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A reminder that the first big concert at Nationals Park (well, other than the Pope) is this Saturday, with Billy Joel and Elton John. Metro has just sent out a press release with its plans: "In anticipation of large crowds, Metro will operate additional eight-car trains on the Green Line leading up to the start of the concert. Additional personnel will be on hand at the Navy Yard Metrorail station on the Green Line, which is just one block away from Nationals Park. Upon conclusion of the concert, Metro will deploy eight-car shuttle trains that will operate between the Navy Yard and Mt. Vernon Sq/7th St Convention Center Metrorail station."
UPDATE: As for parking, apparently ticketholders have received e-mails urging them to prepurchase parking in the official Nats lots, and cash parking lots will be available as well.
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More posts: Metro/WMATA, Nationals Park, Stadium Events

Catching up from a few days of slacking:
* Today's Washington Business Journal (subscribers only) reports that the city is "considering" using 225 Virginia Ave. (the old Post Plant) as the new home for Child and Family Services, now that they've decided not to move the agency to a new development at Benning Station. The city continues to pay $6 million a year in rent on the 420,000-sq-ft building, though tried a request for proposals last year to see about a sublease or sale of the property (but apparently didn't get much interest). I wonder how much the city would have to spend the rejigger the very warehouse-y building into the 180,000 sq ft of office space needed by CFSA.
* From the Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star, a story that Prince William County is spending $225,000 to look at passenger ferry service up the Potomac: "It will conduct test boat runs on May 4, 5 and 6 from stops at Prince William marinas at Quantico, Dumfries and Occoquan to Fort Belvoir, Alexandria and the Washington Navy Yard. The test boat will be a catamaran that seats 149." (I assume they'd want to use the dock under construction at Diamond Teague Park, but there's no specifics.)
* On Wednesday evening, the Post reported (though the article is no longer on the web site) that the city had informed Metro--in the middle of a game!--that it would no longer pay the $27,000-an-hour cost of keeping the subway open if games at Nationals Park ran late because of extra innings or rain delays. By the next morning, the city had changed its mind.
* The Douglass Bridge will be closed Sunday (4/26) from 5am to approximately 10am for the monthly swing span test.

* DDOT has posted a list of the expanded service hours for the Union Station-Eastern Market-Navy Yard Circulator bus on Nationals game days. Basically, for both weekday and weekend games that start after 2 pm, Circulator service will run until midnight; 12:30 and 1:30 games will have service until 7 pm, with their usual every-10-minute headways. (Normally, the buses run from 6 am to 7 pm on weekdays, and not at all on weekends.) The running-until-midnight will make the restaurants and bars on Eighth Street happy, with their hopes that fans will hop on the buses to head to the food and drink offerings at Barracks Row because of the lack of options near the ballpark.
* The Post and City Paper cover the second annual Mayor-vs-Council free-stadium-suite-tickets standoff, with City Paper posting the transcript of a particularly feisty exchange this morning between the Mayor and the media today.
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More posts: circulator, Metro/WMATA, politics, Nationals Park

[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.

Metro has just put out a press release detailing their service plans for Monday's 3:05 pm Nats home opener against the Phillies, which includes rush hour service starting at 1 pm, and extra trains when the game ends. (Though they should have checked their link to the old Monument Half Street construction cam before including it in their release, since the camera is no longer operating.) There's also the page for additional details on the bus lines that run near the park--but remember that the DC Circulator bus that runs between Union Station, Eastern Market, and New Jersey and M is not run by WMATA, so is the place to go for info on that, though so far there's no details on how late it'll run on Monday (normally it stops at 7 pm).
With President Obama apparently not throwing out the first pitch after all, there might not be quite so much of a need to arrive early, but the Nats have still planned a lineup of special events, and are opening the Center Field Gate at 12:30 pm, with batting practice starting at 12:45. There will be a band playing on the new stage in the Center Field plaza and another one up on the Scoreboard Walk. Nats Extra, the MASN pregame show, will be broadcasting live from the Center Field plaza at 2 pm, and the official pre-game ceremonies (hosted by David Gregory of Meet the Press) will start at 2:35 pm. Nearby residents and office workers who won't be at the game should prepare themselves for the planned "flyover by four helicopters, a OH-58 Kiowa, two UH-1 Hueys and one UH-72 Lakota" during the National Anthem. The Nats have their own transportation page, at, though as I noted a few weeks ago, it still needs a bit of freshening for 2009 (the Metrobus page is still dedicated to the N22).
UPDATE: I'll add this on, since this is ballpark-related: the four parking lots at The Yards are available for baseball parking (just not as part of the official network of Nats lots this year), for either $25 or $20 per game; call or e-mail for more information. Other cash lots include the garage at 100 M and the small surface lot at 250 M and I believe the lots under 80 M and 1100 New Jersey, though I'm not 100% sure. The official Nats cash lot (where you can also buy single-game parking via their web site) is Lot U at 3rd and K, and costs $15 this year. In other words, if you want to drive down near the ballpark and pay cash for parking, you should be able to find a spot, though these lots may be more full during weekday afternoon games, since they're also used by commuters. I plan to update my Stadium Parking page soon.
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More posts: circulator, Metro/WMATA, parking, Nationals Park

As already mentioned, the old WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M streets bit the dust this week, and when the sun unexpectedly peeked out at noontime, I had to go get the shots. You can see the basic views on my Akridge Half Street page, or you can check out the Photo Archive's Half and M and Van and M offerings.
I also took some updated photos (though not complete sets) along N Street, at Half, Van, and Cushing, if you'd like to be reminded before heading to the stadium this season of what the area just north of the ballpark looked like only a few short years ago. (And don't miss today's photos from inside the park.)
I also peeked in down at Diamond Teague Park, where signs of progress are visible (there's now concrete poured in slabs between the shore and the pumphouse), but will the docks be ready "by Opening Day" as has been touted? The dry-land parts of the park are expected to be completed in mid-Summer.
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More posts: JBG/Akridge Half St., Metro/WMATA, Nationals Park, Teague Park

