City Council Today - South Cap/N Alley Closing, Tax Pay-Out Bill, Tingey Street (Updated with Results)
Jul 1, 2008 9:29 AM
Today is the city council's monthly legislative meeting, and since they don't have one in August, this one--like all July ones--has an agenda a mile long
, with a few items related to Near Southeast:
There's an emergency bill to correct a problem with the 2005 bill that transferred Tingey Street to the city--a drafting error apparently drew the road through part of the Pattern Shop Lofts
And the "Taxation Without Representation Federal Tax Pay-Out Message Board Installation Act of 2007
" (Bill 17-0028
) is finally getting a vote--this is the bill that would put electronic tote boards on the Wilson Building and the ballpark
showing the federal taxes that District residents pay while still having no votiing representation in Congress. You can read more about it here
--I don't know if the bill being voted on today has the same language as the original one introduced in 2007, since the council was told pretty clearly by the Sports and Entertainment Commission that the stadium's lease agreement states that the Nationals control the signage on the stadium's interior, exterior, and perimeter, and the DCSEC's outside counsel feels that this tote-board bill "could conflict" with the lease.
But first up, on the consent agenda, is the bill to close the alley
between South Capitol and Van just north of the old BP Amoco station on N Street
across from the ballpark. This request is coming from Monument Realty, so they can combine the Amoco lot with the parking lot to the north of the alley and develop the site as a residential building with somewhere between 180 and 210 rental units, with 15 or 16 of them being affordable units priced at between 50 and 80 percent of the area median income. There would also be about 14,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.
I failed my fiduciary duty to ever post a summary of the hearing on this bill held back in May, but most of what was said at the council hearing wasn't too different from the presentation about the closing
to ANC 6D in January. Monument's representatives told the council that they would expect to start the project approximately 18 months after receiving the alley closing (depending on market conditions, of course), meaning it wouldn't deliver before 2011. Monument is not so far committing to any sort of LEED certification for the building (though I imagine that changes if they don't build it before the city's new green building laws go into effect). The project would also need a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review
by the Zoning Commission.
The hearing starts at 10 am, and can be seen on DC Cable 13 or via streaming video
. I'll update this entry later today with the various outcomes.
I haven't started watching the proceedings yet (I'll be spending my evening fast-forwarding through them), but the Post's DC Wire blog has an entry
on another bill of interest being brought up today, to improve upon the locations carved out for street vendors near the ballpark (here's the map
). Some council members want the vendors much closer (presumably, along Half and N streets), which the Nationals and MLB are not much in favor of. Other council members say that bringing the vendors closer should wait until the construction near the ballpark is completed. We'll see what happens with the bill today.
FAST-FORWARDING UPDATE: What more could I want to do with my evening than to sit here speeding through 8-plus hours of city council proceedings? Here's what I'm finding:
* The Tax Pay-Out Message Board bill
passed its first reading--Chairman Gray said that the second message board would be built "on public space near the Washington Nationals baseball stadium," which gets around the problems I described above with the original bill. Apparently Chairman Gray had discussions with the Nationals earlier this year about putting the sign at the ballpark, and the Nationals did not indicate any sort of desire to have the sign, so the compromise was hatched to put it on public land near the ballpark (I'm trying to find out where). Marion Barry pronounced himself "appalled" at the Nationals' refusal to put up the sign at the city-funded ballpark, calling the team "not good citizens." The sign at the Wilson Building is to be erected in time for the 2009 presidential inauguration, so that the entire parade can march right past it.
* The "Tingey Street, SE Right of Way Amendment Emergency Act of 2008" passed its first reading, so the street will no longer run through Building 160
* I'm going to address the vending expansion bill in a new entry. Check back later for that.
