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Tucked away in today's DC Register is a zoning request by Forest City Washington to allow the second story of the currently de-skinned Lumber Storage Shed at the Yards Park "to be used for general office purposes, on an interim basis, for no more than 20 years." The filing says that Forest City wants to temporarily relocate "in order to facilitate the leasing of the ground floor and to finance the building's restoration."
The intention has been for the shed to be given glass exterior walls and be a retail space--this new plan would still include ground-floor retail (in a very picturesque location at the Yards Park, right by the 3rd Street Plaza and the overlook). There are two other retail pavilions planned for later phases of the park as well, on the open spaces just to the east of the shed.
 

Just crossing the wires: "Chesapeake Lodging Trust announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the 204-room Courtyard Washington Capitol Hill/Navy Yard located in Washington, DC for a purchase price of $68 million, or approximately $333,000 per key." The hotel, at New Jersey and L, SE, opened in spring 2006 along with its next door neighbor, the Capitol Hill Tower co-op; both were developed by Valhal Corp. (whose principals then formed Ranger Properties in 2007). It will apparently remain a Courtyard; no word of what if any impact this sale would have on Capitol Hill Tower.
 

Posted on Friday was the Staff Report from the Historic Preservation Review Board on the design for the proposed Bier Garden at 8th and L, SE, as the owners of the site at 720 L continue to work toward constructing a one-story building with an accompanying summer garden and roof deck. (You can look to the left, or see a slightly larger version of the design, as it was presented to ANC 6B last week; 6B voted to support the design.)
If you're not up for reading all six pages yourself, here's my Zagat-style report on the report:
It makes for good reading if you're interested in how new buildings in historic districts are evaluated; you might be surprised (I was!) that design guidelines actually "discourage the exact duplication of historic styles," opting instead to encourage applicants to consider a new building as an "enhancement" to the district "while respecting the historic context." The report discusses how the decision to go with a one-story structure could draw on "the vernacular of Washington's modest industrial buildings and alley warehouses," and in fact the report includes a photo of the Bier Garden lot in 1949, when a one-story building housing a laundry/tailor stood on the site.
The report finds that the proposed massing of the new building does reflect the character of the historic district and "references recognizable attributes" of both industrial buildings and traditional beer gardens. The report also sees the rain screen and other more contemporary design choices as reflecting the "whimsy, casualness and somewhat ad-hoc nature of many outdoor beer gardens."
However, there are concerns that there are so many finishes applied "in so many different directions" that the result is a "somewhat chaotic and unfinished appearance," and suggests selecting one or two key ideas that would allow the building "to be showcased in a less hectic manner." Other major issues cited include choices on the roof deck (and the lack of any lighting or shade up there in the current design), the proportions of the doors, and the designs of the rain screens, as well as how the building's "streetscape presence" along both 8th and L.
The report ends with a recommendation that the applicants "restudy the issues outlined [...] as they pertain to the principles of design cohesiveness, proportion and scale, and streetscape presence." It's also recommended that the board delegate final approval of the design to the board staff once the comments from staff and the board are addressed in the revisions.
The hearing begins at 10 am on Thursday, and can be watched live, or on demand starting the next day. (And this will actually be the first HPRB hearing I'll have ever watched!) You can read my previous Bier Garden posts if you're needing to get caught up.
UPDATE: And now we return back to "Beer Garden" from "Bier Garden," as Mark Brody informs me that it was a typo on the plans.
 

