Near Southeast DC: Past News Items
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Forest City, Monument Looking at HUD Money
Apr 23, 2010 12:54 PM
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.)

Today's About-the-Ballpark-Neighborhood Stories
Mar 26, 2010 11:08 PM
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 JDLand.com 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.

Zoning Commission Approves Trapeze School at the Yards; A Revised Tentative Phase I Timeline
Sep 21, 2009 7:47 PM
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.

Yards News (Park Groundbreaking, Liens Statement)
May 7, 2009 9:47 AM
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.)

Heading to Opening Day? What You'll See That You Didn't See Last Year
Apr 12, 2009 7:59 PM
[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.

Work Stopped at Foundry Lofts; Gordon Biersch Coming to Half Street?
Feb 13, 2009 11:57 AM
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."

Images and Updates from the Last Photo Trek of 2008
Dec 29, 2008 6:26 PM
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....!

New Streets Arriving at The Yards
Dec 10, 2008 11:07 PM
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.

Quick Photos from the Anacostia Waterfront Fair, Plus a Few Other New Photos and Pages
Nov 15, 2008 4:35 PM
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!

Dogfish Head Alehouse, Jazz Club May Come to the Yards (Teeter, Too); Whole Foods and Square 737
Nov 14, 2008 9:27 AM
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.

Lots of New Photos From Around The Yards
Oct 31, 2008 1:15 PM
As I mentioned a few days ago, I was able to snag some time behind the fences at The Yards this week (with permission!!) and took a bunch of pictures. I also took this opportunity to do a bit of cleanup on the many Yards pages on this site, so if you haven't wandered through all of them in a while, I suggest taking the time to do so, keeping an eye out for the ubiquitous icon. Some highlights (click through to the pages for more details on each project):
* I posted a fair number of photos (plus some new renderings) of the Foundry Lofts at Third and Tingey, where the new top two floors are starting to be framed. You can also see how the a portion of the new Water Street just south of the Foundry has been paved, and curbs have been installed; ditto with the new portion of Third Street that will run alongside the building down to the park.
* There aren't really many exciting new photos of the Yards Park yet, but I added in new renderings and also spruced up the page some. The park and the Foundry Lofts apartments (along with the Boilermaker Shop retail pavilion) are expected to deliver in mid-2010.
* I made my first close-up visit to the Factory 202 building at Fifth and M (the old Gun Assembly Building), and got a few new images like the one at right. (Look for the "Pistol Range" photo for added entertainment.) This building is expected to be condos, delivering in 2011.
* I added a lot of new images to the Later Phases page, where you can see a good close-up of the little Building 74 next to Factory 202, which will eventually be townhouses. You'll also see more of the infrastructure work going on, including curb cuts already in place at Fourth and Tingey (even though the southern part of Fourth doesn't exist there yet). There's also a new red brick wall going in along the boundary with the Navy Yard, where a new block of Fifth Street will be built.
* You should also check out my Yards Overview page for the hard-to-read map, to help orient yourself to all the locations.
* Or, if you just want a pile of pictures without the "guided tour," here's all the new photos on one page (which includes images not posted on any of the above pages.) Click the icon to see other photos from the past few years from the same location.
Hopefully that's enough to keep everyone entertained for a while.

