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With Opening Day 2008 inching closer, the cobbling together of parking at the new ballpark is apparently turning out to be a greater challenge than constructing an on-time on-budget stadium. So this week the city put in another zoning amendment request to allow more temporary surface parking lots, this time covering eight squares in Southwest, all between P, T, 2nd, and South Capitol streets. (See my Stadium Parking page for a map with the new lots highlighted.) You can read the Office of Planning's report on the new case (07-08A) for more detail.
On Monday night the Zoning Commission approved this request on an emergency basis, meaning that the zoning change takes effect immediately, lasting 120 days while a hearing is scheduled and a permanent amendment is voted on.
As with the original amendment approved earlier this year, the lots can last no more than five years, are required to be available for public parking during non-game times, and must have District Department of Transportation approval of their traffic routing plans to ensure that access to the lots is not directed along I, P, or Fourth streets, SW. There's also a new requirement being added with this latest request, that a minimum of five percent of the spaces in these lots be reserved for a car/ride-share program.
These new lots are still subject to the cap of 3,775 total spaces laid out in the first amendment, unless special exceptions are obtained after the cap is reached from the Board of Zoning Adjustment on a per-lot basis. As with the squares covered earlier this year, it's not expected that lots will suddenly sprout on every one of the locations covered in the request; the main goal appears to be additional flexibility in finding possible spots for the needed spaces.
A separate zoning action a few months ago approved three temporary surface lots totaling under 800 spaces at The Yards, across the street from the stadium. There are also apparently negotiations underway about using the lots at RFK and providing shuttle service to the new ballpark.
There are other locations within a few blocks of the ballpark that will no doubt become temporary parking lots as well--one example is the Lerners' recent permit applications to build a lot on land they own at 1000 South Capitol Street.
At Monday's ANC 6D meeting, when this new zoning amendment was discussed, commissioners mentioned rumors of additional lots perhaps coming to the recently closed KFC and Exxon locations on the west side of South Capitol. But these blocks are not in the Capitol Gateway Zoning Overlay, and so don't require the special approval needed for the squares in the previous amendment requests. And these additional locations still require the Nationals to contract with the landowners, which might not always be an easy negotiation.
The ANC commissioners did not bring up many concerns about this new request, other than asking for confirmation that the traffic controls in the initial amendment cover these new lots, which Judi Greenberg of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development assured was the case.
Commissioner Ron McBee said that he hopes to organize a town hall meeting for Southwest residents about all the parking plans when they are more concrete, and vice chair Andy Litsky reminded Greenberg that the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission is supposed to be meeting with community leaders to address ballpark-related concerns, but that there hasn't been a meeting in six months.
The zoning commission's approval of the emergency action came with little discussion, perhaps reflecting that most of the potential issues with these temporary lots were hashed out in the first request.
Time should solve many of the initial parking issues around the ballpark; right now there are seven office and residential projects already under construction around Near Southeast that by 2008 and 2009 will have multiple levels of underground parking that could potentially be available for gametime, just as with the lots are in the buildings around the Verizon Center. Most of the squares in these recent zoning requests, along most every other block between South Capitol and Second, will also eventually be home to buildings with underground parking.
UPDATE: An e-mail sent out today to Nationals season ticket holders says that 2008 ticket package information will be sent out "in the next month or so", and that a "comprehensive transportation package will also be sent to all season ticket holders shortly after you have received your seat location information." Presumably the "transportation package" means parking plans for season ticket holders (and maybe a really good Metro map!).
More posts: ANC News, parking, Nationals Park, zoning
 

