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Tuesday Tidbits: Springsteen, Other Events, and Catching Up
Apr 17, 2012 2:25 AM
I didn't really intend to go completely off-grid for a long weekend, but a road trip to and from north Florida didn't leave me much time or energy for blogging. What did I miss?
* I assume everyone's heard by now that Bruce Springsteen will be playing
at Nats Park
on Sept. 14. Tickets go on sale on Friday, April 27 at 10 am at tickets.com
. (If I'm not showing appropriate enthusiasm, I apologize, but Springsteen just hasn't ever really done it for me. I think I was permanently scarred by everyone around me going so crazy for him when I was in college, during the whole Born in the USA era. I just hid in my room and listened to R.E.M., and U2, and the Smiths, and Squeeze, and Elvis Costello, and....)
* The Nats' current homestand continues for the rest of the week, with tonight being the first $2 Ticket Tuesday
of the season. Then there's Neighborhood Night
on Thursday, April 19, followed by the season's first Pups in the Park
game at 1:05 pm Saturday, April 21, and Kids Opening Day at 1:35 pm Sunday, April 22.
* If you're not availing yourself of tonight's $2 Ticket Tuesday, perhaps you might want to check out the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce's session on real estate development in and around Capitol Hill
, which will be focusing on the areas east of South Capitol and south of East Capitol, which includes Near Southeast. Tommy Wells is scheduled to be part of the lineup. It's from 7 to 9 pm at the Meader Theater (NCC's new home) at 535 8th St., SE.
* Saturday, April 21 is Lantern Making Family Day
at the Yards Park
, as part of the lineup of events as the Cherry Blossom Festival comes to a close. There are two sessions, at 10 am and noon, followed by a parade/procession through the park.
And, some non-event tidbits:
* Square 696
, the block bounded by I, K, Half, and First owned by DRI and Jamestown and originally branded as "The Plaza on K
," is apparently being relaunched as "Congressional Square,"
though that doesn't seem to have filtered down to any web sites
just yet. It's still an 825,000-square-foot office and retail project.
* On Opening Day, I noticed a lot of cars parked in the fenced-off lot on the southeast corner of 1st and M SE
that belongs to the former National Geospatial Intelligence Agency building. I asked Forest City about it, and they said that they will offer parking in that lot for certain games where big crowds are expected, but aren't planning to make it available for daily use.
* In the 700 block of Virginia Avenue, the Miles Glass building and the auto repair shop next door are no more, but at least they are now permanently enshrined as entries #168 and #169 in the Demolished Buildings Gallery
. A parking lot is expected to be built for temporary use, while the National Community Church works on its plans for a larger events space on the site.
Thursday Tidbits: Minutiae from Wandering the Streets (and Twitter)
Mar 22, 2012 3:38 PM
* Shipping containers have been arriving
at the Fairgrounds
(Bullpen) site. (They say there's going to be a "preview" event on March 30--looks like a lot of work to do in eight days. But the real opening is supposed to be
in time for the Nats' season opener on April 12.)
* Greenery is arriving
at 200 I/225 Virginia
, and the sidewalks are done. Apparently the fences will be moved back sometime next week to keep the building perimeter secure but to allow the sidewalks to be used. (In other words, the "street sidewalk" will finally disappear.) There should also be repaving and crosswalk striping around the site coming in early April.
* Framing is racing along on the stretch of Capitol Quarter
townhomes on 3rd south of L.
* Curbs are going in on 2nd Place next to Canal Park
and the pavilion.
* The cherry trees in the Center Field Plaza at Nats Park
are budding, but don't look on the verge of popping yet. Perhaps they can hold on until April 3.
* Yesterday we were talking about the possibility of a little BOOM
, but here's what might happen 'round these parts if there's a really BIG BOOM
* The Post writes about the neighborhood
as part of the big Mega RealEstate focus on walkable communities, and keys in on the fact that the area has a number of different names. (For the record, it's not like I made up "Near Southeast"--I was just following the city's lead
.) Within a few hours, though, Greater Greater Washington may have solved the problem by pointing us to the area's late-19th-century moniker: "Bloodfield
." Wouldn't that work great for ballpark headlines? ("Phillies Dismembered at Bloodfield.")
