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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: September 2008
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Before the storm clouds arrived yesterday (literally and figuratively), I got out and took an incomplete smattering of pictures along Second, New Jersey, First, Cushing, and Half. (Use those links to see all the before-and-nows of these latest shots.) These new photos are mainly of 909 New Jersey, Velocity, 55 M, the empty skyline where 1015 Half is just about to reach ground level, and the final "after" photos from the demolition of the Merritt Cab building at First and K on Square 696. The sun disappeared before I could get over to Capitol Quarter, so new photos from there will have to wait a few days, and since the afternoon remained cloudy (and busy), I didn't take an afternoon batch (i.e., no photos looking east).
And, if you haven't wandered through them for a while, the gallery of my favorite before-and-afters is a striking walk through the past few years, as the memories of the old Near Southeast start to get just a wee bit hazy.
 

The cover story of this week's Washington Business Journal (online for subscribers only) asks: "With Wall Street imploding, regional banks running for shelter and life insurance companies pulling up the ladders, if 1000 Connecticut couldn't get construction financing before the financial storm took on epic proportions, who can get it now?" It also quotes an expert as saying: "For any speculative project, both inside and outside the city -- even in core locations downtown -- it's basically impossible."
The article mentions two of Near Southeast's spec projects in the pipeline:
* "Others, like the William C. Smith Cos. project near Nationals Ballpark at 250 M St. SE, don't intend to pursue financing or break ground until they have a signed-and-sealed tenant."
* "James 'Jad' Donohoe IV, whose company plans a 200,000-square-foot office building at 1111 New Jersey Ave. SE, said he has no choice but to broaden his financing net to include nontraditional sources of funding, such as syndication arrangements with multiple banks, sovereign wealth funds and equity from hotels that will be part of the development. " 'We're still in the early stages now, but we've already been searching those things out for this and for other projects we have out there,' he said."
I'd also note that another office spec project in the neighborhood, DRI/Transwestern's Plaza on K on the northwest corner of First and K, had previously mentioned a Fall 2008 start date for its first phase, but there have been no recent announcements and no building permits filed.
And, there's also three spec office buildings currently under construction--55 M, 100 M, and 1015 Half, with only 100 M having so far announced any tenants (Parsons is expected to occupy 30 percent of the building, in early 2009). But, according to WBJ, "industry experts say they are not too worried about the future of the 36 local buildings that are under construction but not under contract to a tenant."
Will the bailout deal change any of this? [insert "We shall see...." comment here.]
 

A nice post by a Computer World blogger makes mention of my use of the DC government's RSS feeds for Near Southeast crime reports, permits, service requests, and other items. If you mostly read the site by RSS, or don't scroll down the home page very often, you might be missing these nuggets (and the archives that go back to 2006 or even earlier). Alas, right now both the public space permits and building permits feeds are on hiatus, depriving me of my morning adrenaline rush to see if anything new has come through the pipeline, but I keep being assured they'll be back online soon. In the meantime, don't forget to check the data out every so often.
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Now winding its way through the DC regulatory process is a raze permit for the former WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage, at 17 M Street (directly across from the west entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station and one block north of Nationals Park). The garage was purchased last month by Akridge, which has indicated that it is planning a 700,000-sq-ft mixed-use project on the site, perhaps getting underway in 2010. The permit request is currently under review by the city's Historic Preservation Office; ANC 6D would also have been notified.
 

When last we left the plot of land on the southeast corner of Eighth Street and Virginia Avenue, we had learned that the owners (known as "801 Virginia Avenue LLC") had landed on the city's tax sale list, a few months after they put the site up for sale, with their plans for "The Admiral" condo-building-with-ground-floor-retail appearing to have collapsed. There's no indication in the land records that the lot has sold, and nothing on the Office of Tax Revenue web site to indicate what might have happened with the tax sale, but now appearing on the agenda for the Nov. 25 meeting of the city's Board of Zoning Adjustment is an application by "801 Virginia Ave LLC by Phillips Ocilla Davis Development LLC" for variances "to allow the construction of a new commercial office building with ground floor retail [...] at premises 801 Virginia Avenue, S.E." Hmmmm.....
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More posts: 801va, 8th Street, zoning
 