In Case You Missed It (Last Week's News Again)
Jun 2, 2008 10:11 AM
There was a big pile of news this past week from Near Southeast, so I'll boil it down to bullet points and links in case you couldn't keep up:
* 100 M
will be substantially completed in November
, and tenants should start moving into the office building early in 2009. SunTrust Bank is the first retail tenant, and the developer is looking for restaurants for the other spaces;
Yards Park Phase I Gets Zoning Approval
May 31, 2008 7:19 AM
In what chair Anthony Hood remarked might have been the Zoning Commission's first-ever landscape architecture-only case, the Zoning Commission on Thursday night approved the design for the first phase of the waterfront park at The Yards
, the nearly 6-acre green space along the Anacostia River on the site of the once walled-off Southeast Federal Center. My project page
has a number of the renderings that were displayed during the presentation, and additional descriptions of what's planned for the site can be found in these two
Representatives of Forest City said that they are committed to opening the first phase of the park in the summer of 2009
. The second phase, which will include the renovation of the Lumber Storage Shed and the construction of other retail pavilions and buildings, is expected to come before the Zoning Commission this fall. Phase 3 will be the piers and marinas. Somewhat surprising was the news that the floating boardwalk connecting the Great Lawn on the western side of the park to Diamond Teague Park
and the ballpark
is now going to be built by the city as part of the construction of Teague rather than by Forest City as part of this park.
Much of the discussion by the zoning commissioners (that I saw--I watched from home in my fuzzy slippers and the webcast went wonky a few times in the middle) centered around the pedestrian bridge that runs across the bulkhead and the new freshwater canal. Its very "forward" design---described by Commissioner Etherly as an "aggressive architectural play" and by vice chair Jeffries as a "Slinky," a moniker that I'm sure the developers would probably prefer to not catch on--was not met with universal acclaim. The commissioners did seem recognize its intended role as a piece of art and one of the iconic elements of the park. Jeffries emphasized--and others agreed--that because the designs for the buildings and for the "art tower" are coming at a later date, the bridge is setting the stage for the rest of the architecture at the park, and that the future designs must play off what the bridge has started.
Peter May did not like the bridge (though I missed a lot of his comments because of the webcast problems). He expressed a worry that the bridge, along with the not-yet-designed art tower and whatever's planned for Poplar Point, could create a series of "Look at Me" moments along the Anacostia, all trying to compete for attention. "The 'Look at Me' moment for a waterfront park should be the river itself," he said.
There were also discussions of the lighting plans, and concerns as to whether or not the bridge has a railing (it does). Jeffries asked a lot about the vegetation planned for the different sections of the park, and expressed a wish for some landscaping that is a bit more "wild" in nature, to which Forest City seemed receptive.
There were letters of support from ANC 6D, which voted 7-0 on May 12 to approve the plans, as well as from the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the National Capital Planning Commission, which approved the park's design back in February
. So, in the end, the commission decided to go ahead and vote for approval of the plans immediately, although the issuance of the final order is subject to the commission receiving some new renderings showing more clearly the railing on the bridge. The vote was 4-0-1, with commissioner Turnbull not present.
250 M Gets Preliminary Zoning Approval
May 29, 2008 3:10 PM
Last night the Zoning Commission voted 5-0 to extend the allowed building height and expand the total square footage of the proposed office building at 250 M Street
in what is technically a modification to the Capper/Carrollsburg
second-stage PUD that this office building is part of. The building, which will be going for LEED silver certification and which will have ground-floor retail, will now be 130 feet high and have 233,405 square feet of space. The discussions at the hearing centered mainly on the penthouse structure, the "next generation" elevator technology that allows for less overhead space, and how exactly the agreement with ANC 6D should be viewed.
William C. Smith's Brad Fennell testified that the developer has agreed to additional amenities beyond those in the original PUD
(which included $325,000 toward the funding of Canal Park). He described the new amenities as "recruiting construction workers from ANC 6D by purchasing quarterly ads in the Southwester, creating an overall goal of 20% first-source employment for qualified ANC 6D residents, and providing contracting and new hiring opportunitiess for local residents and subcontractors by giving tiebreaking preferences to subcontractors headquartered in ANC 6D and for qualified construction workers living in that area." On May 12 the ANC tied 3-3 on the project, but apparently some subsequent tweaking of the proffer into this final form resulted in a letter from the ANC indicating that four commissioners would support the project with these additional amenities. The Zoning Commissioners felt that, since this was not an official vote of the ANC, it couldn't be given the required "great weight," but could be looked at the same as any feedback from a neighborhood association. The fact that no ANC members appeared at the hearing to testify in opposition also was noted.
You can read the Office of Planning report
for all the specifics you could ever want about the changes in the design; if you're really
interested, you can also read the original second-stage PUD approval
of 250 M from last July, that last night's ruling is modifying. (The original Capper PUD
is worth a look as well if you aren't familiar with what's been approved for the area's redevelopment.) Also, since I haven't mentioned it lately, it should be noted that this office building is technically a joint venture between WC Smith and the DC Housing Authority, with the monies from it helping to "financially leverage" the rest of the redevelopment of the Cappers.
