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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: square 698
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SC1100
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Novel South Capitol ('19)
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Capper/The Harlow ('19)
New DC Water HQ ('19)
Yards/Bower Condos ('19)
Virginia Ave. Tunnel ('19)
99 M ('18)
Agora ('18)
1221 Van ('18)
District Winery ('17)
Insignia on M ('17)
F1rst/Residence Inn ('17)
One Hill South ('17)
Homewood Suites ('16)
ORE 82 ('16)
The Bixby ('16)
Dock 79 ('16)
Community Center ('16)
The Brig ('16)
Park Chelsea ('16)
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Hampton Inn ('15)
Southeast Blvd. ('15)
11th St. Bridges ('15)
Parc Riverside ('14)
Twelve12/Yards ('14)
Lumber Shed ('13)
Boilermaker Shops ('13)
Camden South Cap. ('13)
Canal Park ('12)
Capitol Quarter ('12)
225 Virginia/200 I ('12)
Foundry Lofts ('12)
1015 Half Street ('10)
Yards Park ('10)
Velocity Condos ('09)
Teague Park ('09)
909 New Jersey Ave. ('09)
55 M ('09)
100 M ('08)
Onyx ('08)
70/100 I ('08)
Nationals Park ('08)
Seniors Bldg Demo ('07)
400 M ('07)
Douglass Bridge Fix ('07)
US DOT HQ ('07)
20 M ('07)
Capper Seniors 1 ('06)
Capitol Hill Tower ('06)
Courtyard/Marriott ('06)
Marine Barracks ('04)
 
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29 Blog Posts Since 2003
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With a few hours to go until Nats fans spend three-plus hours watching baseball on TV through their hands, some items to catch on. (I don't think I'm the only one who found that, as amazing as the playoff run has been, it has totally sapped my energy. Recovery begins soon, one way or the other.)
* 80 M TO GROW: It's a surprising piece of news, but it's now officially being reported that the 80 M Street office building, on the northwest corner of 1st and M, is looking to add two stories using "mass timber." Bisnow has more, and the architecture firm's web site has some renderings as well. (It was originally built in 1999-2000, aka Before My Time, so I don't have a project page, but you can see it under construction in these two grainy film photos I took in the fall of 2000.) It does have to get past the Zoning Commission first, though.
* ANCHOVY SOCIAL: We already knew that Danny Meyer is going to be opening Maialino Mare in the ground floor of the new Thompson Hotel at 3rd and Tingey, and now it's being reported that the rooftop bar will be a separate operation named Anchovy Social, which Food and Wine describes as being "all about chilling out over a martini, seafood towers, and taking in the view."
* THOMPSON GETTING CLOSE: Speaking of the Thompson, its web site is now accepting reservations for the swank hotel at the Yards for February 1st and beyond. (Last week it was March 1 and beyond, so they must be feeling better about their opening date.)
* CHILLER SITE SOLD: This evergreen subhead returns with the news that Metro has finally sold the "Chiller" site on the southwest corner of Half and L to MRP Realty for $10.24 million, as was preliminarily announced back in, oh, 2014. A 161-unit 11-story apartment building with ground-floor retail is already in the Permit Pipeline, and a raze permit for the existing structures is in process as well.
* LA FAMOSA COMING IN 2020: Puerto Rican food is coming to the southeast corner of 4th and Tingey next year, as La Famosa will open as a "fast-fine" restaurant in the ground floor of the Bower. According to City Paper, it will serve all-day coffee, lunch, and dinner. And it will have a bar.
* HATOBA NOW OPEN: In case you haven't already wandered by, the neighborhood's first ramen shop is now open, in the old 100 Montaditos space on Tingey Street, SE, near 4th Street.
 

A raze permit has been approved, fences have gone up, and the two-story building at 37 L Street SE that has been home to the Empire and DC Flyer cab companies for a number of years is apparently in its final hours/days/weeks.
The site was purchased last year by DBT Development for $6.7 million, with plans for an eleven-story 74-unit building that apparently will be condos. DBT was also the developer of the condo building at 1350 Maryland Ave., NE.
I had hoped to get some renderings, but decided to stop waiting and get this post up, in case people wonder why fences are now in place.
It is a small site--less than 8,000 square feet--and does not include the WMATA Navy Yard Metro station "chiller" operations immediately to its east, on the corner of Half and L, though that site is also expected to be a residential building, by MRP Realty, if that project is still happening.
It will be interesting to see if it is demolished before October 24, which will be the 40th anniversary of the Cinema Follies fire, when a ground-floor explosion and the resulting flames blocked the exit from the 50-seat x-rated gay movie theater on the second floor, killing nine people with thick toxic smoke.
Comments (24)
More posts: 37l, Development News, square 698
 