In other news from Monday's ANC meeting:
* Council Member Phil Mendelson spoke about his concerns that the new consolidated crime lab construction schedule is continuing to slip. The new lab, which is supposed to be built at Fourth and School streets, SW, can't get underway until a new home (temporary or permanent) is found for the police department's First District station currently located there. Up until recently, of course, 1D was supposed to move to the old Post plant at 225 Virginia Avenue, but with that now scuttled, the Office of Property Management is hunting for a new 1D home somewhere in Southwest, perhaps using either the Amidon or Bowen elementary school buildings, both of which are at only 60 percent capacity and could be consolidated by moving the sixth graders to Jefferson Junior High School. Mendelson, "irritated" at how the city is handling the space shuffling, wants the process of finding a new 1D home speeded up, even if it means taking 1D out of Southwest, which of course was viewed as a nonstarter by this ANC that represents Southwest; Commissioner Sobelsohn commended Mendelson on his "bravery" for coming to Southwest and telling the residents they shouldn't have a police station. (It also sounds like Mendelson is still hoping for a return to using 225 Virginia, given his numerous references to the $500,000 checks the city is writing each month to lease the empty building.)
* The Randall School redevelopment project by Monument Realty and the Corcoran Gallery was approved, thanks mainly to a negotiated community benefits package that includes a $200,000 contribution by Monument to the ANC's Community Investment Fund, preferences for ANC 6D residents when filling the affordable housing component of the project, and agreements with the Corcoran to support various neighborhood art projects and arts education offerings for Southwest residents. The vote was 5-0; vice chair Andy Litsky did not vote, after expressing his displeasure with what he sees as Monument's threat to slow down the Navy Yard Metro station expansion when the company did not win the right to buy WMATA's Southeastern Bus Garage. Monument executive vice president Russell Hines, who attended the meeting, reiterated the points he made last week in an e-mail to Litsky, that the station expansion is not behind schedule as has been reported and that Monument is committed to getting the work completed by Opening Day 2008.
* A local resident informed the commission that three historic police and fire call boxes along First Street have recently gone missing. Those with x-ray vision can see them in my photos (up until yesterday) of First and N and First and O, deep in the heart of ballpark construction territory and along the stretch of First Street being renovated by DDOT; the now-missing First and L box is pretty hard to see behind the Onyx fencing. There's an effort called Art on Call, led by Cultural Tourism DC, to find and restore these boxes, and kids from the Earth Conservation Corps have been painting the boxes in Near Southeast and Southwest. Calls are in to the District Department of Transportation to see if the boxes have perhaps just been temporarily moved, or if they're, um, history. (The box at First and K is still in place, at least.)
 

The agenda is out for Monday's ANC 6D meeting; the big item is the aforementioned vote on Monument Realty's plans for redeveloping the Randall School at Half and I, SW; also, Council Member Phil Mendelson is slated to talk about the MPD move (I don't know if this means just the 1D station issues, or everything that surrounded the now-aborted use of 225 Virginia Avenue). Also, there's an agenda item about a Southwest Neighborhood Association town hall meeting on ballpark parking, but I can't tell if that's just to announce the town hall meeting, or if it already happened. The ANC meeting is at 7 pm at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church at 6th and M, SW.
More posts: ANC News, parking
 

An e-mail has just been sent by Russell Hines of Monument Realty to Andy Litsky, vice chair of ANC 6D, in reply to Litsky's Wednesday e-mail that asked for Monument to withdraw what has been publicized as a "threat" to slow down the completion of the Navy Yard Metro station's expansion in response to WMATA awarding the Southeastern Bus Garage site across the street to Akridge. Litsky had said that he would oppose Monument's proposed redevelopment of the Randall School site in Southwest if Monument did not pull back.
Hines's e-mail, which was cc'ed to the commissioners of ANC 6D as well as myself and Tommy Wells and WMATA board members Jim Graham and Marion Barry (all of whom had received Litsky's original e-mail) says that the Metro Station is currently on schedule, and asks that the Randall School project be judged on its own merits. Here's the paragraph that is probably of most interest, describing Monument's view of current state of the renovation's schedule:
"Second, Mr. Neal did not threaten to slow the renovation of the Metro Station. At the time the letter was written, the District of Columbia had asked Monument to spend its own money to accelerate the completion of the Metro Station. The project had suffered from a variety of delays, including delays that were caused by actions or inaction by other public entities; however, there was no consensus on the impact to the final completion date. Mr. Neal was objecting to spending more money to accelerate the project and pointing out that it was an unreasonable request given WMATA's recent position on the disposition of the bus garage. In short, WMATA wanted to take further advantage of Monument's resources without making any effort to reciprocate by entering into negotiations with Monument as had been promised. Furthermore, by the time this article was written, Monument had already worked with the contractor on a plan and schedule that addressed any perceived or actual delays in the completion of the Metro Station. WMATA officials had this information when they made the false claim that the Metro Station was seven weeks behind schedule. We have since met with District and WMATA officials to discuss this schedule and all parties appeared satisfied. Why WMATA continues to put out inaccurate information about the schedule or let inaccurate reporting go unchallenged is beyond me. I should also point out that when Monument took on this responsibility last December, it was considered a very difficult schedule -- in fact, WMATA staff conceded that they would probably not have finished on time even if they simply installed fare gates at grade and built the standard Metro canopy over the entrance."
Hines's complete e-mail is available here; like Litsky's, I removed the e-mail addresses it was sent to, preferring not to blab addresses that aren't mine. And see my entry from yesterday about Monument's lawsuit filed against WMATA.
UPDATE: Here's a Washington Business Journal piece with additional quotes from Jeff Neal of Monument refuting the "slow down" issue. (And, gosh, I wonder where WBJ saw the Litsky letter?)
 

