-stadium host (1); PA announcer (1); reporter (1); Starting 9; team photographer (1); line-up card presenter (1); ceremonial first pitch (1); and official "play ball" announcer (1). Two children each were selected as television and radio broadcasters through a Junior Broadcasters competition on Tuesday, August 19 at the ESPN Zone. Each "Kids Run the Show" participant will receive two complimentary tickets to that day's game.
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More posts: Nationals Park
 

Aug 26, 2008 7:48 AM
With thanks to neighbor blogger SWill at Southwest ...The Little Quadrant That Could, news that Dunkin Donuts is looking for space in Near Southeast. Back on August 4 (and I *swore* I had posted this, but apparently I only Twittered it), the WBJ reported about DD expanding in the DC area, with five new stores in Southeast, but didn't say where any might be. Then, in a Nightly Business Report story the next day on entrepreneurs still thriving in tough economic times, there's this: "Iraq veteran Ray Omar is scouting out locations to open a Dunkin' Donuts franchise at the new Navy Yard development in Washington, DC." Of course, "at the new Navy Yard development" doesn't make a lot of sense--The Yards? Somewhere near the Navy Yard (like maybe that 900 M Street building that's going to be renovated? Some other space further west on M Street (farther away from the existing Dunkin Donuts at Eighth and Pennsylvania, SE)? We shall see.
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Aug 25, 2008 2:03 PM
The facings and brick continue to go up at 909 New Jersey (and there's even a window or two). I took a pretty complete set of the close-up photos, some of which you can see on the project page; for more, and to see the building from farther away (to get an idea of how prominent it is these days in the neighborhood's ever-changing skyline), check the Expanded Project Archive.
I also got updated shots of the northwestern part of Near Southeast from one of the more popular vantage points, up on the Southeast Freeway approaching South Capitol Street. The before-and-afters (especially the grainy one from September 2000) are a good reminder of how much has happened, and how fast. And with 1015 Half's crane now front and center, we know that this view will be changing (again!) within a few months. (And this is where I need to remind that I take these freeway photos from a passenger seat at 55 mph, not on foot or behind the wheel. Duh!)
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More posts: 909 New Jersey, jpi
 

Aug 24, 2008 8:36 PM
I took a lot of photos today, but let's start with the ones showing new construction phases underway. First off, we have the first framing at Capitol Quarter (top), where the wood outlines of the first four houses east of the Fourth and L intersection are now up. (At least the photos are more exciting than the ones a few weeks ago of the concrete block foundations.)
Then there's 1015 Half Street, the 410,000-sq-ft office building under construction on the old Nation nightclub site. The crane arrived within the past week or so, and I finally got to a spot where I could see down into the hole to confirm that the first pillars are underway. So, by Thanksgiving, there should be the beginnings of yet another new addition to the skyline.
More photos in the next few days.
 

Aug 24, 2008 5:11 PM
(Extremely Off-Topic) This is the first time in the nearly six years of this blog that I've done something like this, but desperation is an ugly beast. If anyone can contact me with ideas or leads for a rentable space in downtown DC, Northwest, or Bethesda/Chevy Chase for a high-school class reunion for 125-175 people on a Saturday night in early November (that allows for a DJ and food/bar either catered or available on-site), you'll save me from an otherwise certain nervous breakdown, which I think has already started. (And then who will bring you all the latest Near Southeast news, since it'll be impossible for me to type in a strait-jacket?)
We're hoping to not have this cost an absolute fortune (which probably excludes my dream of using one of the conference spaces at the ballpark), but we're also extremely under the gun in terms of a time frame to get it done. All assistance appreciated.
New neighborhood photos coming later this evening, to cleanse the palate from this.
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Aug 22, 2008 4:37 PM
I inadvertently speculated about this mere moments ago, and now City Paper confirms: Positive Nature, the group providing services for at-risk youth, has left its 1021 New Jersey Avenue home for a new location in the 3000 block of G Street, SE.
 