I'm going to try to get back into the tidbit biz to make up for my generally decreased output (except for the past few days!). We'll see how it goes, and it also means I have some catching up to do, so apologies if some of these are old news to you.
*I WORK, YOU WORK, WEWORK: Co-working provider WeWork has signed a 69,000-sf lease at 80 M St. SE. (Bisnow)
* NATS PARK DIGITAL SIGNS: This has been brewing for a number of weeks, and has been discussed in the comments threads, but some may still be unaware of the plans by the Nationals to install 10 large digital billboards on the ballpark's exterior. The Hill Rag wrote about it in detail in October, and last week ANC 6D's Andy Litsky offered this blistering testimony in opposition to the DC Council's Subcommittee on Urban Affairs. UPDATE: Oops, I guess the initial subcommittee vote was last week, a 4-1 approval. Washington City Paper has more on the controversy.
* COMMUNITY CENTER BACKSTORY: Capitol Hill Corner writes of how the new Capper Community Center had and then lost plans for an operator for the new building, and what it means for the center at this point.
* ANACOSTIA RIVER TRAIL EXTENSION: Back at the end of October, the stretch of the Anacostia River Trail from Benning Road to the DC/Maryland line officially opened, providing not only another five miles of trail offerings within DC but creating an all new gateway to the large Anacostia Tributary Trail System. (WashCycle)
* WSJ ON THE HOOD: If you have a Wall Street Journal subscription, here's their recent piece on the explosive growth of the neighborhood.
* CHANGING HANDS: I totally meant to mention back in July that the Empire Cab building at 37 L St. SE was sold for $6.7 million, according to WBJ (scroll down). This building, as I wrote a number of years ago, was the site in 1977 of a terrible fire where nine people died. In other changing-hands-news, a little birdie tells me that the land held by Akridge along 1st St. SE between K and L that was put on the market earlier this year is now under contract to a residential developer. I imagine we'll find out more when the sale closes in coming weeks.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.
 

WBJ reports today that three developers have submitted proposals to WMATA for projects on what's known as the Navy Yard Chiller Plant site, on the southwest corner of Half and L, SE.
Sayeth Michael Neibauer: "Akridge wants to build office there. Trammell Crow has bid to construct a residential building, as has a joint venture of MRP Realty and CAS Riegler. All three buildings feature ground floor retail."
Apparently the next step will be public forums "to gauge community interest" in the proposals, and WBJ says that Metro is looking to make selections as soon as mid-summer.
This is not the first time that WMATA has looked to redevelop this 14,000-sq-ft parcel, but a two-year negotiation with Donatelli broke off in 2010 when the developer pulled the plug on a planned 84-unit condo building, saying that the neighborhood was "getting saturated" with residential and that "it didn't look like condominiums were a viable alternative."
WMATA has been looking to get this lot developed since 2006, and you can relive all the twists and turns through my many posts on the subject.
Most likely any developer chosen would buy the 7,700-sq-ft lot with the two-story building next door (which has a big For Sale sign draped on its western side) to expand the site. (That building has quite a history, for those who weren't around for my post on it back in 2010.)
Comments (9)
More posts: Chiller Site/WMATA, Development News, square 698
 

Trying to start 2014 off right--even if it means posting a few things I didn't quite get to in 2013.
* ANC: Ed Kaminski has resigned as Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for 6D02, the area basically from the ballpark northward to the south side of I Street. A special election will be in the offing before too long.
* METRO: Via CapBiz, Metro has put out "development concepts" for the five station sites it is touting to developers. However, when it came to the Navy Yard/Chiller Plant site on the southwest corner of Half and L, there were no pretty drawings, just a suggestion to acquire the privately owned lot next door, and that maybe a project with ground-floor retail would be nice, too. If you want to know the increasingly long history of WMATA's attempts to find a developer for this land (and get a new chiller plant as part of the deal), here's some reading for you.
* BALLPARK SQUARE: New fence signage along 1st Street north of Nats Park touting the Ballpark Square residential/hotel/retail development, "delivering in late 2015." There do appear to be building permits for the residential and hotel parts of the development currently working through the pipeline, though there is No Time To Lose to hit that "late 2015" date (and co-developer McCaffery hedges a bit with "early 2016"). I will note, though, that there is something kind of missing in the rendering shown on the fence signage. (Hint: It's L-shaped, and is by a different developer, and is supposed to start soon too.)
* WAYBACK: The Hill is Home's "Lost Capitol Hill" series looks at the Anacostia Engine House, located at 8th and Virginia for most of the years from 1839 until the glorious arrival of the Southeast Freeway in the 1960s.
* NO, REALLY: My latest excuse explanation for my decreased blogging output. (Though if you follow JDLand on Facebook or Twitter, you already know this.)
 