This was the first vote; final action on this modification will be scheduled for a month or so from now. Earlier this year a WC Smith representative had told me that construction could begin in the middle of this year, but there was no mention of start dates at the hearing.
A Smattering of Ballpark and Soccer Links
May 29, 2008 9:41 AM
* The Post's DC Wire blog is reporting
that at 5 pm today DCRA will be having a lottery for the 28 street vending spots near Nationals Park
. "Winners will enjoy their spots for one month, starting on June 1. Then the process starts all over again with a lottery on the last Tuesday of each month until the baseball season ends." (Vendors grumbling about neon-green On the Fly's vending on Half Street have found out that the eco-vendor is actually on private property.)
* From the Examiner
: David Catania gets back into the baseball carping business, saying the city should get its money back from the consultants who predicted in 2005 that the Nats would average 39,000 fans in the first year at Nationals Park
, since there's only been an average of 29,000 fans during the first third of the season. Catania says "that ERA may have seriously overestimated ticket sales, which represents a major portion of stadium-related revenues." However, DC CEO Natwar Gandhi has replied that "the ballpark bonds are structured in such a way "that a significant drop in attendance would not hinder our ability to pay debt service" and that "in a worst-case scenario, total attendance at the new stadium could drop to approximately 10,000 people per game without affecting debt-service payments." The Examiner also says: "Ticket prices at the new ballpark are 20 percent higher than the consultant predicted, Gandhi said, which will drastically reduce the effect of reduced attendance." I wonder if the consultants factored in cold and miserable April weather? The Post's DC Wire
has more on this.
* The Nats announced earlier this year that tours of the ballpark are available on non-gamedays; yesterday they sent out word
that proceeds from those tours will benefit the team's Dream Foundation, which currently has a number of initiatives underway, including the Neighborhood Initiative that's providing three years of funding to the Earth Conservation Corps
. Info about the tours is available here
* Also in the District Extra is a big piece
on whether the diversity of the Nats' roster, "combined with their state-of-the-art stadium, will be enough to attract young blacks and Latinos to the game in the District."
* DC United wants the city to pay $225 million for its Poplar Point stadium, which the Post says
is "far more than some city leaders say they would support" and that "even the amount officials have considered, $150 million, has raised some concern with D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, whose analysis has concluded such a deal could push the government above a Wall Street debt ceiling that he recommended last year." In the meantime, Marc Fisher thinks it's all a bad idea
Square 700 Alley Closing Hearing Thursday
May 28, 2008 4:08 PM
It's nowhere near as exciting as zoning hearings (then again, what is?), but I see that the City Council hearing on the bill to close a 2,400-sq-ft alley on Square 700 is happening tomorrow (May 29)
, after having been canceled back in February
. The alley is just north of what used to be the BP Amoco station on South Capitol Street at N
(which is now Nats Parking Lot N). Monument Realty is requesting this closure to allow for the combining of both the Amoco site and the parking lot to its north, with plans to build what was described in January as a residential building with 150-200 units and 14,000 sq ft of ground-floor retail space, as part of Monument's Half Street projects
. Additional details are in my January report
on Monument's request for ANC 6D's support (which they didn't get, thanks to a 2-2-1 vote). The bill is B017-0552
, if you'd like some light afternoon reading. The hearing is scheduled be televised
on DC Cable 13, starting at 10 am.
This Week in Zoning: 250 M, Yards Park
May 27, 2008 2:03 PM
There's two Near Southeast projects with hearings in front of the Zoning Commission this week:
* On Wednesday (5/28) the ZC will hear the request to extend the height of the office building planned for 250 M Street
. I've written about this here
, and you can read the Office of Planning's final report
for much more detail on the request (and see the latest design). OP recommends approval of what is technically a modification to the Capper/Carrollsburg
second-stage PUD (yes, this office building is part of the Capper redevelopment). After initially refusing to vote on the plan because of a lack of community benefits, ANC 6D voted 3-3 on it at its May meeting, which means there will be no support from the ANC. (I wasn't at this meeting, so I can't give you the specifics of what the developer offered to the ANC, or why the resolution didn't pass.) It's possible that 250 M will begin construction this year, but there's no confirmation of that.
