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Tonight the Zoning Commission approved with a 3-0-2 vote Case 07-08, the request to allow temporary surface parking lots (lasting no more than five years) on a number of parcels within walking distance of the Nationals ballpark. (I considered this hearing so important that I took off my fuzzy slippers and actually ventured to Judiciary Square to attend in person rather than watching Ye Olde Webcast.) Commissioners Mitten, Hood, and Turnbull voted for the action; Commissioners Parsons and Jeffries did not attend.
The Office of Planning, while making clear in its report that it strongly encourages the use of mass transit and other alternatives to cars and would not normally support surface parking lots, testified that these lots and the 3,775 maximum spaces they would provide (see my Stadium Parking page for a map that shows their locations) will help to alleviate the short-term shortage of available parking during the next few years until new developments with additional underground parking in the area are completed.
It was requested that the case be approved immediately, on an emergency basis, with the explanation that the sooner the Nationals know where their lots are going to be, the better they can tailor the assignments of season-ticket holders to different lots based on where they are arriving from. (It was also emphasized numerous times that the parking lots are just one part of the overall traffic planning for the stadium.)
The main opposition to the amendment came from residents of Southwest, and ANC 6D commissioner Andy Litsky testified that the neighborhoods were not so much concerned with the lots themselves, but how traffic would be directed to the lots, with the bulk of the consternation focused on 4th, P, and I Streets, SW, which the residents consider to be local roads but which were mentioned by a traffic consultant at the March public meeting as being likely routes to the possible lots in Buzzards Point. There was also a surprising moment when a representative of Pepco testified that there's no way that Square 665 at Buzzards Point can be considered an option for a surface lot, because there's a substation still in operation on it. The Office of Planning explained that this text amendment was merely identifying "potential" lots, and that it's assumed that not all squares will ever actually have surface parking on them, and in fact the presentation slides by traffic consultant Gorove Slade from the March public meeting indicated that most likely no parking would be created at Buzzards Point. Ken Laden of DDOT then testified that his agency has never considered 4th, P, and I in SW to be important streets, because the vast majority of the lot locations are on the east side of South Capitol Street and that DDOT is trying to keep the bulk of the traffic in Near Southeast (where there are currently very few residential developments).
This gave the zoning commissioners an opening they were looking for, and they crafted a pretty sweet way to take the residents' concerns into account: because each surface parking lot will still have to go through the normal DC approval process for a Certificate of Occupancy (environmental review, DDOT review, etc.), they ordered that the associated traffic plans submitted with the COO may not include directing traffic to/from the lots down local streets (specifically mentioning 4th, P, and I). With that, the amendment was approved on an emergency basis. Andy Litsky said he was "pleased" with the decision.
As for the overall traffic management plan, apparently DDOT was not real happy with the first draft that they received on April 30 from the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission (Laden said it wasn't "user-friendly") and are expecting a new draft in early June, which will then be put out for public comment (and I'm guessing there will be plenty of that). It will include the same sort of on-street parking restrictions that have been used around RFK, where no one can park during games without a special residential parking permit, although exactly how far the boundaries of that restricted area will reach is still under discussion.
And DDOT's Laden also said that an agreement is close to being reached that would add a Circulator bus line from Union Station to the new US Capitol Visitors' Center to the Capitol South and Navy Yard Metro stations, which would give direct access to the red, orange, and blue lines without having to change trains at L'Enfant Plaza.
Above all, it was repeated numerous times that this will be a work-in-progress, that the plans will be tweaked and massaged as the planners see what works and what doesn't. In other words, while traffic will undoubtedly be a nightmare on Opening Day 2008, that doesn't mean it will always be that way. And, oh yeah, take Metro.
For additional background, here's my post from when the zoning case first came up. And be sure to read the Office of Planning's report, Andy Litsky's testimony, and the presentation slides from the March public meeting. And all my other Stadium Parking and Transporation documents and links.
UPDATE: Here's the Post piece on the hearing.

