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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Florida Rock
See JDLand's Florida Rock Project Page
for Photos, History, and Details
In the Pipeline
1244 South Capitol
Virginia Ave. Tunnel
New Douglass Bridge
Yards/Parcel O
JBG/Akridge/Half St.
Ex-Monument/Half St.
Chiller Site Condos
Yards/Parcel A
Yards/Icon Theater
1333 M St.
Capper Apts.
250 M St.
New Marine Barracks
Nat'l Community Church
Factory 202/Yards
Congressional Square
1000 South Capitol
SC1100
Completed
Southeast Blvd. ('15)
Parc Riverside ('14)
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
Retail News
Restaurants/Nightlife
 

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111 Blog Posts Since 2003
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It's been a while since I've been down to the shores of the Anacostia at 1st Street (I'm old/it's been cold/I'm tired/I'm lazy), but on Saturday I finally made the trek to Florida Rock, and saw what I expected to see--a concrete slab at the bottom of the two-story excavation for the 305ish-unit residential building "The Riverfront," along with the base of the project's crane being put together.
I snagged a peek-through-the-fence shot of the hole, though before long I'll get to start taking photos of it from up above, on the viewing platform at Nats Park. (While I, uh, watch baseball, too. Yeah, yeah, that's it.)
Here's the riverfront view of the Riverfront footprint (below left), matched to the rendering of the same spot (center). Plus, at right, a shot looking from Diamond Teague's pier to the staircase at Nats Park, giving a sense of the plaza that will be there (and that one sightline from the staircase to the river will still exist after the apartment building is completed).

/This building, the first phase of the overall 1.1-million-sq-ft mixed-use redevelopment, is expected to be finished in late 2016. It will have a little more than 18,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, and two levels of underground parking (as you see!). There will also be an extension of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail.
The Phase 2 land immediately to the west of the new building is expected to be temporarily remade as a "beach" area, including volleyball courts, with additional space for parking and other temporary uses. Which is all separate from Bardo's potential "brew garden" plans for the two acres to the west of THAT site, on the portion of the Florida Rock footprint that edges up to the current Douglass Bridge.
See my Florida Rock page for lots more photos and renderings.
UPDATE: I finally made it up onto the Douglass Bridge on Sunday for the first time in forever to take some photos, and got an even better view of the excavation and its position in relationship to the ballpark. So, let's all look at this and start to mentally prepare for the change in the view not only of the ballpark, but from the ballpark.

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More posts: Development News, Florida Rock
 

I wrote a few weeks ago about the latest plans to use two acres on the western part of the Florida Rock site along the Anacostia River as a "brew garden" and neighborhood park while waiting for the project's later phases to get underway--and I also wrote about the muted reception the idea got from ANC 6D after a somewhat nebulous presentation by developer MRP Realty and representatives of Bardo.
Now the Bardo folks, who already operate a similar brew garden in Northeast, are trying to raise $200,000 to "do this thing deluxe," to create what it calls Bardo Riverfront, described as "100,000 square feet of BeerDisneyLand." This would include flush toilets instead of porta-potties, a bike shop, a kiddie playground, and "the largest dog park in DC," as well as parking for 500 bicycles, cornhole, food trucks, outdoor movies "projected onto a floating screen in the river," and other ideas.
Donations of $20 now will get you four pints of beer when it opens, or four pitchers for a $50 donation, or numerous other options up to a $5,000 donation allowing you to take over the entire place on any Monday-Thursday when the Nats aren't playing. If you don't have money to contribute, you could donate wood trips, or "big tree logs to make into totem poles."
More details as they become available....
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More posts: Florida Rock, Restaurants/Nightlife
 

