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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Florida Rock
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Wednesday's Post has a column by Tom Boswell ("Nationals Park: Best of a Bad Lot") listing the myriad problems he sees with the ballpark and its surroundings, with Opening Day now just a month away. The Navy Yard subway station. The parking situation. The Florida Rock site ("an enormous and inexcusable 5.8-acre eyesore" that will be "sitting there all season, damaging the river views from all the ramps to the first base upper deck"). (He does mention that fences to obscure the view at ground level will be going up, which I posted about a few days ago.) The WASA site (which "would be the Most Unsightly Thing Near Any Big League Park if Florida Rock and Gravel hadn't already retired the trophy.") The Monument Half Street site, where he says "construction has stopped." The fact that city views are only available in the cheap seats.
But he ends with a stab at optimism: "Someday, the Anacostia riverfront will amaze us, just maybe not as soon as we hoped. When it comes to fulfilling huge civic dreams, what's a few years, more or less. In for a dime, in for a decade. "
On the other hand, the article confirms that the garages, which have long been a focal point of much complaining, will indeed be covered, as has long been shown in the renderings, with "league logos, replicas of the 'Washington All-Stars' from the right field scoreboard in RFK as well as colorful baseball-themed ads."
 

As the clock ticks toward Opening Day (38 days away!), it's normal to be wondering about the status of some of the other projects near the ballpark. I've just gotten an update from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development on Diamond Teague Park, the planned public plaza with water taxi piers on the banks of the Anacostia just across from the stadium's grand staircase at First and Potomac. The design of the park is being finalized, but you can see recent site maps and renderings on my project page (there are also links to enlarged versions of those images for better viewing).
The city is continuing to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to get permits for the piers. After the Army Corps signs off, some DC permits will need to be approved, and then construction on the park's first phase can begin--this will include all of the "in-water improvements" (i.e., the piers) and the portion of the park that's closest to the waterline. It's expected that this first phase will be completed by the time winter arrives in late 2008. The northern portion of the park site sits on land controlled by WASA, and must wait for those operations to be relocated before that part of the park can be built.
In the meantime, the park site will be "beautified" for Opening Day, with plans for a bit of a cleanup, new plantings, sandstone, etc.
As for the RiverFront site next door (which we all know as Florida Rock but which the developers want me to call either "FRP" or "RiverFront" to prevent confusion between themselves [Florida Rock Properties/FRP Development Corp.] and the not-involved-with-developing-the-site Florida Rock Industries)--I've been told that new fences will be put up around the site by Opening Day, to pretty things up a bit along that stretch as well.
 

This week's Ballpark and Beyond column is a shortened summary of last week's ANC 6D meeting; but here's the links to my more detailed reports on the what transpired at that meeting with 1111 New Jersey, an alley closing request by Monument Realty, and Florida Rock.
And, since it's been a busy week, you might have missed my 2008 State of the Hood, which rises above all the daily minutaie to look at what's happened in Near Southeast in the last 12 months and what's coming in 2008; if you're coming late to the party and are looking for an overview, take a few moments to browse it.
 

The last Near Southeast item on Monday's ANC 6D meeting was a request for the commission's support of the latest design of RiverFront on the Anacostia, better known as Florida Rock. This is the nearly six acres of land directly south of the ballpark, on the Anacostia River, where developers have spent 10 years trying to transition away from the concrete business currently operating there to a 1.1-million-square-foot mixed-use waterfront destination. They came close to an approved design in 2006, but in February 2007 the Zoning Commission unexpectedly sent the architects back to the drawing board, wanting a greater amount of residential space in the project, better views to and from the ballpark, and a better "expression of place."
After nearly a year, a revised design is ready to go to the Zoning Commission for approval. It now includes 323,000 square feet of residential space, 80,000 square feet of retail and 465,000 square feet of office space.
Some of the ideas floated early in the redesign process have been modified or removed, most notably "The Pitch", the plaza directly across from the ballpark's grand staircase and adjacent to the planned Diamond Teague Park. This space no longer has pitcher and catcher statues but is instead now a "festive" open plaza that will be more "integrated" with Teague and will help with the expected flow of ballpark visitors coming to and from the water taxi piers that someday may materialize out by the little red brick pumphouse.
Also, the residential and hotel buildings have had their heights grow to 130 feet, to allow for the extra square footage the zoning commission wanted. But the hotel's top two floors will now be "pure residential".
As for when some movement will actually be seen at the site, David Briggs of Holland & Knight set out a timeline based on zoning approvals, construction drawings, and the vaunted DC permitting process that estimates the start of construction on the first phase (the eastern office building) in probably fall of 2009.
He mentioned a number of times the amount of pressure that Florida Rock is under to shut down the concrete plant and to build temporary parking lots, but he explained that the site currently makes money for its company and shareholders, and there's little interest in closing it down sooner than necessary. (Briggs did say that a temporary landscaping of the eastern plaza, next to Diamond Teague, could be a possibility once the zoning approvals are received, but that the underground parking for RiverFront does extend beneath that plaza, and so excavation and construction work will need to be done there.)
It should be noted that this timeline is really about the first two phases (the eastern office building and the 160-unit residential building), because the western office building and the hotel can't be built until the construction of a new Douglass Bridge allows Florida Rock to use its land that is currently occupied by the old bridge. (The year 2016 was tossed around as a possible date for when these later phases could get started.)
Community benefits remain similar to past presentations, including an estimated 25 units of workforce housing, anticipated LEED certification for the buildings, First Source and LSDBE hiring, and a combined underground loading dock for the three western buildings, as well as the more basic amenity of replacing a huge concrete plant with shiny new buildings and access to the waterfront. The ANC has always been enthusiastic about this project, and this time around was no different, with the commissioners voting 5-2 to support the new design. The Zoning Commission hearing, for what is officially considered a modification to the project's second-stage PUD, is scheduled for March 20.
I'm really trying to just hit the newsiest items here--definitely take some time to look through my RiverFront page (have to stop calling it Florida Rock sometime) for much more detail on the current design. And read all the archived news items, too, if you want a better feel for the twists and turns this project has taken.
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More posts: ANC News, Earth Conservation Corps, Florida Rock, zoning
 