Sep 25, 2008 1:02 PM
From the Post's Chico Harlan, on his Nationals Journal blog: "Today, the Washington Nationals play their final home game of the season; it's fan appreciation night. In conjunction, the franchise will likely clinch an undesired distinction, finishing with the poorest cumulative attendance for any team in the first year of a new ballpark in the post-Camden Yards era. Going into tonight's game, the Nationals have drawn 2,320,400 into Nationals Park. Unless at least 34,859 come out to the ballpark tonight -- and entering yesterday, they were averaging 29,077 per game, 20th in baseball -- they will fall shy of the 2003 Cincinnati Reds, who inaugurated their ballpark with 2,355,259. Since 1992, when Oriole Park at Camden Yards opened -- redefining both the design and potential of new ballparks -- 17 teams have started the season in new venues." Obligatory quote from Stan: "I think given where our record is, I've been thrilled with our attendance."
But, will there be a game played tonight? It's looking to be wet and windy. This gray sky is giving me nightmarish flashbacks to the damp and cold weather on Opening Night, which I'm not sure I've ever warmed up from.
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Sep 24, 2008 3:37 PM
* The Congress for the New Urbanism has named the 11th Street Bridges (along with the Southeast Freeway) to its Freeways Without Futures list, recognizing the top 10 locations in the U.S. "where the opportunity is greatest to stimulate valuable revitalization by replacing aging urban highways with boulevards and other cost-saving urban alternatives." It mentions the opposition of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society to the plans to reconstruct the 11th Street Bridges, scheduled to start next year.
* A few folks wrote in to mention that there's a new sign up advertising the planned office building at 1111 New Jersey. Despite some building permits recently in the pipeline, developer Donohoe told me a few weeks ago that no announcement of a groundbreaking is imminent.
* I seem to always manage to be out of town during WalkingTown DC, and so missed last weekend's jaunt around the "Capitol Riverfront." Blogger fourthandeye from The Triangle was there, however, and gives a nice overview via eyes that don't look at these streets every day.
* The weather forecast does not look good for Thursday night's final home game of the season at Nationals Park.
 

Sep 23, 2008 1:55 PM
From the Nats: "The Washington Nationals will host the Oktoberfest End-of-Season Party Presented by Hard Times Cafe and Budweiser American Ale on Thursday, September 25, prior to the final home game of the 2008 season. The party will take place on the Rooftop Party Deck, located on top of Nationals Park Garage B, from 5:00pm - 7:00pm. Tickets for the game and event may be purchased for $25 at nationals.com/Oktoberfest and include a Scoreboard Pavilion seat (Sections 240 - 243, normally $27) and admission to the event. Fans may enjoy complimentary food and drinks provided by Hard Times Cafe and Anheuser-Busch, music and dancing."
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Sep 22, 2008 1:47 PM
As I wrote a few days back, there are apparently plans to add a DC Circulator bus route in spring 2009 that would run between Union Station, the new US Capitol Vistors' Center (if it ever actually opens), and the Navy Yard station entrance at New Jersey and M (two blocks from Nationals Park). Since it would run on a similar route to Metro's N22 bus, Metro would then discontinue the N22, a move which requires a public hearing. So, on the agenda for this Thursday's WMATA board meeting is an item to both authorize the scheduling of the public meeting and also to amend Metro's FY09 budget to extend through March 2009 the current N22 service, which was expanded to evenings and weekends just before Opening Day as a way to move people to and from the ballpark. Here is more information detailing the agenda item.
One thing the board will not be voting on this week is the selection of a developer for the Navy Yard station's chiller plant site on the southwest corner of Half and L. Back in July there were discussions by WMATA's Planning, Development and Real Estate Committee in executive session about this selection, but nothing has been announced publicly and no items on the chiller site are on any of Thursday's agendas. Waaah.
 

