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Bond Sale Pending for Capper Infrastructure Improvements (and Some Timeline Hints)
Mar 22, 2010 11:43 AM
It's more than 100 pages of high finance and headache-inducing legalese, but nonetheless I've gotten my hands on the "Preliminary Official Statement" for what is expected to be a $29 million PILOT bond sale to fund a series of infrastructure improvements for future phases of the Capper/Carrollsburg redevelopment. (This is the document written for investors to help them decide whether or not to purchase the bonds.) If you want to know all about how these bonds are being structured (with monies from the Downtown TIF playing a part), this is the document for you. It also has some good background on the Capper project if you're just catching up.
But it also has a few tidbits on the current and projected path of some upcoming parts of the overall project, starting on page 19. Here are the items that are probably of most interest, with the usual caveats that no timeline is written in stone anymore:
* Financing for the second phase of Capitol Quarter is being negotiated and is expected to close in mid-2010. Development work would then begin in August, and vertical construction in November. (Phase 2 covers the blocks between Third and Fourth and I and M, and will contain 116 new for-sale townhouses and 47 public housing rental units.)
* All but five of the 121 CQ phase 1 townhouses have sold, and two of those are being held back as model units.
* Financing is "being negotiated" for the planned apartment building on the northern half of Square 882, the site that's been the subject of my recent posts on the Marines coveting the site as well. That financing is expected to close in late 2010 according to this document, with an expected completion date of the apartment building in April 2012.
This $29M bond sale is not the last one for Capper infrastructure; the city council approved a total of $55 million in bond funding back in 2006, and the document says that the city "expects" another bond issuance for the rest of the money, "though the timing of such issuance is currently uncertain" (page 10).
As for what exactly the monies will be funding, the document lays out the following (page 22), though this is for the entire $55 million, so it can't be said that this current $29 million offering will cover all this (which will bum out the people who see the phase "community center"). Some of this work would also happen on the streets surrounding Canal Park:
* Repairing and replacing underground water and utility lines;
* Repairing streets and streetscapes and adding landscaping;
* Demolishing the DPW building (and smoke stack!) at 900 New Jersey, relocating DPW's operations, environmental site remediations (remember, that site was operating as a trash transfer site as far back as 1905);
* Building I Street through to New Jersey Avenue; and
* Constructing the new community center at Fifth and K.
It's expected that the bonds will be "priced" this week, with the sale closing by the end of the month.
I hear rumors that DPW could be out of their site by next spring, as the search continues for a new home for their operations (and maybe is getting close to a resolution).

DCHA Still Moving Forward on Square 882
Mar 20, 2010 9:43 AM
After my post yesterday about the Marines continuing to eye various sites for their new barracks and their interest in Square 882 (site of the old Capper Seniors building and where the DC Housing Authority wants to build a mixed-income apartment building as part of the Capper redevelopment), I've found out that last week the DCHA board voted to authorize an application to HUD for a loan guarantee to build on the site. Also, design documents for the new apartment building are now approved (see earlier renderings from last year's zoning approvals), and other work is in progress to prepare for submittal of building permit applications. There's even a preliminary schedule to begin infrastructure work on the site after the Nationals' season ends and their need for Parking Lot W is over.
Does this mean the notion of the Marines getting the site is finished? Is it a high-stakes game of chicken? Will the guys with guns ultimately take control of the site from the guys with apartments? As always, we shall see.

Updated Photos from On High, Finally
Mar 7, 2010 11:13 AM
I'm embarrassed to admit how long it's been since I've visited the roof perch along New Jersey Avenue to take new photos of the land down below, but I finally got back there on Friday and have eased my conscience (though I wish it had been sunnier), and you can see the results here.
I now have my first overhead shots of the townhouses at Capitol Quarter, seen here compared with the same view in March 2006:
There's also photos of the view to the west, showing the changes the past few years have wrought:
The entire batch is here, though be sure to look for the icon because I wasn't able to update every angle. Also, use the "See All" links if you want to see the "between" photos of each angle.
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter

