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From today's Washington Business Journal, for subscribers only right now, "Capitol Riverfront builders turn to HUD in hard times," which talks about Forest City's previously reported dealings with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to back bonds for the affordable housing component of the stalled Foundry Lofts project. Forest City's Ramsey Meiser is quoted as saying, "We are at a stage now where we are going back and forth. We have submitted paperwork. They have replied with questions. Hopefully, we will be back on track no later than this summer." (This is a little different than some recent breathless reporting that said that the project "could" restart this month.) It would then take about a year to finish the 170-unit apartment building that will also have ground-floor retail space.
WBJ also says that Monument Realty is "mulling" Section 220 FHA mortgage insurance to help get the residential part of their Half Street project restarted. But the 220 option, which has been used elsewhere in DC (Yale Steam Laundry and Rhode Island Station), doesn't sound real close--"Monument Realty has not yet applied for the Section 220 program but says it has been investigating the possibility since last summer. Russell Hines, the company's president, said the program's per-unit cost limit is a challenge," although there is federal legislation pending that would increase the per-unit statute.
(And, one correction for WBJ--this sentence could use a little love: "The Forest City and Monument Realty housing projects are just a portion of a four-building development planned at Half Street." The Foundry Lofts building, part of the Yards, is four blocks away from Half Street. UPDATE: It's been corrected.)

I was going to wait through the weekend, but I wouldn't want it to seem like I was shirking. So here are today's entries for here's-the-latest-about-that-mysterious-neighborhood-near-Nationals-Park stories:
* The Post's Saturday real estate section has "People Flock to Live in DC's Capitol Riverfront Area Despite Commercial Stall," which focuses on the more than 1,700 new residents that have moved into Near Southeast since last year's Opening Day. It's a basic overview of the goings-on, but there is one tidbit of what I'd consider news: Forest City says that they are planning to restart the stalled Foundry Lofts residential renovation at the Yards next month, completing it in summer 2011. (No word on a start date for the retail renovation of the Boilermaker Shop across the street.) It's been mentioned before, but if you're not hanging on every word here at the blog, you might find the news of a redesign of 401 M Street from an office building to residential of interest, especially since that would speed the opening of a planned Harris Teeter on the ground floor. Elsewhere, the article also says that Velocity now has 75 units sold, although nowhere near that many have actually been closed on, according to land records (looks like around 30 as of early March).
* The Post's offspring publication the Express also published a piece today on the neighborhood, "From Frontier to Focal Point: Capitol Riverfront's Growth and Potential," which again focuses on the residents who have moved in despite the lack of retail. (The online version of the piece also has one whale of a coding error that suggests that the web empire is far more vast than I might have ever dreamed.) There's also an accompanying Capitol Riverfront Basics, laying out all the amenities that don't quite exist yet.
* And, while not really along the same lines as the other two, I should also point to the Post's feature today on the Trapeze School in its new home at the Yards.
I imagine there's more of these pieces to come over the next week. And really, I shouldn't be so cynical about them, since they do serve a purpose for the vast majority of the citizenry who don't pay much attention to the area; but I just think it's funny that this is now becoming such a standard late-March exercise for all media organizations. On the other hand, I sort of {ahem} did one myself last year, although it was more of a reaction to all the oh-my-God-there's-nothing-new-down-there thread that ran through the media coverage last time around, to show that there had been a lot of progress in the year since the ballpark opened. This year, as the stories are keying on, the progress is more inside the existing buildings than with any new developments.