The Post's CapBiz section reported yesterday that "In an effort to take advantage of some of the boom in development near public transit, Metro launched a search Monday for companies interested in building on properties the transit agency owns at five of its stations: Brookland, Navy Yard, Fort Totten, Grosvenor-Strathmore and Morgan Boulevard."
The Navy Yard-Ballpark land the transit agency is looking to develop is a bit to the north of the station's Half Street entrance, and is known as the Chiller Plant site on the southwest corner of Half and L.
While this sounds like positive progress to those who are wanting to see that corner developed, I do invite readers to come with me on a trip through the JDLand archives:
So, while it would be keen to see some movement on the 14,000-sq-ft site, it might be wise to not break out the backhoes just yet.
 

It was only a few weeks ago that I discovered (much to my embarrassment) that WMATA had been negotiating for nearly two years with Donatelli Development for the rights to build on the southwest corner of Half and L, on the Navy Yard station's "chiller site." Metro's web site on the proposed plan said that the development agreement is now "expected to be executed in the summer of 2010."
However, the WashBizJournal reports today (subscribers only) that the two have now "cut ties," with Donatelli receiving a certified letter from WMATA ending the deal. The article says that, while originally Donatelli proposed 84 apartments with 5,300 square feet of ground-floor retail, the development company last year tried to "reframe the project" as a boutique hotel, but couldn't find financing. WBJ quotes Donatelli as saying "There are too many apartments there already[.] The whole area was getting saturated, and it didn't look like condominiums were a viable alternative," which brought a "perplexed" response from Michael Stevens of the Capitol Riverfront BID: "We think [residential has] been one of the greatest successes of our neighborhood[.] Mr. Donatelli does this for a living, but I don't know what numbers he's looking at."
WMATA says that they won't be putting the small-ish 14,000-square-foot site immediately back on the market for development. (Note that the parcel housing the taxi company at 37 L is not part of the WMATA land.) The lot has office buildings 20 M and 1015 Half to its south and north, and (eventually) 1100 South Capitol to its west.
Comments (0)
More posts: Chiller Site/WMATA, square 698
 

Today WMATA sent out a press release touting a new web page highlighting its "dozens" of current and recently completed Transit Oriented development projects. And lo and behold, on the page for the Navy Yard "Chiller Plant" site on the southwest corner of Half and L, we find out that Metro has been negotiating a development agreement with Donatelli Development since the summer of 2008 (!) to build an 84-unit apartment building with ground-floor retail on the 14,000-square-foot site. Metro would continue to own the land and would receive lease income from the site, while Donatelli would be responsible for incorporating two new, larger, 350-ton chillers within the project (so that everyone down in both the Navy Yard and Waterfront-SEU Metro stations stay nice and climate-controlled).
Metro says that this stalled development agreement is now "expected to be executed in the summer of 2010," with a lease between the companies to be signed about 18 months after that, once all development and construction permits are obtained. They say "late 2013" is when the project would open. At right is a rendering from the WMATA site of the proposed building. (Note that the footprint of this project does not include the cab company building just to the west at 37 L.)
(And yes, I'm hanging my head in shame for not knowing about this. I knew that Metro was negotiating with *someone*, but had never heard who, and figured it fell through as time passed with no announcement. Maybe I'll take all of August off as punishment.)
Comments (0)
More posts: Chiller Site/WMATA, Metro/WMATA, square 698
 

