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Dreary Thursday Links Roundup
Jun 18, 2009 9:42 AM
* The news about perhaps paying for the convention center by taking money from various in-the-pipeline projects around the city has generated a lot of comment, not only here but in the form of a letter from Monty Hoffman of PN Hoffman to Chairman Gray in which he said that moving funds away from the planned redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront "would be a horrific business, legal, and community tragedy for the city." And SWDC Blog is reporting this morning that Kwame Brown says the list in the original WBJ article was of all tax-increment-financing plans approved by the City Council, which might be a wider list than just projects from which funds could be diverted.
* Roll Call has a piece on the "slow-to-develop" Capitol Riverfront neighborhood: "Today, visitors to the stadium emerge from the Metro onto an almost empty street flanked by tall fences. Billions of dollars of real estate is planned for the area, but for now, it only offers a few half-empty buildings and the occasional fast-food restaurant." But there is this as well: "The buildings aren't all empty. BID estimates that about 1,600 people live in the area, leasing about half of the available apartments. Office buildings hold about 35,000 workers; Opus East, for example, has leased 50 percent of the units for its new building at 100 M St. SE." (Full disclosure: I'm quoted a few times.)
* On the flip side, a just-released CBRE report on the impact of the federal stimulus package on the DC and Baltimore region says: "The commercial real estate industry has begun to see an impact from the transportation-related stimulus activities. Government contractors are actively touring office buildings in the Capitol Riverfront submarket of Washington, DC, home to the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Transportation, for new growth related to stimulus-funded contracts. These tours are noteworthy as the submarket has seen limited interest over the first six months of the year as a result of the national and local economic recessions." We're also still waiting to hear which federal agency might be about to lease 100,000-sq-ft of space at 20 M, and whether Booz Allen Hamilton is taking 30,000 sq ft at 55 M or elsewhere in the neighborhood.
* And, if you saw a boat full of partying real estate professionals cruising up the Anacostia on Tuesday, it was the Urban Land Institute Washington's annual boat tour, which took the Odyssey from the Southwest Waterfront up to the Yards and then back toward Rosslyn and Georgetown.
* The news of the day gave the Republicans some trouble in the bullpen at last night's Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park. And the GOP's woes in Washington continued, with the Democrats winning the game for the first time in eight years, 15-10.
* I forgot to post this last week: M.L. Clark Real Estate, which negotiated the deal for the city to sublet 225 Virginia Avenue, is going out of business, says WBJ, with its two brokers moving to Cassidy & Pinkard.
* A reminder that this Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm is the Third Annual Ward 6 Family Day.

Tenants Coming to 20 M and 55 M?
Jun 5, 2009 12:17 PM
From today's print edition of the Washington Business Journal (subscribers only), news that two as-yet-unoccupied office buildings in Near Southeast may be close to securing tenants. WBJ says that Monument Realty is "in discussions" with Booz Allen Hamilton to lease more than 30,000 square feet of space at 55 M (currently home to Artomatic), though Booz is apparently also looking at Lerner's 20 M across the street and the under-construction 1015 Half a block to the north.
The article also says that an "undisclosed federal agency is on the cusp of announcing" a 100,000-sq-ft lease at 20 M. I have heard murmurings of some outfit moving to 20 M--if someone wants to whisper in my ear who it is, I'm listening!

Quick Pics from Artomatic Sneak Preview
May 29, 2009 3:02 PM
Hard to believe, after the weeks of buildup, that the opening of Artomatic is going to turn out to be the *second* most exciting event in Near Southeast today, but it should still be noted that it did indeed open its doors at noon today, running for hours and hours between now and July 5. You can get all the specifics at the Artomatic web site, and I'm sure many local blogs and media outlets will give it coverage far beyond what my left-brain-ness is capable of providing, but I did take a few photos at the kick-off this morning that might whet your appetite to go give it a visit. And these shots were from just one of the eight floors' worth of offerings, so there's plenty that I plan to go back to see. (I also took a few photos of the surrounding skyline, since this was my first visit inside Monument's 55 M.)
Comments (3)
More posts: artomatic, Events, Monument/Half St.

