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If your tastebuds are on the lookout for additional options in the neighborhood, tell them that I am hearing that Taylor Gourmet and Chop't are slated to be tenants in the pending Grosvenor-McCaffery-Skanska mega project along 1st Street SE between M and N currently dubbed Ballpark Square.*
But said tastebuds will need to be patient, as the project is still a few weeks away from an expected ceremonial groundbreaking, and then it will take a while to construct the project's 285-unit apartment building, 180-room hotel, and 233,000-square-foot office building in the block just north of Nats Park.
All told, there will be about 45,000 square feet of retail across the project, with about 7,000 of it in the separate two-story 7,000 square feet retail building at the corner of 1st and N, also being developed by Grosvenor/McCaffery.
The rendering at right showing the 99 M office building, the hotel, and the residential building as seen from the northwest corner of 1st and M may help get your bearings on the location and plans.
No operator for the hotel has been announced as yet. (And note, as always, that this is separate from the Hampton Inn currently going up on the south end of the block.)
* I've also heard that "Ballpark Square" is actually not the final name of the development. This allows me to yet again point people to my June 2007 post, Name Your Own Near Southeast Development Project!
Comments (16)
More posts: 99m, ballparksquare , Development News, Square 701
 

With unanimous agreement that the need to get former public housing residents back to the neighborhood is paramount, the Zoning Commission on Monday gave first approvals to the DC Housing Authority's request for flexibility in how it allocates 206 affordable units still to be built within the Capper/Carrollsburg PUD boundaries, while still being required to have no fewer than 15 percent and no more than 50 percent of the units on any square be affordable.
ANC 6D remains adamantly opposed to the flexibility idea--or at least to the idea that this flexibility would then allow a possible all-affordable building next to a market-rate condo building on Square 767--saying it "would circumvent the theme of HOPE VI revitalization and the goal of the PUD."
But Zoning Commission vice-chair Marcie Cohen disagreed, saying that the success of Capper's revitalization is that "the area is mixed income, the neighborhood is mixed income," and that she doesn't have a problem "when public housing is a single project within a mixed-income neighborhood." Noting that some of Capper's previous residents were relocated from the site now more than 10 years ago, Cohen said that "the people who have been displaced have a right to come back"--and given that "financing vehicles are now driving housing policy," meaning that getting affordable housing units financed has become so difficult--the Housing Authority has in her view come up with a plan that is "satisfactory," and should be able to go ahead and "secure the proper financing, build the project, and get some of the people back if they choose."
Her fellow commissioners concurred, with both Robert Miller and Michael Turnbull also noting that all projects on the three remaining residential squares at Capper will need to come to the Zoning Commission for review before moving forward.
And in its response to the ANC 6D letter, the Housing Authority emphasized this point, saying that the concerns raised by 6D will be addressed at that time, and that the reviews "will also demonstrate that the design of the buildings and distribution of the units in those applications are consistent with the PUD's overall goal of providing a vibrant, mixed-use and mixed-income community."
This case also will allow 30 of the Capper affordable units to be relocated to Square 737, to be included in both the 800 New Jersey/Whole Foods building and the eventual third-phase residential building on the eastern portion of that block.
My previous post on this zoning case gives plenty of additional detail if you desire.
Comments (29)
More posts: Capper, Development News, zoning
 

On Monday night the Zoning Commission gave final approval to first-stage plans for the Cohen Companies' 1333 M Street residential project, along with second-stage approvals for the development's first phase, a 10-story 218-unit building.
The final approvals had been slowed by a number of items that concerned the commissioners. Among them:
* While a memorandum of understanding detailing benefits and amenities of the project had been worked out earlier in the process between the developer and ANC 6B, neighbors that live along L Street SE north of the project continue to have objections to various aspects of the project, such as there only being 220 parking spaces for a 673-unit development, as well as the impact of the standard hours of construction on their "quality of life," which Chairman Anthony Hood keyed on as an item where there could have been some "negotiating," though commissioner Peter May noted that the building is not particularly close to L Street SE (with the new Southeast Blvd. and the CSX train tracks separating the two).
* The lighting plan for the building, which had originally been shown with a fair amount of up-lighting but is now all down-lighting after the commissioners objected.
* The plan for a "place-making sign" on the building's penthouse had gotten Peter May up in arms at the Proposed Action stage, and so the developer came back with additional options. (If you click to enlarge the rendering at the top of this post, you can see up at the roofline a smidge of the BROOKLAND-like sign facing north.)
May and the other commissioners still sighed a bit over there being a sign up there at all, but did agree that Option 1 is a "more subtle" version that is an "improvement." I have a notion that some readers might disagree:
In the end, though, there were no showstoppers, and the commission voted 5-0 to approve both the first-stage PUD for the overall project and the second-stage PUD for the first residential building.
My 1333 M project page has additional renderings and information--and if you are new to the story and can't quite visualize where 1333 M even is, it's on the part of M Street that proceeds eastward underneath and past the 11th Street Bridges.
UPDATE: Forgot to include that the project made it past the National Capital Planning Commission as well.
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More posts: 1333 M, Development News, zoning
 

