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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: September 2007
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Seniors Bldg Demo ('07)
400 M ('07)
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US DOT HQ ('07)
20 M ('07)
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Just a reminder for those interested in the progress of Canal Park (as well as the Southwest Waterfront, Hill East, and other former AWC initiatives) that there's a DC council Committee on Economic Development Public oversight hearing on these projects on Monday (Oct. 1) at 12 noon in Room 500 of the Wilson Building. The DC Cable 13 schedule indicates that the hearing will be broadcast live, which means you can either watch the live webcast or dial up Channel 13 if you live in the District and have cable.
More posts: Canal Park
 

Now posted for your perusing pleasure, another batch of photos from around the neighborhood, taken this afternoon, with the focus being on the western side of the ballpark, along South Capitol Street. This means that the Stadium Exterior Construction Gallery is now about two-thirds updated over the past two days, and don't forget to look at the Expanded Stadium Archives for South Capitol Street and N Street if you want even more before-and-afters. (Or here's all photos from today on a single page.) Grass is now being put down in the median on South Capitol, and the new historic globe streetlights are in place, along with stoplights-to-come at the O and P intersections. The newly widened sidewalks and curbs along the west side of the street are almost complete as well.
My favorite part of the day was when I walked down the median of South Capitol from N to Potomac, snapping photos along the way. The inbound lanes coming off the Douglass Bridge were closed, so it made for some nice car-free shots, until I realized that there was a big red pickup driving the south in the northbound lanes of South Capitol, moving very slowly and always staying about 40 feet behind me. I'd walk a half-block and stop, and the truck would drive a half-block and stop. Then, when I got to South Capitol and Potomac, the truck turned around and parked. Of course, it was Hired Badge Harry, making sure that I made not the slightest attempt to get anywhere near the inside of the ballpark perimeter. When I finished my work at South Capitol and Potomac, I waved and called out, "Okay! I'm walking back north now!!!" and we resumed our shadow-dancing, even though by this point I was walking on the west side of the street and so was nowhere near the construction. While I certainly appreciate having my own escort at all times, I do think it's kind of funny that they're expending so much effort keeping an eye on the ONE person who has absolutely no interest in darting into the stadium interior uninvited. And so, if you're wondering why so many of today's photos have a big red pickup in them, that's why.
UPDATE: Oops, sorry, the all-in-one link was to yesterday's batch. Now fixed.

More posts: Nationals Park
 

The breadth of construction around Near Southeast is now so vast that I'm forced to break my photo sojourns up into multiple sessions. Today's batch includes a few from the eastern side of the stadium, which are somewhat hard to come by these days--make sure to see the second photo down on the Stadium Exterior Construction Gallery, which shows the red stars that were added to the scoreboard in the past few days as part of the installation of the clock. (The "Nationals" lettering is cool to see as well, even if it's backwards.) The rest of the new stadium photos are more toward the bottom of the gallery (look for the icon) and on the First Street and N Street expanded galleries, but I'm planning to take a complete batch of photos of the western side of the ballpark on Sunday.
There's also the usual updates to the project pages for residential projects 70/100 I and Onyx on First and the 100 M Street office building, as well as plenty of other vantage points that can be seen on the expanded galleries or on the see-'em-all-on-one-page output. Try not to be blinded by the incredibly blue sky when looking at these shots, and cross your fingers I get that weather again on Sunday.
I've also got one not-so-good comparison showing the slow progress on the demolition of the GPO building at The Yards, though fences and construction vehicles are making it very hard to get good shots of what's going on there.
I did also notice that the DC Foreign Car garage on K west of Half is definitely now abandoned, sometime within the past month or so. No "we've moved" sign is up anywhere, and so it's possible that it's been a number of weeks since they closed, but now all the windows and doors are busted, so it was obvious even to my sometimes-distracted brain. Opus East has said they're planning to start construction on 1015 Half Street in October, which would mean this garage should be gone before much longer.
Tune in tomorrow for the next batch.

 

Hot on the heels of the uber-successful Stadium Construction Web Cam, there's now a new webcam available, showing the progress of Monument Realty's Half Street project, which includes the expansion of the Navy Yard Metro station. And it shows that the vertical construction of 55 M Street (the 275,000-sq-ft office building at the corner of Half and M that will house the subway entrance) is nearly to ground level. Also, I'm psyched that I can now keep an eye on the properties along First Street without taking off my fuzzy slippers, to watch for if and when those buildings get demolished. (It also shows that the GPO building at The Yards is still partially standing.) For baseball fans, it does show a smidgen of the ballpark, mainly from the restaurant eastward and southward, as well as all of the eastern parking garage. The images go back to Aug. 28, but I guess I kept overlooking the webcam link on the official Half Street web site.
UPDATE: Alas, the web cam has spent most of the day frozen at 12:51 pm. Hopefully someone will go to the top of 20 M Street and kick the tires.
UPDATE II: And now it's back.

 

The fine folks at Ruben Companies have passed along to me a rendering of its planned 350,000-sq-ft office building at 1100 South Capitol, now dubbed "SC1100." With that in hand, I've created a page for both SC1100 and the rest of the block it will occupy, known by the cool land-record kids as Square 698, and have added it to my main map. Ruben also now has a page about the project on its redesigned web site. There's no timeline as yet for the start of construction.
 

The Post reports on yesterday's WMATA board vote to sell the Southeastern Bus Garage to Akridge (see my post on the vote here), saying that "Monument Realty, which owns several acres nearby, filed a formal protest late Wednesday. Company officials have said that Monument was promised first dibs on the site by the D.C. government and Metro several years ago when the company was named 'master developer' of the area and given the task of building an integrated 'ballpark district.' " Also: "Monument principal partner Jeffrey T. Neal has threatened to file a lawsuit to stop the sale. In a letter to Metro last month, Neal also said Monument might slow its renovation of the Navy Yard Metro station, the closest stop to the ballpark, if the company does not win Metro's bus garage property." Metro says that Monument's protest will be reviewed before the sale to Akridge is completed. It also repeats what was mentioned in yesterday's Post article, that Monument is seven weeks behind on its renovation of the Navy Yard Metro station west entrance, and that Monument has acknowledged the delays but is spending extra money to make up the lost time. Also, here's the Washington Business Journal's piece on the bus garage sale and attendant controversy, and the Examiner's.
 

