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8 Blog Posts Since 2003

What follows are e-mails I've received from two readers in the past 24 hours. I'm posting them so that perhaps the Powers that Be might see them and also to give other readers a chance to weigh in.
First, a noise complaint (one that isn't restricted just to the south of the freeway, since I've heard it too):
* "Can you tell me about the parties going on under 395 near Garfield Park this summer? I used to live on the other side of the park, and I remember the 'Friends of Garfield Park' were very strict/vigilant about use and maintenance of the park. This summer, on the Fourth of July and today, there have been big parties with LOUD music that go on for hours. Then, typically, the park is trashed the next day. Is this a new trend that we've got to live with? I'm sitting here in my apartment on the 4th floor of CHT with the windows closed, and it's just too loud to relax. I've placed a call to 311, but to whom else can I complain?" [Note from JD: I'd get in touch with Tommy Wells's office.]
As for this next one, I post this as a cat owner who has, if you'll pardon the pun, absolutely no dog in this fight. So you all duke it out without me:
* "I am a dog owner and have found it more and more difficult to find place for my dog to use the bathroom. The reason behind this you may ask? Is there is a ton of ton of dog poop all over the place now. And it is getting progressively worse. I take the time to clean up after my pet making sure there is now traces of her reliving herself. I recycle my grocery bags ans invest in the special doggie poop bags. The reason I do this is that my mother would smack me for not doing it, it's polite and the right thing to do (nothing worse then stepping in dog poop!) It's made the neighborhood look and smell dirty. It attracts RATS! And DC police can write you a ticket it for it also. My old building put out this huge packet about cleaning up after your pet. [I]n all seriousness it takes 2 second to clean up after your pet. It is one of responsiblties of owning a pet, as is feeding them."
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More posts: What's the Deal?
 

About five readers in the past week have submitted the same question: What's the Deal With Capitol Quarter? And it's hard not to be wondering that, as one of the first announced projects to revitalize Near Southeast still hasn't seen the start of construction, with a number of target dates having slipped past. (You can read my WTDW Capitol Quarter from December to see the last update.)
EYA told me this week that they're now looking at June or July as when the first townhomes will get underway, a little past the "Spring" start date that was projected a few months ago. As for the "why", I've mentioned before that we shouldn't really be surprised when companies working on projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars aren't spilling their guts to a pesky neighborhood blogger about the reasons for bad news, so I have no answer. But perhaps the new 2008 reality of a much tougher real estate market and the "credit crunch" are playing a part?
This isn't to say that nothing's happening at Capitol Quarter, since work at the site has been chugging along for the past few months. The first phase of public infrastructure improvements, which has been the cause of all the ripping up of Fourth, Fifth, I, K, and L streets, is all but finished (except for some last work along L Street). And work has started on installing "private infrastructure"--the wet and dry utility lines for the new houses--which will be followed by preparing the lots for vertical construction. But of course none of this is terribly flashy work, and until the townhouses start popping up, it's easy to feel like nothing's happening.
It's still anticipated that all the Phase I townhouses will be completed by the end of 2010.
If you want to get caught up on previous WTDW... entries, here they are. To submit a WTDW question of your own, drop me a line, keeping in mind that I don't always get to these right away.
PS: No need to further inundate me with WTDW Canal Park questions. Many people (including me) are way ahead of you. Rumors are flying, and I'm trying to get some answers, so I'll post as soon as I have something.
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter, What's the Deal?
 

Let's dip into the What's the Deal With.... mailbag for some more non-ballpark-related content. Reader M has asked about the garage on the northeast corner of First and K, which remains in place while JPI's 909 at Capitol Yards starts to rise up around it.
This is actually a very simple question (and is precisely the one I envisioned when I started WTDW)--the owner, Davood Miraizee, refused to sell to JPI. He's quoted in a big Post piece from 2005 about not wanting to leave his spot. (Quick chats I've had with him have included slightly more, um, colorful language.)
So, JPI is continuing to build the 237-unit apartment project around him (and no, they won't be building on top of the garage), and as far as I know at this point, he's not going anywhere. But with a 2009 projected tax assessment of $1.47 million for the site (up from around $200k when he bought the lot), you do wonder about the economics of his staying put. As is the case with Positive Nature around the corner, assessments in the area are skyrocketing, which would seem to make it hard for any of the few small businesses still operating to stick around much longer. (The cab company and garage just across First Street from A1 is leaving at the end of this month, its land purchased last year to make way for DRI's 99 I Street office/retail development.)
If you have a What's the Deal With question, drop me a line, though it might be a while before I get to it.
And, coming tomorrow--a WTDW on a very high-profile project.
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More posts: 909 New Jersey, What's the Deal?, jpi
 

