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Still working my way through the pile of pictures I took today.... New shots posted of the ongoing work at the Monument Half Street site, and also some "substantially complete" shots of 20 M Street--in a couple photos you can see men working on the far left window on M Street, and a reader gave me a heads up that not more than a few minutes after I came through, they posted a sign saying "Wachovia Coming Soon." So, if that's indeed the case, that would be the first 20 M tenant we've heard of.
More posts: 20 M, Monument/Half St., M Street, Retail, staddis
 

Just a reminder that tomorrow (Wednesday) there is an Anacostia Waterfront Corporation Public Board Meeting; its agenda includes a presentation and public comments on the new AWC Draft Environmental Standards and "Workforce Intermediary Services plans; it will be at St. Matthew's Baptist Church (1105 New Jersey Ave.) at 5:30 pm.
Additionally, there was supposed to be a status hearing tomorrow on the liquor license application by the owners of the old Star Market (the "little red building") at 156 L Street; but I'm told by the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration that an agreement has been reached by the applicants and ANC 6D (which was protesting the application), so the status hearing was removed from the calendar. (Attempts to get additional information from the property's owner and from ANC Commissioner Bob Siegel have been unsuccessful at this point.) Perhaps this means we'll be seeing a resolution on this project soon.
 

I've held off posting about this because I was waiting for confirmation, but I've now heard it from enough different sources that I'm at least willing to mention it as a pretty wide-ranging rumor--the word is that the little glassed-in nook on the DOT HQ building on the southeast corner of New Jersey and M is going to house a Starbucks. I don't drink the stuff, but I understand it's a popular place :-). Like I said, I haven't been able to confirm this, but it's what DOT workers are being told. ("Come to Near Southeast..... There's expensive coffee to be had on your walk in from the subway....")
More posts: US Dept. of Transportation HQ, Retail
 

Yesterday there was a status hearing before the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in reference to the liquor license application by the owners of the Star Market, better known as the "Little Red Building" on the corner of 2nd and L streets (next to the Courtyard by Marriott). I wasn't at the hearing, and admittedly am not following this particularly closely, but I've been told that the parties on both sides (the license applicants and the people who've been registered in opposition) have been ordered to attend a mediation session that should happen sometime before the application's next status hearing, scheduled for Feb. 28.
 

The latest building permits issued by the DC government (shown in my DC Government Feeds section) have a couple tantalizing Near Southeast tidbits: one is for the long-planned dry cleaners on the first-floor of Capitol Hill Tower at 1000 New Jersey, and the other is a series of building permit entries (strangely devoid of detail or even permit numbers) for five addresses on block Square 669N, the land bounded by 1st, Half, K, and L that's owned by Bethesda developer Ron Cohen. I don't really know anything more than this on either project (except that the dry cleaners won't have actual dry-cleaning operations right on the premises), but news is news. Hopefully Mr. Cohen will be showing his hand before too much longer. UPDATE, 12/10: Another four building permits for the Cohen block arrived in the latest building permit feed, and the only additional hint is that the permit type on these is listed as "repair."
 

Today was the hearing on the application by "The Wine Cellar and Spirits" for a Class A (beer, wine, and liquor) license to open what the owners call a "tastefully designed wine and spirits" store in the Little Red Building at 156 L Street (next to the Courtyard by Marriott). ANC 6D has been officially designated as a protestant in opposition to the application, and presumably the owner will be in contact with the ANC to resolve any issues (most likely revolving around the sales of singles). There will be a status hearing on the application on Jan. 17, 2007, at 10 am.
 

Expanding a bit on recent posts about the liquor license application by the owners of the former Star Market (aka the "Little Red Building" at 2nd and L, next to the Courtyard by Marriott) to open what the owner has recently described to me as a "tastefully designed Wine and Spirit store." As I reported (and as now confirmed in the November Hill Rag's ANC 6D report, since I bailed on the meeting before this came up), the ANC voted to protest the application, but apparently this was as much about timing issues as anything else, and at the same time the application was referred to the ANC's ABC subcommittee to work on a voluntary agreement to ban the sale of "singles." The owner tells me that in fact they are working on plans to redevelop the property, possibly demolishing the little red building (sniff!) and replacing it with a new building that in addition to upscale liquor sales on the first and second floors could also accommodate a "small sushi saki bar in the 2nd and 3rd floor." He guarantees that the new building "will not be your conventional 'mom and pop' liquor store.' (It should be noted that the Star Market's Class B [beer and wine/convenience store] liquor license conveyed to the current owners, so this application is for a Class A license [beer, wine. and spirits/liquor store].) The ABC application hearing is Nov. 8; the owner hopes to have the plans for the renovation ready by spring. (Hat tip to the CHT Shareholder Community blog.) UPDATE: I also wanted to note that the Capitol Hill Tower developer is opposing this application.