UPDATE: Well, that was a fun few hours. Sorry about the outage--fingers crossed that we're back. It's the price I pay for keeping JDLand on a shared hosting service. (I actually kind of enjoyed the respite!)
I somehow managed to make it through four hours of Monday night's ANC 6D meeting (yay?). I already gave you the big headline (at least from the JDLand vantage point), but here's some other tidbits:
* DUE SOUTH: After initially applying for a Class CT Tavern license, the southern food restaurant planned for the Lumber Shed agreed to amend the application and change to a CR license as part of the settlement agreement negotiated with 6D. However, the city's liquor license board apparently voted on March 4 to approve a CT license. After much (much!) discussion and consternation about process, 6D voted 4-2-1 to send a letter to ABRA saying that if in fact Due South is being given a CT license, the ANC requests to be reinstated as a protestant to the license application and also moves for reconsideration of the CT order.
* HALF STREET HOLE: A presentation was made on the new plans I posted about for the northeast corner of Half and N, i.e., Monument Valley, i.e., the Half Street Hole, which received a generally positive response from the commission, along with suggestions for a better external differentiation between the condo wing facing N Street and the rest of the building and a request that the new sidewalks be made of softer materials if possible. The commission then voted 4-0-2 to support the project, which is now scheduled for its Capitol Gateway Overlay review on May 28.
* BREW GARDEN AT FLORIDA ROCK: Representatives of MRP Realty and Bardo presented their brew garden/neighborhood park concept. It was very late in the meeting, and so the discussion was hurried, but the commission raised issues based on concerns from when similar aborted attempts were made to use this site in previous years. These ranged from the fact that initial discussions with MPD and DCRA have apparently not yet been had, nor has the BID been talked to (which came up when the MRP/Bardo folks said they were looking to the ANC to "program" the site's offerings beyond the brew garden). One thing emphasized to the commission was that this is not envisioned as a place for baseball fans to come and swill down Bud Light, and that no hard liquor would be served. In the end, with time running out and the somewhat muddled presentation leaving the commissioners a bit quizzical as to exactly what the team is planning to do at the site, no vote was taken.
There was also one item just barely outside the JDLand border region, so you can read SWill on a new residential project planned at 1319 South Capitol, immediately to the north of the Camden South Capitol building and across the street from the ballpark.
 

With the western portion of the 5.5-acre Florida Rock site along the Anacostia River just south of Nats Park not likely to be built on for a number of years (thanks to that pesky little detail of needing to demolish the existing Douglass Bridge first), there are again plans being discussed to "activate" the area with an interim use, even while construction continues to the east on the project's first-phase apartment building.
Developer MRP Realty will be going to ANC 6D in the coming days/weeks to look for feedback on what the space could offer, but the basics they are envisioning at this point are to use the space as an outdoor "brew garden" while also providing a large neighborhood-oriented park.
MRP would partner with the brewing team from Bardo, who would be in charge of the on-site vats and the craft beer-filled taps, while the rest of the site could see a number of sub-vendors offering various activities, like a putt-putt course or maybe even batting cages. There would also be picnic tables along the river, food (on-site offerings and food trucks are both possibilities), and family-friendly programming as yet undetermined.
What the site will not offer is large concerts or private events, though smaller-scale music could be a possibility. I'm told the site would have a maximum capacity of around 1,000 guests.
This is not the first rodeo for the idea of using this large open space, although previous notions were on a larger scale and perhaps might be described as more Fairgrounds-like, a comparison that this new proposal is apparently trying very hard to avoid.
Since it's all still in the brainstorming phase, and still has to go through the ANC, the alcohol/beverage folks, and various city agencies for permits, it remains a bit nebulous. (Feel free to use the comments to pass along any ideas for activities and offerings.)
In the meantime, work continues on the Riverfront, the 300-unit apartment building on the east end of the site, by Diamond Teague Park. This first phase construction will also see an expanded plaza between the building and Teague Park, a westward extension of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail into the Florida Rock site, and an already planned temporary use space separating the brew garden/park from the new building, with some surface parking, a small green space, and "The Beach," a sand-covered spot with volleyball courts. The building is expected to be completed in 2016.
More details as they become available....
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More posts: Florida Rock, Restaurants/Nightlife, Retail, riverwalk
 

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.
 

