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Brief Break from Blogging Breather for Bullet Points
Jul 9, 2010 2:36 PM
I'm still eyeing a couple more days of (mostly) blog-free living, but a few items should probably be mentioned before the weekend, and so that you don't think I'm never coming back. First, the calendar:
* On Monday at 6:30 pm, the Zoning Commission will take up the Housing Authority's new request for another time extension to the zoning order that requires construction of the Capper Community Center. DCHA had asked for a two-year extension last year, but was only granted one year, and made clear at that time that they didn't foresee having the money to start the center in that shorter time frame, and that they'd be back to ask for another extension. And now they are.
* Speaking of the community center, there's now a big sign on its footprint (at Fifth and L) touting that the second phase of Capitol Quarter's townhouses is being funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. But you knew that already.
* Monday at 7 pm is the monthly ANC 6D meeting. I was hoping the agenda would be out before I posted this, but alas, no. Check back here or on their web site to see what scintillating topics will be up for discussion. (UPDATE: the agenda is now out, and there's nothing really major on it, other than a public space permit for the street work for Phase 2 of Capitol Quarter.)
* On Tuesday, July 13, the Capitol Hill Group Ministry is having its "All-Star Party Night" at Nationals Park, offering the chance to take batting practice, throw pitches in the bullpen, tour the locker room, meet Teddy, and more. Tickets are $55 per person and $15 for children under 12, with proceeds going to CHGM's programs for homeless and low-income families.
And a few other items:
* Today's WBJ reports that a third piece of "public" art is coming to Nationals Park; this time it will be 30 "stainless steel-domed forms which will accurately follow the theoretical model of the trajectory of a curving fast-ball pitch," which will be hung early next year on the exterior of the eastern garage. The steel spheres with cutout "laces," each seven feet in diameter, will feature programmable LED lights; the piece will cost about $950,000. As for the other two pieces of public art already at the stadium (the bronze statues in the Center Field Plaza and the "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" mobile near the First Base Gate), I'll quote WBJ's Michael Neibauer: "The first two pieces of public art at the stadium were, to be kind, not well-received at their unveiling in April 2009. The works were selected by arts professionals and D.C. residents, according to the arts commission, but some wonder: Did anyone ask the fans?"
* A reader reports that the Anacostia Boathouse at 11th and O, in between the 11th Street Bridges spans, has been demolished, which was expected because of the footprint of the new bridges. Haven't seen for myself yet to confirm.
* And I haven't felt the earth shift on its axis yet, so I assume the Little Red Building's exterior is still standing, although interior demolition has been going on all week.

Agenda for June 14 ANC 6D Meeting
Jun 11, 2010 3:21 PM
The agenda is now posted for Monday's ANC 6D meeting, and it does have a few Near Southeast-related items on it. So it follows logically that I'm not going to be able to be there.
Items include: A report from the housing authority on a request for a zoning time extension for the planned (and long-delayed) community center at Fifth and K streets, SE; an update on the upcoming second phase of Capitol Quarter (which EYA tells me resulted in 11 reservations in the first 15 days); an update on the stadium Traffic Operations and Parking Plan, presumably coming out of the two recent public meetings; and reports/possible votes on Justin's Cafe's proposed sidewalk cafe and the proposed "Harry's" liquor store at New Jersey and I, both of which you can get more detail on from my report on last week's ABC subcommittee meeting.
The meeting is at 7 pm at St. Augustine's church at Sixth and M streets, SW--they're trying to get moved to their space in the new Waterfront buildings, but it still hasn't happened.
I'm going to try to find out more about the community center request, though I imagine there isn't much more to it other than DCHA says it doesn't still have the money to build it yet and so can't meet the deadline that was set in the zoning PUD (planned unit development) for Capper. The time frame for the community center has already been extended once, and in fact DCHA told the Zoning Commission last year that they fully expected that new deadline of filing building permits by Jan. 1, 2011, would be too short and that they'd be back to request another extension. Which appears to be what's transpiring.

