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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Capper
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In the Pipeline
Community Center
Homewood Suites Hotel
Ballpark Square
Yards/Parcel A
Yards/Condo Project
Yards/Icon Theater
Virginia Ave. Tunnel
New Douglass Bridge
1333 M St.
Southeast Blvd.
Florida Rock
1244 South Capitol
New Barracks
1111 New Jersey
Akridge/Half St.
Monument/Half St.
Capper Apts.
250 M St.
Nat'l Community Church
909 Half St.
Factory 202/Yards
Congressional Square
1000 South Capitol
SC1100
Completed
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
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A few bullets for a warm Monday:
* DCHA is holding a Capper/Carrollsburg Hope VI task force meeting on Tuesday at 6 pm at 400 M Street SE. The agenda includes an overall status report, an update on the (stalled) community center, outreach efforts to former residents, and a presentation on the community benefits fund. "Hope VI" refers to the $34.9 million HUD grant awarded to DC in 2001 to replace the 700 Capper/Carrollsburg units with an equal number of new public housing units as well as another 800-plus market- and workforce-rate units, which has so far begat Capper Seniors #1, 400 M, and Capitol Quarter, along with plans for another five apartment buildings and two office buildings still in the pipeline.
* The Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration has officially posted the application by Harry's of SE & SW to open a liquor store at New Jersey and I in the ground floor of 909 New Jersey. The hearing date is set for August 23, with any protests or other "petitions" needing to be filed by August 9 (happy birthday to me!). More about Harry's plans here.
* Via Norm Metzger, this from Saturday's PSA 105 meeting: "A suspected car thief was arrested near 3rd and K Street SE. Vigilant neighbors reported suspicious activity and were able to stop a crime in progress."
 

