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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Canal Park
See JDLand's Canal Park Project Page
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In the Pipeline
Community Center
Homewood Suites Hotel
Ballpark Square
Yards/Parcel A
Yards/Condo Project
Yards/Icon Theater
Virginia Ave. Tunnel
New Douglass Bridge
1333 M St.
Southeast Blvd.
Florida Rock
1244 South Capitol
New Barracks
1111 New Jersey
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Monument/Half St.
Capper Apts.
250 M St.
Nat'l Community Church
909 Half St.
Factory 202/Yards
Congressional Square
1000 South Capitol
SC1100
Completed
Lumber Shed ('13)
Boilermaker Shops ('13)
Camden South Capitol ('13)
Canal Park ('12)
Capitol Quarter ('12)
225 Virginia/200 I ('12)
Foundry Lofts ('12)
1015 Half Street ('10)
Yards Park ('10)
Velocity Condos ('09)
Teague Park ('09)
909 New Jersey Ave. ('09)
55 M ('09)
100 M ('08)
Onyx ('08)
70/100 I ('08)
Nationals Park ('08)
Seniors Bldg Demo ('07)
400 M ('07)
Douglass Bridge Fix ('07)
US DOT HQ ('07)
20 M ('07)
Capper Seniors 1 ('06)
Capitol Hill Tower ('06)
Courtyard/Marriott ('06)
Marine Barracks ('04)
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A brief morning walkabout brought the following items:
* The demolition of the old WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage at Half M continues; they had reached as far north as just across from the subway entrance at around 11:30, so the M Street facade could conceivably be gone by the end of today or early on Tuesday. You can see a couple of photos (like a bigger version of the one above) on my Akridge Half Street page, though the photos won't be as striking until the demolition reaches M Street.
* A nice fellow working at the schoolbus parking lot at Canal Park told me that the buses are being moved to their new home at DC Village on Saturday and Sunday (April 4 and 5), with drivers expected to report to work at the new lot on Monday morning, April 6. So, it does indeed sound like this is the last week of the Sea of Yellow.
* Look Mom, a Circulator bus! (This is the stop at First and K, before it turns right on I and circles back down New Jersey to the subway entrance.) You can see it lurking in a few other updated photos I took at New Jersey and M. UPDATE: There apparently was a boo-boo with the information on the DC Circulator site--the bus will be running from 6 am to 7 pm weekdays (it had said 6-6). They've also updated their service map to correct some errors.
* Here's my first shot of the repainted Third and K Market (now to be known as the Corner Copia Deli). You can compare it to its old profile here.
* The Nats are having a "soft launch" for their new food concessionaire (Levy Restaurants) via a series of invitation-only events this week. Tonight employees of the Navy Yard will be sampling the new food, and there will also be events on Tuesday and Wednesday for local businesses and invitees of the BID. On Friday the media will get its shot. I will report back later in the week, though I won't be able to provide doggie bags for everyone.
 

This is *still* I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it territory, but tonight I'm hearing that DC public schools poobahs have signed off on the new parking lots out at DC Village, and have authorized the moving of the buses currently parked at Canal Park. A date in the first full week of April is being bandied about, though I'm too gun-shy from years of move dates passing by to post it just yet. Will this finally be the time when it actually happens?
UPDATE: It totally slipped my mind during a very busy week to mention reader M. passing along an e-mail they received from the Mayor's office saying that "we anticipate that the school buses will be relocated as of April 6, 2009", which is the date I was hearing yesterday would be the start of the exodus. So, with two sources, let's say that April 6 could very well be the day that the buses are either gone or starting to be gone.
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There's some new information on the Canal Park front today, starting with the news that Olin has been chosen from a group of seven invited applicants to create a new design for the park. They are the firm behind the National Gallery's sculpture garden and the Air Force Memorial (on the hill above the Pentagon), and are currently working on the new levee system at 17th and Constitution.
