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Rounding up the items on this week's agenda:
* Tonight is ANC 6D's monthly meeting. Alas, no agenda released yet, a common occurrence that should put them on Santa's "naughty" list.
* Tuesday through Friday is the BID's Holiday Market, running each day on Canal Park from noon to 6 pm, with live music from noon to 2. (If you're seeing activity at Second and M today, that's what it is.)
* Tuesday has the next Lower Eighth Street Visioning meetings, at 8:30 am and 7 pm at 535 8th St., SE. These sessions will "focus on best practice examples and build-out scenarios," and an agenda just mailed out by the BID (which is running the sessions) shows guest speakers Richard Lake of Roadside Development (the folks behind the redo of the O Street Market) and Wayne Dickson of Blake Real Estate. There's also an agenda item on "The Need for a Community Center."
* On Wednesday (Dec. 16) the BID is throwing a free Residents' Holiday Party at the Courtyard by Marriott, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. They'll also keep the Holiday Market open an extra hour (until 7 pm) for residents, and there'll be live music.
* The BID is having its annual meeting on Thursday, with speakers Tommy Wells, Stan Kasten of the Nationals, and Christopher Leinberger, a walkable urbanism expert from the Brookings Institution. In previewing the event on the Breaking Ground blog last week, WBJ's Melissa Castro listed a series of stats about the Capitol Riverfront provided by Jones Lang LaSalle, including that the total office vacancy rate for the area through the third quarter is at 19.2 percent (though it's listed as being at 14.7 percent at the end of October in this subsequent WBJ article). It would have been nice, though, if she'd given @capitolhilldc credit (rather than just "a Twitter user") for the tweet about being the 24th person in line at the DOT Starbucks Thursday morning, which also brought a few fun responses when I retweeted it.
* ANC 6D07 rep Bob Siegel mentioned this at last week's ABC committee meeting, and it's confirmed in the city's land records: there are now 12 units occupied at Velocity.
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From last night's meeting of ANC 6D's ABC Committee, some bullet points on Justin's Cafe, the planned "fast casual" restaurant in the ground floor of Velocity on First Street between K and L (some of these are old, some are new, but for those just tuning in...):
* Justin Ross, the owner, is hoping to open the place by late January, although because of some issues with an ill partner, the liquor license has not yet been applied for, but he hopes that the paperwork will be filed with the city within the next week. (He won't open the restaurant until the liquor license has been granted, although he says the construction is now about 85 percent done.) He's applying for a Class C restaurant license, for beer, wine, and liquor.
* Expected hours are 11:30 am to 11 pm for food service (10 pm Sunday), with hopes that the bar can stay open later, perhaps until 2 am Friday/Saturday and 1 am other days.
* The space is not huge, about 1,400 square feet--it will have 24 seats for eating, and nine stools at the bar. There will be no outside tables. It will be an order-at-the-counter-and-sit set up (though he also expects a fair amount of takeout orders for nearby offices).
* No live entertainment, just TVs and music.
* The menu is salads and soup, sandwiches/paninis, and American-Neapolitan pizzas. Lots of veggies with the sandwiches and on the pizzas (he handed out a draft of it at the meeting). Sweet potato fries are on the menu, and bread choices are three-grain wheat, ciabatta, baguette, and spinach tortilla wrap (along with white/wheat crusts for the pizzas).
* JustinsCafe.com will be the web site, though it's not up yet.
Nats fans should note that this will become the closest *indoor* bar to the ballpark, as it's only two blocks north of the parking garages.
The ANC and Justin will be negotiating a voluntary agreement, which will probably go to the ANC for approval at its January meeting, but the subcommittee members and the 6D commissioners in attendance seem very pleased with the project.
 