In a blissfully short 26-minute hearing, the city's Zoning Commission approved tonight the series of amendment requests to allow the Trapeze School New York to set up shop on Parcel O at the Yards, on the southeast corner of Fourth and Tingey.
The commissioners seemed satisfied with the information they had in the Office of Planning report and the submissions from Forest City and the Trapeze School, and asked few questions (Chairman Hood was clearly trying to move things along). This is a temporary approval, allowing the Trapeze School to be at the Yards for five years, or longer if a Special Exception is later granted. The text amendments also waved the on-site parking requirement for the school, with new commissioner Konrad Schlater saying he was "comfortable" with it because parking "is definitely overbuilt" in the area around the ballpark. ANC 6D had voted 7-0 in support of the case as well. It's now expected that the National Capital Planning Commission will address the Trapeze School at its Oct. 1 meeting.
No date for the opening of the school in its new home was mentioned, though it was explained that Forest City was trying to expedite the process since the school is having to vacate its home at the old convention center site. There will still be building permits to be filed for and approved before the tent can be lifted.
Toward the end of the hearing, Ramsey Meiser of Forest City gave a bit of an update on the other projects in the first phase of the Yards. Here's the latest:
* They are continuing to work with the city's Housing Finance Agency to get the money together to (re)start on the Foundry Lofts, with a hoped-for completion date of late 2010 or early 2011.
* The Boilermaker Shop could open in 2011; this dovetails with what a commenter in this thread reported hearing over the weekend, although earlier today Forest City would not officially confirm for me any scheduled start date for the project, only that some retail tenants have been signed, but that Forest City can't name them publicly just yet. (Maybe in October.)
* The first retail in the Park at the Yards (in the old Lumber Shed building) could open in 2012; the park itself is expected to open next summer.
* "Parcel D", on the southeast corner of Fourth and M, is the site of the expected Harris Teeter (though Meiser didn't name them, saying only "a grocery store," since neither Forest City nor Harris Teeter have confirmed this rumor yet), and is now apparently going to be a residential building instead of office, which had been hinted at recently. It's expected delivery date is currently 2013.
* The Factory 202 lofts building at Fifth and M is not expected before 2014.
And all that's just the first phase! Meiser also said that Parcel N, the site of a surface parking lot on the southwest corner of Fourth and Tingey, would probably be the first project of Phase 2. But no date on that yet.
If you want to watch the hearing, visit DCOZ's On Demand Video page.

The folks at Forest City Washington have sent along the news that a groundbreaking ceremony for the Park at the Yards is scheduled for May 28 at 10:30 am. (The park is being funded by PILOT bonds created a while back, and so financing in this no-financing era is already taken care of.) Construction will begin in "a few weeks," and the park's first phase is expected to be completed in mid-2010. Work on rehabbing the Lumber Storage Shed and building two other new retail pavilions will come in Phase 2; see my Yards Park page for more details.
Also, in response to the WBJ story that mentioned construction liens at both the Yards and Onyx, Forest City passed along this statement:
"In response to the article published in the Washington Business Journal in the May 1-7, 2009 issue entitled "Contractors have filed nearly $28M in liens in D.C., Northern Virginia," in which Forest City Washington (FCW) was cited in regard to work done at its Yards project near the baseball stadium by one contractor, FCW wishes to clarify and update this issue:
* FCW was neither served nor notified of this lien until we read about it in the Washington Business Journal;
* The plumbing contractor involved in this action has been paid in full for the work it has invoiced on this job. FCW has signed lien releases from the contractor covering its services billed;
* The lien has been released.
It is unfortunate that the Washington Business Journal chose not to contact anyone at Forest City Washington in order to obtain the most updated information available in regard to this matter before publishing its story."
(Also, I deserve a ding-ing of my own for my recent references to Building 160 as the Pattern Shop Lofts, when I know darn well that the name was changed to the Foundry Lofts a while back.)

[Note: I'm back in town after almost a week away (reminder to self: next year don't skip town the week before the home opener), so apologies if my coverage of the various events and media pieces has seemed even less scintillating than usual. And now I'm going to end the week with one more less-than-perfect entry, which I should have written before I left but didn't do it until now....]
If you haven't been back to Nationals Park or the surrounding Near Capitol Ballpark River Yards neighborhood since last year's Opening Day, here's what you'll see that wasn't completed on your last visit:
* 55 M Street - Right on top of the west entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station, at the head of Half Street, is Monument Realty's 275,000-sq-ft office building, which has been finished in the last few months and which will be home to Artomatic this summer. No office or retail tenants have been announced, although WBJ reported a few weeks back that Gordon Biersch may be eyeing some of 55 M's ground-floor space. The rest of Monument's Half Street site remains a large hole in the ground, with financing for the planned 350 residential units and adjoining hotel directly across from the ballpark nowhere to be found.
* 70 and 100 I Street - Sibling apartment buildings officially known as the Axiom and Jefferson at Capitol Yards first began move-ins in late summer 2008, and their combined 700 units are reported to be about 50 percent leased. (They're the big brick buildings sitting just south of the Freeway.)

* Onyx on First - Another apartment building (though it had been originally planned as condos), Onyx opened at the corner of First and L streets in late fall of 2008. It has approximately 266 units.