The new design will still focus heavily on low-impact design features and stormwater management abilities, with hopes that the park could be a "zero net energy" project through the placement of solar panels on lightpoles and perhaps even neighboring buildings. (I asked if there were going to be 30-foot-tall windmills, but the answer was no.) The stormwater management aspects could extend to future neighboring buildings as well, perhaps by capturing the HVAC condensation and/or stormwater runoff. There's also likely to be a new pavilion and cafe that weren't in the original design, as well as the possibility of building a fountain that could also be an ice skating rink in the winter.
The schedule to completion, though, is not a short one--preliminary designs were not part of the RFP process, and it's expected that the design and permitting process could take between 10 months and a year, which would put the start of construction in early 2010. Because of the extensive infrastructure work that needs to be done beneath the park site (for not only the park but the eventual surrounding Capper apartment buildings), the estimated length of construction would be about a year, putting the opening date in 2011.
But, for now, all anyone wants to know at this point is when the school buses will be gone, right? Construction on the new lot out at DC Village is apparently nearly complete, with "April" now being offered as the date when the buses can move to their new home, but will it happen? Perhaps there ought to be a Farewell to the Buses Pool--put your guess for the date when the buses drive off for good in the comments, and we'll see who comes closest. (And maybe we'll also have the first official JDLand reader gathering on the day the buses leave, so everyone can stand on the corner and sing "Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Goodbye" while waving them down the road.)
On the bright side, permits are already in the works so that, once the buses are gone, the three blocks will be cleared, graded, and sodded, to allow for use as a park while the design process is underway.
My Canal Park page is pretty moldy right now (I've been on strike from updating it), but you can check it out to see how little it's changed in the last six years.
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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.
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The front page of Tuesday's Post has "Building Slowdown Turns Grand Visions into Vapor," a look at projects in the DC area that are on hold because of the slumping economy: "The economic boom of recent years promised to deliver gleaming homes and high-end retail to struggling and newly forming neighborhoods across the Washington region. But that quest is running headlong into a withering economic slowdown and paralyzed credit markets, bringing new construction to a virtual stop and fueling anxiety among those who dreamed that their neighborhoods were the next frontiers."
Among the examples in the article are three delayed projects near the ballpark--WC Smith's 250 M Street office building, the residential and hotel portion of Monument's Half Street project, and also the Corcoran's Randall School development at Half and I, SW (which Monument pulled out of recently): "Perhaps no area is more central to the District's long-term ambitions than the streets around Nationals Park. At every opportunity, Fenty talks of a cosmopolitan destination featuring new parks, offices, stylish apartments and restaurants, all of it along the Anacostia River. Yet, how soon that vision materializes is fraught with uncertainty."
(Full disclosure: I provided a bit of basic status on ballpark-area projects for the piece, hence the "contributed" line.)
Some additional perspective: Certainly there's a slowdown afoot. (It's almost like there's some sort of cycle of boom and bust in commercial real estate!) I've been joking that I should just put a "Gone Fishin'" sign up here at JDLand during 2009, and come back in 2010 to see what's cooking, because other than the first offerings at the Yards and perhaps Canal Park {cough}, I'm not expecting much to get underway in the next little while. On the other hand, Capitol Quarter is moving forward, 1015 Half Street is now out of the ground, Diamond Teague Park is expected to open in the spring, and 100 M and 55 M and 909 New Jersey and Velocity will all be opening their doors before long, and perhaps the lure of another season of baseball will get some retail into the empty ground-floor spaces of those buildings and 20 M.
So, it's not like tumbleweeds are blowing down M Street or vines are growing on buildings a la Logan's Run--and it would be hard to make the case that it's the neighborhood's fault or the stadium's fault when the entire region is feeling the pain. The expectation would be that when the market improves, development in Near Southeast should pick up again. But we'll all just have to wait and see, won't we?
 

A bunch of items to start the week with:
* Remember that the west entrance to the Navy Yard Metro station at Half and M is closed every evening this week from 8 pm until closing, thanks to work on 55 M Street.