At its November meeting, ANC 6D received an update on the progress of Canal Park, but I was out of town and missed the presentation, so I've gotten a quick status update from Chris Vanarsdale of the Canal Park Development Association. He passes along that the design development phase is nearing completion, and that hopefully in a few weeks they'll make available a revised plan view of the park--the middle block has apparently undergone some significant changes, with the addition of a much larger water feature and the reconfiguration of the pavilion in that block. You can see some renderings of the pavilions planned for the south end of the park (at M Street) on my Canal Park page, although there will probably be some revisions to the designs of these structures as well.
On the flip side, the anticipated start of construction is now being quoted as September 2010, about six months later than what's been on the boards for most of this year. It was reported back in October that the design approved by the National Capital Planning Commission would cost $18 million, $5.5 million more than the grant the CPDA has received to design and build the park; I don't know whether the park's design is being scaled back or whether they're still hoping to raise the extra funds (I've asked, but haven't received an answer).
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More posts: ANC News, Canal Park, meetings
 

A couple events on the calendar for the week of Dec. 7 to highlight:
* On Wednesday, Dec. 9, ANC 6D's ABC committee will be having its monthly meeting (in advance of the full ANC meeting on Dec. 14), and on the agenda is "presentation of plans by Justin Ross re Justin's Cafe planned for 1st & L Streets, SE." This is the first step in the (long) process for Velocity's restaurant to get its liquor license, although I haven't yet seen an announcement/posting for their official ABRA hearing (maybe it'll be in tomorrow's DC Register). The meeting is at 7 pm at King Greenleaf Recreation Center, 201 N Street, S.W.
* The Anacostia Community Boathouse Association will be having its annual Boathouse Lighting and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 6:30 pm. This year's honorees include Tommy Wells, winner of the ACBA's "Champion" Award, who will get to flip the switch to turn on the holiday lights. The boathouse is at 1115 O Street, SE, nestled between the two spans of the 11th Street Bridges.
* ANC 6B (which is mostly Capitol Hill but includes the Eighth Street area south of the freeway in its boundaries) is having its monthly meeting on Dec. 8, and it includes a presentation by WASA on the Combined Sewer Overflow Project, and a resolution on the Ward 6 Residential Parking Protection Pilot Act of 2009, which has its city council hearing on Dec. 10. The meeting is at 7 pm at the Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE.
 

Here's a bunch of little items and event reminders. Alas, next week's pile of happenings come at a bad time on my calendar, and I'm going to have to miss almost all of them, so this would be a good chance for everyone to attend these meetings themselves instead of sitting around waiting for me to tell you what happened at them. :-)
* ANC 6D (Southwest and Near Southeast) has posted the agenda for its November meeting, which includes an update on the plans for Canal Park. It's on Monday, Nov. 9, at 7 pm, at St. Augustine's, Sixth and M streets, SW.
* The next night, ANC 6B (Capitol Hill SE and Eighth Street) is having its November meeting, where there will be a presentation by CSX on its planned Virginia Avenue Tunnel construction. (Voice of the Hill recently wrote about the plans, and you can read my posts about them, which include links to some source documents.) ANC 6B's meeting is Nov. 10 at 7 pm at the Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE.
* Plus, the Friends of Garfield Park are having their own informational meeting about the CSX plans, on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 7 pm at Capitol Hill Day School (Second and South Carolina, SE).
* The Lower 8th Street Visioning Process folks have posted the minutes, historical background, and main presentation slides from their two October sessions. They've also posted the agenda for their November meetings, scheduled for 8:30 am and 7 pm on November 17 at the People's Church, 535 Eighth St., SE.
* And, if these events aren't enough for you, you can also watch on Nov. 12 the city council's Committee on Finance and Revenue Hearing on the bill that would allow the sale of bonds via the city's CFO office that would pay for a considerable amount of "Phase 3" infrastructure work for Capper/Carrollsburg redevelopment, encompassing some as-yet-undetermined combination of underground work on the Second Street blocks, the relocation of the DPW operations at New Jersey and K and demolition of that block, and the construction of I Street between Second and New Jersey. (This is above and beyond the $9.5 million in federal stimulus funds that the city is receiving to allow Capitol Quarter's second phase of townhouses to go forward.) The council hearing is on the 12th at 10 am, and you can watch on DC cable channel 13 or via the channel's web site. Here's my post about this proposed bill, if you want to know more.
 