In our latest edition of What's the Deal With...., reader JD of JDLand.com asks: "WTDW with the old trash transfer site at 900 New Jersey Avenue, that place with the smokestack and all the Department of Public Works operations?"
At Wednesday's marathon capital budget hearing (no, I'm still not done watching it) the agency's director mentioned both the New Jersey Avenue site and the maintenance yard on O Street beneath the 11th Street Bridges as DPW locations that will eventually be moving to make way for development associated with the city's Anacostia Waterfront initiatives. I e-mailed DPW to get some clarification on his remarks, and have been told that the street sweepers that currently operate out of 900 New Jersey will be relocating in November to DPW's Bryant Street, NW, facility, but that other DPW functions are going to remain at New Jersey and K until the Office of Property Management can find them a new home.
This site is eventually supposed to be redeveloped as a mixed-income apartment building under the Capper/Carrollsburg Hope VI plan, but no timeline has been announced. And William C. Smith's plans for a 1-million-square-foot project on the block just to DPW's north, which include reopening I Street between New Jersey and Canal, would seem to need DPW to move out before they can get started.
As I wrote about over the summer, neighbors have been wanting that building closed for a long, LONG time.
 

Time to dip back into the What's the Deal With...? mailbag, where once again I'm being asked fabulous questions that I don't actually have any answers for. But that hasn't stopped me yet....
* Readers B. and K. are the most recent readers to ask about the Public Space Storage building on South Capitol between M and N, just a few feet north of the ballpark, wondering whether it has any plans to close. I know that Monument Realty was interested in acquiring the building, since it owns the lots just to the building's south as well as all other parts of the block not owned by WMATA, but that was before Metro awarded the Southeastern Bus Garage and its parking lot (on the north side to the storage building) to Akridge. It's certainly a valuable piece of land, and I don't think it's going out on a limb to say that I doubt it will be there many years from now, but as of this point I've heard of no deals.
* Reader R. has asked about Canal Park, which continues to appear stalled, with no public pronouncements on it in months. (And with that "Spring 2008" still displayed for all to see on the sign at Second and M.) Is it still the school buses throwing up the roadblock, which is what we last were told? Is there some new wrinkle? I haven't heard anything, I'm sad to report.
* Reader F. asks about Ann's Beauty and Wig Shop, the dazzlingly pink building sandwiched between St. Matthew's and Onyx at 125 L Street, wondering if it's going to be sold. Ann's came to this block in 2005, after I believe being forced out of Waterside Mall in SW, and the owner has apparently been pretty vehement with potential suitors that she has no intention of selling. Perhaps the pending sale of St. Matthew's to Ruben Companies could change that, but as of now, I've heard nothing.
That's the best I can do for now--absolutely no useful information at all! No doubt there's scuttlebutt on each of these that I'm not privvy to, but I continue to be unsuccessful in my quest to get all city officials and private-sector parties operating in Near Southeast to inform me at all times about all their dealings. It's almost like they think I'm just some sort of powerless pesky neighborhood blogger or something....
Got a WTDW question? (maybe even one that I might know the answer to?) Pass it along. But I'll close with a hint--when it comes to oft-discussed projects around Near Southeast, as soon as I hear information that I can confirm, I post it. (I do tend to stay away from posting rumors, and considering some of the ones I've heard over the years that have turned out to be fabulously incredibly wrong, I don't regret this.) If you haven't seen any updates lately about Canal Park, or Capitol Quarter, or the Post Plant, or any other project, it's because nothing new has come my way. I'm as desperate to post the latest news flashes as you are to read them....
 

Time again to dig into the What's the Deal With....? mailbag. Reader BH has asked about the two boarded-up gas stations and the old KFC along South Capitol Street, wondering when they're going to be demolished.
I have no answer, alas, for the former Exxon station on the east side of the street at I, which has been closed since May 2006 after its owner pleaded guilty to double-billing government contractors for more than $120,000; JPI was apparently somewhat interested in acquiring it so that they could build 23 I on the entire block, but that doesn't seem to have happened.
The KFC/Taco Bell closed in June after being bought by Ruben Companies, which has long-term plans for an office building on the site, to match their SC1100 on the east side of the street and 21 L Street to the north. However, they are not planning to demolish the KFC anytime soon, and in fact are looking to rent the space to a food-related business in the near-to-medium term.
The second Exxon, on the west side of the street south of K, closed at the end of August. The rumor was that the lot was going to be sold, but so far no transactions have shown up in the DC property sales database. (Ruben owns the other two-thirds of that block, which is the 21 L Street site.)
(I went 1 for 3 on this. Yeeech. This is what I get for not anticipating that WTDW.... questions wouldn't necessarily be ones I know the answers to! But I'm willing to keep trying--if you have a WTDW.... question, pass it along. Be advised, though, that I'm posting these as I can get to them, so submissions may not get addressed right away.)
 