Readers may be familiar with the map a little ways down the right side of the JDLand home page, showing recent crimes in the neighborhood (along with a larger one showing more crime statistics for the area since 2005). However, there's another map and dataset I've wanted to build for a long time, that I'm finally launching today. It's not anything to really celebrate, however:
What you're looking at is a map of 64 violent deaths that occurred in Near Southeast between 1987 and 2004, when crack and other drugs and the accompanying violence nearly destroyed Washington, DC. And, if you go to the page itself, you will see the breakout of each death, with a name of the victim (when available), the date and location, and a brief thumbnail of what happened. The map and the data are interactive, so you can view just by year, or location, or type of death. It's not uplifting reading, but I really do recommend taking the time to go through it.
I can't pretend that this is a complete list; there are no online databases that easily offer up this data. I spent hours (and hours and hours) doing "grid searches" of the Washington Post and Washington Times electronic databases, having to search by street names and locations ("300 block of K street, SE; 300 block of L Street, SE; 3rd and K streets, SE; 1000 block of 3rd Street, SE;" etc. etc.). There's no guarantee that the newspapers mentioned every homicide, especially in the years when there were more than 400 murders across the city.
And, of course, this doesn't begin to capture the number of other crimes in the neighborhood during those years that didn't result in homicides--the robberies, the assaults, the non-fatal shootings and stabbings, etc.
It should be remembered that Near Southeast wasn't anywhere close to being the most dangerous area in the city; the 64 murders I've documented aren't even one percent of the 6,023 murders reported in this 18-year period (source: MPD, via the Internet Archive). So, as you look at this Near Southeast list, multiply it by 100 to imagine all the people who were killed in the city in those years.
It turns me into an old codger to say it, but it's really true: those of you who didn't live in the DC area in the late 1980s and 1990s really have no concept of what Washington and its residents went through in those years. Even though large swaths of the city were considered "safe," with the bulk of the epidemic crime happening in certain neighborhoods, everyone was affected by the unrelenting drumbeat of murders and violence.
Nights with seven murders in DC were unusual but not extraordinary; reading the paper each day with little more than tiny blurbs on most homicides (because they weren't really "news") made for a bleak landscape, even if you spent most of your time in sections of the city where day-to-day life seemed unaffected. DC's title of "Murder Capital of the World" was known far and wide, to the point that if you were traveling and told someone where you from, you'd often receive a sad shake of the head and hear, "It's such a shame what's happened to that lovely city."
It was a terrible time; and I say this as someone who was never affected by the violence personally in any way, other than knowing to avoid certain areas and be very careful during nights on the town. Looking back on it all now, through the lens of how far the city has come, makes the level of violence seem all the more incomprehensible and maddening. There's no question that I have become a little haunted over the past few weeks as I compiled this list, as my old generalized feelings of "quite a few people died on these streets over the years" have now been replaced with names, locations, a few photos, and gruesome details of executions and people in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And yet the violence of the era probably fueled my interest in watching the city's redevelopment, to see neighborhoods that I had given up for lost in 1990 (such as Massachusetts Avenue east of Mt. Vernon Square) turn into luxury condo havens by the early 2000s. And it was why I began to watch--with no small sense of wonderment and even a little skepticism--as I started to hear in the late 1990s about the plans to "revitalize" the area south of the Southeast Freeway, an area that was a near-total No-Go for me from the time I moved to the south side of Capitol Hill in 1994 until my first furtive photographic forays by car in 2000 and 2003. (It's somewhat amazing now to realize that I did not actually put my feet on the ground at Third and K, SE, until the summer of 2005.)
I'll be writing in more detail in future entries about the violence in the Cappers, and at the Chapter III nightclub, but I wanted to post this overview first, to illustrate Near Southeast's descent to rock bottom for the people who might not be familiar with the recent history of the neighborhood, and also to remind everyone else of just what we as a city went through, as those memories become somewhat hazy in an era when some of the biggest battles are over funding for streetcars and dog parks. The city is certainly not without violence now, but the scale just doesn't compare.
And perhaps it'll also help clear up why I might not react with quite so much alarm when new residents write me concerned about a wave of auto thefts or other property crimes. I admit that it's somewhat unfair, but I think newcomers can talk to almost anyone who lived in Washington during the era of the Crack Wars and get the same reaction: You just have no idea.
UPDATE: Just to close the circle a bit, I should note that the reason I ended the dataset in 2004 is because, to the best of my knowledge, there have been no murders in Near Southeast since 21-year-old Terence Gathers died at Third and K on March 25 of that year.
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More posts: Capper, crime, Rearview Mirror
 

The agenda is now posted for Monday's ANC 6D meeting, and it does have a few Near Southeast-related items on it. So it follows logically that I'm not going to be able to be there.
Items include: A report from the housing authority on a request for a zoning time extension for the planned (and long-delayed) community center at Fifth and K streets, SE; an update on the upcoming second phase of Capitol Quarter (which EYA tells me resulted in 11 reservations in the first 15 days); an update on the stadium Traffic Operations and Parking Plan, presumably coming out of the two recent public meetings; and reports/possible votes on Justin's Cafe's proposed sidewalk cafe and the proposed "Harry's" liquor store at New Jersey and I, both of which you can get more detail on from my report on last week's ABC subcommittee meeting.
The meeting is at 7 pm at St. Augustine's church at Sixth and M streets, SW--they're trying to get moved to their space in the new Waterfront buildings, but it still hasn't happened.
I'm going to try to find out more about the community center request, though I imagine there isn't much more to it other than DCHA says it doesn't still have the money to build it yet and so can't meet the deadline that was set in the zoning PUD (planned unit development) for Capper. The time frame for the community center has already been extended once, and in fact DCHA told the Zoning Commission last year that they fully expected that new deadline of filing building permits by Jan. 1, 2011, would be too short and that they'd be back to request another extension. Which appears to be what's transpiring.
 