While my dinner is in the oven, here's the speediest of reports from tonight's ANC 6D meeting:
* The ANC voted 7-0 on a resolution supporting the city council's proposed marriage equality act.
* They voted 5-2 to support Florida Rock Properties' pending request in front of the Zoning Commission to extend the deadline for the first building permit application at RiverFront two years, to June, 2012, which would push the deadline for the start of first-phase construction to 2013. (Read this entry for more details, and see my project page for specifics on the development itself.) It's expected that this will be taken up at the November 9th ZC public meeting.
David Briggs of Holland and Knight, representing FRP, said that while the developer has worked "assiduously and tenaciously" since last year to find either equity or construction funding, the notion of starting the first-phase office building within the current zoning timeline is "just not viable." FRP does say, though, that they will be continuing to search for funding if they receive the extension. In the meantime, FRP made its required $800,000 payment to the city last fall to help defray the costs of Diamond Teague Park next door; I asked if there were any possibility that perhaps the land on the very east end of the Florida Rock site, which will eventually be a public plaza that abuts Teague Park, might be cleared and opened as public space before the construction begins on the office building--they're "looking at options."
* The commissioners also voted 7-0 to support the zoning special exception request by the operator of the six-unit "Casa degli Angeli" at Third and L, which is currently operating as a month-to-month room rental and which is looking for a zoning change to become a full-fledged bed and breakfast. The Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing is scheduled for Nov. 17.
 

The agenda for Monday's ANC 6D meeting has been posted, with two Near Southeast items listed. The first is that the developers of the RiverFront (aka Florida Rock) site between the Anacostia and the ballpark are apparently filing for a time extension on their zoning PUD ("planned unit development," for those of you mercifully unaware). When the zoning approval for this project finally came through in 2008 (after years of slogging through the process), the developers were given until May of 2010 to apply for building permits for the first phase of the project (an office building on the east end of the site, near Diamond Teague Park), with construction then required to start by May 2011. So, although it was recently reported that Florida Rock Properties is looking for an equity partner to help finance the development of the site, they clearly believe that it will be tough for them to meet the zoning order timeline.
Timeline extensions are increasingly common cases being heard by the Zoning Commission these days, as financing for commercial real estate development continues to be extremely difficult to procure; the Capper redevelopment received one earlier this year. I don't yet see a hearing date for FRP's extension request on the zoning calendar.
In other tidbits:
* Also on the 6D agenda is the "Casa degli Angeli" at Third and L, which has a Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing scheduled for Nov. 17. The six-unit building, which is currently operating as a month-to-month room rental, is looking for a zoning change to become a full-fledged bed and breakfast.
* The latest issue of Voice of the Hill has more detail on the CSX plans to expand the Virginia Avenue tunnel; you can read the documents that CSX submitted to the National Capital Regional Transportation Planning Board for some additional details. Quoting the Voice: "CSX spokesperson Bob Sullivan said the project would take between two-and-a-half and three years, while a District Department of Transportation Department official made a slightly lower estimate. 'We anticipate that there would be some traffic impacts during the course of this project, which is probably going to last a couple of years,' said agency spokesperson John Lisle.'" Neighbors in the area are concerned: ANC 6B will be getting a briefing about the plans at its Nov. 10 meeting.
* On Oct. 27, there's a public meeting about the CapitalSpace plan, "the first comprehensive analysis of Washington's parks and open space in almost 40 years," which is attempting to get the various federal and local agencies that run the many parks in the city more closely coordinated, along with other plans to improve the parks themselves. The meeting is at the MLK Library from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.
 

If you can wait an extra minute or to before going back to bed and pulling the covers over you until this cold rain is over, here's a few (very) small items:
* DDOT sent out a press release late Wednesday announcing a series of public meetings to "engage residents and businesses in the implementation of improvements proposed for the transit system for the city, including streetcars", the first phase of which should eventually run across the 11th Street Bridges from Anacostia to H Street NE. They haven't posted the release on their own web site yet, but Streetcars for DC has it (UPDATE: it's now posted at DDOT, and amended slightly). The closest meeting to Near Southeast is the first one, Oct. 22 from 7 to 8:30 pm at J.O. Wilson Elementary, 660 K St., NE. For more information, visit DDOT's Streetcar pages.
And, via BeyondDC, the WBJ is reporting that the H Street portion of the first phase will be completed first, thanks to lobbying by Tommy Wells. Wells is also working to overturn the longtime ban on overhead wires in parts of the city that include H Street, according to the article. But no timeline for the start of construction has been mentioned. (UPDATE 2: In a tweet, DDOT says this: "Our official target date is still late 2012 for Anacostia, but we are working to accelerate that line as well as H/Benning.")
Unfortunately, DDOT's current site doesn't include the early studies for the project, but Richard Layman ferreted out the web archive version of the site, where you can see the line down M Street SE and SW was one of the possible additional lines at this time. Will there be one in the next phase of plans?
* It may not seem like the sale of Corus Bank's portfolio of distressed construction loans to a group led by Starwood Capital Group would be of much interest, but included in that portfolio are the construction loans for both Velocity Condos and Monument's 55 M Street office building. This shouldn't have much of an impact on Velocity, but could help 55 M in its quest to lease space, as potential tenants see more certainty surrounding the building's financing.
* ANC 6D's October monthly meeting is Monday, Oct. 19, at 7 pm at St. Augustine's, 6th and M streets, SW. No agenda released as of yet (which is why I cry when I see other ANCs that post their agendas well over a week [sometimes two] before their meetings).
* Tommy Wells has arranged for free seasonal flu shots (not H1N1) to be given to senior citizens in Southwest and near Southeast on Saturday, Oct. 17, from 9 am to noon at the Greenleaf Recreation Center, 201 N Street, SW. The shots will be free for seniors with Medicare Part B as their primary insurance, or $30 otherwise.
* (ADDED) I linked to a story about this idea a few weeks back, but here's a detailed post from TSArchitect (cross-posted at GGW) on "McMillan Two," which would radically remake the Anacostia Waterfront by filling in much of the river to narrow it to a width of about 500 feet, the same as the Seine in central Paris.
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More posts: 55 M St., ANC News, meetings, Monument/Half St., streetcars
 