Having pledged to pace myself a bit better over the next three months so that I don't have to cover Opening Day from a padded room, I'll be posting the results of Monday night's ANC 6D and Zoning Commission meetings in drips and drabs over the next few days. So stay tuned, especially if you're interested in Florida Rock, or Diamond Teague Park, or Monument Realty's projects north of the ballpark, or 1111 New Jersey, or 250 M Street.
This of course means that all the local media outlets checking in at JDLand looking for leads and tips will have to wait too. (The information is all free, of course, but some small hat tip some day would be nice. Although I do enjoy being an assignment editor of sorts....)
 

Agendas are out for two public meetings on Monday night (Jan. 14) that have Near Southeast items of interest:
*ANC 6D's agenda includes presentations and requests for support on the following: a new request for an alley closing on the southern end of the block bounded by Half, M, N, and South Capitol (B17-0552, "Closing of a Public Alley in Square 700"); the Capitol Gateway Overlay Review for 1111 New Jersey Ave., which will be at the Zoning Commission on Jan. 31; and new design/modified second-stage PUD for RiverFront on the Anacostia (Florida Rock), which is expected to go to the Zoning Commission in the next few months. The meeting is at St. Augustine's Church, 6th and M Streets, SW, at 7 pm.
* The Zoning Commission will hear requests for "minor modifications" to William C. Smith's 250 M Street project and Monument's Half Street project; alas, I haven't been able to find out what these modifications are. That meeting is at 6:30 pm at 441 Fourth St., NW, and is also available via live webcast.
I should also mention here that last night the Zoning Commission voted preliminary approval of a series of text and map amendments at the Yards, most of which are far too dull for even me to get into; read the hearing announcement if you want more details.
 

I've received two new renderings of RiverFront on the Anacostia, the 5.8-acre mixed-use development planned for the Florida Rock site that sits on the Anacostia River just south of the ballpark. There's a view from the river showing the four buildings that make up the project (two office buildings, one residential, and one hotel), and a detailed view from Potomac Avenue and First Street showing the eastern office building (which would be the first building under construction) and the others along Potomac Avenue that would face the ballpark. The developers will be having a hearing in front of the Zoning Commission sometime within the next few months to get this latest iteration of the design approved; once that process is complete, construction could begin. The entire project will take a number of years to complete. As for the question most often asked--when will the concrete business still operating on the site be shut down?--my learned answer is: I don't know.
Take a look at my RiverFront page for much more detail on the current design for the site, which also includes a public plaza at the eastern end of the site that will abut Diamond Teague Park (and that helps to give unobstructed views of the river from the ballpark's grand staircase). The planned Anacostia Riverwalk runs all along the site's south side, with a promenade area no less than 75 feet wide (and with separate bike and pedestrian paths). There's also "Potomac Quay", a glass-enclosed retail walk running between the eastern office building and the residential building and a huge water feature at the "Piazza Cascade", tieing together the three western buildings of the project. And, for a look at some of the long and winding road that this project has traversed over the years, scan the news items I've posted.
More posts: Florida Rock, zoning
 

At Monday night's Zoning Commission hearing, Florida Rock's request for a hearing on the revised design for RiverFront on the Anacostia was approved. (See Monday's post for the quick description of the project.) You can read the Office of Planning report on the latest design, which also includes a lot of good history as to the twists and turns this project has taken over the years.
There have been some small changes since this revised design was first unveiled back in June, and even some further changes from renderings I posted here in September, with the Office of Planning looking for more variation of materials used for the four buildings proposed for the project instead of being all glass (to "minimize the potential campus effect," according to the report). There's also been some changes to the amenities package that the developer is offering, though this is still being worked out between the developer and the Office of Planning. As of this filing, they have expanded the amount of workforce-level housing to 29,000 square feet/25 units to bring it in line with the city's inclusionary zoning requirements. On the flip side, they have scaled back their financial contribution to the creation of Diamond Teague Park to $350,000 from $3.5 million, since the park is now fully funded from other sources.
You can see some new renderings of the latest design and specifics about the project on my Florida Rock/RiverFront page (though note that the site map and the rendering of the entire project are older; I hope to get updated versions soon). And, just as a reminder, this is a project that is planned to be completed in multiple phases over many years. The developers would start with the eastern office building and the plaza known as "The Pitch" adjacent to Diamond Teague Park, perhaps in 2008.
The developers have asked for an expedited hearing on this new design (technically known as a modification to the project's second-stage PUD), so it could appear on the commission's calendar before too long.
More posts: Florida Rock, zoning
 