Anything else folks are seeing?
Tidbits: Miles Glass Raze Permits, Navy Yard-Ballpark, More
Mar 19, 2012 11:57 AM
Couldn't leave all these morsels until the normal Tuesday Tidbits slot:
* More Demolitions Coming
: Raze permits have now been approved for the Miles Glass building at 8th and Virginia
and its next-door neighbor, the closed auto repair shop at 7th and K
. National Community Church
, which owns the lots and others on the same block, said back in January
that a temporary parking lot and "community green space" will be coming to the site while the church continues to work on its final plans for the site, which in the past have been described as
being a combination of coffee house, performance space, and church offices.
* Bike to Work
: May 18 is DC's Bike to Work Day
. One of the pit stops
is the Yards Park
, from 7 to 9 am, and you get a t-shirt if you register and then stop at your designated pit stop.
* Bridge Recreation
: If the notion of the "11th Street Recreation Bridge
" captured your fancy, you can see some additional stories on the idea by Lydia DePillis
, and WJLA
notes that the city isn't intending on paying for this entire thing itself, and a decision needs to be made by May whether or not the new 11th Street Local bridge
will have the bulb-out viewpoints built (they'd be unnecessary if the current downstream bridge was being kept). WJLA
, on the other hand, mentions that "some" are concerned it "could become a hotbed for crime"--which led to a fun Twitter back
that devolved into using the new bridge for a Jason Bourne/James Bond-type chase sequence.
* Mobile 'Hood
: The Capitol Riverfront BID has launched a mobile version of its web site
, which uses your phone's GPS to give you information on food, developments, and events near your location.
And, of course, if you want to know what your current location looked like before all the changes started happening, you can go to my mobile site (m.jdland.com
) or jdland.com/here
on your phone and you'll get my oldest photos looking in each direction from the corner nearest to where you're standing. (Read more about how that works
: DCMud looks
at the plans for the Half Street Fairgrounds
(which I broke the news of
back in February), with a few neat new renderings. And then the piece drops a mention at the very end that "DCRE Real Estate" is handling the retail leasing for the project--that's DCMud's company, and the writer of the blog post is also the agent handling the leasing. (Just in case you like to be aware of those sorts of things when getting your news.) In the meantime, a few shipping containers were spotted
on the site last week.
Tidbits: BID Reports, Artomatic to Crystal City, Tunnel Items, More
Jan 18, 2012 2:33 PM
There's been a whirlwind of "big" posts as 2012 has gotten underway, so here's a few items I've neglected:
* BID Reports
: At its annual meeting last week, the Capitol Riverfront BID
released both its annual report
and the "Green Print of Growth" study they commissioned, which showed that the portion of the Green Line from the Navy Yard station to Georgia Avenue/Petworth has become over the past 10 years a "regional leader" in "capturing highly-prized young professional housing demand and high-wage employment," just nosing ahead of the Orange Line's Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and outstripping the Red Line's stretch in Northwest DC when looking at household growth in the 18-to-34 demographic. The report also says (shocker!) that "the analysis conducted suggests that the Capitol Riverfront--given its Green Line access at the Navy Yard Station and its significant amount of development capacity--is among the most competitive locations in the region for households, companies, and retailers."
This was followed by a commentary
by BID chief Michael Stevens in Monday's Washington Post/Capital Business in which he argued: "It's time for business and residents to recognize and acknowledge a new reality: The Green Line corridor has emerged as a powerful economic engine for the District and the region. And it's time for Metro, the city and the private sector to invest more in the area to support this growth trajectory."
* On a parallel track, though it doesn't have to do with Near Southeast specifically, the Post's Steve Pearlstein wrote
over the weekend about how signs suggest "that the next phase of growth in the Washington region will focus on these underdeveloped areas in the eastern quadrants of the District and some of the region’s older, closer-in suburbs."
* New Views
: While I was at the BID's meeting, I took the opportunity to get some photos of the inside of 1015 Half Street
, plus one shot looking out
that shows not all views of the U.S. Capitol dome are, by default, "majestic." (Alternate caption: "Would you like fries with that democracy?") One Twitterer suggested
that the rock circle at far right, on the Capitol Hill Power Plant's property, is where the ritual sacrifices are held. So, if you see the Congressional leadership skulking around I Street late at night....
