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Tom Boswell, sports columnist for the Washington Post, took a walk around the 'Hood back before Opening Day. So?
"I came back stunned. Washington has won. And it has won big."
His column for Thursday's print edition is a love letter to what the area around Nats Park has become in the eight-plus years since the ballpark opened.
"Economically, aesthetically and in quality of city life, the transformation of Southeast, which moved at a crawl during the Great Recession and often slipped from the public consciousness, has fulfilled and in some ways surpassed expectations. In fact, I'm probably a couple of years late to the party.
"But unless you live within walking or bicycling distance of Nationals Park, even if you go to Nationals games, there's an excellent chance that, like me, most of the success story is still a mystery to you."
I could keep quoting, but just give it a read, and tell me what you think.
And thanks for the shout-out, Tom! (Plus, everyone please know that "ridiculous" quote was said with love, of course.)
(If you're visiting JDLand as a result of reading Tom's column, and are somewhat bewildered at what you are seeing, might I suggest wandering through my favorite before-and-after shots, or my "sliders" comparing old and new images, or my map of what's happened and what's to come in this neck of the woods. Or find out what the deal is with this site, anyway.)
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Photo: What may be my best "Slider" so far, looking north along 1st Street from the Douglass Bridge, from 2006 to 2016. Go slide it yourself to see.
* ORANGE: I mentioned this in the comments late last week, but now time to post officially that the BID has reported that Orangetheory Fitness has been signed as the first retail tenant at the ORE 82 apartment building at New Jersey and I, which is expected to open late this year or early next year.
* CROSSING: Via Commissioner Fascett, ANC 6D is sending a letter to DDOT requesting a review of the pedestrian-crossing-light timing at 4th and M SE, aka the Teeter Intersection. "Twenty-seven seconds is not enough time for pedestrians, including seniors and residents in wheelchairs, to cross a six lane road while dodging two lanes of east-bound turning cars."
* SPRINGSTEEN: Bruuuuuce is back at Nats Park on Sept. 1. Tickets go on sale to the public on Friday, May 13, at 10 am.
* ALLEN: If you are wanting some face time with Ward 6 councilmember Charles Allen, he is having his Community Office Hours on Friday, May 13, at the Starbucks in the Waterfront Safeway at 4th and M, SW, from 8 to 9:30 am.
* SPOOKY: This has been in my hopper for too many months to ponder, but a reader passed along this link about the end of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency building/Building 213 at 1st and M SE that included a few photos from inside (as I sob thinking about how I never got my own).
* FITNESS: The BID has announced the schedule of outdoor fitness classes this summer at parks Yards and Canal.
* LEO: Across the way by a few feet, but folks might be interested in the reopening of Leo's Wings N Pizza at 7 N St., SW. "In addition to pizza, wings, pasta, salads, subs, and breakfast items, Korean food will be added to the menu." (SWTLQTC)
 

The weather forecast isn't exactly optimal (hence my use of the photo from the holy-crap-it's-miserable-out Opening Day 2008), but nevertheless we have made it to April 7, when the Nats are scheduled to play their first home game of the 2016 season, vs the Marlins starting at 4:05 pm.
At this point everyone probably knows everything they want or need to know about the plans and festivities, but I'll still do a quick link-filled rundown, because, well, even though I'm coming down with the same cold that clobbered me on Opening Day 2008 (symmetry!), the guilt would be too incapacitating to not post something.
Here's:
* How to Get to the Ballpark: WaPo Version | DDOT Version

As for what will be going on outside the ballpark before and after the game, here's the current lineup:
* Bluejacket Opening Day Fest 2016, 12 to 4 pm, 4th and Tingey Streets, SE.
* Due South Opening Day Pop-Up Beer Garden at Arris, 11 am to 5 pm., 1331 4th St., SE.
* Opening Day at the Fairgrounds/Bullpen, gates open at 11 am, 1201 Half St., SE.
