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With unanimous agreement that the need to get former public housing residents back to the neighborhood is paramount, the Zoning Commission on Monday gave first approvals to the DC Housing Authority's request for flexibility in how it allocates 206 affordable units still to be built within the Capper/Carrollsburg PUD boundaries, while still being required to have no fewer than 15 percent and no more than 50 percent of the units on any square be affordable.
ANC 6D remains adamantly opposed to the flexibility idea--or at least to the idea that this flexibility would then allow a possible all-affordable building next to a market-rate condo building on Square 767--saying it "would circumvent the theme of HOPE VI revitalization and the goal of the PUD."
But Zoning Commission vice-chair Marcie Cohen disagreed, saying that the success of Capper's revitalization is that "the area is mixed income, the neighborhood is mixed income," and that she doesn't have a problem "when public housing is a single project within a mixed-income neighborhood." Noting that some of Capper's previous residents were relocated from the site now more than 10 years ago, Cohen said that "the people who have been displaced have a right to come back"--and given that "financing vehicles are now driving housing policy," meaning that getting affordable housing units financed has become so difficult--the Housing Authority has in her view come up with a plan that is "satisfactory," and should be able to go ahead and "secure the proper financing, build the project, and get some of the people back if they choose."
Her fellow commissioners concurred, with both Robert Miller and Michael Turnbull also noting that all projects on the three remaining residential squares at Capper will need to come to the Zoning Commission for review before moving forward.
And in its response to the ANC 6D letter, the Housing Authority emphasized this point, saying that the concerns raised by 6D will be addressed at that time, and that the reviews "will also demonstrate that the design of the buildings and distribution of the units in those applications are consistent with the PUD's overall goal of providing a vibrant, mixed-use and mixed-income community."
This case also will allow 30 of the Capper affordable units to be relocated to Square 737, to be included in both the 800 New Jersey/Whole Foods building and the eventual third-phase residential building on the eastern portion of that block.
My previous post on this zoning case gives plenty of additional detail if you desire.
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More posts: Capper, Development News, zoning
 

My guess is that the 195-unit mixed-income Lofts at Capitol Quarter residential project is the current holder of the title of Longest Building Under Development, and while that could refer to the years it took to get the dang thing financed, in this case I'm describing the footprint of actual construction, running westward from 7th and L for what seems like forever.
The eventual height of the DC Housing Authority building has become clearer in recent weeks with the construction of the elevator shaft/stairwells, but while the rendering of the finished product gives some sense of the size, it's hard to adequately capture in photographs at this stage its length along L Street, especially since it also runs downhill.
But give me credit for at least trying, with shots from all four corners, though admittedly one is actually a stiched-together image of two photos from the southwest side. (Can you tell which one?)
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Tomorrow (Thursday, Jan. 22), the Commission of Fine Arts will be reviewing the plans for the already under construction Capper Capitol Quarter Community Center Building House* at 5th and K streets, SE.
Other Capper-related projects have not gone to the CFA, but somehow this one has ended up there, meaning that a permit for construction of the building past the foundation can't be approved by DCRA until the CFA signs off.
The Housing Authority has prepared a lovely booklet for the commission with the details of the project, including renderings, proposed layouts, construction materials, and more, along with a cover letter from DCHA executive director Adrianne Todman.
There's no buried announcement of an operator for the building's programs and activities, but the two documents together make for a handy (DCHA-prepared) summary of the project if one might be wanting to get up to speed on it and are finding other information sources wanting.
*Just trying to accommodate the million different phraseologies that are out there for this project.
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It's been just over a year since the DC Housing Authority initially filed with the Zoning Commission a request for "flexibility" in the location and percentage mix of affordable units on three remaining blocks within the Capper/Carollsburg Planned Unit Development (PUD), and tonight the hearing was finally held.
The request has been altered a bit since I last wrote about it in February, but the gist remains the same.
First, DCHA is looking to move 30 affordable units outside of the Capper PUD boundaries and onto the block where WC Smith is developing the Park Chelsea, 800 New Jersey, and a third as-yet unnamed residential building.
Second, instead of being held to the originally approved unit counts on the blocks known as squares 767, 768, and 739 (as described in the fuzzy graphic above that I snagged from the Office of Planning report), the Housing Authority requests the flexibility to change the configuration of the 206 total affordable (ACC) units on each square while not ever going below 15% of the total number of units for that square.