Sep 22, 2008 11:02 AM
Today's Post has a piece that gives more details on how Monument Realty has been tied to Lehman Brothers over the years, and how that might impact Monument's Half Street project: "In addition to an equity stake in Monument's Half Street project with San Francisco-based MacFarlane Partners, Lehman holds a $12 million secondary loan and Chicago-based Corus Bank holds the $72 million construction loan on the first phase of that development, a nine-story office building rising above the Navy Yard Metro stop. The rest of the project has not secured outside financing. [...] Monument began searching for another investor to buy out Lehman's positions soon after the credit markets began to tighten. Some bids were presented earlier this year, two sources familiar with the negotiations said, but Lehman rejected them as too low."
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More posts: Monument/Half St.
 

Sep 21, 2008 8:20 PM
(I've been out of town for the past week, so will be trying to catch up over the next few days.) From Friday's WBJ (subscribers only): "A bill before the D.C. Council would rename a portion of South Capitol Street SE as 'Taxation Without Representation Street.' [...] It's unclear what portion would be renamed. Our guess: The stretch near Nationals Park, ensuring plenty of out-of-towners are introduced to D.C.'s fight for a vote in Congress." The bill, B17-0909, was introduced back in July, but is not yet available online, so no more details than this (including whether WBJ's guess as to the potential location is accurate) are available for now.
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Sep 18, 2008 11:22 PM
Two pieces in Friday's Post of interest to Near Southeast fans: "Nationals Park Revenue Falls Short of the Mark," detailing how tax revenue for the first year at the ballpark is expected to be about $2.6 million short of the $13.5 million originally projected, and a sidebar piece, "Though Developers Built It, The Tenants Did Not Come," about the empty buildings in the neighborhood, using Lerner's 20 M Street as a jumping off point: "In many ways, the Lerner building -- owned by the Bethesda real estate family that also owns the Nationals baseball team -- is symbolic of the emerging district around the ballpark. Sleek new buildings with offices, condos, apartments and retail space have popped up all over. But many remain empty, seeking tenants in a sluggish economy."
The first piece, on the taxes, also talks about the ongoing dispute over whether the stadium was "substanially complete" by Opening Day, and that the Nationals are still withholding their $3.5 million rent payment. On the other hand, the article says that the city has enough money to cover the debt service on the stadium financing because the special ballpark tax on city businesses is bringing in more revenue than expected.
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More posts: Retail, Nationals Park
 

Sep 18, 2008 12:24 PM
A few readers have written in this morning noting some action on the 1345 South Capitol Street lot, across from the ballpark at South Capitol and O. This is where Camden Development has plans for an apartment building, which originally was supposed to start construction early in 2008 but which has been "on hold." Apparently today's work is some demolition of the few structures still on the site; I checked with Camden earlier this week on the status of the project, and was told that it's still up in the air but that they think they'll start construction before the end of the year. [Insert standard "We shall see...." disclaimer here.] See my project page for renderings and additional details (as well as photos of what was on the lot before the first batch of demolition at the beginning of the year). There's also some additional overhead photos of the lot as seen from the ballpark, if you feel like having an additional vantage point.
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Sep 17, 2008 4:59 PM
From EYA: "Capitol Quarter will accept contracts on our next 5 market rate homes on Sunday, September 21, 2008 at 11:00 a.m." (I'm on my cell, so can't link right now. Go to eya.com for details.) UPDATE: Okay, I'm back. The five homes are being offered in the $630,000 - $645,000 range. Here's my Capitol Quarter page, just because I can't ever pass up an opportunity to link to it.
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 

Sep 17, 2008 1:36 AM
I think I Twittered a few days back about a couple of Monument Realty-requested building permits recently approved by the city for construction of a three-story underground garage in the 1200 block of Half Street. I wasn't sure whether this was just Monument getting its bureaucratic ducks in a row, or if it's an indication of movement on the south end of Monument's Half Street project, where a hotel and 340 units of residential are slated to be built just past the getting-close-to-completed 55 M office building.
Then, a few correspondents wrote in today to mention seeing the delivery of a construction trailer nearby to the site, along with a new "Bovis Lend Lease" sign hung on the fence at Half and N. Does this mean construction is about to commence? I've sent a message to Monument, but haven't heard back yet. In the meantime, there's always the Half Street Cam to keep an eye on possible action in that big hole in the ground.
A few folks have also written in about today's WBJ piece on the impact of Lehman Brothers's demise on various projects in the DC area, which mentions that Lehman holds an interest in Monument's Half Street project. This starts to get way above my pay grade, but there are some "Certificate of Satisfaction" land records from the mid-August where Monument appears to have paid off two "purchase money deed of trusts" held by Lehman totaling a little more than $23 million for lots on the east side of Half Street between M and N. (It then did the same a few weeks later for its property on the northwest corner of Half and N, which it then sold to Akridge.) So, perhaps Monument has disentangled itself from Lehman on these properties? (Like I said, this is totally out of my comfort zone, so if anyone wants to explain further or correct me, please drop me a line.)
As always, we shall see....
UPDATED, 9/17: Sometimes, the tea leaves aren't quite saying what they seem to be. Monument tells me that while they are "hoping" to begin the hotel/residential project by the end of the year, the movement seen at Half and N over the past few days is for work related to the office building and other improvements (not defined) on Half Street (perhaps the public space stuff I've been writing about).
 

