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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 wmata.com/nationals 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 DCCirculator.com 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 nationals.com/waytogo, 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: 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 velocitycapitol.com (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.
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With minutes to spare (given that the Metro N22 bus goes out of service after Saturday), DCCirculator.com 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
 

Happy Friday, everyone! It's going to be a golden day! So get yourselves up, you sleepyheads, put a big smile on your face, and go take on the world!
{Yeech. That's enough of that.}
Here's some worthwhile links from the past few days, which have been piling up while I've attended to real life:
* Greater Greater Washington dug through the mayor's FY 2010 budget proposal and says that it would repeal the portion of the Performance Parking Act that sets aside a portion of the parking meter proceeds for the neighborhoods. As I wrote back in January after the quarterly Performance Parking public meeting, "legislation that created the pilot spells out that, initially, 60 percent of the program revenue will be put toward the repayment of the cost of the meters, with 20 percent of the revenue to be used "solely for the purpose of non-automobile transportation improvements in the zone." (The other 20 percent goes to the DDOT's operating fund.) "
* Also on the parking front, Michael Perkins of both Infosnack and GGW takes a long, detailed look at on-street parking around the Navy Yard: "Over the last two months, I've collected occupancy data for three blocks immediately adjacent to the Navy Yard. Between the prices and time limitations, more spaces are going empty than needed." He'll be writing again on the subject--including getting DDOT's reaction--today.
* DCMetrocentric throws open the floor to a discussion of the quality of architecture in Near Southeast. Opinions vary.
* Richard Layman thinks the Circulator replacing the N22 is a waste of money.
* The Post's District Extra on Thursday took a look at the Anacostia Waterfront forums that have been held the past two months, and will continue through June. (April's will be a "Green Living in a Green DC," on April 21.) Here are the presentation slides from the meeting described in the Post piece.
* This 1993 photo from Darrow Montgomery's archive looks to be on the field south of the old Capper apartment building at 900 Fifth Street (where Capper Seniors #1 now stands). The freeway embankment at rear is the giveaway.
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Sometime within the past few weeks the Nats updated their parking information pages for season ticket holders and individual game parking, which I've brought together in an update of my stadium parking map. In comparing them to the last year's parking options, you can see the following changes:
* There's no "official" parking at The Yards anymore (the "blue zone" from 2008, lots E, Z, and Y). Perhaps they'll be available as cash lots, but I haven't heard. (See Update II below.)
* Lot "S" way up at Second and H has been dropped, too.
* New official lots have cropped up at the WMATA bus garage site (lot G) and underneath 55 M Street (lot O). The WMATA garage was offered as $50 valet parking starting about mid-season last year.
* Individual game-day parking prices have dropped by $5 for most of the lots that were same-day purchase lots last year (though the purchasing system doesn't seem to exactly match the map when it comes to the red zone, which says $35 for the lots other than the official garages while the purchasing system says $40 for all red zone parking).
As for whether the Nats Express shuttle from RFK is going to run, there's been no announcement, and the page for it on the official web site, looks like it hasn't been updated since last season. (It hasn't been updated to replace the N22 references with news of the new Circulator route, either.) The "interactive trip planner" also has not yet been updated to show the 2009 parking options.
I imagine more info will be coming soon.
UPDATE: The Nationals have passed along word that the Nats Express shuttle from RFK will be running again this year. Also, the lot under 55 M won't be an official lot after all.
UPDATE II: The folks at the Yards say that they will be offering both cash parking and "season subscription" parking in their lots that were formerly lots E, Y, and Z last year. (They'll just be doing it on their own and not as part of the lineup of "official" Nats lots.) More info to come soon.
UPDATE III: Reader J. rightly notices that Lot R (under 1100 New Jersey) is also gone from the 2009 lineup.
 

Lots of little things to pass along:
* Per Dr. Gridlock (because I forgot to check myself), tomorrow the WMATA board will be voting to discontinue the N22 line that runs between the Union Station, Eastern Market, and Navy Yard Metro stations. The city will be replacing it with a Circulator bus that is also supposed to stop at the new Capitol Vistors Center (but will not include the daytime loop over to Maritime Plaza at 12th and M). You can read the report to the board for a summary of the public comments received on the proposed change.
* Another Anacostia Waterfront Forum is being held, on March 17 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at the MLK Library. This month's topic is "The Economics of Developing the Anacostia Waterfront" and will feature Deputy Mayor Neil Albert, Alex Nyhan of Forest City (who works on the Yards), and others. Here's DDOT's release on the February forum.
* I mentioned a few days back the summer concert series being put on by the BID; they've now released a flyer with the lineup of acts (so you can see them all on a single page rather than browsing through their events calendar).
* Potholepalooza! And it's also a good time to mention that DDOT has started its own Twitter feed.
* I've been remiss in not mentioning the city's new web site, consumer.dc.gov, devoted to consumer protection issues, with a focus right now on targeting unlicensed towing businesses, auto repair shops, and home improvement contractors. And DCRA has been Twittering for a while now (if you follow them you've gotten to read my pleas to get the building permits feed flow unstuck, which they took care of yesterday. Thanks!).
 