Aug 22, 2008 3:00 PM
Rumors started flying in a few places lately that Whole Foods is coming to New Jersey and K, SE. I usually shy away from writing about rumors, but this one is persistent enough that it probably needs some addressing. It's not listed on their Stores in Development page, and no one's leaping to tell me this is or isn't true (which isn't surprising), but it's not completely out of the realm of possibility. There's been references here or there to "two grocery stores" coming to the neighborhood (with space for one set aside at the The Yards, coming in 2011 or later), and I've heard nonspecific Whole Foods/Near Southeast rumors a few times over the past year.
But I'm skeptical about it coming to the New Jersey/K intersection. There's only 6,000 square feet of retail in 909 New Jersey (not enough for a grocery store), and the plan for the trash transfer station has always been for it to be part of the Capper Hope VI project, with an apartment building that probably won't start before 2011. That leaves the southwest corner, where the Cohen family owns the small lots along K between New Jersey and First; there's also the Positive Nature lot at 1021 New Jersey and one to its south owned by Potomac Development Corp., who it should be noted picked up 51,000 square feet of transferred development rights earlier this year. (Can someone at CHT look out their window and confirm that the Positive Nature sign is still there?)
So maybe the "New Jersey" part is right, but not the "K"? My gaze (and my betting dollars) might head north a block or two, to 800 New Jersey (also sometimes known as 120 Canal), where for years William C. Smith has envisioned a grocery store as part of its planned 1.1-million-square-foot four-building development on the Square 737 block bounded by Second, H, New Jersey, and the eventually reconstituted I Street. No timeline for the start of this project has been announced, though. (In fact, there's so little information about the project that I haven't even felt compelled to build a project page for it.)
In other words, there aren't really any tea leaves to be read on this one, so if someone wants to spill the beans, I'm always listening.
 

Aug 22, 2008 9:19 AM
(Thanks to reader K. for the tip.) With the real estate market and general economy in their current states, it's not surprising that quite a few properties in the city are heading to tax sales, which is what happens when property taxes have gone unpaid. The 2008 DC Real Property Tax Sale is scheduled to begin on September 17, and there are some notable Near Southeast addresses:
* 801 Virginia Avenue, where "the Admiral" condo building was planned until the investors put the site up for sale last year. Its tax bill is listed at nearly $78,000.
* 1010 Seventh Street (the empty lot across from the Marine Barracks), where a small developer had been planning a 12-unit condo building and where the tax bill is just over $30,000. (UPDATED to correct address, though the three parcels that make up the lot are owned by the 1012 Seventh Street Southeast LLC.)
* 1026 Third Street, the brown multi-unit building on the corner of Third and L that's been boarded up and for sale since at least 2003, though the unpaid tax bill is only $417. (Maybe if we all look under our sofa cushions....)
But, as the notice states: "Purchasers must be aware that additional liabilities, which are not reflected in the total amount" may be due, including liens previously sold to a third party. So don't pull out your checkbook unless you know what you're doing.
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More posts: 801va, 8th Street, square 906
 

Aug 21, 2008 9:12 PM
* As I mentioned below, the garage that housed both the Merritt and Four Star cab companies started getting brought down today. They didn't get it all on Thursday, but I imagine by sundown Friday the rest will be gone. (See pictures from midmorning, though it's hard to see much in the way of a difference from First and K, since they took out the back of the building and only a smidgen of the K Street facade.)
* Only a few hours after I said that Capitol Quarter framing would start "in the next few days," lumber went up on the first house on the south side of L east of Fourth. (No pictures yet--this weekend!)
* Sometime this week the crane was put up at 1015 Half Street, so we should be seeing vertical construction before too long.
* Building permits for the external renovations to 900 M Street are now winding their way through the bureaucracy. No word yet on any retail tenants.
 

Aug 21, 2008 10:17 AM
With thanks to reader J. for the tip, I can report that the cab garage on the northwest corner of First and K is getting demolished today. This is where the DRI/Transwestern Plaza on K may be getting underway this fall. (I'm posting this from my cell, so links will have to wait 'til later.) UPDATED with a link and a tiny before and after photos above. I've also added it as #153 in the Demolished Buildings gallery.
 