Agency representatives testified at length about the progress at Capper, including that the community center is finally underway. But they told the commission that the current "financing atmosphere," especially for mixed-income residential projects, is increasingly constraining, and so having some flexibility built in could make it easier to work with potential development partners and financial institutions on designing projects before coming to the commission for Stage 2 approvals. (The four-year process and convoluted solution that included a "mountain of documents" to secure financing the mixed-income Lofts at Capitol Quarter was used as an example.)
However, it's been known for a year that one of the creative scenarios that DCHA has come up with to move forward on Square 767 would be to sell half of the block to EYA (developers of the Capitol Quarter townhomes) so that a market-rate condo building can be built, and then taking those proceeds to fund a second building on the block that would be all affordable units.
And while this particular zoning case does not specifically cover that not-yet-finalized plan, and putting aside that any plans for that block will have to come back to the Zoning Commission for approval before moving forward, a number of Capper/Capitol Quarter residents along with incoming ANC 6D07 representative Meredith Fascett used the hearing as a forum to make clear their displeasure with the idea of segregating incomes in separate buildings, saying that it violates the spirit of the entire Hope VI mixed-income vision that the Capper redevelopment has been based on. (Fascett's written testimony is here.)
David Cortiella of DCHA did say that the agency believes many of the issues with the two buildings/two incomes plan on Square 767 "will be addressed" once a "community engagement process" about the project gets underway, specifically mentioning a "shared courtyard" for the two buildings so that a "more friendly environment takes shape."
The zoning commissioners did not seem overly troubled by the requests covered the current zoning case (though Michael Turnbull made sure to say that they "will look very carefully" at future second-stage submittals).
The Office of Planning supports the flexibility request--however, DCHA is still wanting to further modify the modifications that OP put forward in its most recent report, both because of some concerns about the wording about the units to be constructed by WC Smith but also because the Housing Authority wants to come up with a cap on the number of ACC units on each square that is different from OP's suggested 50-percent cap.
It's expected that the commission will vote on this case at its January 26 meeting; if and when this case receives its final approval, there would then be a vote on a concurrent case to grant a five-year extension to the Capper PUD (which I didn't even talk about here because no one is reading at this point anymore anyway).
One other Capper-related tidbit coming out of the hearing is that movement is continuing on the planned 171-unit rental building on the south side of L between 2nd and 3rd, with work on the financing "well underway" (helped no doubt by getting a cut of a $142 million funding pot.)
(Editor's Note: Leading off with a convoluted post about zoning after an extended holiday layoff is not optimal.)
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Earlier this month, the team developing a planned mixed-income apartment building that is part of the Capper/Carollsburg redevelopment was one of 18 awardees named to share a $142 million pot* helping to fund affordable housing units in the city.
The building, as yet unnamed and generally just referred to by some variation of the oh-so-attractive "Square 769N Residential" moniker, is planned for the northern part of the block bounded by 2nd Place, 3rd, L, and M, next door to the recently discussed 250 M Street office building. It will be 11 stories, and will include 34 units of public housing in its 171 rental units. There will also be about 4,100 square feet of ground-floor retail. (The above image shows the block as seen from Canal Park, with the apartment building at left and 250 M at right.)
This funding is not enough to get the building's construction jump-started, but a) it's better than no funding at all and b) it probably helps move the process toward full funding forward.
It has already spent plenty of time in Zoning Land, having received its second-stage PUD approval back in 2009 followed by time extensions in 2011 and 2013.
This is one of four** large mixed-income apartment buildings still to be built as part of Capper's redevelopment, with two more planned for the other blocks along the east side of Canal Park plus one on the old trash transfer site at New Jersey and K.
* For sticklers, this award is part of the 2014 Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) awards from the Housing Production Trust Fund.
** It could be five, since the Housing Authority is looking at splitting some units out from one planned mixed-income rental building (not this one!) into a second market-rate condo building. But there has been no public indication of movement one way or the other on that, and a planned Zoning hearing this fall has been pushed back to at least early 2015.
 

The DC Housing Authority has now officially released its request for proposals for an operator to run the new Capper Community Center (or, "Community Building").
