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12 Blog Posts Since 2003

There's been a whirlwind of "big" posts as 2012 has gotten underway, so here's a few items I've neglected:
* BID Reports: At its annual meeting last week, the Capitol Riverfront BID released both its annual report and the "Green Print of Growth" study they commissioned, which showed that the portion of the Green Line from the Navy Yard station to Georgia Avenue/Petworth has become over the past 10 years a "regional leader" in "capturing highly-prized young professional housing demand and high-wage employment," just nosing ahead of the Orange Line's Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and outstripping the Red Line's stretch in Northwest DC when looking at household growth in the 18-to-34 demographic. The report also says (shocker!) that "the analysis conducted suggests that the Capitol Riverfront--given its Green Line access at the Navy Yard Station and its significant amount of development capacity--is among the most competitive locations in the region for households, companies, and retailers."
You can read the executive summary, the complete version, and the slides that RCLCO's Shyam Kannan displayed during his presentation at the meeting. (Additional coverage from WBJ and CapBiz.)
This was followed by a commentary by BID chief Michael Stevens in Monday's Washington Post/Capital Business in which he argued: "It's time for business and residents to recognize and acknowledge a new reality: The Green Line corridor has emerged as a powerful economic engine for the District and the region. And it's time for Metro, the city and the private sector to invest more in the area to support this growth trajectory."
UPDATE: Also coming out of the annual meeting, the BID voted to change how it handles its taxes, which still needs to be approved by the city council to take effect. (WBJ)
* On a parallel track, though it doesn't have to do with Near Southeast specifically, the Post's Steve Pearlstein wrote over the weekend about how signs suggest "that the next phase of growth in the Washington region will focus on these underdeveloped areas in the eastern quadrants of the District and some of the region’s older, closer-in suburbs."
* New Views: While I was at the BID's meeting, I took the opportunity to get some photos of the inside of 1015 Half Street, plus one shot looking out that shows not all views of the U.S. Capitol dome are, by default, "majestic." (Alternate caption: "Would you like fries with that democracy?") One Twitterer suggested that the rock circle at far right, on the Capitol Hill Power Plant's property, is where the ritual sacrifices are held. So, if you see the Congressional leadership skulking around I Street late at night....
* Artomatic Decision: The Post's Jonathan O'Connell tweeted this morning that Artomatic is headed to Crystal City. Organizers had been looking at both 1015 Half and the old National Geospatial Intelligence building at 101 M.
* CSX: The Virginia Avenue Tunnel web site now has public comments on the Nov. 30 "concepts" meeting, as well as the transcript of that session. Comments are still being accepted through the end of January.
* Protest: A reader who lives on 7th Street just across from the Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters has passed along that the neighbors on that block have decided to lodge a formal protest at the liquor license renewal of the 7th and L Market, thanks to having witnessed multiple examples over the past few years of public drunkenness and urination, loitering, littering, drug dealing, indecent exposure, and even one proposition by a prostitute. There's no doubt that that market is a bit of a throwback to the neighborhood's previous incarnation; it will be interesting to see how this proceeds, and also how the eventual arrival of the National Community Church on that block changes (or doesn't change) things.
* AIIIEEEE!: Don't have enough to worry about these days? How about rising sea levels inundating areas along DC's waterfronts? (WaPo/Capital Weather Gang)
* Neighborhood News Roundup: The Post's new Where We Live real estate blog has a rundown and photo gallery today on the latest progress on the development and food fronts in Near Southeast. If it all looks and sounds strangely familiar, that shouldn't be a surprise.
 