Florida Rock Gets Its Final Zoning Approval
May 23, 2008 10:35 AM
With a unanimous 5-0 vote after a brief discussion, the Zoning Commission approved last night the plans for "RiverFront
," the 5.8-acre mixed-use project on the Anacostia River south of Nationals Park, ending the decade-long trip through the zoning process for the site long known as Florida Rock
Before the final vote, chairman Anthony Hood quoted from the recent ruling
by the National Capital Planning Commission that the RiverFront project "would not adversely effect" any federal interests. Remarking that the passage "says it all," Hood read: "This project is expected to bring activity and amenities to the Anacostia waterfront and is respecting the planning for the South Capitol Street
corridor and the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge
. Furthermore, it is enhancing the connection of the Nationals Baseball Park
and surrounding district to the Anacostia waterfront, goals supported by the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative[.]"
Now it's onto construction drawings and a trip through the city's permitting process. It's not expected that work will begin until sometime in 2009 on the first phase of the site, which includes an office building with ground-floor retail and a public plaza across Potomac Avenue from the ballpark's grand staircase. [see update below for caveat]
If you want to know more (dear heavens, I'm not going to go through all the details AGAIN), look at my project page
for renderings and also scroll through five years' worth of news items
on it all. UPDATE:
The press release is out
, and I'll note that it gives no indication of when the first phase could start. Given the Monument Realty news
of financing troubles, Camden's pause
at 1345 South Capitol, and the commercial real estate biz in general, it's probably best to now be pretty skeptical of start dates until permit approvals start popping up and shovels start digging into the ground.
Monday ANC Meeting Agenda Items
May 11, 2008 3:37 PM
The agenda for Monday's ANC 6D meeting has been sent around (although not posted on their web site
, sigh), and it has a couple of Near Southeast items. There will be a presentation on the plans for the Waterfront Park
at The Yards, in advance of a May 29 Southeast Federal Center Overlay District
Review covering new structures that will be built to house retail pavilions at the park. There's also apparently a public space permit application from the Onyx folks at 1100 First Street for a fence along L Street, plus garden masonry piers and light fixtures. And the developers of the 250 M Street
office building are back again, after having not gotten very far at last month's meeting
with their request for support for a second-stage PUD modification at a May 28 zoning hearing
to increase the building's height (but not its square footage) from what was originally approved, since the commissioners wanted a new round of community benefits in return for their support, which W.C. Smith balked at given that the project isn't requesting to take any new amount of public space. We'll see if there were any negotiations since then. The meeting will be at 7 pm at St. Augustine's church at 6th and M streets, SW.
401 M Review, Five Guys Sidewalk Cafe Approved
Apr 25, 2008 8:31 PM
Just a quick note that both the zoning review
and special exception applications for the office/residential/grocery project planned at 401 M Street
at The Yards
and the Public Space Committee's consideration of an application for Five Guys to operate a sidewalk cafe appear to have been approved. (I didn't get to see either meeting, so I know nothing more than that.) See the entry below
for additional links and details to find out what the heck I'm talking about. And normal posting here on the blog will resume very soon (I promise), since the JDLand batteries are now just about recharged.
Thursday Meeting Preview (WMATA, Yards, Five Guys)
Apr 23, 2008 10:36 AM
A somewhat busy Thursday (April 24) is on the boards:
* And, if you want to make your voice heard about the public space application by Five Guys for a sidewalk seating area, the Public Space Committee
will be bringing it up at its monthly meeting, at 941 North Capitol Street, NE, 7th Floor, starting at 10 am. This is the application that ANC6D refused to support last week
because of the lack of a community benefits package for the "loss of public space."
Pope Day Arrives in the Hood; This Week's Column
Apr 17, 2008 8:56 AM
So, the faithful are streaming toward the ballpark
as we speak. Although the 55 M cam
showed the upper decks pretty empty with about 90 minutes to go, Channel 9 (already on the air
with its coverage of the mass) gives a better view of the tens of thousands already inside. (48,000 people are expected.) How's everyone faring, either trying to get out of the neighborhood or into it for work? Or is everyone just staying home? And, for those reading this later today who went to the mass, how did your trip go?