Sep 15, 2008 1:32 PM
Hard to believe that the first season at Nationals Park is almost over--Opening Night feels like it was about a month ago. And today the Nationals have released the schedule of promotions for these last 10 games, where they will hand out more than 130,000 items to celebrate the end of this inaugural season. There's too many giveaways and events for me to try to summarize here (and I'm short on time), so take a gander at the press release if you want more details. (UPDATED to fix stupidly incorrect link.)
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Sep 15, 2008 11:55 AM
* Tonight is ANC 6D's monthly meeting. Alas, no agenda has been released yet, so I can't tell you what might be happening. (And I can't go, so I won't be able to tell you what happened.)
* We'll have to wait a little longer to find out what exactly was meant by that "146 fountains" part of the public space improvement application by Monument for 1200 Half Street (aka 55 M) that I posted a few weeks back--they've asked for a postponement and are no longer on the Sept. 25 Public Space Committee agenda. The draft agenda had said: "Application by M.R./BR Residential #1A, LLC for installing various fixtures in public space ( 23-benches, 9 trash containers, 32 lights, 146 fountains, 8 bollards, 18 bike rack all located around Half Street in public space."
 

Sep 15, 2008 2:33 AM
I'm sorry I had to miss Saturday's Opera in the Outfield simulcast of the Washington Opera's premiere of La Traviata, which The Post says drew 15,000 people to Nationals Park. Even Placido Domingo popped across town from the Kennedy Center to check it out: " 'It's phenomenal,' he says backstage before he jumps into a limousine and heads back to the Opera House. 'The sound is phenomenal. You see kids playing in the outfield. That is beautiful. We hope to do more productions like this. But this is special. It's opening night.' "
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Sep 12, 2008 8:52 PM
A reminder that tomorrow (Saturday) is the "Opera in the Outfield" event at Nationals Park, a free simulcast on the HD scoreboard of the Washington Opera's performance of La Traviata. Gates open at 5:30, performance begins at 7. Here's what the web site says about various rules and restrictions: "Nationals Park Concessions will be open for the simulcast. No alcoholic beverages may be brought into Nationals Park. No bags larger than 16 inches x 16 inches x 8 inches will be allowed into the ballpark. All bags are subject to inspection. Guests are prohibited from bringing hard containers into Nationals Park. Guests who plan to sit in the outfield may bring blankets and/or chairs. Click here for a complete list of prohibited items in Nationals Park." (Here's the Post and the WashTimes on the event.)
And, if you prefer your ballpark events to be socially conscious, Thursday night's game with the Mets is Voter Registration Night, according to The Post: "Attendees can register to vote while enjoying pregame and postgame events, including live music and activities. Voter information will be provided by Rock the Vote and the Federal Voting Assistance Program."
Another upcoming ballpark "event", according to the Wall Street Journal, is a protest outside the stadium scheduled for Monday by a group called StrikeOutExxon.org", which is targeting Exxon's corporate sponsorship of the eco-friendly ballpark. The group, says WSJ, "also wants the Nationals' owners to guarantee the park will never take on that corporate moniker and become 'ExxonMobil Stadium.'
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Sep 12, 2008 2:51 PM
This is one of those real estate-section puff pieces, not a straight news story, but it's a quiet Friday so I'll link to the WashTimes's "New in DC: Batter, and Buyers, Up,"which gives an overview of Capitol Quarter. If you're looking for a summary of what's there, it runs through all the basics. For photos and lots more information, my Capitol Quarter page has plenty to keep you occupied.
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 