Monday's Post covers for the first time the Marines' search for a new barracks site, from the point of view of the residents who maintain the Virginia Avenue Garden at Ninth and Potomac, which could be relocated to another section of the park if the Marines choose the area east of Eighth Street. "But the community gardeners, in Capitol Hill style, are mobilizing to save their home. [...] [T]he gardeners say it has taken them years to amend the unforgiving clay soil with nutrients."
The article quotes Capt. Lisa Lawrence as saying, "Our goal is not to take over a neighborhood," and that the Marines are looking at every option. "But we won't be able to please everybody."
Also mentioned is that the DCHA/Square 882 site at Seventh and L "has moved to the bottom of the list," according to Lawrence (presumably in response to this letter). And there's information about what appears to be Tommy Wells's preferred solution, that he's "fighting to keep the garden alive by urging the Marines to tear down the parking lot next to the annex and rebuild it underground, freeing space for a new barracks. Lawrence said a parking lot under a barracks would probably pose a structural challenge. 'We don't have a strong negotiating position," Wells said. "Who wants to take on the U.S. Marines?'"
If you want more background on the Marines' search, I've written a word or two on it over the past few months.
UPDATE: I meant to also include this link to a recent Hill is Home post on the history of the park, tied to whether or not the Marines' plans would conflict with the L'Enfant Plan. (Though I'm not sure Monsieur L'Enfant envisioned a big, honking, elevated freeway, either.)
 

With many thanks to reader S. for doing all of the legwork on this, I'm passing along the news that neglected the three-foot deep pool on L Street SE between Fifth and Seventh (between Van Ness Elementary and the parking lot that was once Old Capper Seniors) has been renovated, and is now open as the Lincoln Capper Children's Pool. The DC Parks and Recreation web site has the hours, which are noon to 6 pm on Saturdays and Sundays until June 20, and then 11 am to 5 pm Mondays through Fridays from June 21 through August 20. It may not be as swinging as the scene at the Capitol Skyline Pool, but for parents looking to dunk their children (I mean, get their children some swim time), it's a nice addition to the neighborhood tableau.
 

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.)
 

I've been chroncling over the past few months the Marine Corps' search for a spot for a new barracks, which has focused on a number of sites in Near Southeast, including the block bounded by Fifth, Seventh, L and M just south of their newest barracks that used to be home to the old Capper Seniors apartment building. It's been clear in public meetings and various other rumblings that both city planning officials and the DC Housing Authority are very much against the Marines using this site, with plans having been in place for a number of years for this now-empty/parking-lot block to become home to both a 600,000-square-foot office building and a 189-unit mixed-income apartment building (shown above) as part of the Capper/Carrollsburg redevelopment.
Clearly feeling that the Marines haven't given up on the site as an option despite these plans, DCHA has now sent the Marines a letter officially requesting that the Corps "not continue to propose redevelopment options on the DCHA-owned Square 882 as a future site for its facility needs." The letter explains that DCHA has already secured funds to improve the infrastructure around the square, has spent "substantial predevelopment funds" on design and engineering drawings, and is anticipating beginning work on the residential portion of the site in October. (There's currently no timetable for the office portion.) Further, DCHA says it "recently received an invitation from HUD to submit an application for a FHA loan guarantee to support the planned residential construction on the site," and that this construction is expected to start "this winter."
Nothing in the letter is necessarily a surprise--I've written fairly extensively about DCHA's plans and about the zoning travails they went through before getting a second-stage PUD approval for Square 882 last year, which even included many discussions and agreements with both the Marines and the Navy about security requirements for the new buildings on this block. But clearly DCHA is hoping to be completely removed from the Marines' list of potential sites in the same way that the DC Public Schools (and parents) got Tyler Elementary removed from consideration. But it's also clear from the public workshops that the Marines very much like what Square 882 has to offer them in terms of space and proximity to the other USMC operations in the area.
The Marines are hoping to make a decision on a site by September. You can see all the sites under consideration and the various options on the "Community Integrated Master Plan" web site.
 