Upcoming Events, Updates, and Whatnot
May 27, 2009 4:22 PM
* Tomorrow (Thursday, May 28) at 10:30 am is the groundbreaking ceremony for the Park at the Yards, the first phase of which is scheduled to be completed next spring. The mayor is supposed to be in attendance--I may have to create a Shovel-Wielding Fenty photo gallery, since I now have quite a few of those shots.
* Friday (May 29) at noon is the opening of Artomatic at 55 M Street. I'm giving everyone advance warning that I am hopelessly left-brained, so I won't really even be trying to cover it much beyond wandering through to get the flavor. It runs until July 5, so everyone has plenty of time to get there and check it out. (You can see some of the installations already through the windows.) See my calendar for the specific days and hours (it's closed Mondays and Tuesdays).
* An extremely helpful commenter in this thread has explained why some of the flyovers and ramps are missing from the new Skanska/Facchina schematic of the new 11th Street Bridges design that I linked to: "[It] does not show all the ramp connections in the FEIS design because the District could only find $260 million to fund the project, and the FEIS design is estimated to cost $360 million. The District asked for proposals to build as much of the project as possible for the availible $260 mill, and the schematic shows how much the winning bidder Skanska/Facchina proposed to build. It is a lane-mile more than the next best proposal. The District's plan is to build the rest when they can secure funding (maybe sooner than later.)"
* While not mentioning Near Southeast specifically, this Post article from yesterday talks about the very tough office-space market in DC and surroundings: "'Unless they're already in the ground, they're not starting,' said Steven A. Levin, managing director at Spaulding & Slye. 'Any development project needing a loan over $25 million requires multiple lenders, and the guarantees are onerous. The amount of money you can borrow is also reduced.' [...] Dennis K. Moyer, a commercial real estate lawyer with Goulston & Storrs, said some of his clients are reviewing their existing loans and wondering whether they'll be paid, even on properties that are doing well. 'The next wave that comes is likely the workouts, foreclosures and restructurings,' he said."
Comments (1)
More posts: 11th Street Bridges, artomatic, Events, Monument/Half St., The Yards, Yards Park

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.

Peeking at Changes in Nats Parking Lots for 2009 (Updated)
Mar 23, 2009 9:54 AM
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.

A Pile of Little Items
Mar 19, 2009 4:19 PM
All sorts of tidbits came down the pike in the past 24 hours. In no particular order:
* I didn't make Tuesday night's Anacostia Waterfront Forum, but the presentation slides ("Economics of Developing the Anacostia River") have been posted. The slides have a good batch of economic data and detail for those interested; it's estimated that there could be nearly $6.7 billion in public investment along the river over the next three decades. In addition, the February forum is now available via streaming video, and the next forum has been scheduled for April 21, with the topic being "Green Waterfront, Green Jobs, Green Living in a Green DC." (The March "Waterfront Watch" newsletter has these additional tidbits, plus stories on the DC streetcar project and the Diamond Teague Park groundbreaking.)
* The WashTimes's Tim Lemke gets a first peek (along with suiteholders) of what new concessionaire Levy Restaurants might have in store for Nationals Park this season.
* Via the eckington blog, a list of the "shovel-ready" transportation projects in the district being funded by ARRA (aka "the stimulus package"). Apparently the demolition of the ramps connecting the 11th Street Bridges and RFK were on the request list, but didn't make the final cut. DDOT's been saying for a while that this demolition would happen Any Minute Now. (Read more about DC and the stimulus package at recovery.dc.gov.)
* Back in December, the owners of the 810/816/820 Potomac Avenue properties (the building that houses Quizno's, the abandoned apartment building, and the space between) announced a sealed bid sale for the lots. While some bids have been submitted (interest from hotels keeps getting mentioned in the communiques I've received from the landowner), the original March 15 deadline has been extended by another 30 days.
* A link that I saw this morning that I've subsequently lost says that the Circulator route replacing the N22 from Union Station to New Jersey and M will begin on March 30.
* Two readers reported that the 55 M construction cam has been turned off. For the first time since 2006, there are no active web cams in the neighborhood. Waaah!
* Another reader reported that the sign put up in 2006 at the corner of Second and M advertising 250 M Street ("Delivery 2008") has been replaced with a new sign, minus any delivery date.
* I know that it's been a *long* time since I've posted new photos. I had grand thoughts of going out this morning, until I looked at the radar. I'm hoping to take some this weekend, though I have a very tricky schedule to work around. But at least know that I'm now feeling guilty about it.