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.
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More posts: Development News, Florida Rock
 

Well, I'll be darned: I've been given the heads up by the developers that construction is now underway on the 350 321-unit apartment building dubbed "The Riverfront" that's the first phase of RiverFront on the Anacostia, better known to all as Florida Rock. It will be built on the east end of the site, next to Diamond Teague Park.
The $65 million construction loan for the project was announced on Oct. 8, as was an expected delivery date of September 2016. I've been told there will be an official groundbreaking in the next few months.
It should also be noted that this is the first residential project in the neighborhood actually being built right on the west bank of the Anacostia River.
This building is now part of a frighteningly long list of apartment projects underway: the Park Chelsea (430 units), River Parc (277), Arris at the Yards (325ish), the Lofts at Capitol Quarter (195), 800 New Jersey/Whole Foods (336), and the Gallery at Capitol Riverfront (aka 1111 New Jersey, 324 units).
That's a smidge over 2,230 units in all, and close to 2,450 if you add the recently completed 220-unit Twelve12.
And that tally of non-single-family residential units begun since 2012 is a bit more than double the 2,340 units that were built in the neighborhood between 2004 and 2011. So get ready for a lot of new high-rise neighbors!
Having written more than 100 posts on Florida Rock over the years, I think I'll skip yet another full rundown other than to say that the entire project is designed as a four-building 1.1-million-sq-ft residential/office/hotel/retail project, with no timeline as yet for the rest of the development.
The construction now underway will also expand the plaza by Diamond Teague Park directly across from the grand staircase at Nationals Park, adding ground-floor retail there and along an extension of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail that will eventually run all the way to the new Douglass Bridge.
All of which looks a little different from these views of the Florida Rock footprint, seen first in August 2005 before the construction of Nationals Park (left) and in January 2012 (right), after the concrete operations were removed and demolished:
It's been a long time coming. And I can't wait for all the steps I'll get trudging down there to take pictures.
More photos through the years and drawings are on my Florida Rock project page.
UPDATED 11/2 with what appears to finally be a definitive unit-count for the building--321 units in a 9-story building . There will also be 18,650 square feet of retail and 286 parking spaces on two below-ground levels. And the amenities will include "grand lobby with onsite leasing presence, ground floor level club/game room with billiards, bar area, and gaming, state of the art health club, rooftop swimming pool, Wi-Fi service and storefront business lounge, conditioned storage, bike storage, 24 hour front desk service and fully access controlled building." All of these tidbits from the MRP Realty page for "The Riverfront."
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More posts: Development News, Florida Rock
 

Given that the plan to redevelop the Florida Rock site along the Anacostia River just south of Nationals Park has been in the works for about 15 years now, it's worth giving a post to the news that yesterday a permit was issued to allow the initial excavation, shoring, and sheeting for the 350-unit apartment building that will be the first phase of the 1.1 million-square-foot mixed use project that's now known as RiverFront on the Anacostia.
There's been no announcement of construction financing (see update), or any sort of "Hey, we're starting!" missive, but snarky observers can no longer point to the lack of even an initial permit as a signal that the project might be about to get underway. The permit for the actual vertical construction of the building is still in process, however.
UPDATE: From GlobeSt., via a reader, showing that I was off by 24 hours: "MRP Realty and Florida Rock Properties have secured a $65 million construction loan provided by First Niagara's Commercial Real Estate Group for the development of a mixed-used residential building on the Anacostia Waterfront. Yvonne Ulrich, vice president of the Plymouth Meeting, PA-based lending group, managed the transaction for First Niagara."
This construction financing release also says that the apartment building will be called "The Riverfront." And a delivery date of Sept. 2016 is mentioned.
This building will go up at the far eastern end of the site, next to Diamond Teague Park, expanding the existing public plaza and offering some retail there as well. I wrote more about the design back in 2012, though admittedly the final zoning approvals for the project came during my hiatus and so I didn't watch too closely.
When will work start? All together now: We Shall See....
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More posts: Development News, Florida Rock
 

Having gotten out of the way the vertical construction going on behind neighborhood fences, we can now move on to the "clearing" portion of this fence survey.
The roof of Nats Parking Garage C gives a great view of Yards Parcel A, and how far the site clearing has come along since the final days of Spooky Building 213.
Next up will be the creation of a park on the far end of the site, a parking lot in the corner closest to this intersection, and the new home for Trapeze School New York at far right. (Here's a map if that's too many words.)

Meanwhile, along New Jersey Avenue....
(Left) This isn't my best work, but you can compare the rubble in this photo to the lush grass-covered hill that used to run along New Jersey Avenue between L and M. All this dirt is being moved to build the 324-unit Gallery at Capitol Riverfront residential building, aka 1111 New Jersey Avenue.
(Right) Up in Whole Foods land at 800 New Jersey Avenue, the hole is still being dug. But the new block of H Street between New Jersey and 2nd is looking like a real street, though no doubt it will continue to taunt us by remaining closed throughout the construction of 800 NJ, like its sibling I Street a block to the south has sat unopened, waiting for the Park Chelsea construction to finish.