Caffeine-deprived correspondents are writing in to tell me they're hearing that the Starbucks at the corner of New Jersey and M (at the DOT HQ) is set to open on Monday (Oct. 1). The rumor mill adds that it will be open seven days a week.
UPDATE: I've now had it confirmed that Monday is indeed the opening day for Starbucks. And hours will be 6 am to 9 pm Monday through Friday, and 7 am to 7 pm Saturday and Sunday.
UPDATE II: Via the BID, there's also apparently a "Friends and Family Extravaganza" at the new Starbucks on Friday (Sept. 28) from 1:00 to 6:00 pm. "Free Food and Coffee/Community Networking Opportunities/Special Offers."
 

Without too much discussion, the WMATA board of directors has just approved the sale of the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M streets to the John Akridge Development Company. There was a brief exchange between Jim Graham and (I believe) the corporate counsel about what was apparently an "escalator clause" in Monument Realty's bid for the garage site, stating that their $60 million bid should be raised to $250,000 above the higher bid. The counsel indicated that the sale was not being handled under a Request for Proposals, but under a sealed bid process that WMATA procedures stipulate do not allow for alternative bids. The counsel also said that Monument's bid in fact stated that if WMATA's procedures did not allow for alternative bids, to then revert to Monument's $60 million initial bid.
With that cleared up, and with a bit of discussion about how these sorts of property sales should be handled in the future, the board voted to approve the sale. However, settlement on the deal is still contingent on the board's approval of a new Southeastern Bus Garage project at DC Village in Southwest, which Graham pleaded be handled as quickly as possible to ensure that the buses are out of Half and M before Opening Day 2008, so that both pedestrian safety issues and additional ballpark parking can be addressed.
So now we'll wait and see if Monument follows through with the threats detailed in this morning's Post to possibly file suit over not being awarded the garage site, or slow down their work on the expansion of the Navy Yard Metro station across the street, which would seem to not really be a good way to endear yourself to the public, the city, or WMATA.
If you want to listen to the audio of the meeting, it will be available here once the meeting itself is finished. And I did put together a new Bus Garage section under my Ballpark District pages, with just a few photos of the site. (Finally. Guess I never thought it would turn into such a perpetual topic of conversation.)
 

Capitol Hill's Voice of the Hill newspaper has a co-profile of two local bloggers in its new issue--Elise Bernard of Frozen Tropics (covering H Street NE) and yours truly. Descriptions of me and JDLand include "fastidiously issue-neutral" and "almost aggressive in its lack of color"--but those are actually compliments. And there's a photo that perfectly captures my perpetually bemused state, but that might just be because I was suffering through the replay of the 225 Virginia hearing when the photographer arrived (those with x-ray vision can see Phil Mendelson on one of my computer screens). It's kind of a sequel to the piece they did in 2005.
So, since I'm already self-promoting, I'll mention my Ballpark and Beyond column in today's Post, which talks about the possible sale of the Southeastern Bus Garage to Akridge (we'll find out today--the WMATA board meeting is at 11), the new funding for the waterfront parks, and the Garfield Park-Canal Park connector project.
 

Thursday's Post has "Struggles Cloud Stadium Progress," which details a number of issues currently causing headaches in the Ballpark District. The story reveals that the renovation of the Navy Yard Metro station's west entrance, to expand its capacity to 15,000 users an hour, is seven weeks behind schedule. Also, talks that the Nationals have been having with the US Department of Transportation about possibly using the 800 parking spaces beneath the new DOT HQ have been fruitless. And, with the WMATA board set to vote on its plan to award Akridge the sale of the Southeastern Bus Garage, Monument Realty has apparently "cried foul, arguing that it was promised first dibs on the property by District and Metro officials several years ago to build an integrated mixed-use 'ballpark district.' " Monument, which owns almost the entire rest of the Square 700 block that the bus garage sits on, is threatening lawsuits, and even is suggesting that its stewardship of Navy Yard Metro expansion as part of its mixed-use development on the east side of Half Street could be slowed down if Monument is not awarded the WMATA site--though, at the same time, they say they are addressing the current schedule slippage. Guess this might make the WMATA board meeting audiocast somewhat interesting.
On the plus side, "D.C. leaders expect whichever developer wins the Metro bus property to allow 350 cars to park on the site for the first season or two until more significant construction begins." And negotiations are continuing to allow gameday parking at RFK, with free shuttle buses to the new ballpark, although there are concerns that Hill East residents might not appreciate the traffic. (See my stadium parking page for more details on where parking lots are expected to be available.)
And, just some clarification, for those of you looking at the map that accompanied the article: the land that encompasses the bus garage sale is not all of the sites indicated as "Metro Property" on the map; it's just the bus garage itself and the parking lot to the garage's west, on the southwest corner of Half and M. The land on the east side of Half Street, at the west entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station, is no longer owned by Metro, having been sold to Monument Realty in late 2006. The east entrance of the station, at New Jersey and M, is being sold to Donohoe as part of the 1111 New Jersey office development. And the little lot at Half and L is the station's chiller plant, which at one point was appearing to be offered as a joint development opportunity, but which appears to have stalled.