With a hat tip to reader M. for seeing that this page has finally gone live (I figured out the URL a few months back, but they hadn't linked to it anywhere yet and hadn't included any drawings), I can point you to Akridge's small info page on 25 M Street, which includes one of the many renderings that Akridge displayed at the ANC and Zoning Commission hearings over the past few months. It's a view of the northern section of the west side of Half Street; at the very far right you can see Lerner's 20 M Street building, if that helps orient you. (It's drawn as if you're standing on Half Street at the very southern corner of 55 M, looking northwest). It shows the two office buildings, with the "Via" being the open space between them. (Not shown is the horseshoe-shaped residential building on the southern end of the block.) You can read my more detailed description of the Akridge plans here, and see my project page for photos of what the site currently looks like (hint: it's the old WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage).
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More posts: Akridge/Half St., ANC News, Metro/WMATA
 

On Monday night, the Zoning Commission gave final approval to the Capitol Gateway Overlay Review of Akridge's Half Street project, on the site of the old WMATA bus garage at Half and M. Normally this would be where I would link to my entry with a detailed description of the late January hearing on this review--except that I couldn't find it. And as I thought back, it then dawned on me that I didn't actually write one. I think I was waiting to see if maybe I could get some renderings (which I've failed at), and then life sped onward. Oops. Feel free to ask for your money back.
But at least I wrote a long description of the project when it was presented to ANC 6D in December--or, if you really want to know how the hearing went, here's the transcript. (Though it will be pretty hard to follow along without any drawings to look at.)
The 700,000-sq-ft mixed-use project could get underway in early 2010. The bus garage will probably be demolished pretty soon, to clear the space for stadium parking.
 

* From Dr. Gridlock, news about a work session being held today by the Metro board of directors to find ways to close their budget shortfall. On the long list of items: closing the east entrance of the Navy Yard station (at New Jersey and M) on weekends, unless there's an event at the ballpark. Metro numbers say that fewer than 700 people use that gate on weekends. The P2 line that I believe runs down M Street could also be on the chopping block. See the list here, though remember it's just a first cut at ideas.
* From Tommy Wells: "On Monday, February 23rd, Councilmember Wells will host a Community Forum on the Latest Information Regarding Lead in DC Drinking Water. [..] Officials will be on hand from the DC Water and Sewer Authority, District Department of the Environment, District Department of Health, Washington Aqueduct and DC Appleseed to address your concerns and questions regarding the lead levels in the DC water system." It will be at Tyler Elementary School at 10th and G, SE, at 6:30 pm.
* And a swing span test at the Douglass Bridge will take place on Sunday morning (Feb. 22), with the bridge being closed from 5 am to approximately 10 am.
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More posts: Metro/WMATA, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues
 

* The folks at Barracks Row Main Street have passed along the news that today the chain link fences are being removed from around the parking lot under the Southeast Freeway at Eighth and I. New lighting has been installed, and once the parking meters and striping are complete, this lot that was formerly restricted to use by the Marines will become a 60-space public parking lot.
* I didn't make the Anacostia Waterfront Forum meeting last night; hopefully the DDOT folks will post any slides or other materials on the Anacostia Waterfront web site. However, yesterday WAMU did two reports on the initiative, with interviews with many of the people scheduled to speak at the forum: you can hear them here. (And, a PS to DDOT: it might not be a bad idea to have the old AWC URL redirect to the new web site instead of dc.gov.)
* A reminder that tomorrow (Thursday) is the WMATA public hearing on decommissioning the N22 Union Station/Eastern Market/Navy Yard bus line, so that DC can replace it with a shiny red Circulator bus. It's at 6:30 pm at Metro's headquarters, 600 Fifth St., NW.
* (h/t G St.) I have to admit I found this pretty funny, but only because I've been lucky enough to never discuss dog parks, nor have I come up with a "ridiculous acronym" for the neighborhood. (Though goodness knows plenty of other people are trying.) Plus, I was born on Capitol Hill, and really am a "DC Lifer." Nyaaah!
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More posts: 816-20 Potomac, circulator, 8th Street, Metro/WMATA
 

Just out from WMATA: "A public hearing will be held on Thursday, February 19, to receive the public's input on the proposed elimination of Metrobus route N22, the Navy Yard shuttle service, with that service switching to the DC Circulator. The public hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m., at Metro's headquarters, 600 5th Street, NW, Washington, D.C." Why? "The District Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) notified Metro of its intent to transfer operation of Metrobus route N22 to the DC Circulator effective March 29, 2009. Therefore, it is proposed to discontinue Metrobus service on route N22 so that DDOT can transfer the funds to a new DC Circulator route that would serve the Navy Yard - Union Station area. Details of the proposed DC Circulator route are being developed by DDOT." See my previous posts on this switch from N22 to Circulator for more information and background. See the Metro release for information on how to be a witness if you wish to testify.
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More posts: circulator, Metro/WMATA
 