Jonathan O'Connell has a piece in Monday's WaPo Capital Business about Artomatic's search for a 2012 home, and how the organization wants to replicate the success of the 2009 version at the then-vacant 55 M St., SE: "This year's search is down to about four buildings, two near Nationals Park: 1015 Half St. SE, an empty 414,000-square-foot building being purchased by Prudential Real Estate Investors; and the former offices of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, at 101 M St. SE. Artomatic also is considering the People's Building in Northeast, and another location in Crystal City."
1015 Half Street (left), on the site of the old Nation nightclub, is currently home to more than 400,000 square feet of Class A office space emptiness right now. The NGA recently departed 1st and M (right), and while I would love for Artomatic to come to this spot merely for the chance to finally get inside the formerly armed encampment before its inevitable demolition as The Yards moves forward, I wonder how excited the organizers would be to have a building with almost no windows, except on the top floor. (I know that 55 M's large windows and great views of Nationals Park, Near Southeast, Southwest, and north to the Capitol were a big hit with 2009 Artomatic attendees.)
It was in December 2008 that word first began to trickle out on the 2009 Artomatic location, so perhaps the decision one way or the other won't be too long in coming.
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More posts: 1015 Half, artomatic, Events, square 697, The Yards, Parcel A/Yards
 

From today's print edition of the Washington Business Journal (subscribers only), news that two as-yet-unoccupied office buildings in Near Southeast may be close to securing tenants. WBJ says that Monument Realty is "in discussions" with Booz Allen Hamilton to lease more than 30,000 square feet of space at 55 M (currently home to Artomatic), though Booz is apparently also looking at Lerner's 20 M across the street and the under-construction 1015 Half a block to the north.
The article also says that an "undisclosed federal agency is on the cusp of announcing" a 100,000-sq-ft lease at 20 M. I have heard murmurings of some outfit moving to 20 M--if someone wants to whisper in my ear who it is, I'm listening!
 

Some recent items of note, some Tweeted over the past few days and some I just lazily haven't gotten around to mentioning until now:
* Several readers wrote in to mention the awnings now in place at the Cornercopia Deli at Third and K, which were installed on Friday. Still no word on when it might open--but to make sure that I hear about it ASAP when its doors do open, I pledge to buy a sandwich there for the first reader who alerts me that the deli is open to customers.
* If you haven't been in the unit blocks of either I or K streets--the Wendy's (on the site of the on-hold 23 I Street apartment building by JPI) is now completely demolished, and glass is now being hung on 1015 Half Street. If you're wondering why the west side of 1015 Half is not glassed but has just a plain beige exterior--remember that that side will just be facing an alley, with 1000 South Capitol someday rising between it and South Capitol Street. (Emphasis on the *someday.*)
* The Obama Five Guys on Second Street has seen a 50 percent jump in business since the president's visit on Friday, says Politics Daily. And plenty of people are ordering the "Obama Burger," a cheesburger with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and jalapenos.
* A little excitement at USDOT on Monday when a suspicious package forced the evacuation of the Fourth Street building. According to DC Fire and EMS's Twitter feed, it was a package leaking diesel fuel.
* Greater Greater Washington spent some time looking more closely at the schematic of the new 11th Street Bridges that I posted about last week.
* The Post had a good report on Saturday's high school baseball Congressional Bank Classic at Nationals Park.
* The Mayor wants to clean out the Community Benefits Fund funded by the ballpark to pay for 10 weeks of his summer jobs program, says the Examiner. Members of the council say that six weeks (the amount that can be paid for by the original amount budgeted for the program) is good enough, and that money should go to various projects they've earmarked. (UPDATE: The council voted today *not* to cut the program to six weeks.)
 

Hard to believe, after the weeks of buildup, that the opening of Artomatic is going to turn out to be the *second* most exciting event in Near Southeast today, but it should still be noted that it did indeed open its doors at noon today, running for hours and hours between now and July 5. You can get all the specifics at the Artomatic web site, and I'm sure many local blogs and media outlets will give it coverage far beyond what my left-brain-ness is capable of providing, but I did take a few photos at the kick-off this morning that might whet your appetite to go give it a visit. And these shots were from just one of the eight floors' worth of offerings, so there's plenty that I plan to go back to see. (I also took a few photos of the surrounding skyline, since this was my first visit inside Monument's 55 M.)
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More posts: 55 M St., artomatic, Events, Monument/Half St.
 