When word broke a few days back that Monument Realty had lost the bidding for the WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage site at Half and M, the Post described a letter from Monument principal partner Jeffrey T. Neal to WMATA that threatened a slow-down in Monument's work on the renovation and expansion of the Navy Yard Metro station if the company was not awarded the garage site as it felt it had been promised. (It has also been reported that Monument is already seven weeks behind schedule on the project.) This station is of course the lynchpin of the city's plans to get stadium-goers to and from Nationals Park, particularly in the near-term before the parking situation is sorted out.
Now, with Monument's plans for developing the old Randall School site on I Street in Southwest about to come up before the Zoning Commission, ANC6D vice chairman Andy Litsky has written a sternly worded letter to representatives of Monument and its Randall partner the Corcoran Gallery of Art, cc'ed to Tommy Wells and WMATA board members Jim Graham and Marion Barry, that boils down to this: "[U]nless Mr. Neal and Monument Realty withdraw this threat -- in writing and in advance of our vote on Monday night -- I will oppose this PUD at the ANC and in testimony before the Zoning Commission." He goes on to say: "The time has finally come for District residents and policy makers to stand up to developers who use threats and lawsuits as leverage in one part of the city and yet expect -- and often receive -- support for their special projects, PUDs and city tax incentives in another. Enough is enough."
You can read the entire letter here (I PDF'ed the e-mail without the headers so as not to blab a bunch of e-mail addresses to the world). The ANC meets on October 15; the Zoning Commission hearing is Nov. 8.
 

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
 

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.
More posts: ANC News, Plaza on K/Square 696, zoning
 

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.)

 

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.

More posts: ANC News, Plaza on K/Square 696
 

I'm hearing scuttlebutt that today is the day that staffers at the being-dismantled Anacostia Waterfront Corporation are finding out whether they and their jobs are being migrated into the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. So tread lightly around 1100 New Jersey this afternoon, because the mood may not be all sunshine and roses.
As always, the question on many peoples' minds is, how will this transfer affect AWC projects in Near Southeast? And Canal Park always seems to be at the top of that list. While the commotion has now subsided over whether zoning changes had suddenly paved the way for ballpark parking on the Canal Park site, residents and activists are starting to be concerned that the city may not be moving with enough speed to get the school buses off the site and get the park built by its announced completion date of Spring 2008. I wrote a few weeks ago about testimony to the city council that negotiations to get the buses removed were continuing, but that no deal had been struck.
But now word is out that the city is working to create a new citywide school bus parking lot in Prince George's County, and there's rumor and speculation that the Canal Park buses would not be moved until that lot has been created. An open question is whether pressure from local leaders could persuade the city to find a temporary location for the Canal Park buses while waiting for the PG County site to come together, so that the park could move forward. The park is in ANC 6D's territory, and of course city councilman's Tommy Wells ward.
To make Canal Park fans feel slightly better, here's the just-posted minutes from the June 21 Commission on Fine Arts meeting, which, if you scroll way way way down, include descriptions of the public art for the park by sculptor David Hess that the CFA reviewed and approved. (Alas, no images.)
More posts: ANC News, Anacostia Waterfront Corp., Canal Park
 

Within the past few weeks I've posted a lot about the MPD move to 225 Virginia Ave. and the falderal over the surface parking lots zoning amendment including Canal Park, but if you can't get enough, the August issue of the Hill Rag has pieces on both items. And a summary of the July ANC 6D meeting, too.
 