* 100 M Street - On the site of the old On Luck cafeteria at First and M, this 240,000-sq-ft office building opened right at the tail end of 2008, and is close to 40 percent leased, with Parsons occupying about one-third of the space. A SunTrust Bank branch is under construction on the ground floor--there's additional retail space where a restaurant could be a possibility, though no deals have been announced.

* 909 New Jersey - Finished mere moments ago (it opened last week), this 237-unit apartment building at New Jersey and I by JPI (developers of 70 and 100 I) is catching eyes with its blue-edged nighttime profile, and is generating piles of "have they signed anyone for their retail space?" messages in my inbox (answer: not that I've heard so far). Baseball fans walking down from Capitol South will also appreciate the wide new sidewalk now just one block south of the freeway.

As for what's currently underway, there's the first phase of townhouses at Capitol Quarter (where the first residents will move in this month and where work will continue into next year), the 200-unit Velocity condo building at First and L, and the 440,000-sq-ft office building at 1015 Half Street (which will be completed in 2010 but will already be cursed for obscuring the view of the Capitol dome from some seats in the ballpark that had it last year). There's also construction continuing at Diamond Teague Park, right across from the ballpark's grand staircase, but the somewhat optimistic timeline of having the water taxi piers completed by Opening Day has now been revised to "midseason."
Work had begun on rehabbing the brown-and-white Pattern/Joiner Shop at the Yards last year (which folks walking to the ballpark from the Nats Express drop-off will see), but financing problems brought the work to a halt early in 2009, and Forest City continues to look for money to restart the project.
The most prominent structure that's disappeared in the past 12 months is the former WMATA bus garage on Half Street just across from the subway entrance, demolished two weeks ago to make way for Akridge's planned 700,000-sq-ft mixed-use development, though that project won't get underway before 2010. (The south end of Akridge's Half Street land is where the [not-a-]beer garden may appear later this summer.)
But, as has been written about extensively elsewhere, as of now there's no new places to eat since last year (though a deli is coming to Third and K in May), and most likely no additional projects will get underway before next year.
So, study this little guide and amaze your friends with your knowledge of what's what as you look at the ballpark's surroundings.

Eagle-eyed workers at USDOT had asked me about this lately, and now WBJ confirms (subscribers only) that work has stopped at the Foundry Lofts rehab project at the Yards: "Forest City Washington started transforming a former Navy industrial building into 170 loft apartments last year but recently called off the construction crews thanks to, you guessed it, a lack of financing -- in this case an inability of the D.C. Housing Finance Agency to sell bonds for the subsidized units."
And, there's this: a Forest City rep says "work continues on a waterfront park and landing retailers for the 44-acre, multiyear project, but sources say Dogfish Head Alehouse, once in discussions to open on the waterfront, is no longer interested."
So now the neighborhood has its first "skeleton."
UPDATE: On the other hand, WBJ is also reporting that chain brewery Gordon Biersch might be coming to Half Street, with a broker confirming that there is interest, but no deal has been signed: "Gordon Biersch is remaining mum, but sources point to Monument Realty's Half Street project as a likely candidate. The D.C. developer is putting the finishing touches on 55 M St. NW [um, no: SE], a 275,000-square-foot office building with ground-floor retail above the Navy Yard Metro station. The project, on the main pedestrian drag to the baseball stadium, doesn't have any announced tenants."

I don't dare tally up how many photos I've taken over the past 12 months, but suffice to say it's a lot. That didn't stop me from a quick lunchtime trek around the neighborhood to grab my final pictures of 2008, with a starkly blue sky as an end-of-year gift. Here's a boatload of before-and-afters for your perusal:
I started at Capitol Quarter, where the first three townhouses at Fourth and L are already framed, wrapped, and window'ed (I imagine the developers are trying to get those units finished as close to "on schedule" as possible). Here's the before-and-afters for the intersection's southwest corner; be advised that taking southward-facing photos in winter is no fun at all, so apologies for all glare, skipped angles, etc.

I next ventured to The Yards (USDOT security guards be damned!) for updated photos of the Foundry Lofts construction, where most of the framing of the two new top floors appears to be finished. And both Third and Tingey streets are now nicely paved and curbed, which you can see along with the Foundtry Lofts construction in these Third and Tingey photos, and also in shots from one block west, at what someday will be Second and Tingey. And, for the heck of it, here's a few new New Jersey and Tingey images. (Remember to look for the icon, as always.)
And, acting on tips from alert readers, I checked out the Third and K Market, which is now being gutted. There was no one around to answer any questions as to what is up, but seeing work getting done a few months after a For Rent sign went up (and quickly disappeared) would seem to be a good sign....?

