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Wednesday Tidbits: Spring Break Edition
Apr 15, 2014 4:33 PM
The title of this post says it all (in other words, I am not in full blogging mode this week).
* PUMP IT UP: City Paper reports that DC Water is soliciting bids for the design of a new headquarters, which would move from Blue Plains to a new building atop the existing O Street Pumping Station. (NOT the beautiful Main Pumping Station just to the north!)
And, if one looks at the renderings that Forest City released during its quest for zoning approval to develop three blocks around the station, you can deduce that this idea did not crop up in the last few days. The rendering above shows the O Street station in the right foreground, and you can see how it does look similar to the description reported by City Paper: "[It] will have five stories of offices perched above the pumping station. The offices will be supported by columns; there may or may not be a small gap between them and the pumping station."
(Note that this is a separate issue from the stalled drive to move some of DC Water's operations before Forest City can start work on the proposed movie theater there.)
* THUMBS UP: The Zoning Commission has issued the final orders to allow veterinary hospitals in the Southeast Federal Center Overlay and for the Trapeze School to move to New Jersey and Tingey.
* BOTTOMS UP (OR NOT): An application for a Class C liquor license is now in the pipeline for the The Big Stick, the new restaurant coming later this year to 20 M Street, The application describes the venture thusly: "A sports bar featuring an alpine lodge theme and décor serving casual foods such as bratwursts, sausages and kielbasas, salads, sandwiches, wraps and crispy oven-baked macaroni and cheese. Occasional DJ. No nude performances."
That's all that's up with me. What's up with you?
Comments (22)
More posts: 20 M, bigstick, DC Water (WASA), The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA, zoning

Forest City Looking for More Residential Height in 'Yards West'
Apr 7, 2014 10:06 AM
Forest City Washington, desiring to begin development on the western portion of the Yards, is requesting a change to the Southeast Federal Center Overlay that would "align the height and density of any residential development in the Yards West with similar residential density to the west in the CG/CR Overlay and the south in the DC Water Sites PUD."
(And yes, this "Yards West" thing is new, but it does make some sense, given how the properties along 1st Street are mostly separated from the heart of the Yards between 3rd and 4th.)
As shown on the graphic Forest City provided to the Zoning Commission, the four parcels along N Street just east of 1st dubbed F, G, H, and I currently have a maximum allowed height of 110 feet, while to the north, south, and west there's a 130-foot maximum. (There's also a density difference that caps Yards residential development at 6.0 FAR versus 7.0-8.2 in the Capitol Gateway (CG) Overlay.)
This means that the SEFC Overlay permits less height and density than on the surrounding properties because, Forest City says, "no one fully anticipated the success of the tremendous public and private investment that is transforming the area."
Further proposed text amendments would "require Zoning Commission design review for any property utilizing bonus height and density for residential use" and would "authorize deviations from the ground-floor preferred use requirements, only after approval from the Zoning Commission."
During the zoning hearings a few weeks back to allow some changes to the NGA building site (known as Parcels A, F, and G, but which for now I just call Parcel A because I'm lazy), it was mentioned that Forest City was in the process of hiring an architect to design a residential building on Parcel H, which is on the southeast corner of 1st and N, with hopes of beginning development in 2015. Though I'm guessing they'll want to find out whether they can build to 130 feet instead of 110 before finalizing that design.
More as it develops.
Comments (2)
More posts: Development News, The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA, Yards/Parcel H, zoning

Beginning the Long, Slow, Joyous Farewell
Feb 27, 2014 2:57 PM
Yay!
It's not going to be all gone for a number of months, though. Clearly they're mostly working inside as of now. But still....
This will be probably the second-largest building to be demolished in the neighborhood, after the old Capper Seniors building at 7th and M. But I can't wait to see how Building 213's departure alters the horizon--when I look at my photos, it amazes me how many times there's a glimpse of it in the background from all manner of angles.
And then there will be a park. And the trapeze school. For a while.
My camera stands at the ready.
Comments (1)
More posts: The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA

Tuesday Tidbits: All About the Preparation
Feb 18, 2014 3:04 PM
* PREPARING TO DIG: After a couple of articles highlighting residents' opposition to the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, the Post takes a look at how CSX and some rail experts view the reconstruction and expansion of the tunnel as a necessary step.
* PREPARING TO DECLARE: Also, there's now scheduled a council hearing about the tunnel project, on March 25 at 11 am. The hearing is actually on proposed resolution PR 20-601, "Sense of the Council for a Hearing on the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project Resolution of 2013," which "is to the declare sense of the Council that the Unites States House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Highways and Transit should hold a hearing on the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel Project." (So it's a hearing by one governmental body about whether they should tell another governmental body to hold a hearing.)
* PREPARING TO DE-SPOOK: The arrivial of bulldozers and dumpsters on site at the old NGA building at 1st and M SE has sharp-eyed observers tapping their toes waiting for the demolition to start, but as was mentioned previously, it's going to take about six months to complete. But maybe they can at least knock out some exterior walls before Opening Day, as a statement of intent to Nats fans who haven't kept up with the latest news (tsk, tsk).
* PREPARING TO ROCK: I showed a touch of hard-won skepticism last week in reporting that developers told ANC 6D that they expect to begin work on the first phase of Florida Rock's redevelopment in June. So I will follow that up by noting that, two days later, they appear to have filed an application for a shoring/sheeting permit. (Not seeing an application for any building yet, though.)
* PREPARING TO WANT: The WashBiz Journal last week looked at the retail states of four "hot neighborhoods" (subscribers only), highlighting what they "flaunt" and what they "want." After the flaunting (20 restaurants, Nats Park, Vida Fitness, and Whole Foods), Michael Stevens of the BID listed the "wants": child care facilities, apparel retailers, a large home furnishing store, and college classrooms (saying that the area "is positioning itself as a satellite campus destination for those maxed out on their space"). Non-subscribers can watch some video of Stevens's talk at the BID's annual meeting, at least..
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More posts: CSX/Virginia Ave. Tunnel, Florida Rock, Retail, The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA

Condo Project May Be Coming to Yards; Other Yards Updates
Feb 3, 2014 8:38 PM
During Monday night's Zoning Commission hearing on allowing the move of the trapeze school from "Parcel O" at 4th and Tingey in the Yards to another space at New Jersey Avenue, Forest City's Ramsey Meiser revealed that the company is planning to sell a portion of Parcel O to allow for the development of a condo project there.
Meiser explained that while Forest City doesn't do condo development, "we want to have for-sale product at the Yards," hence the potential deal. The zoning filings say that "Parcel O will be developed in 2014/2015 and construction on Parcel O is expected to be completed by 2016/2017."
I've asked for further detail on this, which I may or may not get anytime soon, and I will update when I receive more.
Other tidbits that came out of the hearing:
* Forest City is in the process of hiring an architect to design a residential building for Parcel H, which is the western half of the parking lot on the southeast corner of 1st and N, directly across from Nationals Park and north of DC Water. There appears to be a desire to develop that site within the next couple of years.
* The company expects the demolition of the NGA building at 1st and M to take approximately six months, and that the reconfiguration of the block to include the trapeze school, a new park on the north end, and a slightly shrunken parking lot would be completed by the end of 2014.
* The new park, which with the rest of the block would be a temporary use until office buildings are constructed, has enough open green space that Forest City expects to work with the BID to activate it for some sorts of smaller sports activities (bocce and kickball yes, softball probably not).
Oh, and the commission voted 5-0 to approve the special exceptions to allow trapeze school and parking lot on the south end of the 1st and M block, on the sites technically known as Parcels F and G. (The park would be on Parcel A.) There was some back-and-forth about the need for trees on the site--they weren't included in the plans because Forest City expects buildings to eventually replace the temporary uses, but Forest City has agreed to work with DDOT and the Office of Planning on the issue, and the zoning commissioners did not feel it warranted delaying their vote.
UPDATE: In my haste to get this posted, I should have mentioned that the original Yards plans did include a condo project--a plan to have PN Hoffman convert Building 202, the red brick building at 5th and M east of what's now Twelve12. But that project has seemed to stall.