It states that DCHA is "seeking proposals from qualified service providers with a broad experience in providing programs, fundraising, property maintenance, asset management, and community outreach in a mixed income environment,"
Responses are due on Friday, Nov. 21.
Earlier this year the Housing Authority ran a community "engagement process" to come up with a series of recommendations on what sort of programming and activites the neighborhood would like to see at this building, which presumably/hopefully/possibly whichever operator is chosen will use to guide their plans. And this gives me an excuse to post the final copy of the report.
UPDATE, 10/29: It took a while, but the RFP itself is finally available.
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I missed Wednesday's groundbreaking for what is now officially called the "Capitol Quarter Community Building," but one of the tweets from the event caught my eye: this spiffy new rendering.
It's just a little better than the one we've been seeing up to now, which I first posted in October of 2005.
And since I failed you by not getting to the event (just add it to my ever-growing List of Shame), here's the Housing Authority's press release on it.
(Though one thing not in this rendering that was at least hinted at in the old one: the Marines' parking garage.)
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It's been a long (long!) time coming, but work appears to be about to get underway at the planned Community Center at 5th and L, SE--at least it's close enough that a ceremonial groundbreaking is happening on Wednesday, Aug. 20, at 10:30 am. Mayor Gray, DCHA director Adrianne Todman are expected to be there, and I imagine the rest of the usual suspects will be too.
This will get the structure itself underway, but it's still not yet known who will operate the building, or exactly what sorts of programs and offerings there will be. A few months back the process completed for determining what the neighborhood is looking for from the new space, but full clarity probably won't arrive until closer to the building's opening, in latelatelate 2015 or early 2016.
UPDATE: Dang it, I forgot to use the phrase "shovel-wielding VIPs."
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The nascent Navy Yard Neighborhood Association has put together a "Neighborhood History" event scheduled for this Saturday, July 5, from 1 to 5 pm at 200 I Street, SE.
It will kick off with a showing of the 2007 documentary Chocolate City, which tells the stories of families displaced when the plans went forward a decade ago to replace the old Capper/Carrollsburg housing project with the mixed-income Capitol Quarter townhouse development.
Afterward, there will be oral histories from some of the neighborhood's former and returning residents, along with some panel discussions.
There will also be activities for the kids and refreshments.
No RSVP necessary, but there's a Facebook event page for more information and to indicate if you're going, should you choose.
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At a public meeting on Wednesday night, the team working with the DC Housing Authority unveiled what programs the consultants will be recommending be offered at the Capper community center, a list that grew out of the recent survey about residents' wishes.
The recommendations are:
* A 7,000-square-foot gymnasium with basketball court that can also be divided into two smaller courts when needed;
* A 3,600-square-foot day care center, which would also include a secured outdoor play area;
* Three multipurpose fitness rooms (for yoga classes or the like):
* Two multipurpose classrooms;
* One individual fitness area, which could include treadmills and weights; and
* A small "soft play area" for little kids.
The recommendations are not a written-in-stone marching order, however. Soon the Housing Authority will be putting out an RFP to find the organization that will run the community center (though apparently we're now calling it a "community building," because #branding). The operator would then have "flexibility" in what it offers, while ostensibly guided by the survey results.
There were 473 responses to the survey, and the meeting slides show both the demographic breakdown of respondents as well as the top vote-getters in both fitness and "enrichment" activities.
The slides also include conceptual drawings of how the two-story building could be laid out to handle the recommended offerings, though it was stressed that the operator will be making the final decisions on layout and whatnot. (You may remember that there was at one time a basement planned for the building, but it's now been removed from the design.)
Attendees at the meeting did not rise up in fire-breathing opposition to the presentation, though concerns were raised about the lack of garden space, the seeming preference of fitness activities over learning/cultural/enrichment activities, and the need for space and kitchen access to accommodate private events like kids' birthday parties.
Even though the consultant's report is due to DCHA next week, the team still wants to hear comments, if you've got them.
The slides also said that the groundbreaking for the building is "about to happen," which of course translates to JDLand Speak as "Any Minute Now."
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More posts: Capper, Community Center, meetings
 

The next step in the planning for the soon-to-be-built Capper Community Center has been announced, with a public meeting scheduled for Wednesday, June 11 at 200 I St. SE at 7 pm* to discuss the results of the recent neighborhood survey on desired programs and activities at the center. The consultants hired by the Housing Authority will also present their recommendations.