In other news, my Ballpark and Beyond column this week
is yet another one about stadium parking, taken mainly from my Monday night post about ANC 6D's muted reaction
to parking and traffic issues (along with the Zoning Commission's approval of having additional lots built in Southwest if landowners want them). I also tossed in a quick roundup of the private cash lots springing up.
More ANC 6D Doings (Yards, 250 M, Five Guys, Vendors, Ziegfield's)
Apr 15, 2008 1:03 PM
I'm just going to bullet-point all this stuff. Follow links for additional background. (See my entry from last night
for news on the ANC's discussion about parking and traffic issues during the first games at the ballpark.)
* The commissioners voted to support Forest City Washington's plans for an office/residential/retail project
(including a grocery store) at 401 M Street
in The Yards
. This support hinged on a Memorandum of Understanding on community benefits being offered by Forest City, including a lottery that could allow a 25 percent preference (or higher) for ANC 6D residents when it comes to the 30ish affordable housing rental units in the 194-unit project. (The final verbage of the MOU was hashed out at the meeting; talk about watching the sausage get made.) An audience member complained that LEED certification for the project should not be considered an amenity, but Forest City replied that the city's green building law does not go into effect until 2012, and these buildings are expected to be completed in 2011. Other components include preferences for ANC 6D certified business enterprises and a promise to report yearly to the ANC about the project. A lack of a community benefits package had tripped up this request for support at the ANC's April meeting. This project now goes to the Zoning Commission for a Southeast Federal Center Overlay Review
on April 24
* A request to support William C. Smith's modifications
to its plans for 250 M Street
(raising the height of the building to 130 feet) was postponed, as the commissioners expressed their unhappiness at the lack of any community benefits. The developer's representatives said that community benefits were part of the original approval of the project as part of the Capper/Carrollsburg
PUD, and that this modification is not resulting in any increase in square footage from that original plan. Commissioners had no suggestions for what benefits they would be seeking, only that they want more. This project may be back in front of the ANC at its May meeting, since the Zoning Commission hearing on the PUD modification isn't until late May
* A request to support a public space permit request by Five Guys to add an outdoor seating area at its Second Street location was turned down, not only because the commissioners said that Five Guys had not provided information on the request to all the commissioners in a timely manner but because there's no offer of, you guessed it, a community benefits package in return for the "public space" being taken.
* A representative of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs updated the commission on plans to add 40 vendors on the streets surrounding the ballpark, thanks to emergency legislation passed on April 1
by the council. The mayor is expected to sign the act today, at which point DCRA will have 21 days to identify sidewalk locations for the vendors to set up shop. It's not expected that any will be on South Capitol Street or on M Street (thanks to narrow sidewalks), and rules prohibit vendors on residential streets. However, in a few months a larger initiative will get underway, with the Capitol Riverfront BID's involvement, to create a "Development Zone
" allowed for in the recent overhaul of city vending regulations, which will give the city and residents greater say in where vendors are placed, what they sell, and the appearance of their carts. And, in response to questions from commissioners and audience members: no cigarettes or alcohol will be sold at these carts, and there don't appear to be any concerns on the city's behalf about terrorism related to these carts or their operators. (I'm just reporting what was asked.)
* The commission voted to support the liquor license application of former O Street clubs Ziegfield's and Secrets to reopen
at 1824 Half St., SW, at the site of the old "Lime" nightclub. A voluntary agreement with the clubs' owner was reached to address concerns about traffic, cooperation with police, and community input.
Zoning Approval for Possible Additional Surface Lots; ANC 6D Says Little About Ballpark's Debut; Community Meeting about On-Street Parking
Apr 14, 2008 11:12 PM
On Monday night, without much discussion, the Zoning Commission gave approval to the request to add additional blocks
in Buzzards Point to the zoning amendment allowing temporary surface parking lots
near the baseball stadium
. The commissioners who spoke mentioned the need to give the Nationals the flexibility the team was seeking to be able to build new surface lots as development possibly takes away the lots currently in use. The vote was unanimous, although Commissioner Turnbull stated for the record his concern that lots north of Potomac Avenue, closer to the residential portion of Southwest, could introduce significant traffic. As of now, the Nationals have announced no plans to use any lots at Buzzards Point this season.