: A reader who lives on 7th Street just across from the Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters has passed along that the neighbors on that block have decided to lodge a formal protest at the liquor license renewal of the 7th and L Market
, thanks to having witnessed multiple examples over the past few years of public drunkenness and urination, loitering, littering, drug dealing, indecent exposure, and even one proposition by a prostitute. There's no doubt that that market is a bit of a throwback to the neighborhood's previous incarnation; it will be interesting to see how this proceeds, and also how the eventual arrival of the National Community Church on that block
changes (or doesn't change) things.
: Don't have enough to worry about these days? How about rising sea levels inundating
areas along DC's waterfronts? (WaPo/Capital Weather Gang)
* Neighborhood News Roundup
: The Post's new Where We Live real estate blog has a rundown
and photo gallery
today on the latest progress on the development and food fronts in Near Southeast. If it all looks and sounds strangely familiar, that shouldn't be a surprise.
Raze Permit (Re-)Filed for Miles Glass Site, Plus 816 Potomac
Jan 10, 2012 9:07 AM
Back in February, the National Community Church applied for a raze permit
for the Miles Glass site on the southwest corner of 8th and Virginia
that it acquired along with a number of adjoining lots on Square 906
. However, perhaps something was not quite right, because two new raze permit applications for 733 Virginia are now in the city's database, along with a separate new one for the car garage next door at 701 Virginia
, the lot that finalized NCC's footprint
Last week, NCC representatives told ANC 6B's Planning and Zoning Committee
that they plan to have the demolitions completed by March, and will "then move to establish a temporary parking lot and community green space for an estimated two-year period" while the church continues to work on its final plans for the site, which in the past have been described as
being a combination of coffee house, performance space, and church offices.
Any goings-on at the site, though, will be impacted by CSX's planned Virginia Avenue Tunnel construction, and in October
NCC head Mark Batterson told the Washington Business Journal that "it doesn't make sense to do our project and then have them come through and rip everything up and make it difficult for us to even access our property."
Meanwhile, a couple blocks to the southeast, two raze permits have also now been filed for 816 Potomac
, the long-closed-up brown apartment building on the northwest corner of 9th and Potomac. This property is one of the lots on Square 930 that Madison Marquette now co-owns
as part of its "joint venture" with ICP Partners.
Whatever Happened To: The Beer Garden at 8th and L?
Nov 8, 2011 1:29 PM
It was one year ago today
that we heard the first rumblings of plans for a beer garden
to be built on the northwest corner of 8th and L, SE. It would have 99 indoor seats and space for an additional 200 customers in a "summer garden," and would offer live music.
The project went through all manner
of liquor license
wrangling, followed by a lot of work
on the design
in order to satisfy
the Historic Preservation Review Board (which it finally did
, in March). At many of these sessions, the owner spoke of wanting to get the project underway as quickly as possible, but since the HPRB approvals in spring, it hasn't seemed like anything has been happening.
However, late last week, when I was playing around with DDOT's new Public Space Permit locator app
and figuring out how to import its Occupancy Permit data into my own list of Near Southeast Public Space Permits
, I saw that a construction staging area permit had been issued for 720 L St. SE on Sept. 22. Some digging into the city's building permits application also found building permits applied for on Aug. 18, but still not yet approved.
I contacted the owner, Mark Brody, and he tells me that they indeed are working on permits, but "it's taking longer than expected." (I know, this is a shocker.)
So, no timetable for the project's opening at this point, but it appears it hasn't fallen completely off the map.
(And, speaking of the permits feed on the JDLand home page, I've tinkered with both the public space and building permits so that they're now sorted and grouped by address.)
NCC Buying the People's Church on Barracks Row
Mar 27, 2011 12:23 PM
Today the head of the National Community Church
is announcing to his parishioners that a deal has been struck for NCC to buy the People's Church
at 535 8th St. SE
in the middle of Barracks Row.