From WBJ: "D.C. developer Akridge has sold the majority of its Half Street parcel across from Nationals Park to The JBG Cos., which is expected to redevelop the site with two new residential buildings and a large amount of what one executive called "dramatic" retail."
JBG has acquired the southern two-thirds of the block, far better known as the shipper container-ringed location of the Fairgrounds, directly across N Street from Nats Park and also directly across Van Street from JBG's own under-development 1244 South Capitol residential project.
Akridge apparently is maintaining a minority stake in that portion of the site, but JBG will "take over day-to-day development duties." WBJ says Akridge is also apparently "under contract to recapitalize the northern third of Half Street."
After Akridge acquired the site in 2008--which was once home to WMATA's Southeastern Bus Garage--plans were run through the Zoning Fun Factory for two office buildings on the north end of the site and a 280-unit residential building on the south end (along with 55,000 square feet of retail), but WBJ says that JBG's portion of the block is now expected to include two residential buildings, with one office building on the land Akridge still owns along M Street. Plus "dramatic retail."
WBJ pegs the sale price for the JBG portion of the site at $45 million.
This is not unexpected, as news had surfaced back in September that Akridge was looking for a new partner to develop the site.
It also dovetails with the sale of Monument Valley on the east side of Half Street to the MacFarlane/Lynch development team, which is early in the process of bringing residential offerings along its own portion of N Street.
You can look at my Akridge Half Street project page for reminders of what had been planned for the site, though I look at that page (and my Monument Valley page) more as a marvel of the tens of thousands of words I have expended on plans for these sites over the past 10 years.
Comments (21)
More posts: JBG/Akridge Half St., Development News, jbghalf
 

* 82 I GETS A PERMIT: Add another project to the ready-to-start-anytime lineup. In this case, it's the 234-unit residential project on the northwest corner of New Jersey and I, which as of this morning has an approved shoring/sheeting/excavation permit. They've looked ready for this moment for a few weeks now, so it'll be interesting to see when work gets underway.
* 909 HALF GETS A PERMIT: Late last week 909 Half Street got its shoring permit as well. This is a 380-unit residential building by Ruben Companies and the Related Companies, and at least one resident is sure that activity is already underway at the site on the southwest corner of Half and I, in the wake of construction trailers having arrived within the past few weeks.
This is the first time in my 12 years of JDLand-ing that a project has gotten this far along without making available a least a token rendering of what's coming, so I figured I'd just fill in the blank. Feel free to create your own.
* BALLPARK SQUARE TEA LEAVES: The parking attendant kiosks have disappeared, the gates have been locked, and cars have stopped parking on the former Nats Lot F along the west side of 1st Street south of M. The residential and hotel project known as Ballpark Square has had excavation permits in hand for the southern part of this lot since November--keep an eye out for the arrival of heavy equipment.
(Note that the north end of the block is going to be the 99 M office building--sort of part of Ballpark Square, sort of not. It doesn't have its excavation permits approved yet, though they are in process.)
* FOUR READY TO GO: If you are keeping track, there are now these approved excavation permits for 82 I, 909 Half, Ballpark Square, and the Homewood Suites at 50 M. That's a lot of new digging to kick off 2015--it's also another 940 residential units and 365 hotel rooms about to drop into the pipeline. Already under construction? Residential projects Park Chelsea, 800 New Jersey, Lofts at CQ, Arris, 1111 New Jersey, and Riverfront, plus the Community Center and a Hampton Inn, too.
* MONUMENT VALLEY TEA LEAVES: At Monday night's ANC meeting, a representative from Jair Lynch's development company was there to discuss the revamped plans for the Half Street Hole, aka Monument Valley, which Lynch and partners bought last year. According to reports from the meeting (I wasn't there), the plans are shifting to include 130 condos alongside the rental units, and to scale it all down because it was "too large." SWill was kind enough to tweet a cellphone grab of the design shown to the commission for the northeast corner of Half and N. This will need to go through a Capitol Gateway Overlay zoning review before moving forward, so there will be more opportunities to see renderings and get additional information. Lynch's rep told me after the meeting that the project is expected to be back in front of the ANC "in the very near future."
* THE DEVIL LIVES AT PARK CHELSEA: Curbed DC took a look at the pile of new renderings on the Park Chelsea web site (with a clock counting down to the start of leasing on July 1) and noticed a very familiar someone in a few of them. Clearly this is the week for having a bit of fun with drawings.
Comments (28)
More posts: 82i, 909half, ballparksquare , Development News, Monument/Half St., Square 701
 

