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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Florida Rock
See JDLand's Florida Rock Project Page
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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)
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111 Blog Posts Since 2003
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With a unanimous 5-0 vote after a brief discussion, the Zoning Commission approved last night the plans for "RiverFront," the 5.8-acre mixed-use project on the Anacostia River south of Nationals Park, ending the decade-long trip through the zoning process for the site long known as Florida Rock.
Before the final vote, chairman Anthony Hood quoted from the recent ruling by the National Capital Planning Commission that the RiverFront project "would not adversely effect" any federal interests. Remarking that the passage "says it all," Hood read: "This project is expected to bring activity and amenities to the Anacostia waterfront and is respecting the planning for the South Capitol Street corridor and the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. Furthermore, it is enhancing the connection of the Nationals Baseball Park and surrounding district to the Anacostia waterfront, goals supported by the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative[.]"
Now it's onto construction drawings and a trip through the city's permitting process. It's not expected that work will begin until sometime in 2009 on the first phase of the site, which includes an office building with ground-floor retail and a public plaza across Potomac Avenue from the ballpark's grand staircase. [see update below for caveat]
If you want to know more (dear heavens, I'm not going to go through all the details AGAIN), look at my project page for renderings and also scroll through five years' worth of news items on it all. UPDATE: The press release is out, and I'll note that it gives no indication of when the first phase could start. Given the Monument Realty news of financing troubles, Camden's pause at 1345 South Capitol, and the commercial real estate biz in general, it's probably best to now be pretty skeptical of start dates until permit approvals start popping up and shovels start digging into the ground.
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More posts: Florida Rock, zoning
 

* Don't forget the Metro track work this weekend, and the impacts it's going to have on getting to the ballpark. Read Metro's press release for how it will handle getting fans to and from Saturday's and Sunday's games. (Dr. Gridlock's posted about it again this morning.)
* Now that the ballpark is open, some are wondering what the need is to keep the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission running; read this WBJ piece for a good overview.
* Today's Post has a big article on what DC is going to look like in the future, saying that "the overarching key to redefining Washington resides along the miles of undeveloped land that borders the Anacostia and Potomac rivers, terrain slated for at least four new neighborhoods that District officials and developers hope will be built during the next 20 years," and mentioning the Ballpark District, Southwest waterfront, Poplar Point, and Hill East as the new destinations that could "counterweight" the Mall. (A nice rendering of the vision for the Southwest waterfront is included, too.)
* Ballpark concessionaire Centerplate had a rough first quarter of 2008, reporting a net loss of $11.2 million.
* A columnist from Idaho likes Nationals Park.
* Patriot Transportation Holdings sent out its earnings announcement, which has a nice summary of where the Florida Rock project stands, mentioning that the National Capital Planning Commission gave its "no adverse effect on federal interests" stamp to the project at its May 1 meeting (here's the report). May 22 is the date that the Zoning Commission is expected to give final approval.
* Remember the Community Benefits Fund that was a big part of swaying council members to approve the financing for the stadium? City Paper takes a look at what Mayor Fenty is doing with the money.
* The Nats are holding a youth baseball clinic at the ballpark for more than 100 children from Prince George's County on Saturday morning (May 10) at 10 am. (No link yet.)
* I had to laugh when I read this Post article about the opening of the new Southern Maryland Blue Crabs ballpark last week, since it read an awful like what we all thought we'd see after Opening Night at 1500 South Capitol: "[A]n otherwise celebratory Opening Night last Friday was marred by traffic jams and a significant parking shortage that left some people to walk more than a mile to the new ballpark. 'It was horrible to get here,' said Jane Thomas, who parked on Route 488 and estimated it took her 45 minutes to reach the stadium from her La Plata home. 'They're going to have to figure out what to do about that traffic, because I want to come to games, but I won't do it if it's always this bad.'"
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More posts: Florida Rock, Metro/WMATA, Nationals Park
 