Aug 21, 2008 8:30 AM
* Watch for the beginnings of framing of the first Capitol Quarter townhouses within the next few days.
* Don't forget the Youth River Sports Day at the Anacostia Community Boathouse on Saturday, from 10 am to 2 pm.
* Via the Post: "The Washington Nationals' ballpark has received the U.S. Green Building Council's National Capital Region's Project of the Year award. The award honored the ballpark's commitment to preserving the environment." Here's the Sports and Entertainment Commission's press release on the award, which was announced on Aug. 8.
* Speaking of the Sports Commission, the WashTimes reports that they've hired their lawyers--from Seyfarth Shaw's Chicago office--as they prepare to enter arbitration with the Nationals over whether the ballpark was "substantially complete" at the time it opened on March 30. And: "While the sports commission and the Nationals are expected to enter into arbitration to resolve the issue of substantial completion, the two sides are still negotiating over a number of related issues, including who should pay for certain items such as tarps, wireless networks, and video cameras. The two sides are scheduled to resume talks on August 25."
 

Aug 19, 2008 9:05 AM
It's more than six months away, but the second phase of the Waterfront Park at the Yards is now scheduled for a Zoning Commission SEFC Overlay District Review on March 2, 2009 (after having briefly been scheduled for Nov. 17, 2008). It's in this review that we'll see the plans for the renovation of the Lumber Shed into a glass-walled retail building, plus the designs for two new two-story retail pavilions connected to the shed's east side. There will also be the first look at the proposed "public art tower" that Forest City is wanting to build right on the waterfront at Third Street.
You can see early designs for the three retail buildings (and the position of the art tower, if not the design itself) in the rendering on my Yards Park page, right at the center, and of course plenty of photos of what the area currently looks like.
One other project at the Yards park that is just starting to pop up on the radar is a new "main campus building" for Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region, to be located on the far eastern edge of the park (just off the right edge of the rendering), along the waterfront just before the park meets the Navy Yard. Living Classrooms is a non-profit group that "uses maritime settings, community revitalization projects and other challenging learning environments" to provide hands-on education and job skills training for students (especially at-risk youth). They will be handling the design and management of the new environmental center at Kingman Island further up the Anacostia, and currently operate out of Building 74 at the Yards (the little brick building--to be townhouses someday--just west of Hull Street at M, seen here). And, according to their web site, Living Classrooms has been "asked to oversee and manage marina and some waterside activities" at the new Yards park.
There is no timeline for when Living Classrooms' new building will get underway. It's currently in the design phase (see an early rendering here), and when that's completed, there will be a fundraising drive to finance the project.
 

Aug 16, 2008 9:29 AM
Word went out on the H-DC mailing list this week about the Library of Congress posting scans of a series of early 20th century real estate atlases, that mapped out in precise detail the streets and buildings of Washington. With thanks for them being in the public domain, I've grabbed the six plates that cover Near Southeast from the four years it was surveyed--1903, 1909, 1915, and 1921--and have posted them on a new Historic Maps page. The images are pretty big to allow the text to be read, so you have to bring up one at a time from each year.
They're definitely worth some time to wander through. A few items of note:
* In 1909, the northern third of the Canal Park site between I and K was nothing more than a passage to the rail yards where 70 and 100 I now stand. You can also see the streetcar line that used to run along K Street east from Second. Then there's the Washington Fertilizer Company that used to sit at New Jersey and K--maybe the defunct trash transfer station isn't so bad in comparison? And the Van Ness school used to be on the west side of Fourth at M, where 300 M and Sizzling Express now are. (The newer school opened in 1956.) And this same 1909 map shows that Exxon has been on the unit block of I Street for a LONG time, with Standard Oil occupying the eastern two-thirds of the block--it would spread to the entire block by 1921.
* In 1903, the Navy Yard ran only from Sixth Street to Ninth. (You'll also see that Potomac Avenue used to be named Georgia Avenue.) By 1909 it had expanded west to Fourth Street. In 1921, with World War I over, its western border had moved to New Jersey Avenue. (Alas, the Navy Yard plate for 1921 isn't posted--no doubt the Homeland Security department of the era asked for it to be removed since it was a potential aid to terrorists.)
* There was a St. Matthew's Chapel on the southeast corner of Half and M (where most everyone now exits the subway to head to Nationals Park), which I imagine is the forebear of the St. Matthew's now at New Jersey and L.
* The American Ice Company used to operate at a wharf at Second Street and the Anacostia River (which used to just be called the Eastern Branch). This is where the "Great Lawn" of the Waterfront Park at the Yards will be. Plus, Florida Rock and the southern half of what's now the WASA site didn't exist in 1903, but by 1909 the land had started to be reclaimed and you can see the "Sewer Dep't." Plus. the beautiful WASA main pumping station is depicted, having been built in 1905.
* When they call the Maritime Plaza site at 12th and M "the old Washington Gas site," they're not kidding--there it is in 1903, marked as the Washington Gaslight Company.
* The park at Ninth and Virginia has been there since at least 1903, when it used to be the meeting place of Virginia and Georgia avenues (and when there wasn't a big freeway above it). On the same map, you can see the previous life of the Blue Castle at Eighth and M, marked as the Washington & Georgetown R.R. Co. Car House. (It didn't take up the entire block then.)
So, go to the main map page, and pick a year and a plate, and take a trip back a hundred years or so. And also check the few Historic Photos I've found over the years, too.
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Aug 15, 2008 5:22 PM
It may have been late late on a Friday afternoon, but the city did what it said it would and released a Request for Expressions of Interest for 225 Virginia Avenue, looking for someone who wants to sublease (with an option to buy) the 421,000-square-foot building that was once the Washington Star printing plant, until it folded in the early 1980s. The Post used it as a printing plant until 1999, when it sold the building to the William C. Smith Company, who sublet it to Washington Telecom Associates, who sublet it to the city in 2006. (Got that?)
Quoting from the RFEI: "The District's primary goal, in issuing this RFEI, is to assign its leasehold interest, including the purchase option, in 225 Virginia Avenue, SE. The District's secondary goal is to enable the site to be used and redeveloped at its private sector highest and best use." The city currently leases the building for $6.5 million a year; the option to buy can be exercised for $80 million prior to the third lease year.
Proposals are due by noon on September 26, with October 13 listed as the notification date.
 