 

I was out of town during last Thursday's oversight hearing on space needs for public service agencies, and since The Post published a piece the next day on the big news--the confirmation that the police department's move to 225 Virginia Avenue is indeed off--I've been dragging my feet on posting my notes from the hearing, which I watched on a replay Monday night.
Here's what Office of Property Management director Lars Etzkorn said in his opening remarks about 225 Virginia: "While initial plans focused on co-locating several police functions in this leased building, a review of estimates revealed that total improvement costs exceeded the $100 million provided for in the lease. Hard costs alone were estimated to exceed $150 million. In addition, there were issues with compatibility in implementing the full program in the neighborhood. These include MPD's 24-7 operations and parking demands for 658 vehicles. Currently, we are examining potential alternative uses for the space, including the possibility of using it as office space for government agencies."
During questioning by Tommy Wells, Etzkorn said that he anticipates being able to come to council members by the end of October with recommendations on uses for 225; Wells remarked that the city needs to make sure that "we don't stack a bunch of uses" in the building without thinking of their impacts on the surrounding area.
There was a lot of back-and-forth between Etzkorn and Phil Mendelson about whether the police move to 225 is in fact called off--I don't think it's too much of an editorial statement to comment that Etzkorn clearly embraces bureaucracy-speak and well-parsed statements, which frustrated Mendelson to no end during the hearing. When Mendelson asked if everything that was planned to go to 225 is now not going there, Etzkorn's response was "the recommendation is that they not go there." Mendelson pressed repeatedly on 225 remaining an option for various police agencies, given that there are currently no other viable alternatives on new locations coming from OPM (though lots of possible locations are being reviewed). And there were disagreements between Etzkorn and Mendelson about whether the 225 landlord has indeed been told to stop work on the buildout plans, which Mendelson said he'd been told had not been stopped but which Etzkorn said were in fact stopped but that the landlord had been asked to do some pricing of potential other uses for the space.
One other tidbit mentioned in the hearing I had never come across before--there were apparently plans late in the Williams administration to move the headquarters of the Office of Corrections to leased space at Maritime Plaza at 12th and M, SE, but those were called off earlier this year.
And, as I'm finishing up, I see that Voice of the Hill has posted its piece on the hearing (on their newly redesigned web site!), which also covers the issues surrounding the possible move of the MPD 1D headquarters in Southwest, since the hearing did cover more than just the issues surrounding 225 Virginia.
If you're interested in not only the content of the hearing but also in watching the thrust-and-parry between Mendelson and Etzkorn, keep an eye out for any replays of the telecast (look for a Sept. 20 oversight hearing replay).
 

The planned departure of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency from the big windowless white building at First and M remains on track, with a groundbreaking held yesterday at Ft. Belvoir for their new home at the Engineer Proving Ground. Under the Department of Defense's Base Realignment and Closure Act, NGA's various facilities around the DC area must be relocated to Ft. Belvoir by Sept. 15, 2011; NGA's FAQ on the move says that they expect to begin closing their existing sites in Near Southeast, Bethesda, and Reston in late 2010. Once they are out of First and M, that site will be redeveloped as part of The Yards, most likely as an office building that presumably won't get you sent to Guantanamo if you try to take pictures of it.
 

Okay, everyone, shine your shoes and put on your Sunday best, because we've got company coming to check out the place: "Omaha Mayor Mike Fahey and other city officials will check out Washington's new baseball stadium and the surrounding neighborhood during a lobbying trip to the nation's capital this week. [...] A group of more than 100 government, business and community leaders are flying to Washington tonight for two days of meetings with federal officials and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The Omaha Chamber of Commerce arranged the trip. Added to the itinerary at the last minute was a 45-minute bus ride around the area of southeast Washington where the new stadium is almost finished."
Inside Scoop: I got an e-mail a few days ago from someone with a Nebraska e-mail address telling me they were going to be coming to DC with a group including people interested in economic development, and they were wondering whether a bus tour of the area around the stadium would be a good idea (would there be anything to see?). I sent them a link to my Overhead Photos page, which I thought might give a good overall impression of the current state of the neighborhood; perhaps that helped seal the deal.... (h/t to reader J. for the article link.)

More posts: Nationals Park
 

While the worst of the Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover pain is now over, there's still some work to be done, and this weekend the inbound lanes of the Douglass Bridge will be closed starting Friday, Sept. 29 at 9 pm, until as late as Monday, Oct. 1 at 4 am. Here's the DDOT press release with details. Quote: "The second phase of construction includes additional work on the swing span area of the bridge and streetscape improvements along South Capitol Street. Upgrades include new environmentally sensitive lighting, pedestrian access improvements such as handicap ramps, pedestrian traffic signals and new sidewalks. Resurfacing work will also take place this weekend on the inbound lanes on South Capitol Street up to N Street."
 

MLB.com has a long article today talking about the new Nationals ballpark, reiterating that it is on time, and on budget with about 75 percent of the project completed, and will be ready for Opening Day 2008. For those who don't follow the day-to-day news items about the stadium and are just looking for a nice survey of what's going on with the stadium, how it got to where it is, what still needs to be done to get ready to open, and issues of parking, premium tickets, stadium upgrades, etc. this article is a good overview. (P.S.: Turf expected to be put down in late October.)
UPDATE: As I catch up from my weekend away, I'm only now seeing this article from Sunday's Washington Times, detailing the somewhat bumpy ride of the Lerners as owners of the Nationals, with a long section detailing the tensions with the city over various issues surrounding getting the new ballpark completed.
More posts: Nationals Park
 

The agenda for the Sept. 27 WMATA board meeting is now online, and attached documents reveal that the John Akridge Development Company has been picked (pending board approval) to purchase the Southeastern Bus Garage site at Half and M, having bid $69.25 million for the 97,000-sq-ft site. Akridge's bid was determined to be "the most advantageous to the Authority" in terms of not only the purchase price but also the terms of a "leaseback" rental, which would be required until the buses currently at the garage can be relocated to other sites and which would be funded by the proceeds from the sale above the $60 million needed to fund the construction of a new garage at DC Village. Settlement on the sale would not happen until the DC Village site has been acquired from the District of Columbia and the WMATA board officially approves the Southeastern Bus Garage replacement project.
If this sale goes through, Akridge would control most of the western side of Half Street between M and N, which is the route that stadium-goers would walk to get to the ballpark from the Navy Yard Metro station. Monument Realty owns the rest of the Half Street frontage, and all of the rest of that city block (known as Square 700), except for the Public Space Storage building on South Capitol Street, and had had its eye on the WMATA site for a long time. It will be interesting to see how the development of Square 700 (smack in the center of the Ballpark District) proceeds.
 