The $6 Billion Neighborhood (Better, Stronger, Faster)
Mar 15, 2009 10:38 PM
It certainly doesn't feel like it's the case, so you might be surprised to find out that the District of Columbia thinks that Near Southeast is worth about $1.5 billion more than it was a year ago, at least in terms of the latest tax assessments now available. With a total assessment last year of around $4.5 billion for the blocks bounded by the SE Freeway, South Capitol Street, and the Anacostia River (to just west of the Sousa Bridge), this bump up edges the neighborhood's "worth" to just over $6 billion.
A chunk of that change is coming from the first official assessment of Nationals Park, valued at $999,982,800 (geez, Mr. Tax Assessor, just round it to $1 billion and be done with it), a rise of nearly $650 million from the assessed value of just the land last year. Blocks that saw projects get completed in 2008 (70/100 I, 100 M and Onyx, and 55 M) got hefty bumps in their valuations, while other spots (20 M, the Capper blocks, USDOT, Maritime Plaza) saw their assessments go down.
I created a report comparing 2008 and 2009's numbers overall and by block, though I wouldn't swear to the exactness of each number down to the penny (but they're probably close enough).
As for the trend of the overall valuation of Near Southeast over the past nine years, it's still *up*:
2001: $221,096,652
2002: $428,312,487
2003: $640,209,280
2004: $771,006,345
2005: $894,123,520
2006: $1,781,481,650
2007: $2,539,618,280
2008: $4,467,137,880
2009: $6,004,334,490
UPDATE: Here's a link to a map of the square numbers, in case a bit more visual assistance would be helpful.

Scraping the Barrel for News
Feb 25, 2009 9:37 AM
I'm still here, though perhaps you can't see through the large tumbleweeds currently blowing across the JDLand.com landscape. There just hasn't been hardly any news of late, and in a strange way, the less news there is, the harder it is for me to carve out time from real life (where a couple big projects are consuming much of my time) to do the deeper digging. Plus, I'm on strike from taking photos until the weather gets warmer.
That being said, I can report (h/t to reader E. and the 55 M construction cam) that the new sidewalks around 55 M are starting to go in. There's also some utility work being done across Half at the bus garage to prepare for its demolition. The web cam also has a view of the back of the Red Porch restaurant at the ballpark, where I'm keeping an eye on when the upgrades might start to that space.
Speaking of sidewalks, there's some very nice public space work being done at 909 New Jersey, with a combination of concrete and brick sidewalks being put in along New Jersey (along with the front steps to the building). And anyone who's been close to Near Southeast at night has now seen the blue lights that run along the top of the building's "bow." (They match the color of the lights on the Douglass Bridge.)
And Capitol Quarter framing work has now made the turn up Fourth Street north of L.
If the lack of news is bumming you out, you can always go back and read what was happening this time last year. It was *slightly* busier, as we were hitting the final weeks before the opening of the ballpark. Then again, if we go way back, to February 2004, I posted one entry for the entire month. (I'm just now realizing there's no easy access to the monthly archive of blog entries from the home page--but if you look down the right margin of any "interior" page on the site, you'll see the "Browse by Month" links.)
Comments (5)
More posts: 909 New Jersey, Akridge/Half St., jpi, Monument/Half St.

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."
Comments (5)
More posts: Foundry Lofts/Yards, Monument/Half St., Retail, The Yards

Artomatic 2009 Official Announcement
Feb 12, 2009 3:30 PM
(h/t DCist) What has been unofficially official around here since early December is now officially official: Artomatic 2009 will be held in Near Southeast, at Monument Realty's 55 M Street office building on top of the west entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station, from May 29 to July 5. Here's the Artomatic press release, which says that registration for artists wishing to participate will begin in March.
What exactly is Artomatic? "Held regularly since 1999, Artomatic transforms an unfinished indoor space into an exciting and diverse arts event that is free and open to the public. In addition to displays by hundreds of artists, the event features free films, educational presentations and children's activities, as well as musical, dance, poetry, theater and other performances." Free to the public, it will be open Wednesdays and Thursdays from noon to 10 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 1 a.m., and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m. (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.) Artomatic is also looking for volunteers; see the press release for more details.
Comments (3)
More posts: artomatic, Events, Monument/Half St.