I'm untethering myself from Lost long enough to pass along the news from Capitol Quarter that six houses were reserved in today's first offering of Phase 2 units, and apparently more will be released on Monday. (I don't know which, or anymore beyond that.) Now, back to my last precious moments with Desmond.
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 

An e-mail has just gone out from EYA saying that "reservations for Phase II market rate townhomes at Capitol Quarter will begin on Sunday, May 23rd, at 11 AM on a first come, first served basis." Nine houses will be made available in this first batch, ranging in base price from $640,000 to $829,000. The specific models and more information are available here; the e-mail also says that other homesites made be made available. (See yesterday's entry for more details.)
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 

The news has filtered my way that EYA is about to begin taking reservations for market-rate townhouses in the second phase of Capitol Quarter. The timeframe is *very soon*, quite possibly within the next week or so. This phase will cover the three remaining blocks of the development, between Third and Fourth streets SE, south of I down to the stretch just south of L (backing up to the 300 M Street office building). There will be infrastructure work to do first (including carving out the new north-south "3 1/2 Street" running between I and L), with "vertical construction" then starting in the fall, followed by the first move-ins happening in mid-2011. There will be 77 market-rate and 34 workforce-rate houses, 47 affordable rental units, and five Section 8 purchase units. (There will be a lottery for the workforce units, but I don't know when.)
When I get word of when reservations will start being taken, I will post ASAP. I don't know if there will be people camping out like in the old days, but it will be interesting to see the response. I don't know anything about prices or anything else beyond the fact that we'll know more soon.
One footnote that might be of interest: what helped get this second phase kicked off was the $9.5 million grant from HUD that the DC Housing Authority received late last year, which came from a pool of federal stimulus funds. DCHA had been unable to get any financing for the second phase throughout last year thanks to the moribund municipal bond market, but the HUD grant allowed DCHA to pay for the completion of construction drawings, the land preparation costs, and other costs that then made it possible for the second phase to begin to move forward.
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 

I haven't been able to go anywhere near Fifth and Virginia for weeks now without feeling desperately guilty--I haven't taken photos of the Capitol Quarter construction there since JANUARY. (In my defense, that intersection is my personal Waterloo--I've never been able to standardize my spots for photos.) I also hadn't gotten updated photos along the northern part of Fourth Street since the snows of February. I've been a little better about the upper block of Third, but not a lot.
So I finally rectified that today. Here are the before-and-afters along Fifth, Fourth, and Third, with a perennial reminder to click on the icon to see all photos of a certain spot over the past seven years.
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter
 