In a WaPo piece about DC budget wranglings, Mike DeBonis dropped this little tidbit:
"Several council members pressed [City Administrator Rashad M.] Young to unfreeze a $5 million grant to the Washington Humane Society, which contracts with the District government to handle its animal control functions. The grant would help the nonprofit group acquire property near the Washington Navy Yard for a new headquarters to replace its facilities on New York Avenue NE and Georgia Avenue NW."
And budget documents even tell us exactly where this property is--the 36,500-sq-ft lot on the northwest corner of 11th and M streets SE, where an Exxon station stood until 2008.
The Exxon lot also just happens to abut the Society's spay and neuter clinic. which has operated at 10th and L SE since 2007. The current appraised value of the Exxon site is a smidgen over $6 million.
The article also says that "Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) told Young that the deal’s closing is rapidly approaching and could be jeopardized if the funds aren’t unfrozen."
Kittehs! Doggies!
Comments (14)
More posts: Development News, humanesociety
 

If you spend much time on 4th Street in the Yards, you can be forgiven for looking at the concrete skeleton rising up next to the Foundry Lofts and assuming that Forest City's Arris is going to just be another boxy DC apartment building.
And that is more or less true--for the five floors that have been built.
But there's for the next six floors, there's going to be a shift, as the design--by Robert A.M. Stern Architects--turns into a very angled, wavy, and even slightly off-centered ultra-modern offering. It's going to look like a glass tower was plopped not-altogether-carefully on top of a rectangular brick low-rise offering.
Look closely at the renderings (click to enlarge), which both show the building from Water Street, and compare them to the above photo, counting the floors already constructed to confirm that along 4th Street the construction is about to look very un-rectangular:
On the building's west side, next to the Foundry Lofts, there will be no glass top, but instead three eight-story mini-towers, with two private courtyards. It's not quite so easy to get photos that clearly show the "reverse-E" outline of the west side, but I did at least try.
The from-above rendering also gives a good view of the rooftop "amenities deck" on the glass tower.
One thing not readily apparently in the drawings is how much taller this building is going to be than anything nearby. So, get ready for a veeeeeery different skyline in the coming weeks.
Arris has 20,000 square feet of retail on three sides of the building's ground floor, facing 4th, Tingey, and Water streets, and the building is scheduled to open late this year or early next year.
There's more drawings and photos on my project page, including some "before" shots of the building's footprint that emphasize how much this block has changed, even before work started on Arris.
Comments (8)
More posts: Development News, photos, The Yards, Arris/Parcel N/Yards
 

Thankfully my camera shutter does not seize up in cold weather, because I spent more than two hours on Saturday wandering the neighborhood* to catch up on all of the latest doings, of which there are so many these days.
I looked at The Brig.
I looked at a few other spots that you'll hear about soon.
Unsurprisingly, I also looked up.
And what a sky to look up at.
(Just ignore all those dust artifacts marring the magnificent blue. Time to buy my own sensor cleaning kit.)
I looked up at the Hampton Inn at 1st and N, which now has most of its windows and appears to be about to get its facing. Maybe it looks a smidge less like a grain elevator now.
Then I looked up at the VIDA Fitness complex at Twelve12, originally to document the new Bang Salon and Penthouse Pool Club signs, but how I could resist yet another shot of the VIDA sign when I saw this?
I've mentioned the Banfield Pet Hospital sign before, but seeing it there reminds me that a reader passed along a Banfield tweet from early January saying that Banfield would be opening Feb. 7. Keep an eye peeled for the removal of the window coverings....
And finally, we have the Park Chelsea, which remains thisclose to getting its masonry completed, with the second photo included mainly to give me an excuse to sneak in a shot of the scaffolded Capitol dome.
If you like photos of vertical construction against a deep blue sky, stay tuned.
* But, hey, 11,000 steps!
 