Just a reminder that Wednesday night, July 18, the Metropolitan Police Department is holding a Community Meeting on the Relocation of the Metropolitan Police Department to the old Post Plant site at 225 Virginia Ave. Tommy Wells will be in attendance, as will representatives of MPD, the Office of Property Management, ANCs 6B and 6D, and other officials. It should be a well-attended meeting: there's the residents of Southwest, who are not happy that these proposed relocation plans include the move of the First District police station from Southwest over to Southeast; and the Friends of Garfield Park and other close-by residents, who are concerned about the parking and traffic issues.
The meeting is at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 3rd and A Streets, SE, at 6:30 pm. If you want more background on this proposed move, scroll down through the "News" tab of my 225 Virgina Ave. page.
 

As I posted a few weeks ago, a request is now making its way through the process that would allow the construction of another batch of temporary surface parking lots, this time at The Yards, totaling an additional 950 spaces. Temporary surface lots are actually already allowed at The Yards under the Southeast Federal Center Zoning Overlay, subject to this mandatory review. The Zoning Commission hearing is on July 26, and the Office of Planning has completed its report supporting the request, saying among other things that these lots would actually improve the appearance of the parcels and surrounding area--if you've looked at the south side of Tingey Street, you know thiis isn't very far off. (The OP report has a lot of good detail on the Yards parking proposal, so be sure to read it.)
My network of moles inform me that at last week's ANC 6D meeting, after a presentation on the plan, no one made a motion to support it, and when one commissioner made a motion to oppose, no one seconded. (Voice of the Hill has a blurb on this meeting as well.) Ouch!
The case will also then be reviewed by the National Capital Planning Commission at its August 2 meeting.
If you want to know more about the state of ballpark-related parking, my Stadium Parking and Transportation page has the gory details, including a map of the possible lots and links to the slew of documents that have been generated over this subject. And the clock is now ticking on when that draft Transportation Operations and Parking Plan is supposed to be released (it was going to hit the streets in June, it was said...).
More posts: ANC News, parking, Nationals Park, The Yards, zoning
 

With the calendar inching toward DC's annual August shutdown, there's a boatload of meetings and hearings on the agenda this week as everyone tries to get their work done before heading for the beach. Here's a not-very-detailed rundown, so follow the links if you want more detailed information:
* Monday starts bright and early with the "public hearing and preliminary finding" by the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development on the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District application, in Room 301 of the Wilson Building, 10 am.
* The Zoning Commission's monthly public meeting on Monday night includes a final vote on the plans for the 250 M Street office building and a first vote on the 1325 South Capitol Street residential project. In addition, there's a new case looking for various amendments to the Southeast Federal Center overlay; here's the Office of Planning report spelling them out. The commission is also scheduled to address Florida Rock's request for guidance on its revised design, which has the support of the Office of Planning. The meeting is at 6:30 pm at One Judiciary Square (Suite 220 South), but also can be watched via live webcast.
* At about the same time, ANC 6D is having its monthly meeting, and will be having a presentation and vote on Forest City's July 26 zoning hearing to allow temporary surface parking lots at The Yards. This meeting is at 7 pm at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, 6th and M Streets, SW. (Having to make a choice, I'm opting for the zoning meeting, so it might take a little while before I find out what happened at the ANC.)
* Tuesday's city council meeting at 10 am will include a final vote on the bill to create the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District.
* On Tuesday night WMATA is having a public hearing on the proposed move of the Southeastern Bus Garage from its current location at Half and M to a new facility at DC Village in Southwest. (It's probably geared more toward residents near the new location.) There's an open house at 5:30 pm, and the hearing itself starts at 6:30, at 2700 Martin Luther King Dr. SE.
* The Nationals ballpark is having its "Topping Out" party on Wednesday at noon.
* WMATA's Planning, Development and Real Estate Committee is meeting in executive session on Thursday morning to address something having to do with the Southeastern Bus Garage, but they're not saying what.
* Thursday also sees the National Capital Planning Commission meeting that Canal Park fans mobilized for, with the NCPC's agenda including the zoning commission case approving temporary surface parking lots on various blocks in Near Southeast that include Canal Park in their boundaries. There's also a presentation on the the first phase of The Yards. The meeting is at 12:30 pm at 401 9th St., NW, Suite 500.
* Wrapping up the week (pant pant pant) is a city council Subcommittee on Economic Development hearing on the transition plans for folding in the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and the National Capital Revitalization Corporation into the office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development; it's in the council chamber at the Wilson Building at 10 am, and may also be broadcast on DC cable channel 13 and via streaming video.
And then I will spend the weekend alseep.
 

