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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Virginia Ave Park
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On the heels of my previous post on the changes coming to I Street SE, here's some specifics from CSX on its current timetable for the restoration of Virginia Avenue as the tunnel project begins to see the light at the end of, um, itself.
As the graphic at right from this presentation shows, it appears that the 300 block of Virginia is at the top of the restoration list, with the street itself expected to open in Spring 2018. The 200 and 400 blocks would follow in early summer, with the blocks from 5th to 9th following in late summer. This schedule also includes the restoration of the connection under the freeway to Garfield Park in early summer, and Virginia Avenue Park later in the year.
There will be some full closures of the cross streets as they get restored, with the diciest ones probably being 4th Street (expected to close from February into summer) and that bizarro 5th/6th intersection (which this says will be closed from late this year into spring).
As for what Virginia Avenue will look like when "restoration" is complete, here are the graphics from CSX, showing among other things the new separated pedestrian and cycling paths, including a cut-through path on that 4th Street triangle to allow bikes to hook up easily with I Street, the main east-west bicycle route in this neck of the woods. (Yeah, even when you click to enlarge they are tiny. Here's the PDF.)
It's rather stunning to me to actually be seeing a timeline like this--I've been writing about this project for a looooooooooong time. As to whether everything does wrap up in 2018, of course We Shall See.
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More posts: Pedestrian/Cycling Issues, Traffic Issues, Virginia Ave Park
 

A Look Back, eight years ago today: The southwest corner of 1st and M Streets, SE, with Normandie Liquors long closed and in its final few months.
* SIDE YARDS: Back for a second year is "Side Yards," an "evening of quirky amusement and wonder" showcasing top sideshow performers at the Yards Park on Saturday, Nov. 7 from 6 to 10 pm. Contortionists, magicians, juggling, escape artists and snake handling will all be showcased (sounds like a typical day in Congress!). There will also be burlesque acts, live music, and a beer garden. Tickets are free, but available in advance.
* DC BEER FESTIVAL: Also on Saturday, Nov. 7 is the DC Beer Festival at Nats Park. Admission is $40 and includes unlimited tastings (wheeeee!).
* PERCEPTION SURVEY: It's time for the Capitol Riverfront BID's annual Perception Survey, so take a few moments to tell them your feelings about the neighborhood, whether you are a resident, office worker, or visitor.
* OKAY, HOW ABOUT DECEMBER: Back in September I posted about reservations being accepted for the new Hampton Inn at 1st and N starting November 19. It's now December 9.
* THE NEW VIRGINIA AVE. PARK: ANC 6B commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg looks at the ideas that came out of last month's public meeting to come up with a post-tunnel-construction design for Virginia Avenue Park.
* THE OLD VIRGINIA AVE. (NOT) PARK: And speaking of Virginia Avenue between 9th and 10th streets, SE, this week's Lost Capitol Hill series on The Hill is Home looks at the owner of a lumber yard in that spot during the mid-1800s.
* INSTAGRAM: I'll just mention again that JDLand is now on Instagram, if that's your social media landscape of choice.
* MOBILE: I've been tweaking the mobile version of the JDLand home page to add some of the items that have only been on the desktop page--a random Look Back photo, the Highlighted Projects development map, and even the Latest Tweets box. Visit on your phone to see what I mean.
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More posts: Capitol Riverfront BID, Events, hamptoninn, JDLand stuff, Virginia Ave Park
 

I recently took you along the multiple blocks of Virginia Avenue that are in the process of getting dug up as part of CSX's tunnel expansion and reconstruction project. But even though it's going to be a few years before the tunnels are completed, the process is underway to talk about what Virginia Avenue will look like after the construction is over.
CSX is in charge of this streetscape-and-landscaping upgrade and has submitted draft plans to various groups for review, and has posted some big (BIG) PDFs on the project web site. Meanwhile, ANC 6D commissioner Meredith Fascett put out the call last week looking for volunteers to join a neighborhood working group on the restoration plans.
But for those who don't want to wade through the PDFs, here are some partial screen grabs of CSX's submittals for the new Virginia Avenue, and I'm sure the bike/ped paths (both shared and separate) will be of interest, along with the plans to perk up Virginia Avenue Park.
These first two screen grabs show the general landscape and "roadway" plans from 2nd to 4th Street, and from 4th to 5th (click to enlarge):
For the westernmost blocks, there will be a shared porous asphalt path on the street's south side. Then, starting at 4th Street, there will be separate asphalt bike path and a companion walking path with permeable pavers. The second image also shows the expanded pocket park between 4th and 5th that will be created thanks to the planned realignment of Virginia. Note that it also has a bike path that runs down to the I Street stub--which will make for a decent cut-over to I and its bike lanes from 3rd St. SE all the way into Southwest (well, once that little part between 2nd and New Jersey opens!).
The split paths continue from 5th Street to 9th Street, as you see below (once you click to enlarge, that is):
East of 9th, into Virginia Avenue Park, the path being built by CSX disappears, but the park design seen at right shows a path that runs along the north end of the park to 11th Street, where we can all dream of a day that it hooks up with the path that is supposed to be built alongside Southeast Blvd. to Barney Circle, making for an alternate route to the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail near RFK without having to go along M Street SE.
As for the park itself, the current dog park will be reconfigured, with both "large dog" and "small dog" areas. Some of the original paving stones recently uncovered will be placed in the park as well.
A public meeting to receive resident comments and feedback is expected to be happening soon, which I'm sure will be announced two minutes after I finish this post. UPDATE: Yup, less than 24 hours later, I'm seeing that the public meeting will be on Monday, Sept. 28 at 6:30, at a location to be determined.
Take a look at the full lineup of PDFs for better detail.
UPDATE, 10/7: After the meeting, updated block-by-block designs were made available (including a revision to reestablish the connection between the 400 block of I Street and Virginia Avenue), along with notes from the meeting.
 