With the ballpark now humming along like it's been here forever (Tom Boswell has a litany of good things to say in today's Post) , interest is starting to turn toward what sort of retail/restaurant options are going to come to the neighborhood, and when. For your Friday time-killing pleasure, I've tossed together a quick a survey of what's either available now or will be coming within the next two years. (I'm not including already existing retail; I'm just looking at where new stuff could arrive.) As of now, I've seen no announcements of tenants for any of these spaces, but maybe if residents, workers, and ballpark fans clap their hands and wish real hard....
* 20 M - Completed in March of 2007, its 11,000 sq-ft of ground-floor retail space would seem to be an enticing location (just across the street from the Navy Yard subway station's ballpark exit), but so far there's been no takers. "Coming soon" signs that were in the windows last year for Wachovia and Kinko's are now gone.
* Capitol Hill Tower - A 7,000-sq-ft restaurant space in the ground floor of this co-op building has been advertised ever since the building opened in 2006, but no takers so far.
* 100 M - The 240,000-square-foot office building at First and M is scheduled to be completed later this year, and they're offering 8,500 sq ft of "corner restaurant/retail space" with "great ceiling heights, storefront and outdoor seating." (There's no ground-floor retail planned for Onyx on First in the same block.)
* 55 M - The first part of Monument's Half Street project is this 275,000-sq-ft office building now under construction at Half and M (it's the building on top of the subway station entrance). It has over 10,000 sq ft of retail spaces on Half, M, and Cushing, and should be completed by mid-2009. (See retail spaces 1 through 4 on this page at the official web site.)
* 909 New Jersey - For the folks who choose to walk from the Capitol South Metro station, the under-construction residential building at New Jersey and K is going to have 6,000 sq ft of ground-floor retail space when it's completed in summer 2009.
* Velocity - The ground floor of this 200-unit condo building at First and L will have retail (I can't find how much), and will be finished by late 2009.
* The Yards - By the end of 2009, the renovation of the old Boilermaker Shop at Third and Tingey into a 46,000-sq-ft retail space should be completed, and there is also 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space planned for the Pattern Shop Lofts building on the south side of Tingey, which should have its conversion into a rental building completed by the end of next year as well. Both of these are situated on the route that most Nats Express users walk along to get from the shuttle stop at 300 M to the ballpark. (But will the Nats Express run after this year?)
* Half Street Part 2 - The southern part of the east side of Half Street north of the ballpark is going to be a combination of a 200-room hotel and two residential buildings totaling 340 units, with about 40,000-sq-ft of ground floor retail to entice the throngs that walk along Half Street before and after games. (See retail spaces 5 through 8 on this page at the official web site.)
* 1015 Half - Opus East hasn't yet committed to whether there will be ground-floor retail in this 410,000-sq-ft office building at Half and L, though about 10,000 sq ft of space will be there.
* 23 I - If this 420-unit apartment building does indeed begin construction in September of this year, there could be 15,000 sq ft of retail available at Half and I by the end of 2010.
That's about 200,000 square feet of space to be filled within the next few years--and this doesn't include the retail spaces in the ground floor of the baseball stadium along First Street (who knows when those will be occupied). It's possible other buildings slated to have ground-floor retail could pop up between now and the end of 2010--1111 New Jersey and 250 M are the main candidates.
And there will also could be more offerings at the Yards by 2011 (including that grocery store planned for 401 M as well as the Lumber Storage Shed and other to-be-built pavilions at the Waterfront Park). And maybe the first building at Florida Rock, across from the ballpark's grand staircase, could be done by the end of 2011. But this is getting a little too far down the road....
 

After a week's vacation, I'm still trying to remember how this whole blogging thing is supposed to work, so while I'm figuring it out, here are a few links:
* Dr. Gridlock looks at the Nats Express from RFK, and finds it acceptable. (Except for perhaps more signage.) And talks about the fun e-cruzer electric carts that are ferrying people for free between the shuttle stop at 300 M and the ballpark.
* Last week's Weekend section has a feature on the KegBus, which shuttles revelers from the bars on Pennsylvania Avenue and Eighth Street to the ballpark.
* Not to go all Prophet of Doom on you, but the Post's Sunday Magazine has a big piece on what DC may look like in 2025. In one scenario: "His mother didn't know it, but Paxten and his friends loved to wander around the mostly abandoned Nationals Park and the ruins of the entertainment complex, despite reports that coyotes had a den in the Nationals' former bullpen. The park had been neglected since Major League Baseball dissolved Washington's team in the second wave of contractions to hit the sport." Yes, but is Florida Rock built?????
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More posts: Florida Rock, Nationals Park
 