 

A reminder before the weekend starts that on Monday night the Zoning Commission will be having its hearing on Case 07-08, the request to amend the city's zoning laws to allow temporary (no longer than five years) surface parking lots on certain squares in Near Southeast and Southwest to help provide parking for the new stadium. (It's available via live webcast [but not archived] for those who don't wish to schlep to the meeting.) You can read the Office of Planning's report in support of the case that I posted earlier this week and see my map laying out where the parking lots would be located; there's also a piece in this morning's Examiner about how nearby residents (read: residents in Southwest, since there are hardly any in Near Southeast) are "furious, fearing that the location of the new lots will force traffic onto their narrow neighborhood streets, trapping them in their homes on game days." Note that the mention by Andy Litsky in the article of 4th Street is referring to the street in Southwest, not Southeast. My Stadium Transportation and Parking page also has in addition to the map the various presentations by DDOT and the traffic consultants about the plans to get people to and from the stadium, the on-street parking plans (i.e., none), and also the news items from the past few months about this subject. I imagine the zoning hearing is going to be quite festive.

More posts: parking, Traffic Issues, zoning
 

Let's go around the horn and see what happened at last night's various meetings.
* The Zoning Commission voted to give final approval to the plans for 250 M Street, William C. Smith's planned 190,000-sq-ft office building on M Street just east of what will be Canal Park. The building, which is actually part of the Capper/Carrollsburg Planned Unit Development (and will help fund all the redevelopment at Capper), is expected to start construction at the end of 2007.
* ANC 6D had three Near Southeast items on the agenda--unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend, so I'm giving you the quick and dirty results, and will hopefully have links later for additional details. First, they gave their approval (again) to the 276-unit residential building planned by Camden Development at 1325 South Capitol Street, but this was pretty prefunctory since they approved it a few months back and nothing has really changed except a bureaucratic need to resubmit the plan to the Zoning Commission in a different manner; the ZC hearing is on May 31. Second, they voted not to support Zoning Commission Case 07-08, the request to amend the city's zoning laws to allow temporary (no longer than five years) surface parking lots on certain squares in Near Southeast to help provide parking for the new stadium. There was also a presentation by the DC Housing Authority on what's been happening with Capper/Carrollsburg and the Capper seniors buildings, but of course you've been reading this site religiously and so know it all already.
UPDATE: Apparently the feelings against the parking case ran pretty strong; and I understand that Andy Litsky of the ANC will be testifying in opposition at the Zoning Commission hearing next Monday (May 21).

 

Tonight ANC 6D will be briefed and will vote on whether to support Zoning Commission Case 07-08, the request for text amendments to current zoning regulations to permit and regulate temporary surface parking lots on specified blocks near the stadium. Here's the Office of Planning's report to the Zoning Commission on the proposed zoning changes--it's not very different from the original report they submitted back in April, as I understand it the only major difference is asking that parking spaces for baseball be reserved for 1.5 hours before events (rather than the 3 hours initially suggested). The hearing before the Zoning Commission is on May 21. For more background on the plans for parking and other transportation issues around the stadium site, see my Stadium Parking page for maps, presentations, and other documents.
More posts: ANC News, parking, Nationals Park, zoning
 

