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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Canal Park
See JDLand's Canal Park Project Page
for Photos, History, and Details
In the Pipeline
1244 South Capitol
Virginia Ave. Tunnel
New Douglass Bridge
Yards/Parcel O
JBG/Akridge/Half St.
Ex-Monument/Half St.
Chiller Site Condos
Yards/Parcel A
Yards/Icon Theater
DC Water HQ
1333 M St.
Capper Apts.
250 M St.
New Marine Barracks
Nat'l Community Church
Factory 202/Yards
Congressional Square
1000 South Capitol
SC1100
Completed
Southeast Blvd. ('15)
Parc Riverside ('14)
Twelve12/Yards ('14)
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)
Posts on Food/Fun
Retail News
Restaurants/Nightlife
 
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165 Blog Posts Since 2003
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I imagine it'll be pretty quiet around these parts for the rest of the week. So here's a few recently Tweeted items -- and one new one -- to make it look like I haven't completely given up blogging:
* It appears that the owner(s) of multiple lots along the 700 block of L Street (the brown apartment buildings plus the corner lot where the beer garden is headed) has sold half-interest in those properties to "Calle Ocho, LLC" (8th Street, get it?). But note that the empty lot that comes through from the Miles Glass property on the north end of the block and splits these four lots (0013, 0014, 0824, and 0825) is not (as of now?) part of this block of properties.
* EYA and the DC Housing Authority were awarded last week a Jack Kemp Workforce Housing Model of Excellence Award for the first phase of Capitol Quarter. (I just wish that the ULI folks who put out the press release hadn't said that the neighborhood is "The Yards.") The Jack Kemp awards are given to "workforce housing developments that represent outstanding achievements in several areas, including innovative financing, unique construction methodologies, strong public/private partnerships, and replicability to achieve workforce housing affordability."
* Speaking of Capitol Quarter, if you scroll down my homepage to the Building Permits feed, you'll see that the first permits have been approved for Capitol Quarter Phase II houses, for lots on 3rd, I and K.
* The Capitol Riverfront BID's Holiday Market is back for another year, running from Dec. 14-18 on the sidewalk outside of 1100 New Jersey Avenue. "Shop the market for wool sweaters and mittens, homemade soaps, jewelry, antique maps, wreaths and holiday greenery, paintings, and much more!" See the flyer for more details.
* You can check out the BID's latest newsletter for more tidbits, including that work on 225 Virginia/200 I is scheduled to start next month, with occupancy expected in mid-2012. (Just in time to have a big old railroad trench dug in their backyard!) UPDATE: Yes, yes, there's already been a hole punched in the east side of the building, as people have been telling me for a more than week now. I wouldn't quite call that start of construction if nothing much has happened since....
* And, not a news item per se, but some pondering: as part of the need to close what is expected to be a nearly $500 million budget shortfall, Mayor-Almost Vince Gray announced on Monday a freeze on all capital projects that are not yet underway, while a "blue-ribbon panel of experts" reviews which are necessary. There's no specifics on the list of frozen projects reported yet, but I am wondering if Canal Park, which is getting $13.5 million of its $20 million price tag from the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Economic Development, might be on this list. We shall see....
Enjoy your holidays, everyone!
 

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I've just received an e-mail from Yung Park, the owner of the no-longer-Little-Red-Building site at Second and L, where the plans have been for years to reopen a liquor store known as "Parkway Wine and Spirits" once the new building is constructed (the old LRB for a long time housed the Star Market). However, apparently that's all now changing.
According to this e-mail, the site is now going to be a cafe, to be called the Aroma Espresso Bar, and it will feature an Illy coffee bar, plus "gourmet sandwiches and gourmet pastries." He says that the new building's exterior design will be the same, with the interior having modern finishes. The first floor will be the kitchen and coffee bar, and the second floor will be the seating area. (They're also hoping for sidewalk tables, though that will have to go through the city's Public Space permitting process.)
"If we have decent weather," Mr. Park expects the building and store to be ready by February.
With Harry's Wine and Spirits (which I think is now being called Harry's Reserve) opening at 909 New Jersey within a few months, the notion of two "gourmet" wine and liquor stores so close to each other must not have looked quite so appealing. And, with Parkway/Aroma's location next to Canal Park, switching to a more all-ages business plan is probably a wise move. Will post additional information as I get it.