There's a move afoot to create a dog park in a portion of Virginia Avenue Park, the little-known greenspace nestled between Ninth and 11th streets, SE, just south (and under!) the SE Freeway. (I'm as guilty as anyone for not swinging by there more often--I only have a few paltry photos posted, and hardly any recent ones.) "Capitol Canines" is proposing to use space on the 11th Street side of the park, and at Tuesday's ANC6B meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to support the proposal.
This idea is still very much in its early stages, and the group will be needing to raise money to get the improvements built. (Virginia Avenue Park itself is run and maintained by the city's Department of Parks and Recreation, although property records say the land is owned by the feds.) Here's an early rendering of the vision for the park, with the dog park at right; at left is a new playground that a private developer/individual is interested in creating, and the existing community garden is at the bottom, along L Street. The three groups will need to coordinate together as the project moves forward.
If you're interested in being part of the project or in getting more information, you can join the Google Group they've set up; the petition they're circulating for support is also available online.
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More posts: ANC News, Dog Parks, 8th Street, Virginia Ave Park
 

A slew of upcoming events to pass along:
* On Wednesday (Aug. 19), there's going to be an 11th Street Bridges Open House, billed as an update for Ward 8 residents about the status of the bridge replacement project. (But I'm guessing people from other wards can come, too.) It's from 7 pm to 8:30 pm, at the Union Temple Baptist Church at 1225 W St., SE.
* Thursday (Aug. 20) is the last night of the BID's 80's Outdoor Movies series, with "Ghostbusters" on the bill (rescheduled from a rainout earlier this year). Apparently the BID is planning a four-week fall movie series starting in September; I'll pass more along on that when I get it.
* Next Wednesday (Aug. 26) the DC Housing Authority is holding an official ribbon cutting and grand opening at Capitol Quarter, from 10 am to noon at Fourth and L, with the mayor expected to be in attendance. This is just a little over two years after the ceremonial groundbreaking, held on a sweltering day in June 2007.
* If you're desperate for something to do Wednesday morning but a ribbon cutting isn't your thing, the U.S. Navy Museum at the Washington Navy Yard will host "Pirate or Privateer? War of 1812 Day," a series of demonstrations and lectures on the War of 1812. The program, which runs from 10 am to 2 pm, includes Gun Drills in the replica of the USS Constitution and Sea Chanteys. The event is free and open to the public, though note that there's no parking available inside the gates for visitors.
* The National Capital Planning Commission again has the design of the 11th Street Bridges on their tentative agenda, for their Sept. 3 meeting. It had also been on the tentative agenda for the July meeting, but didn't make the final cut; hopefully that won't happen again, because NCPC always puts together such great reports on the projects it votes on (and posts them on their web site), so it's a good place to get details that have been hard to find elsewhere.
* This is still a few weeks away, but residents might want to mark their calendars that the next ANC 6D meeting, on Sept. 14 will be held in Southeast, at the Courtyard by Marriott at New Jersey and L. I've been attending ANC meetings off and on for six years, and this is the first one I remember that will be crossing South Capitol Street.
* The next day, Sept. 15, Urban Land Institute Washington is holding its third Urban Marketplace Conference and Expo, which brings together "the private, nonprofit, and public sectors to explore redevelopment opportunities and best practices in emerging neighborhoods and corridors across the Washington metropolitan region." One of the day's discussions, from 3 pm to 4 pm will focus on the ballpark district (and I'm one of the panelists).
All of these are of course on my Upcoming Events Calendar.
 