* On Monday (Nov. 13), the Zoning Commission gave final approval to moving 225 Virginia Avenue into the Capitol South Receiving Zone, which will allow any construction on the block to have greater height and density than the 6.5 FAR/90-ft-height currently allowed. This was approved with two caveats: that there is Zoning Commission review of the design of the portions of a building proposed to rise higher than 90 feet to confirm that the building will be sufficiently setback from the eastern building face, and that any structure will provide a suitable northern focal point for the Canal Blocks Park. Read my entry from the hearing a few weeks ago for more information.
* On Nov. 24 at 2 pm, the city council will be having a hearing about B17-0909, the "Taxation Without Representation Street Renaming Act of 2008," which would "designate the portion of South Capitol Street, SE that intersects with N Street SE and Potomac Avenue SE as 'Taxation Without Representation Street, SE." It just so happens that this is the portion of South Capitol Street that runs alongside Nationals Park, where the council was thwarted in earlier attempts to install an electronic tote board showing the federal taxes that DC residents pay while still having no voting representation in the US Congress.
* Tommy Wells is taking nominations for the Second Annual Livable, Walkable Awards.
* For weeks I've been meaning to post that Nationals Park made the list of Travel and Leisure Magazine's "Must-See Green American Landmarks," thanks to being the first LEED-certified professional sports facility.
 

This morning Mayor Fenty held a press conference at Nationals Park with various city officials to highlight tomorrow's Anacostia Waterfront Information Fair, and also talk up the recent progress and near-term next steps for the more than $8 billion worth of economic development, transportation, and infrastructure projects in the pipeline along the Anacostia River (not only in Near Southeast, but from the Southwest Waterfront all the way up past RFK).
Having sworn off taking any more photos of The Mayor at the Microphone (unless he shows up in a Hawaiian shirt and swimtrunks or something), I decided to record the 20-minute event instead, so that the five or six of you interested in hearing the remarks can do so. (It's a 2.6-mb MP3 file; the first few seconds are rough, but then it settles in.)
If you listen, you'll hear how the mayor managed to cajole the notoriously camera-shy Stan Kasten into saying a few words about what's happening along the river and in the neighborhood from the point of view of the area's largest tenant. Deputy Mayor Neil Albert, DDOT Director Frank Seales, Office of Planning head Harriet Tregoning, and the director of the city's Office of the Environment George Hawkins spoke as well. There was some discussion throughout (and especially at the end) about how the slowing economy might be impacting both the city's plans and developers' projects, but the mayor remains optimistic.
The press release from the mayor's office sums up the main points of today's event, but here's the Near Southeast-specific highlights from both the remarks and some other chatter of the day. First up, news of the three big parks:
The city "will break ground at Diamond Teague Park by the end of 2008." (And the guide for tomorrow's fair says that the park will be completed in spring 2009, which is the same date we've been hearing for a while.) The mayor also touted the operating agreement with Forest City Washington to build and maintain the $42 million, 5-acre Park at the Yards (but you knew about this already), as well as the the agreement with the Canal Park Development Corp. to build the $13.1 million, three-block-long park. (No mention of school buses.)
Then there's the bridges: Reconstruction of the 11th Street Bridges is scheduled to begin in mid-2009. (The shortlist of firms vying for the design-build contract was announced a few weeks ago.) Whether we actually see heavy equipment moving in mid-2009, or whether this just marks the first part of the design-build project is not quite clear. I was also told that the contract to demolish the flyover ramps to and from RFK could be completed soon, and that demolition would happen not long after the contract is signed.
Plus, the final Environmental Impact Statement for South Capitol Street and the Douglass Bridge is expected in spring 2009; that's when we'll hear which of the four bridge designs has been chosen.