The Capitol Riverfront BID held its annual meeting on Thursday in the PNC Diamond Club at Nationals Park, where Max Scherzer was not in attendance, though Matt Williams stopped by and spoke for a few moments.
The main purpose of an annual meeting--beyond the networking and schmoozing--is the unveiling of the Annual Report, which is worth digging into for all sorts of numbers and graphs and summaries, though note that it hides no truly bombshell pieces of news for loyal JDLand readers (whew!).
That said, there were some items I haven't passed along before, one being that Forest City is planning to build a 190ish-unit apartment building alongside the PN Hoffman condo building coming to 4th and Tingey on the current Trapeze School site, with construction expected to begin on both late this year or early next. Forest City is also apparently planning to begin work this year on the marina and piers at Yards Park, and expected 2015 start dates were shown for Skanska's 99 M Street office building and Ruben's 909 Half Street residential building, alongside the already expected pending starts of Ballpark Square, Homewood Suites, and 82 I.
Also unveiled was a spiffy new promotional video for the neighborhood, which I encourage all residents to watch mainly to see if you are in it anywhere (UPDATED with the link).
The featured speaker was Andrew Altman, who helped spearhead the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative during the Williams administration, then became the first chief executive of the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation before moving on to jobs that including helping London plan for the future of its Olympic Park and other sites after the 2012 summer games. A quick characterization of one aspect of speech--which included visuals of a lot of watercolor renderings and photos that took me down memory lane--could be something along the lines of "Wow, all this stuff we planned is actually happening!"
I took the opportunity of a visit to the ballpark to get a few photos, including one that may address the question many people have had: will any of the rooms at the new Hampton Inn have views of the playing field? I'm still not sure if the angle will allow unobstructed views of anything other than the center of the infield, but it is at least visual confirmation that the skyline outside the ballpark has changed for the first time in a few years.
In other news, fences went up this week in front of the Center Field Gate, leading some to hope that perhaps the planned move of the team store to its new home inside the stadium and the arrival of a restaurant in the N Street space might be moving forward. But apparently the work (which I captured sneakily from above) is to move the entrance gates a few feet closer to N Street.
I also had to get a shot I shall call Monument Valley in Winter, plus a decent view of the No Longer Spooky Parcel A at 1st and N. Forest City says that the parking lot planned for the near portion of the lot should arrive in late spring, with the sidewalks, grassy areas, and Trapeze School space coming later in 2015.
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More posts: Capitol Riverfront BID, Development News
 

I'm trying a visual approach to rounding up the goings-on in 2014 (see my 2014 Year in Review: Restaurants and Retail post as well), but I'm not sure quite how to replicate it when it comes to the mammoth rundown of everything that has happened from a development standpoint this year in Near Southeast/Capitol Riverfront/Navy Yard Territory/Near Capitol Ballpark River Yards.
But I'm giving it a shot, and at least you can quickly see the current state of all of them. Click to go to the project pages.
Completed/All-But Completed
Vertical (or About to Be)
Just Getting Underway
And we should also use this space to bid a final farewell to Spooky Building 213, which came down (sloooooowly) to make way for Forest City's "Parcel A" plans:
What big buildings are looking to be starting in 2015? More residential at New Jersey and I, a Homewood Suites hotel at Half and M, hotel/residential/retail on 1st Street (and maybe its office component, too). Late in the year, there could perhaps be the start of the first condo project at the Yards and a movie theater. And who knows what else.....
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More posts: Development News
 