* Tomorrow (Thursday, May 28) at 10:30 am is the groundbreaking ceremony for the Park at the Yards, the first phase of which is scheduled to be completed next spring. The mayor is supposed to be in attendance--I may have to create a Shovel-Wielding Fenty photo gallery, since I now have quite a few of those shots.
* Friday (May 29) at noon is the opening of Artomatic at 55 M Street. I'm giving everyone advance warning that I am hopelessly left-brained, so I won't really even be trying to cover it much beyond wandering through to get the flavor. It runs until July 5, so everyone has plenty of time to get there and check it out. (You can see some of the installations already through the windows.) See my calendar for the specific days and hours (it's closed Mondays and Tuesdays).
* An extremely helpful commenter in this thread has explained why some of the flyovers and ramps are missing from the new Skanska/Facchina schematic of the new 11th Street Bridges design that I linked to: "[It] does not show all the ramp connections in the FEIS design because the District could only find $260 million to fund the project, and the FEIS design is estimated to cost $360 million. The District asked for proposals to build as much of the project as possible for the availible $260 mill, and the schematic shows how much the winning bidder Skanska/Facchina proposed to build. It is a lane-mile more than the next best proposal. The District's plan is to build the rest when they can secure funding (maybe sooner than later.)"
* While not mentioning Near Southeast specifically, this Post article from yesterday talks about the very tough office-space market in DC and surroundings: "'Unless they're already in the ground, they're not starting,' said Steven A. Levin, managing director at Spaulding & Slye. 'Any development project needing a loan over $25 million requires multiple lenders, and the guarantees are onerous. The amount of money you can borrow is also reduced.' [...] Dennis K. Moyer, a commercial real estate lawyer with Goulston & Storrs, said some of his clients are reviewing their existing loans and wondering whether they'll be paid, even on properties that are doing well. 'The next wave that comes is likely the workouts, foreclosures and restructurings,' he said."
 

[Note: I'm back in town after almost a week away (reminder to self: next year don't skip town the week before the home opener), so apologies if my coverage of the various events and media pieces has seemed even less scintillating than usual. And now I'm going to end the week with one more less-than-perfect entry, which I should have written before I left but didn't do it until now....]
If you haven't been back to Nationals Park or the surrounding Near Capitol Ballpark River Yards neighborhood since last year's Opening Day, here's what you'll see that wasn't completed on your last visit:
* 55 M Street - Right on top of the west entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station, at the head of Half Street, is Monument Realty's 275,000-sq-ft office building, which has been finished in the last few months and which will be home to Artomatic this summer. No office or retail tenants have been announced, although WBJ reported a few weeks back that Gordon Biersch may be eyeing some of 55 M's ground-floor space. The rest of Monument's Half Street site remains a large hole in the ground, with financing for the planned 350 residential units and adjoining hotel directly across from the ballpark nowhere to be found.
* 70 and 100 I Street - Sibling apartment buildings officially known as the Axiom and Jefferson at Capitol Yards first began move-ins in late summer 2008, and their combined 700 units are reported to be about 50 percent leased. (They're the big brick buildings sitting just south of the Freeway.)

* Onyx on First - Another apartment building (though it had been originally planned as condos), Onyx opened at the corner of First and L streets in late fall of 2008. It has approximately 266 units.

* 100 M Street - On the site of the old On Luck cafeteria at First and M, this 240,000-sq-ft office building opened right at the tail end of 2008, and is close to 40 percent leased, with Parsons occupying about one-third of the space. A SunTrust Bank branch is under construction on the ground floor--there's additional retail space where a restaurant could be a possibility, though no deals have been announced.