With their home base at Ebenezers Coffee House
near Union Station overflowing and any completed construction on their new Virginia Avenue footprint
probably 3-4 years away, this gives the church an instant "phase 1" building with more than double the capacity of Ebenezers.
tells me that the first service on 8th Street will be on Palm Sunday, April 17. They'll have one service a week there until the land deal is completed in early June, after which more services and events will be held at the new location, but they'll continue to meet at Ebenezers as well. In time, they are looking at converting the building back to its previous life as a movie theater: it opened as Meader's Theater in 1910, then became the New Academy Theatre before being converted to a church in the early 1960s. (If you've been inside the church, you certainly would recognize the seats and layout as vintage movie theater design.) NCC may even reopen the balcony, which has been closed off as a separate meeting space. They also hope to adapt the stage so that the space can be used for community events; and they're open to suggestions and ideas if you have any
The People's Church will be moving to Maryland, where most of their members now live.
This gives NCC a bit of breathing room for designing and getting through all the bureaucratic hoops of building at 8th and Virginia, but Batterson considers 535 8th to be a "stepping stone" to the new location. And you can see how excited he is in his recent tweets
hinting at the deal, which described to me as a "double miracle for both churches."
Simplified Design for 8th Street Beer Garden on HPRB Agenda
Mar 21, 2011 10:22 AM
The proposed 8th Street Beer Garden
is back before the Historic Preservation Review Board
, with a "substantially simplified" design
that the board's staff has deemed
sufficiently compatible with the character of the surrounding Capitol Hill Historic District.
The first floor is now proposed to have a brick veneer (though it's not really shown on the new rendering
that the beer garden team was kind enough to pass along), and there have been other changes that HPRB staff say
have improved the overall proportions of the building. There's also now a pergola (arbor) on the roof to help with shading on sunny days. Sidewalk seating spaces are also shown, though the developer will have to get a public space permit and work around the bus stop currently at the 8th and L intersection.
There are still a few small issues the HPRB staff would like to see addressed, but they have recommended that the concept be approved by the board, and the project has been placed on the consent calendar for the March 24 meeting. (Though the board may choose to remove it from consent if they have any issues they want to discuss before voting.)
You can see a larger view of this revised design alongside the previous version and some current photographs on my new 8th Street Beer Garden page
, which isn't exactly a barn-burner but at least it's something. (It goes hand-in-hand with my new National Community Church page
, which has photos of the lots NCC now owns.)
The HPRB meeting is on Thursday at 10 am, and will be available
via live streaming or on demand. (Or you could go to the meeting in person, but that's so 20th century.)
UPDATE, 3/24: The consent portion of the agenda passed with no discussion, so the design concept is now considered approved by the board ("as consistent with the purposes of the preservation act"), with final approval delegated to HPRB staff.
Miles Glass Raze Application; Beer Garden at HPRB March 24
Mar 9, 2011 4:06 PM
When this photo popped up
late Tuesday, it seemed like maybe Harry's Reserve at New Jersey and I would be open today, but we're hearing now
that it'll be "a day or two," with a grand opening to come in two weeks. In the meantime, everyone's watching 2nd Street between I and M and reporting in about No Parking signs and stakes in the ground as construction on Canal Park
seems to get ever closer. So, I guess I have to come up with something
* With all the land now in hand
that they were eyeing on Square 906, the National Community Church
has filed for a raze permit for the old Miles Glass building at 8th and Virginia, says WBJ
. Although the site is within the Capitol Hill Historic District, that in and of itself may not be an impediment to the building being torn down, the article says, since it was constructed in 1963 and "the vast majority of buildings deemed historic on Capitol Hill were erected prior to 1945." Not that any razing will happen anytime soon, but I'm still glad I went and got a bunch of new photos
of it last week. (Though I still prefer the photo at right, from my first photo trek in January 2003, when the Miles Glass sign was still there.)
And, in his blog post
about the final land purchases, NCC's Mark Batterson tells a story about how the acquired the car garage at 7th and K, given that the owner had refused all previous offers: "On September 15th our staff went over to the property and we laid hands on that auto shop. It felt like an impossible prayer, but we prayed for divine favor. [...] Then on January 15, four months to the day after we prayed on the property, we got a contract."
* Meanwhile, on the south end of the Saints and Sinners block, it looks like the 8th Street Beer Garden
will be back in front of the Historic Preservation Review Board on March 24, at least according to the current agenda
. At last month's meeting, the designs were described as being "very close,"
but revisions were requested and board members voted to look at them one more time. It sounded like some of the "busyness" was going to be simplified, so it will be interesting to see the revisions.