At about the same time the Zoning Commission was voting, ANC 6D
was discussing how the first few games at the ballpark went, in terms of traffic and parking impacts on Southwest and Near Southeast. And, for a group of people who, shall we say, have not been shy over the past few years about voicing fears as to how the new stadium would impact their neighborhood, the reaction was surprisingly muted. Visitor parking passes did not seem to get to all residences, additional signage needs to be installed, issues with left turns and parking enforcement on G Street, SW will need to be addressed, and there were questions about whether the parking restrictions on M Street could be eased, but overall the commissioners seemed to feel that there had been no major issues. Commissioner Robert Siegel, who represents all of the ANC east of South Capitol, proclaimed himself "very pleased." (Though Commissioner David Sobelsohn did remark that things "will go smoothly as long as the Nationals keep losing.")
The meeting itself was pretty sparsely attended, with few of the residents who have been vocal about potential problems at previous meetings on hand. Only a couple people in the audience spoke up about any issues they'd had or seen, and did so without much emotion. The discussion was over in probably about 15 minutes. If you've ever attended an ANC 6D meeting, you know how astonishing this is.
Tommy Wells will be having a community meeting to look at how the new on-street parking regulations are working, both for residential streets and the retail stretches along Pennsylvania Avenue and Barracks Row, on May 7 at 7 pm, at the Capitol Hill United Methodist Church (Fifth Street and Seward Square, SE).
There's other items to report from tonight's meeting, but I'll write about those in an entry to come.
Yet Another Batch of Mostly Cloudy Photos; Monday Meeting Reminders; Pope Street Closings
Apr 13, 2008 2:21 PM
If you like photos of streetscapes taken under overcast skies, this has been the site for you lately. Yeesh. On Saturday, before the rains came, I updated my shots of the western side of New Jersey Ave.
, showing how projects like 909 New Jersey
, 70/100 I
, and 100 M
have changed the view in the past year. At least the sun was out for the brief time on Friday evening when I took new photos of the western side of the ballpark, along South Capitol Street
. So, adding these to the photos I took earlier in the week of First
streets, the current state of construction in Near Southeast is pretty well documented. And now the sun shall come out, but I'll be waiting a few weeks until the next round of updates (probably early May).
And, for this week's visit from the Pope, the Post has a huge graphic
of road closures and other information to help get through the festivities. Note that, in addition to the closure of South Capitol Street from 2 am to 2 pm Thursday, it shows that Van, Half, First, and Potomac in SE will be closed at some point, as will O, P, Q, and Potomac SW from Half Street to South Capitol. "Expect other road closures around the ballpark from 9 pm Wednesday until 2 pm Thursday," it says.
Yards/401 M Street at NCPC, ANC 6D (Again)
Apr 2, 2008 3:46 PM
As I wrote a month ago in an entry
that was visible for about five minutes thanks to all of the ballpark news, the first new-construction buildings
at The Yards
are now winding their way through the zoning process. It's two buildings that look like one--a 320,000-square-foot 10-story office building at 401 M Street
and an 11-story 180ish-unit apartment building to its south at 400 Tingey Street
. They would both have ground-floor retail, but it's what's planned for 401 M that will probably have everyone's attention, because a grocery store
is proposed for that space, just inside the historic wall and sentry tower on the southeast corner of Fourth and M. The office building would be LEED certified, and the 20 percent of the residential building would be affordable housing units (up to 50 percent of the area median income).
The Zoning Commission Southeast Federal Center Overlay Review
of the plans and three associated variance requests is now rescheduled for April 24
. ANC 6D will be bringing it up again at its April 14 meeting, after electing not to vote on the project at its March 10 meeting because of the lack of a community benefits package--see the summary of the meeting
in the April Hill Rag (I was out of town, and so don't have any additional details).
As for start dates, documents earlier in the year had the office portion getting started in 2008 for a 2010 delivery, and the residential portion starting "based on market conditions." However, a reader is reporting that a sign now up at Fourth and M says "Coming 2011." I'll see if I can get any further details. (UPDATE: Yup, 2011 is now the current "estimate" for the project. So, don't stop shopping at the Capitol Hill Safeway just yet.)