Cleaning out the tidbit hopper with some new and not-quite-so-new items of note. I imagine posting will be light in the next few days, but you never know.
And so a Happy Holidays to all, from the entire staff of JDLand.com! Including from George, pictured at right.
* MOVIE THEATER LATEST: I mentioned this on Twitter last week, and appended it to my post on the subject, but I've heard kvetching from certain quarters that I did not specifically post anew that last week the DC Council passed the emergency versions of bills that among other things declare portions of the DC Water site at 1st and O as "surplus." This will allow the process of Forest City developing its movie theater there to move forward another step.
* VAN NESS KINDERGARTEN: I have been embarrassingly slow to report that earlier this month DCPS made known its decision that Van Ness Elementary will open next year with two kindergarten classes (in addition to PK-3 and PK-4). There will be 15 out-of-bounds spaces in these classes. The school system also released this FAQ about Van Ness's opening if you are just catching up.
* 100 M STREET SOLD: GlobeSt.com reports that Lionstone Investments and Hermes Real Estate have purchased the 100 M Street SE office building, with a source "pinpointing the purchase price at $78.9 million, or $324 per square foot." The building originally went up for sale back in 2012. This is the Gordon Biersch building, for those of you who don't look at address signs.
* METRO BALLGAME USE: WMATA's "PlanItMetro" blog took a deep dive into ridership patterns on Nationals game days at the Navy Yard-Ballpark and Capitol South stations. "Carrying an average of 11,000 riders to every Nationals home game, Metrorail maintained a 34% mode share to Nationals park in the 2014 season." There's also a good discussion of what the numbers may mean in the comments of this Greater Greater Washington post (along with chit-chat about the new Southeast Blvd.).
 

I could blather on in some kind of forced introduction about how the weatherman sold my camera and me a bill of goods this weekend ("mostly sunny," eh?), and how the low sun and weak light and wispy clouds made for less-than-stellar images, but instead let's just jump in.
We'll start with the photo at right, which shockingly reveals that dirt is actually being moved on the northwest corner of 8th and L, where the beer garden now known as The Brig has been planned for such a long time. Clearly work is in the very early stages, but that's a nice change from no progress at all. It's supposed to open in the spring.
Continuing the tour....
Digging continues at the 1111 New Jersey apartment project (above left), with the shoring at far left helping to give a sense of how far down they've gotten so far. (Spoiler: they have a long ways left to go.) And at the Capper Community Center Building House (above right), the foundation on the south end of the site along L Street is now a pretty sizeable structure.
It's hard to get a decent shot of the Lofts at Capitol Quarter construction, because the building is so long, though the wide open space of Nats Lot W helps. Vertical construction continues at the far east end, at 7th Street, while the western end waits its turn. Here's a big version of the latest image, to make it easier to see. (But remember, you can click on all photos to pop up larger versions.)
From there I wandered to the Yards (after rejoicing that the Hull Street Gate to the Navy Yard was closed, so I was able to take photos of the Lofts construction without hassle). The Arris apartment building is now getting its second floor, from south to north, as seen in the below left shot from the corner of 4th and Water. And a different sort of progress is visible a few feet away, in the windows of the northwest corner of the Lumber Shed.
Not pictured is the lunch stop I made at 100 Montaditos, mainly to watch Mr. JDLand's continued march through the menu.
Meanwhile, the Hampton Inn at 1st and N (above left) continues to stand all but alone (I find myself thinking of it as Near Southeast's grain elevator). I also think I managed to capture a construction milestone when I spied its first installed windows. And, up at New Jersey and I, the Masonry Marathon continues at the Park Chelsea (above right), though it does look like that phase may not last too much longer.
There's one other batch of progress photos I took on Saturday, but you're just going to have to wait a bit longer for those.
 

A DC council hearing on Thursday afternoon shed some light on the current status of Forest City's planned 16-screen luxury movie theater on property near 1st and O Streets, SE, a development which has been stalled for nearly a year during the hunt for a suitable location to move a portion of the DC Water operations currently housed at the site.
The good news for those tapping their toes waiting for the project to get started is that city officials testified that land is under contract in Prince George's County that would house DC Water's fleet operations, and the sale is expected to close in the first quarter of 2015.
While the fleet ops footprint at 125 O Street does not perfectly match the theater footprint, it was indicated that between the Prince George's site, the rest of the O Street site, and a potential interim site controlled by Forest City nearby, there would be the ability to shuffle DC Water's needs enough to clear the way for construction of the theater, which Forest City wants to get started by the end of 2015. (Apparently there is a looming end-of-2017 deadline in the letter of intent with Kerasotes Showsplace Theaters to get the project completed.)
So, assuming that the purchase of the PG County property takes place, and assuming that the DC Council approves the emergency legislation to declare the DC Water site as surplus, and assuming that there are no hitches in the move of DC Water's fleet operations, the theater may in fact be inching toward getting underway. (Though that's a lot of "assuming," especially when dealing with municipal government--but at least the fleet operations move already has its funding.)
However, the horizon isn't quite so clear when it comes to getting DC Water off two additional parcels on the site, where Forest City plans 600 residential units in two buildings along with 35,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. The agency's customer care and sewer services operations currently located there need to be moved somewhere within the city limits, and these days there are precious few industrial-type locations to choose from.
A suitable location has been identified, and it just so happens to be the trash transfer station on W Street in Brentwood that has long been a thorn in the side of residents. However, talks between the city administrator and the station's owner apparently didn't get very far, and so Ward 5 councilmember Kenyan McDuffie has (again) submitted a bill to authorize the use of eminent domain to take control of the site if city officials feel that no agreement can be reached. (At-large councilmember and former Ward 5 rep Vincent Orange, in attendance at the hearing, spent much time warning about possible litigation over such a move, how long that would tie things up, how the lack of spelled-out funding for the acquisition of the site could tie things up, what a bad idea it is to not be planning non-industrial development for the site, etc. etc.)
In other words, the theater portion of the project seems to be lurching towards being a "go," but the residential/retail phase still needs a lot of massaging.
The emergency legislation should come up for a vote at next week's council session.
(And I'll note, as I always do, that DC Water will not be completely departing the site--the main pumping station in its historic structure certainly isn't going anywhere, and the agency is working on plans to move its headquarters into new construction on top of the O Street Pumping Station building on the southeast portion of the property.)
UPDATE, 12/17: The DC Council today passed the emergency versions of the bills related to this land disposition. This means that Forest City gets the Land Disposition Agreement needed to gain "site control," allowing them to continue to move forward on this project.
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More posts: Development News, The Yards at DC Water
 