Sep 11, 2008 10:11 AM
Did anyone see some people traipsing around the old Post Plant this morning? There apparently was a site visit was scheduled at 9:30 am as part of the city's move to unload its sublease of the building. The Office of Property Management now has a page devoted to 225 Virginia, with some additional overview documents and rough sketches of how the building could be re-adapted. It also mentions that the original Sept. 26 deadline for responses to the Request for Expressions of Interest is going to be extended, by not less than a week. UPDATE: The deadline is now set for October 3.
For those who haven't been following along, in late 2006 the city signed a sublease for the building with the intent of moving many functions of the police department there. But in the summer of 2007 OPM decided not to go forward with the move, leaving the building empty and the city paying over $500,000 a month in rent. They are looking for some developer to completely assume the sublease, that also contains an option to buy the building outright.
 

Sep 10, 2008 1:20 PM
Will update with more later today, but did want to let everyone know that JDLand.com won the Citizen Media award at today's 2008 Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism. Big big thanks to them for the recognition.
UPDATE: Here's the press release, and the section of most interest: "Winning a $2,000 Citizen Media Award is the ambitious JDLand.com, Jacqueline Dupree's digital chronicle of redevelopment, construction and community concerns in Washington, D.C.'s rapidly changing Southeast/ Ballpark district. Using text, Twitter, interactive maps, and before-and-now photos, the site is 'an incredible wealth of information, especially impressive for a one-person effort,' the judges said." (Winning the $10,000 first prize was Wired.com's WikiScanner, while PolitiFact.com and Ushahidi.com both won $2,000 Special Distinction awards.)
There's a lot of people who have been very generous in giving me their time and information over the past five-plus years--and equally important are the folks who have stumbled into this nook of the web and allowed me to feed off their enthusiasm for the information and the photos. Thanks to all of you! This is about the highest honor a little site like this can ever reasonably expect to receive, and so I'm just beyond thrilled.
Fun factoid: Ron Paul, Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney, and Ralph Nader were holding a press conference in the ballroom next door to the Knight-Batten awards (at the National Press Club), and just before the Knight shindig got underway, Ron Paul stuck his head in for a moment to see what was going on. Presidential candidate meets innovative journalism.....!
UPDATE 2: And here's my press release, such as it is.
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More posts: JDLand stuff
 

Sep 9, 2008 11:06 PM
In the agenda for Thursday's meeting of Metro's Finance, Administration, and Oversight Committee, there's a tantalizing sentence in a request to extend the special evening-and-weekend N22 (Union Station to Navy Yard via Eastern Market) Metrobus route service until March of 2009:
"The District of Columbia has advised WMATA of its intent to transfer the entire Route N22 as well as non-regional Route 98 (Adams Morgan-U Street link) to the DC Circulator effective March 29, 2009."
In poking around the DC Department of Transportation web site, I found this newsletter on the joint DDOT/WMATA Neighborhood Circulation Study that's now underway, and the newsletter has this to say: "DDOT is currently developing plans for future expansion of DC Circulator routes in 2008 to serve Union Station-the new Capitol Visitors Center and the new Nationals Baseball stadium. Another route in consideration would connect the Woodley Park/Adams Morgan/U Street/Corridor." (I'm guessing they mean 2009.) None of the four scheduled public meetings are in Ward 6, so perhaps there will be more sessions at a later date that will be more tailored to Ward 6 concerns. And WMATA will have to have its own public hearings on the discontinuation of the N22.
As always, we shall see, but I imagine just the prospect of a Circulator bus running to and from the Navy Yard station will generate some excitement.
 