Aug 14, 2008 12:39 AM
Fox5 News blows the lid off of 225 Virginia Avenue, telling the world what us smart people have known for a while about the old Post plant, saying that "DC taxpayers would be outraged to know a building that the city government spent millions on has been left sitting vacant": "The building was supposed to consolidate five public safety functions into one building to increase efficiency of the police department. A year ago the Fenty administration changed their minds on the plans, so the multimillion dollar building is just sitting there, empty. The city spent an additional 1 million for the plans to renovate and has, to date, paid more than $6.5 million in rent." Monthly rent is $500,000.
However, there might be some actual news at the end of the piece: "By the end of the week, the Office of Property Management will request someone else take over the lease and option to purchase the vacant building." The Mayor announced the city's intent to do exactly this back in November 2007 (back when the District was wooing NPR for the building before losing them to NoMa) so perhaps this story suddenly appearing now means they've found someone. We'll see.
You can read my 225 Virginia news items if you want more of a history on the plans to move MPD (and then not move MPD) there. (Though I bet Phil Mendelson still hasn't given up hope.)
UPDATE, 8/14: It turns out my crack about Phil Mendelson was more on-target than I might have imagined--the Fox 5 story (and this more complete one in today's Examiner) were spurred on by a press release from Mendelson noting the one-year anniversary of the city deciding to not move MPD to 225 Virginia and castigating the city for the money being spent on the building. It's not yet posted on Mendelson's site, but it includes this quote: "At this point, I hope the administration won't be so desperate that they will make a bad situation even worse by trying to unload this property in a sweetheart deal with some developer in return for tax or zoning promises." The Examiner indirectly quotes city spokesman Sean Madigan as saying that the city "plans to seek" developers' interest, so an actual deal is not immediately forthcoming--there's going to be a Request for Expressions of Interest to look for within the next few days, I guess.
(This is also a good lesson in how news stories are so often driven by press releases, without any indication of their existence. Boo.)
Mendelson's comment about "zoning promises" also reminds me to finally mention that within the past week the request to add 225 Virginia to the Capitol South Receiving Zone has suddenly popped back onto the Zoning Commission's calendar (now scheduled for Oct. 27), after lying dormant since early 2007.
 