From Tuesday's Washington Post, confirmation at last at what has been reported since 2002, but with a bit of a twist:
"Whole Foods Market and a D.C. real estate firm are interested in building a new store in Southeast Washington near Nationals Park, but the developer says that luring the grocer would require $8 million in tax breaks. William C. Smith and Co. is proposing a 39,000-square-foot Whole Foods for 800 New Jersey Ave. SE as part of a building that would include 375 apartments."
More: "Smith said the $800,000 annual tax break would cover requests by Whole Foods including an additional level of underground parking, extra elevators and higher ceilings on the bottom floor. Without the tax break, he said, he would either wait to develop the site or build a smaller apartment building with little or no retail."
Tax breaks for developments are being requested more frequently during this Era of Economic Difficulties, but the city's own financial troubles, and the amount of assistance that has been going to Ward 6 in comparison to other parts of the city, may make a request like this a tough sell, the article says.
There are already plans to bring a not-officially-named grocery store (*cough*Harris Teeter*cough*) to the neighborhood perhaps in 2013 at 4th and M in the Yards. This Whole Foods site, though, would also be a draw not only for Near Southeast residents but for folks on the south side of Capitol Hill, given its location just on the other side of the Southeast Freeway. You can see some photos of the site here.
WC Smith has been planning a four-building, 1.1-million square foot office/residential/retail project on this block (Square 737) for some time. The transfer of a small plot of land known Reservation 17A was finally completed last year from the Feds to the city, clearing a long-time bureaucratic hurdle to getting the site redeveloped. (This will also allow I Street to be built through between 2nd and New Jersey once the DPW building just to the south is demolished, which may happen this year.)
There has been chatter over the past few months that Smith was pitching the entire site for the 1.1-million-square-foot Department of Homeland Security lease that GSA currently has out for bid--this movement on getting a residential building started might seem to signal a shift from that possibility, along with being another indication that developers are sensing Near Southeast is a strong residential market.
This lot is next to 225 Virginia Avenue, the old Star/Post plant that is hours away from starting its transformation into 200 I Street, which will be home to three city agencies when its "re-skinning" and renovation is completed within the next two years.
(A note: The article says that WC Smith purchased the land from the Post in 2000 for $50 million; I think a decimal point got lost somewhere, because DC Property Records say that the lot, which used to be home to an old warehouse owned by the Washington Star and then the Washington Post, sold for $50,000 in December 1999. That number might not be right either, but considering that even now, in a completely changed neighborhood 11 years later, the 800 New Jersey land is assessed at just over $19 million $58 million, I doubt that Smith paid $50 million. [UPDATED because I looked at only one assessment record instead of three.] The WC Smith parcels were assessed at about $2.5 million in 2001, the oldest records that I have.)
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More posts: Retail, WC Smith/Square 737, wholefoods
 

While the neighborhood's big Beer Garden News last week was the plan by the Bullpen folks to create one at Half and M, SE, the other proposed beer garden in the area, at 8th and L, SE, is continuing to proceed through the city's bureaucracy. With its liquor license having been dealt with last month, this "Bier Garden" is now undergoing the Historic Preservation Review process, a necessary step thanks to its location within the Capitol Hill Historic District (which I'm sure Das Bullpen is thankful to be well outside of).
Original plans for a temporary structure were undoable thanks to historic district restrictions, so now the applicant, Mark Brody, and his architect have opted to go with a one-story building with a roof deck, in addition to the proposed ground-level summer garden. The look of the building (which is closer to 1 1/2 stories high) is very industrial, with large multi-paned windows and lots of "wood rainscreening" on the exterior and the roof deck. (I've asked for electronic versions of the color renderings that were shown at Tuesday night's ANC 6B meeting, but Mr. Brody is still pondering whether to pass them along.) UPDATE: Since the renderings have been submitted to the Historic Preservation Office and have been shown at a public meeting, an interested party passed them along. (UPDATE 1A: And Mr. Brody's architect has now sent it to me as well--thank you!) Here is the main image, looking at the corner of 8th and L:
The ANC's Planning and Zoning Committee had a first look at the designs on Feb. 1, and, according to the committee report, expressed a number of concerns about "the proposed materials, the open deck design, and the lack of letters of support from other establishments and or affected neighbors" as well as the "unfinished appearance" and issues with not having received details such as "views of the affected area with relationship to existing structures and plat specifications."
By the time the full commission met Tuesday night, Brody had made some changes to the initial designs, and forwarded letters of support from two neighbors on L Street as well 18 letters from Capitol Quarter residents (thanks probably to an e-mail that went to the private CQ mailing list asking for support). When asked, Brody said that Mark Batterson of the National Community Church (which is buying up the north side of this "Saints and Sinners" block to build a new office and performance space) has decided that he "will take no position" on the beer garden plans.
There ensued much discussion, with the bulk of concerns coming from Kirsten Oldenburg (in whose SMD this is) and David Garrison, who both clearly are unhappy with the design, especially the roof deck. (Perhaps Kirsten will write more about this project on her blog so I don't have to try to summarize, HINT HINT.) But other commissioners made clear their desire to get something built on this portion of Barracks Row south of the freeway to help jump-start the area.
After an initial motion to oppose the designs while the applicant and the city's Historic Preservation Review Board continue to make refinements failed 3-7, a second motion to take no position failed 4-6, followed finally by a motion that passed 7-3 to support the designs, with an accompanying letter to the Historic Preservation Office detailing the commission's concerns about safety on the roof deck, the design of the doors (too stubby, Oldenburg says), the "parapet" that is above the front door, and the design's "historic character." Commissioners Oldenburg, Garrison, and Norman Metzger were the three commissioners in opposition. The HPRB may hear this case at its Feb. 24 meeting, though that agenda has not yet been set. (Note that the Capitol Hill Restoration Society will be a source of comments about the project as well.)
Interestingly, the liquor license apparently will not cover the roof deck, so Brody will have to come back to the ANC if he intends to serve alcohol in that space. There was also mention made of wanting to have sidewalk tables during warm weather, which will require a public space permit and another trip back to the ANC (athough the bus stop right out front might make for a space issue).
There's probably more to write about this, but I'm pacing myself, since I'm guessing there will be plenty of additional chances to cover the process. And hopefully I'll get some renderings to post soon, but when the project gets onto an HPRB agenda they'll become part of the public record, so I'll definitely have them then.
There were some additional South of the Freeway tibits that came out during these discussions, but I'll save those for another post.
UPDATE: Here's Kirsten Oldenburg's thoughts and concerns about the design.
 