Last night at its monthly meeting, ANC 6D passed a resolution opposing the proposed relocation of the First Distrct Police Station currently at 415 4th St. SW to the old Post Plant at 225 Virginia Ave. SE. There's a series of 11 bullet points describing the ANC's opposition, many of which were brought up at the city council subcommittee hearing last week, most notably of course being the potential impact on "community policing" if the police are no longer housed right in the community. Other issues such as parking at the new site, the "massing" of so many police functions in such a small area given that the 1D1 substation is just four blocks away, and the potential loss of easy walk-in visits to 1D if they are housed in the same building that contains high-level MPD functions such as the chief's office, the Special Operations Division, the evidence warehouse, and other departments.
I also finally got a chance to see the portions of the hearing that weren't originally broadcast, and one of the items that jumped out at me (and that is mentioned in the ANC resolution as well) is that the Office of Property Management is already looking for 10,000 square feet of "swing space" for the 1D substation, because it needs to be out of its current location by early 2009 to make way for the new combined forensics lab. Because of timing issues with getting the 225 Virginia building ready for occupancy (a project that could cost up to $100 million), 1D may not be able to move directly to the new building. (OPM said it should know within 60 days if 1D will need to move to swing space.) Both Carol Schwartz and Tommy Wells were quite skeptical of moving 1D to 225 Virginia, with Schwartz saying "Have you thought of how ridiculous that is?" (But she said it really nicely.) The council members pressed OPM and MPD about why the forensics lab couldn't be at 225 Virginia instead, but issues with ceiling heights and ventilation seemed to be stumbling points, although former OPM head Carol Mitten testified that it wouldn't be impossible. There was also a lot of discussion about the possibility of buying 225 Virginia outright, rather than leasing it.
And of course, as I mentioned in my initial summary, parking issues were a large part of the conversation as well. Neither OPM or MPD would commit to Wells's idea of a ban on employee on-street parking; and as I said last week, OPM and MPD were floating the DPW trash transfer lot at 2nd and K as a parking alternative without seeming to be aware that that lot is already going to the DC Housing Authority as part of the Capper/Carrollsburg Hope VI project. (I shouted it at the TV as loudly and often as I could, but apparently they couldn't hear me.) As described, a new parking structure built on top of the surface lot at 3rd and I would have about 520 spaces, 200 of which would be for police vehicles and another 100 for 1D staff, leaving only 200 spaces for the remaining 500 employees at this new headquarters.
Next steps? OPM is now looking at getting architectural drawings and guaranteed maximum buildout costs to the council by October (two months later than originally forecast); there is also supposed to be a parking plan given to the committee within the next two weeks, and also at some point a meeting between OPM, MPD, and ANCs 6B and 6D. A separate Zoning Commission hearing on adding the site to the Capitol South Receiving Zone originally scheduled for this week has now been postponed. I imagine there will be a fair amount of behind-the-scenes maneuvering on the project that we won't hear much about until it comes time for the city council to vote on paying for the renovations to the building.

