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According to the city's land records, on October 7 Akridge paid $4.65 million for the three properties totalling about 7,000 square feet on the south side of K Street between New Jersey and First, all owned by the Cohen family. (Currently on these properties are a defunct garage and an empty lot, as seen in the photo at right). Akridge already owns the lots along First Street south of K down to the Market Deli at L Street; and, from what I can see in my very-unlearned reading of other land records, it also now has agreements with both the Market Deli and the cab garage on the northwest corner of New Jersey and L.
The only non-Akridge lots left on this block (known as Square 740) are two tiny lots directly behind the Market Deli on L Street and the buildings in the middle of the block along New Jersey where Positive Nature used to operate. (I'll also note, for those for whom this actually means anything, that the Positive Nature lots were the recipients of 52,000 square feet in transferable development rights earlier this year.)
This block is kind of the "last frontier" in the neighborhood, the only one without any sort of large development announced anywhere on it.
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More posts: mnorth, square 740
 

* Monday's Post has a couple of pieces on the state of the area's commercial real estate market, and looks specifically at how NoMa doesn't have tenants racing in despite the high-profile acquisitions of NPR and the Justice Department. It also compares NoMa to Near Southeast, and quotes Russell Hines of Monument Realty as saying that "although the slow economy has made leasing the building more complicated, the company had seen interest from some associations and other private companies looking to escape high rents downtown." Alas, the piece mentions "50 M" as Monument's 275,000-sq-ft office building scheduled for completion next year when it means 55 M. (50 M is Monument's project, too--a proposed 130,000-sq-ft office building on the old Sunoco station site, but they are looking for tenants before starting construction there.)
* A Sunday Examiner piece looks at the temporary zoning rules covering where gun stores can be located in DC: "Firearms dealers who apply for a D.C. location will be largely restricted to high density commercial areas downtown and kept at least two football fields away from where people live, play and pray, according to emergency rules now in place." Included in the allowed zones are C-3-C areas, which means that the area of Near Southeast between South Capitol, Second, M, and the freeway (my "North of M" area) is covered. (See the map on page 8 of the OP report for exact boundaries.) Other restrictions: "All applicants, under the new rules, must appear before the Board of Zoning Adjustments to obtain a special zoning exception. Retail stores will be limited to the downtown area, generally between Massachusetts and Pennsylvania avenues Northwest, in addition to about 25 square blocks between Independence Avenue and M Street in Southwest. No dealer will be allowed within 600 feet of a residence, school, library, church or playground." Of course, the gun stores would have to be able to afford the rents in the pricey new buildings going up, since there aren't too many other places left in the neighborhood.
* Late notice (unless you're subscribed to my Twitter feed, in which case you heard about this yesterday), but there's a Live Online chat today at noon with the author of the Post magazine's piece on the drag queens of Near Southeast, and the man known as "Mame Dennis" who was the focal point of the article will be participating, too.
 

Despite my preference to not ever actually step foot outside in Washington during the summer, I wandered around on Thursday afternoon and got updated photos of 909 New Jersey, Velocity, Onyx, 100 M, and 55 M. I especially enjoy the view that's now developed looking up First Street at M(above), where you see five new buildings in the same vista where 80 M stood all alone less than three years ago.
If you've really got some time to kill today, check the Photo Archive for before-and-afters of these intersections that have changed so much: 1st and I, 1st and K, 1st and L, 1st and M, Half and M, Half and L, Half and K, New Jersey and K, New Jersey and I. Or, just start clicking around on the Archive Map to look at other spots.
Coming soon, photos from a few locations I've never had access to until now....
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More posts: mnorth, Square 743N
 

Caught a break with such beautiful weather today, and so I snagged a new batch of overhead photos from up high at the Courtyard by Marriott. I took the entire batch, both east and west, and have paired them with the first ones I took, in March 2006. It's quite a difference; these are the views that people should see when they're carping about "how the area around the ballpark is one big construction zone" -- yes, it is, but look what that construction has done in just two years. (And think of what the commentary would be if this construction *weren't* happening.) You can also toggle to include all the photos from here in 2007 as well, to watch the process step-by-step.
These photos show the progress of 100 M, Onyx, Velocity, 70/100 I, the changes with the Capper Seniors buildings and all the demolitions (and new parking lots!) at Capper. There's even the first views of 909 New Jersey coming up above ground level. I'm still adding some updated photos to those project pages, but you'll get the idea.
 