Near Southeast Assessments, Down 1.8 Percent (Or Up 1.9 Percent, Depending on Your Point of View)
Mar 2, 2010 9:52 AM
It's assessment season again, and the Examiner reports that, citywide, commercial property assessments are down 10 percent, with residential numbers dropping between three and four percent. So I fired up the database I keep of the numbers for Near Southeast, added the new data as I do each year when the new numbers come out, and came up with a total assessed value for all properties of just under $5.9 billion, which is a 1.8 percent drop from the $6.01 billion tally reported in March of 2009.
But, wait! As I dug a little further, I found a flaw in my methodology that hadn't quite occurred to me before this year (though it probably hadn't been an issue too often before now): 11 of the big commercial buildings in Near Southeast had apparently appealed their initial 2010 assessments (sent out last year), lowering their tax bills by between 2 percent and 38 percent, from a combined $1.13 billion in the initial assessments to $909.36 million post-appeals. (Ten other buildings are showing no change in those assessments, and one--909 New Jersey--actually saw an 8 percent bump upwards, which was probably more of a function of the initial estimate being from before the building was completed.)
Taking these changes into account, the total assessments for 2010 for the neighborhood is closer to $5.88 billion, meaning that tally of the 2011 numbers just released of $5.89 billion would actually be a 1.9 percent increase. Except that I imagine that some property owners will be appealing again (since some of the 2011 numbers go right back to the original 2010 numbers that were appealed), and the $5.99 billion number will come down again.
Not all property in the neighborhood took a hit--with the opening of the first portions of Capitol Quarter, the blocks between Fourth and Fifth Street saw an increased value of $33 million, and the completion of Velocity raised the assessed value of its block from $99 million to $162 million.
And, since everyone will want to know: the behemoth of the area--Nationals Park--has an assessment unchanged from last year, at just a hair under $1 billion.
I'll check the numbers again later this year to see how many proposed 2011 assessments get altered.
Here's a quick table of the big properties that saw their 2010 assessments change from the original number released early in 2009:
Property Original 2010 Revised 2010 % Diff. Proposed 2011
300 M $132.26M $82.00M -38% $74.69M
55 M $162.60M $110.66M -32% $110.66M
80 M $124.08M $92.75M -25% $111.27M
100 M $90.98M $68.18M -25% $90.98M
1201 M (Martime #1) $87.97M $72.57M -18% $64.74M
1100 NJ $142.79M $121.40M -15% $139.16M
100 I $85.20M $73.00M -14% $85.20M
70 I $132.28M $119.00M -10% $132.28M
1000 NJ * $84.46M $81.06M -4% $79.75M
770 M (Blue Castle) $23.93M $23.17M -3% $23.93M
1220 12th (Maritime #2) $66.99M $65.57M -2% $47.57M
909 NJ $68.05M $73.58M 8% $79.93M
* This is for the residential portion of Capitol Hill Tower; the 2010 assessments on the Courtyard by Marriott show no change.
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More posts: assessments, Capper, Capitol Quarter, jpi, Square 699n

Bullpen Back for Another Season; Other ANC 6D Doings
Feb 25, 2010 9:12 PM
The snowblown February ANC 6D meeting finally went off tonight, and here's the Near Southeast-related bullet points:
* The Bullpen will be back in action this season, in its same spot on the northwest corner of Half and N across from the ballpark. There were two requested changes to the voluntary agreement between the ANC and the owner: that the bar be allowed to operate until 1:30 am (with alcohol sales ending at 1:00), and that liquor in non-frozen form be allowed alongside the already approved beer, wine, and frozen drinks, both of which are already allowed under the liquor license. The discussion was more contentious about process than it was about content (with commissioner David Sobelsohn arguing strongly that the motion should be tabled until the next meeting, which none of the other commissioners were interested in), but in the end the commission voted 6-1 to approve the extended hours, and that mixed drinks could be served during private events. There were some concerns from commissioner Rhonda Hamilton about the noise at the bar on weeknights, but owner Bo Blair said that live music will always be cut off by midnight.
* There is a move afoot by commission Bob Siegel to carve out some of the curb space in front of Capper Seniors #1 at 900 Fifth Street (which it must be noted is also across the street from his house). The street, which is one way in the block in question (between K and Virginia) gets clogged on a regular basis thanks to shuttle buses, vans, trucks, and other vehicles double-parking while at the building, and the residents want a portion of the curb cut out to allow vehicles to pull out of the traffic lane (like the one in front of the Courtyard by Marriott entrance). DDOT initially rejected the request because it was called a "curb cut," which means something different in traffic parlance, but DDOT's Ward 6 planner Jamie Henson was in attendance and pledged to help the ANC work with the engineering side of DDOT to see what could be done without taking away the sidewalk or the ADA ramps to the building.
* There was supposed to be an update from the Nationals, but no reps from the team were there; ANC chair Ron McBee did report that April 23 will be "Neighborhood Night" at the ballpark, with the first pitch and national anthem being performed by nearby residents and other goodies as well. (I imagine discount tickets will be part of the deal, but nothing was said. The game is against the Dodgers.) McBee also said that the ANC has requested a meeting with DDOT about the Traffic Operations and Parking Plan for this season, to check on how it's all going, but no specific concerns were mentioned. (With the Nats Express no longer shuttling fans to and from parking at RFK, there probably will be a noticeable uptick in traffic this year, even if attendance remains steady.)
* The next 6D meeting will be on March 8 at 7 pm, and it'll be held at the Courtyard by Marriott at New Jersey and L, so if you've been dying to go to a meeting but haven't felt like venturing across South Capitol, you'll get your chance. It's also worth mentioning that ANC 6B's meeting the next night includes an update by CSX on the Virginia Avenue project on its agenda.