As for the river itself, the city has started real-time water quality monitoring, updated automatically online 24 hours a day. There's also now the Anacostia 2032 Plan "to make the Anacostia River boatable, swimmable, and fishable in 25 years." And a Green Summer Jobs Corps was created earlier this year to "engage youth in the cleaning and greening of District neighborhoods and parks and to introduce them to green-collar job opportunities."
Finally, a planning process is underway to revamp Boathouse Row, the stretch of boat clubs along the Anacostia between 11th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. (I took a bunch of photos near the boathouses a few months back, and have been lazy about ever getting them posted, though you can see a few boathouse-free shots of the environs here and here.)
There's more about projects elsewhere along the Anacostia, but other bloggers get to cover those. Will update this post if there's any media coverage from today's event, and will have a fresh post on Saturday after the fair. I imagine I'll Twitter a bit from those festivities (like I did from today's); remember that if you aren't a Twitter-er, you can read my tweets on the JDLand homepage--check 'em out frequently, because I do sometimes post news there first, before I write full blog entries.
SATURDAY FAIR UPDATE: They're now going to be providing free shuttle bus service from the New Jersey & M Metro entrance to/from the ballpark, from 12:30 pm to 5:15 pm. (After they heard somewhere that the Half and M subway entrance is going to be closed on Saturday.)
 

* The agenda for Monday's ANC 6D meeting has been sent around (not yet posted online). They'll be revisiting the designs for exterior trash enclosures on certain Capitol Quarter townhouses that were discussed and given the thumbs down last month. Other items include the potential modification of the 70 bus route, the franchise agreement between the city and Verizon for FiOS, and street closures for the SunTrust National Marathon on March 21. The meeting is at 7 pm at St. Augustine's church, Sixth and M streets, SW.
* Meeting at the same time on Monday (well, starting at 6:30 pm) will be the DC Zoning Commission, with a vote on the proposal to move 225 Virginia Avenue into the Capitol South Receiving Zone (read about it here).
* The city's Public Space Permit feed is back. Yay! Hopefully the Building Permit feed won't be far behind.
* One thing we've all learned over the years is to not believe anything about the school buses leaving Canal Park until we actually see them all drive away. But I will note that the DC Housing Authority currently has a solicitation out for a contractor to build surface parking lots at DC Village (which is where the buses are relocating to). Bids are due Nov. 18. I'm hearing "mumbleJanuarymumbleFebruarymumble" as a potential timetable for the departure of the buses, but see sentence #1 of this paragraph.
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On Monday night the Zoning Commission held a brief hearing on Case 06-32a, the request by the city to move the old Post Plant at 225 Virginia Avenue into the "Capitol South Receiving Zone," which would allow the block to receive transferable development rights, allowing greater height and density than the 6.5 FAR and 90-ft-height currently allowed.
When this was originally brought before the commission by developer Washington Telecom Associates for setdown two years ago, the Office of Planning indicated that they wouldn't support the request because of concerns about the added density on that block affecting both Canal Park to the south and Capper/Carrollsburg townhouses to the east (read the transcript for more details). Since that time, the city subleased the building (paying $500k a month in rent), but has decided not to use it to house police department functions and so is in the process of finding a developer to take over its sublease (which also has an option to buy).
In their pre-hearing report and during last night's session, OP said they are now prepared to support the move to the receiving zone, "provided that there is Zoning Commission review of the design of the portions of a building proposed to rise higher than 90' " which would confirm that the building "will be sufficiently setback from the eastern building face to avoid shadowing the lower buildings in Square 797 to the east" and that it "will provide a suitable northern focal point for the Canal Blocks Park." The OP report says that this lot would not be exempt from the city's inclusionary zoning requirements.
The three commissioners in attendance (Hood, May, and Turnbull) asked a few cursory questions, and noted that there was no report from ANC 6D nor any witnesses in support or opposition. The ZC will vote on this case at its Nov. 10 public meeting.
With the OPM page on the 225 Virginia Request for Expressions of Interest saying that notification was to have happened yesterday, I thought there was a possibility that this hearing would give us some hint as to who might be taking over the city's lease, but the Office of Planning said they didn't know who the developer might be.