When you schedule an event for December, you have to be prepared for Mother Nature to be uncooperative, but a cold rain didn't stop the ceremonial groundbreaking for The Riverfront, the 300-unit apartment building that's the first phase of the redevelopment of the Florida Rock site on the west bank of the Anacostia River next to Nationals Park. (Unlike a lot of these events, this one actually came after the real breaking of ground, which started last month.)
The theme throughout the remarks by MRP Realty's Frederick Rothmeijer and David deVilliers of Florida Rock Properties was one of relief. Rothmeijer spoke of the trials of getting this phase--originally planned as an office building--approved by the Zoning Commission after MRP joined the project in 2011, and even mentioned Commissioner Michael Turnbull's broadsides about the design and the "four red doors" originally facing the ballpark (which was probably one of the most memorable diatribes I've seen in my years of watching these proceedings).
FRP's deVilliers was even more relieved, as well he should be--he spoke of his initial discussions with the Office of Planning about redeveloping the site, which occured in 1994--a mere 20 years from there to construction! (I came in at about the halfway point, and have probably spent more time writing about the zoning ins and outs of this project than any other.)
Soon it was time to leave the warm, dry tent for The Flinging of the Dirt, and there were a lot of people with shovels in hand, as you can see above (and that's not even the full lineup).
It was not a prime day for photography, but I still have thrown together a quick gallery of shots from the day, including a few showing the current progress of the site footprint. It also occurred to me that this was the first time I've been inside the fences at the site--and it quickly becomes even more obvious than I already thought that this is one prime piece of riverfront property. And my Riverfront/Florida Rock project page has more renderings and photos, including nice ones from when the sun is actually out.
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More posts: Development News, Florida Rock
 

More notes about buildings and food:
* BANFIELD: The sign is now up, and "early 2015" looks on track for the Banfield Pet Hospital at Twelve12 on Tingey Street in the Yards.
* 82 I: The lot has been cleared of cars, a new fence has been put up and construction-related signage ("Hard Hats Required") has appeared on the northwest corner of New Jersey and I, where Graystar's 234-unit residential building appears to be ready to get underway the second its shoring/excavation permit comes through.
* FLORIDA ROCKIN': Excavation permits for the first phase of Florida Rock's redevelopment were approved a few weeks ago (hence the beginning of earth-moving), and as of Friday there's now an approved permit for the nine-story apartment building itself. The project's ceremonial groundbreaking is scheduled for tomorrow morning (Dec. 9) at 10 am--in a tent, thank heavens. Given that it took more than a decade to get this project to the digging phase, you can't blame developers MRP Realty and Florida Rock Properties for going beyond the normal speeches and ornate shovels: they are having a pig roast as well, after the ceremony until about 3 pm.
* 100 MONTADITOS: It looked very very close to opening last week, but there appears to have been some sort of fly in the ointment (or a Spaniard in the Works, if you will). The Yards tweeted this morning that it is opening this Thursday. Mr. JDLand is monitoring the situation closely. UPDATE: A missive from the Montaditos folks confirms the Thursday opening, with a "Dollarmania" promotion through Sunday, Dec. 14, with all Montaditos sandwiches selling for $1. There will also be $2 beers and sangria and $3 premium beer and wine for the eatery's first 100 days.
* WILLIE'S: Now offering brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 3 pm.
* OSTERIA MORINI: "Morini Mondays" begin tonight, with $10 pasta dishes.
 

