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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Square 699n
See JDLand's Square 699n Project Page
for Photos, History, and Details
In the Pipeline
1244 South Capitol
Virginia Ave. Tunnel
New Douglass Bridge
Yards/Parcel O
JBG/Akridge/Half St.
Ex-Monument/Half St.
Chiller Site Condos
Yards/Parcel A
Yards/Icon Theater
1333 M St.
Capper Apts.
250 M St.
New Marine Barracks
Nat'l Community Church
Factory 202/Yards
Congressional Square
1000 South Capitol
SC1100
Completed
Southeast Blvd. ('15)
Parc Riverside ('14)
Twelve12/Yards ('14)
Lumber Shed ('13)
Boilermaker Shops ('13)
Camden South Capitol ('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)
Posts on Food/Fun
Retail News
Restaurants/Nightlife
 

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94 Blog Posts Since 2003
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After not having a new high-rise residential project under construction in the neighborhood since spring 2009, it's sort of amazing to realize there are now three such buildings up out of the ground, with more than 900 new rental units in the pipeline for delivery within the next year to eighteen months. (And there could be another 650 units added to tally if both the Yards/Parcel N and 800 New Jersey/Whole Foods projects get going as expected in the coming months.)
The farthest along is the Twelve12 building at 4th and M, SE, at the Yards, which has its two residential towers topped out and its Harris Teeter space glassed in. Plus, it is also now seeing the glass being hung on the Vida Fitness/retail area at 4th and Tingey:
It will have 218 units, and the first move-ins are expected to happen by mid-year. This project is also where Sweetgreen and TaKorean will be located.
Meanwhile, the Toll Brothers building dubbed River Parc is racing right along, with five-plus of its 13 stories completed, helping to make the southwest corner of 1st and K look a teensy bit different than it did seven years ago:
This building will have 277 units, and is expected to begin leasing toward the end of 2014.
And up near the freeway, at New Jersey and I, the Park Chelsea is moving along, though the vertical progress of this 433-unit building is a bit slower than its smaller brethren. But as of now neighborhood eyes are probably more fixed on the completed paving of the new block of I Street between 2nd and New Jersey, though when the street will actually open to the public is not being trumpeted. (Spring 2014? Late 2014? We shall see!)
I think that, of the three, the Park Chelsea will have the biggest impact on the neighborhood skyline, both from on the ground (as you can now start to see in the various vantage points in the project's expanded before-and-after archive) as well as when looking into Near Southeast from the freeway. (And then it won't be too long until the Chelsea's sibling 800 New Jersey sneaks in just to its north and tweaks the views even further.). The downside is that a lot of views of the Capitol dome from Canal Park and Capitol Hill Tower are going to be lost to progress....
For more information/renderings for each project, and for more photos showing how these construction sites looked before work got underway, check out the Twelve12, River Parc, and Park Chelsea project pages. And join in with me in looking forward to the days starting to get longer, so that I can stop having to deal with the rotten winter sun angle and shadows.
 

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At 1st and K SE, the neighborhood is getting a great demonstration of how quickly a just-started apartment building project can pop into view if the below-ground infrastructure is already completed.
Toll Brothers bought the site from the Cohen Companies last year, and because Cohen had originally planned a sister building to Velocity on the lot, it had gone ahead and built the garage and other underground necessities at the same time Velocity was built in 2007. But then, well, Phase 2 never actually happened, and the covered garage remained a Tetris-like landscape until Toll came along.
It was at the end of last month that nearby residents started seeing the first hints of work at the site, and now a few weeks later the ground floor of the building is already up, as you can see.
Toll is keeping details about the building pretty close to its vest--unless you're a Velocity resident. That group received a briefing in September and was told that the building will be called River Parc, will have 277 rental units, no retail, and is expected to start leasing next fall with completion in spring 2015.
And Velocity residents were even shown a rendering of the new building (thanks to Jake for grabbing a pic of the poster board, which I've straightened out a bit--UPDATE: and see below for two more).
This stretch of 1st Street between K and L used to be made up of small auto-related businesses, with the buildings facing K having a bit more tawdry offerings, such as the "In & Out Video 'and so much more'". All were demolished in Spring 2007, and now the vista looks a little different, not only on this block but elsewhere:
See my Toll Brothers page for more details and photos.
UPDATE: And now two additional renderings have fallen into my hands, showing the view that the Velocity folks will see across the courtyard (left), and the view coming up 1st Street from L (right):
Comments (16)
 

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Some work appears to be underway on the southwest corner of 1st and K, where Toll Brothers now has building permits for a 13-story, 250ish-unit apartment building. The Tetris-like boxes that have covered rebar and other infrastructure since work was completed on Velocity and the accompanying garage under what's now the Toll site are being removed:
This will allow Toll to begin work on their building more or less at ground level, rather than spending months on excavation and below-ground construction.
See more photos and information about the project here.
Comments (3)
 

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DC property records show that on Oct. 1, "Toll DC LP" paid $14.5 million to the Cohen Companies for the final empty lot on the Square 699N/Velocity block, running along the east side of Half Street SE between K and L, across from 1015 Half Street.
With Toll's $24 million purchase back in May of the 1st and K portion of the same square with plans to build a 250ish-unit residential building, this now gives the company a second toe-hold inside the District, both on the same block.
There are rumors that the 1st and K site could see construction start in the spring, but there have been no announcements. (And I can't really even say "wait to watch for digging," since on that 1st and K site the garage and underground infrastructure was already dug and completed when the Cohen companies built Velocity.)
It's starting to be quite a tote board of projects that "could" begin in 2013. Florida Rock residential, the Park Chelsea, the new Yards Parcel N building, Square 701.... Maybe we should start a pool!
 