Yards Zoning Cases: Trapeze Move, and Maybe a Vet
Feb 3, 2014 12:03 PM
In a nice break from its evaluations of boxy 13-story buildings, the Zoning Commission this week has on its agenda two cases dealing with somewhat unusual development requests at the Yards.
The first, which is being heard tonight, has to do with the reconfiguration of the block at 1st and M streets SE after spooky Building 213 gets demolished sometime in the coming months.
As I wrote back in December, Forest City is wanting to move Trapeze School New York from its current 4th and Tingey location to the northwest corner of New Jersey and Tingey, shrink and reconfigure the existing 1st Street parking lot by 22 spaces, and build a temporary public park on the north half of the block. (The overview drawing at right can help you visualize this.)
The parking lot and the trapeze school move each require zoning approvals for these new temporary five-year uses--if you want the serious details on why, and the evaluation of the zoning rules therein, read the Office of Planning report.
ANC 6D and the Office of Planning have both supported this request, and this week the National Capital Planning Commission is adding its support.
So, in honor of what apparently will be a year of change on this block, I've built a Yards Parcel A project page, to be sure that Building 213's soulless windowless existence (and its brief ArtYards fling with color) is not forgotten.
The second zoning request, to be heard on Thursday, Feb. 6, is to amend the text of the Southeast Federal Center Overlay to allow "veterinary boarding hospital and veterinary hospital uses" subject to a number of conditions within the footprint of the Yards.
This text is being added because of apparent interest from a veterinary hospital in leasing space in the ground floor of the soon-to-be completed Twelve12 apartment building at 4th and Tingey, and the SEFC overlay does not specifically allow veterinary services, so it has to be spelled out.
And it's not a surprise that a vet is looking at the area--the Office of Planning report sites a Capitol Riverfront BID survey saying that 40 percent of neighborhood residents have pets.
The Office and Planning and ANC 6D also support this request.
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More posts: The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA, Twelve12/Teeter/Yards, zoning

ArtYards DC Wrapping Up With 'Illuminated Ops'
Dec 12, 2013 8:55 AM
ArtYardsDC, the project that has been breathing a bit of life into the spooky old National Geospatial Intelligence Agency building at 1st and M SE for the past few weeks, is coming to a close this weekend.
For the finale they are presenting "Illuminated Ops," which will project three specially commissioned video art pieces more than five stories tall and twice as wide onto the NGA building's façade at New Jersey and N/Tingey. There will also be custom audio tracks, and the Wonka Factory-like NGA gate at New Jersey and Tingey will be open so that viewers can get up close to the building should they wish.
The display begins at 6 pm for the next three nights, starting tonight (Thursday, Dec. 12). The images seen here are stills provided by Forest City Washington showing what the video projections should look like.
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More posts: Events, The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA

Tidbits: Ice Rink Opening Soon, and Other Goings-On
Dec 5, 2013 8:29 PM
While I keep trying to get myself reacquainted with blogging (a process that clearly is not proceeding smoothly), I'm going to cheat and go with some Tidbits lists every so often, so that at least I can feel like I'm getting the spigot working better, even if it's still sputtering. Also, I have to get used to all these events, specials, and activities, which didn't used to be part of the Near Southeast blogging landscape.
* The BID reports in its latest newsletter that the Canal Park ice rink is scheduled to open on Monday, Dec. 16. And speaking of the park, if you haven't wandered by, you may not know that Christmas trees and wreaths are for sale there this year. See the market web site for details.
* On Saturday (Dec. 7), the 11th Street Bridge Park project is holding two "community design meetings" that will provide an update about the project and break out attendees into smaller groups to work on ideas. A nationwide design competition for the project is expected to be launched early in 2014. The bridge park itself is expected to cost $35 million, which at this point is mostly unfunded. One meeting is at 200 I Street SE from 2 pm to 6 pm (details and RSVP here) but there is also a morning meeting. (via DCist)
* ArtYards has the Chalk a Lot street art event on Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 7-8) at the NGA parking lot, 1st and M SE. And see also this Going Out Guide look at the ArtYards project.
* Osteria Morini is now open for lunch, and here's the menu. Plus there's Happy Hour specials now, too, from 4 to 7 pm Monday through Friday. And Post food critic Tom Sietsema took a First Bite there earlier this week.
* Bluejacket is going big with its first New Year's Eve celebration. For your $160 ticket, you'll get an open bar for all Bluejacket brews, plus a DJ and "passed bites." Then there will be a champagne toast as part of the ceremonial midnight keg drop. (No, seriously.) And Bluejacket/Arsenal is now open for lunch, too, and is serving Sunday brunch from 11 to 3, but you probably already know these things.
* VIDA Fitness, coming to the Twelve12 building at the Yards in 2014, is now offering membership pre-sales. Their site says that the Penthouse Pool Club will open on July 1, 2014 and the VIDA Fitness itself on Aug. 25, 2014.
* If you want to look a little farther into the future: WMATA has scoped out the subway alignments it would like to pursue as part of its 2040 "core configuration" plan. How would you feel about a new Blue and Yellow line under 2nd Street from Union Station, turning west with a station at New Jersey and I before heading to Virginia? (It would also run under M Street NW from Georgetown to New York Avenue.) I can't wait to set out from my retirement home with my brain-embedded camera to take photos of this project.

Temporary Park, Trapeze School Move Sought for 1st and M
Dec 5, 2013 9:59 AM
With the currently be-muraled former NGA building at 1st and M Street SE expected to be demolished early in 2014, Forest City Washington is making plans for temporary uses for that block while it works on longer-range plans to build office and retail space on the site, which is at the northwest corner of the Yards footprint.
To that end, the company has filed a request for the Zoning Commission's approval of a temporary (unfenced!) park/open space along M between New Jersey and 1st, as well as the relocation of the Trapeze School from its current location at 4th and Tingey to the northwest corner of New Jersey and N/Tingey.
There would also remain a parking lot on the site, but it would be shifted to just the southwest corner of the block, and would have 208 spaces instead of the 230 currently there. Access to the lot would be from N Street. (At the same time, because of DC Water's ongoing construction, the parking lot immediately to the south across N would be losing 50 spaces, down to 344.)
As you can (kind of) see in the site plan, there would be a path running from northeast to southwest across the park, making for a nice shortcut to the ballpark for fans coming out of the Metro at New Jersey and M. And it would give the four corners of this block a slightly different feel than the current vistas:
The filing says that the Trapeze School needs to be moved not only because the zoning order allowing it to be on its current site expires at the end of 2014, but also because development is planned for that 4th and Tingey site ("Parcel O") to be completed by 2016/2017. It also says that Parcel H, on the southeast corner of 1st and N where the Yards "tent" display and parking lot is, is expected to be developed beginning in 2015, and that an RFP process is currently underway to select an architect. This would be another residential building with street-level retail.
There is no timeline laid out for when this NGA block is expected to be fully developed, though it's always been expected to be part of the final phase of the Yard's planned 10-to-20-year timeline.
UPDATE: Speaking of the be-muraled building and the ArtYards project going on at this block, there will be a "Chalk Art Street Festival" at the site this weekend (Dec. 7 and 8). There will be hot chocolate and treats, along with lots of chalk for kids of all ages to create their own masterpieces on the parking lot.
Comments (3)
More posts: The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA, zoning