 

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The Usual Suspects gathered today at Second and M streets, SE, for Canal Park's ceremonial groundbreaking (at last). Mayor Fenty, Ward 6 council member Tommy Wells, Deputy Mayor Valerie Santos, Christopher Smith of W.C. Smith, and Chris Vanarsdale of the Canal Park Development Association each said a few words, with the words "school buses" being uttered a number of times as speakers talked about the previous life of these three blocks in the middle of Near Southeast. [The mayor even went off-script during his remarks to ask a startled neighborhood blogger how many photos of school buses are in the blog's archive; "about a thousand," came the response, which sounded flip but which is probably true.]
Here is a quick assemblage of photos from the event; if you want to know more about the park (or see old photos of school buses), my Canal Park project page is worth peeking at, as is the official Canal Park web site. Construction is expected to take 12-14 months, so look for the park to open in Fall of 2011.
For those who haven't been following along, Canal Park will stretch from I to M streets SE along the two parts of Second Street--some people may know this location as the open field across from Subway and Five Guys, about three blocks northeast of Nationals Park. The park has been designed to be a showcase of low-impact design and "green" features, including a sizeable stormwater management component. The southern block, across from the US Department of Transportation headquarters, will have a large plaza, a "significant water feature" that will transform into an ice skating rink in winter, and a large two-level pavilion that will be home to a cafe and observation area. The middle block has a rain garden, a children's play area, a small performance stage, and an open lawn. The northern block, the "most pastoral of the three," will have an open lawn, and the slight grade of the block as it slopes upward toward I Street has allowed the designers to envision this as an informal amphitheater, for events like summer movie nights and whatnot. There is also a "linear rain garden" that runs along the eastern edge of the park's three blocks. (Note that K and L streets will still be open to traffic, though there will be well-marked crosswalks.)
[PS: And, yes, I absconded with one of the shovels. But it was donated, not stolen!]
UPDATE: Here is the press release from the mayor's office on the project.
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Just a quick note that the Canal Park groundbreaking scheduled for Monday, August 30, has been shifted to Tuesday, August 31--it's still at 10:45 am, and still with the mayor expected to be in attendance.
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Here's a news item that people have been waiting on for a good long while--the official Canal Park groundbreaking ceremony has been scheduled for Monday, August 30 Tuesday, August 31, at 10:45 am, with the mayor expected to be in attendance. Construction on the three-block publicly funded park is expected to take 12 to 14 months, so look for it to be finished in probably late 2011--just in time to get a lot of use out of the ice skating rink.
[Here's a slightly edited version of a description I wrote a few months ago] For those who haven't been following along, Canal Park will stretch from I to M streets SE along the two parts of Second Street--some people may know this location as the open field across from Subway and Five Guys, about three blocks northeast of Nationals Park. The southern block, across from the US Department of Transportation headquarters, will have a large plaza, a "significant water feature" that will transform into an ice skating rink in winter, and a large two-level pavilion that will be home to a cafe and observation area. The middle block has a rain garden, a children's play area, a small performance stage, and an open lawn. The northern block, the "most pastoral of the three," will have a large open lawn, and the slight grade of the block as it slopes upward toward I Street has allowed the designers to envision this as an informal amphitheater, for events like summer movie nights and whatnot. There is also a "linear rain garden" that runs along the eastern edge of the park's three blocks. (Note that K and L streets will still be open to traffic, though there will be well-marked crosswalks.)
If you want to know more, visit the park's official web site. Or my page, if you want to see lots of photos of schoolbuses from the old days. And this report from the National Capital Planning Commission goes deep into the design, if you want to know *still* more. And you can read all my old Canal Park blog posts, back to the beginning, to relive the long road to this groundbreaking.
This groundbreaking will be just a week before the opening of the neighborhood's other new signature open space, the Yards Park, just a few blocks to the south, along the Anacostia River.
UPDATED: The groundbreaking has shifted by one day, to Tuesday, August 31.
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Hasn't been much swirling around lately worthy of a full blog post, but here are a couple items so that people don't think I've shut down (though most of them have already been seen on my Twitter feed, aka the "I'm Too Lazy to Blog" feed):
* The light tower at the Yards Park is being installed today, about four weeks in advance of the scheduled grand opening on Sept. 10. I hope to have pictures at some point.