More Details on the Marines' Space Needs
Feb 1, 2010 6:54 PM
Voice of the Hill has just posted an informative article giving a lot more detail on the Marine Corps' plans to replace the aging barracks building "20" on the north side of the freeway at Eighth and I, along with their desire to build additional facilities, including a fire station, child development center, gym, pool, parking, meeting space, post office, basketball and tennis courts, an indoor parade field, and a new Marine Barracks Washington museum. All in all, the Marines are looking for 173,000 square feet of space, some of which would be accessible (they say) to Hill residents.
Possible locations they're looking at for the new barracks appear to be north of the freeway (and outside of my boundaries!), including the Potomac Gardens public housing project at 12th and G, SE, and the Tyler Elementary baseball field at 10th and I, SE, but they are also considering the Marine Corps Institute site within the Washington Navy Yard. Also shown on their maps as a possible site is Square 882 (across from the barracks annex built in 2004), currently Nats Parking lot W on the site of the old Capper Seniors building, but the Voice article says that the DC Housing Authority has taken that block off the table--I've been hearing that DCHA is close to securing financing for the mixed-income apartment building they intend to build on the north side of that block, and would possibly begin construction by the end of this year.
The article also says that the current owners of the Blue Castle, Madison Marquette, have expressed an interest in leasing space in the old trolley barn to the Marines.
The Marines' web site for the development project has been updated with the packet from last week's open house, an FAQ, and other materials. There apparently will be a series of community meetings, which are described by the FAQ thusly: "The current plan is for the first workshop (February) to focus on needs and goals, the second workshop (March) to focus on potential development sites, the third workshop (April) to focus on CIMP alternatives, and the fourth workshop (May) to focus on CIMP consensus elements. Additionally, a charrette focused on the CIMP way forward will be held in fall 2010." (If you're interested in these, you should plan to attend rather than waiting for a JDLand report--I tend to stay away from community meetings that are pure planning sessions, because, well, they drive me insane.)
And note that this is a *different* armed forces expansion plan from the one we heard about last week, where the Navy is looking for additional office space outside of the walls of the Navy Yard. Got to keep your service branches straight these days!

Council Passes Bill for Capper Bond Sale
Dec 15, 2009 4:06 PM
Mere moments ago, the city council passed on an emergency basis B18-475, the "Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg Public Revenue Bonds Amendment Act of 2009," which will allow the CFO's office to issue $32 million in city-backed bonds to help fund "phase 3" infrastructure improvements at Capper/Carrollsburg. This would be in addition to the $9.5 million in stimulus money that DCHA was awarded by HUD that will allow the phase 2 townhouses at Capitol Quarter to go forward, possibly by the third quarter of 2010 if current financing negotiations with EYA go smoothly. By passing it on an emergency basis, the city can go to the bond market perhaps before the end of this month or in January, which apparently is a prime time to go a'sellin.
For more about this funding, how it will work, and What It All Means, read my notes from the council hearing last month, including the prepared written testimony of a DCHA rep explaining the need for the bill.
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More posts: Capper, Capper New Apt Bldgs

CapQuarter Framing at Fourth and I; Final Velocity Pics
Nov 28, 2009 2:53 PM
Though I'm about to disappear down the college football rabbit hole for the the rest of the day, I couldn't resist getting a few quick photos of the new framing that's going up on the last block of Capitol Quarter's first phase, on the northwest corner of Fourth and I.
I also wandered over to First Street to get "final" photos of Velocity building now that the building has opened, including a shot of the sign now up at Justin's Cafe (not that you can really see the sign, thanks to poor sun positioning. Might have to sneak back over there early in the morning).
Here's the complete batch of before-and-after photos for the shots I posted today.
And now, time to go bite my orange-and-blue nails for a few hours.
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NBC4 Covers CSX/Virginia Ave./Capitol Quarter
Nov 17, 2009 8:08 PM
NBC4's Tom Sherwood did a piece today on CSX's plans to expand the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, and he focused on a to-be owner of a Capitol Quarter townhouse on Virginia Avenue (in the block between Third and Fourth, where foundation pouring is currently underway). There wasn't any real news in the piece for people who've been following the story recently, but it does highlight that that one block could really become a problem for CSX, and is perhaps an issue that no one had given much thought to. (But, in their defense, it's not like there was a five-year window when Virginia Avenue was completely deserted. Oh, wait....) I also wonder how the city agencies that will be new tenants at 225 Virginia will handle the impact of three years of construction outside their front door.
There still aren't any details posted online by CSX or the District about exactly how the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project will work (though we do have notes from their various recent public outreach sessions), but at a cost of about $140 million, it's not a small piece of the $842 million "National Gateway" project. In the documents that were part of the National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board vote on the project back in September, CSX described the Virginia Avenue Tunnel as a "bottleneck that when unlocked improves the freight efficiency and mitigates the expected freight growth in the region."