This morning the DC Council Committee on Economic Development is having a public oversight hearing on "Projects Managed by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development" (it's being broadcast live on DC Cable 13 and live webcast, if you're interested). The hearing is still ongoing, and is addressing many projects around the city, but there were two Near Southeast-related items in Deputy Mayor Neil Albert's opening statement that I thought were worth passing along now.
First, it's been decided to not continue to use the old Anacostia Waterfront Corporation space at 1100 New Jersey Avenue after all, and so the expanded Deputy Mayor's office will be split between the Wilson Building and the old National Capital Revitalization Corporation office space at 2020 M Street, NW, and the office moves should happen this week.
Second, Deputy Mayor Albert mentioned Canal Park, saying that "coordination of the site survey, and various site management plans including erosion and stormwater management are scheduled to begin in the next month." He also said that his office is in discussions with the Office of Property Management to relocate the school buses currently occupying two of the park's three blocks to other sites in the city, and that he "expects to have a solution soon." Canal Park is one of the items specifically on the agenda for an Oct. 1 oversight hearing, so hopefully there will be more concrete news then.
If there's additional news from today's hearing, I'll update this entry.
UPDATE: Nothing earthshattering from the rest of the hearing (which, admittedly, I've been listening to with one ear, since the vast majority of it has been on topics outside of Near Southeast). In answering council member Wells's concerns about who will be in charge of the upkeep of the new parks being planned, Deputy Mayor Albert mentioned possible public-private partnerships with the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District for Canal Park and the Earth Conservation Corps for Diamond Teague Park, though he stressed that neither of these have been officially decided on. Wells also asked about whether there's thoughts of creating a Water Authority to help streamline decisions that will have to be made that effect the rivers (such as water taxis, ferry piers, possible new boathouses, etc.); Deputy Mayor Albert said that they've hired a consultant to help them decide how to handle these issues. And, one last tidbit--Albert mentioned that there will be a groundbreaking at The Yards in mid-October.
(If you're interested in Poplar Point or the Southwest Waterfront or the West End library deal, you might want watch for a replay of the hearing broadcast, because those subjects were much discussed. Marion Barry made clear he was not pleased with how the city has handled Poplar Point, and said that he and the Ward 8 community "will oppose any Poplar Point proposal that doesn't include a stadium.")
UPDATE II: Here's a Washington Business Journal blurb on today's hearing, focusing on the savings to the city from the consolidation of the AWC and NCRC functions in the Deputy Mayor's office.
 

I was out of town for the past four days (hence getting caught unexpectedly without internet access on Thursday), so I'm digging around today to make sure that I didn't miss too much. One item I meant to post but forgot about in the whirlwind of travel: a week ago, when I was checking on the state of the GPO building demolition, I found that some digging is underway on the open lot south of Tingey east of the WASA building, which is probably the beginning of the infrastructure work at The Yards. While taking photos of the digging, I noticed a man making multiple trips to put items in his car at the Federal Protective Services trailer on the lot, and thought that maybe the trailer was being vacated. (I would have taken photos of that, but wasn't in the mood to be wrestled to the ground and shipped to Guantanamo.) Sure enough, when I wandered past on Thursday morning on the way out of town, I found that the trailer was gone, leaving only a small Staircase to Nowhere. It's now #140 on my Demolished Buildings page, though I am ashamed to note that #139, the GPO building, is no further along in its demolition than it was a week ago when I decided to prematurely add it to the list.
UPDATE: Easing my guilty conscience, I see that more demolition was underway this afternoon at the GPO building. But there's still a lot of it left.
 

On Thursday the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development announced that a $111.5 million bond financing package has been finalized that will use payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) by the developer of the new US Department of Transportation HQ on M Street to "significantly" fund four parks along the Anacostia River. Two of the parks are in Near Southeast: the 5.5-acre waterfront park at The Yards, scheduled to be opened in 2010, and Diamond Teague Park, at the foot of First Street across from the new baseball stadium. (Kingman Island and Marvin Gaye Park are also on the list, and the press release notes that this funding could also be used "to finance parks and infrastructure at Poplar Point, the Southwest Waterfront, the Southwest Waterfront Fish Market, along South Capitol Street and a pedestrian bridge connecting the Parkside neighborhood to the Minnesota Avenue Metrorail Station.") The announcement also mentions how the city never received any sort of tax income from the old DOT HQ in Southwest, since the federal government doesn't pay taxes on land it controls in DC. I wrote more about this PILOT package when the bill passed the city council in July.
More posts: Teague Park, The Yards
 

A project is underway to design and create a "Connector Path" between Garfield Park just north of the Southeast Freeway and the to-be-constructed Canal Park in Near Southeast one block south of the freeway, with the goal of improving "the bicycle and pedestrian passage under the Southeast Freeway at 2nd Street, SE; making this linkage into a functional and attractive route between Capitol Hill and Near Southeast." There's a web site now online for information about this project, and on October 23 there will be a design workshop for those interested in participating in the process. It will be at St. Peter's Catholic Church (Social Hall), 128 2nd St., SE, from 6 to 9 pm.
UPDATE, 10/1: The date on this workshop has been changed to October 24. Same time, same place.
 

Yesterday the Associated Press sent out a story (published all over the country) about the Nationals leaving RFK: "Still, not too many tears are being shed at the thought of departing for a brand new ballpark next season." It's a nice farewell to a stadium that was a nice temporary home to the Nationals, but lays out a pretty good case as to why they're not staying there. And speaking of the new ballpark, if you look at the Stadium Web Cam's centerfield view and zoom in on the scoreboard at the left of the image, you'll see the big red neon N - A - T - I - O - N - A - L - S letters that have now been installed across the top.
More posts: Nationals Park
 

(Sorry for the earlier problems with this entry; I've been snakebitten these past two days, buit I should be back now.) From today's Post: "The District has formally abandoned its plan to move police headquarters to an industrial building in Southeast Washington that it began leasing in July but plans to use the building for other government offices, officials said yesterday. The statements, made at a D.C. Council committee hearing, were the latest twist in the on-again, off-again project to move the headquarters from the main municipal building downtown to a vacant warehouse at 225 Virginia Ave. SE." I haven't had a chance to watch any replays of this council hearing, but I hope to catch one if available and get more detail as to what was said. One item from the article that might need clarification: it says that "the police headquarters move has been discarded because it would cost more than $100,000 to renovate the building" -- that is indeed the case, but a number closer to $100 million was what had been being bandied about for the cost to renovate the building. One more quote: "Carrie Brooks, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said that Etzkorn asked the landlord to stop the design work for the police headquarters but that the building might be used as offices for other government agencies." If you want background on this on-again off-again move, read the Past News tab on my 225 Virginia page.
 