Just a reminder that the first of two public meetings to update the public on the status of the search for a new Marine Barracks location is tomorrow night (Tuesday, Nov. 30), at Eastern Market's North Hall (7th and North Carolina, SE). It will begin with an open house at 5 pm, with informational displays and "experts" on hand to discuss the various aspects of the Community Integrated Master Plan (CIMP), aka the site search. Then, at 6:30 pm, "speakers representing the community of stakeholders will present their viewpoints, [...] followed by a facilitated discussion of community development involving all participants."
Here's the agenda, and the CIMP web site has plenty of other informational materials including a recent Process Update (which I wrote about last week), in which it's stated that "the Marine Corps has not settled on any specific site or concept" (despite rumors to the contrary), and that the concerns of the fans of the Virginia Avenue Park "have been heard loud and clear and addressed accordingly."
My previous entry also talks about the CLG Status Report handout (posted by Norm Metzger), which includes some "Art of the Do-Able" conceptual graphics (emphasis on conceptual) that show how either the 11th and M "Exxon" site or the 8th Street "Square 929/930" site could be developed in ways that would not touch the Virginia Avenue Park. There's also a similar graphic showing how the presence at the current BEQ site along Virginia east of 5th could be expanded without losing the soccer field, which would requiring the shifting of the planned Capper community center site.
If the comment threads on my posts anytime I mention the word "Marines" are any indication, it should be a festive gathering.
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More posts: Barracks, meetings, Virginia Ave Park
 

ANC 6B03 commissioner Norm Metzger has a report on yesterday's Community Leadership Group meeting on the search for a new Marine Barracks site. (I'm sorry, I just can't bring myself to call it the CIMP process on first reference.) My short version: there's no news on a site selection, and it appears that any RFP to build a new barracks is probably at least a year away, and even that date could be derailed if any sort of federal legislative action is needed to allow the sort of public-private development partnership that the Marines seem to be looking for. Norm's description of the meeting as being an "odd mix of frustration, clearly expressed community anger, and clarity" seems to be a good summary of where things stand from the group's point of view.
Norm also posted the CLG Status Report handout, which I think will be of most interest to residents for its "The Art of the Do-Able" conceptual graphics (emphasis on conceptual) showing how either the 11th and M "Exxon" site or the 8th Street "Square 929/930" site could be developed in ways that would not touch the Virginia Avenue Park. There's also a similar graphic showing how the presence at the current BEQ site along Virginia east of 5th could be expanded without losing the soccer field, which would requiring the shifting of the planned Capper community center site. (On this last one, I'll note that it looks like what is marked as M Street on the renderings is actually L Street, and the second graphic is showing a northeast view from 5th rather than the northwest as marked.)
Finally, there is this statement from the CIMP folks that seeks to address what it calls "some misperceptions circulating about the future of Marine Barracks Washington and the local community," centering mainly the idea among some residents that a site has already been chosen along with the rumors about what may or may not happen to Virginia Avenue Park. "It is very important that the Virginia Avenue Community Gardener group knows that their concerns have been heard loud and clear and addressed accordingly," the statement says, going on to say that "informal site design concepts strongly suggest that there is potential for options under which the Bachelor Enlisted Quarters Complex could be developed, without impacting any portion of the Virginia Avenue Park and gardens."
There are two meetings scheduled to update the public on the process, on Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 from 5 to 9 pm at Eastern Market's North Hall. More information on the entire process is available at the CIMP web site, or you can slog through my pile of posts on it all over the past year.
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More posts: Barracks, meetings, Virginia Ave Park
 