 

Tonight the Zoning Commission approved with a 3-0-2 vote Case 07-08, the request to allow temporary surface parking lots (lasting no more than five years) on a number of parcels within walking distance of the Nationals ballpark. (I considered this hearing so important that I took off my fuzzy slippers and actually ventured to Judiciary Square to attend in person rather than watching Ye Olde Webcast.) Commissioners Mitten, Hood, and Turnbull voted for the action; Commissioners Parsons and Jeffries did not attend.
The Office of Planning, while making clear in its report that it strongly encourages the use of mass transit and other alternatives to cars and would not normally support surface parking lots, testified that these lots and the 3,775 maximum spaces they would provide (see my Stadium Parking page for a map that shows their locations) will help to alleviate the short-term shortage of available parking during the next few years until new developments with additional underground parking in the area are completed.
It was requested that the case be approved immediately, on an emergency basis, with the explanation that the sooner the Nationals know where their lots are going to be, the better they can tailor the assignments of season-ticket holders to different lots based on where they are arriving from. (It was also emphasized numerous times that the parking lots are just one part of the overall traffic planning for the stadium.)
The main opposition to the amendment came from residents of Southwest, and ANC 6D commissioner Andy Litsky testified that the neighborhoods were not so much concerned with the lots themselves, but how traffic would be directed to the lots, with the bulk of the consternation focused on 4th, P, and I Streets, SW, which the residents consider to be local roads but which were mentioned by a traffic consultant at the March public meeting as being likely routes to the possible lots in Buzzards Point. There was also a surprising moment when a representative of Pepco testified that there's no way that Square 665 at Buzzards Point can be considered an option for a surface lot, because there's a substation still in operation on it. The Office of Planning explained that this text amendment was merely identifying "potential" lots, and that it's assumed that not all squares will ever actually have surface parking on them, and in fact the presentation slides by traffic consultant Gorove Slade from the March public meeting indicated that most likely no parking would be created at Buzzards Point. Ken Laden of DDOT then testified that his agency has never considered 4th, P, and I in SW to be important streets, because the vast majority of the lot locations are on the east side of South Capitol Street and that DDOT is trying to keep the bulk of the traffic in Near Southeast (where there are currently very few residential developments).
This gave the zoning commissioners an opening they were looking for, and they crafted a pretty sweet way to take the residents' concerns into account: because each surface parking lot will still have to go through the normal DC approval process for a Certificate of Occupancy (environmental review, DDOT review, etc.), they ordered that the associated traffic plans submitted with the COO may not include directing traffic to/from the lots down local streets (specifically mentioning 4th, P, and I). With that, the amendment was approved on an emergency basis. Andy Litsky said he was "pleased" with the decision.
As for the overall traffic management plan, apparently DDOT was not real happy with the first draft that they received on April 30 from the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission (Laden said it wasn't "user-friendly") and are expecting a new draft in early June, which will then be put out for public comment (and I'm guessing there will be plenty of that). It will include the same sort of on-street parking restrictions that have been used around RFK, where no one can park during games without a special residential parking permit, although exactly how far the boundaries of that restricted area will reach is still under discussion.
And DDOT's Laden also said that an agreement is close to being reached that would add a Circulator bus line from Union Station to the new US Capitol Visitors' Center to the Capitol South and Navy Yard Metro stations, which would give direct access to the red, orange, and blue lines without having to change trains at L'Enfant Plaza.
Above all, it was repeated numerous times that this will be a work-in-progress, that the plans will be tweaked and massaged as the planners see what works and what doesn't. In other words, while traffic will undoubtedly be a nightmare on Opening Day 2008, that doesn't mean it will always be that way. And, oh yeah, take Metro.
For additional background, here's my post from when the zoning case first came up. And be sure to read the Office of Planning's report, Andy Litsky's testimony, and the presentation slides from the March public meeting. And all my other Stadium Parking and Transporation documents and links.
UPDATE: Here's the Post piece on the hearing.

 