Am marooned unexpectedly without real internet access--back soon, I hope! (Too hard to blog from my PDA.)
More posts:
 

My Ballpark and Beyond column in today's District Extra covers a number of items I wrote about here on the blog recently: Metro's lack of decision on relocating the buses at the Southeastern Bus Garage, the WalkingTown DC Fall Edition tour of "Capitol Riverfront," the demolition of the GPO building at the Yards, and the proposed 12-unit condo project at 1006 Seventh Street.
 

With the end of the Nats' season almost here, and with eyes starting to turn to next year and the new ballpark, the Post's Tom Boswell takes a moment to write a fond farewell to RFK.
More posts: Nationals Park
 

This time its Nationals' manager Manny Acta who's traveled down South Capitol Street for a visit to the new ballpark, says MLB.com. "Acta was most intrigued by the Nationals' locker room, which is 10 times bigger than the one at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium. He said the locker room reminded him of the Astros' at Minute Maid Park. But Acta was most surprised when Stromph told him that every player would have Internet access in their lockers." We'll see if we can set those up to have jdland.com as their home page.
More posts: Nationals Park
 

Yesterday morning, after traipsing down to check on the progress of the GPO building's demolition at The Yards, I took a fair number of pictures along Third and Fourth streets in the Capper/Capitol Quarter areas, since it was a gorgeous day and because it had been a while since I updated those photos in my Photo Archive. Here's the complete batch of yesterday's pictures, all on one page--it's mainly photos of a bunch of empty lots, but you can click on the icon under any image to see earlier photos from the same vantage point. There's also some shots of the GPO building, though they didn't seem to be doing any demo work yesterday.
(If you've come to JDLand fairly recently and aren't familiar with my Photo Archive, go give it a spin. You can choose any intersection in Near Southeast and see all the photos I've posted of that location over the past getting-close-to-five-years. And the icon you see on my project pages will show you the archive photos for the vantage point you're looking at. If you're needing to waste a couple of hours, this is the application for you!)
 

In the flurry of content last week, I forgot to post this article in the Washington City Paper about the issue of filing jobs during the construction of the new Nationals ballpark with city workers versus residents of the surrounding states.
More posts: Nationals Park
 

I've posted a nearly full complement of construction update photos, taken on Sunday. There's new shots of the stadium's exterior from along South Capitol Street and N Street (read my miffed post from a week ago about why I'm not getting shots from First or Potomac these days), and the expanded photo stadium exterior archives along South Capitol and N Street are updated as well. I also shifted around the exterior construction gallery to get the more-likely-to-be-updated photos higher up on the page.
I also took the standard shots of the residential projects at 70/100 I Street and Onyx on First, as well as the 100 M Street office building, and also updated the expanded photo archives for each of those, if you can't get enough before-and-afters. Or, you can see all the new photos on one page.
(PS: I know the site is slow today. The tech support people are "working on it." Apologies....)
 

On Sunday the Nationals announced that the press box at the new ballpark will be named after Shirley Povich, who wrote for the Washington Post from 1923 until 1988. (For you young'uns, he's Maury Povich's father.) This news is mentioned briefly in the Nationals Notebook in today's Post and on MLB.com.

More posts: Nationals Park
 

The folks at the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District (covering Near Southeast and Buzzards Point) have posted a small online questionnaire about the current state of the area and priorities for service as the BID gets itself up and running, if you feel like spending a few minutes passing along some feedback and opinions...
 

Building 136 at the Southeast Federal Center, the low-rise beige building along Tingey Street east of First that was home at one time to a Government Printing Office operation, is meeting its maker this morning. It is within the footprint of The Yards, and eventually an office building will be developed on this spot, but that's most likely a number of years away, and so in the meantime the space is slated to be a surface parking lot. (There's already a surface lot next to it, fronting First Street directly across from the ballpark.) Even though as of this writing there's still a fair amount of the structure left, I'm betting that nothing will prevent this demolition from being completed, so I've added it as #139 on my Demolished Buildings page.
More posts: The Yards
 

Some Nationals players took part in the first "batting practice" at the new ballpark on Saturday afternoon. The Post says: "[A]n hour-long program in which [Ryan] Zimmerman and teammates Ryan Church, Justin Maxwell, Wily Mo Pena and Brian Schneider took a bit of batting practice at the unfinished park put the focus where this franchise wants it -- on the future. [...] A group of construction workers -- many of them on the job site at 5 or 6 a.m. -- joined the players, gathering for autographs. The players marveled at the new scoreboard, where a massive high-definition television will be installed, and thought to next year." MLB.com has a piece focused just on the hitting practice, quoting Zimmerman as saying: "I never hit in a place like this. It's like a video game or something. I haven't been here in a couple of months. It has come a long way. It looks real nice. We are real excited to be here next year." And here's the WashTimes article. Also, Yahoo has some of the AP photos of the batting session.

More posts: Nationals Park
 

Today's print edition of the Washington Business Journal (online for subscribers only) reports that CNN, wanting 80,000-100,000 sq ft of space to upgrade its studios, is looking at three in-development office buildings in Near Southeast: Opus East's 440,000-sq-ft 1015 Half Street, at the old Nation site, which is scheduled to begin construction in October; Lerner's 320,000-sq-ft 1000 South Capitol right next door, which has no announced start date; and Ruben Companies' 350,000-sq-ft 1100 South Capitol, one block to the south. "Sources familiar with the search say the sites were picked for their views of the Capitol, access to transportation and the opportunity to build a structure designed to fit CNN's needs instead of retrofitting an existing building." It should be noted that WBJ also wrote back in late March that CNN (and other companies) were looking at Near Southeast.
 