I'm trying to conserve energy on all things having to do with the Marines' search for a new barracks until some decisions actually get made, so today I'm just pointing you toward a post at The Hill is Home describing how the Barracks Row Main Street board passed a resolution endorsing the two blocks between 8th and 9th south of the freeway ("929-930") as their preferred site for the new barracks--and how that endorsement has riled up the fans of the Virginia Avenue Park and the community garden hosted there, who see BRMS's endorsement of the site as endorsing the "bulldozing" of the park.
The BRMS's executive director has quickly denied this, saying that the submitted proposal for 929-930 "replaces, at a nearly 2-to-1 ratio, the square footage lost as additional green space on other portions of the site," but the Save the Virginia Avenue Park Committee is, shall we say, skeptical and displeased, as you can see in the THIH's blog post and its comments thread. Controversy is a-swirling!
For a bit more background, you can also read my recent entry about the meeting where the unsolicited development plan for the 929-930 site recently submitted to the Marines by two landowners on those blocks was first mentioned. There was also discussion at that meeting about how any developer looking to work with the Marines on the Barracks project will need to demonstrate that they have control of all portions of the site they're proposing, which would be a dicey propostion if the 929-930 proposal includes any chunk of the park, since the National Park Service (which controls the park) won't state its views on the Marines taking part of the park until a NEPA process is completed. Unless the Marines convince Congress to pass "special legislation," according to Norm Metzger. My previous posts on the search process give additional background, if you're itching for more information.
But it's best to remember at this point that there are still no announced decisions on where the Marines may go. There are public forums scheduled for Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 to update the community on the process.
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More posts: Barracks, 8th Street, Virginia Ave Park
 

Unless you're big on process, RFIs, RFPs, and the potential crafting of legislation, there isn't really much news to report on the Marines' search for a location for a new barracks site to replace the aging and unsecure Building 20 at 8th and I. I was at the Community Leaders Group meeting this morning (as an observer, not a leader), and here's a couple snippets I came away with, although the very process-heavy discussions left me in the dust for much of the session:
What was originally going to be a public planning "charrette" this fall is now going to be a community forum, probably sometime in mid-November, coming after the Marines release a Request for Expressions of Interest to get a first read on the developers who might be interested in formulating a bid. The public forum (and a separate one on the same day for developers and industry types) will center around discussions about the official Request for Proposals that will then be crafted. (See, your eyes are glazing over.)
There are a couple of developers who have already floated ideas to the Marines, including the team of Winfield Sealander and Leon Kafaele, who both own a fair number of the lots on Square 929 and 930 (the two blocks between 8th and 9th and Virginia and M, including the "Quizno's building", although some of the lots along Potomac Avenue have gone through a foreclosure sale). The developers who bid on this public-private venture will need to demonstrate that they control or will control the properties on the sites they are proposing to develop; this would seem to make any proposed use of the Virginia Avenue Park site a bit more interesting.
The Marines are also looking at whether existing legislation covers their needs to get the development underway, or if new legislation needs to be written; if so, it would probably be placed in the next Defense Authorization Act. The if-all-goes-according-to-plan timeline is to get funding in the FY12 federal budget, with construction starting early in FY13. There would also be a NEPA process somewhere admist all of this well.
This has been a lot of words to basically say that there isn't much to pass along yet for people (like me!) who just want to know what's going to happen, and where, and when. But the Marines and the community leaders are clearly very aware of the community opposition to losing the two acres of open space that Virginia Avenue Park represents, though the Marines don't rule out the possibility of plans that would relocate some of the park's uses, even though there no doubt would be opposition to that as well. But of course there's some amount of community opposition for almost every site that the Marines have identified. But with Square 882 now officially marked as "removed from consideration" on the Marines' map, the options for a site seem to be getting pretty narrow.
UPDATE, 9/27: ANC 6B commissioner Norm Metzger has posted his own fine summary of the meeting, which I should have just waited for rather than trying to do it myself!
 

It's not exactly the biggest news I've written about, but tonight ANC 6B voted unanimously to write a letter in support of CSX's request to the Department of Parks and Recreation to do some minor digging in Virginia Avenue Park as part of its NEPA requirements for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel expansion project. They'll be taking core samples, 1.5 inches in diameter, five feet in depth, about every 200 feet, looking for any archaelogically significant findings. (And, no, these samples won't be taken in the community garden.) If anything is found in the samples, CSX would then need to get new permits to do more extensive digging. There are also two other locations relatively close to the park where they'll take core samples, over by 11th Street.
Steven Flippin of CSX also told the commissioners that the first public meeting required by the NEPA process is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 20, at a time and place to be determined. This will be a "scoping" meeting, laying out the overall parameters of the project and the NEPA process. It will be followed, after a 30-day comment period, by an "alternatives" meeting. After another comment period, the final "overall" meeting about the tunnel project will be held, most likely in February of 2011.
I should also mention that commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg thanked CSX for paying for the new fence at Virginia Avenue Park that has now created the separate-enclosed-space-that-in-no-way-should-be-construed-as-being-an-official-dog-park.
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, dog, Virginia Ave Park
 