Notes from the Capper Phase 3 Funding Bill Hearing
Nov 16, 2009 4:30 PM
The city council's Committee on Finance and Revenue held a hearing last Thursday (Nov. 12) on B18-475, the "Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg Public Revenue Bonds Amendment Act of 2009," which has been introduced to allow the CFO's office to issue $32 million in city-backed bonds to help fund "phase 3" infrastructure improvements at Capper/Carrollsburg. This would be in addition to the $9.5 million in stimulus money that DCHA was awarded by HUD that will allow the phase 2 townhouses at Capitol Quarter to go forward, possibly by the third quarter of 2010 if current financing negotiations with EYA go smoothly.
(Quick background: This infrastructure work would be a combination of underground work on the Second Street blocks around Canal Park, the relocation of the DPW operations at New Jersey and K and demolition of that block, and perhaps the construction of I Street between Second and New Jersey. These projects were originally expected to be funded by the sale of unrated municipal bonds, but the current Economic Difficulties have made those sorts of bonds all but extinct, and additional attempts to secure loans from banks for the money have been fruitless as well. Read this for more details.)
The hearing was pretty straightforward--you can watch it via streaming video, plus I've managed to procure the prepared written testimony of David Cortiella from DCHA if you're more of a reader than a watcher (like me!). The main takeaways:
* The city is intending to sell $32 million in short-term bonds, and will cover the estimated $600,000 a year in costs from funds in an industrial revenue bonds assessment fund held by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. After three years, when presumably the bond market is a bit healthier and Capper's own PILOT fund has begun to receive payments, long-term bonds will be issued. John Ross of the CFO's office called this "a very clever arrangement."
* Because the council originally approved a $55 million bond offering as part of the original Capper PILOT legislation, the cost of these bonds is already reflected in the city's budget.
* DCHA and the CFO are asking that this bill be approved on an emergency basis at the council's December meeting, so that the bonds could be sold during late December or early January, which is apparently a good bond-selling time of year. (Christmas bonds for everyone!)
* Cortiella mentioned that DCHA is also investigating a change in the tax code that may allow the financing of the 189-unit apartment building planned for the old Capper Seniors site at Seventh and L (Square 882) by the third quarter of 2010.
* Money has already begun to flow into the Capper PILOT thanks to the completed houses in Capitol Quarter, and if the phase 1 and 2 townhouses and Square 882 apartments are finished as currently scheduled, approximately $1.2 million will be flowing to the PILOT fund each year by 2012. (It's the PILOT fund that then pays back the bonds.)
Jack Evans--the only councilmember at the hearing--was receptive to the plans and also to moving the bill as emergency legislation, calling it "a good project" and saying it should "definitely move forward." He also made sure to note that, since the new bonds are being backed with proceeds from the Gallery Place TIF, that the city will be "backing Ward 6 projects with Ward 2 money": "We're always helpful when we can be helpful," he said. He also reminisced that, when he first ran for city council in 1991, Near Southeast was in Ward 2, and that he received all of six votes across the entire precinct in the 13-man primary.
The council's December legislative meeting is scheduled for Dec. 15.
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More posts: Capper

Canal Park Briefing at ANC 6D; CSX Meetings; Lower 8th Street Documents and Agenda
Nov 5, 2009 9:46 PM
Here's a bunch of little items and event reminders. Alas, next week's pile of happenings come at a bad time on my calendar, and I'm going to have to miss almost all of them, so this would be a good chance for everyone to attend these meetings themselves instead of sitting around waiting for me to tell you what happened at them. :-)
* ANC 6D (Southwest and Near Southeast) has posted the agenda for its November meeting, which includes an update on the plans for Canal Park. It's on Monday, Nov. 9, at 7 pm, at St. Augustine's, Sixth and M streets, SW.
* The next night, ANC 6B (Capitol Hill SE and Eighth Street) is having its November meeting, where there will be a presentation by CSX on its planned Virginia Avenue Tunnel construction. (Voice of the Hill recently wrote about the plans, and you can read my posts about them, which include links to some source documents.) ANC 6B's meeting is Nov. 10 at 7 pm at the Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE.
* Plus, the Friends of Garfield Park are having their own informational meeting about the CSX plans, on Thursday, Nov. 12, at 7 pm at Capitol Hill Day School (Second and South Carolina, SE).
* The Lower 8th Street Visioning Process folks have posted the minutes, historical background, and main presentation slides from their two October sessions. They've also posted the agenda for their November meetings, scheduled for 8:30 am and 7 pm on November 17 at the People's Church, 535 Eighth St., SE.
* And, if these events aren't enough for you, you can also watch on Nov. 12 the city council's Committee on Finance and Revenue Hearing on the bill that would allow the sale of bonds via the city's CFO office that would pay for a considerable amount of "Phase 3" infrastructure work for Capper/Carrollsburg redevelopment, encompassing some as-yet-undetermined combination of underground work on the Second Street blocks, the relocation of the DPW operations at New Jersey and K and demolition of that block, and the construction of I Street between Second and New Jersey. (This is above and beyond the $9.5 million in federal stimulus funds that the city is receiving to allow Capitol Quarter's second phase of townhouses to go forward.) The council hearing is on the 12th at 10 am, and you can watch on DC cable channel 13 or via the channel's web site. Here's my post about this proposed bill, if you want to know more.