The Bullpen, the outdoor bar and festivities spot that has operated just across the street from Nationals Park during stadium events since 2009, is making plans to open a "Beer Garden" at the northern end of their current block, at Half and M streets, SE, facing the western entrance to the Navy Yard Metro station. (See my high-quality graphic at right.) With 79 picnic tables holding eight people each, it would have a seating capacity of 632 people, and would offer draft German beers (and perhaps other European beers) along with German sausages, kielbasa, and other light (ahem) fare.
"Das Bullpen" [copyright JD] is being envisioned as having a very different atmosphere from the current Bullpen, with the beer garden not having game areas with lots of kids running around. There would be no amplified music, and it would operate during the same hours as Bullpen 1.0 (which will be remaining open this year as well). It would have its own entrance, right across from the Metro station's entrance, and would be fenced in and partially covered/tented in the same way as the existing Bullpen.
At an ANC 6D ABC subcommittee meeting tonight, a Bullpen rep explained that Akridge, the owners of the entire block bounded by M, N, Half, and Van, has informed the Bullpen owners of plans to begin construction perhaps as early as October of this year on the southern end of the block, where Bullpen 1.0 is located. (There seems to have been some sort of "hint" that if the Bullpen wants to have a shot at a permanent home in the new ground-floor retail spaces that will be available when the block is completed, they need to expand to this additional area this year.) If Akridge's plans are unchanged from what went through the zoning process a few years ago, the southern end of the block would be a 300-unit residential building with ground-floor retail. You can see renderings on my Akridge Half Street page.
As you can see on my cruddy map, there will still be substantial parking available between the two locations. (For old-timers, this new site is where WMATA's old Southeastern Bus Garage entrance was located.)
The Bullpen's lawyers are trying to determine whether this constitutes an expansion of the current operation, to allow Das Bullpen to open under their existing liquor license, or whether a new license (and then a new voluntary agreement with the ANC) will be needed. More to come, I'm sure.
UPDATE: And it should be noted that this is a completely separate venture from the Bavarian Beer Garden plans at 8th and L, SE. Beer gardens to the left! Beer gardens to the right!
UPDATE II: To clear up any confusion, they are intending to have Das Bullpen open this spring, with Bullpen 1.0 open as well through the end of the 2011 baseball season.
UPDATE III: Another clarification: The new site has no official name yet. "Das Bullpen" is purely my invention, because I wanted something catchy to describe it.
 

Eagle-eyed Twitterer @kpbrady alerted me yesterday to doors and windows being installed in the lower level of the overlook at the Yards Park, in the bays along the boardwalk that were designed to be retail spaces.
I contacted Forest City, and they've told me that they are intending to have "seasonal tenant offerings" in these spots starting (hopefully) this year. There are 4 to 6 of these spaces (depending on how layouts and done), ranging from 366 to 506 square feet, and Forest City is anticipating they would be used for refreshment/light food sales and/or recreational equipment rentals--but they're open to discussing other uses. If you have your heart set on one (for perhaps a banana stand or some other offering), contact Brenda Temple at Forest City at (202) 496-6600.
Eventually the (currently naked) Lumber Storage Shed will be a retail pavilion, and later phases call for two additional retail buildings to be constructed just to the east of the shed (see the renderings way down at the bottom of my Yards Park page). And there will be ground-floor retail space at the Foundry Lofts just to the north of the park when that building opens later this year, not to mention 46,000 sq ft of retail space at the Boilermaker Shops.
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More posts: Retail, The Yards, Yards Park
 

Here's what's on tap over the next two weeks in ANC Land:
* Tomorrow (Tuesday, Feb. 1), ANC 6B's Planning and Zoning subcommittee will be getting a first look at the construction plans for the Bavarian Beer Garden 8th and L, SE, as the owner has now begun the Historic Preservation review process, required because the site is within the boundaries of the Capitol Hill Historic District. This meeting is at 7 pm at the Caesar Chavez Public Charter School at 714 11th St., SE.
* Then, on Wednesday, Feb. 2, ANC 6D's Alcohol Beverage Control subcommittee will be meeting at 7 pm at King Greenleaf Rec Center, 201 N St., SW, with an agenda item that says "proposed expansion into adjacent space for The Bullpen at 26 N St., SE." This is the outdoor bar just north of Nationals Park on the footprint of Akridge's Half Street project. I assume that an expansion would be northward, across a little alley and staying within Akridge's land; to expand westward would mean going across Van Street into Monument's property on the old BP Amoco site at South Capitol and N, and to expand eastward would mean going across Half Street into a very big hole.
* Both of these items, along with plenty of others, will then be on the agendas at the ANC's official monthly meetings--ANC 6B's is at 7 pm on Feb. 8 at the LDS Church at 522 7th St., SE, and 6D's is at 7 pm on Feb. 14 at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church at 600 M St., SW (the agenda for which probably won't be available until very [very very?] late this week).
 