Yards Park Public-Private Partnership Announced
Oct 29, 2008 2:17 PM
This morning inside the Boilermaker Shop at Fourth and Tingey Mayor Fenty announced the completion of a $42 million public-private partnership to fund and maintain the 5.5-acre Waterfront Park at The Yards. He was joined by Forest City's Deborah Ratner Salzberg, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, and Capitol Riverfront BID executive director Michael Stevens, all of whom extolled the potential not only of the park (the neighborhood's "front yard", Stevens said) but of all of what is coming to Near Southeast. In the press release, Fenty is quoted as saying, "This is a great example of the kind of great urban spaces we can create when we think creatively and work together with partners who share our vision for transforming the banks of the Anacostia River into a world class waterfront."
Construction will begin on the park in January, and is being funded by the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) that the city created last year. Once the park is built, the BID will be in charge of maintaining and "programming" it. One caveat for those who have been looking forward to seeing the park completed--it is now scheduled for a mid-2010 opening, along with the Boilermaker Shop and the Pattern Shop Foundry Lofts (they renamed the dang building; I can't wait to change it everywhere on the site).
I took a few photos at the event (seems like it's been forever since there was one of these, especially after the avalanche of them back in 2007 and early 2008). You'll also see on that page the latest renderings of the park, the Foundry Lofts building, and some views along Water Street. The park images aren't new, but the others are, and it may be a few days before I get them integrated into the site, so I figured I'd toss them up here for now.
I also got to take a tour behind the fences across much of the 44 acres of The Yards, and of course snapped a bunch of photos. However, since there are hardly any *streets* in most of these locations just yet, it makes my cataloging and posting of pictures much more time-consuming than with other projects. So I hope to post them in the next few days. At least the sun was out, unlike last time!
There was a fair amount of media at this event, so check back for links to stories (and the press releases, once they're posted).
UPDATE: A video report from NBC4, and a few paragraphs from the Post. The AP gave it a little write-up, too. And the Yards has now posted its own press release.

More Photos from Inside the Yards (Park, Shed)
Jul 25, 2008 1:50 PM
The skies were threatening during my visit, so these aren't the most shimmering photos, but I do now have a big batch of new photos from the areas along the Anacostia River that by the end of next year should be transformed into the nearly six-acre Waterfront Park at the Yards. Right now it's mainly a lot of dirt, so I suggest spending some time looking closely at the rendering at the top of the page to orient yourself to the locations of the various photos and what the vistas should eventually look like. (The map at the top of my main Yards overview page is helpful, too.) I also got some photos inside the Lumber Storage Shed, that oddly terra cotta-colored building near the water's edge which will be having its corregated tin exterior stripped and replaced with glass as it's turned into a retail pavilion.
I've also posted some additional photos in the archive at spots where intersections will exist later this year when River and Water streets are created and when Fourth and Fifth are extended down toward the water. (Again, look at the map.) Really, these photos are nothing more than placeholders, but I just had to have the "befores" in order to be able to enjoy the "afters" someday....
(And don't miss my photos posted a few days ago of the interior of the Boilermaker Shop and of the latest progress on the Pattern Shop Lofts building.)

New Yards Photos: Inside the Boilermaker Shop, and New Pattern Shop Pics; WTDW The Hole in the Wall
Jul 22, 2008 7:39 AM
Last week the folks at Forest City were gracious enough to take me on a behind-the-fences tour of the The Yards, so that I could stock up on "before" photos before too much more work gets underway. The first stop was Building 167, also known as the Boilermaker Shop, on the northeast corner of Third and Tingey streets behind the US DOT HQ. This steel-and-glass industrial workshop (such a rarity for Washington) was built in 1919, and by the end of 2009 Forest City expects it to be transformed into a 46,000-square-foot retail space, with a new loft-like mezzanine in the middle of the building that will provide additional square footage without sacrificing the wide-open feel of the high glass-lined ceiling. I have wanted to get inside this building for a long time, so I'm glad to now have photos in advance of the shop's makeover, which you can see on my Boilermaker Shop page along with renderings of what's coming.
Across the street at the old Pattern Joiner Shop, interior demolition work continues, along with the removal of all the windows and the white paint from the building's exterior. We didn't get to go inside, but I've still posted some updated photos, which you can compare to shots from the past three years to see what's been done in just a few months. By late 2009 this will become the Pattern Shop Lofts, with 170 apartments, ground-floor retail, an interior courtyard, and two new floors on top.
I also snagged some photos from a few other locations, too, and I'll get those posted soon.
And, if you're wondering What's the Deal With the big hole punched in the historic red brick wall on M Street east of Fifth--apparently that's the start of the necessary work to create 5 1/2 Street, SE (no, I'm serious), which will run between the big red brick Building 202 (to be turned into condos by 2011) and Building 74 (forecast to be converted into townhouses in a future phase of the Yards). Here's an overhead photo of the spot in question, taken from the roof of the old Capper Seniors building before it came down last year.