(For someone who graduated from college with a degree in history, I have done a lousy job over the years of documenting the history of Near Southeast with anything approaching the zeal of my coverage of its present and future. I can offer no good excuses, but I'm going to begin to rectify this with a new series, "Sunday Rearview Mirror." I don't pretend to have the level of knowledge or experience of the pre-ballpark era as those who passed through Near Southeast during those years, but hopefully by taking the time every so often to highlight and describe events from the past I can help make sure that the new residents and workers who only recently heard of Near Southeast have some awareness of the people and events that came before them.)
It was in the 1970s that the western edge of Near Southeast became home to a new entertainment district for the city's gay residents, with its remoteness and lack of nearby residences allowing some measure of freedom for a culture that was only just beginning to step out of the closet. The area between South Capitol and First streets--with clubs like the Lost and Found, Club Baths II, Grand Central, Waaay off Broadway and Washington Square--became home not only to nightclubs with dancing and music but also but bathhouses, x-rated movie cinemas, and strip clubs. One of the new clubs was the Cinema Follies, which opened in 1975 at 37 L St., SE, showing x-rated gay films.
On Oct. 24, 1977, an explosion on the ground floor triggered by cleaning chemicals started a fire, with flames quickly consuming carpeting and wall hangings, blocking the exit for the patrons who had been in the 50-seat second floor theater. The fire never reached the second floor, but the smoke quickly became overpowering. However, a door that led to the roof was padlocked, and the windows had been replaced with cinderblocks. According to the Washington Post's account, "most of the victims were found in the orange-and-black theater seats [...] and may have been overcome by the smoke before they realized what was happening."
Nine people died as a result of the fire, making it the deadliest fire in Washington DC up to that time, a mark that stood until a fire at an unlicensed group home on Lamont Street, NW, killed 10 in April 1979. Identification of those who died at the Follies was hampered by the fact that, as the Post reported, "Many homosexuals do not carry identification when they visit homosexual gathering places," being "wary about the possibility of jeopardizing jobs or social position by having nonhomosexuals learn of their sexual orientation" in case their presence at club might be made public "through a police raid or other event."
(An interesting sidelight to the issue of identification was a column by Post ombudsman Charles Seib soon after the fire, questioning the Post's decision to not use the full names of some of those who died and no names at all of the injured. The column quoted then-Managing Editor Howard Simon as saying that the paper's main motivation was "compassion for the wives and children" [since some of the victims were married] but Seib went on to ask whether this approach had the effect of "underscoring the stigma of homosexuality, of shoving it back in the closet at a time when efforts are being made to bring it out and address it as a social fact?" This is an issue that papers still clearly struggle with, even today.)
William Oates, the manager of the club, was eventually fined $650 in 1979 for violating four building codes, though city officials stated that Oates "did everything possible" to try to comply with the laws, but poor city record keeping and poorly written codes made it difficult. (The city did work to strengthen its codes in the wake of the fire.) However, nearly eight years after the fire, in September of 1985, families of four of the victims were awarded more than $1.5 million in a civil suit against the club's owners.
Within a year or the fire, Oates opened "The Follies" at its new location at 24 O St., SE, where it operated until it was demolished with many other gay nightclubs in May 2006 to make way for Nationals Park. Somewhat amazingly, the building where the Cinema Follies fire took place, which was not all that heavily damaged, still stands today, on L Street directly across from the under-construction 1015 Half office building. It's currently home to a cab company.
I plan to write more Rear-View Mirror entries in the future about the neighborhood's past as a nightclub district, but until then, this 2003 pamphlet by the Rainbow History Project gives a great overview of the clubs that used to be such an integral part of Washington's gay culture. Hard to believe that, when the pamphlet was written, the authors had no idea how little time the existing clubs had left.
Comments (0)
More posts: 37l, Restaurants/Nightlife, Rearview Mirror, square 698
 

I attended my first-ever foreclosure sale this morning (yay...?), where the two lots at 23 I Street (the old Wendy's site) that JPI had purchased in 2007 for $28.6 million were to be auctioned off after JPI defaulted on its $25 million loan. However, there were no bidders for the 47,000-sq-ft piece of land (which doesn't include the Exxon next door), and so the property is now owned by Ruben Companies, which bought the original note from Key Bank earlier this year.
Ruben Cos. also owns the 1100 South Capitol lot (plus 1101 South Capitol, across the street and outside of my boundaries), and had at one point been working to purchase the St. Matthew's Church land at New Jersey and L before opting out.
The company has no plans to build anything soon on the 23 I lot--but if anyone's interested in renting the land for some interim entertainment use (a la Akridge's deal with the Bullpen on Half Street and even the trapeze school at the Yards), Ruben says they'd be willing to listen. Maybe the neighborhood could get a putt-putt course or something!
 
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