* This Sunday (July 19), there's going to be a "Grill-Off" at Nationals Park before the 1:30 game against the Cubs. Phil Bucco, who oversees the menus at the ballpark, will be competing against Teddy Folkman, the executive chef at Granville Moore's. It'll be an Iron Chef-like challenge, where the chefs won't know the ingredient they're working with beforehand. The event starts at noon, but the first-come first-served seats (in the Nats Family Fun Area) can be grabbed starting at 11 am, when the gates open. Plates will be judged at 1 pm.
* On Tuesday, July 21, the BID is hosting a "Mental Mapping" event, where they're asking residents to "Sketch out your shopping route to assist in a study about neighborhood retail needs." It's at Capitol Hill Tower at 6:30 pm; RSVP to rsvp@capitolriverfront.org.
* On Saturday, Aug. 8, the 3rd Annual Youth River Sports Day will be held at the Anacostia Community Boathouse, from 10 am to 2 pm. Rowing and paddling instruction, guided river tours, and more will be offered; my photos from last year's event give a taste of the activities.
* This is a ways off, but SWDC Blog reports that the next ANC 6D meeting, on Sept. 14 (no August meeting) will be held in Southeast, at the Courtyard by Marriott at New Jersey and L. I've been attending ANC meetings off and on for six years, and this is the first one I remember that will be crossing South Capitol Street.
* Even farther off (well, the next day), Urban Land Institute Washington is holding its third Urban Marketplace Conference and Expo, which brings together "the private, nonprofit, and public sectors to explore redevelopment opportunities and best practices in emerging neighborhoods and corridors across the Washington metropolitan region." One of the day's discussions will focus on the ballpark district (and I'm one of the panelists). Early-bird registration ends July 31.
* In non-event news, Fox 5 reports on how the Nationals' problems on the field "are making the city's $700-million stadium look like a bad investment." To wit: "Before the stadium was built, the city projected average attendance at 34,708 per game and tax revenues from tickets and merchandise of $15.1 million for this season. The reality, average attendance is about 23,213, ranking the Nationals 24th out of 30 teams. Based on attendance figures through June, the city now estimates tax revenues of about $8.9 million. The office of the Chief Financial Officer says tax revenues could increase because average attendance has improved slightly since June." However, "The office of the Chief Financial Officer estimates the city will raise $50.2 million through its Ballpark Revenue Fund, more than enough to make the $32-million bond payment on the stadium with money left over. The bulk of that however does not come from the Ballpark itself, but rather from a utility tax and a business tax in the city."
* Since I was out of town this weekend, I missed all the Elton/Billy hullabaloo. Here's a pile of reviews and blog posts having to do with the big show.
* For your (off-topic) Real Estate Development Collapse reading pleasure, a long piece on Williamsburg, NY: "Most unsettling are the cases of the developers who seem to have vanished, leaving behind so many vacant lots and half-completed buildings--eighteen, to be precise, more than can be found in all of the Bronx--that large swaths of the neighborhood have come to resemble a city after an air raid."
 

* ANC 6D's meeting on Monday night (June 8) looks to be a little shorter than usual, with only a few agenda items, one of which is a public space permit request by the Courtyard by Marriott to expand (?) their sidewalk cafe.
* Speaking of L Street, a reader wrote today about the Little Red Building at Second and L, once known as the Star Market. Apparently the owner was posting a liquor license hearing notice, which gives me a feeling of deja vu, since this also happened in September 2006. The owner told my anonymous tipster about his plans for the building, which are pretty much what we've been hearing since 2006: tear down the building and build a new two-story structure, with the first floor being a liquor store and the second floor being a deli (at other points over the past few years it was a sushi bar and then a wine bar on the second floor). The plans have even stayed mostly the same after the building changed hands last year for $900,000. See my various posts from 2006 through 2008 about the previous attempts to change the building's liquor license and the negotiations with the ANC.
* Lots of coverage today of the city "landing a movie project," though it's the Owen Wilson/Reese Withersoon/Paul Rudd baseball movie that was first reported on back in May. Parts of it will be filmed at Nationals Park.
* In a similar vein, the Post reports today on the trapeze school coming to DC, which we discussed a few days back. Negotiations are still underway to have them "land" (ar-ar) at The Yards after they spend the summer on the old Convention Center site.
 