 

Yes, it's time once again for What's the Deal With.... Canal Park? Now that the ballpark's open and people have stopped asking me about the baseball that was originally planned for the roof of the Red Loft, I can safely say that there is no question I receive more often than this one. Here's the latest:
Over the past few months, the Canal Park Development Association has been resurrected, and is now being led by Chris VanArsdale, a local lawyer-turned-green-developer. An agreement is being worked on with the city that will allow the CPDA to take on moving the park forward, a task that ended up in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development after the demise of the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation.
Of course, there will be no moving forward of the park until the dang buses are gone. The timeline being put forward by DMPED is now "December or January" for the departure of the buses, since a new location has been found (*cough*DC Village*cough*) but a lot still must be built. (It's at this point that I'm always required mention that it was in October 2003 when I first heard the city had been given 90 days to get the buses off the park site.) The park's blocks would then be graded and temporary sod planted until the park itself is built.
So, when will the park actually be completed? You didn't actually expect anyone to tell me that, did you? However, indications are that once the license agreement between the CPDA and the city is finished, we'll get a better sense for what's left to be done and when it all could happen.
In the meantime, while twiddling your thumbs waiting for the next news tidbit, take a look at the designs and plans for the park, which came as the result of a 2004 design competition held by the city. Are they still holding up? Discuss. (Hey, it's summer, I've got to do something to perk up the energy around here.)
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* Sorry I missed this until now: the Post reported that on Saturday evening "[a] motorcycle was headed west on M Street SE about 6:30 p.m. when a car traveling south on Seventh Street began to turn onto M Street. The car and motorcycle collided, and the motorcyclist was fatally injured, police said."
* The Post's Grounds Crew blog has only now discovered that there's a Five Guys just around the corner from the Navy Yard subway station east entrance (on Second Street north of M, if you haven't discovered it yet, either).
* The PSA 105 mailing list announced yesterday that they are having a "Summer of Safety Ice Cream Social" at Capitol Hill Tower "to show unity with the citizens of Capitol Hill and the Metropolitan Police Department by sharing some nice and cool ice cream while sharing information." The message said that the social is from 2 to 5 pm on June 25. A Wednesday afternoon? I wrote asking for confirmation, but haven't heard back. Anyone out there with the {ahem} scoop?
* Washington City Paper and WBJ both note layoffs at MacFarlane Partners through the prism of how it might affect the drive to put a soccer stadium at Poplar Point; I see the news and wonder about the capital that MacFarlane is supposed to be investing in both The Yards and Monument Realty's Half Street.
* Is the report in the July Southwester that Monument Realty and the Corcoran Gallery have received zoning approval to delay to 2015 (from 2011) their planned redevelopment of the the Randall School site at Half and I SW something to wonder about, too?
* And, while I'm heading off the reservation with all of this wondering, did anyone else read this Post story on fuel prices causing problems for school districts' transportation budgets and ponder whether buses would have to drive farther to and from their daily routes from a parking lot at DC Village as compared to one at Second and M, SE?
 

(Yay! Non-ballpark news!) The *most* asked question at JDLand.com these days (apart from "what happened to the baseball on top of the outfield restaurant" and "can you start covering Southwest") is What's the Deal With Canal Park, the three-block long new public park planned for the strip along Second Street between I and M, which for years has been the home to DC Public School buses. This project was on the boards when I started this site in 2003, and yet has had a hard time getting going, despite a design completed years ago by landscape architects Gustafson, Guthrie, and Nichol Ltd. After originally being under the purview of the defunct Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, the park is now the responsibility of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
After spending some time explaining what the heck JDLand.com is ("uhhhh, it's, like, this web site, and stuff?"), I was able to get a general update, which jibes with the rumors that have been flying for weeks. A relocation site for the school buses has indeed been found (though they won't say where), but some construction work has to first be done at this undisclosed location to prepare it. It's expected that the buses will be moved there "by the fall," with construction on the park starting soon after, lasting about 12 months. The park is a "top priority" for the city, I was told.