Sep 9, 2008 5:52 PM
Tim Lemke of the WashTimes, writes on his Sports Biz blog about how the organizers of the college bowl game (now called the Washington DC Bowl, not the Congressional Bowl) were eyeing Nationals Park from the beginning, with the support of the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission, but: "In essence, it came down to whether the Nationals were willing to hold the bowl game inside the stadium, and my sources tell me that the team simply didn't want the game there, or at the very least was not particularly receptive to the idea." So tomorrow there's a press conference where they'll announce all the particulars. And, since it won't be at the baseball stadium, I get to stop paying attention. (Yay!)
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Sep 9, 2008 1:09 PM
At last night's Zoning Commission monthly public meeting, the DC Housing Authority made a presentation on the latest request for changes to the approved Planned Unit Development at Capper/Carrollsburg. I wrote a long explanatory entry about this request and the plans for multi-unit residential buildings at Capper back in July, and so I'm just going to plagiarize myself here:
"There are five new apartment buildings slated to be built, three of which along the east side of Canal Park where the temporary parking lots are, and another at New Jersey and K on the trash transfer site. And there is a new plan for a fifth apartment building, on L Street across from the Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (B.E.Q), on the northern portion of the old Capper Seniors footprint.
"Under the original Capper plans, there was to be a strip of 61 townhouses built on this spot, but the DC Housing Authority has recognized that these homes would be dwarfed by the B.E.Q. to the north and the two planned office buildings directly behind them at 600 M Street. So DCHA has now filed a request with the Zoning Commission to allow an expansion in the total number of housing units allowed at Capper to 1,747, which would allow the construction of a four-story 189-unit apartment building (with a massing very similar to the B.E.Q.) on this stretch of L Street known as Square 882N. This Zoning Commission request is also looking to expand the number of units in the planned apartment building on the south side of L Street between Second and Third (let's call it Square 769N) to 171 units, as a result of its block-mate 250 M Street having recently gotten approvals to be built higher than originally requested."
As for last night's Zoning Commission presentation, there was a feeling apparently that it wasn't clear enough, so DCHA will be returning in early October with additional details.
 

Sep 9, 2008 12:04 PM
The folks at the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District have asked me to point interested readers to an online "perception survey" they've currently got underway. From the intro page: "Your answers are an important way to measure the effectiveness of services, progress made, and gauge community priorities as further programs are being planned."
 

Sep 8, 2008 11:11 PM
From the MPD's First District mailing list comes the news that on Sunday (Sept. 7) at 3:30 am a man was shot at the bus stop at 10th and M streets, SE. From 1D Commander David Kamperin: "We have no motive or suspects at this time. The victim is currently listed as critical in a local hospital. Anyone with information should contact the 1D Detectives Office."
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More posts: M Street, square 976
 

Sep 8, 2008 3:09 PM
Friday was the deadline for interested parties to file petitions to run for Advisory Neighborhood Commission seats, and, according to this list from the DC Board of Elections, longtime ANC 6D07 commissioner Bob Siegel is being challenged by Capitol Hill Tower resident Geoffrey Kreiss. ANC races will be on the Nov. 4 general election ballot, and if you haven't registered to vote for the general election, you have until October 6. The boundaries of 6D07 are pretty much all of Near Southeast between South Capitol and 11th Street, except for the portions north of M Street from Seventh Street east.
And, speaking of voting, tomorrow (Sept. 9) is primary day for DC council and congressional races. The Ward 6 seat is not on the slate this year, but at-large races are. Here's the primary's Voters Guide.
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Sep 8, 2008 9:47 AM
According to this Friday piece from the WBJ about EagleBank being in negotiations to be a sponsor for the Congressional Bowl college football game scheduled for Dec. 20, the mini bombshell is dropped that the game is now going to be played at RFK and not Nationals Park. The DC Sports and Entertainment Commission is having a press conference on Wednesday about the game, so we should hear more about it then (there's nothing about the Bowl at all on the DCSEC web site). It was announced back in July that this game, between the Naval Academy and the 9th-best ACC team, would be at the new baseball stadium.
(PS: Hey, DCist, a little credit might be nice.)
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Sep 8, 2008 8:21 AM
For the two or three of you who might be interested.... On Wednesday morning (Sept. 10) at the National Press Club is the symposium for the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Online Journalism, where JDLand.com is one of the four finalists up for a $10,000 grand prize. (There are also two $2,000 Special Distinction awards and a $2,000 Citizen's Media award. Everyone's a winner!) The finalists and honorable mentions will be presenting their sites, and then the prizes will be awarded. (But it's not done by Applause-o-Meter, so alas your attendance won't put me over the top.) The symposium is free, with a request for advance registration, so if you're looking for an excuse to escape your normal Wednesday morning for a little while, drop on by.
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More posts: JDLand stuff
 