Aug 12, 2008 9:43 AM
Pulling together some previously Twittered items (the most recent of which you can always see on the JDLand home page, beneath the big map):
* This morning's Crime Incidents feed update shows two recent burglaries, one yesterday in the 900 block of New Jersey and one Friday in the 200 block of K. No narratives as to what happened are available yet.
* There's now a big Wachovia sign on the western end of 20 M Street.
* The Nats start a home stand tonight, first against the Mets and then this weekend against the Rockies. Because of DC United home games at RFK, the Nats Express will be operating out of Lot 7 both tonight (Tuesday) and Thursday (Aug. 14).
* On Thursday night there's a Ladies Night Out and Home Run Happy Hour at the ballpark, with all sorts of enticements to get the girls to come out to the ballpark. Tickets are $30. More info here.
* The Nats "First Ladies" (the players' wives and girlfriends), partnered with the UPS Store and the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, collected over eight bins of school supplies and $6,500 in cash donations during their second annual Back-to-School Drive on Aug. 2 and 3.
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Aug 11, 2008 4:22 PM
I can't pretend that photos of not-very-high cinderblock foundations coming up along L and Fourth streets are really all that exciting (unless you own one of the houses-to-be), but that didn't stop me from taking a quick batch of new Capitol Quarter photos this morning, despite having to tiptoe around the serious infrastructure work clogging up L and Fifth.
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 

Aug 11, 2008 10:08 AM
* Monday's Post has a couple of pieces on the state of the area's commercial real estate market, and looks specifically at how NoMa doesn't have tenants racing in despite the high-profile acquisitions of NPR and the Justice Department. It also compares NoMa to Near Southeast, and quotes Russell Hines of Monument Realty as saying that "although the slow economy has made leasing the building more complicated, the company had seen interest from some associations and other private companies looking to escape high rents downtown." Alas, the piece mentions "50 M" as Monument's 275,000-sq-ft office building scheduled for completion next year when it means 55 M. (50 M is Monument's project, too--a proposed 130,000-sq-ft office building on the old Sunoco station site, but they are looking for tenants before starting construction there.)
* A Sunday Examiner piece looks at the temporary zoning rules covering where gun stores can be located in DC: "Firearms dealers who apply for a D.C. location will be largely restricted to high density commercial areas downtown and kept at least two football fields away from where people live, play and pray, according to emergency rules now in place." Included in the allowed zones are C-3-C areas, which means that the area of Near Southeast between South Capitol, Second, M, and the freeway (my "North of M" area) is covered. (See the map on page 8 of the OP report for exact boundaries.) Other restrictions: "All applicants, under the new rules, must appear before the Board of Zoning Adjustments to obtain a special zoning exception. Retail stores will be limited to the downtown area, generally between Massachusetts and Pennsylvania avenues Northwest, in addition to about 25 square blocks between Independence Avenue and M Street in Southwest. No dealer will be allowed within 600 feet of a residence, school, library, church or playground." Of course, the gun stores would have to be able to afford the rents in the pricey new buildings going up, since there aren't too many other places left in the neighborhood.
* Late notice (unless you're subscribed to my Twitter feed, in which case you heard about this yesterday), but there's a Live Online chat today at noon with the author of the Post magazine's piece on the drag queens of Near Southeast, and the man known as "Mame Dennis" who was the focal point of the article will be participating, too.
 

Aug 8, 2008 2:06 PM
The Anacostia Community Boathouse Association is having its second Youth River Sports Day on Saturday, Aug. 23 from 10 am to 2 pm, at their boathouses nestled between the 11th Street Bridges spans (1115 O Street, SE). The 10 member organizations of the ACBA are banding together to help teach kids (and grownups) how to paddle in outrigger canoes and dragon boats and how to row in big training barges--or you can just take a slow tour of the Anacostia River. The events are free, though the ACBA does ask you to register so they know how many people are coming. If you want more background on the boathouse operations at O Street, there's now an interesting history page on the ACBA web site.
(If you want to receive day-before reminders about this event, or other events in the neighborhood, sign up for the JDLand Twitter feed. In addition to reminders and random thoughts, JDLand twitter readers get an added bonus: they knew a few hours ago that I was going to be posting about this today--it's like a sneak preview for the blog.)
 