When setting out to photograph a changing neighborhood, it might initially seem like a good idea to create a scheme where you take photos of 16 different views at each intersection (from up to four different angles) so that you don't miss anything and so that you can easily match photos as time goes on--until you arrive at a time when there are more than 30 intersections where visible change is happening on a day-to-day basis. Then you end up taking nearly 500 photos in one 90-minute walkabout on a sunny Saturday afternoon (without even venturing near the shiny new ballpark that's only two weeks away from opening), making you almost embarrassed when it's time to post a selection of them on your obsessive-compulsive web site.
This is all just hypothetical, of course.
Yesterday was the first time I saw the striped and open-to-traffic First Street north of M, now widened to four lanes with a bike path, and it's kinda different from the First Street I've spent so much time on these past few years. (The four new buildings with one more about to pop up might be part of the feeling, too.) Here's a gallery of before-and-afters for First Street at I, K, L, and M so you can see the changes. This was the first time I've been able to take a complete set of pictures at First and I in nearly a year, so it was especially nice to get those updated.
I also took new photos along Half Street between I and M, Cushing at L and M, and a smattering along M at South Capitol, Van, and New Jersey. And the wide views from the freeway at South Capitol Street. (My previous entry has the links to the photos I took of the various parking lots under construction.) For all of these, don't forget that clicking on the icon will show you all photos in the archive of that location if you want to see the progression of the changes.
Of course, many of these new photos are also now on the project pages for the under-construction buildings: see 70/100 I, 909 New Jersey, Velocity, Onyx, 100 M, and 55 M for details.
(There sure were a lot of folks taking either a drive or a walk through the area yesterday--let the onslaught begin! And thanks to those who said hi while I was out and about ["Are you the one who does that web site?"]. As always I appreciate everyone who made the effort to not run me over when I was standing in the middle of the street taking pictures. My days of being able to do that may be at an end, though.)
 

Let's take a breather from all this parking stuff (which I had my fill of about two years ago) and get back to the original JDLand modus operandi--posting lots of photos of the neighborhood. Yesterday's press conference on the-subject-I-just-said-I-wasn't-going-to-talk-about was held on the 10th floor of 20 M Street, giving me a chance to update my photos from that perch, with views of 70/100 I, Velocity (now working on floor #2), the 1015 Half Street site (where nothing seems to be happening just yet), 55 M, and the ballpark. You can see all photos I've taken from atop 20 M in the past 10 months, or just compare the oldest and newest ones (there's been a few changes!).
Switching to the opposite side of the neighborhood, I took a few shots from Poplar Point on Sunday of the ballpark and The Yards.
You can also see all the new photos (along with the ones taken inside the ballpark looking out at the surrounding neighborhood) on a single page.
I hope to get out this weekend and update the ground-level photos of all the latest happenings.
 

Sometime within the past few weeks, the surface parking lot at 1100 South Capitol Street has come under the management of Colonial Parking. The spiffy new sign (and the Colonial web site) indicate that it is open for monthly parking only, at a rate of $80 a month. It's on the site where Ruben Companies plans eventually to build its SC1100 office project, but no start date has been announced for that.
As for whether it could possibly be one of the lots that the Nationals are planning to use for season ticket holder parking, I have no information on that, but it's certainly interesting that this lot has suddenly gotten big-time management....
And, in case you didn't see it mentioned in my photo update yesterday, work has begun on the Capper parking lots along Third Street. Some PVC pipes are piled up on the two blocks, and some trench digging is underway at Third and I.
 