* The Budweiser Clydesdales Procession, starting on 1st Street at 2:15 pm.
(Note that 106.7 The Fan's planned Opening Day party at Canal Park is now apparently re-scheduled for April 22, thanks to the weather forecast.)
Speaking of the Fairgrounds/Bullpen, I see that they are billing this as their final season, which has been my assumption but it's interesting to see it in black and white.
If you haven't been following along, you may not know that this is because it's likely that by the 2017 season construction will be underway on JBG's 420-unit condo/residential building with 65,000 square feet of retail on the south end of that block, which will change the look of Half Street pretty substantially, as seen here. Hard to set up row upon row of cornhole when a massive hole is being dug!
I may continue to update this post if any additional links come in, and/or be doing a lot of retweeting on Twitter. Or I may be in bed. Or both. (Have laptop, will blog.)
Feel free to use the comments as a game thread, should you wish to discuss actual on-field goings-on.
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More posts: Fairgrounds/Bullpen, Nationals Park, West Half St.
 

Thanks to a trek around the neighborhood on Saturday (instead of being inside the stadium watching baseball like a normal person) and some checking in with property owners, I've got a pretty solid version of my Nats Park Parking Lots Map to share for the 2016 season.
The big news at this point is that no lots have dropped out of the inventory (yet!), and one has returned--the lot on the northeast corner of 1st and N, SE, on the Spooky Park block, now a nicely paved and compact 220-space offering.
There will also apparently be "limited" parking in the new underground garage in Arris, on 4th Street south of Tingey.
Prices have nudged upward from last year, though--and if you are driving to Opening Day, throw a few extra $5 bills in your wallet, because home opener prices will likely be higher than what the map is showing.
Some cash lot parking attendants were quick to tell me Opening Day prices, and others had more of a "Well, we'll see what the market will bear" response, so instead of my listing them here and having them turn out to be wrong, better for you to just expect to pay $5 or $10 or $15 or even $20 more than "standard pricing" on Thursday and then be thrilled if you don't have to.
It's also possible that some lots (especially east of the stadium, in the Yards) may have slightly lower prices at points in April, when attendance isn't at its height.
In other words, consider this a guide to the general range of prices, while always expecting the possibility that prices may be different on any given day.
If you are driving to the ballpark, be aware that there are still lots of construction sites, and that in particular the Virginia Avenue Tunnel project immediately south of the Southeast Freeway between 2nd and 12th Streets, SE, has ripped the streets up pretty good, with various closures and shifts to watch out for.
Check out my Stadium Parking and Visiting Nats Park pages for additional info.
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More posts: parking, Nationals Park, Traffic Issues
 

This is a smidgen outside of the JDLand boundaries (and I hope this post doesn't incur a border dispute with SWill), but I figured readers might be interested in knowing about the ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, April 9, for the new Ryan Zimmerman Field at the Randall Recreation Center, just across South Capitol Street at South Capitol and I Streets, SW. (It's the field you see when you take the South Capitol Street exit from the freeway.)
As you can see on the invitation graphic, Mr. Z himself is expected to be there, along with Dusty Baker, Mayor Bowser, and Ward 6 councilmember Charles Allen, among others.
"Fun and games" start at 8:30 am, with the ribbon cutting and first pitch at 10 am, and then the inaugural baseball game at 10:30 am. (Leaving plenty of time for Zimm and Dusty to get to the ballpark for the 4:05 pm game against the Marlins.)
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More posts: Events, Nationals Park
 

Weather permitting, the Nats will be at home this evening and tomorrow (April 1 and 2) for two exhibition games against the Minnesota Twins, before heading off to Atlanta for Opening Day 2016 on Monday, April 4. But they'll then return on Thursday, April 7, for their home opener at 4:05 pm against the Marlins.
If you're coming to the ballpark, here's what you'll see inside that's new, and what you'll see outside that's new, and my food map is available if you aren't quite remembering what's nearby.