Aug 8, 2008 11:30 AM
The Sunday Washington Post magazine has a long story about the drag queens who for years called the clubs of Near Southeast home. It talks about how things used to be at the clubs, and the difficulties the clubs (and the queens) have had finding a new home since the wave of ballpark development closed places like Club 55 (above left, on what's now the north side of the Velocity block) and Ziegfield's (above right, now home to shallow right field).
Here's some quotes from a conversation with Carl Rizzi, who long performed at Club 55 as "Mame Dennis": "He is still holding out hope that the Dicksons can find a place to reopen Club 55, so that they will again have a permanent home. He faults the gay community for being caught so flat-footed; they took for granted that they'd always have Southeast, he says. 'I guess we never in our wildest imagination thought anyone would tear that down because it was such an undesirable area.' The city benefits from having a ballpark, says Rizzi, 'and that's all well and good. But [a long-standing gay community] was all torn down and torn apart and scattered, and we had no place to go and no help.' " The online version of the story has an accompanying video about Rizzi and the clubs.
 

Aug 8, 2008 9:46 AM
A few quick hits to start the day:
* DCMud says that Onyx on First is opening Monday (so my post earlier this week on it looking close to opening wasn't too far off). I'm trying to confirm, but haven't heard back yet. UPDATE: They tell me that yes, they're opening Monday.
* The Fredericksburg (Va.) Free Lance-Star has a nice piece on one of the tour guides at Nationals Park. (Didn't know that there's ballpark tours? Find out more here.)
* The Examiner reports on allegations by DC auditors of an ethics violation by former Anacostia Waterfront Corporation chief Andrew Altman back in 2005, having to do with the AWC signing a contract with a real estate services company that listed Altman as a reference.
* Interest in JDLand reaches Brazil. (Thank heavens for Babelfish's Portuguese-to-English translator.)
* The Nationals have announced that they have donated more than 10,000 tickets to August games at the ballpark to local community and civic groups, as part of MLB's "Commissioner's Initiative for Kids" program. Southwest's King Greenleaf Recreation Center was one of the recipients.
 

Aug 7, 2008 4:00 PM
From the Post's WashBizBlog: "The District and Verizon Communications have reached an agreement to bring the company's FiOS high-speed Internet service to the city. Eric Richardson, director of D.C. Office of Cable Television, said the agreement requires approval by the mayor's office and the D.C. Council, a process he said could be completed by the end of the year. Richardson said negotiations took nine months, less time than it has taken the District to work out previous cable franchise agreements." As posted a few weeks back, there's a fence sign in the 900 block of Half Street, SE proclaiming "1st Community in DC to Offer Verizon FIOS!", and 70/100 I have marketed themselves as pre-wired for FIOS, so perhaps Near Southeast will be at the front of the line when service does actually start. When would that be? "A spokesman for Verizon, Harry Mitchell, said his company looks forward to introducing the service soon. 'We are excited about this. Washington is a great market for us,' he said."
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Aug 7, 2008 7:18 AM
On Wednesday DDOT announced a new web site, called Anacostia Waterfront: Realizing the Vision. It's billed as a "centralized location for updates about the Anacostia Waterfront, as well as project-specific information and links," though as of now the only detailed project information is for the plans to replace the 11th Street Bridges, there there are also links to the Anacostia Waterfront Framework Plan and the Comprehensive Plan.
The items on the 11th Street Bridges include those that I blogged about late last week, as the city starts to move forward to procure design/build services for the project. They've posted the presentation slides from Monday's informational meeting, which mention the goal of meeting or beating the construction completion date of Dec. 31, 2013 (mark your calendars). DDOT expects to release the Request for Qualifications on Aug. 15, followed by a Request for Proposals by the end of the year, with a contractor selection and agreement completed by June of 2009, so that work can begin soon after.
This new web site repeats what I saw on the 11th Street Bridges EIS web site, that the city "will remove the existing flyover ramps to RFK this summer," but doesn't have any additional details. (Summer does technically run until mid-September, I guess.)
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Aug 6, 2008 11:47 AM
Today may be just another lazy summer day for you, but it's an exciting one for me, with the announcement that JDLand.com is one of the four finalists for this year's Knight-Batten Awards for Innovation in Journalism. I'm beyond thrilled that my work as a neighborhood blogger has been recognized as one of the many innovative approaches to journalism bubbling up on the web--I guess the lack of sleep has been worth it. It's also a pretty cool (and ironic) award for someone who ditched journalism school way back when because she couldn't stand going to public meetings.
If you're visiting the site for the first time, click the map at right to see my pages devoted to the various projects underway, completed, or planned in Near Southeast. You can also check out my coverage of the construction and opening of Nationals Park, last year's makeover of the Frederick Douglass Bridge, and my favorite shots from my Photo Archive showing the before-and-after views (or, in many cases, the before-and-during views) of the huge changes that this 100-block area has undergone in the past 5 1/2 years. You can even see my gallery of the more than 150 buildings that have been demolished to make way for all the shiny new developments. Or just scroll through the blog entries to watch the flurry of Near Southeast news go by.
The actual awards--a $10,000 Grand Prize, a $2,000 Citizen's Media Award, plus two $2,000 Special Distinction awards--will be handed out during a September 10 symposium at the National Press Club, where the four winners will present their sites.
You can read the official Knight-Batten release, along with my sorry first-ever attempt at a press release if you want something official from me. More about how this site came to be can be found here.
There would be no JDLand, of course, without all the people (mostly unheralded) who have helped me out over the past five-plus years by answering my pesky questions, or by passing along information they've come across, or just by reading the site and reminding me that there are folks out there who are interested in this stuff--to all of you go the sincere thanks of the entire JDLand staff.