I'll be back later today with news from a "What's New at the Ballpark" tour, but here's a few items to clear off the desk first:
* There's a baseball game tomorrow night! It's the Nats vs. the O's in what is looking to become a traditional exhibition game. It's at 6:05 pm (though there's also a shindig for season-ticket holders earlier in the afternoon), and the usual suspects are gearing up to help people get to the ballpark. Metro has updated their Go Metro! Go Nats! page, which includes a brochure on all the bus/rail options. And, because tomorrow has a sports tripleheader (Nats, Wizards, and DC United), Metro is letting people know they're ready. However, the new DC Circulator route (which is run by the city, not Metro) will not be running tomorrow--its expanded service for Nats weekend gates will start during the regular season. On the other hand, the Nats Express shuttle will be running from the free parking at RFK from noon until 90 minutes after the game ends. The Nats have a Way to Go page of their own with details on how to get to the ballpark, but it looks like it still needs a touch of refreshing for 2009.
* While the ballpark tour today will include a sampling of the food offerings at the stadium by new concessionaire Levy Restaurants, Dan Steinberg has already broken the news of the lineup of beers at the ballpark for 2009. Because it's important to have one's priorities straight.
* There may be some better feeling between city officials and the Nats during the pre-game ceremonies tomorrow (where Mayor Fenty will throw out the first pitch and council chairman Gray will give the "Washington, let's play ball!" salute), because the team has paid its 2009 rent on time.
* In non-ballpark news, UrbanTurf reports that Velocity Condos is having a "preview weekend"--apparently they've completed construction on one of the models in the building itself (they've had a full-scale model inside their sales center since it opened last year). Tours are by appointment, with prices starting in the $300s. Their official web site is (though it doesn't mention the preview).
* The WMATA bus garage is now history. The weather's too lousy for me to get pictures today, but I'll get some tomorrow. The question is, will Half Street be open by tomorrow afternoon?
* But, the real cliffhanger of the weekend is: will we be seeing the schoolbuses driven off the Canal Park lots? Those of you with the prime vantage points are deputized to alert us all if you see them driving off (and not coming back).

A brief morning walkabout brought the following items:
* The demolition of the old WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage at Half M continues; they had reached as far north as just across from the subway entrance at around 11:30, so the M Street facade could conceivably be gone by the end of today or early on Tuesday. You can see a couple of photos (like a bigger version of the one above) on my Akridge Half Street page, though the photos won't be as striking until the demolition reaches M Street.
* A nice fellow working at the schoolbus parking lot at Canal Park told me that the buses are being moved to their new home at DC Village on Saturday and Sunday (April 4 and 5), with drivers expected to report to work at the new lot on Monday morning, April 6. So, it does indeed sound like this is the last week of the Sea of Yellow.
* Look Mom, a Circulator bus! (This is the stop at First and K, before it turns right on I and circles back down New Jersey to the subway entrance.) You can see it lurking in a few other updated photos I took at New Jersey and M. UPDATE: There apparently was a boo-boo with the information on the DC Circulator site--the bus will be running from 6 am to 7 pm weekdays (it had said 6-6). They've also updated their service map to correct some errors.
* Here's my first shot of the repainted Third and K Market (now to be known as the Corner Copia Deli). You can compare it to its old profile here.
* The Nats are having a "soft launch" for their new food concessionaire (Levy Restaurants) via a series of invitation-only events this week. Tonight employees of the Navy Yard will be sampling the new food, and there will also be events on Tuesday and Wednesday for local businesses and invitees of the BID. On Friday the media will get its shot. I will report back later in the week, though I won't be able to provide doggie bags for everyone.

Don't know if the work started on Friday or today, but a late-evening drive down M Street brought the surprise news that demolition is now underway on the old WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M. The demo is starting at its southeastern end (closer to N Street), and I can't imagine it'll take too long to dismantle the building. There's scaffolding now in place for a pedestrian walkway along the garage's M Street face. This is the first demolished building of 2009 in the neighborhood, and the 154th since I started photographing the neighborhood. (Browse the previous 153 via my Demolished Buildings gallery.) The bus garage site, now owned by Akridge, is slated to be replaced with 700,000-sq-ft of office, residential, and retail offerings, with construction perhaps beginning in 2010.
When I was circling the block to check the extent of the demolition (made more difficult by Half Street currently being closed so that infrastructure work can be done), I drove past the Center Field Gate at the ballpark and saw that the blank concrete wall that used to be the northern face of the Red Porch restaurant is now floor-to-ceiling windows, looking onto the plaza.

With minutes to spare (given that the Metro N22 bus goes out of service after Saturday), now has the information for the new route that will run from Union Station to Eastern Market to the Navy Yard Metro station, beginning on Sunday, March 29. The site says that the buses will run every 10 minutes from 6 am to 6 pm 7 pm on weekdays (only), with extended service on Nationals game days. (Not sure I had heard before this that there'd be no weekend service, so I guess it technically starts on Monday, March 30.) The stops in Near Southeast (see the map) will be at Eighth and L, Hull and M (by the Navy Yard Hull Street gate), the 300 block of M, the Metro station entrance at New Jersey and M, and also at First and K as part of the turnaround-loop the buses will do to head back east. The fare is $1, and the buses accept cash, transfers, SmarTrip cards, and passes. (The info for the route replacing the 98 bus is available now, too.)
(UPDATED to correct the hours of operation, which were incorrect on the Circulator web site.)
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More posts: circulator, Metro/WMATA
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