(I will say my mea culpas and admit that I sat on these links for way too long because I had grand dreams of getting project pages done for both the NCC and Beer Garden undertakings, but that hasn't happened. Yet.)
National Community Church Finalizes Square 906 Footprint
Mar 2, 2011 7:59 AM
Last night the National Community Church
held its "All Church Celebration" at the Lincoln Theater, and, while I wasn't there for the "big announcement
," I do know that lead pastor Mark Batterson told the assembly that the last of their land acquisitions on Square 906 (bounded by Virginia, 7th, 8th, and L) have been finalized.
As I've been conjecturing, this includes the auto garage on the corner of 7th and Virginia
. But it also includes a contract for the two small apartment buildings at 716 and 718 L Street, just west of the alley. Batterson tells me that they are leasing back the garage to the current occupants until July so that they can find a new location.
Combined with the Miles Glass site that started it all
and the empty lot on 7th
, this now gives NCC (the folks behind the successful Ebenezers coffee house near Union Station) over 26,000 square feet of land on a somewhat T-shaped footprint
on which to build their combination coffee house/performance space/offices. As I've mentioned previously
, Batterson wrote on his blog in mid-February that they are now "full-steam ahead with designs" now that the footprint is finalized, and that he is "looking forward to initiating meetings with Historic Preservation, ANC, Riverfront Bid, Barracks Row Main Street, Office of Planning, etc." It wil be interesting to see if the zoning and height changes
that business owners are looking for along lower 8th get through, and whether NCC would be taking advantage of being able to build a bit higher as a result.
Of course, this isn't the only new activity on Square 906, since it's on the south end of the block where the beer garden at 8th and L
is supposed to be going in once the design gets through its historic preservation review
, a process NCC will have to undergo as well since the block is within the Capitol Hill Historic District. This Saints and Sinners stretch of 8th is definitely going be a focus of activity in 2011.
8th Street Beer Garden Design Historic Preservation Review
Feb 21, 2011 11:09 AM
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.
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.
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.
New York Times on 8th Street; NCC Moving Forward
Feb 16, 2011 4:09 PM
Flying around the Twitterverse yesterday and today has been a pile of links to "In Washington, a Historic Retail Strip is Revived
," a New York Times article on Barracks Row, with a big focus on the portion of it south of the freeway often called "Lower 8th
A quote: "But like many cities around the country, Washington is stuck with the consequences of allowing a highway to slash through an urban neighborhood. In 1962, the Southeast Freeway bisected Barracks Row. 'That became the moat,' said Michael Stevens, the executive director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District, which has helped to promote development around the new ballpark. 'It created a large physical barrier.'"
The article, which has a festive accompanying photo of Madison Marquette representatives outside of the Blue Castle, mentions the Lower 8th Visioning Report that I wrote about last week
, and also the National Community Church's plans
to build a church and performance space at the corner of 8th and Virginia, which the head of Barracks Row Main Street is quoted as saying "will definitely be a catalyst for development. We have a number of investors who just didn't want to be first."
Speaking of which, NCC's Mark Batterson has posted on his blog today
that their Capitol Hill campus "footprint is finalized," which I would guess means that the deal has closed for the auto-repair garage at 7th and K that I mentioned
NCC was trying to acquire (if in fact that's the lot they're looking at, because it's never been said publicly). Batterson also says NCC is "doing another set of conceptual drawings," and that with the site finalized "we're full-steam ahead with designs." And: "Looking forward to initiating meetings with Historic Preservation, ANC, Riverfront Bid, Barracks Row Main Street, Office of Planning, etc. I think our development will be a catalyst for and part of the renaissance that will happen in that part of the city."
More Property Moves on Lower 8th; The Visioning?
Feb 10, 2011 3:25 PM
In my post about the Bier Garden plans
for the northeast corner of 8th and L, SE, I promised a couple of extra tidbits about Lower 8th Street. To wit:
* Rumors abound that the National Community Church
has acquired the auto repair garage at the corner of 7th and K/Virginia, SE
, but despite someone saying otherwise at Tuesday's ANC 6B meeting, I'm told that no deal has been completed as yet. But even that at least confirms my not-terribly-hard-to-guess suspicions that NCC would be eyeing that lot for their new coffeehouse/performance space/offices, since they now own the land to both the east
of the site. The garage's lot is 5,300 square feet, and was assessed in 2010 for just under $1.5 million.