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Aug 5, 2008 1:20 PM
* The foundations are rising at Capitol Quarter on the south side of L Street between Fourth and Fifth. Next obsessive milestone to watch out for: delivery of lots of lumber!
* Speaking of foundations, I peeked into the big hole at 1015 Half Street on Sunday and saw that they appear to have reached bottom--there's concrete poured on the northern portion.
* In addition to the other photos I've pointed you to in the past couple days, I've posted updated shots of Velocity and 55 M.
* The August issue of the Hill Rag has an interesting little piece on the bike valet service at the ballpark.
* The annual National Night Out is tonight--the closest event is at 13th and Potomac, starting at 6:30 pm. See Tommy Wells's web site for details.
 

Aug 4, 2008 10:26 PM
From the WashTimes SportsBiz blog: "The District of Columbia has successfully made its first debt service payment on Nationals Park, despite the lack of a rent check from the Nationals. The first debt payment of $13.9 million (all interest) was due Friday and was made without complication[.] The $3.5 million rent payment is a key portion of the money used to pay back the $535 million in bonds used to finance the stadium. But it appears that the city was able to raise enough money through other financing components to cover the gap." (As reported a few weeks ago, the Nats are withholding rent over whether or not the stadium was "substantially complete" on Opening Day.) The debt payment is financed by the ballpark ticket/concessions tax, a utility tax, and the ballpark fee assessed on city businesses (which is coming in substantially higher than was projected).
Speaking of the ballpark, one of the neighborhood's longtime residents was in attendance Sunday, as a guest of the Earth Conservation Corps. (See the full-sized photo--he's quite stunning!--and other shots I've taken here and there in my Scenes from the Inaugural Season gallery.) I also finally updated my photos of the ballpark's South Capitol Street facade from the Left Field Gate down to the admin building, as well as some other new shots along Potomac Avenue that I hadn't updated since March--and that means I can finally declare my Ballpark Exterior Before-and-Afters complete, at least until they rename the place and change all the signage....
 

Aug 4, 2008 1:06 PM
A few weeks ago I was told that the Onyx on First apartment building would probably be opening its first three floors in early August, and judging by the newly installed sidewalk along First Street and a peek into the lobby, it doesn't appear to be far off. The building will have approximately 260 units, and began construction in fall 2006. On my Onyx project page, you can see updated photos, along with a few new images of the buildings that preceded Onyx on this site.
Two blocks to the north, 909 New Jersey speeds along, with its distinctive roofline now visible from many locations around the neighborhood, as you can see both on the project page and in the Expanded 909 Photo Gallery. (What do we call this roof thing? The crow's nest? The bow?) The photos also show that brick is now being added to the First Street side of the building. This 237-unit rental building with ground-floor retail space will be the third of JPI's four "Capitol Yards" residential developments, and is expected to be completed next year.
(And while you look at all the latest photos, be sure to take a moment to thank the supreme being of your choice for bestowing upon us Sunday's gorgeous weather and severe clear blue sky, which is such a rarity given DC's normally haze-filled Augusts.)
 