This week the Marines held a third community workshop as part of their quest to find a new location for their Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (BEQ), to replace the aged and un-secure "Building 20" at Eighth and I, SE. This session centered on visions/possible layouts of the five locations that the Marines are zeroing in on, all of which are in Near Southeast, now that Tyler Elementary has been knocked off the list. The people running this planning process deserve a lot of props for being very good about posting their meeting materials online, mostly because it obviates the need for me to go on and on trying to describe them. (Yay!)
While the presentation slides are good for an overview of the process, the real meat to chew on is the new "Regions Forums." (Though, a hint to the folks running the web site: I'd turn off the "Interactive Map" scroll that is the link to these Options slides, and maybe rename the link, because it's easy to miss and contains such important information.) This is a series of very detailed drawings of possible layouts (and pros and cons) for the locations they're studying, which include four that have been previously discussed (the current Barracks site on Virginia Avenue between Fifth and Seventh, DCHA's Square 882 just to the south on L between Fifth and Seventh, the Exxon/Virginia Avenue Park site at 11th and M, and inside the walls of the Navy Yard), and a new location (Squares 929/930), which are the blocks between Eighth and Ninth and Virginia Avenue and M Street.
The 929/930 site seemed to get some interest from the sparse number of community members who attended the Wednesday night session I was at (I don't know about the response at Thursday's session), even though it would close L between Eighth and Ninth and would take a big bite of the Virginia Avenue Park (requiring the move of the community garden closer to the freeway). A representative of Madison Marquette--owners of the "Blue Castle" right across the street--said that they are very much in favor of this option, saying that it would help to "animate" lower Eighth Street. There was also some talk that perhaps the Navy Yard, in its quest for more space of its own, might then look at the Exxon site at 11th and M as an attractive location to expand to, giving that big stretch from Eighth to 11th south of the freeway a very military feel. There is of course a stretch of private homes along Potomac between Ninth and 10th where the homeowners might not be quite so interested in having military installations on three sides, and the Spay/Neuter Clinic at 10th and L might also end up needing to relocate. It would appear that the businesses along the east side of Eighth would get to stay (Port Cafe, Quizno's, Chicken Tortilla), but Dogma at Ninth and Virginia might lose out under this proposal.
As for Square 882, the Marines said that DCHA has said the location can remain on the "options" list even though the agency is actively working to secure funding for the apartment building they're planning for the site. It must be said that there does seem to continue to be a bit of a disconnect between how the Marines are characterizing the availability of this lot compared to what DCHA is indicating; also, Ward 6 planner Melissa Bird spoke up to say that the city continues to be very much opposed to Square 882 as a location for the Barracks.
But, blah blah blah, these few points are just a bit of atmosphere. Anyone who's interested in what the neighborhood may look like in a few years should be looking at all of the location options, as well as the "Potential Shared Community Projects" that the Marines see as what they can give back to the community in return for the land they will occupy. Readers should also make use of the "Comments" options that are available on each option page of the CIMP web site, as the Marines continue to stress that they truly have no plan at this point, and need the input of the community to help guide their final decisions. The next workshop, on "Consensus Elements," is scheduled for Saturday, May 22.
 

With the opening of the 2010 season at the ballpark and lots of other interesting news of late, my blogging time and focus has been geared toward these bigger items. But there's a fair amount of little stuff that I point to every day on my Twitter feed (also available on Facebook), mainly news stories that might be of interest but that aren't really important or newsy enough to devote much more than 140 characters to. I may eventually transition to leaving those completely to Twitter, but I still feel guilty enough for now to round them up here on the blog every so often. But if you're wanting all news items at warp speed, best to start reading the Tweets.
* EYA has passed the news to me that all Capitol Quarter Phase I townhouse units are now sold. They are gearing up to begin sales of the Phase II houses, which will start "soon." (Though I wouldn't take your tent down to their sales office just yet.) I imagine they will do the releases of these next houses in groups based on location, as they did with phase I. It's still expected that the entire townhouse development will be built out by the end of 2012.
* Last weekend Bisnow took a walk around the neighborhood with a camera (a novel idea!), and gave their readers an update on some of the projects. The only section that I've not seen reported before is Akridge now saying that construction for their 700,000-sq-ft mixed-use Half Street project is now pegged at "hopefully before next baseball season," likely meaning 2011. But, "once shovels hit the dirt, the one residential and two office buildings will likely go up at once," Bisnow quotes an Akridge rep as saying. It also says that Forest City is "hoping" to get started on the Boilermaker Shops retail renovation at the Yards before the end of this year. (Lots of "hoping" going on!) There's even a picture of the Pillsbury Doughboy that gazes out over the neighborhood from Capitol Hill Tower.
* Voice of the Hill says there's a possibility of a temporary dog park being installed at the Virginia Avenue Park (Ninth and Potomac, SE), at least until CSX starts on its tunnel construction project (more on CSX coming in another post later today). This is coming to the forefront because the principal of Tyler Elementary has now banned dogs from the school's playing field.
* Some neat overhead photos from DDOT showing the progress on the 11th Street Bridges construction. I'm hoping to get some ground-level images myself before too much longer.
* CNN reports on how Nationals Park has become a very hot venue for political fundraising, actively pursued and encouraged by the team. "[F]ederal candidates, major political parties, and political action committees have spent at least $432,000 on fundraising events either at Nationals games or at their facility, according to campaign finance documents filed with the Federal Election Commission."
 