It was time this weekend to catch up on photos for a bunch of locations, including the most aged batch of them all, the views of the ballpark's northern footprint along N Street, which haven't been updated since September, so you can now have your fill of photographs of imposing parking garages. The curbs and historic streetlamps are now in, and N Street has been paved from South Capitol to Half, and it looks like the paving east to First isn't far behind. So even though the half-shadow half-sunlight conditions weren't the best to work with, I took full updates of the First, Half, Cushing, and Van intersections along N, all of which you can see here.
One thing that really struck me today for the first time is just how wide First Street is becoming, as you can see in this batch of northward-looking photos. I also saw that all the businesses on the west side of First south of M have now vacated--as you can see above, it's odd to see those old about-to-be-demolished buildings with sparkly new sidewalks and streetlamps in front of them.
I also trudged around the road construction along First Street north of M as best I could to update photos of 100 M, Onyx, and 70/100 I, and also got a good new batch of 55 M photos as well as the always showy views from the freeway at South Capitol. And I finally got the last set of old Capper Seniors photos to show that the building is indeed gone. And heaven help me I even took a photo of the new sign advertising the Square 696 project, and also a few shots barely showing that work started this week on the first Capper parking lot at Third and I (because there's nothing more exciting than documenting the construction of a parking lot). There's just too much change, and I couldn't stop until it had all been documented! Aaaiiiieeeeee!!!!
For those of you brave enough to try, here's all the photos from the past two days on one page. (Thank heavens I've done a lot of work over the past year or so to automate the update process as much as possible.) Don't forget to click on the icons to see all photos of a location over the years....
 

Today's print edition of the Washington Business Journal (online for subscribers only) reports that CNN, wanting 80,000-100,000 sq ft of space to upgrade its studios, is looking at three in-development office buildings in Near Southeast: Opus East's 440,000-sq-ft 1015 Half Street, at the old Nation site, which is scheduled to begin construction in October; Lerner's 320,000-sq-ft 1000 South Capitol right next door, which has no announced start date; and Ruben Companies' 350,000-sq-ft 1100 South Capitol, one block to the south. "Sources familiar with the search say the sites were picked for their views of the Capitol, access to transportation and the opportunity to build a structure designed to fit CNN's needs instead of retrofitting an existing building." It should be noted that WBJ also wrote back in late March that CNN (and other companies) were looking at Near Southeast.
 

Tucked in the stories (Post and WashTimes) about the bill that passed its first reading in front of the council yesterday--allowing the relocation of the strip clubs that have left Near Southeast because of the arrival of the stadium and surrounding development--was word that an amendment to the bill had passed allowing clubs to relocate to certain zoned areas within 5,000 feet of the ballpark. People are already e-mailing me with the vapors, so here's what I've been able to find out.
The circle covered by a one-mile radius around the stadium site stretches across all of Near Southeast, most of Buzzards Point, a fair amount of Southwest, and even into Anacostia and small portions of Capitol Hill. But the text of the amendment says that the clubs can relocate "in any C-3, C-4, or C-5 zone within 5000 feet from the Baseball Stadium footprint"; once you take into account those restrictions, when you look at the zoning maps you'll see that there are very few locations that have those zone designations; in Near Southeast, the only areas meeting that criteria are the land bounded by South Capitol, I, M, and New Jersey (what I call the "North of M" area) and the area just south the freeway over to the Post Plant. In Southwest, the area between I, M, South Capitol, and 2nd St. SW, and the Waterside Mall parcel, are the only C-3/4/5 zones within the 5,000-foot radius. And across the river in Anacostia there is only one small area zoned C-3-A.
But, given the character of the areas in Near Southeast where these one-time strip club relocations would be allowed, it would appear to be a remote possibility--after all, what the clubs generally look for are large spaces with low rents, and with most C-3 parcels in Near Southeast now purchased by developers with grand plans for shiny new buildings, it would seem that the large-space/low-rent options east of South Capitol are few and far between. Unless the club owners decide to build big tents beneath the freeway.
 

Just a small update on the movement that appears to be happening on Square 696, which is the block bounded by 1st, Half, I, and K that is currently home to a firewood lot, a towing company, and a car repair shop. I mentioned a week ago that "DRI Development Office/Retail" signs appeared on the fence surrounding the firewood lot at 1st and I--within the last day or two, the same signs are now hanging on the southwest corner of the block (at Half and K). I have no more word on what's transpiring in this spot (believe me, I'm trying), but this could be what the Washington Business Journal was talking about in a recent piece when it mentioned "a block on the corner of Half and K" being "among the handful of property sales in the developing ballpark district as high valuations lure the current crop of owners to sell." The four parcels on the block have been owned up to now by the Pedas family (who sold Square 699N one block to the south in 2005) and also Potomac Development Corporation, and there's no indication yet in the land records of any sales. This is a big block, as the four parcels total around 74,000 square feet--with I Street likely to become a prime east-west artery across South Capitol through Southeast and Southwest, and with JPI's two residential projects going up directly to its north and east, it's a location that I've been surprised hasn't sprouted any projects sooner. More as soon as I get it.
More posts: mnorth, Plaza on K/Square 696
 