Monday's Metro section of the Post has "Beside the Diamond, a Lump of Coal", bringing readers up to speed on the Florida Rock concrete-plant parcel just south of the ballpark. Nothing in it that folks wandering through here on a regular basis won't already know (you can read the piles of entries I've posted on the project over the past five years for additional details, including my post about last month's surprise preliminary approval of the latest design, and my project page has plenty of renderings and photos).
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* The Post's District Notebook finds out that council member David Catania is "over" the financing deal for the ballpark that he so vociferously opposed: "Catania quickly put a damper on [Kwame] Brown's enthusiasm, saying the stadium still is not worth the more than $611 million of public money. 'I will never think differently,; Catania insisted. 'I'm over it.' "
* WTOP has another stadium-related shocker to add to its Hall of Fame: the car and schedule magnets being given out at the April 10 home game could demagnetize your Metro farecard if they get too close to each other! Don't let this happen to YOU.
* The Post's DC Wire blog posts about the plans for the four-game high school baseball series to be held at Nationals Park on May 31 (first reported by the WashTimes in early February). There will be a fundraiser for the event on May 3, asking for "corporate contributions up to $15,000 and individual contributions up to $3,000."
* My Ballpark and Beyond column in the Post's District Extra this week is about the surprise approval last month of the design for RiverFront on the Anacostia, on the Florida Rock site just south of the ballpark. See my project page for renderings of the plans as well as photos of what the 5.8-acre site currently looks like.
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More posts: Florida Rock, Metro/WMATA, Nationals Park
 

* Within the past week, Fourth Street between the SE Freeway and M Street has been signed and striped to become one-way southbound. It's always been one-way southbound north of the freeway, but extending that another four blocks seems to be a bit of a surprise.
* If you live in Southwest or on Capitol Hill and received in the past few days a nondescript envelope addressed to "Ward 6 Resident" from DDOT, don't throw it out (like I almost did)--it's your Visitor Parking Pass. Guard this with your life.
* As soon as I swear off chasing every little story on the ballpark unless it somehow relates to the neighborhood, both the Post and the Examiner come out with stories this morning doing just that, talking about the development that's exploded in Near Southeast over the past few years. (And thanks for the hat tip, Michael.) Sayeth the Post, on A1: "Nationals Park opens this weekend and appears nearly complete. But it's surrounded for blocks by a construction zone. [...] Despite appearances, this is just the way District leaders hoped it would be: a ballpark set amid a vast Southeast Washington neighborhood in the middle of one of the biggest overhauls in city history. Some 500 acres are to be transformed, spreading south from Capitol Hill to the Anacostia River, sweeping away an accumulation of old auto body shops, sex clubs and debris-filled lots[.]" If you've read either of these stories and are looking to know more about all the development underway around the ballpark, I invite you to look at the big ole' map at the top right of my home page--moving your mouse across it gives you the basics on each project, and clicking the map takes you to pages chock full of additional details and photos.
* If you took a long weekend, you missed a lot of big news: Florida Rock got its preliminary zoning approvals, Metro has a plan to lease the Southeastern Bus Garage and an adjacent parking lot to the Nats, and I took scads of photos: check out the neighborhood from above with my latest rooftop photos, see pictures from Saturday's GW game at the ballpark, and see the exterior of the stadium in a pile of new shots taken yesterday.
* This is part of something bigger I'm working on that's not quite ready, but if you want to travel back to see how things used to look where Second Base now sits, here's your time machine. You're facing north, then you'll turn clockwise to catch the views in all directions....
 