City Council Today - South Cap/N Alley Closing, Tax Pay-Out Bill, Tingey Street (Updated with Results)
Jul 1, 2008 9:29 AM
Today is the city council's monthly legislative meeting, and since they don't have one in August, this one--like all July ones--has an agenda a mile long, with a few items related to Near Southeast:
There's an emergency bill to correct a problem with the 2005 bill that transferred Tingey Street to the city--a drafting error apparently drew the road through part of the Pattern Shop Lofts.
And the "Taxation Without Representation Federal Tax Pay-Out Message Board Installation Act of 2007" (Bill 17-0028) is finally getting a vote--this is the bill that would put electronic tote boards on the Wilson Building and the ballpark showing the federal taxes that District residents pay while still having no votiing representation in Congress. You can read more about it here and here--I don't know if the bill being voted on today has the same language as the original one introduced in 2007, since the council was told pretty clearly by the Sports and Entertainment Commission that the stadium's lease agreement states that the Nationals control the signage on the stadium's interior, exterior, and perimeter, and the DCSEC's outside counsel feels that this tote-board bill "could conflict" with the lease.
But first up, on the consent agenda, is the bill to close the alley between South Capitol and Van just north of the old BP Amoco station on N Street across from the ballpark. This request is coming from Monument Realty, so they can combine the Amoco lot with the parking lot to the north of the alley and develop the site as a residential building with somewhere between 180 and 210 rental units, with 15 or 16 of them being affordable units priced at between 50 and 80 percent of the area median income. There would also be about 14,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.
I failed my fiduciary duty to ever post a summary of the hearing on this bill held back in May, but most of what was said at the council hearing wasn't too different from the presentation about the closing to ANC 6D in January. Monument's representatives told the council that they would expect to start the project approximately 18 months after receiving the alley closing (depending on market conditions, of course), meaning it wouldn't deliver before 2011. Monument is not so far committing to any sort of LEED certification for the building (though I imagine that changes if they don't build it before the city's new green building laws go into effect). The project would also need a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review by the Zoning Commission.
The hearing starts at 10 am, and can be seen on DC Cable 13 or via streaming video. I'll update this entry later today with the various outcomes.
UPDATE: I haven't started watching the proceedings yet (I'll be spending my evening fast-forwarding through them), but the Post's DC Wire blog has an entry on another bill of interest being brought up today, to improve upon the locations carved out for street vendors near the ballpark (here's the map). Some council members want the vendors much closer (presumably, along Half and N streets), which the Nationals and MLB are not much in favor of. Other council members say that bringing the vendors closer should wait until the construction near the ballpark is completed. We'll see what happens with the bill today.
FAST-FORWARDING UPDATE: What more could I want to do with my evening than to sit here speeding through 8-plus hours of city council proceedings? Here's what I'm finding:
* The Square 700 alley closing passed its first reading on the consent agenda.
* The Tax Pay-Out Message Board bill passed its first reading--Chairman Gray said that the second message board would be built "on public space near the Washington Nationals baseball stadium," which gets around the problems I described above with the original bill. Apparently Chairman Gray had discussions with the Nationals earlier this year about putting the sign at the ballpark, and the Nationals did not indicate any sort of desire to have the sign, so the compromise was hatched to put it on public land near the ballpark (I'm trying to find out where). Marion Barry pronounced himself "appalled" at the Nationals' refusal to put up the sign at the city-funded ballpark, calling the team "not good citizens." The sign at the Wilson Building is to be erected in time for the 2009 presidential inauguration, so that the entire parade can march right past it.
* The "Tingey Street, SE Right of Way Amendment Emergency Act of 2008" passed its first reading, so the street will no longer run through Building 160. Whew!
* I'm going to address the vending expansion bill in a new entry. Check back later for that.