Let's go around the horn and see what happened at last night's various meetings.
* The Zoning Commission voted to give final approval to the plans for 250 M Street, William C. Smith's planned 190,000-sq-ft office building on M Street just east of what will be Canal Park. The building, which is actually part of the Capper/Carrollsburg Planned Unit Development (and will help fund all the redevelopment at Capper), is expected to start construction at the end of 2007.
* ANC 6D had three Near Southeast items on the agenda--unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend, so I'm giving you the quick and dirty results, and will hopefully have links later for additional details. First, they gave their approval (again) to the 276-unit residential building planned by Camden Development at 1325 South Capitol Street, but this was pretty prefunctory since they approved it a few months back and nothing has really changed except a bureaucratic need to resubmit the plan to the Zoning Commission in a different manner; the ZC hearing is on May 31. Second, they voted not to support Zoning Commission Case 07-08, the request to amend the city's zoning laws to allow temporary (no longer than five years) surface parking lots on certain squares in Near Southeast to help provide parking for the new stadium. There was also a presentation by the DC Housing Authority on what's been happening with Capper/Carrollsburg and the Capper seniors buildings, but of course you've been reading this site religiously and so know it all already.
UPDATE: Apparently the feelings against the parking case ran pretty strong; and I understand that Andy Litsky of the ANC will be testifying in opposition at the Zoning Commission hearing next Monday (May 21).

 

Tonight ANC 6D will be briefed and will vote on whether to support Zoning Commission Case 07-08, the request for text amendments to current zoning regulations to permit and regulate temporary surface parking lots on specified blocks near the stadium. Here's the Office of Planning's report to the Zoning Commission on the proposed zoning changes--it's not very different from the original report they submitted back in April, as I understand it the only major difference is asking that parking spaces for baseball be reserved for 1.5 hours before events (rather than the 3 hours initially suggested). The hearing before the Zoning Commission is on May 21. For more background on the plans for parking and other transportation issues around the stadium site, see my Stadium Parking page for maps, presentations, and other documents.
More posts: ANC News, parking, Nationals Park, zoning
 

The agenda for May ANC 6D meeting has been sent out (though it's not yet available on their web site). In addition to a presentation and vote on the Waterside Mall plans, there's a bunch of Near Southeast-related items on the agenda, ones that I've been posting about here for a while:
* There will be a presentation and vote on 1325 South Capitol's resubmission to the Zoning Commission as a PUD (that hearing is now scheduled for May 31). This is the planned 276-unit residential building across the street from the Nationals ballpark, which because of some procedural muck had to resubmit its plans in a different format.
* Also scheduled is an update by the DC Housing Authority on the latest goings-on at Capper/Carrollsburg, including status reports on the Senior Buildings (which I imagine will include the change for Capper Building #2 [aka the "Ballpark Apartments"] to allow workforce-level residents in addition to low-income seniors), as well as on the planned demolition this summer of the old Capper Seniors building at 7th and M, and the latest with the townhomes at Capitol Quarter, as more market-rate houses go on the market and with infrastructure construction expected to begin soon (and "vertical construction" probably starting in early fall).
* And there's also a presentation and vote on the (gaaaaak) Supplemental Stadium Surface Parking plan that's having its zoning hearing on May 21. My Stadium Transportation and Parking page (and its News Items tab) can give you the gory details.
This meeting is scheduled for the same time as Monday's Zoning Commission meeting, which includes on its newly-posted agenda the final approval vote on the 250 M Street office building project (which has been delayed a bit over the past few months), so it's a tough call which one I'll be focusing on. (Especially since we know how much I love ANC meetings.)
 

Some very brief Near Southeast-related updates from two ANC meetings this week (I wasn't in attendance at either, so these are just quick summaries I received from Other Parties): At ANC 6D on Monday, the commissioners voted 3-2-2 to oppose a zoning special exception request (waiver of the rear yard requirement) for the planned office building at 1111 New Jersey Ave., the Donohoe project on the west side of New Jersey between L and M (on top of the eastern Navy Yard Metro station entrance); the Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing is on May 8. As always, the biggest sticking point appeared to be battle between the ANC's we-want-a-community-benefits-package-in-return-for-our-support stance and the developer's this-is-a-matter-of-right-project-we-don't-have-to-give-you-anything stance. (And you wonder why I avoid these meetings like the plague.)
Meanwhile, over at ANC 6B (which is in charge of the sliver of Near Southeast around 8th Street/Barracks Row), the process is beginning about the possibility of razing the abandoned beige apartment building on Potomac between 8th and 9th and replacing it with a new four-story building with ground-floor retail and two levels of underground parking (though this is still just in the conceptual phase and may not be the final plan). A raze permit has been applied for, but because this small section of Near Southeast is part of the Capitol Hill Historic District, the Historic Preservation Office will be involved in the process. More later, I'm sure.
 
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