In the meantime, work on renovating the Boilermaker Shop
at Third and Tingey into a 46,000-sq-ft retail pavilion should be starting Any Minute Now, as should the rehab of the Pattern Joiner Shop
across the street into a 170-unit apartment building. Both are expected to be finished in 2009. (Did you see the light displays being projected onto the Pattern Joiner building during the ballgames?) The Factory 202
residential rehab of the old Gun Mount Shop at Fifth and M, which is a joint project between Forest City and PN Hoffman
, also now has a "Coming 2011" sign.
Temporary Surface Lots in Southwest, Con't.
Mar 25, 2008 6:04 PM
There's not a lot to say about Monday night's continuation of the Zoning Commission's hearing
on whether to amend the city's zoning laws to allow temporary surface parking on eight lots in Buzzards Point. This session was mainly to have representatives of the Nationals and DDOT available for questions from the commissioners, and most of the time was spent taking them through the Ballpark Traffic Management Plan
The big question seemed to be the one that chairman Hood opened with: are additional lots (beyond the ones approved
over the summer) required by the Nationals this year? Gregory McCarthy of the Nationals replied that the team has its parking-space inventory complete for the 2008 season, but that some of the lots being used could be lost to development projects in 2009, requiring the team to continue to find locations for parking. Commissioner May noted that some buildings in the area are already under construction and would have underground parking available when they open, but McCarthy said that "most" are residential buildings that wouldn't be able to offer stadium parking because of their need to have the bulk of their spaces available at night for tenants. (There are two office buildings opening in the next year which could be targets for Nats parking--100 M
and 55 M
There was also some discussion of the state of sidewalks (and lack thereof) in Buzzards Point, which the commission feels DDOT would need to address before allowing parking in that area. DDOT representative Karina Ricks was a little vague on whether new sidewalks would be DDOT's responsibility or whether it would be up to the lot owners at DDOT's behest to build acceptable sidewalks.
There were some questions about the routing of traffic toward existing parking lots and whether it is going to keep fans off the residential streets; McCarthy told the commissioners about the brochures going out with season-ticket parking passes giving the preferred routes to a fan's specific parking lot. If the ability to build new lots in Buzzards Point were to be approved, DDOT indicated that the current traffic management plans would be revised to take the additional traffic heading to that area into account.
(And speaking of this, apparently signs are now popping up along M Street to guide fans to parking lots based on zone color; there will also be signs about which freeway exit to take for which zones put up soon, according to McCarthy.)
It's expected that the commission will vote on this proposed amendment at its April 13 public meeting. If you want more information on this case (07-08A), here's the Office of Planning report
, and you can also read my discussions
of the original amendment for more detail on the limitations and rules of these lots. And, it should be emphasized that, if this amendment passes, it doesn't mean that surface lots will definitely be built on these blocks--this is just a change in zoning rules to allow the possibility of lots, if the landowners wish to build them.
Reminder: Zoning Hearing on Parking in Southwest
Mar 24, 2008 2:39 PM
Just a reminder that tonight at 6:30 pm is the continuation of the Zoning Commission hearing
about whether to potentially allow temporary surface parking lots on some squares in Buzzards Point in Southwest. This is not approving lots themselves, just changing the zoning
of certain blocks to give landowners the option to add lots if they wanted, as was done last year
with a number of blocks in Near Southeast (only some of which now having parking lots on them). The hearing was continued so that DDOT and Nationals representatives could be there to answer questions. As of now, no Nationals parking lots are located in Southwest, except for one already existing surface lot right under the Southwest Freeway.
For more on all this, read my entry
from before the first hearing, which includes the Office of Planning's report
that has more details on which blocks would be covered, along with explanations of the rules governing these temporary surface lots (including that combined they may not total more than 3,775 spaces). There's also the ANC 6D resolution opposing this change
. Tonight's hearing is at Suite 220 South, 441 4th St., NW, or can be watched via a live webcast
, which is the preferred method of lazy bloggers.
Fourth Street Now One Way; Visitor Passes; Ballpark and Development; Recent Headlines Again
Mar 24, 2008 7:44 AM
* Within the past week, Fourth Street between the SE Freeway and M Street has been signed and striped to become one-way southbound. It's always been one-way southbound north of the freeway, but extending that another four blocks seems to be a bit of a surprise.
* If you live in Southwest or on Capitol Hill and received in the past few days a nondescript envelope
addressed to "Ward 6 Resident" from DDOT, don't throw it out (like I almost did)--it's your Visitor Parking Pass
. Guard this with your life.