Sep 7, 2008 5:42 PM
Sunny, cloudless day? You knew there was no way I could pass it up. (Tivo has Nadal-Murray waiting for me.) So enjoy the new Capitol Quarter photos showing third floors now framed on the first batch of houses at Fourth and L. Catch the highlights on the project page, or the whole gamut in the Expanded Archive.
(And, Go Fed!)
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More posts: Capper
 

Sep 5, 2008 3:08 PM
Doesn't look like Saturday will be a good day for taking pictures, and Sunday I'll be welded to the sofa watching the US Open, so this will have to tide you over to next week:
* WalkingTownDC has announced its fall lineup, and once again "Capitol Riverfront" is one of the tours, led by Michael Stevens, the executive director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District. It's Saturday, Sept. 20, starting at 10:30 am. More info here.
* DDOT says that, weather permitting, the Douglass Bridge will be closed from 6 am to as late as 10 am on Sunday morning for some minor repairs: "Crews will be making minor repairs necessary to improve movements of the swing span that occur during the periodic opening of the bridge."
* If you've snuck a peek at the recent building permit applications and are wondering if the application for 1111 New Jersey Avenue means that Donohoe is close to getting started on their planned 200,000-sq-ft office building, I've already done the wondering for you, and the answer is "no"--just getting the paperwork out of the way. (Longtime readers will remember that the first building permit applications for 1015 Half Street were submitted more than three years before construction got underway.)
* Speaking of the building permit data, the feed for approved permits has been down since the end of July. The folks who handle the feeds assure me that it's being worked on, and will hopefully be back before too long.
* Apropos of nothing, here's a Washington Times story from Monday about the groundskeepers at Nationals Park.
 

Sep 4, 2008 3:13 PM
This hasn't been mentioned in the items over the past few days about Akridge's Aug. 27 closing of its $46.5 million purchase of Metro's Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M: On the same day they closed on the bus garage, Akridge bought Monument Realty's land just south of the bus garage for $9.66 million. The site, a conglomeration of five or six lots that Monument cobbled together in 2004 and 2005, totals about 16,000 square feet along N Street between Half and Van, where the Good and Plenty carryout used to stand (for you old-timers).
To add one more Aug. 27 transaction to the mix: Monument also closed on its $22.7 million purchase of the 27,000-square-foot WMATA parking lot nestled between the Public Space Storage building and the old Domino's site, across Van from the bus garage. This is the land (currently Nats Parking Lot M) that Monument was awarded as part of the settlement of their lawsuit over the original awarding of all WMATA land on Square 700 to Akridge.
This means that Akridge now owns all of the west side of Half Street between M and N, while Monument owns the east side of South Capitol between M and N *except* for the Public Storage Building. (See my Monument Ballpark District page for photos.)
As mentioned in the other posts this week on Akridge's purchase of the bus garage, reports are that they are looking at a 700,000-sq-ft mixed-use project, beginning perhaps in 2010. Don't know anything more than this at this point. Monument had been working on a residential building at South Capitol and N (land they still own), but I haven't heard if that's still part of their plans.
 