I also went to First and M, where workers at 100 M have now given back one lane of M Street and told me that the median east of First will be rebuilt soon (as the one west of M recently was). The silver bullding against the unbelievably blue sky makes for a nice tableau in these updated photos.
There are also a few updated shots of 909 New Jersey, taken mainly from the First and I intersection, which is also notable for the nice little fence and landscaping that's now gone in across the empty lot to the east of 100 I, visible in many of these new photos.

Will that tide everyone over until the new year? I know I'm now good for a while....!

Work is continuing on the infrastructure at The Yards, and there's now a lot of new pavement recently laid down. Fourth and Tingey is starting to look like a real four-cornered intersection, with Fourth now extended southward one block to the new Water Street that will be the northern boundary of the Park at the Yards. The paving of what will be a new section of Third Street south of Tingey (next to the Foundry Lofts) was completed last month (though it's hard to see in the photos I last took in November--the hassles I get from the USDOT security people lessen my enthusiasm for trudging to Third and Tingey very often). Plus, Tingey itself now has all of its lanes reopened as well. It's all still a construction zone, but it looks like traffic is now (or will be soon) routed into the surface parking lots at Third and Fourth via the new streets.
In many of these photos you can also see the progress on the two new floors on top of the Foundry Lofts building. It's scheduled to open in mid-2010.

I have to admit that information fairs aren't quite my gig (especially since I'm immersed in this stuff everyday), but I did wander past today's Anacostia Waterfront Community Information Fair at the ballpark to see what there was to see. I got there pretty early and left pretty early, so didn't see any of the panel discussions (and didn't take any of the bus tours), but if you want to see how they configured the exhibitions within the Stars and Stripes clubs at the ballpark, here's a batch of photos. (And, if you were there, maybe you're in one or two of them!)
I also took a few new photos on First, Third, and New Jersey of 909 New Jersey, Velocity, Onyx, and the Foundry Lofts, which will serve mainly as a reminder of why I don't normally go on photo expeditions on cloudy days. If the weather finally shifts, I expect to be out taking some additional ones on Sunday, especially of 1015 Half, since the first columns are visible above ground-level.
Plus, I felt a burst of inspiration yesterday the likes of which I haven't seen in months, and *finally* created project pages for William C. Smith's 800 New Jersey Avenue development and for the 11th Street Bridges reconstruction. The 800 NJ page has almost no information (since there's so little to be had about the project beyond the basic 1.1-mil-office-residential-retail-and-maybe-Whole-Foods profile); the 11th Street Bridges page is a little better, but still is just a lot of pictures of overpasses and flyovers. Better than nothing in both cases, though!

Today's print edition of the WashBizJournal has some big retail-related Near Southeast items of interest:
* "The developer of The Yards, the 42-acre Anacostia riverfront project near the Nationals ballpark, is close to landing a jazz club and Dogfish Head Alehouse and may move its local headquarters to the former Navy Yard. The two retail tenants would be the first in the Boilermaker Shops, a three-story industrial building with walls of red brick and plate glass on Tingey Street between Third and Fourth streets SE." (The Boilermaker Shops are scheduled to open in mid-2010, along with the Park at the Yards and the Foundry Lofts.)
* The planned office building at 401 M could become home to Forest City Washington's headquarters; it's the one with the grocery store space in the ground floor. WBJ says Forest City "is 'nearing a deal' with a grocer for 50,000 square feet and an announcement could come in 60 days. He would not reveal the chain, but sources say it is Harris Teeter Inc. which has two D.C. stores and plans a third in Northeast." 401 M is not expected to be constructed before 2011, however.
* Also on the grocery store front, confirmation of the rumor that's been hashed around here lately: "William C. Smith & Co., meanwhile, has been in discussions with Whole Foods Market Inc. about a store in its planned 4-acre development between New Jersey Avenue, H and Second streets, known as Square 737." (See, I tried to tell you folks it wasn't going to be at New Jersey and K; and Jonathan, you're welcome for this tip.)
UPDATE: Finally getting *some* piece of news about 800 New Jersey finally spurred me, after all this time, to create a project page for it. There's no renderings, just a bunch of "before" pictures, but at least it's something. And, since talk of grocery store on this site back in *1999* was one of the first tidbits that led me to start paying attention to the neighborhood, I guess it finally deserves its own page.
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