ArtYards Giving the NGA Building a Makeover
Nov 20, 2013 3:35 PM
Covering cultural events is not quite my forte (plus I've got some other stuff going on this week), but since people might wonder why the former National Geospatial Intelligence Agency building at 1st and M SE is suddenly awash in color, I'll pass along that it is an "Art Takeover" known as ArtYardsDC, running through Dec. 14.
Quoting from the official site (because I really *am* lazy), I can tell you that this project will bring "seven internationally renowned artists to turn the building and its surroundings into a massive, evolving canvas."
It officially started this morning, as many of you might have seen, when 111 gallons of paint were poured down the M Street facade, as you can see in this photo taken from Gordon Biersch and all manner of shots in the Yards Twitter feed and via the #artyardsdc hashtag.
As part of all of this, there is scheduled a two-night "Silent Disco at the Yards," this Friday and Saturday (Nov. 22 and 23) at 9 pm on the mezzanine level of the Boilermaker Shops. Everyone gets a set of wireless headphones and can choose their music from the three DJs working simultaneously. (You crazy kids and your crazy technology!) There is a $10 cover, which will be donated to BUILD Metro DC. It's a 21-and-over shindig, and there are cash bars.
There will be other numerous events as well, so keep checking the official web site for details.
And maybe I'll actually get down there and get some pictures.
This is all in advance of the NGA building being demolished sometime in early 2014. Which is the event I'm really waiting for!
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More posts: Events, The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA

Update on the Planned Demise of Spooky Building 213
Jun 5, 2013 9:38 PM
There's a bit of news on one of my favorite buildings to rag on over the years, the all-but-windowless formerly armed encampment at 1st and M that housed the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and other spook-ish groups over the years before it was vacated in 2011.
You may have seen the holes punched into the side of the building recently, but if you're fearing that any work is a precursor to the brown-and-white structure being salvaged and redeveloped, don't worry your pretty little heads.
Yards developer Forest City has passed along word that after the current environmental remediation is finished late this summer, the former Building 213 will then be going off to meet its maker. It will cease to be. Bereft of life, it will rest in peace. (Sorry, I'm a bit punchy tonight.)
Demolition, once started, is expected to take about six months.
As the northwestern edge of the Yards, this prime corner spot just northeast of Nats Park will eventually see new construction, most likely an office building.
But that's a good ways off--in the meantime there will continue to be parking on the site, and Forest City is also looking at maybe putting in some grassy areas both as open space and possible special events uses, though their plans aren't firm as yet.
And it also will be a bit different to be able to see well into the Yards when standing at 1st and M instead of looking at the remnants of a cloak and dagger operation.
(And, for the record, I'm allowed to be snarky about this place. Back in 2005 the guards there called DC cops to chase me down on 1st Street when I was taking photos in the opposite direction of the building, never having once taken any shots of 213 itself. And I did get tired over the years of seeing them reach for their guns as I walked by their fence with camera in hand.)
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More posts: Development News, The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA

Photos: Tearing Down, Filling In, Building Out, Building Up
May 27, 2013 9:54 PM
The showiest demolition in the neighborhood in years is coming to an end, and while I haven't been able to document it in the obsessive-compulsive way I would have liked, I did manage to make it to 11th Street this weekend to see the gator tail-like final remnants of the old flyover to the outbound 11th Street Bridges before it completely comes down.
At the same time, I was able to check out the progress on the filling-in of the sunken eastern portion of the Southeast Freeway to build Southeast Blvd., and dang if they haven't already piled the dirt up so that 11th Street is now level with the "land" just to its west.
Needless to say, I had to create a photo gallery of the remants and the progress, where you'll also see that work is speeding along on the new flyover to the outbound I-695 bridge.
But I wasn't just interested in the tearing down and filling in, so I continued down to O Street, where not only is the 11th Street Local Bridge inching ever closer to getting all of its lanes and pedestrian path opened, but the new asphalt Anacostia Riverwalk Trail path to the river has been laid, which also takes you to the spiffy new landing just completed by the riverside. And from that landing you can see the spiffy new overlooks that reach out onto the old bridge piers from the new local bridge. (For the record, I could have easily sidestepped the construction barrels and ventured onto the overlooks, but I am a good little citizen.)
Lots of images of the new trail, the landing, the bridge, and the surroundings are in a second new photo gallery.
If these two galleries aren't enough, you might take some time to browse my before-and-afters all the way down 11th Street, from the freeway to L to M to N to O to the river, as nearly four years of construction have altered the vistas from a maze of flyovers and embankments to, well, a completely different maze of flyovers and embankments. (But the new flyovers are a little lower on the horizon, at least.)
I also checked out the other projects that are in various stages these days, from Twelve12 to the Lumber Shed to the leafed-out and fountain-ed Canal Park to the hole in the ground that will be the Park Chelsea.
There's new pictures on each of those pages, but I also couldn't help myself and pulled together a third photo gallery, with photos from those spots and a few others that were particularly photogenic on a particularly photogenic day. (It even includes my very first visit to the footprint of one of the neighborhood's most central locations. Where might that be?)
[A postscript: I truly think Sunday was the most perfect day for taking pictures in the 10-plus years I've been wandering the neighborhood, with the achingly clear deep blue sky perfectly matched with the late-May sun strength and positions. I ended up walking more than eight miles in three separate treks, and came home with a smidge more than 1,000 photos, about 300 of which are now in my photo archive.]

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.
* It's a bit outside my boundaries, but residents and others may be interested to know that the new Anacostia Riverwalk Trail Bridge crossing the railroad tracks just north of Pennsylvania Avenue will be opening on April 24.
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.

A Slew of Shots Snapped on a Sunny Saturday Sojourn
Dec 4, 2011 5:24 PM
Yes, it's time for another batch of updated construction photos. This is a tough stretch of year to take these--the sun never gets very high in the sky, so anything facing due south is about impossible to get without glare. And, for places like Canal Park, it's hard to even get some locations out of the shadows long enough to get a photo that you can decipher. But you can see (below left, and on the project page) a couple of shots of the progress on the park's pavilion where the Park Tavern restaurant will be housed, along with plenty of shots vaguely showing the other ongoing ground-level work. Meanwhile, at Capitol Quarter (below right), they continue to just zip right along, with framing now well underway on the north side of L and around up 4th, and prep work for foundations continuing in the project's final block, on the south side of L.
In the Renovation/Rehabilitation portion of the tour, we have a few updated images of the Boilermaker Shops (above left), another building that's tough to shoot in winter, even more so when there's not much of it other than steel beams at the moment (though they have recently been painted white). Meanwhile, 225 Virginia/200 I is coming pretty close to the end of its exterior renovations, though work inside will continue in preparation for the arrival of three DC agencies later this year.
There isn't much new to see of Lot 38 Espresso (aka the Little Red Building 2.0, above left), which the grapevine says is now shooting for a mid-December opening. (But, really, at this point, it opens when it opens--the last batch of permits and approvals is always slow going, and I bet the owner wants it open even more than you do.) I also took a bunch of shots of the former National Geospatial Intelligence Agency building at 1st and M (above right), not because there's been any changes to it, but because I really enjoyed finally being able to aim a camera at it without having guards reaching for their guns. (Nyaah! Nyaah! Click! Click! Click!)
I came home with 438 new photos (yikes), and you can browse the 180-plus I decided to upload to the online archive here. (Yes, it's true, you don't actually get to see every photo I've ever taken. Which is probably for the best.)
Remember to click the icon to see the entire range of photos for any location, while the project pages linked to above are your best bet if you're looking for paired before-and-afters and/or narrated tours.
And, in case you didn't see my tweet or my late-night update, the residential/Teeter project at 4th and M got all the dotted i's and crossed t's I mentioned in my initial post, and is officially now considered by Forest Ctiy as "commenced." (I just can't call it 1212 4th Street yet. Doesn't really make the location pop as well as "4th and M.")