* As soon as I swear off
chasing every little story on the ballpark unless it somehow relates to the neighborhood, both the Post
and the Examiner
come out with stories this morning doing just that, talking about the development that's exploded in Near Southeast over the past few years. (And thanks for the hat tip, Michael.) Sayeth the Post, on A1: "Nationals Park
opens this weekend and appears nearly complete. But it's surrounded for blocks by a construction zone. [...] Despite appearances, this is just the way District leaders hoped it would be: a ballpark set amid a vast Southeast Washington neighborhood in the middle of one of the biggest overhauls in city history. Some 500 acres are to be transformed, spreading south from Capitol Hill to the Anacostia River, sweeping away an accumulation of old auto body shops, sex clubs and debris-filled lots[.]" If you've read either of these stories and are looking to know more about all the development underway around the ballpark, I invite you to look at the big ole' map
at the top right of my home page--moving your mouse across it gives you the basics on each project, and clicking the map takes you to pages chock full of additional details and photos.
* This is part of something bigger I'm working on that's not quite ready, but if you want to travel back to see how things used to look where Second Base now sits
, here's your time machine
. You're facing north, then you'll turn clockwise to catch the views in all directions....
Florida Rock Gets Preliminary Zoning Approval
Mar 21, 2008 10:13 AM
With a surprise motion at the end of last night's second-stage PUD hearing, the Zoning Commission has given preliminary approval to the design of RiverFront on the Anacostia
(better known as Florida Rock), the 1.1-million-square-foot four-building mixed-use project nestled between Nationals Park
, the Anacostia River, the Douglass Bridge
, and Diamond Teague Park
. It's been about 11 years since FRP Development first entered the zoning process for this site, and almost two years since the commission unexpectedly sent architects back to the drawing board for a design that better responded to the changes brought by the ballpark.
You can see a few renderings of the latest design
on my project page
, and read about the specifics
(dear heavens, I'm not going to summarize it all AGAIN--read the Office of Planning report
for more on this submittal). The one big addition to the design is a large sculpture to be placed on the public plaza ("Anacostia Place") across from the grand staircase of the ballpark, celebrating the Anacostia River watershed, which the commissioners seemed to respond to favorably.
The commissioners all remarked that the project has come a long way, and were pleased with the overall design. There were some concerns from commissioners Peter May of the National Park Service and Gregory Jeffries about the facades of the two western buildings that will face the proposed traffic oval on South Capitol Street at the foot of a new Douglass Bridge
, that they aren't "animated" enough in terms of retail for such a prominent location. May had also called the project "too complex", with too much going on with different facades and finishes, but when longtime commissioner Michael Turnbull of the Office of the Architect of the Capitol said that he "liked the complexity," it was clear that there weren't going to be requests for large-scale changes to the design.
After 2 1/2 hours of presentations and questions, Chairman Hood brought up the idea of giving initial approval immediately, which, judging by the wide-eyed glances between the many representatives and consultants in the audience, was not expected. Commissioner May was not really in favor of moving forward, and Jeffries initially seemed to be leaning that way but then hemmed and hawed his way back to agreeing that the proposed action could go forward. (Earlier Jeffries had noted with some surprise that a project of this scope had not brought out a single member of the community in opposition.)
It was decided that the developers need to submit more detailed drawings of the plans for the South Capitol Street facades, and that no final approval would be given to the project until all commissioners approved of them. Commissioner May ended up abstaining on the vote, which was 4-0-1.
Architect Davis Buckley asked for six weeks to prepare the new renderings, and the commission scheduled a Special Public Meeting for May 22 at 6 pm to take final action.
This doesn't mean that earthmovers will arrive on May 23 to start building Anacostia Place and the eastern office building; construction drawings will have to be completed, and the trip through the vaunted DC permitting process will have to begin. But the notion of a Fall 2009 start date for the first phase of this project is looking closer to a reality. As for when the entire project could be completed, the western two buildings are dependent on the construction of the new Douglass Bridge before they can start. So, mark your calendar for about 2018.
I hope to snag some additional renderings included in last night's presentation; there was also a cool fly-over animation of RiverFront and its relationship with its surroundings, though it included the long-defunct Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness once envisioned for the north side of the ballpark, causing Commissioner Turnbull to spend some time lamenting What MIght Have Been.