New Year, New Meetings:
* ANC 6B (mostly Capitol Hill, but also including the Eighth Street area of Near Southeast) has posted its January 13 meeting agenda, and one of the items on it is "South Capitol Street Draft Environmental Impact Statement." This draft EIS, which envisions substantial changes to the section of South Capitol Street from the Southeast Freeway across the Douglass Bridge to Firth Sterling Avenue, was released last year, and at December's Anacostia Waterfront Fair it was announced that the final EIS is expected to come this spring.
It may not sound like much to get excited about, but one of the cornerstones of the final EIS should be the unveiling of the chosen design for the new Douglass Bridge. I wrote a long entry about the Draft EIS when it was released, and on my Douglass Bridge page you can also see the four preliminary designs. (And you can also relive 2007's Extreme Makeover!) Feel free to sound off in the comments on which bridge design you want--but, please, no wagering.
Also on ANC 6B's agenda is "ZC # 03-12I/03-13I, Modification to the Arthur Capper Carrollsburg PUD," which I imagine is the series of deadline extensions and other zoning items that I've previously written about. (UPDATE: This has apparently been removed from the 6B agenda, at the Housing Authority's request.)
This meeting is at the Old Naval Hospital, 921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE, at 7 pm.
* ANC 6D's monthly meeting will be on the previous night, Jan. 12, at St. Augustine's Church at 6th and M Streets, SW. No agenda yet posted. (6B usually wins this race by a country mile.)
* This Thursday (Jan. 8), Metro's Customer Service, Safety and Operations Committee will be voting on whether to authorize a mid-February hearing on the discontinuation of the N22 bus, which runs between the Union Station, Eastern Market, and the Navy Yard subway stations and which is expected to be replaced by DC Circulator route. I'm not sure why this is on the agenda again--my understanding was that they approved it in December, as did the full board. Read my previous posts with more detail on this change here and here.
 

It's been more than a year since WMATA first awarded the Southeastern Bus Garage property at Half and M to Akridge (and almost six months since the suit brought by Monument Realty over the bidding process was settled), and at Monday night's ANC 6D meeting there was a first public peek at the designs for this central site being called 25 M Street, on the block just north of Nationals Park bounded by Half, M, N, and Van. And clearly Akridge is taking this project very seriously, as they arrived at the meeting with an army of people, including heavy-hitter architects Bill Hellmuth of HOK (who designed the office portion), Philip Esocoff of Esocoff and Associates (designers of the residential portion), and Jon Eisen of StreetSense (the group working on the retail).
I don't have any renderings yet (hope to within a month or so), but the ones displayed showed buildings with what Hellmuth described as "much more active facades" that "are not like a K Street monolith." There will be three buildings: two office buildings totaling 363,000 square feet, and a 276-unit residential building at N Street with roof terraces from which residents can look into the ballpark and watch the games. The facades step "out" and "in" (far enough in some places to require a zoning special exception), including some spots in the M Street office building that will allow tenants to look south into the ballpark, too. The general feel is not unlike the Monument designs for the other side of Half. (And, with a raze permit already requested, none of this incorporates the existing bus garage building.)
There will also be 56,000 square feet of retail, with a mix of one-, two-, and 2 1/2-story spaces occupying 69 percent of the ground floor, which will require a special exception from the Capitol Gateway Zoning Overlay's requirement of 75 percent. They are expecting to have national retailers for the spaces along Half Street, but are planning to look for smaller local "service" retailers for the additional space along Van Street.
They are also creating what they call the "Via," a pedestrian-only "street" that runs from Half to Van between the two office buildings at the same spot in their block as "Monument Street" will be across the way (just south of 55 M). They are envisioning a "one-of-a-kind" DC destination: a marketplace with stalls and local vendors, where you could get fresh food, "quick-bite" carry-out, etc. (They mentioned Pittsburgh as an example, and I'm assuming they're referencing the Strip District.) The renderings also showed two glass-enclosed suspended walkways above the Via to connect the two office buildings.
The entire project will be LEED certified (as is now required in DC), though they aren't sure yet what level they'll be shooting for ("the goal is to get as high as we can"). Hellmuth said that HOK is not doing a single building in DC right now that isn't at least LEED Silver, and that all major tenants want to be in LEED buildings.
I didn't get the total number of underground parking spaces, but the residential will have three spaces for every four units. (Monument's project across the street, of similar size, would eventually have about 700 spaces.)
Akridge indicated that their "ideal start date" is January 2010, with construction of the entire 700,000-sq-ft project estimated at 22 months. But there is no firm commitment that it will start at that time (thanks to the Current Economic Situation), plus it could end up being built in phases.
The ANC commissioners seemed receptive to the plans (Bob Siegel said that it gave him a "nice, warm feeling"), though with the usual questions about employment for local residents and LSDBE considerations, and concerns about residents and tenants having to work around ballpark traffic.
Akridge was officially at the ANC to request its support for both the zoning overlay review and the special exceptions being requested. While some commissioners were ready to vote to give support immediately, others weren't, and so after a number of differing motions that all failed it was decided that representatives of both sides would work together to discuss "issues" so that the ANC can vote on the project at its Jan. 12 meeting. The Zoning Overlay Review hearing is on Jan. 29.
And, not that there's much to see yet, but I do know have an Akridge/25 M project page, mainly with views of the bus garage from various angles.
 
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