Sayeth DCHA: "Over the past three weeks, almost 475 members of the Southeast neighborhood answered the 130-question surveys. Of those, more than 85 percent were from within a 10-block radius of the proposed facility. About 46 percent of those surveyed indicated they rented their home. Almost three-quarters of the surveys were completed online."
The first community meeting was held in April, and included some initial "strategic visioning," in advance of the surveys going out.
* Note the different start time from when this was initially posted.
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It was on March 5 that a large number of Very Important Persons gathered at 601 L St. SE to ceremonially break ground on the Lofts at Capitol Quarter, the 195-unit mixed-income apartment building that's the next step in the redevelopment of Capper/Carrollsburg. It's not unusual that there's a bit of a lag between the celebration and the actual start of work, but I admit my toes were starting to tap a bit as to when the real digging would begin.
And, lo and behold, this week the heavy machinery arrived, the northern half of Nats Lot W is roped off, and I witnessed with my very own eyes the breaking of ground. And there is plenty of ground to break:
PS: If folks have a minute and want to peek at the beta version of my Lofts at Capitol Quarter page, and report whether your browser freaks out--or if it doesn't--that'd be keen. (This includes mobile access.)
 

As promised at a community meeting a few days back, the DC Housing Authority has now released its survey to help get input from neighbors of the soon-to-be-constructed community center at 5th and K SE.
The survey is being passed out in the neighborhood in printed form (though you kids may not know what "printed" is), but it also can be filled out online. Responses are due by May 16.
And, to goose participation, DCHA is offering a chance to win one of six $50 gift cards if you complete the survey.
I wrote last week about the first public meeting in the agency's "engagement process" , in which they are working to determine what programming will be offered at the center once it opens, by late 2015 or early 2016. Another public meeting will be held in June, followed by a final report.
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On Monday night the first public meeting was held to begin gauging neighborhood expectations and desires for the programming at the Capper Community Center, which is expected to begin construction Any Minute Now and open in late 2015.
I wasn't there, but the Housing Authority was nice enough to pass along both the presentation slides that were shown by the consultants running the meeting and the entire community "engagement process." These slides also include the breakout of the responses to various questions asked during the meeting. (I'm not going to call it Visioning. I'm just not.)
Attendees were given keypads to register their answers, and so the demographics of the 60ish folks who participated were immediately available: 62 percent of attendees were aged 60 and older, 61 percent were female, 69 percent have lived in the neighborhood for four years or more, etc. Then a series of questions about what the focus of the building's offerings should be and how the building should be operated were asked, followed by breakout small group discussions.
The next step in gathering input will be a survey that will go out in the next few weeks, which will focus on feedback about specific potential programs and activities. Another community meeting is expected in early June, with a final report issued not long afterward.
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The "engagement process" between DCHA (and its consultants) and interested parties about the planned Capper Community Center now has its first public meeting scheduled, for Monday, April 21, at 7 pm, at 200 I St. SE.
The announcement flyer includes an FAQ with information similar to what I wrote about not too long ago when the agency announced that it would be working with the community to determine the "inside uses" for the 30,000-square-foot building at 5th and K streets, SE, which DCHA expects to be "a support for the community building process in this new mixed-income community" as well as a "multifaceted enrichment center" and a "hub for activities and positive civic interaction."
It also explains again that DCHA will not be running and funding the center's operations--though will remain "vitally interested" --so it needs to come up with ways to create the necessary revenue to support both staff and programs.
This meeting is planned to be an information session and also hear ideas about programs for the building, then a second meeting later this spring will present preliminary programming recommendations.
Check the flyer for additional information, including the reminder that government ID is needed in order to get into 200 I St.

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With the construction of the long-delayed Capper Community Center at 5th and K getting ready to start, and with residents having recently made clear their desire to be consulted on the center's programming, the DC Housing Authority has announced that it will be reaching out "to the Capper HOPE VI community (homeowners and renters/former residents/current residents) and the broader Near Southeast neighborhood to solicit input into the future programs that will be offered."
Additionally, because the agency says that they have been unable to find funds for the staffing and programming of the center once it opens, it will be looking to contract with some organization or entity to operate and develop programs at the center "that will be responsive to the community's needs and the long-term vision for the center."