Speaking of the Yards - Twilight Renderings
Jun 27, 2008 2:50 PM
I've been coveting electronic versions of the newer twilight-styled renderings of upcoming Yards projects, which have been taunting me from the fence drapings along Tingey and Fourth streets; and now I've gotten my mitts on them. Above is an overhead shot of the Waterfront Park, showing not only the various landmarks planned for this stretch along the Anacostia, but also perhaps a first peek or two at designs for some of the later-phase buildings to the north of the 5.8-acre park. I've also now got dusk-time renderings for the brown-and-white Pattern Shop Lofts apartment building and the retail-to-be Boilermaker Shop. All three of these projects should open in 2009 (though the park's piers and retail pavilions will be happening in future phases).

Work Starting/Not Starting (Yards/1345 South Capitol)
May 12, 2008 1:26 PM
Responding to my inquiry about the windows that have recently been removed from the Pattern Shop Lofts building on the south side of Third and Tingey streets in The Yards, the folks at Forest City have let me know that interior demolition work is indeed underway on the World War I-era building. The existing interior walls, ceilings, plumbing, asbestos {cough} and whatnot is all being removed, in preparation for the actual construction/renovation work that is scheduled to begin later this year. Two floors will be added to the top of the building as part of its transformation into a 170-unit apartment building, which will also have 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. It's expected to be finished next year. (Its neighbor across Third Street, the Boilermaker Shop, is currently out for bid, and construction is expected to begin this summer to turn it into a 46,000-sq-ft retail space by fall 2009.)
Meanwhile, work has stopped at the 1345 South Capitol Street site (directly across from the ballpark), with the old buildings demolished and the site mostly cleared. Camden Development has been planning a 276-unit apartment building for this location, but I've been told that the company is "trying to decide what to do" with the project.

Now, About that Retail..... (A Space Survey)
May 2, 2008 10:09 AM
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....

Some New Photos From The Yards
Apr 10, 2008 2:17 PM
A few days ago I promised to post some updated photos I'd taken in The Yards, which I'm finally getting to. (Been sick as a dog for more than week now, which I blame squarely on Mother Nature's poor performance during the first games at the ballpark.) They're not exactly barnburner photos, since they're mostly shots of either newly paved parking lots or scads of dirt waiting to be turned into something. But, follow the icon for new images of the Boilermaker Shop (above), the Waterfront Park, and the Pattern Shop Lofts, all of which are scheduled to open in 2009.
I've also added additional photos to the archive, at "intersections" that don't actually exist just yet, but provide additional views of what's happened so far: 1 1/2 Half at N (where the old GPO building was--seriously, it's going to be called "1 1/2 Street"); Second at Tingey and Second at Water (which will become real intersections when Second is eventually built south of Tingey and Water Street becomes a new road north of the park); and Third and Tingey (which will become more of an intersection when Third Street is extended one block south, to the new Water Street). See the map to get a clearer idea of what I'm babbling about. And eventually I'll take some new photos from the Fourth Street side, too.

Post Interview with Forest City Washington Chief
Apr 7, 2008 9:29 AM
This morning's Post has an interview with Deborah Ratner Salzberg, president of Forest City Washington, the company behind The Yards and much of the Capper/Carrollsburg redevelopment. Bullet points of interest:
* Salzberg says that they're "just beginning construction" on the 170-unit Pattern Shop Lofts, with work starting this summer on the 45,000-sq-ft Boilermaker Shop retail space and the Waterfront Park. All three are expected to be opened by fall of 2009 (though I think there will be later phases of the park with additional offerings, such as the water taxi piers she mentions). The Boilermaker Shop will have "restaurants, a bookstore and possibly a climbing wall."
* She says (as we heard a few weeks ago) that construction will begin this summer on the Capitol Quarter mixed-income townhouses at Capper.
There's going to be more of the interview posted today on the Post's WashBizBlog; I'll add the link when it's available. UPDATE: Here's the complete interview.
This would have been a fabulous time for me to post those new photos I took in The Yards this weekend, but alas, I haven't gotten to them yet. Soon, I promise.
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