A Roundup of Recently Tweeted Tidbits (Mostly)
Oct 29, 2009 1:07 PM
Not much big news these days, but here's some tidbits, most of which are links that I've Tweeted in the past few days:
* The BID and the Washington DC Economic Partnership held a "Capitol Riverfront Storefront Summit" on Tuesday morning, which The Hill is Home summarized, with quotes from the owners of Cornercopia and the Subway on Second Street. No splashy announcements of new retailers, though.
* The WBJ's Top Shelf blog pivoted off of the summit to write about Justin's Cafe at Velocity, which the owner now says "hopes to open in about two months from now."
* UrbanTurf asks: How do People Like Living in "Capitol Riverfront"?
* Beyond DC went to the Columbia Heights streetcar meeting on Monday, and posted more details about DDOT's plans. The Ward 7 public meeting is tonight, at 650 Anacostia Ave., NE, from 7 to 8:30 pm.
* The Bullpen is still selling tickets for its big Halloween night bash, from 9 pm to 1 am (with a fully heated tent!). An e-mail says that more than 400 tickets have been sold.
* The American Cancer Society is hosting Making Strides for Breast Cancer, a 5K walk to fund breast cancer research, at Nationals Park on Saturday. Two laps around the stadium, and one inside lap on the First Concourse. (I think I've done that walk a whole bunch of times over the past four years!)
* The council's Committee on Finance and Revenue has scheduled a November 12 hearing on the pending bill that would allow the city sell bonds to pay for phase 3 infrastructure work at Capper. (Though I don't see the hearing notice online yet.) For more about this, read my entry from a few days back.

Updated Photos of Capitol Quarter Progress
Oct 25, 2009 5:06 PM
I played cat-and-mouse with the clouds today and took some photos of the progress in the third block of Capitol Quarter, where the townhouses have sprung up pretty quickly over the past six weeks, meaning that St. Paul's Church at Fourth and I (above) and the private homes along Fifth Street are no longer the lonely outposts they've been since late 2004.
So that your computers (and my server) don't collapse, here are the (separated) links of these new befores-and-todays, which take you on a walk around the block: Fourth and Virginia, Fourth and I, Fourth and K, Fifth and K, and Fifth and Virginia. You'll also see on the northwest corner of Fourth and I that the concrete foundations are now being poured for the fourth and final block of Capitol Quarter's first phase.
It will be five years ago next week that the demolition began on the blocks where all these new townhouses are going up; paging through the photos I took during November 2004 while the wrecking crews worked, it in some ways seems a lot longer than that. The eastward view along K at Fourth is a pretty good representation of what these blocks have been through:
See the whole batch here; you can click on any you see in the archive or use the Photo Archive Map Browser to track the fall and rise of any other location.
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter

Additional Capper Funding in the Works
Oct 5, 2009 6:52 PM
On the heels of the $9.5 million grant received from HUD last week to help kick-start the second phase of Capitol Quarter townhouses, the DC Housing Authority and the city are working on a plan to to help pay more of the start-up costs associated with phase 3 of the redevelopment of Capper/Carrollsburg, in which four mixed-income apartment buildings will someday be constructed on blocks surrounding Canal Park. (See my Capper map for details and locations of these various phases.)
This infrastructure work would be some as-yet-undetermined combination of underground work on the Second Street blocks, the relocation of the DPW operations at New Jersey and K and demolition of that block, and the construction of I Street between Second and New Jersey. These projects were originally expected to be funded by the sale of unrated municipal bonds, but the current Economic Difficulties have made those sorts of bonds all but extinct, and additional attempts to secure loans from banks for the money have been fruitless as well.
Now, a bill is expected to be introduced at Tuesday's city council session amending the 2006 Capper PILOT law to allow for bonds to be issued, guaranteed by the CFO's office (and thereby able to reflect the city's rating on the bond markets), which would be "supported" by real estate tax revenues being collected from various existing TIF projects in the city. If the expected timeline of council approval is met, the bonds--totalling somewhere in the neighborhood of $28 million--could be issued by the end of 2009.
(But don't look out your window on Jan. 1, 2010 expecting to see the trash transfer station's smokestack being smacked by a wrecking ball--they still have to find somewhere for the DPW operations to relocate to, which I'm guessing is more difficult than finding somewhere to move a bunch of schoolbuses, and everyone knows how long that took.)
The proceeds won't all be used for construction, since there are loans to be repaid and other high-finance maneuvers that are well above my level of understanding. But this influx of funding, along with the HUD grant, would give Capper's redevelopment a push forward at a time when few projects are seeing any sort of progress, and would get the money-hungry city closer to being able to start reeling in the property taxes from all these blocks that aren't currently generating any revenue.
UPDATE: Here's the text of the new bill.