* Admit it: you know you want to see it--here's NBC's coverage of the Obama visit to Five Guys, from Tuesday night's "Inside the Obama White House" special. (Click on "Part 5", "Out to Lunch with Obama.") With a bunch of brief glimpses of the Little Red Building!
* The Third Annual Ward 6 Family Day is happening on June 20, from 11 am to 3 pm at the Rosedale Rec Center in Northeast. Tommy Wells's web site says activities will include "Capitol Hill Bikes free bike safety inspections and adjustments, celebrity kickball game, Washington Humane Society animal adoption and training, basketball games, face painting, moon bounce, corn hole tournament, horseshoes and live music. In addition, the pool will be open for the summer."
* The Nationals are having their first Ladies Night and Homerun Happy Hour of 2009, Thursday night (June 4). Free food (Hard Times) and beverages, and "shopping, dancing, massages and manicures with participating vendors." There'll even be a mechanical bull. Tickets are $30, and include a seat in sections 101-104.
* The Board of Zoning Adjustment has approved Donohoe's requested extension on the special exception it received back in 2007 for its planned office building at 1111 New Jersey Avenue, which would have expired at the end of this year. I didn't watch the hearing, so I don't know how long the extension is good for.
* WBJ and City Paper have coverage of the naming of Valerie Santos Young as the new Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
* The May issue of the Waterfront Watch newsletter on doings around the Anacostia River is now available.
* The June Hill Rag has a summary of May's ANC 6D meeting, where Capitol Riverfront BID executive director Michael Stevens gave a primer on the BID's operations and plans.
* Speaking of the BID, they've redesigned their web site.
 

Between it being Friday and the sun finally being out, I bet everyone's feeling a bit better today. Maybe even Biking to Work! So, a few tidbits:
* The latest Capitol Riverfront BID newsletter is out, with a few items of note. First off, there's a new "branding" campaign going on--"Be Out Front." Look for signs promoting "Front Yard," "Front Office," "Front Door," "Store Front," etc. And they'll soon be launching an equally rebranded web site.
Also, the current estimated population within the BID is 1,584 residents; the newsletter says that there are now more than 2,000 residential units, more than half of which are leased/sold and occupied.
The newsletter also gives the Bullpen's official opening date as May 15, and also mentions that the weekly Tuesday farmer's market at USDOT is now underway, and that the weekly Wednesday lunchtime concerts start on May 20.
* The agenda for Monday's ANC 6D meeting is out (hopefully it'll show up online before the meeting itself), and the only Near Southeast item is a presentation by Michael Stevens of the BID--kind of a BID 101 tutorial for the ANC commissioners. Otherwise, it's voting on marathons, bus stops, after-school programs, and also an announcement of a "Southwest Night" at Ft. McNair on July 1. The meeting is at 6th and M streets, SW, at 7 pm. (Maybe next month it'll finally move to the new digs at the new 1D police station at the former Bowen Elementary.)
* The Examiner reports that the 2010 federal budget includes $15 million for "Southeast Federal Center remediation." There's certainly been piles of environmental cleanup there over the years (not surprising when it used to be blocks and blocks of munitions factories).
* EYA has spiffed up its web site a bit--their Capitol Quarter page is worth a visit if you haven't checked it out before.
 