* Greater Greater Washington reports that MPD fanned out around Nationals Park on Wednesday night, ticketing drivers and pedestrians and handing out flyers on safety. GGW also brings up the public meeting held by Tommy Wells back in March about the notion of reworking M Street under the "Complete Streets" principles of creating road networks that work for pedestrians young and old, cyclists, public transportation users, and drivers. by doing things such as adding dedicated bike lanes, creating safer crosswalks, etc. At that meeting, residents of Southwest were unimpressed with the possibilities, but the few Southeast residents in attendance seemed more open to it.
UPDATE: TBD reports that the truck driver in last week's incident is not being cited.
* The Post did a video feature on Hoopernatural, the hula hooping fitness outfit. They are running classes for mixed-levels of hoopiness during August at Canal Park, on Saturday mornings from 10 to 11 am.
* The Capitol Riverfront BID is running a survey to get feedback from residents, workers, and visitors on the types of events the BID holds (concerts, outdoor movies, farmers' market, etc.). Let your feelings be known here.
* While my griping about the bad signage on the SW Freeway (highlighted again by the Post on Thursday) is technically out-of-boundaries, it is on topic to also mention to DDOT that the various blue "services" signs for the South Capitol Street exits on I-395 probably need to get rid of the gas station icons, since the days of having three gas stations right on South Capitol and two within a few blocks to the east are long gone. (But @DDOTDC has put me in a time out after Thursday's flurry of transit-related tweets, which also included this good suggestion from a reader about the need for a left-turn signal on northbound Third Street, SE at Virginia Avenue, for people needing to get onto I-395 southbound.)
* And I stumbled across this study by the New America Foundation about "online-only" news outlets in DC. It counted 61 of them, noting that the "city's oldest local blogs that still command an audience began to spring up in 2003," with JDLand being one of the "original few," thanks to my January 2003 vintage. The piece looks at DCist, GGW, Prince of Petworth, And Now Anacostia, and TBD (though it hadn't yet launched), along with a few nice words about this site. But I have been thinking a lot lately about how I'm an old lady compared to the rest of the DC neighborhood blogosphere, and this article (coming on the heels of my [redacted] birthday) certainly reminded me of it. :-)
 

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For your scheduling pleasure:
* Thursday's BID outdoor movie is Seabiscuit, the heartwarming tale of a horse swimming across the ocean for food (no, wait, that's not right). It starts at Canal Park at Second and M streets, SE, at 8:45 pm, but you can arrive early for some hula hooping with Hoop Jams at 8 pm. Rain cancellations will be posted on the BID web site by 4 pm.
* On Friday night (July 23) the Dave Matthews Band will be in concert at 7 pm at Nationals Park, with the Zac Brown Band opening. Tickets are still available, and the concert will go on rain or shine. (If you're heading to the ballpark for the concert and are unfamiliar with the territory, here's my Stadium Parking information page. But make it easy on yourself just take Metro.) Speaking of the stadium parking page, I've now added the new (tiny) $10 lot on the northwest corner of New Jersey and I.
* The rest of the weekend will be quiet (and hot), but then on Tuesday the 27th the Summer of Strasburg will return to the neighborhood, as Stephen is expected to pitch against the Atlanta Braves in a 7:05 pm game.
 

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The National Capital Planning Commission has posted its "staff recommendation" on the final designs for Canal Park, and it's safe to say that they are pleased with what they've seen. They commended the city on its "work toward providing this much-needed public amenity that will undoubtedly support and strengthen the continued revitalization of the Near Southeast neighborhood." It also says that "the park will likely become a highly sought after place for visitors, workers, and residents of this burgeoning mixed use neighborhood" and that the city "has worked diligently to prepare an overall design that is simple, while still providing a wide range of activities and amenities." And, "staff appreciates that while the new park design is distinctive and will likely set a new standard for future parks in the District of Columbia, it does so by acknowledging and building upon the unique historical significance of the site and its surrounding neighborhood."