DCHA Gets $9.5M HUD Grant for Capper Phase 2
Sep 24, 2009 3:02 PM
Yesterday the US Department of Housing and Urban Development announced the awarding of $500 million in stimulus-money grants to housing authorities around the country, with the DC Housing Authority receiving the $9.5 million it requested to help get the second phase of Capper townhomes at Capitol Quarter moving forward.
In my post on DCHA's application back in June, I explained it this way:

According to this "narrative and schedule" that DCHA included with its application to HUD, the money would finance both public infrastructure and private site improvements needed to begin the construction of the second phase of the Capitol Quarter mixed-income townhouse development (the blocks between Third and Fourth south of I), which will have 163 units, 47 of which are public housing rental units (along with 60 market-rate, 39 workforce-rate, and 17 public housing home ownership units). The narrative indicates that the $55 million Capper PILOT bonds approved by the city council last year that were to fund the new community center and infrastructure improvements not only in the Phase II blocks but also on the north and east sides of Canal Park and over to the DPW site never made it into the bond market; attempts to secure loans from both Fannie Mae and Wachovia also were fruitless.
There's a lot of detail in the narrative that I'm not going to try to summarize (I start to glaze over once I get to Low Income Housing Tax Credits [LIHTC] and anything having to do with "leveraging"):, but it does say that if awarded the HUD CFRC grant money, DCHA would immediately have its engineers complete permit drawings, which can then be put into the city's permitting process (estimated to last 90 days), after which infrastructure work can begin--the schedule at the end of the document estimates a start date of Dec. 1. This work would include repair or replacement underground water, sewer, and "dry utilities" lines, new streets, curbs, and gutters, additional lighting, and public landscaping.
The HUD funds would also be used to pay for the land preparation costs and foundation construction of the 47 public housing units, covering a $1 million gap that occurred in the planned Phase II funding thanks to problems in the LIHTC market.
From what I understand, DCHA is already talking to contractors, with hopes of being able to start delivering the first phase 2 townhomes by late next year; this would be in the blocks between Third and Fourth south of I.
There may also be some money coming for the other Capper-related improvements listed above that were to be paid for by the $55 million PILOT bonds, but not as part of this grant.
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter

New Photos Posted (Hat Tip: Mr. Blue Sky)
Sep 20, 2009 6:24 PM
Even at my laziest, it's hard to not pull out my camera on a day like today and head to the Hood. But without a lot of projects going on, I had the chance to also wander by some locations I've not paid as much attention to as I should. Here's the highlights:
I stopped by 11th and 12th streets to get caught up on the RFK ramp demolition that's part of the 11th Street Bridges project. The ramps across M have been down for a while now, making M Street along this stretch seem slightly less claustrophobic. The remaining concrete pillars (like the one at left, and the stubs on the south side of M) make for some interesting sculptures.

Capitol Quarter continues to progress on its third block (between K, I, Fifth, and Fourth), with some houses now bricked and framing coming soon to the north side of the block, making St. Paul's church not look quite so lonely anymore. Plus, the first foundations are being poured on the fourth and final block of phase 1, along Virginia Avenue between Third and Fourth.
I even ventured down to the fences at the Park at the Yards to see what I could see, and on the west side of the footprint I could glimpse some of the work being done on the Canal Basin water feature at the foot of Third Street as well as some clearing of the area that will be the Great Lawn. Here's the latest photos, or check the Yards Park page to see some of them matched with the renderings of what the spots will look like.

This isn't the most earth-shattering shot of the day, but I did feel it necessary to finally get a shot of 900 M Street now that Domino's is open.

Last but not least, I wandered around Virginia Avenue Park, finally getting my set of "baseline" photos along Ninth Street (only six years later than I should have). I also took some photos of the park itself but I'm going to take a little more time and not do a rush-job on the park photos; the one above, of the community garden, will have to tide you over a little longer.
As always, on any of these pages, click on the icon to see a complete set of before-and-afters of the location you're viewing. (And boy, am I loving being able to post larger thumbnails of photos here in the blog entries, thanks to the redesign of the home page. But don't forget to click through to see the non-thumbnailed versions.)