At Monday night's meeting, ANC 6D voted 6-0-1 to approve a letter drafted by commissioners McBee and Siegel responding to submissions by the Housing Authority in the wake of the marathon March 20 zoning commission hearing on the various modifications and extensions being requested for the Capper PUD. As I wrote on the 20th, there was much discussion about DCHA's request to delay construction of the planned community center until at least 2011, and there was also testimony by two former Capper residents that DCHA isn't adhering to what the 2004 zoning order requires in terms of job training and other social services for the former Capper residents.
The letter ANC 6D is now forwarding to the Zoning Commission can be read here, and it addresses in detail the Community Support Services Program (CSSP) and the community center. The DCHA numbers quoted in the ANC letter show an initial CSSP case load since 2005 of 828 cases, with only 394 cases now active due to residents declining to participate, being declared ineligible, or having gone "missing." The letter also says that no further funding for the CSSP program is forthcoming from HUD, and says that the numbers provided by DCHA "do not paint a good picture for a Hope VI Project whose main objective is sustainability and empowerment for the effected community."
As for the community center planned for Fifth and K, the ANC says that its delay "has already done sufficient damage" and that its absence "will fail to address the social and educational needs of the residents." The ANC also notes a lack of any mention of the center in various testimonies by DCHA on their budget and on stimulus dollars coming to the city, saying "we now have no confidence [...] that the Center will ever be built."
The Zoning Commission's next hearing on these Capper doings is expected to be on April 27.
 

Tonight ANC 6D gave its support to a plan for "Festival Park on Half Street," a 14,000-square-foot combination food, drink, and activity space on the northwest corner of Half and N streets, on land owned by Akridge directly across from Nationals Park.
This is the "beer garden" that caused a bit of a stir last week, and representatives of Akridge, Georgetown Events, and Headfirst Sports were on hand to explain their concept to the ANC. A document handed out describes it as a space with "a large tent that will include a beverage station, a temporary stage for live music, porta johns, tables with seating, possible baseball netting cages for live instruction, and a children's activity area." It would be open on game days beginning three hours before game time and ending two hours after (or before midnight regardless of whether the game is over). The newly erected 12-foot-high wooden fence would surround the site, with one entrance where IDs will be checked and bracelets given to those 21 and older, with up to 12 security employees on hand. There would be food from third-party vendors as well as Georgetown Events' own restaurants (Surfside, Jetties, and the Rookery). There's also the possibility of activities in the space (such as farmers' markets or other events) on non-gamedays, though the lease for the space ends at the beginning of November.
Headfirst Sports (named by Sports Illustrated for Kids as the "Best Summer Camp in the Entire Washington Area") is planning to run in the park a "variety of games, contests, and competitions as well as small clinic and group instruction aimed at teaching young Nationals fans how to play and love baseball and softball." The operator of Headfirst also made clear his interest in working with youth groups from the neighborhood in sessions apart from the gameday activities.
The ANC commissioners were supportive of the plans, although they had a lot of questions (too bad you all missed the long discussion of whether the phrase "frozen drinks" is a legal term), and 6D07 commissioner Bob Siegel complimented the group, saying "you convinced us that this is going to possibly work." Some specifics still need to be hammered out in the "voluntary agreement" that Georgetown Events is entering into with the ANC, but the commissioners voted 7-0 to support the group's application for a "Tavern" liquor license. An April 30-May 1 opening date is being targeted, but there is still city bureaucracy to contend with.
As for the Akridge site, baseball fans heading to the ballpark today were met with a slew of new signage on the west side of Half Street advertising "Akridge at Half Street"--the new web site shows some of the art on the signs, and I also took a few photos of the fences and put them on my Akridge Half Street page, though the skies were so gloomy that I couldn't bring myself to post the complete set. There's a spot where local artists will be creating works right on the fence, and there is also a chalkboard where passers-by can write messages, as many did today.
UPDATE: Some additional details on the plans from WBJ.
 

City Paper does some digging on the "Beer Garden" item on ANC6D's April 13 agenda that I posted about yesterday: "Andrew J. Kline, representing Robert 'Bo' Blair, said at a March 25 meeting of the Alcohol Beverage Control Board that his client wants to create a 'festival site with amenities' near Nationals Stadium, but that 'beer garden is not our term, I don't know where that came from.' [Note from JD: that's what it said on the ANC agenda.]
"Blair, who is on four licenses in the city, according to Kline, plans to hire private security staff, and there will be one main entrance to the festival site. There will be no cover for admittance, and there will be a separate tent where alcohol is served where staff will check IDs. Their preliminary proposal indicates a trailer will be used to lock up liquor when there's no game."
UPDATE: Further information in a WashPost piece on food and drink options near the ballpark: "And the real estate firm Akridge, which plans to eventually turn the space of a former Metrobus garage at Half and M streets into shops, offices and residential units, is hoping to convert the now-empty lot across from the centerfield gate on N Street into something of a block party this season. 'The concept is a tented event space -- partially tented, mostly open -- with live entertainment, food and beverages," says Akridge Development Manager Adam Gooch. 'Half Street is supposed to be the entertainment area.... We're trying to get some life down here.' Permits, schedules and most of the details of the project have yet to be finalized[.]"
 