Next, do you like construction trailers? How about construction trailers on sites where work isn't yet underway?
(Left) Here's the Capper Community Center site at 5th and K, where a ceremonial groundbreaking a few weeks back was not quite enough to jolt the project into action.
(Right) Looking down upon the vast Florida Rock footprint from the ballpark, and noting the new construction trailer visible at the far end. As I mentioned a few days ago, there's not as yet been an announcement of construction financing for the planned first-phase 350-unit apartment building, nor are the initial necessary building permits approved.
 

* VET HOSPITAL PERMITTED: An approved building permit made it through the pipeline on Thursday for the "construction of a new pet veterinary boarding hospital and vet uses" at Twelve12 in the Yards. There has as yet been no official announcement from Forest City as to the name of the operator, but this new retail offering was telegraphed thanks to some necessary zoning reworkings earlier this year. Look for a lot of pet traffic along Tingey Street between this store and the still-as-yet-not-officially-announced Unleashed by Petco that got its building permit for a space in the Boilermaker Shops earlier this month.
UPDATE: A reader reports that promotional signage on Half Street by Nats Park showing the neighborhood's offerings does let the cat out of the bag, that it's going to be a Banfield Pet Hospital.
* CLASSIC UNVEILED: The publicity machine for the NHL Winter Classic at Nats Park on Jan. 1 is beginning to ramp up, with the official announcement (finally) of the game, alongside the unveiling of the Capitals' throwback jerseys, which begat lots of photos of somewhat uncomfortable looking hockey players at the ballpark. There was also the cool outline of where the rink will be set up.
* RAMP REOPENED: This week saw the reopening of the new-ish ramp from 11th Street SE to the westbound SE Freeway/I-695. It had been closed down in June to allow for demolition of the old flyover exit ramp from the inbound freeway to I Street SE. And some day I will actually get over there again to check it all out.
* TRAILER PARKED: A few readers have passed along the news that a construction trailer has appeared within the past week or so on the Florida Rock site along the Anacostia River just south of the ballpark. While plans are to get underway Any Minute Now on the first-phase 350-unit apartment building at the site's eastern end, next to Diamond Teague Park and Piers, there's not yet been any news that the construction financing has been finalized, nor is there as yet an approved shoring/sheeting/excavation permit. But the time does appear to be drawing nigh that development of this 5.8-acre parcel will finally get underway, at which point people will shift from complaining about the empty lot right across from the ballpark to complaining about a tall building ruining the views of the river.
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More posts: ballpark, Florida Rock, Retail, vet, winterclassic, Twelve12/Teeter/Yards
 

These are all items I had hoped to write about more fully, but at this point I'd better just pass them along.
* FLORIDA ROCK: MRP Realty is now in control of the land at the Florida Rock site that will become the 350-unit apartment building that is the first phase of RiverFront on the Anacostia. A $65 million loan is expected to be finalized soon, and the developers say that the project will "commence construction by late summer 2014." (WBJ)
* BEVY OF PERMITS: If you browse the teeny type in the right margin of the JDLand home page, you'll already know that building permits have been approved in the past few weeks for the apartment projects at 1111 New Jersey and 1331 4th Street (aka Parcel N at the Yards, aka Arris). A tenant layout permit has also been approved for CBS Radio's first-floor performance studio at 1015 Half Street. Also, fresh off its zoning approvals, developers of the Homewood Suites at 50 M have filed for shoring/sheeting/excavation permits.
* LATEST ON 1333 M: Late last year plans were filed with the Zoning Commission for a three-building, 673-unit residential project on M Street east of the 11th Street Bridges. After some delay, a Dec. 1 hearing date has been set, and WBJ takes a look at recent filings, including some new renderings.
* THE YARDS, ONE PIECE AT A TIME: "Rather than purchase all 42 acres up front, Forest City buys each parcel from the General Services Administration as it is ready to build. The latest: The $28.37 million acquisition of 1331 Fourth St. SE, site of the 327-unit Arris apartment project." Total land costs so far across the Yards? $46 million. (WBJ)
* TUNNEL LATEST: With a council hearing about the project coming on Aug. 26, the Federal Highway Administration has postponed its final decision on the Virginia Avenue Tunnel until at least Sept. 15. But the delay is affecting residents and businesses. (WaPo)
* SCHOOL BOUNDARIES: The planned reopening of Van Ness Elementary next year passes another milestone, as its boundaries get included in the city's revamped map, released earlier this week. The final boundaries cross into Southwest south of M Street, shifting some students over to Van Ness from Amidon-Bowen, "to better align school building capacity with population and with boundary participation rates, and to support racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity, where possible." (WaPo)
 