Pre-Weekend Roundup
Jan 30, 2009 12:57 PM
Some little items to head into the weekend:
* The Capitol Riverfront BID is going with a Best of the 80s theme for its Riverfront Reel summer outdoor movie series, and has a survey up to determine the most popular flicks. (Though let me just say that the omission of Die Hard has me white with rage....)
* DDOT is holding an "Anacostia Waterfront Forum" on Feb. 17 at the MLK Library at 6:30 pm, "on the role that replacing the 11th Street Bridges will have in creating a more inclusive and sustainable Distrct."
* Also from the BID, news that the Earth Conservation Corps has scheduled a dedication ceremony for Diamond Teague Park on April 28. I've been told that if all goes "as planned," the construction of the in-water structures (the docks and the piers) should be completed by Opening Day, though the plantings and other work on the dry-land portion of the park would be completed by the beginning of July.
* Greater Greater Washington is not happy that the US DOT is having a "sale" on its parking spaces.
* City Paper's Housing Complex blog is bewildered about where this Capitol Quarter "neighborhood" might possibly be. (Teh Google probably could have answered that.)
* The US Department of Justice and some Shell Oil entities are nearing a $2.1 million settlement for damages and cleanup costs at the Southeast Federal Center (now the Yards) after what the feds allege was benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene contamination of soil and groundwater "from leaking underground storage tanks located at a former filling station adjacent to the contamination."
* I did attend last night's zoning hearing on Akridge's Half Street project, and will post a summary when I recover from the nearly four-hour session. But I did hear that the bus garage on the site will be demolished pretty soon, to make way for temporary parking. Both Akridge and Monument are talking with the Nationals about providing their spaces for gameday parking. (Monument has told me that their underground garage at 55 M--and the little addition to the south--will be complete by Opening Day.) That's a lot of spaces that weren't around last year....
* DCRA has restarted the Building Permits feed. And there was much rejoicing.

New Construction Photos: Teague, Capitol Quarter, 1015 Half (and More)
Jan 25, 2009 5:49 PM
I took a nice tour of the action spots around the neighborhood today, getting updated photos of the very showy progress at Capitol Quarter and 1015 Half Street.
I also snuck across the river (don't tell) to get a peek through my zoom lens at the goings-on at Diamond Teague Park, plus I took a photo or two through the fence at First and Potomac. It looks like the gangplank from the shore to the pumphouse has been dismantled; and there's definitely "in-water" work going on.
I also got a good batch of updated photos for 55 M, and gave my Monument Half Street page a badly needed refreshing--there's also this shot of the construction on the extension of the underground garage (and the shored-up hole on the south end of the block), as seen from Nats Parking Garage B.
I even took my first(!) set of photos at 11th and L, where the Southeast Freeway bends toward the 11th Street Bridges, to get an official "before" baseline in advance of the reconstruction and reconfiguration of it all. (And I found this plaque on one of the flyover pillars, which might be worth a chuckle or two.)
If you want to see the entire batch of new photos on a single page, here they are, though it's about a hundred of them so be patient. But the links above are better if you want to see them matched with their "before"s.
(Oh, and that dinky little For Sale sign at 10th and M by the Exxon that I wrote about on Friday is gone. Drunken property advertising?)
Comments (4)
More posts: 1015 Half, Capper, Capitol Quarter, Monument/Half St., square 697, Teague Park

Tidbits: Teague Park Started, Bridges and Stimulus, Reservation 17A, Exxon For Sale?, Capper Zoning, More
Jan 24, 2009 2:40 PM
Some items from the past few days. Big ones first:
* It's probably been true for weeks, but I've just now been by Diamond Teague Park for the first time in a while and can confirm that construction is definitely underway there. Fences are up, cranes (three of them?) are in place, and workers were there. Pictures tomorrow. (Probably *lots* of pictures tomorrow from all over, as long as the weather stays reasonably clear.)
* City Paper got its hands on the letter Mayor Fenty sent to DC Delegate Norton about the city's priorities should the Feds decide to toss some stimulus package dollars in this direction. As I predicted, the two Near Southeast bridge projects were mentioned: "In particular, aspects of the Eleventh Street and South Capitol Street Bridge replacement projects could be undertaken immediately." He also mentions the city's backlog of maintenance projects, along with investments in Metro and the implentation of the streetcar project. And school modernization. And public safety issues.And environmental initiatives. And housing affordability. And health care. (And now here's the stimulus bill itself, though it doesn't get down into specific projects. On the other hand, considering these two bridges ease the commutes to and from the district of the House Majority Leader....)
* Back in mid-November, the transfer of the plot of land known as Reservation 17A from the Feds to the city finally took place; it runs between New Jersey Avenue and Second Street, and is straddled by the trash transfer station building. With this now under District control, various wheels can start turning in that area, including allowing the establishment of I Street between Second and New Jersey that will form the southern boundary of WC Smith's 800 New Jersey Avenue project. There's hopes that the trash transfer station could be demolished in 2010.
* Reader T. reported yesterday that a small bought-at-the-hardware-store For Sale sign went up at 10th and M yesterday, in front of the fence of the Exxon station. I'm not sure what the deal is, since the land is actually owned by the Exxon Corporation, and you'd think they'd have better methods of marketing the land.
* The public notice for the March 19 Zoning Commission hearing on various Capper PUD alteration requests is now available.
* WBJ reports that the Nationals have parted ways with Centerplate, last year's concessionare at the ballpark. This year it will be Levy Restaurants for the food and Facility Merchandising Inc. for the retail.
* More of the fences are coming down at 55 M, as you can see on the web cam. (Though it took me more than a month to notice that the plywood "tunnel" at the Metro exit had disappeared.)
* The Douglass Bridge will be closed at 5 am Sunday until 10am-ish to test the swing span.