* Madison Marquette
, the developer who owns the Blue Castle at 770 M St., SE
and is also now a partner in the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, is entering into a joint venture with the ICP Group, owner of the gray building (with Quizno's) at 8th and Potomac and other Square 929 properties
that have been suffering from extended financing troubles. WBJ reported on this in late January
, noting that those familiar with the deal "say Madison and its 'fairly deep pockets' will take over as lead developer for all the parcels." This also presumably gives Madison access to ICP's properties on Square 929, just across 8th Street from the NCC/Bier Garden block and to the north of the Quizno's block.
Squares 929 and 930 have been the subject of a lot of discussion as one of the sites that the Marines might be looking at as a location for their new barracks
, because a development team could submit a proposal for a public/private partnership on that site if they controlled all properties on those two blocks. (This assumes the Marines do decide to go the public/private route; they could instead build additional barracks space on their existing land at 7th and L or manage to acquire some other government-owned site, such as the old Capper Seniors/Square 882
site, which is owned by DCHA but which seems to be stalled in its attempts to get funding for the mixed-income apartment project on the north side of the block.) There's also the Navy's potential plans
to expand outside their walls, which could include some of the close-by lots along 8th or maybe the old Exxon site at 11th and M.
In fact, in an e-mail to me last month, ICP President Leon Kafele referenced these possibilities by saying that the joint venture with Madison Marquette will "position [ICP's] assets to better respond to the Marines Corps and Navy Yard supply and demand for a BEQ, retail, and office space on or around lower 8th Street Barracks Row." And Madison has mentioned in public meetings that the Blue Castle could become home to some of the "shared uses" that the Marines are hoping to have be part of any new barracks venture.
So, with NCC and the Bier Garden making moves on Square 906, Madison Marquette increasing its presence by making deals on Squares 929 and 930, and the Navy and Marines in the mix as well, does this mean that Lower 8th is starting to perk up? And, how will any new projects tie in with the Lower 8th Street Vision Report
developed by the Capitol Riverfront BID along with all manner of representatives of Barracks Row, the Navy and Marines, business owners, and local residents?
I haven't written much about the whole vision thing, especially once the discussion of the Marines' land needs began to focus south of the freeway and it became clear that until they decide what they're doing about their barracks, any real discussion of what Lower 8th may look like in the future is very much up in the air.
That said, the vision report has mostly general recommendations that aren't exactly controversial: "Encourage a Mix of Uses," "Historic Preservation is a Must," improve the underpass to encourage pedestrians to come down from north of the freeway, address parking/circulation issues, and others.
But there is one concrete suggestion in the report: increasing height and density limits on some of these squares. The current 45-foot limit on 8th would be maintained for new structures, but greater heights (65 to 85 feet) could then allowed 20 to 30 feet behind existing historic 8th Street structures.
You can see on page 17 of the report
some drawings of what the Bier Garden corner at 8th and L would look like with a 45-foot building on the site, and there are other drawings depicting height changes on the following pages, including allowing the less-historic western side of the Blue Castle to be built up higher.
The Bier Garden's one-story-plus-roof-deck design
would seem to be not exactly what the visioners envisioned, but the developer has said he anticipates it to be a temporary structure (though that's not a guarantee). There's been no public opposition to the Bier Garden from the BID or Barracks Row Main Street--but no letters of support, either.
It will be interesting to see what the National Community Church comes up with for their design, and whether it'll try to take advantage of the desire for larger building heights set out in the vision document, if that idea ends up being embraced by the city.
And, there's still the Marines' decision to look for, which could be the biggest driver of all for redefining Lower 8th.
Meanwhile, at the Beer Garden to the East....
Feb 8, 2011 11:33 PM
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.