For those who haven't been following along (and the park has only been in the works for seven years or so, so you've probably saved yourself some grief), Canal Park will stretch from I to M streets SE along the two parts of Second Street. The southern block, across from the US Department of Transportation headquarters, will have a large plaza, a "significant water feature" that will transform into an ice skating rink in winter, and a large two-level pavilion that will be home to a cafe and observation area. The middle block has a rain garden, a children's play area, a small performance stage, and an open lawn. The northern block, the "most pastoral of the three," will have a large open lawn, and the slight grade of the block as it slopes upward toward I Street has allowed the designers to envision this as an informal amphitheater, for events like summer movie nights and whatnot. There is also a "linear rain garden" that runs along the eastern edge of the park's three blocks. (Note that K and L streets will still be open to traffic, though there will be well-marked crosswalks.)
The staff recommendation document is 18 pages, but if you have any interest in the plans for the park, you need to read all of it. Lots and lots of updated renderings, detailed explanations of the park's features and amenities (including its sustainable design), first peeks at the sculptures that will be installed, and how the park will work with its surroundings are all included.
Serious Canal Park groupies may also be interested in what the Commission of Fine Arts had to say about the designs when it reviewed them at their April 15 meeting (scroll down to section G). They approved the designs as well, though some CFA commissioners expressed a few concerns about the many plans for activities and "programming." The minutes characterize thoughts from commissioner Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk thusly, that the "park embodies the notion that people need a constant stream of entertainment, a concept related to retail marketing and Disney parks that has become part of our modern culture. She said that the proposal could be accepted within this context, but the commitment of the sponsoring organizations to care for it must be clear." (The park is owned by the city, but the Canal Park Development Association has been created to oversee the park, and the Capitol Riverfront BID will be handling much of the upkeep and scheduling.)
I haven't heard any recent updates on a construction schedule, so I'll just lean on my last post on the subject; it's expected that infrastructure work around the park will begin this summer, with construction on the park itself starting in the fall and lasting a year or so. Hopefully by then I can get my Canal Park project page updated with all the new details.
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I'm just now coming across a Washington Post story entitled "Housing Area Pushing for Supermarket," which says that a group of residents "in a small triangle of Southeast Washington launched a 'supermarket project' yesterday to persuade a grocery chain to build a store in their neighborhood," with a planned petition drive looking to get 1,500 signatures.
But, of course, I'm yanking your chain, since this Post article is dated Dec. 16, 1965.
The group, the "Community Commitee Group," planned to visit the regional offices of Safeway, Giant, and Kroger to present the case that the residents of the area bounded by 8th, Virginia, M, and New Jersey had only two corner groceries, with the closest supermarket being at Seventh and G, SE, which was too far for the "aged who live in the Carrollsburg Dwellings project at Fourth and M." Also, because many of the residents in the area qualified for food stamps, they needed to be able to shop at a full supermarket, where the stamps would stretch farther.
The group "also hopes to interest a chain drug store and a combination dry cleaning-shoe repair shop to locate next to the proposed supermarket." Their suggested locations? "The west side of New Jersey Avenue between K and L Streets to replace some condemned buildings [ahem], the Washington Navy Yard parking lot on 2nd Street between M and I Streets [ahem], and the Lennox School annex at 4th and M Streets [ahem]."
In the meantime, while you're mourning the fact that no progress has been made in the brief 45 years since this article was published, you can think about another big development that Near Southeast missed out on: In the early 1990s the Federal Bureau of Prisons was looking for a location for a new 1,000-bed federal detention center, and one of the spots it considered was on the north side of I Street between South Capitol and New Jersey, the spot that's now home to the Axiom and Jefferson apartment buildings. And McDonald's. And Splash. (The other possible locations were in Northeast, but after battles with the National Capital Planning Commission and thanks to some pretty staunch opposition by city officials and residents, the Justice Department scrapped the plans in 1993.)
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The tentative agenda is out for the National Capital Planning Commission's June 3 meeting, and one of the items is "approval of preliminary and final site and building plans" for Canal Park. We should get a peek at the designs by around June 1, when the NCPC Staff Recommendation document is released. As I posted not too long ago, the current timeline is for construction on the park itself to begin in September, with the opening coming in Fall 2011. There will also be some infrastructure work being done around the park site this summer; here's the details. (The rendering above is from earlier this year; we'll see how close it comes to the final designs.)
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