Photos from Today's Ribbon Cutting at Capitol Quarter; Updated Before-and-Afters
Aug 26, 2009 1:56 PM
More than five years after the first demolitions at the old Capper/Carrollsburg public housing complex, city officials, developers, and residents gathered at Fourth and L today for a ribbon cutting at what is now known as Capitol Quarter, the mixed-income townhouse development that's been under construction since last year. (Residents actually started moving in this spring, but let's not spoil the party.)
As most readers know by now, the old 707-unit Capper complex is being replaced with what will eventually include 1,500 residential units (with a one-to-one replacement of all 700 public housing units), 700,000 square feet of office space, and 50,000 square feet of retail. Two apartment buildings with 300 units for low-income seniors and moderate income residents--Capper Seniors #1 and 400 M--opened in late 2006 and 2007; four more mixed-income buildings will eventually be built on lots by Canal Park.
My photos of the festivities are posted--and enjoy them, because there aren't many ribbon cuttings in Near Southeast's near future!
I also finally updated my photos along Fifth Street this morning, and at Fourth and I and Fourth and K yesterday and today, making for a pretty striking batch of before-and-afters, especially since these are the first photos I've taken since the framing really took off on the north side of K. Also, digging is now getting started on the final block of phase 1 (Square 797, between Third, Fourth, Virginia, and I), and framing should begin in October or November, with those final first phase homes expected to be finished next spring. When will phase 2 start sales and pre-construction? As soon as they get some money, and everyone knows how easy that is right now....
I will be adding some new mid-block photos to my Capitol Quarter Phase I page, and freshening it up a bit, later today.
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Capitol Quarter Ribbon Cutting Tomorrow; A Few Late-Summer Not-Really-News Links
Aug 25, 2009 1:16 PM
* A reminder that tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10 am the DC Housing Authority is holding an official ribbon cutting and grand opening at Capitol Quarter, Fourth and L, with the mayor expected to be in attendance. If the sun is out, I may use this as the motivation to finally get some updated photos of the construction, with the framing in block three (north of K between Fourth and Fifth) now well underway.
* The Post reports on how the many new apartment buildings in the area are aggressively competing for tenants, with the new buildings in Near Southeast apparently leading the way: "The ones around Nationals Park, for instance, collectively have offered the deepest concessions since Delta started tracking rents 18 years ago. Some of those projects gave away the equivalent of four months' rent in concessions, which helps explain why effective rents in the District plunged 7.8 percent in June compared with a year ago. Without the ballpark area, rents fell 4 percent."
* From the BID's newsletter last week: "Mark your calendars for September 19th for the FRONT Door Home Tour & Canal Park Picnic from 10 am - 2 pm. The FRONT Door Tour will feature a variety of unique residents' homes and highlight the Capitol Riverfront as a new residential neighborhood in DC. The event will include a community picnic at the future site of Canal Park (located at intersection of M St., SE and 2nd St., SE) with food, music, and lawn games. The FRONT Door Tour will be free and open to the public. More information to come soon."
And, two items about off-topic projects by Near Southeast developers:
* Monument Realty announced yesterday that its long-planned renovation of Potomac Place Tower on Fourth Street in SW is now going to move forward. From their press release: "Monument Realty acquired the Potomac Place project in 2001 and in 2005 completed construction of a new, 302-unit condominium adjacent to the existing Potomac Place Tower, which was built in 1959. In 2003, Potomac Place Tower was designated a historic landmark by the District of Columbia and in 2005 the residents of Potomac Place Tower elected to convert the property to a condominium. Monument Realty's longstanding history and commitment to the project gave the new lender the confidence to retain its services for the completion of Potomac Place Tower."
* Forest City Washington has been selected by the government of Puerto Rico as the program manager for the redevelopment of a 100-acre portion of San Juan's waterfront district. Residential, hotel, office, retail, public parks, and a marina--sound familiar? (I don't think I mentioned that a few weeks ago the District selected Forest City as an advisor for the redevelopment of Poplar Point.)