Reader M. gets in the What's the Deal With spirit by asking "WTDW Capitol Quarter?", noting that the first deposits for houses in the development were accepted in October 2006, and that move-ins still have not begun. A few weeks ago I reported that residents-in-waiting were being told that construction on the houses themselves might not start until the second quarter of 2008; while I'm not privvy to what I'm sure is all sorts of behind the scenes stuff about why the project has taken so long to get underway (believe it or not, large commercial companies and city government officials are not all that excited about keeping me in the loop on stuff like that!), there is some news today that indicates that the project is continuing to move forward.
The city council's Committee on Finance and Revenue will be having a mark-up session this afternoon at 3:45 that includes Bill 17-0292, the "Arthur Capper/Carrollsburg Public Improvements Revenue Bonds Approval Amendment Act of 2007", which, in amending the original Capper PILOT bill from 2006, makes some "technical clarifications" and also authorizes a $55 million bond issuance. This bond, now $11 million larger what was originally anticipated because of increased borrowing costs, will provide $36.7 million for public infrastructure improvements like environmental remediation, building of two new streets (Second Place and Third Place), and water and sewer upgrades and replacements. Once this bill is passed by the council, the Housing Authority will be able to move forward with issuing the bonds, probably in Q2 2008; in fact, they have already sent out a Request for Proposals for underwriters for these bonds, which closes on Friday (Dec. 7). This bond will then be repaid by the payments in lieu of property taxes that landowners within the Capper PILOT area will be responsible for. (The draft council bill and the underwriting RFP give much more detail about the PILOT plan, if you're interested.)
The construction that's currently tearing up the streets at Capitol Quarter is a separate first-phase contract, allowing EYA to complete the initial work on public infrastructure that needs to be done before they can start work on the "private" infrastructure (the utilities and other work under the house lots themselves). Once that is done, then "vertical construction" can begin on the houses themselves, which is the work that is now scheduled to begin in the spring.
And, the DC Building Permit feed shows that six-month extensions for Capitol Quarter permits have recently been approved.
So, while none of this answers what was probably the meat of the WTDW question--I know everyone really wants all sorts of skinny on the "whys" of the delays--it does give some semblance of an update on where things are.
Post-Hearing UPDATE: The bill was moved out of mark-up ("reported favorably") with no discussion, and next goes to Committee of the Whole (presumably at next Tuesday's meeting). Note that the online version of the bill is the original draft, and may not reflect the current wording. Jack Evans mentioned at mark-up that there will be an amendment offered at the Committee of the Whole, but didn't elaborate. And here's the draft committee report on the bill, which gives a less technical description of the changes being made to the original 2006 PILOT legislation.
More posts: Capper, What's the Deal?
 

With the late-season information lull now upon us, I thought it might be a good time to launch a new semi-regular feature: What's the Deal With....? I'm envisioning this as a chance to answer questions about things you see around the neighborhood or on this web site, since it's I know it's hard keeping up with the torrent of information that comes at you from JDLand. I do freely admit that I'm sometimes not so great at re-addressing the basics, since I'm so focused on digging out the latest news. And of course many of the folks who wander by are newcomers trying to get caught up with the backstory--or are veteran visitors who aren't necessarily keeping up with Near Southeast in quite such a *detailed* manner as Some People. (Why I'm only thinking of this now after almost five years of responding to questions like this mainly via e-mail, I don't know. I guess the desperation to have new content is a strong force!)
So, if you have a question that might be a good fit for WTDW...?, drop me a line, and we'll see what we come up with. I'll be looking for questions that have concrete answers, rather than requests for ruminations on the big picture. (And don't be like the college journalism student I recently heard from who sent me one dozen essay-level questions about Near Southeast, and requested that I return my answers by the end of the day.)
I'll start with an e-mail that arrived today from a reader asking about the status of Onyx on First, the 260-unit residential tower by Faison and Canyon-Johnson under construction on the southeast corner of First and L. Onyx was launched in late 2006 as a condo project and is scheduled to open in Fall 2008, but although there's a web site with general information, sales at the building have yet to get underway. (The trailers you see behind Normandie Liquors at First and M arrived back in the spring to house the Onyx sales office, but have sat unused for more than six months.) Rumors about Onyx's status have been floating around as the DC condo market softens, but so far no change to the original plans has been announced. When I hear something confirmed, I'll post it here as fast as my little fingers can type.
More posts: What's the Deal?, Onyx, Square 743N
 




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