The agenda for the April 13 ANC 6D meeting has been mailed out (though isn't yet posted online), and one of the items is "Akridge Realty Beer Garden"--apparently they are looking to have a summertime offering on their land at Half and N, across from the ballpark. I presume it would just be on game nights, though I don't know for sure, and don't know anymore than what I've written here. More as I get it....
 

How can I possibly summarize in this small space the never-ending parade of testimony and questions at last night's hearing on the various Capper zoning modification requests? (I just thank the heavens I watched the web cast and didn't attend in person.) If you didn't avail yourself of this entertainment, you'll just have to wait for the transcript to come out to get all the specifics, but here's a few bullet points on issues that were brought up (read the Office of Planning report on what was actually being requested):
* Commissioner May was displeased that there were no "sample boards" of the exterior finishes for the two new apartment buildings, as is apparently required for a stage 2 planned-unit-development approval.
* The commissioners were clearly befuddled by the scope of the requests, variances, and exceptions before them, even though last year they had requested that the three separate filings be grouped together in a single hearing.
* There was much discussion of the request to further delay the construction of the community center until at least 2011, with the Housing Authority testifying at length as to the financial realities of the bond and lending markets (see more about that here), and members of the public and ANC commissioners (Siegel and McBee of 6D) emphasizing as they have in the past "the community's" need for the center and questioning DCHA's idea that the neighborhood needs to reach a "critical mass" before the center should be built (does 300 completed units out of a planned 1700 meet that threshold?). DCHA said repeatedly that building a community center is a promise they have made that will not be broken, but that right now it's just not a possibility.
* Two former Capper residents testified to their belief that the Housing Authority is not adhering to what's required in terms of job training and other social services that are supposed to be provided while residents are waiting to move back, which got chair Anthony Hood into a bit of a dander. (Read pages 12-14 of the 2004 Capper zoning order to see what is expected in this realm.) This and the other public comments (such as the "why can't you use Obama's stimulus money?" question that had come up at ANC 6D) brought a somewhat forceful response from David Cortiella of the Housing Authority as to what they're doing for the former residents, and he again went through the current barriers to financing the center. There was then a minor dustup between commissioners Jeffries and May, with May pressing the housing authority on its performance and timeline and Jeffries expressing some level of surprise that the zoning commission was questioning a Hope VI redevelopment's financial problems "in this economic climate."
By the time the hearing wrapped up at 11:15 pm (and I'd be lying if I said I had paid attention to every word), the commission was requesting a series of additional filings from the housing authority and its team, and put it all on their April 27 agenda. (And look for this to be back on the ANC 6D agenda on April 13, too.)
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More posts: ANC News, Capper, meetings, zoning
 

I can't hardly bring myself to write about the Capper PUD modification requests *again* (my first post on them was back in July), so I'll just stick to the basics and say that on Monday night ANC 6D voted to support the three requests, with provisos that the Zoning Commission request the start date for construction of the community center be in 2011 and not 2012 and that the Housing Authority provide *50* parking spaces in the lot at 7th and M for health-care workers who visit the Capper Seniors #1 apartment building, where apparently there is trouble with parking (according to commissioner Robert Siegel, who lives across the street). The delay on the community center was again a major sticking point (just as it was at the February meeting where these requests were also presented, giving Monday night a very Groundhog Day feel), and the Housing Authority representatives again explained that the center must be financed with bonds, which are all but impossible to "float" these days given the economic realities. (The bonds that eventually pay for the community center will also pay for the demolition of the trash transfer station and the other infrastructure work needed on the western edge of the Capper footprint, around Canal Park.) Cries of "but what about the Obama stimulus money?" also were left unsatisfied. But, in the end, with the extra wording proposed by Commissioner Sobelsohn and approved by Siegel, the resolution passed.
The Zoning Commission will have its hearing on these three requests on March 19. Read my February or July postings for all the specifics. And I hope to at some point get renderings of the apartment buildings planned for L Street between Second and Third and between Sixth and Seventh (hint, hint).
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More posts: ANC News, Capper, meetings, zoning
 
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