I'm back from spending the past week wandering around Ohio (Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland) and then spending some time in the Detroit area, where my husband grew up and where I lived for a few years as a tyke many years ago. If I was sent back in time 10 years and told to be a city blogger again but that I couldn't do Near Southeast, I would gladly have chosen to document the decay (and perhaps eventual return) of Detroit, because it's really on a scale that is hard for people to understand unless they've spent a lot of time driving all around the city (and not just on the freeways). It also means I would have spent the past 10 years eating plenty of Detroit Pizza at Buddy's and Cloverleaf and having far easier access to a bazillion breakfast options (at the Coneys and other "family dining" establishments) than we'll ever have in the DC Metro area. Plus there's the cider mills.
We also very much enjoyed Columbus, particularly the Short North and German Village neighborhoods (and driving through the Ohio State campus in my University of Florida-festooned car--ha ha!), and my husband also noted the bars and restaurants in the Arena District and asked if that's what will eventually be coming to Half Street. (I then asked him if he ever reads my blog.) Downtown Cincinnati has some great "old stock" storefronts and signage (which we're always big fans of), but we also enjoyed the Kentucky towns of Covington and Newport, right across the river from Cincy's two stadiums. It helped that our hotel was three blocks from the massive Covington Oktoberfest celebration. And yes, we ate chili. Cleveland was mainly a pilgrimmage to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for me, but we did wander around to eat in the Tremont and Ohio City neighborhoods, and took a peek at Shaker Heights.
(Are you as worn out from our vacation as I am? We do tend to cover a lot of territory.)
I don't think I deprived you of any big news while I was gone, so, instead, we'll look ahead at a few events this week:
* Today begins the Nats' final homestand of the 2010 season, against the Astros, Braves, and Phillies, with the final home game on Wednesday Sept. 29 at 7:05 pm. And note that this Thursday's game (Sept. 23) against the Astros is a 4:35 pm start, and Saturday's game (Sept. 25) against the Braves is at 1:05 pm. Then you can start looking ahead to the 2011 Nationals schedule, where they get an Opening Day home game on March 31 against the Braves.
* Tomorrow (Tuesday, Sept. 21) is ANC 6B's monthly meeting (delayed a week to avoid coinciding with the election), and the agenda includes CSX's plans for an archaeological dig at Virginia Avenue Park. The meeting is at 7 pm at the People's Church, 535 8th St., SE.
* Thursday is the Washington Area Bicyclist Association's "Moonlight Ride at Yards Park", which includes an 11-mile ride starting from the Park at 8:30 pm heading west to the Potomac River, and a 6-mile ride starting at 9 pm that will go east over the Anacostia River into Anacostia Park and Historic Anacostia. The rides are free and open to the public, but they ask that you register in advance.
* And, looking ahead a bit, the newly redesigned "Parcel D" residential/retail/grocery development on the southeast corner of 4th and M in the Yards will be presented to the National Capital Planning Commission on Oct. 7.
UPDATE: I guess I should also be mentioning the launch of Capital Bikeshare today, with two locations in Near Southeast, at New Jersey and M by USDOT, and what the map says is another station at First and N, SE, by Nationals Park (which I had heard wasn't coming until next spring).
 

Numerous readers have passed along that fences are up and the new dog park fenced-in area appears to be close to opening has opened at the Virginia Avenue Park between 9th and 11th streets, SE, just south of the freeway (and just north of the Spay and Neuter Clinic at 10th and Potomac). I don't have a lot of information about the park, other than it's a project that was launched by the Hill's Capitol Canines group last year (supported by ANC 6B) and has been approved by the DC Parks and Recreation (you can see the application for more details). It's a 10,000-square-foot space, on the eastern side of the park.
If anyone involved in the park is out there and would like to pass along more information, please do, either to me directly or in the comments below. Because, if there's one thing I've found out in the past few years, it's that pretty much every single new resident of the Capitol Riverfront is the proud owner of at least one dog. (I just have a cat who thinks he's a dog.)
UPDATE: Did I say dog park? Why, no, it's not a dog park at all. Just a section of a park with fences put up, that certain residents and users may choose to utilize as a location for corraling four-legged beasts away from other uses in the rest of the park.
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More posts: Dog Parks, Virginia Ave Park
 
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