Monday (Nov. 19) is the monthly Zoning Commission meeting, and Florida Rock (or, "RiverFront on the Anacostia") is one of the agenda items. I *believe* it's going to be a request for a new hearing on the project's revised design, which I first posted here in June, and which received favorable comments from the Zoning Commission in July. (This is a modification to the second-stage PUD, for those In The Know.) The meeting is at 6:30 pm, and will be shown via live webcast.
As always, this monthly zoning meeting overlaps with ANC 6D's monthly meeting; I haven't yet seen an agenda for that meeting, so at this point, I'm going to commit myself to finding out what's up with Florida Rock. (I knew I shouldn't have given the entire JDLand staff the week off at Thanksgiving.)
If you're arriving late and don't know what Florida Rock is, the project page will give you most of the scoop. But the short version is that it's the nearly six acres of land directly south of the ballpark, on the Anacostia River. The developers have been working for nearly 10 years to get this property transitioned away from the concrete business currently there to a 1.1 million square foot mixed-use waterfront destination.
At the February meeting where approval of the design was expected, the Zoning Commission unexpectedly sent the architects back to the drawing board, wanting a greater amount of residential space in the project, better views to and from the ballpark, and a better "expression of place." And now the developers are hoping to get this project moving forward, so that perhaps the first phase--an office-building with ground-floor retail and a public plaza on the easternmost end of the site, next to Diamond Teague Park--could get underway in 2008. The rest of the project, with a hotel, residential building, office building, public spaces, retail, and the riverwalk along the Anacostia, could take a while to be completed, especially given that the western portion of the site is probably not going to be ready until the current Douglass Bridge is demolished and the new new Douglass Bridge is built.
You can see the latest renderings, along with some watercolors and much more detailed descriptions of the revised design, on the project page.
UPDATE: The ANC agenda is now online, and other than the ballpark liquor license application that I wrote about a few weeks ago, there's no pressing Near Southeast news listed.
 

The draft agenda for tomorrow's (Nov. 15) monthly meeting of the Commission on Fine Arts indicates that there will be a presentation of a revised design for Diamond Teague Park. The city initially brought the park in front of the CFA back in September, where according to the meeting's minutes the design was met with a number of concerns about its "fussy and timid" small-scale design when compared to the grand scope of the ballpark across the street; it was described as "overly focused on small elements that are conceptually inappropriate within the large-scale context." (And I'm not sure that the landscape architect's response that the grand staircase of the ballpark should be reduced in size in order for it to better relate to this new smaller park was the best reply.) A post-meeting letter from the CFA after the meeting outlined the revisions the commission was seeking.
I suggest reading the CFA minutes, which give a very detailed description of the initial plans for the park as well as the back-and-forth between the commissioners, Judi Greenberg of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, and landscape architect Jonathan Fitch; you can look at these original park designs on the web site of Fitch's Landscape Architecture Bureau, by navigating through all the Flash ridiculousness to Projects, then Green, then Diamond Teague.
According to the minutes, the plans are to build the park in three phases, starting with the commercial and recreational piers and the central portion of the park (on the one section of land the city currently owns); later phases would be dependent on Florida Rock's development of its planned public plaza abutting Teague Park and the development of the southern portion of the WASA site as well as the construction of a floating boardwalk to connect the park to the waterfront park at The Yards (scheduled for completion in 2010). If you're interested in the water taxis that the city envisions docking at Teague Park, the minutes have a lot of detail about how their operations would work; apparently a lot of coordination is going on with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, though there's yet to be any design released by the Corps for public comment.
There was a fair amount of discussion about whether the park's scale can accommodate the large number of visitors that will be drawn over by the ballpark and by the proposed water taxi piers, as well as questions about whether the park should even be built if WASA (right next door) is not addressing sewer overflow issues. (Lovely.)
Six weeks later, on Nov. 1, the park went through another of its many required reviews, this time by the National Capital Planning Commission, which "commented favorably" on the park's design without discussion; the staff recommendation document has a black-and-white site plan for the park that does seem to have been reworked in response to the CFA comments, but I don't know for sure if that's the same design being presented to the CFA on Thursday.
I won't be able to go to the CFA meeting, so hopefully I can get some information on what transpires without having to wait too long, although so far the city has held information about the park very close to its vest. In the meantime, you can look at my pictures of the site and see what little background links and info I've been able to scrounge up.
UPDATE, 11/19: The CFA did approve this revised design at the 11/15 meeting.
 
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