The agenda for May ANC 6D meeting has been sent out (though it's not yet available on their web site). In addition to a presentation and vote on the Waterside Mall plans, there's a bunch of Near Southeast-related items on the agenda, ones that I've been posting about here for a while:
* There will be a presentation and vote on 1325 South Capitol's resubmission to the Zoning Commission as a PUD (that hearing is now scheduled for May 31). This is the planned 276-unit residential building across the street from the Nationals ballpark, which because of some procedural muck had to resubmit its plans in a different format.
* Also scheduled is an update by the DC Housing Authority on the latest goings-on at Capper/Carrollsburg, including status reports on the Senior Buildings (which I imagine will include the change for Capper Building #2 [aka the "Ballpark Apartments"] to allow workforce-level residents in addition to low-income seniors), as well as on the planned demolition this summer of the old Capper Seniors building at 7th and M, and the latest with the townhomes at Capitol Quarter, as more market-rate houses go on the market and with infrastructure construction expected to begin soon (and "vertical construction" probably starting in early fall).
* And there's also a presentation and vote on the (gaaaaak) Supplemental Stadium Surface Parking plan that's having its zoning hearing on May 21. My Stadium Transportation and Parking page (and its News Items tab) can give you the gory details.
This meeting is scheduled for the same time as Monday's Zoning Commission meeting, which includes on its newly-posted agenda the final approval vote on the 250 M Street office building project (which has been delayed a bit over the past few months), so it's a tough call which one I'll be focusing on. (Especially since we know how much I love ANC meetings.)
 

Don't know how new this is, but a page on the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission's site about the steps being taken to make the new Nationals ballpark "green" includes a graphic describing the various environmentally conscious aspects of the stadium--and the graphic also has a stadium rendering I haven't come across before (looking at the stadium from its northwest corner) with the best view I've seen so far of the garages planned for the north end of the site, as well as good detail of the South Capitol Street facade of the stadium. I've added the graphic to my Stadium Renderings page.
More posts: parking, South Capitol St., Nationals Park
 

A few articles to note in the latest neighborhood newspapers--nothing really new in them (especially if you stop by here with regularity), but they might be good roundups for people who haven't been following along closely. The April Hill Rag has a profile of Capitol Quarter, the mixed-income townhome component of the Capper/Carrollsburg redevelopment. And the latest Voice of the Hill has "Stadium Parking Plan is 'Managed Chaos'", covering last month's stadium Transportation Operations and Parking Plan meeting and the reaction of local residents and leaders. My notes from that meeting are here, and my Stadium Parking page has the meeting's presentation slides from Gorove/Slade, DDOT, and WMATA.
More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter, Metro/WMATA, parking
 

Wasting no time, the Zoning Commission has scheduled for May 21 the public hearing on Case 07-08, the request to allow temporary surface lots at various locations within walking distance of the stadium. Note that some of the stadium parking and transportation items in the news and on the web these days are pretty chock full of misassumptions, misinformation, and misunderstandings, so do yourselves (and my blood pressure) a favor and read for yourself the various source documents and meeting notes I've posted, look at the map, do a little critical thinking, and try not to yell "The sky is falling!" just yet. (If we're staring at the same information in September or October, then we can all chant it together.)
More posts: parking, zoning
 

Last night's Zoning Commission meeting had four Near Southeast items on the agenda; we can start with the easy one and say that Case 06-25, the latest batch of text amendments to the Capitol Gateway Zoning Overlay, was given final approval. Next, the expected final vote on Case 06-41, the new residential project at 1325 South Capitol Street, was delayed because of some procedural issues that went way above my head and that now require a special public meeting to sort out (which will probably be in the next six weeks). But the item of greatest interest is Case 07-08, the request for zoning changes that would allow temporary surface parking lots on certain blocks within range of the Nationals ballpark. It had been brought as an emergency request because of the time sensitivity of needing to get the lots built before the weather gets cold again (if it ever gets warm first!!!), meaning that the rule could have gone into effect immediately (with hearings to make it permanent within the next 120 days), but the commissioners balked at the idea, saying that too many emergency requests are coming down the pike these days that don't really deserve the special treatment. They did agree to an expedited hearing date (one that only needs to be advertised for 30 days), but there is clearly some concern amongst the commissioners about the whole idea, with one of them rightly asking to make sure that the rule prohibits any non-commercial use of the lots (like for trash truck parking or other industrial-type uses). So, be prepared to read plenty more about this in coming months, and read my previous post on the zoning request for more details, which includes links to the Office of Planning report on the request.