Artomatic Looking for 2012 Space, Eyeing 1015 Half, 101 M SE
Nov 27, 2011 5:00 PM
Jonathan O'Connell has a piece in Monday's WaPo Capital Business about Artomatic's search for a 2012 home, and how the organization wants to replicate the success of the 2009 version at the then-vacant 55 M St., SE: "This year's search is down to about four buildings, two near Nationals Park: 1015 Half St. SE, an empty 414,000-square-foot building being purchased by Prudential Real Estate Investors; and the former offices of the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, at 101 M St. SE. Artomatic also is considering the People's Building in Northeast, and another location in Crystal City."
1015 Half Street (left), on the site of the old Nation nightclub, is currently home to more than 400,000 square feet of Class A office space emptiness right now. The NGA recently departed 1st and M (right), and while I would love for Artomatic to come to this spot merely for the chance to finally get inside the formerly armed encampment before its inevitable demolition as The Yards moves forward, I wonder how excited the organizers would be to have a building with almost no windows, except on the top floor. (I know that 55 M's large windows and great views of Nationals Park, Near Southeast, Southwest, and north to the Capitol were a big hit with 2009 Artomatic attendees.)
It was in December 2008 that word first began to trickle out on the 2009 Artomatic location, so perhaps the decision one way or the other won't be too long in coming.
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More posts: 1015 Half, artomatic, Events, square 697, The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA

Site Closure Ceremony for NGA at 1st and M SE Next Week
Sep 22, 2011 10:03 AM
A little birdie tells me that the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency folks are having a "site closure ceremony" sometime next week for their operations on the southeast corner of 1st and M, SE. (You know, the place with hardly any windows and the guys out front with guns.) As part of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, their operations have moved to swank new digs down at Ft. Belvoir.
The closure ceremony is apparently for "cleared personnel only."
This site, officially known as Building 213 from the old Navy Yard/Southeast Federal Center days, is on the footprint of the Yards and as expected to be home to an office building someday, but not anytime soon.
In the meantime, maybe that parking lot will become available to the public?
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More posts: The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA

New NGA Campus Done
Sep 16, 2011 10:59 AM
Clark Construction has delivered the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency campus at Ft. Belvoir, says CityBiz Real Estate.
(Not coincidentally, the federally legislated deadline for BRAC moves was yesterday.)
Has NGA finished moving out of the armed encampment at First and M, SE?
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More posts: The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA

