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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
Homewood Suites Hotel
1111 New Jersey
Yards/Parcel A
1244 South Capitol
Florida Rock
Ballpark Square
Virginia Ave. Tunnel
New Douglass Bridge
Southeast Blvd.
Yards/Condo Project
Yards/Icon Theater
1333 M St.
New Barracks
Akridge/Half St.
Monument/Half St.
Capper Apts.
250 M St.
Nat'l Community Church
909 Half St.
Factory 202/Yards
Congressional Square
1000 South Capitol
SC1100
Completed
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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* The Post's DC Wire blog is reporting that at 5 pm today DCRA will be having a lottery for the 28 street vending spots near Nationals Park. "Winners will enjoy their spots for one month, starting on June 1. Then the process starts all over again with a lottery on the last Tuesday of each month until the baseball season ends." (Vendors grumbling about neon-green On the Fly's vending on Half Street have found out that the eco-vendor is actually on private property.)
* From the Examiner: David Catania gets back into the baseball carping business, saying the city should get its money back from the consultants who predicted in 2005 that the Nats would average 39,000 fans in the first year at Nationals Park, since there's only been an average of 29,000 fans during the first third of the season. Catania says "that ERA may have seriously overestimated ticket sales, which represents a major portion of stadium-related revenues." However, DC CEO Natwar Gandhi has replied that "the ballpark bonds are structured in such a way "that a significant drop in attendance would not hinder our ability to pay debt service" and that "in a worst-case scenario, total attendance at the new stadium could drop to approximately 10,000 people per game without affecting debt-service payments." The Examiner also says: "Ticket prices at the new ballpark are 20 percent higher than the consultant predicted, Gandhi said, which will drastically reduce the effect of reduced attendance." I wonder if the consultants factored in cold and miserable April weather? The Post's DC Wire has more on this.
* The Nats announced earlier this year that tours of the ballpark are available on non-gamedays; yesterday they sent out word that proceeds from those tours will benefit the team's Dream Foundation, which currently has a number of initiatives underway, including the Neighborhood Initiative that's providing three years of funding to the Earth Conservation Corps. Info about the tours is available here.
* My Ballpark and Beyond column in today's District Extra is short and sweet, with blurbs on the RiverFront/Florida Rock zoning approval and the almost-arrival of 700 new residential units at 70 and 100 I Street.
* Also in the District Extra is a big piece on whether the diversity of the Nats' roster, "combined with their state-of-the-art stadium, will be enough to attract young blacks and Latinos to the game in the District."
* DC United wants the city to pay $225 million for its Poplar Point stadium, which the Post says is "far more than some city leaders say they would support" and that "even the amount officials have considered, $150 million, has raised some concern with D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, whose analysis has concluded such a deal could push the government above a Wall Street debt ceiling that he recommended last year." In the meantime, Marc Fisher thinks it's all a bad idea.
 

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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More posts: Florida Rock
 

* 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
 

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.
 
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