Upcoming Events (11th Street Bridges, Last Movie, Capitol Quarter Ribbon Cutting)
Aug 18, 2009 12:40 PM
A slew of upcoming events to pass along:
* On Wednesday (Aug. 19), there's going to be an 11th Street Bridges Open House, billed as an update for Ward 8 residents about the status of the bridge replacement project. (But I'm guessing people from other wards can come, too.) It's from 7 pm to 8:30 pm, at the Union Temple Baptist Church at 1225 W St., SE.
* Thursday (Aug. 20) is the last night of the BID's 80's Outdoor Movies series, with "Ghostbusters" on the bill (rescheduled from a rainout earlier this year). Apparently the BID is planning a four-week fall movie series starting in September; I'll pass more along on that when I get it.
* Next Wednesday (Aug. 26) the DC Housing Authority is holding an official ribbon cutting and grand opening at Capitol Quarter, from 10 am to noon at Fourth and L, with the mayor expected to be in attendance. This is just a little over two years after the ceremonial groundbreaking, held on a sweltering day in June 2007.
* If you're desperate for something to do Wednesday morning but a ribbon cutting isn't your thing, the U.S. Navy Museum at the Washington Navy Yard will host "Pirate or Privateer? War of 1812 Day," a series of demonstrations and lectures on the War of 1812. The program, which runs from 10 am to 2 pm, includes Gun Drills in the replica of the USS Constitution and Sea Chanteys. The event is free and open to the public, though note that there's no parking available inside the gates for visitors.
* The National Capital Planning Commission again has the design of the 11th Street Bridges on their tentative agenda, for their Sept. 3 meeting. It had also been on the tentative agenda for the July meeting, but didn't make the final cut; hopefully that won't happen again, because NCPC always puts together such great reports on the projects it votes on (and posts them on their web site), so it's a good place to get details that have been hard to find elsewhere.
* This is still a few weeks away, but residents might want to mark their calendars that the next ANC 6D meeting, on Sept. 14 will be held in Southeast, at the Courtyard by Marriott at New Jersey and L. I've been attending ANC meetings off and on for six years, and this is the first one I remember that will be crossing South Capitol Street.
* The next day, Sept. 15, Urban Land Institute Washington is holding its third Urban Marketplace Conference and Expo, which brings together "the private, nonprofit, and public sectors to explore redevelopment opportunities and best practices in emerging neighborhoods and corridors across the Washington metropolitan region." One of the day's discussions, from 3 pm to 4 pm will focus on the ballpark district (and I'm one of the panelists).
All of these are of course on my Upcoming Events Calendar.

DCHA Applying for $9.5M in HUD Stimulus Money for Capitol Quarter Phase II
Jun 26, 2009 3:49 PM
The DC Housing Authority, which has been unable to find a corner of the financial markets unfrozen enough to buy bonds that in normal times would help pay for infrastructure and redevelopment, is applying for $9.5 million from a nearly $1 billion Housing and Urban Development "Capital Fund Recovery Act" fund that has been created to, among other things, provide "gap financing" for public housing projects, like Capper/Carrollsburg, that are stalled thanks to the problems in the municipal bond market.
According to this "narrative and schedule" that DCHA included with its application to HUD, the money would finance both public infrastructure and private site improvements needed to begin the construction of the second phase of the Capitol Quarter mixed-income townhouse development (the blocks between Third and Fourth south of I), which will have 163 units, 47 of which are public housing rental units (along with 60 market-rate, 39 workforce-rate, and 17 public housing home ownership units). The narrative indicates that the $55 million Capper PILOT bonds approved by the city council last year that were to fund the new community center and infrastructure improvements not only in the Phase II blocks but also on the north and east sides of Canal Park and over to the DPW site never made it into the bond market; attempts to secure loans from both Fannie Mae and Wachovia also were fruitless.
There's a lot of detail in the narrative that I'm not going to try to summarize (I start to glaze over once I get to Low Income Housing Tax Credits [LIHTC] and anything having to do with "leveraging"):, but it does say that if awarded the HUD CFRC grant money, DCHA would immediately have its engineers complete permit drawings, which can then be put into the city's permitting process (estimated to last 90 days), after which infrastructure work can begin--the schedule at the end of the document estimates a start date of Dec. 1. This work would include repair or replacement underground water, sewer, and "dry utilities" lines, new streets, curbs, and gutters, additional lighting, and public landscaping.
The HUD funds would also be used to pay for the land preparation costs and foundation construction of the 47 public housing units, covering a $1 million gap that occurred in the planned Phase II funding thanks to problems in the LIHTC market.
The housing authority says that, if this HUD money is not forthcoming, "over $41 million in economic activity in the District will not be realized," and that "approximately 150 construction and other related jobs will not be created." Plus, the delay in building these 47 public housing units "will continue to frustrate the hopes of former residents to return to their neighborhoods in order to reestablish the deep social roots that existed prior to the demolition of their apartments."
The grants will be awarded later this summer.
The AP Press wrote a few weeks ago about this HUD program, which was expanded in May beyond just the "high performing" housing authorities originally eligible to apply for funds; this $1 billion fund is money beyond the $3 billion in stimulus money that will be going to the nation's 3,100-plus housing authorities via formula-based distributions.
(Boy, I hate to post this at 4 pm on a summer Friday, when people aren't exactly attuned to grant applications. But news is news...)
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