My parking lot map is going to need some wandering on my part this weekend before it's considered fully active for 2016, but the big headline is that the Spooky Park lot at 1st and N will once again be available.
All of these links and more are available on my Visiting Nats Park page.
Note that, if you haven't been down to the neighborhood lately, you may want to familiarize yourself with the various traffic issues along Virginia Ave., SE, just south of the freeway, thanks to the tunnel reconstruction.
Tonight's exhibition is at 6:05 pm (with gates opening at 4:30 pm), and is a special event, with free tickets handed out to season ticket holders and "select members of the community," with seating limited to the lower bowl of the ballpark. Tickets are available while supplies last at the ballpark box office for a $10 donation to the Nationals Dream Foundation.
Saturday will be a "standard" exhibition game, with tickets on sale and gates opening at 10:30 am for a 12:05 pm first pitch.
The Bullpen at the Fairgrounds will be open for these two games, starting at 4 pm today and 10 am on Saturday, with live music, food, drinks, and of course cornhole.
There will be all manner of big happenings around the neighborhood tied to the April 7 home opener, but that's for another post.
If you see anything on the parking lots that would help me update the map (new lots open, old lots closed, prices, etc.), leave a comment here or tweet to @JDLand.
I can't believe this is the ninth season at this ballpark. Time flies.
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It's that time of year, when every media outlet in the DC Metro area is about to unleash a tidal wave of Nationals Park pre-Opening Day content: Here's what's new inside the ballpark, here's the Opening Day specials outside the ballpark, here's how to get to the ballpark, and here's where to park at the ballpark.*
I am not immune, of course, but I also add a separate category: Here's what you will see that's new outside the ballpark. And it's considerably different than what you would remember if you haven't ventured to Near Southeast/Capitol Riverfront/Navy Yard/#NeCaBaRY since the end of the we-shall-not-speak-of-it 2015 season.
The short version? You'll see skeletons. Concrete skeletons. In all directions. In various stages of progress. Buildings are erupting in the blocks surrounding Nats Park the way that {insert tortured Bryce Harper-erupt-home runs reference here}.
Alas, none of them are precisely on the block of Half Street just north of the ballpark (wait 'til next year!), but this latest pulse in the neighborhood's transformation will be one more obvious to stadium-goers than in any year since the ballpark opened, resulting in close to 3,000 new residential units, 365 new hotel rooms, and 230,000 square feet of office space by the time these current projects all finish up in 2017.
And all of the activity means that there are lane closures and sidewalk closures to be on the lookout for, no matter which mode of conveyance you use to get to the stadium.
You can check out my quick-and-dirty map of what you'll be seeing, but should you want a typically wordy JDLand guided tour, read on:
* If you arrive via South Capitol Street, either from the north or the south, you'll be greeted with new apartment-buildings-to-be Dock 79 on the waterfront (below, left) and 909 Half (below, middle) just south of the freeway, along with a hole just north of Nats Parking Garage B that will soon sport a skeleton of its own, for the 1244 South Capitol Street apartment building. Then when you turn onto M Street you'll see the new Homewood Suites (below, right) rising up on the northeast corner of Half and M:
* If you take the subway and get out at New Jersey Avenue to avoid the crowds, you'll see the new Insignia on M apartment building (below, left) rising just behind the station entrance, and then you'll smartly cross M Street immediately to take advantage of new wide walkways (below, right) that should be completed soon to cut across the block formerly occupied by Spooky Building 213, all while noticing the skeletons just north of the ballpark that are the F1rst residential building and a new Residence Inn (with a hole where the 99 M office building will probably be its own skeleton by late in the season) .