* The Marines have posted the slides and handouts from this week's workshops on potential sites for their new barracks. If you didn't see my update, here's Norm Metzger's additional take on Tuesday night's meeting.
* MPD's PSA 105 is having its monthly meeting on Saturday (March 27) at 10 am at the 1D substation at 500 E Street, SE.
* The Washington City Paper's annual "Best Of DC" issue is out, and Near Southeast gets a couple of nods: Cornercopia was given a Staff Pick for Best New Bodega, Capitol Quarter is the Readers' Pick for Best Designed Residential Development, and the 11th Street Bridges reconstruction gets a Staff Pick for Best Construction Project. Alas, this also means that now my year-long reign as Second Best Local Web Site (and "favorite nasty local blogger") has come to an end.
* The Washington Project for the Arts is holding its "WPArade" in Near Southeast, on June 5 at 12 pm along Half Street from M to N. This parade, modeled after similar events in other cities, "is an extravaganza of artists connecting with community to create a moving visual spectacle of art and culture." They've got a call for participants out, and it notes that "participants can traverse the route in any manner that is non-motorized (wagons, bicycles, walking, etc. are acceptable)." It'll culminate with a party at the Bullpen until 3 pm. Who will be the first to enter a giant papier-mache Stephen Strasburg?
 

A few days ago, WBJ reported Deputy Mayor Valerie Santos saying that Canal Park "will move forward" in June. With the previous comments on the park's timeline indicating a September start of construction, my curiosity was piqued, so I contacted the park association's executive director, Chris Vanarsdale, to find out the latest. To wit:
At this point, work is continuing on the design documentation, which is expected to be completed in June, and it's still expected that construction on the park itself will begin in September. However, the plans now also include $1.5 million of infrastructure work beneath Second Place (the road that runs on the eastern side of the park), which will be paid for out of the $29 million in Capper bonds that are hitting the market this week. (This wouldn't appear to be any sort of evil cost-shuffling by the city, since Second Place runs along blocks that will eventually house three Capper apartment buildings and WC Smith's 250 M Street office building that is also technically part of Capper's Hope VI redevelopment.)
The work on the utilities below Second Place, which are apparently quite a mess, will also allow the park to install stormwater management infrastructure to be in place for when the new apartment buildings are constructed, so that the park can capture water from those buildings' roofs to be used in the park for irrigation, fountain water, and whatnot. And, if there's any money left over after the infrastructure work, there's now streetscape designs for the east side of Second Place that complement the park's design, which would extend the "feel" of the park across the street.
It's this infrastructure work that will begin this summer, prior to the actual start of work on the park itself. The hope is to have a groundbreaking ceremony in July, though at this point all timeline forecasts are subject to the completion of the permitting process for construction, and we know how THAT can sometimes go. This also assumes that there aren't any (more) big surprises lurking beneath Second Place in terms of the existing water, sewer, and other utility lines.
The park's opening date is still pegged at fall 2011, since the work on the park itself is expected to take between 12 and 14 months. The design is still pretty much the one that we've been seeing for a while--there are a few renderings on my Canal Park page, and you can also visit the official park web site for more details.
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More posts: 250 M, Canal Park, Capper, Capper New Apt Bldgs
 