Will it happen? I guess we shall see....
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A thought: With more than a dozen DC public schools closing at the end of this school year, and the Fenty administration stating that they have no intention of selling off the buildings, wouldn't one or two of them make a good location for a school bus parking lot? Or, at the very least, a better location than some of the locations currently being used?
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This morning's quick hits:
* The Voice of the Hill has posted a piece on its web site surveying the community reaction to the 11th Street Bridges EIS, while the December issue of the Hill Rag looks at the project from the perspective of Hill East.
* The Hill Rag also has a recap of the November ANC 6D meeting, which focused mainly on Southwest issues, though there is a small blurb about the ballpark liquor license (it sounds like there were some concerns about the 8 am to 3 am time frame listed on the application).
* Meanwhile, the December Southwester reports on the Oct. 3 groundbreaking at The Yards by reprinting much of the Forest City press release on the project.
* Out of my realm, but I'll still pass along that the four short-listed development teams will be presenting their proposals for Poplar Point at Dec. 12 at 6:30 pm at Birney Elementary School, 2501 Martin Luther King, Jr., Ave., SE.
* I'm watching with interest a public space permit application this week by Cofeld LLC for 1271 First Street, which is the lot on the northwest corner of First and N, which had a raze permit filed for it in June. Hints of demolition? We'll see if the permit data, when approved, tell us anything further.
* UPDATE: One more quickie to add. The Garfield Park-Canal Park Connector Project has posted notes and summaries of discussions at their Oct. 24 workshop. Topic areas discussed included Biking and Walking, Under the Freeway, Public Art, Urban landscape, and History & Neighborhood Heritage.
 

During my poking around on the DC Office of Cable Television web site recently, I discovered that many of the groundbreakings and other events in Near Southeast this year that have been broadcast on the city's cable channel 16 are also available On Demand; the same goes for council hearings, available on Channel 13's On Demand page. (I kinda sorta knew that the On Demand stuff was there, but when I checked it many moons ago, it didn't seem quite so complete, so I hadn't looked back in on it for a while.)
So if you've missed any of the following four-star telecasts from 2007, you can watch them at your leisure:
* The July bill-signing ceremony at the Earth Conservations Corps pumphouse where the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and the National Capital Revitalization Corporation were officially abolished;
* JPI's June "groundbreaking" for its four projects along I Street ("Capitol Yards");
* The January groundbreaking marking the start of the Navy Yard Metro renovation and Monument's Half Street project;
* And pretty much any ceremony anywhere in the city the mayor was at since the beginning of the year, plus a lot of other presentations and events. (Be sure not to miss the Reporters' Roundtable "Snitching Debate.") Check the dropdown boxes on the On Demand page for the offerings. I've added the above links to all of the various project pages in case you're desperate to find them again someday.
Two of the most recent shindigs haven't gotten added to the lineup yet--the Oct. 22 kickoff ceremony for the Capitol Riverfront BID (in which you can find out where the "Traveling Roadshow" moniker originated), and the mayor's remarks at the Nov. 13 turf unveiling at the ballpark. Ditto with the Waterside Mall Demolition program, which is currently playing on Channel 16 but hasn't yet made it to On Demand. But perhaps they'll show up eventually.
 

One more reminder that Wednesday night (Oct. 24) there is a public meeting on the project to create a more appealing connection between Garfield Park north of the Southeast Freeway and the to-be-built-hopefully-eventually Canal Park, one block to the freeway's south. The meeting is from 6 to 9 pm at St. Peter's Catholic Church at 2nd and C streets, SE. Here's the project web site, for more information, along with a DDOT press release on the meeting.