More posts: 1325sc, Capper, parking, Nationals Park, zoning
 

It should be noted that work has now begun on the parking garage on the northwestern edge of the Nationals ballpark site (between Half and South Capitol, south of N). Pile driving is underway (clang....clang....clang) and the site is being excavated. You can get a feel for it from the Stadium Construction Webcam #2 (lower right-center), or get a wonderful view of basically nothing (the piledriver is at center) in this shot I took today of the southwest corner of Half and N. (I also took there's-no-more-there-there shots of what used to be the Good and Plenty Carryout site on the northern side of this intersection as well--see today's vista compared to shots from the past few years, looking to the west, northwest, and north.)

More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

On April 9, the DC Zoning Commission will be entertaining Case 07-08, an emergency request to allow for changes to the Capitol Gateway Zoning Overlay to allow for the construction of temporary surface parking lots--to last no more than five years--on certain squares within Near Southeast. There is also a companion case, 03-12E/03-13E, specifically requesting a minor modification to the Capper/Carrollsburg zoning orders to allow surface parking lots on four squares within Capper--the three blocks bounded by 2nd, I, M, and 3rd (next to Canal Park) and on Square 882, the current home of the old Capper Seniors building, which is expected to be demolished this summer.
I'm not going to go into great detail, because I need to pace myself on the subject of parking or else I will pop a vein before Opening Day. But here's the gist: the city and the Nationals want to be able to build temporary surface parking to handle the estimated 3,800 cars that will need parking beyond the 1,225 spaces on the stadium site. These lots will be available as public parking during non-event times (so you DOT workers who want to drive to work should be paying close attention). This zoning request covers certain squares directly around the stadium and at Capper; apparently there will be a subsequent submission requesting similar amendments to the Southeast Federal Center Overlay to allow surface parking there as well.
As to why the Office of Planning is supporting this request, here's a quote from their report to the Zoning Commission (emphasis mine): "Although much of the parking needed to serve the Ballpark's patrons will eventually be accommodated by parking within nearby future buildings, these buildings will not yet be constructed when the Ballpark opens in 2008. While OP strongly encourages the use of mass transit and encourages the Nationals to provide meaningful incentives for the use of mass transit and other alternatives to the private automobile, OP shares their concern that a short term shortage of parking available to patrons could lead to illegal parking on streets and private property in the surrounding area, and could have an impact on the short term success of this important District facility. This proposal would help to address the short term need for an interim parking solution."
And, another OP quote (again, emphasis mine): "Normally, OP is not supportive of surface parking lots. In addition to being a poor use of the District's valuable land base, extensive surface parking lots disrupt neighborhood fabric; can be a source of crime, noise, trash, and light-spill; encourage the use of the private automobile over other less environmentally damaging forms of transportation; and contribute significantly to storm water run-off water pollution problems facing our great river systems. OP would not support surface parking on these squares as a permanent use to address currently perceived parking need."
For more background and explanation of OP's stance, I strongly suggest reading the OP report (specifically the last four pages).
And, against my better judgment, I have created a new Planning for Stadium Transportation and Parking page, pulling together the various documents that have been released recently (mainly from last month's TOPP meeting). I've also thrown together a map that is nowhere near official marking what I understand to be various possible locations for stadium parking. It will change as time goes on, and do not take it as gospel, but it does show which sites come under this zoning request, along with other possible sites. Opening Day is still a year away, and there will be much jawboning on this subject over the coming weeks and months. So, everyone take a deep breath, keep an eye on updates as more information gets released, and try not to panic too far ahead of time.
UPDATE: And with fine timing, Near Southeast's councilman Tommy Wells has just announced the creation of a new transportation task force for Near Southeast and Southwest, bringing together representatives of the government, residents, and developers to address the concerns of neighborhoods facing not only baseball, but also the coming influx of thousands of new workers and residents.