With a surprise motion at the end of last night's second-stage PUD hearing, the Zoning Commission has given preliminary approval to the design of RiverFront on the Anacostia (better known as Florida Rock), the 1.1-million-square-foot four-building mixed-use project nestled between Nationals Park, the Anacostia River, the Douglass Bridge, and Diamond Teague Park. It's been about 11 years since FRP Development first entered the zoning process for this site, and almost two years since the commission unexpectedly sent architects back to the drawing board for a design that better responded to the changes brought by the ballpark.
You can see a few renderings of the latest design on my project page, and read about the specifics (dear heavens, I'm not going to summarize it all AGAIN--read the Office of Planning report for more on this submittal). The one big addition to the design is a large sculpture to be placed on the public plaza ("Anacostia Place") across from the grand staircase of the ballpark, celebrating the Anacostia River watershed, which the commissioners seemed to respond to favorably.
The commissioners all remarked that the project has come a long way, and were pleased with the overall design. There were some concerns from commissioners Peter May of the National Park Service and Gregory Jeffries about the facades of the two western buildings that will face the proposed traffic oval on South Capitol Street at the foot of a new Douglass Bridge, that they aren't "animated" enough in terms of retail for such a prominent location. May had also called the project "too complex", with too much going on with different facades and finishes, but when longtime commissioner Michael Turnbull of the Office of the Architect of the Capitol said that he "liked the complexity," it was clear that there weren't going to be requests for large-scale changes to the design.
After 2 1/2 hours of presentations and questions, Chairman Hood brought up the idea of giving initial approval immediately, which, judging by the wide-eyed glances between the many representatives and consultants in the audience, was not expected. Commissioner May was not really in favor of moving forward, and Jeffries initially seemed to be leaning that way but then hemmed and hawed his way back to agreeing that the proposed action could go forward. (Earlier Jeffries had noted with some surprise that a project of this scope had not brought out a single member of the community in opposition.)
It was decided that the developers need to submit more detailed drawings of the plans for the South Capitol Street facades, and that no final approval would be given to the project until all commissioners approved of them. Commissioner May ended up abstaining on the vote, which was 4-0-1.
Architect Davis Buckley asked for six weeks to prepare the new renderings, and the commission scheduled a Special Public Meeting for May 22 at 6 pm to take final action.
This doesn't mean that earthmovers will arrive on May 23 to start building Anacostia Place and the eastern office building; construction drawings will have to be completed, and the trip through the vaunted DC permitting process will have to begin. But the notion of a Fall 2009 start date for the first phase of this project is looking closer to a reality. As for when the entire project could be completed, the western two buildings are dependent on the construction of the new Douglass Bridge before they can start. So, mark your calendar for about 2018.
I hope to snag some additional renderings included in last night's presentation; there was also a cool fly-over animation of RiverFront and its relationship with its surroundings, though it included the long-defunct Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness once envisioned for the north side of the ballpark, causing Commissioner Turnbull to spend some time lamenting What MIght Have Been.
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More posts: Florida Rock, zoning
 

* The prettiest darn fences, about four feet high, popped up around parking lots T and U on Third Street within the past two days. An unexpected touch. (I originally said wrought-iron, but now that I think about it, that's not what they are. Just black steel or some other metal I'm not smart enough to recognize. But still cool. Photos to come.)
* The Prince George's Gazette says that Nationals Park "could bring jobs and an economic boon to the southern part of the county."
* This is a few days old, but the US Park Police and the National Park Service say you'd better not think of parking at Anacostia Park during ballgames and other events at the stadium: "The NPS and USPP remind those seeking parking for events at the new Nationals' stadium that parking within Anacostia Park is open to park users only. Parking on turf is illegal within Anacostia Park. Park users are asked to be aware that increased vehicular traffic is anticipated and to make plans accordingly."
* Dr. Gridlock on his Get There blog talks about the "National Trifecta" on March 29--the National Marathon (which wrought all sorts of havoc in Southwest last year), the National Cherry Blossom Festival, and the Nationals-vs-Orioles exhibition game--that could make for rough driving around the city on that Saturday.
* I've taken enough photos of the stadium scoreboard to last a good long while, but Fox5 has a bunch of shots of the Scoreboard Control Room.
*This week's Ballpark and Beyond column in the Post's District Extra covers the new parking lots at Capper, and has a preview of the Florida Rock zoning hearing tonight (see renderings and photos here).
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More posts: Capper, Florida Rock, parking, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues
 

Just a reminder that Thursday (March 20) is the latest go-round in Florida Rock vs. the Zoning Commission. I'm not going to rehash the long history here (read the old news items if you need to get caught up), but tonight's hearing is on the revised design for what's now known as RiverFront on the Anacostia that first started showing up last summer. You can see renderings on my project page, and also read the Office of Planning report on tonight's hearing to find out the latest on the proposal. OP has recommended that this design be approved, subject to a couple of sign-offs from city agencies and a few other items. ANC 6D approved this plan (as it has approved most everything on this project) back in January--my entry on that vote contains a lot of information on where the project now stands as well. (Can you tell I'm in a rush?)
When could it all get underway? Quoting from that January entry: "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.)"
The hearing is at 6:30 pm at Suite 220 South, 441 4th St., NW; you can watch via live webcast, although that option has been problematic a few times lately. Watch this space late Thursday/early Friday for a report on it all, with perhaps further updates on timelines and whatnot.
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More posts: Florida Rock, zoning
 
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