Brailsford & Dunlavey and Justice and Sustainability Associates have been hired to (I'll just quote the consultant mumbo jumbo): " 1) develop a process with the purpose of defining impacting programs that will foster personal and community enrichment, and civic participation; 2) create an asset map that will allow the future operator to understand the programs that are offered in the neighborhood; 3) develop financial models and pro forma to guide DCHA in approving future programming; and 4) [work] with our architects to define square footage within the building’s walls so that each space can have the potential of multiple uses."
There will be a series of meetings with the community over the next three months (including all-important charettes) and will also be developing a survey and "other forms of communicating the community's vision and desires for the building."
With the construction funds expiring by November 2015, DCHA has a goal of finding an operator for the center by this September, which would give the new operator one year to prepare for the center's opening.
You can read the entire release from DCHA about the process for more information.
The new community center has had a long, long path to fruition, since even before the original one closed and then was demolished in 2007.
There should also be a construction trailer and a sign announcing the project going up at the site (if not there already), as DCHA gets ready to prepare the site for construction.
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A clearly happy and relieved group of city officials, developers, and residents gathered this morning on the parking lot at 7th and L, SE, to ceremonially break ground on the Lofts at Capitol Quarter, the 195-unit mixed-income apartment building that marks the latest phase in the redevelopment of the Capper/Carrollsburg public housing project.
Mayor Vince Gray, DC Housing Authority director Adrianne Todman, Ward 6 council member Tommy Wells, and other speakers all discussed the importance of making sure that residents are not priced out of the District, focusing on the 39 units of public housing that will be included in this project. When this building is completed, DCHA will have replaced 61 percent of Capper's original 707 units of public housing.
A lot of cooks were in the Lofts's $42 million financial kitchen, since DCHA did not use any of the Capper Hope VI funds to get the project underway. Instead, DCHA is acting as a first-time co-developer alongside Urban Atlantic and Forest City Washington, apparently crafting a "unique and complex legal and financial structure" that involves low income tax credits, DC Housing Finance Agency debt purchased by Citi Community Capital, and a short-term loan made by Industrial Bank.
The building is expected to be completed by 2015. You can read more about it here, and on my project page.
And because I'm a sucker for photos of dirt being flung into the air, here's a gallery of images from the event, which included not only the usual lineup of officials but also former and current Capper residents.
As for when "real" groundbreaking will begin, let's just say Any Minute Now. (And Nats fans and commuters should be prepared that Lot W will be cut pretty much in half by this development.)
 

It's getting hard to keep track of all of the projects in the ground around the neighborhood, and now another one is about to be added to the list: the 195-unit mixed-income apartment building christened the Lofts at Capitol Quarter is having a ceremonial groundbreaking on March 5 at 10 am, with the mayor, Tommy Wells, and other luminaries expected to be in attendance.
This project, on the south side of L Street SE between 5th and 7th, is on the site of the old Capper Seniors building, and will displace the northern half of Nats Economy Lot W. It faces the Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters building that opened at 7th and L in 2004.
Of course, since this is a ceremonial event, we'll have to see when actual moving of dirt--other than by shovel-wielding VIPs--begins. But financing is in place, permits are approved, and the DC Housing Authority appears raring to go to get this project underway.
When completed, the building will be run by Forest City's residential management arm, and will have a fitness room, roof decks, interior courtyards, and meeting space. It's expected to take about 20 months to complete once construction begins.
This is the third apartment building to rise up as part of the Hope VI redevelopment of the Capper/Carrollsburg housing project, and the first to be mixed income, with at least 38 affordable units to be included.
The "Capitol Quarter" moniker comes from the rows of new townhouses built a few blocks away as part of the Capper redevelopment. In the original plans for Capper's re-do, this site (known as Square 882) was going to be townhouses as well, but was switched to an apartment building in 2009. The south half of the block, facing M Street and the Navy Yard, may someday be the 600 M Street office development, but that does not appear to be happening anytime soon.
 

Now that I've come out of my snow bunker (being a weather geek is a terrible disease), I'll pass along these notes from the past week or so in Zoning Land:
* VET: The commission on Feb. 6 approved 5-0-0 Forest City's request for a wording change to allow a veterinary hospital to operate in the Southeast Federal Center Overlay area (basically, the Yards).