A Sunday morning checklist: Variably sunny? Check. Temperature 22 degrees? Check. Winds 15-20 mph? Check. Then clearly it was time to walk around taking the photos I forgot to take last week.
Signage is up on both New Jersey Avenue and I Street for Harry's Reserve, the upscale wine and spirits store coming to the ground floor of 909 New Jersey, and a peek inside shows a big space with lots of dark wood cabinets. Don't know if they'll hit their Feb. 1 target date for opening, but they do look like they're in the homestretch.
Meanwhile, the framing is done and exterior walls are starting to go up at Little Red Building v2.0 (or Lot 38 Espresso, which is apparently the new new name), and it's interesting to see that the profile of the new building is pretty similar to the old one--maybe it'll be like an actress of a Certain Age, getting rebuilt from the ground up while trying to not look like she's had any work done. No timeline at this point for when the shop might open. UPDATE: I heard from Lot 38's owner today, saying that he's now looking toward an April opening for the coffee/sandwich shop.
I also took a pretty full series of photos of 225 Virginia (soon to be 200 I), not to document any changes but to get what might be a final set of "before" images, since the word had been that construction was supposed to start in December, and then January. (There are a few piles of construction fencing now on site, but I wouldn't expect work to be truly imminent until that firetruck parked on site at 3rd and I disappears.)
You can browse the entire batch of Sunday's photos, clicking on the icon to pair any shot with its "before" image. There's also last week's new photos, in case you missed them, showing the progress at Capitol Quarter, 1015 Half, and the Foundry Lofts.
 

Some recently Tweeted items, and a few new ones, worth wrapping up into a quick post:
* Last week I heard from the owners of what will soon be the Harry's Reserve "upscale" wine and spirits store at New Jersey and I, saying that they hope to be open by February 1.
* This year's NatsFest at the baseball stadium will be held on March 30, the day before the Opening Day home game against the Atlanta Braves. The schedule of events is still to come, but hopefully the decision to better tie in the event to the hoopla surrounding the start of the season won't be offset by it being on a Wednesday, when it's harder for kids to be there. (Especially kids who may already be playing hooky the next day!)
* The Yards Park web site now has information about renting space for public, private, or community events. And if you wander through the calendar, you can see what events might be on tap for this year, though the main calendar shows what's been confirmed, such as the Capitol City Beer Festival on May 28, the previously discussed DC Music Festival on May 7, the MetroDash obstacle course race on July 9, and a monthy Art Market.
* Stephen Strasburg, working on his degree while rehabbing, has written a thesis on the effects new stadiums have on neighborhoods, with a focus on Nationals Park. If he was looking for information on what the neighborhood looked like "before," I hope he found it! (And no, the thesis isn't available anywhere.)
* The National Capital Planning Commission will be looking at the final 11th Street Bridges site and building plans at their February 3 meeting. Gosh, I hope they like where the bridges themselves are placed in the designs!
* Off-topic, but the hunt seems to be back on for a new DC United stadium location, with one of the potential spots being across South Capitol Street at Buzzard Point in Southwest. (Please note that I said Buzzard Point. There is no s on the end. In case you missed 642 tweets about it today.) SWill has some additional information.
And, coming on Thursday (I hope), my 2011 State of the Hood roundup of the past 12 months' worth of activity, and what might be on the horizon. (I'm telling you this to force myself to actually get it done.)
 