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I've learned today that mega-developer Toll Brothers has purchased the Square 699N land directly north of the Velocity Condos building on 1st Street SE for $24 million, with the intention of building a 250ish-unit residential building.
This land has been owned by the Cohen Companies since their purchase of the entire block bounded by 1st, Half, K, and L in 2005.
In fact, the garage and below-grade structure for the Toll Brothers lot is already built--that's why you see all the funny beige boxes on the land, covering vent shafts and other infrastructure items. Cohen had planned to move forward with a sibling for Velocity soon after it completed the condo building, but that never came to fruition.
This would be Toll Brothers's first building in DC proper, I believe, but they have plenty of offerings in the Metro area. And, as I found out today, they don't just do single-family homes (White Flint Station is an example of a condo building of theirs in the area). UPDATE: SWill from across the way mentions in the comments that TB bought White Flint Station after it was completed and converted it to condos from apartments. Apologies for the assumption.
More to come on this, I'm sure. And it will no doubt be seen as another indication of the strength of Near Southeast's residential market.
[And I should add that Cohen still owns the third lot on the block, along Half Street.]
 

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I wandered down to Nationals Park last night to take in the atmosphere of not only the four new eateries, but also the return of Ryan Zimmerman. It was a healthy crowd (26,700+), and only about half of them seemed to be in line at Shake Shack and the other new food concessions (though by later in the game, the non-Shake Shack options had no lines).
I took another slew of photos (since the original batch from Monday's preview event proved to be pretty popular) mainly trying to get shots of these new "iconic" ballpark features from various angles, along with a few other shots of interest. As you can see in the shot at right, you can look at Blue Smoke and Box Frites with the Yards Park "iconic" pedestrian bridge and Navy Yard riverwalk directly behind, or with an east-of-the-river vista. I also grabbed a view of the progress on the bridge between Diamond Teague Park and Yards Park, my first shots of Das Bullpen, and both the sunset and the moonrise. And they would have all been even better if I had brought the official JDLand DSLR camera and not my less-than-fabulous point-and-shoot. Browse the gallery, and then mock me for leaving in the top of the 7th inning.
Other recently tweeted tidbits:
* The Yards' new Facebook page now includes a 2 1/2-minute virtual tour of what the neighborhood will look like when it's all built out. To see what it looks like now (and what it looked like a few years back), wander through my Yards project page.
* On Sunday morning a group of volunteers descended on the empty lot just east of the Velocity condo building to turn it into a demonstration rain garden. It's a project of the DC chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and is being funded by REI and the Cohen Companies (developers of the block), among others. They are having a meeting at Velocity on June 20 at 6 pm to discuss the project, and there will be another work day on the site on Saturday, June 25. The project's blog has photos and a lot of details; it's officially named the David Stemper Memorial Rain Garden, in honor of a Surfrider volunteer who passed away in 2010.
* The BID says that the next Truckeroo food truck festival at Half and M SE will be on Friday, July 15.
* Last week CSX sent a letter out to residents who live near Virginia Avenue introducing the plans to rehab the Virginia Avenue Tunnel. (It was probably quite useful for people who don't read JDLand!)
 