Nat'l Community Church Buys Empty Lot on 7th
Jan 11, 2011 4:23 PM
This has been hinted at
throughout the fall, and property records now reflect that the National Community Church/Ebernezers
folks have added to the Miles Glass site on Virginia Avenue they bought in August
by purchasing an empty lot around the corner on 7th Street, SE, for $875,000 in December. This now gives them about 19,000 square feet of land on Parcel 906, if my math is correct.
If you look at the satellite view
of the block, you can see how NCC's holdings--the Miles Glass building, the empty lot just to its west, now and this separate empty lot on 7th across from the Marine Barracks--are connected. And one certainly has to wonder if the car shop on the corner of 7th and K/Virginia, now surrounded by a single landowner, is going to be staying in that spot much longer. (The other empty lot on the block, at the lower right, is where the Bavarian Beer Garden
may be going in, creating the Saints and Sinners stretch along 8th.)
If you haven't been following along
, the church's head, Mark Batterson, wrote on his blog in late August
about the purchase of the 8th and Virginia site, saying that church is running out of space for services and staff at Ebenezers near Union Station, and since his vision for NCC is 20 locations and more than 100 staffers, they're looking at "going vertical" and constructing a building with about 50,000 square feet of space. They have been doing some "visioning" to figure out their plans for the site, and Batterson told City Paper
in November about ideas of "two performance spaces, one at about 500 seat capacity and another at a thousand, with at least one level of underground parking to handle the crowds," but nothing specific has been announced yet.
6B Protesting 8th Street Beer Garden Liquor License (While Working on a Voluntary Agreement)
Dec 15, 2010 1:01 PM
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.)
8th Street Beer Garden at 6B's ABC Committee
Dec 9, 2010 9:55 PM
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.
A Few More Details on NCC/Miles Glass Plans
Nov 17, 2010 3:48 PM
City Paper's Housing Complex blog
has some new details on the plans for the Miles Glass site at 8th and Virginia by the new owners
, the National Community Church (aka the Ebenezer's Coffeehouse
folks). Pastor Mark Batterson says that he's envisioning "two performance spaces, one at about 500 seat capacity and another at a thousand, with at least one level of underground parking to handle the crowds. To keep the kids busy while adults are worshiping–or drinking coffee, or going to a play–there will be a large childcare center so special that they've retained the architects who created downtown Disney to design it."
They are also negotiating with adjacent parcels (which Batterson alluded to a few weeks ago
, which by his description seems to include the empty lot on 7th), to make the "campus" somewhere between 50,000 and 75,000 square feet of developed space when completed. Batterson hopes to break ground within a year, with construction taking 12 to 18 months (so, probably 2013).
With a coffee house/performance space/church at the north end of the block and a beer garden
at the south end, I may have to dub this spot the Saints and Sinners Stretch of 8th Street.
UPDATE, 11/18: If you've got ideas or notions for what you'd like to NCC do on this site, leave them in the comments--Mark Batterson has posted there this morning that everything's still really "up in the air" at this point, and they'd love to hear feedback.
Beer Garden Coming to 8th and L?
Nov 8, 2010 5:23 PM
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.
National Community Church Buying More Property
Oct 15, 2010 9:39 AM
A few weeks ago
I wrote about the purchase of the "Miles Glass" site on the southwest corner of 8th and Virginia by the National Community Church
, the "theater church" group that's also behind the rehabbed Ebenezers Coffeehouse
near Union Station. Now, in a post on his blog
, NCC leader Mark Batterson says that he has "just locked in another contract on an empty lot that abuts 733 Virginia Avenue, SE."
Given Batterson's description that the church will now have frontage on 7th, 8th, Virginia, and L, it would appear that the new lot under contract is the empty one
directly across from the Marine Barracks on 7th, where a few years back a small developer had dreams of an apartment building
, but never followed through; the lot then sold for $400,000 through a foreclosure sale last year
Batterson says that this lot will enable NCC to add about 15,000 square feet to their final footprint--"and I don't think we're done yet." (Maybe that auto garage on the southeast corner of 7th and K
is noticing that the church will soon own the land on both sides of it.)
The church is buying the properties because they're running out of space for services and staff at Ebenezers, Batterson has written
. There's been no official announcement of what exactly they're planning for the site, but in a tweet to me
right after I wrote about the first land purchase, Batterson said, "definitely another Ebenezers and we'd like to design a theater."
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