At Tuesday night's ANC 6B meeting, two south-of-the-freeway issues were voted on (remember, the section from 7th Street to M Street eastward is 6B04, not 6D07):
* By a 7-3 vote, 6B will now support the liquor license application by the Bavarian Beer Garden at 8th and L streets, SE, provided the Voluntary Agreement hammered out by 6B and BBG is approved by ABRA. (Back in December, 6B had voted to not support/protest the license until a VA was agreed to.) Under this agreement, the beer garden's overall hours of operation will remain from 11 am to 1 am Sunday through Thursday and 11 am to 3 am Friday and Saturday, but there are now slightly amended hours for entertainment. Entertainment indoors is approved from noon to midnight on Sundays, 6 pm to midnight Monday through Thursday, and noon to 2 am on Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays. Hours for "summer garden entertainment and dancing" are from noon to 11 pm Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and 11 am to 1 am on Fridays, Saturdays, and Holidays, with none allowed outdoors on Mondays.
Kirsten Oldenberg, the 6B04 rep in whose single-member district the beer garden will be located (and who now has a blog!), expressed lingering concerns about allowing a tavern license in this location, while David Garrison reminded the meeting that there are residences on 7th Street whose backyards will be directly across from the outdoor garden. Norm Metzger mentioned that this establishment doesn't exactly fit in with the ideas for revitalizing the area as seen in the Lower 8th Street Visioning Draft Report. But despite the concerns, the liquor license application will be moving forward, with only new 6B chairman Neil Glick, Garrison, and Metzger opposing.
The commissioners still have not been shown any designs for the beer garden; however, while the lot's co-owner, Mark Brody, told the commission last month that he planned to build a temporary structure as quickly as possible with a permanent building coming (perhaps) in a few years, it's now been determined that since the block is in the Capitol Hill Historic District a temporary building is not allowed. So there will have to be a "real" building, and its design will be subject to historic review by all applicable organizations before it can move forward.
* New 6B02 rep Ivan Frishberg brought to the commission a draft letter to DCPS in support of reopening Van Ness Elementary, since interim chancellor Kaya Henderson said last month that the school system is "committed" to making a decision on the school this month. There was a lot of discussion, and a lot of questions brought up by David Garrison about the boundaries of the school, how it might impact the schools on the Hill, costs to get the school reopened, and more, but in the end the commission voted to approve the letter. (I *think* the vote was 7-2-1, but am trying to get it confirmed.) UPDATE: Oops. The vote was 9-0-1.
UPDATE: Here's another wrap-up of the meeting from The Hill is Home, who could hear what was going on a lot better than I could....
 

* I skipped out on the first ANC 6D meeting of 2011, not seeing any Near Southeast-specific items on the agenda. I did check in with Damon Harvey of DDOT before the meeting, though, to find out what he was going to be speaking to the ANC about, and it was to tell residents that 2011 Visitor Parking Passes will be sent out in the middle of March (right before baseball season starts). If you have any feedback or questions on the parking passes (which were instituted in 2008 as part of the stadium Performance Parking Pilot), you can contact Damon at damon.harvey [at] dc.gov.
* Tonight (Tuesday) is ANC 6B's meeting, at Brent Elementary at 7 pm. The agenda indicates there could be some news about the Bavarian Beer Garden proposed for 8th and L, SE, so I'll be there to check it out.
* SWill across the way has the news (via Bisnow) that Camden's long-delayed 1345 South Capitol Street residential project across the street from Nationals Park is reportedly going to finally get underway during the first quarter of this year. The design that was approved back in 2007 showed a 276-unit apartment building with about 3,300 square feet of ground-floor retail. I used to track this building, but pulled my coverage boundaries back to the South Capitol Street median when SWill hit the ground running with the "Southwest... The Little Quadrant that Could" blog. So while I'll probably mention milestones on the project, I'm going to leave the laser-like focus on it to Will.
* Newly minted ANC 6D07 commissioner David Garber was featured this past Sunday on HGTV's My First Sale, documenting his not-altogether-smooth road to selling a house he renovated in Anacostia. I don't see any repeats in the listings, but eventually the episode should be posted online.
* The city's web site about the various Anacostia Waterfront Initiative projects, TheAnacostiaWaterfront.com, is going to be decommissioned as of Feb. 1, with content about projects like the 11th Street Bridges, the Douglass Bridge, and the Anacostia Riverwalk having already been rolled into the DDOT web site. The new URL is ddot.dc.gov/awi.
 

The BID wants to remind neighbors that Saturday is Residents Day at the Holiday Market at 1100 New Jersey Avenue. It will run from 10 am to 3 pm, and in addition to the lineup of craft exhibitors, Christmas greens, and live music at lunch time, there will also be empanadas, free coffee and pastries from Starbucks, free doggie treats from Metro Mutts, the Eat Wonky and Dangerously Delicious Pie trucks and.... The Red Hook Lobster truck at lunchtime. (The footsteps you hear are my husband's, as he races to be first in line.)
Of course, the market is also running today and Friday as well, from 11 am to 7 pm, with the CapMacDC pasta truck scheduled to make an appearance on Friday. Here's the flyer, for more details on vendors and whatnot.
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More posts: Capitol Riverfront BID, Retail
 