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The report from Wednesday night's ANC6D ABC Committee meeting:
* Justin's Cafe is seeking to add four tables, with umbrellas and four chairs each, on the sidewalk directly in front of the restaurant. They would be available the same hours as the restaurant itself, until 1 am Monday through Thursday, 2 am Friday and Saturday, and 10 pm Sunday. There were concerns from a commissioner or two about whether people might walk away from the outdoor seating area with alcoholic drinks, about the additional noise brought by 16 or so people outside, and about whether cigarette smoke from the tables would waft up and bother the Velocity units directly above. Justin Ross replied that a sign would be posted about alcohol only being consumed on the premises, and that smokeless ashtrays would be available for the tables (and that since people can't smoke inside the restaurant, there's already a lot of smoking going on outside on the sidewalk). Velocity's management had sent along a letter in full support of the plan.
The committee voted 4-0 in favor of recommending that the ANC support the application, and that vote should come at the ANC's June 14 meeting, if Justin's voluntary and community cooperation agreements are revised in time.
* The owners of Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits on Pennsylvania Avenue SE came to talk with the committee about their plans for a new "upscale" liquor store at 909 New Jersey Ave., SE, which they will be calling Harry's SE & SW. (For about nine years they ran the Harry's liquor store at Waterside Mall in SW, which closed about five years ago.)
They have signed a lease agreement to take the two retail spaces on the north side of the building, at the corner of New Jersey and I, and they will be knocking down the wall between them in order to end up with about 2,200 square feet of space. The hours would be 9 am to 9 pm Monday through Saturday (or possibly 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays), and closed on Sunday. They would sell beer, wine, and liquor, as well as milk, sodas, juice, cheese, and other "quick stop" items, but would not sell sandwiches as had been mentioned on the meeting agenda. They hope to open in September or October.
Much of the discussion centered around whether they will try to get an exemption in order to allow sales of "singles," which is a very hot-button issue. The owners said that they want the exception so that they can sell "high end" Belgian beers, which come in single bottles, and have no intent to sell the cheaper singles that can attract a somewhat less desirable element. However, ANC 6D chairman Ron McBee said that he imagines it would be very difficult to get support from the full ANC for the exception, and that there would also be concerns about any attempts to amend the singles law that might make it look like the law was targeted toward one socioeconomic class and not another.
Also discussed was the possible impact of this new store on the long-held plans for a similar high-end liquor store at Second and L SE on the site of the "Little Red Building." The ABRA rules state that liquor stores can't open within 400 feet of each other, and these two would be more than 500 feet apart as the crow flies. But Mr. Park, the owner of the LRB, is clearly concerned about whether the neighborhood can support two very similar operations. He is moving forward with plans to demolish the LRB and put up a new structure, and is also looking at an October-ish opening date. (He said he'd send me the building plans soon.)
In the end, the committee voted 4-0 in favor of recommending that the ANC support Harry's license application. A voluntary agreement and a community cooperation agreement will now need to be hammered out, and those involved weren't sure if one could be ready by the June 14 ANC meeting, in which case it would probably come up at the July 12 one.
 

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The word yesterday from the BID is that Justin's Cafe is opening today, and, if so, that means the neighborhood gets its first new restaurant in a long LONG time and what might be considered its first "real" bar. (For a new restaurant, you have to go back to the opening of Five Guys in 2005, if you're not counting the 2007 opening of Starbucks or the arrival of the restaurant and bar at the Courtyard by Marriott in 2007 or the Bullpen.) If you get there for some food or drinks, post your thoughts in the comments.
I'm thinking of maybe next Thursday, April 22, as an unofficial little JDLand Happy Hour? (In other words, I'll go have a drink or two, and see if anyone else comes along. :-) )
Also opening today is the new and improved Safeway at Fourth and M, SW. If you shop there, pass along what you see.
 

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I've just received the news from Justin Ross that he got his liquor license today, and that Justin's Cafe is on target for an April 16 opening. (Yes, I know I was skeptical of that date a while back, but now that I've heard it from the guy who's name is on the sign....)
If you haven't been following along, Justin's will be a restaurant with full bar serving pizzas, sandwiches, and salads, open seven days a week with regular "bar hours," just a few blocks up First Street from Nationals Park. Here's an electronic version of the menu.
We'll have to do a JDLand get-together there in late April.
 

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* WBJ is first out of the gates with what I expect to be an avalanche of whats-new-around-the-ballpark stories, tied to Opening Day and now a March staple for all DC media outlets. Nothing new in it, and a few quibbles (Justin's Cafe isn't open yet, the water taxis also ran late last year, Sayres lease is 20k), but I guess it's a decent quick roundup if you're not keeping track. Which, if you're reading this blog, you are. :)
UPDATE: Ah, now I know where WBJ got the idea--the BID's State of the Capitol Riverfront Spring Update. Basically a straight copy-and-paste. (Not the end of the world, of course, but never a bad idea to be straight with readers about your sourcing.)
* Speaking of Justin's, ABRA said yesterday that there were no protests filed for its liquor license application. A reader reports that Velocity is telling residents that the restaurant will open April 16, but after watching rumored opening date after rumored opening date come and go for other places in the past, I remain skeptical of any rumor other than "it's opening tomorrow." (That isn't to say that the dates that get floated are necessarily propaganda--just that the final road to opening a business has a lot of potential pitfalls, especially in the permit process.) On the other hand, a reader passed along an electronic version of the menu, if you want to whet your appetite while waiting; though note that the web site listed hasn't launched yet.
* From the Post: the nude dancing license that used to belong to the Nexus Gold Club--on the site of what is now 909 New Jersey--is now being rebirthed as the "Stadium Club," a strip club getting ready to open on Queens Chapel Road, NE.
* Don't forget that the second public workshop in the Marines' project to build a new barracks, focusing on potential development sites, is tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Van Ness Elementary (1150 5th St., SE), with a repeat tomorrow from 8:30 to 10:30 am at the North Hall of Eastern Market. The agendas are here (and if you're trying to figure out how to get into Van Ness, the project web site says: "Enter through the main doors on the eastern side of the building (where the parking lot is) and follow the signs to the auditorium downstairs"). If the discussion going on in this comments thread is any indication, it's going to be an interesting meeting.
 
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