Aug 4, 2008 7:01 AM
One of the bazillion spots where I took photos this weekend was up high above home plate at the ballpark, gazing off at the skyline to the north. It was only 11 months ago that I got my first photos from there, so check out the archive to scroll through the changes from Sept. '07 to Aug. '08. There are seven buildings (some of which are already out of view) that have popped up and topped out during this very brief time.
Coming soon, the photos I took this weekend at ground level of all these new buildings.
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Aug 3, 2008 8:54 PM
You'd probably have to be paying pretty close attention to notice that the JDLand home page looks a little different today. I moved the pile of wordy links that were in the header box to a new spiffier menu bar, and also tinkered with some other item placements. And, if you scroll down below the map, you'll see a new box that displays the most recent JDLand Twitter updates (except that it's a bit iffy in IE right now--grrrr), and below that, a new search box heralding the addition of a Google Site Search in case you're unfortunate enough to be trying to find something in this morass.
I also discovered that the Crime Report data feed wasn't displaying optimally--it was only showing the most recent 14 days' worth of data, which doesn't take into account that sometimes it takes longer than two weeks for a report (or for the descriptive narrative) to get into the feed. So you'll see a considerably longer list (now 30 days), which could be disconcerting--looks like the bad guys have been a little more active lately, especially along New Jersey Avenue. Keep an eye out.
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Aug 1, 2008 3:34 PM
Heaven help me, I'm launching yet another JDLand platform: now you can sign up for Twitter updates, delivered via the web or SMS or RSS. I'll be sending out quick bursts of either useful or useless Near Southeast-related minutaie that don't rise to the level of a blog entry or that I just can't bear to not blab about. For instance, if you were subscribed this afternoon, you would have been alerted around 3:20 to a traffic tie-up at South Capitol and M because of a "hanging light." (That would be an example of a useful tweet.) As always, I'm mainly doing this to test-drive the latest e-toy, but if anyone wants to come along for the ride, feel free.
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Aug 1, 2008 12:57 PM
I'm a little late on this, but apparently on July 2 the "Record of Decision" was signed for the 11th Street Bridges replacement project--this is the official sign-off from the Federal Highway Administration on the selected design for the revamped bridges, with one eight-lane span carrying highway traffic and a second carrying "local" traffic (including perhaps light-rail, if it ever happens) between Anacostia and Near Southeast. There's a two-page FAQ about the project, if you don't feel like wandering through the entire Final Environmental Impact Statement to figure out what's going on. You can also read my entries from when the EIS was released last year for some summaries of how Near Southeast will be affected by the new configuration (or look at the low-rent graphic I created).
According to the ROD, DDOT will be paying the National Park Service just under $1 million for 1.5 acres of Anacostia Park that will be used as part of the bridge project, and will also be footing the bill for some other "mitigation measures" and "enhancements" spelled out in the ROD's Attachment A. Attachment C details how the Anacostia Community Boathouse Association's operations will be temporarily relocated during construction from the two brick buildings nestled between the bridge spans to a spot just a bit further northeast along the riverfront, in the 1200 block of Water Street, SE. Attachment D is a list of all the "environmental commitments" agreed to by DDOT to avoid, reduce, or mitigate various impacts of the project.
In the meantime, DDOT is soliciting Letters of Interest from those interested in doing the bridges's design/build, and is having an informational meeting on the project on Monday (Aug. 4). Letters of interest are due Aug. 13, and DDOT is expecting to release the Request for Qualifications in mid-August. They appear to be expecting to begin construction in 2009, with the project lasting five years. (I *swear* I read somewhere in all of this that they would plan to first build the new interchanges between the bridges and the Anacostia Freeway, but I'm now completely unable to find that verbage.)
The FAQ mentions that the existing flyover ramps to and from RFK (the ones that head east over M Street) are supposed to be demolished "this summer", but I've been unable to get any details from DDOT as to whether that's still happening. I'm also not sure whether that's part of the bigger plan (not technically part of the bridge replacement project) to completely do away with the current below-grade freeway to Pennsylvania Avenue and replace it with "Southeast Freeway Boulevard", running at-grade from 11th Street eastward. (Read the EIS for more on that.)
How much is it going to cost? The ROD says that a cost review meeting in December "indicated that the estimate was consistent with an 80th percentile probability that the year-of-expenditure project cost would not exceed 465 million dollars." Those of you well versed in bureaucracy-speak can translate that as necessary.
 
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