On Tuesday night the full ANC 6B commission took up the issue of whether to support the liquor license application for the new "Bavarian Beer Garden" that a businessman is trying to open at 8th and L, SE. I wrote a lot about it last week when the ANC's ABC subcommittee met, and you can read that (long) entry for most of the background, as well as read the committee report that came out of it.
Commissioners are still very leery of approving a tavern license "with an entertainment endorsement" without having much more information about the plans for the bar, worrying that if they give their support and what is currently billed as just being some "oompah" music turns into a nightclub with music late at night seven days a week, there will be little recourse. (The fact that this is the first restaurant venture by the applicant has them a bit nervous as well.) Their desire is to write various hours/occupancy/entertainment-type restrictions into the Voluntary Agreement, perhaps including some that can then be revisited a few years down the road when it's clear how the bar is operating.
Mark Brody, the applicant, told the commissioners that he is willing to sign a voluntary agreement, and is willing to negotiate over the requested hours of operation and occupancy load (which is at 399 on the initial application), so the negotiations will soon get underway. (The vote by the commissioners to support the license once a voluntary agreement is signed was 7-3.)
However, because the deadline for protesting the license application before ABRA is Monday (Dec. 20), and because the full ANC would need to approve any voluntary agreement by vote at a business meeting, the ANC is going officially be "in protest" with ABRA on the license until the agreements are worked out. (You can read the ABRA Protest Process FAQ for more details, including about how the parties would then be scheduled for a "settlement conference" with an ABRA mediator.)
The hearing date is January 3.
 

A few bullet points to pass along on this lovely day (man, I wish I was in Minneapolis right now):
* I took a few photos (belatedly) of the newly installed stainless steel baseballs hung this week on the Nationals Park garages on N Street. You can see a hint of the red and blue LED lights that will "activate" the balls, though I imagine it will be more impressive when it's dark out. (Also, if you're as desperate in your Christmas shopping as I am, remember that the Nats Team Store at Half and N is open from 11 am to 5 pm every day except Sunday.)
* A reader reported this morning that the fences have been taken down around the all-but-completed 1015 Half Street office building, on the site of the old Nation nightclub. Douglas Wilson Companies, which took over the project when Opus East went belly up, had said when construction restarted in May that they would deliver 1015 Half by the end of the year, and they seem to have basically hit that date. No announcement of any tenants for the 440,000-square-foot building, though.
* The ANC 6D meeting is on Monday at 7 pm at St. Augustine's church at 6th and M streets, SW, but, as of now, no agenda has been posted. I'm sure it'll be a wonderful holiday potpourri of topics, though. (The agenda for Tuesday's ANC 6B meeting has been up for quite a while, and includes the new beer garden at 8th and L.)
* A reader passed along this DCMud piece trying to play up movement on Akridge's Half Street project (just north of the ballpark), but I see a lot of "expects" and "luck" and "hope to" rather than any concrete start dates, and so, to me, that means there's really no news of impending construction. The fact that the Bullpen has apparently gotten it's lease renewed for the 2011 season would point to Akridge not expecting to do any work before fall. (And I'd also note that the first sentence gets everything wrong about the disposition of the Southeastern Bus Garage site, as is so often the case with DCMud items on Near Southeast: Akridge was the winning bid for the entire bus garage site in 2007, while Monument [which itself is not bankrupt, though its financial backer Lehman Brothers did croak] had earlier gotten the Metro station entrance on the other side of the street. Monument had owned land south of the bus garage, on the Bullpen site, but then sold that to Akridge in 2008.) The post also gives some background on the project, which might be new for people who haven't been following along, but which is basically what Akridge has been saying since they first unveiled the project two years ago.
You can see my Akridge Half Street project page for all of the details and renderings of the 700,000-square-foot office/residential/retail project, or, heck, read the zoning hearing transcript from January 2009. I think new residents will be happy about Akridge's long-mentioned plans for the "stall"-like vending area along the "Via" as well as a "neighborhood retail" feel for the Van Street side of the project, though people will probably be even happier about that once they know the project is actually going to start....
 