Tiny M Street Doings (Glass Panes and Medians)
Dec 8, 2008 11:05 PM
On my way back from the ANC 6D meeting, I noticed a couple items worth mentioning:
* The glass has now been completely installed around the Half and M entrance to the Navy Yard Metro station, at 55 M Street. I know everyone just *loved* the cyclone fences that had been there, but time marches on. The plans approved by the Zoning Commission called for a special backlit treatment ("frit") of the glass--we'll see if that's still part of the design.
* There's a long row of construction barrels in the middle of M between Cushing and First. Perhaps someone who's seen the work can comment, but my uneducated guess is that they are preparing to rebuild the median there. The developers of 100 M were given permission to remove the existing median there and between First and New Jersey so that they could occupy the curb lane, as long as they agreed to reinstall the medians afterward. Given how close 100 M is to opening, and with the sidewalk now open, I imagine this is probably what's going on. And not a moment too soon--I need back my places to stand for middle-of-the-street photos!
Comments (3)
More posts: Metro/WMATA, Monument/Half St., M Street

Post Surveys the Commercial Real Estate Slowdown Near the Ballpark and Elsewhere
Dec 1, 2008 11:06 PM
The front page of Tuesday's Post has "Building Slowdown Turns Grand Visions into Vapor," a look at projects in the DC area that are on hold because of the slumping economy: "The economic boom of recent years promised to deliver gleaming homes and high-end retail to struggling and newly forming neighborhoods across the Washington region. But that quest is running headlong into a withering economic slowdown and paralyzed credit markets, bringing new construction to a virtual stop and fueling anxiety among those who dreamed that their neighborhoods were the next frontiers."
Among the examples in the article are three delayed projects near the ballpark--WC Smith's 250 M Street office building, the residential and hotel portion of Monument's Half Street project, and also the Corcoran's Randall School development at Half and I, SW (which Monument pulled out of recently): "Perhaps no area is more central to the District's long-term ambitions than the streets around Nationals Park. At every opportunity, Fenty talks of a cosmopolitan destination featuring new parks, offices, stylish apartments and restaurants, all of it along the Anacostia River. Yet, how soon that vision materializes is fraught with uncertainty."
(Full disclosure: I provided a bit of basic status on ballpark-area projects for the piece, hence the "contributed" line.)
Some additional perspective: Certainly there's a slowdown afoot. (It's almost like there's some sort of cycle of boom and bust in commercial real estate!) I've been joking that I should just put a "Gone Fishin'" sign up here at JDLand during 2009, and come back in 2010 to see what's cooking, because other than the first offerings at the Yards and perhaps Canal Park {cough}, I'm not expecting much to get underway in the next little while. On the other hand, Capitol Quarter is moving forward, 1015 Half Street is now out of the ground, Diamond Teague Park is expected to open in the spring, and 100 M and 55 M and 909 New Jersey and Velocity will all be opening their doors before long, and perhaps the lure of another season of baseball will get some retail into the empty ground-floor spaces of those buildings and 20 M.
So, it's not like tumbleweeds are blowing down M Street or vines are growing on buildings a la Logan's Run--and it would be hard to make the case that it's the neighborhood's fault or the stadium's fault when the entire region is feeling the pain. The expectation would be that when the market improves, development in Near Southeast should pick up again. But we'll all just have to wait and see, won't we?