With the Nationals' final homestand of 2007 approaching, there's going to be a slew of "Farewell to RFK, Hello to New Stadium" stories, and the Post's Barry Svrluga gets the ball rolling with "For Hitters, Not Much to Miss," detailing not only the dimensions of the field that have irked players for the past three seasons, but some of the, shall we say, quirks of RFK: "The Nationals will catch up next spring, trading in RFK -- which was built for $24 million in 1961 -- for a $611 million, as-yet-to-be-named park a mile south of the Capitol in Southeast. Everything there will be different -- the clubhouses (swankier), the field dimensions (smaller), the sight lines (improved), the amenities for fans and players alike (existent), not to mention the parking (not enough). For the players, though, RFK has meant one thing above all others. It favors pitchers, they say, and just kills hitters."
As for when exactly the Nats will play their first game at the new ballpark, Svrluga in his Nationals Notebook says: "The Washington Nationals are pushing the idea of opening their new ballpark next season on a national stage, asking Major League Baseball officials to grant them a prime-time game on a Sunday night to be broadcast on ESPN, according to sources who have been briefed on the club's plans. [...] The Nationals wouldn't open with a full series at home to make sure the new ballpark, located along the Anacostia River in Southeast, is completely ready. Rather, the one-game opener would serve as a dry run, just as an exhibition game against the New York Mets in 2005 served as a test for RFK Stadium. The Nationals then embarked on a nine-game road trip before opening the home schedule 11 days later."
More posts: Nationals Park
 

At today's meeting of Metro's Planning, Real Estate, and Development Committee, a proposal to relocate the buses currently operating out of the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M to other garages throughout the region was first not supported, then ultimately forwarded to the full WMATA board without a committee recommendation.
The Maryland and Virginia representatives on the committee balked at having to shoulder some additional operating costs of $1 million a year through 2010 in order to relocate the buses (DC's share would be about $2 million a year), saying basically that baseball is a DC amenity, and so any issue with needing to be out of the garage to "accommodate" baseball is DC's problem.
Board member and DC council member Jim Graham, along with Metro General Manager John Catoe, emphasized that attempting to continue the garage's operations during baseball games, with the street closures and large numbers of pedestrians, would be impossible to do safely; Catoe also commented that the current operation of the garage is not safe "by any stretch of the imagination."
Graham also reminded the committee that the construction of a new garage at DC Village is dependent on the using the proceeds from the sale of the current garage, and even suggested that a decision not to allow the relocation of the buses in essence scuttles the sale of the garage, an interesting comment coming just as the committee was about to go into executive session to discuss the winner of the garage sale Request for Proposals.
It was also mentioned by someone (I didn't recognize the voice) that there is no "no-action no-cost" alternative; if the buses don't get relocated, and if it's decided not to build temporary facilities elsewhere until the DC Village site is ready, there will be an additional $1 million a year in costs for the rental of the employee parking lot at the Pepco site at Buzzards Point, which apparently the DC government has been paying but will become Metro's responsibility starting in 2008. And, if the sale of the site were to go forward without relocating the buses, Metro would have to pay a "leaseback" cost to the new owners, which Graham indicated he would adamantly oppose.
After initially voting not to support the recommendation to relocate the buses, the committee reconsidered that vote and decided to forward the relocation proposal to the full board at its Sept. 27 meeting without a committee recommendation, when "hopefully we'll have more information," according to one board member.
You can listen to the discussion, and look at the proposal. And mark your calendars for the 27th. (That's the same day that the WMATA Finance Committee will be meeting in a special session before the board meeting to further discuss the fare increases that has everyone all roiled, so who knows the board will actually meet that day.)

 

Within the past few days Monument Realty has added a couple of new renderings to its Half Street web site (which it's now moved to halfstreet.com from halfstreetdc.com). The new featured view is looking south down Half Street from M Street, toward the ballpark, showing the east entrance to the Navy Yard Metro station at left, on the first floor of their 55 M Street office building. This image also gives the first hint of what they might have planned for the west side of the street, if they did indeed win the bidding for the Southeastern Bus Garage site on the southwest corner of Half and M--I don't see any indication of the garage being preserved. Also, under the "Work" icon, there's a new image of 55 M, which appears to indicate that they've dispensed with the large LED screens they had originally planned to use to shield the Metro entrance from the street, and are now planning a more standard glass-enclosed entrance. I've added both of these images to my Monument Half Street project page; I should also note (h/t to reader Tom) that banners advertising the project have now been hung on the fences along Half and M.

 

My Ballpark and Beyond column in today's District Extra covers the new historic streetscape photos in DDOT's nascent online archive (the print version of the column displays the 1957 South Capitol Street photo with a current one taken from the same location, as I've done on my South Capitol Street page) and the various upcoming council meetings covering Near Southeast-related issues such as Canal Park and the MPD move/not-move to 225 Virginia Avenue.

 

On September 29, the WalkingTown DC Fall Edition, presented by Cultural Tourism DC, will offer 45 free walking tours in neighborhoods all across the city, and one of them is in Near Southeast. (Pardon me, "Capitol Riverfront." Bah.) Here's the description: "Between the Anacostia River and the US Capitol Building, alongside construction of the Nationals' ballpark, a new cityscape is emerging based on a unique nautical history: the Capitol Riverfront. Explore the industrial buildings of the Yards where the Navy once produced ships' instruments and ammunition. Move on to the Washington Canal and the new environmentally sustainable Canal Park, then visit the historic Pump Station that previously supplied power to the Capitol. End the tour with a boat ride along the river." It will be led by Michael Stevens, executive director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District. The tour starts at 10:30 am at the Navy Yard Metro station entrance at New Jersey and M. There's also tours of Poplar Point, the Southwest Waterfront, Barracks Row, Capitol Hill, etc. etc.; the list of tours is on the WalkingTown DC web site, and here's a press release with additional information.
 