 

City Council hearings have now been scheduled for October 31 for three Near Southeast alley closing bills (Monument's Square 700/west side and Square 701 requests, and William C. Smith's Square 737/739 request). I've added them to my busy Neighborhood Events Calendar; I've also (belatedly) added the DC Register announcement of the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration hearing on the license request for a new liquor store at 156 L Street (the old Star Market) scheduled for Nov. 8. Note that the Square 701/east side alley closing bill had its hearing on Oct. 10. UPDATE, 10/20: The starting times of the three alley closing hearings on Oct. 31 have been revised, and an additional council roundtable has been scheduled for the same day on the Capper alley closings and new streets bill. All the hearing notices are available in this file, which also includes the notices on the Oct. 23 hearing on the Capper PILOT funding bill and also an Oct. 26 roundtable on LSDBE participation in the baseball stadium. My Neighborhood Events Calendar has been updated as well. Also, the Square 701/east side alley closing bill has been placed on the council's Nov. 14 consent agenda.
 

A portion of today's Dana Hedgpeth column in the Post describes "observations offered last week by developers and leasing and sales brokers to about 100 real estate professionals in an annual conference." The one comment about Near Southeast: "The area around the planned baseball stadium in Southeast, many agreed, will eventually develop into shops, restaurants, housing and more offices. But some differed on how long it would take. The area, which is now mostly boarded-up storefronts, empty lots and car repair garages, would look very different by 2008, some said. Others said it would take until 2010 or beyond. 'You'll go down there and forget what it looked like before,' [emphasis mine] said Daniel P. Dooley, managing director at Tishman Speyer Properties". Gosh, if only someone had thought to take pictures of the neighborhood to capture what it looked like before all the development arrived! :-)
More posts: Retail, Nationals Park
 

The little red building at the corner of 2nd and L, the old Star Market, has been a favorite of mine since January 2003, when it was one of my first pictures taken in Near Southeast (a photo that landed on A1 of the Post back in August 2005, accompanying a story that includes the tale of how owner refused to sell to Valhal Corp. when they were putting together the plans for the Capitol Hill Tower project, so the little building remained in place while 14 stories of hotel and coop sprang up around it. The most recent owner even tried earlier this year to sell it on Craigslist for $950k (after buying it 8 months earlier for $580k). And now? Someone ("Wine Cellar Spirits") has applied for a liquor license to open a liquor store there, according to a sign posted on the building's wall today. The store would be open from 9 am to 10 pm Monday through Saturday, closed on Sunday. The hearing is scheduled for Nov. 8. So you can't get groceries in Near Southeast just yet, but all your liquor needs may soon be met.... (hat tip to the CHT blog for beating me to the keyboard. Damn dinner date!)
 

The Washington Blade reports that Wet and Edge, the nightclubs at Half and L, will be closing on Sept. 23. This is part of the clearing of the tenants on this entire block (Square 699N, bounded by Half, 1st, K, and L), to begin making way for a mixed-use project by Bethesda developer Ron Cohen. It appears all tenants on the block will be out by the end of September (Club 55 is the only other tenant on the block still operating, with rumors a few weeks back that it will be closing Sept. 12). I've been unsuccessful in finding out any more details on what exactly Cohen is planning for the site, beyond what was mentioned when he bought the block for $55 million in Sept. 2005; his company's web site makes no mention of the project (boo!).
More posts: Restaurants/Nightlife, Retail, Square 699n
 