As I wrote a week or so ago, a vet is a potential tenant in Twelve12's retail space on Tingey Street, but before a lease can be signed, "veterinary boarding hospital and veterinary hospital uses" needed to be added to the SFC overlay's allowed uses, subject to a number of conditions (no more than 50 percent of the tenant space can be for boarding, that any animal legally sold in the District can be boarded, incidental boarding of animals for convalesence is allowed, order and waste handling requirements, and that grooming and supplies can only be "accessory" uses). There was some back-and-forth about the word "incidental," and it was agreed that that wording be better phrased before the final vote.
Forest City does not announce tenants until a lease is executed, so the name of the potential vet has not been released.
* CAPPER: On Feb. 10, the commission voted to "set down" for a full hearing the Housing Authority's request to modify the Capper PUD to allow 30 of the affordable housing units planned for squares 739, 767 and 768 to be transferred outside the Capper boundaries to the block where the Park Chelsea is currently under construction. (See the this map culled from the Office of Planning Report to help you visualize.)
The planning folks have a number of issues they want DCHA to address before the hearing on this modification, but not among them is the biggest issue that ANC 6D has with Square 767: that the Housing Authority is thinking about a plan that would change the original plans for a single 147-unit mixed-income building to two buildings, one a market rate-only condo building and the other an affordable housing-only building. (This plan is not mentioned in the housing authority's filings with the zoning commission.)
During the discussion, commission chair Anthony Hood noted that ANC 6D is "one of the ANCs that this commission knows is very engaged," which was in reference to the strongly worded letter the commission received with 6D's concerns that they and the community still need to be "appropriately briefed" about DCHA's plans, and that the commission be able to "fully vet our concerns with them regarding the request for modification." Hood also said, "Let's make sure the next vote we see shows that everyone is working together."
Concurrently, the commission's vote also deferred action on DCHA's parallel request for a five-year extension to the PUD covering these same three squares, saying that the extension request decision hinges on the modification case's decision. The Office of Planning is recommending just a two-year extension, and zoning commissioner Marcie Cohen said that DCHA needs to provide much more detailed information on the steps taken up to this point to secure financing, since it is her opinion that the initial filing doesn't seem show a "compelling need" for an exemption.
The hearing date isn't yet set, and DCHA will have to go to ANC 6D (and probably 6B as well) in order to request support before its zoning commission appearance. The Housing Authority and 6D have had a pretty contentious relationship over the years in regards to the Capper redevelopment, and it's unlikely that the deliberations over this zoning request will change that.
 

* CAPPER DISCUSSION: I have a dream of writing a deeper post about this tomorrow, but just in case, I'll mention again that the DC Housing Authority is having a community meeting on Feb. 8 at 10 am at 200 I St. SE "regarding the opportunities and resources for the continued development of the neighborhood." Look for the "programming" for the long-planned community center and the possible condo building at 3rd and K to be a big part of the discussion. Tommy Wells is expected to attend.
* SCHOOL BOUNDARIES: Three Ward 6 community meetings have been scheduled on the hot topic of DCPS's review of public school boundaries and feeder patterns. Topics open for discussion, in addition to the aforementioned boundaries and feeder patterns, include experiences with the current assignment policies (including lotteries) and bridging the assignment and choice policies across DCPS and charter schools. The meetings all start at 6:30 pm and are scheduled at: Eliot-Hine (Feb. 13), Stuart-Hobson (Feb. 18), and Jefferson (Feb. 20).
* ANC 6D: The commission's monthly meeting is on Feb. 10 at 7 pm at 1100 4th St. SW. The agenda includes some curb cut requests, and updates on the Wharf, the National Cherry Blossom Festival, and an upcoming mayoral forum at Arena Stage.
* ALDEAN: The Nationals finally announced a date for the Jason Aldean concert at the ballpark this summer: July 25, the day before Billy Joel's show. Tickets for the Aldean gig go on sale tomorrow, Feb. 7.
* ALL THAT JAZZ: This is a ways off, but it's been announced that a three-day Jazz at the Riverfront music festival will be held at the Yards Park from June 27-29, as part of the DC Jazz Festival. More about it all from City Paper.
Have an announcement for a future event? Send it here.

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