On Tuesday night, ANC 6B gave its support for a planned 12-unit five-story condo project to be built on the vacant lot at 1006 7th Street (between K and L, across from the Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters). All the units will be two bedroom/two bath, and there will be six parking spaces on the site as well. The ground floor has about 650 sq ft of commercial space, though it's not yet decided whether it will be retail or office space. The architect was kind enough to pass along the very early technical drawings, which I've now posted. There's still a lot of bureaucracy for this project to wade through, including its Historic Preservation Review Board hearing on Sept. 27, as well as the vaunted DC building permit process. But they hope to break ground quickly after all the ducks have been put in a row.
(You can see the change that has already come to the rowhouses next to the lot if you scroll a bit down my 8th Street page.)

More posts: ANC News, square 906
 

For you Ward 6 residents, council member Tommy Wells has put out a newsletter detailing some of the highlights of his first months in office. To keep up with all the news from Tommy Land, you can also read his blog.
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The Post's Courtland Milloy joins the legions of area residents thinking "Wouldn't it be nice to get to the stadium by water taxi?" As I've written in the past, various AWC-related documents have mentioned the desire to build a water taxi or ferry pier at the foot of First Street, at what will be Diamond Teague Park (next to the old Capitol Pumphouse), but no word has been made public on the current status of these plans.

 

If you're looking for the big project directory on the home page, I've moved it to make it both more and less prominent at the same time--you'll now see the tabs for Residential, Office, Recreation/Retail/Hotel, and Infrastructure right near the top of the page, just above the map of Near Southeast. Click the tabs, and the lists of completed, under construction, and in-the-pipeline projects will appear. I thought it was better to have these displayed with the map, rather than further down the page, since it's just a different way of displaying the information that's on the map.
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The agendas for Thursday's various WMATA committee meetings are now posted, and the sole item on the Planning, Development, and Real Estate agenda is the requested approval of a plan to reassign the 106 buses currently serviced at the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M to the various other WMATA garages around the area, at a cost of $9.5 million over the next few years. (It is anticipated that the new garage at DC Village will open in late 2010.) If the board does not approve the reassignment plan, the alternate plan would be to create a temporary facility or to remain at Half and M, options that would cost anywhere from $16 million to $31 million through 2010; the WMATA staff recommendation is to reassign the buses. The agenda packet gives much more background.
After this, the committee will go into executive session to discuss the sale of the Half and M garage; the bids were supposed to have been unsealed on Aug. 28 but no details have leaked out as of yet. And it's possible that we may have to wait until the Sept. 27 meeting of the full WMATA board to find out who won the bidding. (Or even later than that--some of the documents related to this Thursday's meeting indicate that the full board may not be moving on the approval of the garage sale until December.)
 

Last night a request to close the alley that runs between I and K streets parallel to Half and First on Square 696 was on the ANC 6D agenda. But first there was three-and-a-half hours of discussion and debate on various Southwest issues, including the Randall School, Waterside Mall, the Nassif Building, and more--at least, I think that's what they were talking about, because the acoustics at St. Augustine's Church are so horrendous that everyone could have been describing their summer vacations for all I know.
Finally, at about 10:30, representatives of DRI Development and architect HOK gave a brief summary of their plans for the block, which are still very much in the early stages, but were described as "something other than your standard box." The plans show three office buildings (not four, as we've heard up to now) all with ground-floor retail, connected by a "galleria"-type lobby in the center. There would also be an 8,000-sq-ft public plaza opening up to K Street, to give open space to not only the office workers but also the residents of the four buildings surrounding Square 696.
As part of the alley closing request, DRI and its development partner Jamestown Properties are offering a $100,000 payment to the Near Southeast/Southwest community fund, a promise that the building will be LEED certified (a vegetated roof is part of the plans), and the 8,000-sq-ft open space of the plaza to replace the 8,000-sq-ft of "public space" being lost by the alley closing.
The ANC commissioners were quite pleased with what they heard, congratulating the developers on working with the commission on the benefits package before presenting their alley closing request. Commissioner McBee suggested that perhaps some public art could be included at the plaza, as well as public wifi. The final vote was 6-1 in favor of the project, with only Commissioner Skolnik opposing.
DRI was kind enough to pass along the preliminary site plan, which I've added to my Square 696 page. The alley closing request will now wind its way through the city council.
 

I've updated my Upcoming Events Calendar with the lineup of activities for September at the Navy Yard's Naval Historical Center.
More posts: Navy Yard
 

The District Department of Transporation recently added 25 more images to its online Historical Photo Archives from locations throughout the city, including two dandy Near Southeast shots. One is from 1949, showing M Street at about 10th Street, looking east (before the 11th Street Bridge flyovers were built). The other is of South Capitol Street, just south of N, looking south toward what was at that point the new Douglass Bridge, circa 1957. (Amazingly, it was taken from almost the exact same spot that I've been using for my South-Cap-south-of-N photos since 2005--it looks a little different now.) There's a couple buildings in the 1957 photo that are still in existence today, although one of them will be demolished soon to make way for 1325 South Capitol Street. But I'm surprised to see that the U-Haul building at P Street was once a Lansburgh's department store (you can click on the photos on the DDOT site for high-res versions, which allow you to see the detail of the buildings much better).
Needless to say, I've added these shots to my Near Southeast Historic Photos page (in chronological order); hopefully DDOT will post some more gems as time goes on.
 

My attention to detail appears to be suffering a deficit lately, because while I've shot and posted plenty of photos of the 100 M Street site over the past few weeks, many of which included the spiffy artwork above the pedestrian walkway, I neglected to actually read the spiffy artwork above the pedestrian walkway. Displayed there for all (but me) to see is a new URL for the project, 100mse.com. It's not terribly exciting, just one page that then links to developer Opus East and to leasing agent CB Richard Ellis, but I was still remiss in not mentioning it sooner. Perhaps it's time for that new glasses prescription....
More posts: 100 M, Square 743N
 

Here's the weekly Ballpark Update from the Post--note the date for the installation of the turf. "Several projects are moving quickly at the new Nationals' ballpark. Large plastic piping for drainage under the playing surface is being laid and connected, with very fine gravel spread to cover the piping and provide the base for the natural grass -- which is supposed to be installed on or around Nov. 1. Special 'foul ball-resistant' panels are being installed in the press box. Concrete field walls down the third base line are being installed. Most of the concrete where the seats behind home plate will sit has been poured, and there is even some painting and drywall work under way in places such as the locker rooms."
More posts: Nationals Park
 