This is nothing more than PURE RUMOR at this point, I have no confirmation, but I'm floating it out there to see if anyone can back it up or shoot it down. A source informs me that one of the nightclubs on the block bounded by Half, 1st, K, and L that was purchased in 2005 by developer Ron Cohen, has been given until Sept. 12 to close. Hope to be able to tell you more soon. If you have any scuttlebutt (on this or any other Near Southeast news, for that matter), drop me a line. UPDATE: I haven't been able to get any further confirmation on the above, but I'll note that the Holiday/Aspen cab company, located on this same block (at the corner of 1st and K), has closed up shop within the past week.
More posts: Restaurants/Nightlife, Retail, Square 699n
 

Big surprise this morning--a correspondent reported that the Sunoco at 50 M Street (Half and M) is being dismantled as we speak. (Waah, where will I track gas prices now?) There's been no record of a land sale in the DC Property Sales database (although that currently runs about 6 weeks behind and is only updated right now through late May). However, a call to the station's phone number revealed a change to a new number with a 703 area code, and the person who answered said that Sunoco had sold the land "to a hotel or something." So do we have yet another new development arriving on M Street? More as I get it.
More posts: Homewood Suites, M Street, Retail
 

Adrian Washington of the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation gave a preview of the soon-to-be-released Ballpark District plans to the Washington Post last week, as described by Dana Hedgpeth ("Anacostia Group Looks Beyond the Ballpark"). From the article: "Under those plans, about 9 million square feet of residential and commercial buildings and parking garages will be built over the next decade on 50 acres around the stadium, said officials with the Anacostia Waterfront group. They estimate that the new development -- on land that is now mostly auto repair shops, nightclubs and empty lots -- will be worth about $4.5 billion." However, "Washington declined to release any sketches for publication, saying they were not final." Waaaaah!
 

From the Post: "D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams announced plans today to build a mix of underground and above-ground parking adjacent to a new baseball stadium in Southeast Washington as part of a complex that will include shops, restaurants, 660 condominiums and a swanky New York City-based hotel. [...] [T]he compromise plan would call for 900 parking spaces on one level below ground to serve the condo owners, hotel and retailers. Above ground, there would be two different structures. The first two levels of both structures would be restaurants and shops and on top of those would be four levels of parking -- totaling 925 spots -- wrapped by condominiums. Another eight levels on top of that would be more condos, including 140 units priced below market value for lower-income residents. A 180-room hotel also is planned for the corner of First and N Streets SE." Developer Herbert Miller is going to pay the city $70 million for the property, and his investors will finance the additional $300 million needed for the project. He says that the parking will be completed by April 2008, but the rest will take an additional year. And for the ugly foreboding part of the story: "The city still faces a few hurdles. It must win approval for the project from both the D.C. Council, which must authorize the transfer of land rights to Miller, and the D.C. Zoning Commission, which will hear the plans Monday." And we know how much the council likes passing stadium-related legislation!
UPDATE: Here's the WashTimes story on the deal, and the Washington Business Journal story, and says that Miller will be paying about $82 per buildable square foot, with a final price TBD after a deal is reached for the amount of affordable housing to be included.
UPDATE II: And here's the press release from the Mayor's office.
UPDATE, 10:10 pm: The print version of the Post story is now available ("Mayor Offers Compromise On Stadium Parking Plan"), and the big additional news is that the Lerners aren't on board with the new plan, but that it appears it doesn't matter (after all, the stadium is owned by the city, not the team). The important people now are the Zoning Commission (the stadium zoning hearing is Monday) and the City Council. No reaction in the Post piece from any council members.
UPDATE, 9:17 am: The WashTimes printed piece doesn't have much new (all the same quotes from Stan Kasten), but says that a vote is expected at the council's July 11 session.
UPDATE, 6/22: With not exactly lightning speed, the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation has now posted its June 20 press release about the agreement on its web site.

More posts: parking, Retail, Nationals Park, zoning
 

The Exxon at South Capitol and I streets has apparently shut down--a correspondent reports that the building is boarded up, and their phone number has been disconnected. Their page on exxonstations.com says "Temp. Closed", but it would seem odd that a temporary closing would result in a disconnected phone number. I've heard nothing about a sale of that property, but certainly it could be considered a somewhat prime location (although that's a ghastly intersection). Will pass along more as I find out.
UPDATE: From another very on-the-ball correspondent, a link to a DOJ press release from January detailing that the Exxon's owner pleaded guilty "to fraudulently double-billing government contractors more than $120,000. [Mahmud] Rashid, 46, of Raleigh Lane, Stafford, Virginia, entered a plea of guilty yesterday in United States District Court to one count of wire fraud. According to the terms of the plea agreement, Rashid could be sentenced to between 12 to 18 months of incarceration when he is sentenced before the Honorable Richard J. Leon on June 2, 2006." As my correspondent noted, "this might help shut down your gas station."
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More posts: exxon697n, Retail, South Capitol St., Square 697n
 