Despite having arrived fashionably late to tonight's ANC 6B ABC committee meeting, I still managed to get there in time to hear the initial presentation by Mark Brody on his plans for the "Bavarian Beer Garden" that he is looking to bring to the currently vacant northwest corner of 8th and L, SE. (This is the "Saints and Sinners" block, which is also going to have the National Community Church's new operations on the Miles Glass site on the north end of the block.)
As I've written previously, he and his business partner (who has owned the property for more than 20 years--Brody appears to have bought a half-interest in the lots earlier this year for $600,000, according to property records) are applying for a liquor license for a tavern/beer garden that would seat 99 customers inside, with space for another 200 outside in the summer garden. They're looking to be open from 11 am to 2 am Sunday through Thursday, and until 3 am on Friday and Saturday, with the hours of alcohol sales matching those "open" hours. They also want to have live entertainment (oompah! oompah!) from noon to midnight on Sunday, 6 pm to midnight Monday through Friday, and noon to 2 am on Saturday. Brody said it would be "upscale," with beer running around $7, and there would be food, though no menu has been determined yet.
Brody brought no drawings or designs, but said they would put a newly constructed building along 8th Street, with the entrance on the corner, and the beer garden would be behind it, butting up against the driveway from Miles Glass that punches through to L Street. (Brody and his partner own the two small buildings on the west side of the driveway.) Brody suggested that having a large nightlife offering south of the freeway would help pull people south on 8th, and make them less reticent to use the parking lot beneath the freeway (which tied into the discussion around the previous agenda item, another restaurant in the 500 block of 8th). He also mentioned the large surface parking lots that exist nearby that would have more than enough capacity to hold the large number of patrons his plans are for, though certain bloggers in the audience mentioned that the big one at 7th and L is probably going to see construction start on its north portion before too much longer.
There was considerable skepticism from the commissioners (especially chair David Garrison) when Brody said that he hopes to be up and running "by spring," especially since the lot is in the historic district and he would still need all of his designs approved by the Capitol Hill Historic Society and the city's Historic Preservation Review Board, as well as go through the not-always-smooth building permitting process.
He and his partner (who is in construction) are looking at building a smaller "temporary" building now, with a more permanent three- or four-story structure to come later. But when the commissioners expressed their concern about having very little to go on in terms of design and concept before they make a decision as to whether to support the liquor license application, Brody said that he and his partner won't be building anything without getting the license first.
Commissioners also mentioned "Heart and Soul" a few times, which Hill veterans will remember as the venture at 8th and Pennsylvania that got its approvals as a restaurant with some live entertainment and turned into a nightclub that became a nightmare for residents. "What you're giving me screams 'nightclub,' " said 6B05 rep Ken Jarboe.
Neil Glick of 6B08 talked about the size of the plans, that this would be the largest space on the Hill except for maybe Remington's, and that "we can't just give away" support without much to go on, especially since Brody has not had any dealings with 6B before.
Kirsten Oldenberg, in whose single-member district (6B04) this site is located, listed similar concerns, as well as the fact that, if the temporary building is a success, why would the owners ever then tear it down to build something better? She also mentioned the Lower 8th Vision draft plan that has just been submitted to the Office of Planning, wondering if this project fits in to that vision.
6B07 commissioner Carol Green separated herself a bit from her brethren by saying that she feels the area south of the freeway needs something now.
Jarboe then mentioned the possibility of writing into the voluntary agreement that the liquor license be temporary (three or four years) so that the project can get started soon, but "to give [the license] to you forever and ever opens us up for mischief later on."
The license is on the agenda for the full ANC 6B commission meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 14), at 7 pm at the People's Church at 535 8th St., SE, but with things like a voluntary agreement still needing to be written, along with probably some strong feelings about wanting more information, I'm not sure how the timeline is going to work out, with the liquor license hearing date set for January 3.
UPDATE: After deliberations (which were public but I mistakenly didn't stick around for), the ABC Committee has decided to support the liquor license application contingent on the applicant and the city's ABC Board agreeing to a Voluntary Agreement that limits hours and occupancy (terms to come). 6B is also going to argue for a temporary license (as I described above), but it's not clear that the ABC Board would go along with that. There will be more discussion of this at Tuesday's full ANC meeting.
 

This is a painful post for me to write. (No, seriously--I hurt my left thumb last week, and typing doesn't help.) But I will power through to bring you news of upcoming events, all while wondering why Decembers are always so busy with public meetings--because it's not like we don't we have enough to do already....
ADD: Oops. Tonight (Dec. 6) is the 4th Annual Livable Walkable Community Awards, at Arena Stage at 6:30 pm.
* Tuesday (Dec. 7) is the second Marine Barracks site search public forum, in Eastern Market's North Hall. I can't find the agenda for it, but the CIMP web site describes it thusly: "Session 2 will begin with at 5:00 pm with an open house where information will be provided in displays, and subject matter experts will be present to discuss various aspects of the CIMP with a facilitated discussion to authenticate community development objectives to begin at 7:00 PM." You can see the draft community objectives handed out at last week's meeting, and read my summary of that session, as well as the scads of posts through the past year of this process.
* Wednesday (Dec. 8) is the neighborhood meeting with DC Public Schools interim chancellor Kaya Henderson on the movement to reopen Van Ness Elementary at 5th and M, SE. The meeting is at 6 pm (note the time change) at the Courtyard by Marriott at New Jersey and L, and while no decision on reopening the school will be announced, DCPS will be talking about the preliminary findings from the survey they did this fall about whether there would be enough students to justify reopening the school. Read my previous posts for details.
* On Thursday (Dec. 9) the ANC 6B ABC Committee will meet at 7 pm at the Southeast Neighborhood Library at 403 7th St., SE, and it will be taking up the new liquor license application for the Bavarian Beer Garden at 8th and L, SE. It's looking to be a 99-seat tavern, with an additional 200 outdoor seats in summer, and would operate from 11 am to 2 am Sunday through Thursday and 11 am to 3 am on Fridays and Saturdays. There's also apparently the possibility of live entertainment. The application will also be taken up by the full ANC at its regular meeting on Dec. 14 at 7 pm at 535 8th St., SE.
* Monday (Dec. 13) is ANC 6D's monthly meeting--the agenda should be out later this week.
* Tuesday, Dec. 14 is the BID's Annual Meeting, at 11:30 am at 100 M St., SE. There will be a keynote address by George Hawkins, general manager of DC Water, plus the BID will release its 2010 Annual Report and State of the Capitol Riverfront.
* The BID also launches its Holiday Market on the 14th, running daily through the 18th on the sidewalk outside of 1100 New Jersey Ave., SE, across from the Navy Yard Metro station. "Shop the market for wool sweaters and mittens, homemade soaps, jewelry, antique maps, wreaths and holiday greenery, paintings, and much more!" See the flyer for more details, or the latest BID newsletter.
* Also on the 14th is the aforementioned ANC 6B monthly meeting, which includes a report by Michael Stevens of the BID on the Lower 8th Street Visioning Process report that's being submitted to the Office of Planning. (This will also be presented to the ANC's Planning and Zoning Committee on Dec. 7 at 7 pm at 535 8th St., SE.)
* Finally, on Dec. 17, the James L. Brooks movie "How Do You Know" opens--this is the one that was filmed at Nationals Park (and all around DC) back in 2009, and stars Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, and Jack Nicholson.
Ow.
 