Sep 4, 2008 2:26 PM
Announced yesterday, and written about in today's Post: "Two men riding on the open top tier of a double-decker bus in the District were standing on their seats the night of July 11 when their heads hit a freeway overpass, D.C. police said yesterday, adding that 'alcohol may have been involved' in the fatal accident."
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Sep 3, 2008 8:12 PM
Tired of seeing baseball at Nationals Park? How about La Traviata? On Sept. 13 at 7 pm the Washington National Opera is offering "Opera in the Outfield," a simulcast from the Kennedy Center of their new production of Verdi's classic opera on the big HD screen, with seating being allowed in the outfield. It's free and open to the public. (Choruses of "Kill the Wabbit" may be discouraged.) UPDATE: Here's the Post piece on the simulcast, which used to be held on the Mall. It will cost the Washington Opera about $300,000.
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Sep 3, 2008 5:04 PM
On the consent agenda of Thursday's National Capital Planning Commission meeting is a request for "approval of preliminary and final site development plans" for Diamond Teague Park, the new public park to be built by the city on the Anacostia River at the foot of First Street, SE, just across Potomac Avenue from Nationals Park.
As I've written about in the past, plans call for piers to be built around the red brick Capitol Pumphouse that is home to the Earth Conservation Corps, and there will also be floating docks that will allow visitors to see the wetlands along the water's edge (one of the last waterfront segments in the area not to have been bulkheaded, apparently). Benches, granite paths, and a garden will be installed, along with a memorial to Diamond Teague, the ECC volunteer who was murdered in 2003. Eventually this park will be connected via a floating boardwalk to the Waterfront Park at the Yards.
In the Executive Director's recommendation, the NCPC commends the city "for linking this project to planned open space along the waterfront to provide a continuous public open space system along the Anacostia River; for developing a portion of the Anacostia River as a high-quality urban park with a mix of recreational opportunities that emphasizes the river's ecological and scenic qualities and character; and for providing accommodations for a water taxi system to serve the neighborhood and the Washington Nationals' baseball stadium."
Statements over the summer from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (which is stewarding the park) indicated that work will begin on the park this fall, with this first phase completed by spring 2009. (And yes, that includes the water taxi piers. Though there's been no word yet of any deals with taxi companies.)
 

Sep 3, 2008 3:34 PM
I don't see the release posted on their web site yet (or at Nationals Journal), but the Nationals have just announced: "The Washington Nationals today announced the 2009 prices for season tickets at Nationals Park. The team will continue to provide affordable, fan-friendly entertainment at Nationals Park by decreasing season ticket prices for 7,500 seats at the ballpark - 3,400 of which are located in the lower seating bowl. The team will not increase prices on any of the 41,888 seats for season-ticket holders who renew their season tickets for 2009." Here's a graphic showing the stadium layout and the change in prices from 2008 to 2009.
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Sep 3, 2008 11:34 AM
On the agenda for the Sept. 25 meeting of the city's Public Space Committee: an application by Monument Realty for 1200 Half Street (better known here as 55 M) to install various fixtures in public space around Half Street, described as 23 benches, 9 trash containers, 32 lights, 146 fountains, 8 bollards, and 18 bike racks. (UPDATE: I don't know what the deal is with "146 fountains"--that's what was in the meeting agenda.)
And, on the other side of Half Street, Akridge celebrates its closing on the Southeastern Bus Garage site (mentioned last week) with a press release. According to the Washington Business Journal, construction could begin on the planned 700,000-square-foot mixed-use project in 2010.
 

Sep 2, 2008 9:14 AM
When the headline "Nats Park: A Mistake?" pops up in your feed reader, it's easy to guess that the story will be about low attendance or whatever other ills the author defines and therefore what a boondoggle the stadium has been. But, instead, you get this, from WTOP's transportation reporter Adam Tuss: "Yet with all the trouble filling seats at novel Nats Park, this much is certain: The stadium is paying dividends to the neighborhood and city where it sits. [...] But the truth of the matter is, Nats Park has energized a section of the District that some would never have imagined driving through previously, let alone walking through. [...] New homes, shops, restaurants and vistas pop up on a daily basis. Old and run-down has been and continues to be replaced by young and vibrant." (One could quibble with the "shops and restaurants" portion of this, at this point, anyway.)
Then there's this section, which takes me back to the eye-rolling weeks of wading through media coverage early this year: "When the ballpark first opened this year, there were plenty of concerns -- many from a transportation perspective. Would Metro be able to handle the crowds that were going to games? Would there be enough parking for fans? Would the neighborhoods around the ballpark become swamped with unwanted visitors from out of the area? There were also concerns about the safety of fans headed to and from games. Would there be enough security, street lighting, and enforcement to keep the area a destination of interest? There is now deafening silence about those questions, as they have all been answered with resounding success."
He closes with: "As far as the team goes, the Nationals will get there at some point (you hope). But the home of the Nats is now helping transform a slice of the city into something truly special -- a second chance for an area that was far too often neglected."
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