First off, you may have noticed that Saturday was a lovely day. The neighborhood's waterfront was most definitely in use:
Not far away, at the Yards' Parcel N, concrete has appeared in the large hole in the ground (left), meaning that the digging down is almost over, and the rising up should start before too long (its tower crane permit application was approved not too long ago). And in a totally different illustration of progress (right), the sales-trailer-to-be for the River Parc apartment project appears to now be in its proper place.
(I wanted to get a photograph of the outdoor patio signage at the soon-to-arrive Ice Cream Jubilee at the Lumber Shed, but the hordes standing in line on Saturday to get into the Jazz Fest completely blocked the view.)
I recorded the current state of the Florida Rock site across from the ballpark {insert Logan's Run reference here}, because the developers have now filed applications for both sheeting and building permits for the site's first-phase apartment building. This doesn't necessarily mean the project is close to getting started, but it deprives me of my snarky "they haven't even applied for their permits yet" response whenever someone mentions that it might get underway soon.
Finally, I present to you official evidence of the new 11th Street SE exit from the freeway, which I'm doing mainly as a mea culpa for not having gotten over there to photograph the ramp and environs, and to hopefully shame myself into action.
I also deserve additional shaming, or at least parallel shaming, for not yet documenting that the Southeast Freeway signage I have griped about for years has been fixed.
 

* FILLING WATER: After the flooding a few weeks ago took out the pumps, the Yards Park folks are now reporting that the basin is starting to be re-filled. Though it's still in a testing phase, officials are optimistic that the wait is almost over and the basin and fountains should be back in operation soon.
* MANAGING WATER: The EPA has released the case study about Canal Park entitled Integrating Stormwater Management and Public Amenities through a Public-Private Partnership, saying that the park "exemplifies how a public-private partnership can be used to create a public amenity that enhances the community and provides environmental benefits."
* FRONTING WATER: I came *thisclose* to posting a link that just popped up in my RSS reader about how the developers of the Florida Rock site just said that they expect to begin construction on Phase I of RiverFront on the Anacostia in "mid-2014"--but then I thought to look at the date on the release, and it was May 7. So I guess could still technically be considered news, but we're now reaching "mid-2014" with no sign of movement....
* CROSSING WATER: A reminder that tonight at 6:30 is your chance to meet the four finalists in the Bridge Park design competition. The event is at 1801 Mississippi Ave., SE.
And in the No Water Connection At All Department:
* COMMUNITY CENTER: Tomorrow night, Wednesday, June 11, is the public meeting on the results of the Capper Community Center survey.
* VAN NESS: Greater Greater Education looks at the drive to reopen Van Ness Elementary School.
(and no, the headline isn't a typo)
 

Right as I was posting about all the fence signage in bloom, another batch of new banners appeared, at the Florida Rock site on Potomac Avenue at South Capitol Street.
The banners announce First Street Fields, and point to a placeholder website that says the "Social Sports Venue | Events Venue | Private Rentals | Beach Bar" will arrive in "Late Spring 2014."
The Hill Rag reports that the plan is for a "unique-to-Washington sports facility featuring playing fields for sports like bocce and whiffle ball, beach volleyball and kick ball." There would also be food trucks, pop-up "restaurants," farmers markets, and public and private field days.
And if this all sounds a bit familiar, that's because a similar proposal last year didn't quite make it through the process. Which is perhaps why the developers emphasized to ANC 6D during a presentation in March that it will be a "safe place to come," according to the Hill Rag, and that they "are looking at such issues as safety, medical issues, and crowd control[.]" The developers said that the sound would be carefully controlled with “integrated speaker management.”
The commission subsequently voted 4-2 to support the concept, once a settlement agreement is hashed out that covers issues like closing times, noise mitigation, and crowd capacity.
The Alcohol Beverage Control Board is having a fact-finding hearing on the venture tomorrow (Wednesday, April 9).
(I do wonder how that decontamination is going....)
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More posts: Florida Rock, Restaurants/Nightlife
 