 

With thanks again to DDOT, I now have all of the slide presentations from last week's public meeting on the stadium Transportation Operations and Parking Plan (TOPP). The new ones are the WMATA Slides on Navy Yard Station Upgrade and the DDOT Slides on Douglass Bridge/Other Improvements. The documents I posted last week were the slides by Gorove/Slade describing about the TOPP; with maps and charts listing expected transit/auto/pedestrian traffic volume and flow; an FAQ on parking, traffic, and other issues for Southwest and Near Southeast residents; an FAQ on the Douglass Bridge improvements going on over the next few months; and DDOT's display boards with information on the plans for the South Capitol Street corridor and other regional traffic issues.
Repeating what I said last week: If you live in Southwest, or Near Southeast, or Capitol Hill, or Anacostia, or even Prince George's County, or if you're a baseball fan planning to come to the games, I suggest taking a close look at these.... (Some of them are kind of big files, be patient if they take a moment to load.) Comments can be sent to the the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission, and cc ANC 6D (office@anc6d.org) so that the ANC can track the feedback. And read my summary of the main bullet points from the meeting. Let's not all wait until March 2008 to suddenly figure out that there's a new baseball stadium at South Capitol and Potomac that has 40,000 fans trying to get there.

 

Thanks to the fine folks at DDOT, I've now gotten a hold of some of the documents from yesterday evening's public meeting on the stadium Transportation Operations and Parking Plan (TOPP). First, here's the slides presented by consultants Gorove/Slade about the TOPP, with maps and charts listing expected transit/auto/pedestrian traffic volume and flow. There's also an FAQ on parking, traffic, and other issues for Southwest and Near Southeast residents. In addition, DDOT handed out an FAQ on the Douglass Bridge improvements going on over the next few months, and they also had a number of display boards with information on the plans for the South Capitol Street corridor and other regional traffic issues. If you live in Southwest, or Near Southeast, or Capitol Hill, or Anacostia, or even Prince George's County, or if you're a baseball fan planning to come to the games, I suggest taking a close look at these.... (Some of them are kind of big files, be patient if they take a moment to load.) UPDATED to correct the link to the Gorove/Slade presentation; there's also now more slides (from DDOT and WMATA) available here.
More posts: Metro/WMATA, parking, Nationals Park
 