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I posted about this a few weeks ago, but I'll pass along this DDOT press release from today as a reminder that on October 24 there is a public meeting on the project to create a more appealing connection between Garfield Park north of the Southeast Freeway and the to-be-built-hopefully-eventually Canal Park, one block to the freeway's south. The meeting is from 6 to 9 pm at St. Peter's Catholic Church at 2nd and C streets, SE. Here's the project web site, for more information.
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DC council member Kwame Brown's Committee on Economic Development had an oversight hearing this afternoon to get information from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development on the transition of projects on the Southwest Waterfront, Hill East, Poplar Point, Canal Park, and Kingman Island. The majority of the hearing time was spent on the three large projects, but since my hard-and-fast coverage boundaries don't include any of them, I'll just pass along what was said about the current status of Canal Park.
In her opening remarks, DMPED chief operating officer Valerie Santos Young gave a brief description of the 1.8-acre park project, in particular its sustainable design and stormwater management aspects, which will help "minimize discharge of polluted water" into the Anacostia River. She said that her office is (still) working with the DC Public Schools transit administrator to relocate the 100 buses parked on the southern two blocks of the site, and that the Deputy Mayor's office is aware of the "considerable interest" from residents in seeing the park built. "We have achieved some recent milestones to do just that," she said in closing her Canal Park remarks, without actually mentioning what the milestones were. It was later in the hearing, when asked for specifics by Tommy Wells, that Young explained the city has now negotiated the termination of the lease with the company renting the northernmost block of the site.
Otherwise, the issue with getting the park underway still boils down to the removal of the school buses, which has apparently been set back further after council chairman Vincent Gray's recent objections to a plan that would have created a citywide school bus parking lot in Prince George's County instead of in the District. Young said that they are now "scrambling" to find another permanent location, as well as an interim lot the Canal Park buses can be moved to, although DCPS does not want to relocate the buses to a temporary site until a permanent solution has been figured out. But Marion Barry made clear that Ward 8 residents oppose moving the buses to D.C. Village, which apparently had been considered as one possible interim solution.
Wells also asked if there were any progress on the creation of water taxi or ferry landings along the waterfront, but Young replied she was unable to give any answers because she was not personally aware of the specifics and that the project manager was not at the hearing, a response heard so many times that committee chairman Brown finally recessed the hearing in exasperation. (Young's "I was on vacation that week" response to a question by Barry about the specifics of a Poplar Point decision was my personal favorite.) Brown said that there will be another hearing scheduled, and admonished the Deputy Mayor's office that next time they need to be ready with facts and the appropriate staffers in attendance at oversight hearings, and not just repeat "We'll get back to you on that" over and over.
If you're interested in the other projects and want to see the hearing, check the DC Cable 13 listings for replays.
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Just a reminder for those interested in the progress of Canal Park (as well as the Southwest Waterfront, Hill East, and other former AWC initiatives) that there's a DC council Committee on Economic Development Public oversight hearing on these projects on Monday (Oct. 1) at 12 noon in Room 500 of the Wilson Building. The DC Cable 13 schedule indicates that the hearing will be broadcast live, which means you can either watch the live webcast or dial up Channel 13 if you live in the District and have cable.
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Capitol Hill's Voice of the Hill newspaper has a co-profile of two local bloggers in its new issue--Elise Bernard of Frozen Tropics (covering H Street NE) and yours truly. Descriptions of me and JDLand include "fastidiously issue-neutral" and "almost aggressive in its lack of color"--but those are actually compliments. And there's a photo that perfectly captures my perpetually bemused state, but that might just be because I was suffering through the replay of the 225 Virginia hearing when the photographer arrived (those with x-ray vision can see Phil Mendelson on one of my computer screens). It's kind of a sequel to the piece they did in 2005.
So, since I'm already self-promoting, I'll mention my Ballpark and Beyond column in today's Post, which talks about the possible sale of the Southeastern Bus Garage to Akridge (we'll find out today--the WMATA board meeting is at 11), the new funding for the waterfront parks, and the Garfield Park-Canal Park connector project.
 
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