I'm back from tonight's public workshop held by the Marines as part of the process they're currently undergoing to find a site for a new barracks. For those just tuning in, the Marines are desperately needing to replace "Building 20," their lovely barracks structure on the southeast corner of 8th and I, and the new building needs to meet the many security requirements that now exist for Marine Corps living quarters. In what they readily admit is a new approach, the Corps is going through this series of public workshops to gauge public reponse to various sites that they have identified as possibilities. (There is also a "community leadership group" that meets monthly.) They are hoping to find an existing landowner to partner with, instead of how they might have operated in the past (with, shall we say, a little less give-and-take with the community and a takeover of the land rather than a partnership).There could be additional components to any new location (like a daycare center) that could be shared with nearby residents.
For more background, you can read my recent posts and links, or better yet, check the project web site, where they're doing a good job of posting all the latest materials from the process. Hopefully the slides and notes from tonight's session and Wednesday morning's will be posted soon, because what follows is really just a few points among the many that were discussed. But, as always, JDLand is the site where you get what you pay for {ahem}, so this is my best cut at it:
The potential expansion sites discussed this evening were: the existing "Annex" that was built in 2004 (along Virginia Avenue west of Seventh Street); the large area by 11th Street dubbed the "Exxon site" but which also includes the Virginia Avenue Park; Square 882 (the old Capper Seniors site), just south of the Annex on L Street west of Seventh; the northeast corner of the Navy Yard, where the Marines already have some operations inside the walls, and Tyler Elementary at 10th and G, SE, though it was quickly acknowledged that the DC Public Schools folks (and the parents) aren't really interested in that notion.
There were a number of residents (some of whom you already know from my comments section) who spoke strongly in support of the Marines expanding south across L Street into the northern half of Square 882, especially when it was mentioned that this option would most likely include the closing of L Street to vehicular traffic, which these residents of Capitol Quarter say is a speedway of drivers avoiding M Street. (Whether it would also be closed to public pedestrian traffic is not yet decided.) This opinion was not shared by Jennifer Steingasser of the city's Office of Planning, who said that the city would be very much against this solution. (And the Housing Authority seems to be indicating that it isn't really interested in the idea, at least as of now.)
In fact, Steingasser made clear that the city is very concerned that years of planning for the revitalization of Near Southeast, both as a mixed-use neighborhood and as part of the broader Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, are in danger if the Marines create a larger "secure enclave." She said that the city's preferred choice is for the Marines to build inside the walls of the Navy Yard, or on the existing Annex site on Virginia Avenue, or at any of the other federally owned properties in the city, such as the Armory and associated lands at RFK.
The possible loss of the athletic field at the Annex site if a new barracks were added there concerned the residents in attendance, with a possible replacement field at Virginia Avenue Park not seeming to fit the bill. But there were others (including Michael Stevens of the Capitol Riverfront BID) who supported the idea of more density on the Annex site, including perhaps demolishing the existing three-story parking garage and perhaps gaining control of the community center site next to the garage for additional square footage. (Stevens said that the BID would love to see the very-much-needed community center perhaps combined with a public school offering on the current Van Ness Elementary site.)
The discussions of the Exxon/Virginia Avenue Park site included the possibilities of the Marines using the entire area between Ninth and 11th and Virginia and M, which does include some private residences (and the spay and neuter clinic and a couple small businesses). The concern about whether retail and the "vibrant Main Street" feel envisioned by the city would be part of the M Street landscape in this scenario was voiced as well.
Needless to say, there was no consensus, nor was there expected to be at this stage, and this is just a small subset of the 2 1/2 hours of discussions, so I'll link to the official notes from the meeting once they're posted. There will be two more workshops, and a charrette in September. Again, see the official web site for more details, and how to submit your own comments.
UPDATE: Another view of the meeting, from Norm Metzger, with a little more detail on Jennifer Steingasser's comments. And there was this: "Bruce Jackson, of the CIMP team, noted the essence of the problem: That there was no choice on giving up Building 20 as living quarters, and that the hope was to use the CIMP process -- unique, according to Mr Jackson in the annals of military-community development efforts -- to create a 'win-win' outcome. That was later amended to 'everyone is going to have to give up something.'"
 

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).
 

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.
 

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
 

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
 
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