* PREPARING TO DIG: After a couple of articles highlighting residents' opposition to the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, the Post takes a look at how CSX and some rail experts view the reconstruction and expansion of the tunnel as a necessary step.
* PREPARING TO DECLARE: Also, there's now scheduled a council hearing about the tunnel project, on March 25 at 11 am. The hearing is actually on proposed resolution PR 20-601, "Sense of the Council for a Hearing on the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project Resolution of 2013," which "is to the declare sense of the Council that the Unites States House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Highways and Transit should hold a hearing on the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project." (So it's a hearing by one governmental body about whether they should tell another governmental body to hold a hearing.)
* PREPARING TO DE-SPOOK: The arrivial of bulldozers and dumpsters on site at the old NGA building at 1st and M SE has sharp-eyed observers tapping their toes waiting for the demolition to start, but as was mentioned previously, it's going to take about six months to complete. But maybe they can at least knock out some exterior walls before Opening Day, as a statement of intent to Nats fans who haven't kept up with the latest news (tsk, tsk).
* PREPARING TO ROCK: I showed a touch of hard-won skepticism last week in reporting that developers told ANC 6D that they expect to begin work on the first phase of Florida Rock's redevelopment in June. So I will follow that up by noting that, two days later, they appear to have filed an application for a shoring/sheeting permit. (Not seeing an application for any building yet, though.)
* PREPARING TO WANT: The WashBiz Journal last week looked at the retail states of four "hot neighborhoods" (subscribers only), highlighting what they "flaunt" and what they "want." After the flaunting (20 restaurants, Nats Park, Vida Fitness, and Whole Foods), Michael Stevens of the BID listed the "wants": child care facilities, apparel retailers, a large home furnishing store, and college classrooms (saying that the area "is positioning itself as a satellite campus destination for those maxed out on their space"). Non-subscribers can watch some video of Stevens's talk at the BID's annual meeting, at least..
 

A looming snowstorm will always divert my attention, but before the flakes fly, here's a few tidbits:
* I was not there, but the developers of the Florida Rock site apparently told Monday's ANC 6D meeting that they are looking at a June start of construction for the project's first phase, a 350-unit residential building. However, no building permit applications have been filed yet, with one reason being the need for some curb cut approvals, which the ANC voted to support. So, We Shall See.
* SWill reports that a developer is in the planning stages for a 260-unit apartment building on South Capitol Street across from Nationals Park, just north of the Camden building that opened last year. There are older rowhomes on the north end of the block, some or all of which could be incorporated into the project in some way. However, this is technically outside of my boundaries, so other than snapping photos of what will come, I'll be leaving this to Will to cover.
* I feel like I've already mentioned this, but in case I haven't, a raze permit has been filed for St. Matthew's Baptist Church on the southwest corner of New Jersey and L, to make way for Donohoe's 1111 New Jersey residential project. UPDATE: And commenter Alan below adds the tidbit that the church's message board out front now says "Looking for our perfect home."
* Washingtonian had very good things to say about Osteria Morini, while the Post's Tom Sietsema waxes saltily on Agua 301.
 