Let's see.... The most interesting news of the day is that, as of 2:00 this afternoon, there were already folks camping out in front of the Capitol Quarter sales office, six days ahead of the next offering of five market-rate townhouses. Next, I took some new photos of the Nation demolition (which is not exactly proceeding with lightning speed)--check either my 1015 Half Street page for the basics, or the Photo Archive for Half and K and Half and L for additional shots. I also updated with what might be my final M Street photos for the DOT HQ, recording that both New Jersey and 4th Street are now open to traffic south of M (a couple weeks after the stoplights were turned on). And I took photos of the new DRI sign at 1st and I (though the photos don't show them real well, and one's already falling down)--they say "DRI Development Services, LLC | A Transwestern Company | Office/Retail." Still trying to get some info on what's coming there. Anyway, you can poke around those pages, or you can look at all the photos from today that I've posted and then click on the intersection/direction links to compare today's shots to what that view has looked like over the past few years.
 

Today I saw for the first time new signs hung on the fence surrounding the firewood lot on the southwest corner of 1st and I Streets, emblazoned with "DRI Development/Office and Retail" (or some such). I have absolutely no information on this--this lot has been owned for quite some time by the Potomac Development Corporation, but I don't see any records as of yet in the online public records to indicate a sale has taken place, so perhaps it's a joint venture. Or not. I don't know. Anyway, I'll try to see what I can find out (whispers in my ear always welcome!), and hopefully some light can be shed on perhaps ANOTHER project getting started in the North of M section of Near Southeast, to go along with JPI's two residential towers, ADC Builders' Square 699N, Faison's Onyx on First condos, and Opus East's 100 M office building (and maybe the Nation site, too?), and perhaps something on the Sunoco lot by Monument Realty.
 

From today's print edition of the Washington Business Journal (subscribers only for now), word arrives of two big Near Southeast real estate transactions: Opus East, developer of 100 M Street, is on track to purchase the 1015 Half Street/Nation site from Potomac Investment Properties (the story says Republic Investment, but I don't think that's correct). And Monument Realty is reportedly adding to its vast Hood holdings by buying the old Sunoco lot at 50 M Street. (I have heard rumors of these two items for weeks/months, but it turns out what I was hearing wasn't 100% accurate--score one for waiting for confirmation) The article says that Opus plans to retain the plans for a 440,000-sq-ft office building with retail on the Nation site, and are rumored to be paying $100 a square foot; Monument has not disclosed what it might do with the Sunoco site or what it's paying. The article also has some vague mention of some other transaction on the "corner of Half and K", but doesn't say which corner (the northeast and northwest ones are the two possibilities), or who's buying it. More on these transactions (such as actual prices) as I get it. (And yes, I'll have photos of the Nation demolition as soon as the sun comes out.)
 

Thanks to the eyes on the ground for the news that Nation is indeed now being demolished--I'm out of pocket for another day or so, but will have a full report on all the North of M demolition (including also Square 699N and the Nexus/909 New Jersey site) by the end of the weekend.
 

Sometime within the last few weeks another of the auto repair shops along First Street closed; this time it's the United Transmission Center, at 1004 First (the red brick building at right in these photos). The property was bought in September by Akridge, but the company hasn't announced any plans for the 11,000 sq ft of land it now owns on the east side of First (it doesn't own the Market Deli on the south end, nor the two other garages on the north end, but now owns everything in between). See my North of M map to see what's on the boards in the section of Near Southeast north of M and west of New Jersey--lots of land now owned by developers, but still waiting to see plans begin to move forward on most of the lots. UPDATE: I should note that the garage has moved to a new location in Northeast, so it hasn't shut down altogether.
More posts: marketdeli, mnorth, square 740
 