It was a blockbuster piece of news a few weeks ago that the National Community Church had decided to buy the Navy Yard Car Barn, aka the Blue Castle, at 770 M St. SE.
There hasn't been any official statement about the purchase from the church, but recently its lead pastor, Mark Batterson, agreed to reply by e-mail to a list of questions I sent his way about how this move came about and what the church may be envisioning for the landmark building. (Hyperlinks added by me.)
JD: How did the idea of buying the Blue Castle end up on your radar?
MB: Our team had been actively seeking ways to build out our Virginia Ave property, but we’ve been in a holding pattern because of the CSX project. When we heard that the Blue Castle was for sale, it made sense. We just had to make the math work. After quite extensive research with a development team, we came to the conclusion that it will be easier, faster, and perhaps less expensive, to build on top of the castle than it would be to build on Virginia Avenue.
We feel very fortunate to have gotten the contract. We know this is an incredibly iconic building that is interwoven into our city's history. We hope to steward it well.
JD: What are your plans for the building? i.e., Will it be purely uses for your church, or will the neighborhood see some sort of benefit as well? Also, do you have any plans to expand the building itself? How much additional square footage could that potentially include?
MB: We plan to develop the Blue Castle property by building what NCC needs on the roof deck of the existing structure. The key components of the build-out are a multi-purpose performance space with 1500-2000 seats, as well as a central location for our staff. The performance space will be designed for seven day a week use as a music venue and/or theater space. We will assess community needs to make sure the castle serves the best and highest use. We have some preliminary ideas that we think the community will be excited about, but we need to get a little further down the planning road. One thing we know for sure is that we’d like to build out another Ebenezer’s Coffeehouse, like our coffeehouse at 201 F Street, NE.
JD: What about the existing tenants?
MB: The existing tenants have a lease through July of 2018. We have not made any decisions beyond that, but our goal is for the space to serve community needs. Part of our process will be listening to the needs and goals of neighbors, as well as figuring out what best compliments NCC. We will explore a wide variety of uses, along with current uses; in determining it's future.
JD: What sort of timeline are you looking at for making it into what you are hoping it will be?
MB: Until the architectural designs are completed, we can't estimate an accurate timeline. But we have already initiated some conceptual design work. So the wheels are turning. National Community Church continues to outgrow our spaces, so we need it as soon as possible. We also know that there is a timeline and protocol to follow. This is an iconic building, and we want to make sure we get it right.
JD: How does this impact your previously announced plans for your land along Virginia Avenue?
MB: We view the Blue Castle as a better path forward in addressing spacing needs because development of the property is not directly impacted by CSX. The building is also three times larger than Virginia Avenue. This will help us move toward our 2020 vision of 20 expressions of NCC by 2020.
Ultimately, our goal is to master plan both the Blue Castle and Virginia Avenue. Because we own both properties, it positions us to have a more coordinated development.
JD: And, finally... What. About. the. Blue?
MB: Honestly, we hope that someday the Blue Castle will just be the Castle. Of course, we have to factor in the financial impact. And we'l obviously need to work with DCRA and HPRB to make a determination on any changes to the exterior of the Blue Castle.
Comments (9)
More posts: Blue Castle, Development News, 8th Street, Nat'l Community Church
 

Word is filtering my way that 100 Montaditos should at last be bringing its menu of Spanish sandwiches and other items to the Boilermaker Shops at the Yards, perhaps even as early as this Thursday, Dec. 4
Mr. JDLand has been keeping close tabs on the progress of this latest offering, and provided this photo of the sandwich board (literally!) out front of the space last week.
That Montaditos is close to opening is also referenced in an end-of-year press release from Forest City that details the rather blockbuster year they've had at the Yards, with the openings of Twelve12, Teeter, VIDA, Sweetgreen, TaKorean, Ice Cream Jubilee, Unleashed, Willie's.....
The release also says that Banfield Pet Hospital is expected to open in the first quarter of 2015 in Twelve12's last retail space on Tingey Street, and that the Navy Yard Oyster Company and Due South restaurants are both expected to open in the Lumber Shed in the spring. Also coming in the spring should be the landscaping of the no-longer-Spooky Parcel A lot, with both a temporary park and parking lot. (No mention of the Trapeze School move, though.)
On the residential side of things, "late 2015" is given both as the completion date for the 327-unit Arris building next to the Foundry Lofts and also the planned start of the 135-unit PN Hoffman condo building at the southeast corner of 4th and Tingey.
If you see action at Montaditos, let me know. And let @TheSlot know, too.
 