* If you head down toward the ballpark from Capitol Hill, you'll be greeted with an entirely new vista on New Jersey Avenue, with the Agora and ORE 82 apartment buildings under construction and the Park Chelsea now all but finished (below, left). If you choose to use 3rd or 4th or 5th or 7th or 8th or 11th for your pre-game arrival or post-game departure, you'll have the pleasure of crossing the multi-block Big Dig that is the Virginia Avenue Tunnel expansion and reconstruction (below, middle)--be forewarned, lanes and sidewalks are shifted and will likely shift again during the season. On the flip side, there's now a new block of I Street open, between 2nd and New Jersey (below, right).
* If you decide to wander over to the Yards (you know, where Bluejacket is), you'll see that the Arris apartment building is finished and open, and the new marina at the Yards Park is well on its way to an opening in the coming months.
* NEW FOOD AND DRINK: As for new food and drink offerings, there aren't a lot of changes from the lineup at the end of last season (when Due South and Scarlet Oak snuck in under the wire). Buffalo Wild Wings will be the most obvious to most people, in its prime location between the Half Street Metro entrance and the ballpark Center Field Gate. The former Park Tavern at Canal Park is now "Il Parco," serving pizza and other Italian fare. And Barracks Row mainstay Las Placitas has now moved south of the freeway to 8th and L.
* SOON FOOD AND DRINK: As of this writing there are also three new ventures shooting for openings in May. Whaley's, a raw bar and restaurant from the DGS Delicatessen folks, will open in the Lumber Shed at the Yards in the space between Osteria Morini and Agua 301. In addition, Philz Coffee will be coming to the 300 block of Tingey Street, if you need your caffeine before gametime. And long-awaited beer garden The Brig will be opening at 8th and L.
What's not different from last year? Most of the food and drink establishments you likely frequented in 2015 are still around, including the Fairgrounds. (Though if you were a fan of Sizzlin' Express or Buzz Bakery, well, my condolences on your loss.) Also not different from last year is that there's still no "brew garden" immediately south of the ballpark, after Bardo's application for a liquor license was turned down.
If this post (and the accompanying What's New Since Last Season page, with all the details) seems like a messy hodge-podge, well, the neighborhood is pretty much a messy hodge-podge at the moment, too. But it was my fiduciary duty to provide this rundown.
* A post on the 2016 updates to my Stadium Parking Map will be coming soon, though there's already some early intel, including the official return of the lot at 1st and N.
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More posts: Development News, Nationals Park
 

The media hordes were taken on the now-annual tour of Nats Park today to get a peek at the various changes, updates, and additions that the team has put in place for the 2016 season, which gets underway officially with the home opener on Thursday, April 7, but also with exhibition games this Friday and Saturday against the Minnesota Twins.
I of course put together a (long!) photo gallery with shots from the tour, from the new Budweiser Terrace to the completely overhauled PNC Diamond Club to the expanded Shake Shack to the new food offerings.
But, while you really should look at the gallery, I'll hit a few high points here.
* Mike Isabella of Top Chef will now have two new offerings, Kapnos at the Park and Catchfly, with Greek dishes and southern food respectively.
* Shake Shack is expanding into the old El Verano Taqueria window, with Verano shifting to a cart.
* The Virginia Biscuit Company is getting a second outlet, up on the Gallery level at Section 315.
* Delta is now the team's official carrier, and so the President's Club area is now the Delta Sky 360 Club.
* The team will be offering limited packages to celebrate kids' birthdays at the park on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with pizza and cupcakes and tickets to the game.
* The Nats will now be running the Team Stores, which they say will result in "better prices, broader selection and 'exclusive styles.'"
* With Budweiser now taking over as Official Beer, the basic brew offerings will be Bud, Bud Light, Goose Island, Shock Top, Stella Artois, and Blue Point Toasted Lager. The old Scoreboard Walk will now be the Budweiser Terrace, and the Red Porch and Red Loft will be the Budweiser Brew House and Bud Light Loft. There will also be a "LIme-a-Rita Lookout" up on the gallery level.
* The PNC Diamond Club has been given a big overhaul, with a new mezzanine level that has its own seating and bar, plus much more seating and bar space on the first floor.