The agenda for last night's ANC 6D meeting wasn't made available before meeting time, so I decided to take a chance and skip the session (even though I normally adore subjecting myself to the psychological equivalent of having 2-inch nails driven into my eyeballs for a couple of hours). And it sounds like I picked a good one to miss, because my sources tell me that once again a fight over an alley closing dominated the proceedings, this time being another go-round on Monument Realty's 55 M Street project on the west side of Square 701. Monument was looking for the ANC's support in advance of their Jan. 11 Zoning Commission hearing; last night the ANC's commissioners voiced concerns (which were also voiced in the past when Monument asked for support for its alley closing bill) that Monument's proffered community benefits package is insufficient--as currently constructed, it includes a $10,000 contribution to the Southwest Neighborhood Association's Scholarship Fund, a $50,000 contribution to the local schools, and a commitment to set aside a certain percentage of the residential project for affordable housing. Monument's standpoint is that this project is a "Matter of Right" development, meaning that there is no requirement that they do anything for the community, but they are doing so, anyway. The discussion has been tabled until the ANC's January 8 meeting, and the commmissioners also passed a resolution asking the City Council to table the alley closing bill (which already passed unanimously last week on its first reading and is scheduled for its final reading and vote on Dec. 19) to allow negotiations to continue. In less fractious news, there was apparently a presentation by WMATA about its Joint Development Opportunities around the Navy Yard station, including their work with Monument at 55 M Street (on top of the Half Street station entrance) as well as the Chiller Plant at Half and L and a small bit of land near the New Jersey Avenue station entrance. Am hoping to get more information about this....
 

The DC Property Sales database runs about six weeks behind the calendar, so it's only now reporting that in late September the John Akridge Companies paid $7 million for six properties totalling 11,145 sq ft on the east side of First Street between K and L, currently home to an auto repair shop and an empty lot. Akridge has owned since the late 1980s an empty lot totalling 3,934 sq ft on this site, so they now own everything in this block of 1st Street except for the Market Deli land on the corner of 1st and L and the two car repair shops on the corner of 1st and K. No announcement so far as to any plans for this land. See my North of M map to orient yourself--and note that the photo at the top of the North of M page shows the block in question, with the two beige brick buildings at left being owned by the William Cohen/Willco Construction Company, and the red brick building and the empty lots to its right now owned by Akridge.
More posts: marketdeli, mnorth, square 740
 

The city's Issued Building Permit data feed just updated (and guys, isn't it time to admit you're only updating it weekly and not daily?), and lo and behold there's an issued permit listed for 1015 Half Street, the site of the defunct Nation nightclub, where Potomac Investment Properties is planning 420,000 sq ft of office space with 20,000 sq ft of retail. The permit info seems a bit incomplete--no actual permit number, some other info missing on the complete entry, and the building permit application submitted two years ago still shows one discipline needing to be approved. But I note that there's also a Public Space Permit that went into effect last week for water and sewer excavation at 1015 Half, a permit that can sometimes signal preparations for demolition (because the water and sewer lines into the property need to be capped before a building can be demolished). But certainly even the existence of these permits--along with the sign on the north side of the Nation building from Cushman and Wakefield advertising office space "coming soon"--would seem to indicate that movement isn't far away. The other half of this block (where the parking lot is, fronting South Capitol) is owned by the Lerner family, who are proposing 1000 South Capitol (320,000 sq ft office building) on that lot, but have not announced any timetable. See my North of M map to get your bearings. (And I guess it might be time for 1015 Half to get its own page. It never stops!) Anyone with the scoop (c'mon, Mr. Gewirz, I know you're lurking out there) feel free to fill me in.
More posts: 1015 Half, mnorth
 

Today's Post writes about the two lots in Near Southeast that WMATA has announced will be made available for private development, the 14,000-sq-ft lot on the Southeast corner of Half and L and a 4,000-ft patch around the eastern entrance to the Navy Yard station at New Jersey and M. Not really too much in the piece that I didn't address in my own entry eight weeks ago when WMATA announced the search, but it's also a nice way to be able to post here that the deadline for developers to submit their proposals is Nov. 17. The article does mention, however, that sometimes these joint development opportunities don't always move like wildfire: "Once WMATA chooses a developer, the proposals must be reviewed by local jurisdictions and the Metro board. Getting the appropriate permits can be a lengthy process. Developers at the Prince George's Plaza Green Line station were selected by WMATA in 2000 but broke ground only last year."

 
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