Half Street Hole Getting Filled
Nov 24, 2008 11:24 AM
Reader M., who keeps a better eye on the Monument Half Street web cam than I do, has passed along the word that, within the past week, the Half Street Hole (just north of Nationals Park) has started being re-filled with dirt, except for the far northern portion where additional underground garage space next to the 55 M Street office building is being completed. The small piece of garage construction is where a new street dubbed "Monument Street" has been planned, to connect Half to Cushing Street to the east; doing this work also will now give southern walls to the 55 M garage. The rest of the block is where Monument had plans for a 200-room hotel and 340 residential units, along with lots of ground-floor retail. I don't know anything beyond what I'm seeing on the webcam, so we'll have to wait to find out What This Means (though certainly filling back in a three-story hole isn't particularly likely to indicate a project moving forward).
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Mini-Roundup: Metro Station Entrance Closed, Zoning News, Taxation w/out Representation Street Hearing
Nov 16, 2008 5:42 PM
A bunch of items to start the week with:
* Remember that the west entrance to the Navy Yard Metro station at Half and M is closed every evening this week from 8 pm until closing, thanks to work on 55 M Street.
* On Monday (Nov. 13), the Zoning Commission gave final approval to moving 225 Virginia Avenue into the Capitol South Receiving Zone, which will allow any construction on the block to have greater height and density than the 6.5 FAR/90-ft-height currently allowed. This was approved with two caveats: that there is Zoning Commission review of the design of the portions of a building proposed to rise higher than 90 feet to confirm that the building will be sufficiently setback from the eastern building face, and that any structure will provide a suitable northern focal point for the Canal Blocks Park. Read my entry from the hearing a few weeks ago for more information.
* On Nov. 24 at 2 pm, the city council will be having a hearing about B17-0909, the "Taxation Without Representation Street Renaming Act of 2008," which would "designate the portion of South Capitol Street, SE that intersects with N Street SE and Potomac Avenue SE as 'Taxation Without Representation Street, SE." It just so happens that this is the portion of South Capitol Street that runs alongside Nationals Park, where the council was thwarted in earlier attempts to install an electronic tote board showing the federal taxes that DC residents pay while still having no voting representation in the US Congress.
* Tommy Wells is taking nominations for the Second Annual Livable, Walkable Awards.
* For weeks I've been meaning to post that Nationals Park made the list of Travel and Leisure Magazine's "Must-See Green American Landmarks," thanks to being the first LEED-certified professional sports facility.

Half Street Hole: Construction Starting, But....
Oct 23, 2008 1:01 PM
Folks watching the Half Street Hole just south of 55 M Street have noted the arrival of a crane in the past few days. I've contacted Monument Realty, and they've confirmed that some construction is getting underway--but it's just to complete the three-level underground garage on the southern portion of the street, not to begin the hotel and residential projects. Perhaps all that parking directly north of the ballpark is seen as some worthwhile income while waiting for the residential market to improve....
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What's Happening in the Half Street Hole?
Oct 12, 2008 8:10 PM
One of the many folks on the ground keeping an eye on the neighborhood while I slack off these days has reported that concrete is being poured in the bottom of the hole on the south end of Monument's Half Street project. You can see it on the 55 M web cam if you zoom in; judging from the web cam archive, it looks like the first bits of action began in September, with real work getting underway a week ago. This south end of the block is where Monument has been planning a hotel and 340 residential units, which were originally slated to be finished by the end of 2009 or early 2010.
In mid-September, when a construction trailer was delivered to the south end of the site and a "Bovis" sign went up, I contacted Monument to ask if this meant that work was getting underway; I was told the while they are "hoping" to begin the hotel/residential project by the end of the year, the movement seen at Half and N was for work related to the office building and other improvements (not defined) on Half Street. We'll see if there's some sort of announcement or communique as to what's happening.
In other Monument Half Street news, their public space permit request for various fixtures (" 23-benches, 9 trash containers, 32 lights, 146 fountains, 8 bollards, 18 bike racks") at 1200 Half is now going to be heard at the Oct. 23 Public Space Committee meeting, after having been postponed from September. I can't wait to find out what the heck this "146 fountains" part of the agenda item actually means!
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