NGA Move From 1st and M to New Springfield Campus Underway
Apr 4, 2011 8:35 AM
It can be hard to get much information when you're dealing with one of the more cloak-and-dagger-y agencies of the US Government, but word is filtering out that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has begun the BRAC-mandated move of its employees from the windowless fenced-off building at 1st and M SE to its $1.7 billion new Campus East facility in Springfield.
According to NextGov, the first of NGA's 8,500 employees arrived at their new home in January with more continuing to make the move, and I've confirmed that this includes some employees from the Near Southeast location as well as NGA's other locations in Bethesda, Reston, and Ft. Belvoir. The moves are happening in a staggered fashion, working toward the required "fully operational" date of September 15 in Springfield. (You can see construction photos of the new campus on Flickr, or learn more about the history of NGA via Wikipedia.)
The 1st and M building, known as Building 123 213 in Southeast Federal Center parlance, is the northwestern-most portion of the footprint of The Yards, and the long-term plans for the site are for new office space with ground-floor retail. Perhaps once NGA has completed the move there will be a freer flow of information about the site (if the building will be torn down or used for other purposes in the interim, if the fence will come down, etc.). It also is more than likely that there are other somewhat shadowy outfits operating in this space as well, and I'm not sure whether they're heading for even more shadowy pastures elsewhere during this move.
But the departure of NGA is a step toward replacing the armed encampment one block from Nationals Park with something a bit more welcoming--and I'm sure the building's security folks aren't terribly unhappy about no longer being surrounded by red-clothed hordes (toting cameras! the horror!) 80 days a year. (I will admit to once starting to point a camera at a few of the guards behind the fence--without coming close to squeezing the shutter--just for the fun of showing the people I was with how quickly the guards would reach for their guns.)
It's not like there's ever been a whole lot of detail about the goings-on on this corner: the Post reported back in 1964 that the CIA moved into the renovated Naval Weapons Plant warehouse in January 1963 with "no announcement, no little ceremony, no welcome-to-the-great-southeast-sector fanfare." There also hadn't been any announcement in November 1961 when the GSA awarded a no-bid contract to get the building renovated.
(Current residents and observers will get a kick out of the Post's 1964 description of the building's surroundings as "liquor stores, run-down shops, a railroad spur, and, right around it, a formidable chain link fence topped by five rows of unfriendly barbed wire," which WaPo said made "the six-story cream-and gray building [...] positively glamorous" in comparison.)
If you look at this map of the future layout of the Yards, you can see the 1st-and-M site at upper left, with plans for three buildings and a new east-west street (which this map says will be called Quander Street) about halfway down the block, along with the new "1 1/2 Street SE" running north-south from Quander to N Place.
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More posts: Rearview Mirror, The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA

Catching Up the Newcomers: NGA Move
May 10, 2010 12:41 PM
This Post story today on the plans to move 19,000 defense workers out of the immediate DC area to Ft. Belvoir and to that big honking new building going up at I-95 and Seminary Road gives me an excuse to catch up readers who maybe haven't been reading about Near SE for years and years about the neighborhood's own BRAC-mandated move. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which occupies the lovely all-but-windowless building on the southeast corner of First and M, is scheduled to move to a new campus at Ft. Belvoir, with a legislated deadline move-in date of Sept. 15, 2011. According to their FAQ, NGA will be closing their existing sites (including other ones in Bethesda and Reston) "from late 2010 through 2011." Given how supersecret NGA is, I'm not sure we'll know exactly when they're moving until we see U-Hauls pull up to the back door. (Though if someone wants to whisper any specifics in my ear....)
So, at some point over the next 18 months, the operations will be moved out of Near Southeast, at which time the site will become just another section of The Yards awaiting redevelopment. (And then I'll be able to take pictures of it without having armed guards yell at me and/or call DC cops to have them question me.) The building and its parking lot are currently slated to become home to office space and retail in the project's third phase, the timing of which can probably best be described as "Not Anytime Soon."
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More posts: The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA

Morning Roundup of Recent Little Items
Feb 4, 2009 8:49 AM
A couple small things from the past few days:
* For the second time in eight years, Capitol Quarter's EYA has been named America's Best Builder by Builder Magazine, which cited "its commitment to high-quality design, building in areas featuring life within walking distance, and industry leading results on homebuyer satisfaction and referral sales."
* From WTOP, news that the current occupants of the encampment at First and M are seeing the tab for their move escalate a touch: "The estimated cost of building a sprawling new complex at Fort Belvoir to house [the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency] and its 8,500-strong work force will be $350 million more than prior estimates, according to a report from government auditors." It's mandated that they have to be moved into their new digs by September 2011, but the GAO report "warned that the agency's small window for delays means that 'any unmitigated disruptions can jeopardize' meeting the 2011 deadline." The price tag is now $2.44 billion.
* Today's Examiner has another installment of their Three-Minute Interview series, this time with, um, me. (Nationals historians might enjoy knowing that the accompanying photo [better non-cropped version here] was taken the night the team came home from spring training to see their completed ballpark for the first time.)
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter, Nationals Park, The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA
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