* 909 New Jersey - Finished mere moments ago (it opened last week), this 237-unit apartment building at New Jersey and I by JPI (developers of 70 and 100 I) is catching eyes with its blue-edged nighttime profile, and is generating piles of "have they signed anyone for their retail space?" messages in my inbox (answer: not that I've heard so far). Baseball fans walking down from Capitol South will also appreciate the wide new sidewalk now just one block south of the freeway.

As for what's currently underway, there's the first phase of townhouses at Capitol Quarter (where the first residents will move in this month and where work will continue into next year), the 200-unit Velocity condo building at First and L, and the 440,000-sq-ft office building at 1015 Half Street (which will be completed in 2010 but will already be cursed for obscuring the view of the Capitol dome from some seats in the ballpark that had it last year). There's also construction continuing at Diamond Teague Park, right across from the ballpark's grand staircase, but the somewhat optimistic timeline of having the water taxi piers completed by Opening Day has now been revised to "midseason."
Work had begun on rehabbing the brown-and-white Pattern/Joiner Shop at the Yards last year (which folks walking to the ballpark from the Nats Express drop-off will see), but financing problems brought the work to a halt early in 2009, and Forest City continues to look for money to restart the project.
The most prominent structure that's disappeared in the past 12 months is the former WMATA bus garage on Half Street just across from the subway entrance, demolished two weeks ago to make way for Akridge's planned 700,000-sq-ft mixed-use development, though that project won't get underway before 2010. (The south end of Akridge's Half Street land is where the [not-a-]beer garden may appear later this summer.)
But, as has been written about extensively elsewhere, as of now there's no new places to eat since last year (though a deli is coming to Third and K in May), and most likely no additional projects will get underway before next year.
So, study this little guide and amaze your friends with your knowledge of what's what as you look at the ballpark's surroundings.
 

From a piece in Friday's Post about [the lack of] food and drink options near Nationals Park: "The Velocity Capitol Riverfront condominiums, slated to open at First and L streets SE in the fall, will have a sports bar as part of its ground floor retail space." This is slightly different from what the Velocity sales office was telling prospective buyers earlier this year, which was that an Italian bistro was being planned.
The article also gives more details on the Akridge "block party" space at Half and N, mentions Artomatic, and talks about access via Circulator bus to the restaurants on Barracks Row.
 

(h/t DCist) What has been unofficially official around here since early December is now officially official: Artomatic 2009 will be held in Near Southeast, at Monument Realty's 55 M Street office building on top of the west entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station, from May 29 to July 5. Here's the Artomatic press release, which says that registration for artists wishing to participate will begin in March.
What exactly is Artomatic? "Held regularly since 1999, Artomatic transforms an unfinished indoor space into an exciting and diverse arts event that is free and open to the public. In addition to displays by hundreds of artists, the event features free films, educational presentations and children's activities, as well as musical, dance, poetry, theater and other performances." Free to the public, it will be open Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 1 a.m., and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m. (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.) Artomatic is also looking for volunteers; see the press release for more details.
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More posts: 55 M St., artomatic, Events, Monument/Half St.
 