* Metal detectors will now be at all entrances.
* The only smoking pen will now be outside the First Base Gate, and it will require receiving a wrist band and coming back through the metal detectors once you've finished puffing.
There was a lot more than that, but I think those are the high points. And now to give you a few more photos while still telling you to go look at the whole gallery, which also includes plenty of additional information in the captions.
Coming later this week, a guide for What's New Outside the Ballpark, for those who haven't been back to visit since last season.
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I am briefly emerging from the JDLand Weather Monitoring Bunker to pass along these items--feel free to talk all things snow (or anything else) in the comments. (The photo is from Feb. 2010, between the two big snow storms, just one of many I took that day. And no, I'm not going to call it #snowmageddon.)
* IL PARCO: A reader reports this morning that a sign is being hoisted on the Park Tavern building at Canal Park for "Il Parco," with a pizza slice-type icon. I haven't heard anything about how close it is to opening, but the sign should be a good, um, sign. (I expect to have a photo as soon as the official JDLand stringer gets moving.)
UPDATE: And now the stringer has come through!
* WEEKEND HOURS: According to Twitter, Scarlet Oak will be open all weekend, while TaKorean will be open today (Friday) from 11 to 2 and then closed Saturday. Osteria Morini is closing tonight at 8 pm, then will be closed Saturday but is expecting to reopen on Sunday. The Big Stick is closing its kitchen at 5 pm tonight until Monday, but expects the bar to operate on normal hours. Justin's will be offering an "extremely limited menu" from tonight at 5 pm through Sunday. Ice Cream Jubilee is closed today and Saturday but expects to be open on Sunday. I will update if other restaurants announce hours.
UPDATES: Bluejacket is "currently open with a limited menu". Due South is open all weekend (see down in the comments for the list of their Snow Daze Drink Specials). Aura Spa is closed for the weekend.
ANOTHER: Nando's is closing all its DC locations at 8 pm tonight, reopening Sunday at noon.
MORE: Everyone will be crushed to hear that the Virginia Avenue Tunnel demolition will be on hold until Monday morning at 5:30 am. Weekend work will be limited to snow removal and "maintenance of traffic controls."
AND: Agua 301 is open tonight, with happy hour drink specials from 3:30 to close. Hugh & Crye is closed until Monday morning.
* BRIDGE PARK DEEP DIVE: WaPo's Jonathan O'Connell takes a long look at the 11th Street Bridge Park and what it might mean for neighborhoods east of the river should it ever be built.
* BILLY JOEL: The Piano Man is going to be "the first artist ever to play Nationals Park three times," with this week's news of a show scheduled for Saturday, July 30.
* RESIDENT SNOW INFO: ANC commissioner Meredith Fascett has this lineup of tidbits about city storm preparations and items residents need to know. And snow.dc.gov is another good resource.
SATURDAY UPDATE: Keep an eye on my Twitter account for retweets of openings and closings. So far, Bluejacket and TaKorean have said they are closed today, while Willie's and Due South are open. I'll keep updating when I can tear my eyes away from my window.
SUNDAY UPDATE:
Bluejacket is open at 1:30, and Morini is open at 2 pm, both with limited menus.
Agua 301 is opening at 3pm.
Due South and Scarlet Oak are open.
Justin's and the Big Stick are open for libations, but the kitchens are closed.
Ice Yards has been moved to Jan. 30.
TaKorean and Ice Cream Jubilee are closed.
The Canal Park Ice Rink is closed, too.
 

If you or someone you know is interested in working in one of the many food-related positions at Nationals Park during the 2016 season, concessionaire Levy Restaurants is holding a number of job fairs over the next couple of weeks.
The first one has already happened (oops), but there are additional sessions on January 14th, 19th, 21st, 26th, and 28th. They are all from 11 am to 2 pm, and are being held at the ballpark, entering via the Centerfield Gate at Half and N Streets, SE.
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