It was a tough call between swallowing a couple of bottles of hydrochloric acid or attending tonight's public meeting on the stadium's Transportation Operations and Parking Plan, but luckily for you my JDLand duties eventually won out. I'm hoping to get electronic versions of the slide presentations, so I'm going to just type up my notes for now, and hope that the details come later; besides, much of it will sound familiar to folks who read this blog regularly. There were presentations by DDOT and WMATA about their plans for the area, as a warm up for the discussion by traffic planners Gorove/Slade on the TOPP.
DDOT gave an overview of all of its near-term plans for Near Southeast--this includes the additional ramps to be added to the 11th Street Bridges, which already has funding and is moving at (bureaucratically speaking) lightning speed, and should be done by 2010. Then the planned improvements to South Capitol Street and the South Capitol Street Bridge were profiled, including this summer's festive demolition and lowering of the northern portion of the bridge. The current bridge itself will also be painted, and will get new lighting and pedestrian rails (more like the Pennsylvania Ave. bridge). Then there will be the streetscape improvements to South Capitol, Potomac, N, 1st, and I Streets, SE, all before Opening Day 2008, with resurfacing, new streetlights, curbs, etc. There will also be some small changes to the South Capitol and I intersection to try to improve the flow, although there are no current plans to expand the ramps to/from the freeway.
Next up was WMATA, giving a description of what's being done to expand the Navy Yard Metro station in advance of the throngs of baseball fans. The station's capacity is being upgraded to 15,000 customers per hour (the same as Stadium-Armory) from the current 5,000, turnstiles and Farecards machines will be moved to street-level, elevators will be added to the west entrance, and more, all while Monument Realty's 55 M Street office building is built on top of the station. The west entrance will be one-way outbound before games and one-way inbound afterwards, while the east entrance will remain two-way. Metro will also put in place the same plan of 9-13 extra trains after each game that they currently do for games at RFK, and that the system's recent receipt of nearly 190 new rail cars will also help increase capacity over the next 18 months. They are also looking at shuttles to other stations after games, and that the possibility exists that DDOT could expand the DC Circulator bus routes that currently end in SW to include the stadium area, with a route down M Street, up 8th, and over to Union Station, but that's not decided yet.
Gorove/Slade went through a lot of numbers, but I think in some ways didn't quite emphasize what the people attending wanted to hear most, which is that non-resident gameday street parking will be prohibited in basically all residential areas in Southwest and Near Southeast south of the freeway, and they'll be using the model that's been being refined in the Hill East neighborhood around RFK for the past few years (residents receive Event Parking permits to display, and also one guest parking permit per household). They estimate that for a sellout crowd 19,000 people will come via transit (16,000 through the Navy Yard station), 750 will arrive by charter buses, 400 by taxi, 3,400 on foot or bike, and 13,600 by car (in 4,700 vehicles). They indicated that the Nationals themselves are in charge of coordinating the parking negotiations with various sites, and a slide showed that the Nationals have identified about 5,200 parking spaces that can be available (well above the 4,700 vehicles anticipated to be coming to games). Only 185 of these spaces are in Southwest (between Half and South Capitol north of M); the rest are all in Near Southeast. While there are possibilities for parking in Buzzards Point, currently it appears the Nationals are not anticipating using that area for parking. No decision has been made yet on using the RFK parking lots and shuttle buses.
In terms of pedestrian flow at game time, many of the surrounding sidewalks are to be upgraded as part of DDOT's streetscape improvements. There will be traffic control officers at the major intersections, and Half Street SE south of M will be closed entirely to vehicle traffic, while some lanes on N will be closed; also there will be no parking at all on M Street or on 1st Street north of M on gamedays.
But what all the planners want is for people to come to games via public transit.
The questions from the audience centered mainly around the impact on the residential streets of Southwest and Capitol Hill, with great concerns about parking for visitors ("what if I'm having a party?") on game days. I imagine there will be more of the meetings, with more consternation, yet to come. And I also imagine that Opening Day 2008 will be rife with tales of traffic back-ups, transit snafus, and lost suburbanites unable to find their parking lots. And then the plans will be tweaked and re-tweaked, just as they have been around RFK for the past few years.
As I said, hopefully I'll have the slides and some other materials to pass along within the next few days. If you have concerns that you want to air, be sure to contact the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission, and cc ANC 6D (office@anc6d.org) so that the ANC can track the feedback.
UPDATE: See my entry with the slides from the meeting, now posted on my site.

 

A reminder about Thursday's big neighborhood meeting: "The public is invited to learn about the recommendations for the Traffic Operations & Parking Plan (TOPP) and to discuss issues pertaining to traffic planning for the new Ballpark District and nearby neighborhoods. Representatives from the DC Department of Transportation, Metropolitan Police Department, the Washington Nationals and the Sports Commission will be on hand. The meeting runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on March 29 at Southeastern University, 501 I St., SW. For information, call the new Ballpark Hotline at (202) 608-1112 or visit www.washdcsports.com."
UPDATE: You can now read my summary of the meeting and also see the slides.
More posts: parking, staddis, Nationals Park
 

On March 26 29 at 6:30 pm, the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission is holding a Public Meeting on the Nationals Ballpark Traffic Operations and Parking Plan, which should be a festive meeting-of-the-minds between the public and representatives of DDOT, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Nationals, and the DCSEC. See the front-page story from the April Southwester for more information. UPDATE, 3/27: It would help if I could *read* - the meeting is this Thursday, March 29, not yesterday.
More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