UPDATE: Whole Foods is *not* coming to the Blue Castle--I've confirmed this with Preferred Real Estate Investments, Inc., the owner of the Blue Castle.
Original entry: In this week's The Hill, Duncan Spencer reports (scroll down a bit) that it's "confirmed" that a Whole Foods grocery store is coming to the Blue Castle at 8th and M. There's no mention of it on the web site of the castle's owners (Preferred Real Estate Investments, Inc.), but we all know that SOME web sites are better at updating with new information than OTHERS! Back when the sale was announced, the owners said they'd be trying to get Whole Foods and a national bookstore chain. Am trying to track down some confirmation. Meanwhile, Spencer's column also mentions two other Near Southeast items, one being the Anacostia Riverwalk and the issues with it running along the Navy Yard's waterfront (i.e., right now no one can get to it without going through the Navy Yard gates and showing ID). The article also says that the Southeast Federal Center financing has not been settled between GSA and Forest City Washington, although I thought it indeed had been back in June of 2005 when the development agreement was signed. Spencer also says that no SFC construction is expected for at least a year and a half--but the recent article from Shopping Center Business magazine quotes a Forest City representative as saying that "bulldozers will be moving by the end of the year at Southeast Federal Center." So make of all of that what you will.
More posts: Blue Castle, 8th Street, Navy Yard, Retail, The Yards
 

It's a good day for tips from readers! Another correspondent passes along this piece from Shopping Center Business magazine, "Washington DC Focuses on the Waterfront," a roundtable with lots of big names in DC development and government discussing the state of retail in downtown DC. One of the participants was Forest City Washington, which is developing Capper/Carrollsburg and the Southeast Federal Center, plus is one of the four companies working on the Ballpark District. There's no real *news* on the projects, but they indicate that they are getting a tremendous amount of interest from retailers who want to be part of the combined 300,000 sq ft of retail planned for Capper and the SFC. They also say that "bulldozers will be moving by the end of the year at Southeast Federal Center." Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to see the box highlighting Forest City, with the following sentence that will warm the hearts of Near Southeast residents and neighbors: "Forest City Washington believes a grocery store would be a good addition, and several are interested." Yes! And please hurry!
More posts: Capper, Retail, staddis, The Yards
 

With the stadium now moving forward, attention will turn to the areas immediately surrounding it and the mixed-use developments the city wants to see in order to make the Ballpark District a year-round destination. In Friday's Post article "D.C. Stadium Likely to Open Without Entertainment Area," developers are quoted as saying that first phases probably won't be done before 2009. The four developers chosen by the AWC have hired urban planning firm Cooper, Robertson & Partners to create the master plan for the 40 acres of mixed-use development. In the meantime, Monument Realty says it expects to begin construction in early 2007 on the land it owns in the blocks just north of the stadium footprint. So, be prepared to walk through a lot of construction to get to the stadium in the early days. (On the other hand, the delays that everyone seems to anticipate will occur with the stadium could help get the ballpark district further along before the ballpark debuts.) Also, the article mentions that the plans for the stadium itself incorporates retail space within the park's facade along 1st Street, and also manages to sneak in another mention that the parking garages raising eyebrows in the stadium renderings will most likely disappear.

 

Catching up a bit here after the holiday.... Preferred Real Estate Investments has purchased the "Blue Castle" building on the corner of 8th and M, for $20 million. According to the Post: "Executives at the Conshohocken, Pa., developer said the location of the 100,000-square-foot building makes it ideal for retail stores such as a Barnes & Noble bookstore and a Whole Foods grocery. The upscale stores eventually would supplant three charter schools that now are in the building." They hope to start construction in 2007. (And they're planning to de-Blue the building a bit, too, by painting it a more sedate shade; but they plan on preserving the arched windows and exposed brick interior.) Note that it doesn't sound like there are as yet commitments from any retailers for the site.
More posts: Blue Castle, 8th Street, Retail
 
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