The land along the Anacostia River south of Nationals Park known to longtime observers as Florida Rock has not had a simple path to redevelopment from its prior life as a cement plant site, and now the Washington Business Journal reports there's a new hurdle: "Preliminary environmental testing completed in the summer of 2012 on the portion of the site that comprises Phase 1 of the project found contaminants related to the previous tenant, Vulcan Materials Co. - specifically, releases from an underground storage tank, 'along with other activities by the tenant on the property.' ” Plus, subsequent testing in late 2013 "revealed more contamination in the remainder of the site."
Patriot Transportation Holding, Inc., owner of the 5.8-acre property that may someday finally become the huge mixed-use RiverFront on the Anacostia development, stated in its year-end report to the Securities and Exchange Commission that "the presence of contaminated material at our RiverFront on the Anacostia development site may subject us to substantial environmental liability and costs.”
The company has already recorded a $1.77 million expense for the cleanup, but WBJ says that the actual price tag could be higher, and that while the company is requesting that Vulcan Materials, which leased the land from 1986 to 2011, take financial responsibily for remediation costs, Patriot could end up on the hook for the total cleanup cost, as owners of the land. (See the company's SEC filing for more details, though you'll want to search on "RiverFront" rather than reading the whole thing. Trust me.)
The first phase of the project, a 350-unit residential building with 18,000 square feet of retail on the site's east end, near Diamond Teague Park, is a joint venture with MRP Realty. The filing says this first phase is expected to start construction in mid-2014, but I will note that no building permit application for the project appears to have been filed as yet, and those don't always sail through the bureaucracy with lightning speed. We shall see.
(As an aside, one wonders how prospective visitors to the open air temporary bar/events space proposed for the site but ultimately delayed because of liquor license issues might have reacted to the news of pending environmental remediation. Or if they would have even much cared, as long as they could still play kickball or bocce.)
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More posts: Development News, Florida Rock
 

PopVille reported this morning that the Alcohol Beverage Control Board has denied the Class C (Tavern) liquor license application by "River Front at the Ball Park" for the event site it was wanting to create on the empty Florida Rock site on Potomac Avenue SE between Nationals Park and the Anacostia River. It had been described as "a food and drink venue before and after Nats games," plus the operator was also intending to have "partnerships to bring kickball and bocce, weekend food and flea markets, and other events to the site."
While a stipulated liquor license was narrowly supported by ANC 6D in May after some teeth-gnashing, in June 6D ended up protesting the full license application, as did commissioner Ed Kaminski of neighboring 6D02--though 6D07 commissioner David Garber sent a separate letter in support. MPD also filed a protest.
The Finding of Fact and Order rejecting the license is pretty lengthy (and you are welcome to read it, because I shan't try to hit every high point), but the overriding issues came down to the following:
"First, the Board is not confident that MPD has sufficient resources to police the establishment and the surrounding streets during events at Riverfront; especially, when Riverfront is requiring some patrons to come to the establishment from off-site parking areas.
"Second, as an undeveloped lot, Riverfront cannot prevent noise generated at the venue from bothering nearby residents.
"Third, based on its proximity to South Capitol Street, S.E., the Board lacks confidence that Riverfront can ensure the safety of pedestrians.
"And fourth, the Board is unconvinced that approximately three foot bicycle racks and silt fences sufficiently block patrons from the river bordering the proposed location."
Commissioner Garber, in whose single-member district the Florida Rock site is situated, took to Twitter this morning with his disapproval of the board's decision, a thread which also includes a fair number of comparisons by local resident Mike Mills to the Fairgrounds at Half and M and the noise problems it has caused for residents north of M.
What do YOU think?
UPDATE: WaPo's Mike DeBonis adds some detail, especially one I {ahem} didn't know--one of the members of the team trying to launch the event site is Carlos Gray, the 37-year-old son of the mayor.
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Today a liquor license notice appeared in the DC Register for a Class C Tavern application for "Riverfront at the Ball Park" [sic!], at 25 Potomac Ave., SE, which is the address just south of Nationals Park of the Florida Rock/Riverfront on the Anacostia development that has long been in the works.
The application is for a "new tavern," and "food will come from various local restaurants nearby," plus "there will be a stage for live entertainment."
According to ANC commissioner David Garber, the plans are for the site to be a food and drink venue before and after Nats games, plus the operator is also creating partnerships to bring kickball and bocce, weekend food and flea markets, and other events to the site.
The developers of the 5.8-acre site that was long home to a concrete plant have plans but no firm timeline to build the first phase of the project, a 350-unit residential building on the eastern portion of the lot, near Diamond Teague Park. In the zoning hearings for the latest designs, there were discussions of installing temporary uses just to the west of the residential building, similar in nature to what's currently in the works. The additional phases of the project as currently designed would include another residential building, an office building, and a hotel, also with no timelines.
And, in a similar vein, Rocklands Barbeque is applying for a license to serve beer at the temporary site they are operating on game days just north of the ballpark at 1st and M SE.
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More posts: Alcohol/Liquor Licenses, Florida Rock
 
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