From a just-sent-out press release, more details on the "Luck of the Draw Art and Music Event" being put on by Artomatic, Pink Line Project, and the Capitol Riverfront BID in the neighborhood this weekend:
"Luck of the Draw will transform selected units, lounges, courtyards and the parking lots at Velocity Condominium, Axiom at Capitol Yards and Onyx on First residential buildings with photography, installation art, graffiti artists, live music, DJs and dancing to create a threeday neighborhood art and entertainment event. Start the night at the Velocity Condominium's entertainment tent on Half Street between L St and K St SE, and then head over to Axiom at Capitol Yards at 100 I (Eye) St SE and Onyx on First at 1100 First St SE. Draw playing cards at each location and, in traditional Washington, DC style, barter, trade and negotiate with others for the best 5-card poker hand to enter a raffle and win an iPod Nano. Beverages and snacks will be available at the venues as well."
It's free and open to the public. Hours are 6 pm to 10 pm on Friday and Saturday (the 13th and 14th) and 2pm to 6 pm on Sunday the 15th.
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Today the Capitol Riverfront BID held its first annual meeting luncheon, on the seventh floor of the all-but-completed 100 M Street, showcasing great views of Nationals Park and of M Street (though the gray skies didn't make for good picture-taking). I didn't take copious notes, but here are a few items of note that I Twittered in between bites of chicken and a key lime tart for dessert:
* It's confirmed that Artomatic will be held in Near Southeast in May and June of 2009.
* The opening date for Diamond Teague Park continues to be set at March of '09. However, the BID's executive director said that Canal Park would be coming "in late 2010."
* The Capitol Riverfront area (which is a bit larger than my Near Southeast domain, since it also includes Buzzard Point) now has 1,100 residents.
Hopefully they'll be posting the spiffy Annual Report online, since it gives a lot of detail about development in the Capitol Riverfront area and the work that the BID does to promote and "brand" the neighborhood. (Though JDLand readers will be familiar with most of it already.) Best stat? The BID's Clean and Safe team members collected 3,600 bags of trash this year.
The keynote address was given by Greg Leisch of Delta Associates, and provided a flurry of statistics about the residential and commercial office space markets in DC compared to the rest of the country (in short: It Could Be Worse). Leisch said that he felt that the Capitol Riverfront area is well-positioned to benefit from the recovery that's expected to begin in late 2009/early 2010, in much the same way that the East End did after the 1990-91 recession and the Capitol Hill submarket did after the 2001-2002 recession. He also said that only about 1,600 new condos will have been sold across the Metro area in 2008. Ouch. You can see some of the stats from this presentation on the Delta web site.
UPDATE: From the BID, here's the Annual Report, and Greg Leisch's presentation.
 

Just got back from ANC 6D's meeting, and I'll leave you waiting until Tuesday for the first details on Akridge's Half Street plans (I don't want to give it short shrift) but here's the other Near Southeast items of the evening:
* Commissioner David Sobelsohn said an announcement is likely coming next week that the city's 2009 Artomatic festival will be held in ANC 6D, "most likely ANC 6D07" (which is Near Southeast). I know nothing more than that.
* Sobelsohn also introduced a resolution to send a letter to Tommy Wells, DDOT, and other officials expressing the ANC's support for the continuation of free parking at RFK and the Nats Express shuttle buses "to reduce the incidence of illegal on-street parking in ANC 6D by people attending events at Nationals Park." The resolution passed 6-0. A few weeks ago it was reported that Wells wants to discontinue the service.
* The DC Housing Authority came requesting the ANC's support for a series of zoning items having to do with the Capper PUD, including extending some deadlines and also expanding the number of residential units offered. (You can read all about them here; I'm too worn out to go into them all again tonight.) There wasn't much discussion of the request itself, because the commissioners were, shall we say, displeased that a huge packet of supporting materials arrived on their doorsteps just last Friday (6D07's Bob Siegel didn't receive his at all, and were unmoved when told it was basically the same information they had received in July.
There was also displeasure expressed about the request to delay the start date for the Community Center at 5th and K to 2012, with the commissioners wondering what level the DCHA would consider a "critical mass" of residents that would make the center viable. (Only 300 of the planned 1500 units have been built so far, so it would seem that the threshold might perhaps be a bit higher.) But the Housing Authority made clear that obtaining financing for the project is the larger hurdle. The support request will be brought up again at the ANC's January 12 meeting.
* I admit that I didn't stick around for the late-in-the-agenda item on the Capper trash enclosures. But DCHA mentioned that they had met with the city's Public Space Committee in advance of their monthly meeting, and were making progress on modifications to the design. ANC chair Moffatt asked if the enclosures still exist at all in the new design, and when he got the "yes" answer, that ended the discussion.
 




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