At this point I hate to even utter the phrase "parking garages," but I would be remiss if I didn't pass along the news that this week building permit applications were filed for 25 N Street and 75 N Street (and another one for both addresses together), which would be the address of the two lots on the north end of the stadium site where the garages are to be built. The applications really don't tell you anything, but it's certainly a sign that the garages are moving forward. In other building permit news, Monument Realty has gotten its shoring/sheeting/excavation permit approved for their big Half Street/Ballpark District project, and they tell me they expect to have the site cleared by early March. (Alas, you can't yet see this approved permit in my DC Gov't Building Permit feeds module, because that feed has apparently been taking some snow days this week.)
More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

A correspondent tipped me off to a bunch of newly posted renderings of the Nationals Ballpark, one of which is a gorgeous fully detailed rendering of the stadium at night, as seen from the southeastern edge of the site (at 1st and Potomac). I've added this rendering and a couple of the new interior views to my stadium page; to see the additional interior views, visit the Nationals New Ballpark page on MLB.com. Note in the new external image that the new garages (not wrapped with development goodness) are depicted for the first time (albeit on the opposite side of the stadium!). And the retail offerings along 1st Street are also shown with a bit more detail.
More posts: parking, Nationals Park
 

Now that the parking garage issue has been resolved (at least until Opening Day 2008, when hordes of stadiumgoers gasp in disbelief at what they're confronted with when they arrive and descend on the owner's box with pitchforks and boiling oil), I finally felt ready to tackle a reorganization of my Ballpark District page. Mainly I added a new "tab" specifically for the Monument Realty projects along Half Street, which also includes the expansion of the Navy Yard Metro station; I also added some additional photos of other Ballpark District sites. I hope to get renderings of the Monument residential project at Half and N and the W Aloft hotel mid-block before too much longer, but at least I do have drawings of the office building planned for Half and M (above the Metro station). And I now decree that the parking garages are on the stadium site, not in the Ballpark District, and will remain so until they get torn down and redeveloped, sometime around 2025.
More posts: Monument/Half St., parking, staddis, Nationals Park
 

More to come as the news stories come out, but I'll break the news here that the council passed 10-3 the resolution today to override the Zoning Commission's rule preventing the construction of aboveground garages on the stadium site. (In other words, they voted to approve aboveground garages.) Barry, Catania, and Schwartz were the dissenters. There was much discussion about whether because of language in the original agreement that after Sept. 1, 2007, the city will have to ask the Lerners for permission to develop the parking garage site on the north side of the stadium that the city will be doomed to never having development because the Lerners would never allow construction in that spot that would disrupt the ballpark experience. But the councilmembers who voted yes seem to feel that at some point in the future there is still the ability to tear down the aboveground garages and develop the land, which will only continue to escalate in value. One teeny item that creeped out of the debate that may be how they're getting this under the cost cap--Jack Evans mentioned that aboveground garages are now being planned for the 300 south side parking spaces, which Clark Construction says can be done for $1.6 million. If this is true, that they're now dispensing with the idea of a grand southern-side plaza (where hardly anyone will be arriving from anyway) then they should have just put 10-story garages right there and had all the parking on the south side. I imagine this is still not a finished discussion.... More to come. UPDATE: Here's the Post story, with a quote from Adrian Fenty that shows perhaps folks are starting to get the message that these two blocks are not the end-all be-all of Ballpark District development: "The land in question on the stadium site is a small percentage of the area around the stadium that is already being developed." UPDATE II: A little late on my part, but here's the WashTimes piece, with an explanation as to why the south side garages can be done so cheaply: "Sports commission officials said the city was able to save money because the Nationals relaxed their requirement for 300 spaces at the south side of the stadium. The stadium construction team, led by Clark Construction of Bethesda, said it can build the parking more inexpensively now with only 130 space at the south." And here's Tim Lemke's Q&A on the entire garages brouhaha, for those smart souls who haven't been paying attention. UPDATE III: If you're into self torture, this council session is available via on-demand streaming video.
More posts: parking, Nationals Park, zoning
 
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