Worn out from all these photo updates? Imagine how I feel. But I start getting the shakes if I don't at least touch on the status of each project currently underway, and having given the latest from Florida Rock and Arris and the Lofts at CQ, I need to run through the rest of them. It's a sickness.
Let's start with the holes in the ground. First are the two newest ones, with the initial hints of the foundation at the Capper Community Center Building House (left), and the more substantial digging underway at the 1111 New Jersey/Gallery at Capitol Riverfront apartment building.
Meanwhile, up at 800 New Jersey, the hole, it is deep. (And, as an aside, this poor project desperately needs a name, other than "that building that's going to have the Whole Foods." Even the signage looks a little forlorn.)
On the other end of the spectrum, we have the three topped-out buildings in various stages: at left is the Hampton Inn, which just reached this milestone within the past few weeks, then there's the Park Chelsea residential building, which may someday see the completion of its exterior masonry work, and finally the Parc Riverside apartment building, which is probably about to graduate out of my project updates given that the first units are expected to open in December.
 

The skyline is definitely going to be changing in the coming weeks at 4th and Tingey and at 7th and L, as the residential projects Arris and the Lofts at Capitol Quarter are now peeking up from behind the construction fences.
You can see the first floor along Water Street, which is the south end of Arris, Forest City's 327-unit apartment building at the Yards--and here's What It Shall Be from the same angle (albeit overhead):
In other words, get ready for that block to look and feel really different when the building is completed, probably in early 2016. And yes, there's ground-floor retail--about 20,000 square feet of it.
Meanwhile, the Lofts at Capitol Quarter, the 195-unit mixed-income apartment building at 7th and L is on quite a hill, so the west end (left) is starting at ground level while the east end (right) is just now coming out of the ground. And these two photos, which don't make it easy to discern exactly what's going on with the construction, do at least give an indication of the length of the building.
Both my Arris and Lofts at CQ project pages have more photos, renderings, etc.
Also, I hope everyone enjoys the Lofts photos taken from Nats Lot W, because when I left there and walked across M at Hull to take pictures TO THE NORTH of the construction TO THE NORTH, a Navy Yard guard approached me and asked to see my photos, to ensure that I was up to nothing nefarious. This even though I had never pointed my camera anywhere close to the direction of the Navy Yard gate--I had even very theatrically held up my camera with its lens clearly pointing in the opposite direction as I crossed M--and even if I had taken photos of the gate, I was on public property the entire time.
"We have to ask, ma'am," he said; "No, you don't," I replied, so really it's a wonder I didn't end up getting thrown into the back of a Suburban and detained. But there's always next time--I told him that they'd better get used to me being there. At least this time they didn't call the DC cops and have one chase me down a few blocks away like they did a few years back.
#PhotographyIsNotaCrime
Comments (3)
More posts: Development News, photos, Arris/Parcel N/Yards
 

I was a bit skeptical when I got the heads up that construction "had started" on the 321-unit first phase apartment building at the old Florida Rock site (which I guess we're eventually going to have to start calling The Riverfront). Even with a ceremonial groundbreaking coming in a few weeks, the twists and turns on this project over the past decade left me scarred enough to want to really see some movement before I believed it could finally be happening.
So let's compare the site as seen back in June, and then yesterday (click to enlarge, as always):
Or, heck, let's go from an ugly day in December 2005 to June 2014 to November 2014 to what it should look like when built:
(And now you know why I try to always wait for the most glorious of sunny days to take photos. Also, thank heavens for the Teague pier vantage point, allowing me to shoot northward-facing photos instead of just ones from Potomac Avenue.)
Ground was definitely being moved on Saturday, as you can see in these not-really-full-of-action action photos:
Construction of this first phase is expected to take about two years. And it should include a plaza and ground-floor retail alongside Diamond Teague Park. You can actually see in the pattern of the digging in the photo at top right the building footprint versus the plaza footprint--the project was required to keep the view from the ballpark's grand staircase out to the river.
Comments (2)
More posts: Development News, Florida Rock
 
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