With the August recess over, the city council is swinging back into action, and there's a number of Near Southeast-related hearings scheduled over the next few weeks. The most interesting one is a Committee on Economic Development public oversight hearing on "Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Transition of Projects on the Southwest Waterfront, Hill East, Poplar Point, Canal Park, and Kingman Island", scheduled for Oct. 1 at noon. The progress of Canal Park (or lack thereof) continues to be of great interest to Near Southeast residents, and perhaps by the time of this hearing there will be some movement on getting the school buses relocated. There's rumors afoot that the buses could be moved to a temporary lot once a long-term home is secured--and apparently there may soon be a contract before the city council approving a new permanent lot in Prince George's County.
Other council hearings over the next few weeks that touch on Near Southeast issues include a Sept. 26 Committee on Finance and Revenue public hearing on B17-0292, "Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg Public Improvements Revenue Bonds Approval Amendment Act of 2007" and a Sept. 24 Commitee on Economic Development public hearing on B17-0340, "National Capital Revitalization Corporation and Anacostia Waterfront Corporation Clarification Act of 2007".
There's also a Sept. 20 Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary public oversight roundtable on "Capital Projects and Space Needs for Public Safety Agencies," which I'm guessing may touch on the plans for a new home for the Metropolitan Police Department and whether the move to the old Post Plant at 225 Virginia Ave. is indeed called off--you may recall that one day after the Office of Property Management said that the move was canceled, the Post reported that that the mayor was saying he had made no decision one way or the other.
See my Upcoming Events Calendar for times and locations. Some of these may be available on DC Cable 13 and live webcast.
(Also, as an aside, the ANC 6D agenda for Monday night's meeting is now online.)

 

Having decided that overhead views of Near Southeast from the ballpark and the Southeast Freeway over the past few days weren't enough, I've also now added a bunch of updated overheads from a vantage point at the Courtyard by Marriott, focusing on the many construction projects west of New Jersey Avenue. You can browse these new photos, or see the ones displayed with previous shots from the same location (scroll down a bit) to watch the changes since March of last year. (Hint: old buildings, followed by empty lots where old buildings used to be, followed by holes in the ground, followed by new buildings going up.)

 

Southwest is of course a bit off my beaten path, but it's quiet here in Near Southeast today, so I'll pass these tidbits along.
* There will be a community forum on the plans for the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, presented by Hoffman-Struever Waterfront LLC and the District of Columbia, on Wednesday, Sept. 19 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm at Southeastern University, 501 I Street SW.
* Word was sent out earlier this week that the old Waterside Mall building at 4th and M streets, SW, will close as of Sept. 8, now that both CVS and Bank of America have moved to trailers out front. For more about the schedule of demolition and construction, read this entry at Tommy Wells's blog.
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ANC 6D (covering Southwest and Near Southeast) will have its monthly meeting on Sept. 10, and the draft agenda (now posted online) includes a request to support the closing of the alley that bisects Square 696 (bounded by Half, I, K, and First) as a first step in DRI Development's plans to redevelop the entire block. As I posted here, DRI and development partner Jamestown Properties are planning a four-building office and retail project, to be constructed in four phases, starting in 2008 and ending in 2012 or later.
Non-Near Southeast agenda items include a discussion of the plans for the old Randall School at Half and I, an update on the plans for the Nassif building where the US Department of Transportation used to live, and a discussion of the apparent resolution between community members and the developers of the old Waterside Mall of the massing of the building facades facing M Street SW. The meeting is at St. Augustine's Church, 6th and M streets, SW, at 7 pm.

 

Following up on the official press release sent out yesterday, the Examiner writes about concession company Centerplate being named to handle the food at the new Nationals ballpark. (This was reported by the Post last week and WBJ a few days before that.)

More posts: Nationals Park
 

After getting all those purty stadium interior photos and shots of the surrounding skyline on Saturday, I ventured out Sunday morning to do my usual rounds, and so have posted some updated pictures of 100 M, 70/100 I, and Onyx, along with new shots from the Southeast Freeway showing how much that view is changing (again) as these projects progress. (Here's all the images from yesterday on one page, if you prefer.)
But when I started down First Street south of N to get my usual shots of the stadium's exterior, I was thwarted by guards informing me that access along First (and, by proxy, Potomac Avenue) is now restricted to construction vehicles and workers only. I protested somewhat vigorously--after all, there are still fences around the stadium on that side, and the signs say "Local Traffic Only" and not "Road Closed"--but I lost.
I'll still manage to get photos of the ballpark's south and east side eventually, and really at this point the eye-catching part of the construction on those sides is slowing, so a more leisurely schedule of updates of those pictures will not be catastrophic. (Plus I can always set up my zoom lens at Poplar Point and the Douglass Bridge. That'll show 'em!)
I did take this roadblock as an opportunity to rejigger my Stadium Exterior Construction Gallery page a bit, breaking up the old let's-walk-around-the-perimeter format by bringing the showier shots from all vantage points to the top. You'll see a few new photos from along N Street taken yesterday, but I was too cranky from my run-in with The Man to get new shots from South Capitol. Grrrr.
 

I got a stem-to-stern tour of the ballpark yesterday, and the glorious weather made from some pretty striking photos. So I've done a complete update of my Stadium Interior Construction Gallery, with views from the press box, the two ramp/viewing platforms, and lots of other locations around the ballpark. I also created some stitched-together collages of a few views, and while the small versions are on the gallery page, I've also posted somewhat larger versions on a Stadium Panoramas page, in case you want to inspect the photos more closely. Even if you're not all that interested in the stadium, I suggest taking a look at these two pages, because you'll see some pretty neat shots that show the views that stadium goers will have of the entire city from the ballpark's various vantage points.
UPDATE: In fact, I liked the skyline views so much I picked a bunch of additional ones and added them to my Overhead Photo Browser. Check it out for views of the river, the ever-changing Near Southeast skyline, Southwest, and the new South Capitol Street.
More posts: Nationals Park
 
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