I received a report from reader K on being part of a telephone survey on Tuesday night about neighborhood grocery stores. It apparently started with generic questions on where K shops, followed by questions about what kind of new grocery store K would like to see in the neighborhood, with options like Harris Teeter, Trader Joe's and Yes! being on the list. (Interestingly, given last night's Twitter eruption on Wal-Mart perhaps coming to DC, K says there were lots of questions about whether the neighborhood would support a "low-price" store.)
The interview then moved to specific questions about what K "would like to see at the new Harris Teeter at 5th and M by the Navy Yard." K said that the interviewer made the store sound like a done deal--which it certainly has seemed to be for a while now given all the hints and not-confirmed media stories about letters of intent, but there still has never been an official announcement from either Forest City or Harris Teeter that HT is indeed coming to the new residential building planned for 401 M St., SE at The Yards. One way or the other, it appears that construction on this building may be getting started next year--see my recent entries for details.
 

An Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration Notice of Public Hearing appeared in last Friday's DC Register for an outfit called "Bavarian Beer Garden" seeking a Retail Class "C" Tavern license to open a "new tavern, beer garden with European/American food" on the northwest corner of 8th and L, SE. This corner is currently an empty lot (sorry for the old photo), and is next to some of the land that the National Community Church just bought as part of its purchase of the Miles Glass site (a small amount of the Miles Glass property runs all the way through to L Street).
The hearing notice says that the tavern/beer garden would seat 99 customers inside, with space for another 200 outside in the summer garden. They're looking to be open from 11 am to 2 am Sunday through Thursday, and until 3 am on Friday and Saturday, with the hours of alcohol sales matching those "open" hours.
This is part of the "Lower 8th Street" area that the Barracks Row folks are trying to revive; but I'll also note that it's in the block directly north of the Blue Castle, which I believe still has charter schools operating inside, so I wonder if there's going to be an issue there.
The lot resides in ANC 6B, and I don't believe anything has come before its ABC subcommittee yet.
The ABRA hearing date is set for Jan. 3, 2011, with petitions to appear before the board about this application needing to be submitted by Dec. 20.
(h/t Prince of Petworth, who has photos of the site taken today)
 

I've just received an e-mail from Yung Park, the owner of the no-longer-Little-Red-Building site at Second and L, where the plans have been for years to reopen a liquor store known as "Parkway Wine and Spirits" once the new building is constructed (the old LRB for a long time housed the Star Market). However, apparently that's all now changing.
According to this e-mail, the site is now going to be a cafe, to be called the Aroma Espresso Bar, and it will feature an Illy coffee bar, plus "gourmet sandwiches and gourmet pastries." He says that the new building's exterior design will be the same, with the interior having modern finishes. The first floor will be the kitchen and coffee bar, and the second floor will be the seating area. (They're also hoping for sidewalk tables, though that will have to go through the city's Public Space permitting process.)
"If we have decent weather," Mr. Park expects the building and store to be ready by February.
With Harry's Wine and Spirits (which I think is now being called Harry's Reserve) opening at 909 New Jersey within a few months, the notion of two "gourmet" wine and liquor stores so close to each other must not have looked quite so appealing. And, with Parkway/Aroma's location next to Canal Park, switching to a more all-ages business plan is probably a wise move. Will post additional information as I get it.
 
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