Housing Authority Officially Requests Marines Stop Looking at Square 882 for New Barracks
May 28, 2010 12:58 AM
I've been chroncling over the past few months the Marine Corps' search for a spot for a new barracks, which has focused on a number of sites in Near Southeast, including the block bounded by Fifth, Seventh, L and M just south of their newest barracks that used to be home to the old Capper Seniors apartment building. It's been clear in public meetings and various other rumblings that both city planning officials and the DC Housing Authority are very much against the Marines using this site, with plans having been in place for a number of years for this now-empty/parking-lot block to become home to both a 600,000-square-foot office building and a 189-unit mixed-income apartment building (shown above) as part of the Capper/Carrollsburg redevelopment.
Clearly feeling that the Marines haven't given up on the site as an option despite these plans, DCHA has now sent the Marines a letter officially requesting that the Corps "not continue to propose redevelopment options on the DCHA-owned Square 882 as a future site for its facility needs." The letter explains that DCHA has already secured funds to improve the infrastructure around the square, has spent "substantial predevelopment funds" on design and engineering drawings, and is anticipating beginning work on the residential portion of the site in October. (There's currently no timetable for the office portion.) Further, DCHA says it "recently received an invitation from HUD to submit an application for a FHA loan guarantee to support the planned residential construction on the site," and that this construction is expected to start "this winter."
Nothing in the letter is necessarily a surprise--I've written fairly extensively about DCHA's plans and about the zoning travails they went through before getting a second-stage PUD approval for Square 882 last year, which even included many discussions and agreements with both the Marines and the Navy about security requirements for the new buildings on this block. But clearly DCHA is hoping to be completely removed from the Marines' list of potential sites in the same way that the DC Public Schools (and parents) got Tyler Elementary removed from consideration. But it's also clear from the public workshops that the Marines very much like what Square 882 has to offer them in terms of space and proximity to the other USMC operations in the area.
The Marines are hoping to make a decision on a site by September. You can see all the sites under consideration and the various options on the "Community Integrated Master Plan" web site.

Another Waterfront Project on the Boards
May 6, 2010 11:49 AM
Thanks to one of the National Capital Planning Commission's fabulous documents, we're starting to get first hints of plans by the Cohen Companies for what they are describing as a three-building, 815,000-square-foot office, hotel, retail project on the very eastern end of M Street, nestled between Boathouse Row and the CSX tracks east of Maritime Plaza. It's so early in the process that it's not even on Cohen's New Projects page, but City Paper's Housing Complex blog has learned that the company will be putting together a planned unit development application to the Zoning Commission "over the next six to nine months." (No financing is lined up, though, so don't look for digging to start anytime soon.) See the NCPC document for some early drawings and some basic information on how they envision the offerings of the three buildings.
(Cohen Companies, by the way, is the developer of Velocity.)
Back in 2003-ish, there were plans for this site to be a townhouse development (see page 15), but those never got off the ground partly because of zoning issues, which then begat an attempted rezoning of the area in 2004 that failed. But rezoning of the site will have to be back in the forefront when this project's PUD application hits the zoning committee, since the space is still zoned "M" (industrial).
The project is in front of NCPC because of Cohen's request to close "paper street" segments of Virginia Avenue, M, and 14th streets. This is a part of a settlement between 1333 M Street, SE, LLC and the city from a lawsuit over waterfront development in South*west*, where the Cohen Companies are agreeing to release their claims in exchange for three small pieces of government land at 1333 M SE as well as the city's support in requesting the street closures. (The street closures themselves have been approved by the city council as bill B18-0572, and are expected to become law later this month.)
The NCPC is objecting to the street closures; and thankfully Greater Greater Washington has been writing in detail on the case, so I'm just going to throw it over to them for all the nitty gritty, because it's way out of my league. (Read also this GGW entry about connecting this area to the neighborhoods to its north if/when the remnants of the freeway to Barney Circle are removed.) But, again, the NCPC staff recommendation report is also a great read for not only the NCPC's concerns but also for the history of the area under review and other details. The NCPC board is meeting this afternoon, and we'll see what comes out of the session (I assume GGW will be hot on the trail).
If you've never ventured down that way, my East M page has a few not-particularly-current photos of the location (I don't get there very often myself), along with more images of Boathouse Row. When the project begins to wind its way through the zoning process, I'll get more on the ball. The city's 2009 Boathouse Row Planning Study is also a good spot to learn more about the area.
UPDATE: Thanks to commenter Evan, I'm reminded that I should have included the additional information that, because this is part of the old Washington Gas (and I think Steuart Petroleum) site, there are some serious remediation issues to be addressed, which are mentioned both by Ron Cohen on page 25 of this 2003 ZC transcript and on page 19 of this 2004 ZC transcript (saying that the contaminated soil is 11 feet down). Remediation is also mentioned in the 2009 Boathouse Row Planning Study and in this EPA document (under "Washington Gas and Light"). Oh, and the EPA's 1999 record of decision on what cleanup remedies would be needed. It should be noted that both Maritime Plaza buildings were completed after this document. (This is all before my time, so I'm researching on the fly.)
UPDATE II: Here's a WBJ article (subscribers only for 7 days) on the NCPC angle; it also reminds that, outside the monumental core of the city, NCPC's rulings are purely advisory.

Ribbon Cutting Officially Opens Diamond Teague Park
Apr 27, 2010 9:00 PM
This morning Mayor Fenty officially opened Diamond Teague Park, cutting the ribbon alongside the parents of the park's namesake, the Earth Conservation Corps volunteer who was murdered in October 2003. The piers at the park, located just across the street from the baseball stadium, have been operating sporadically since last September, and now host both a water taxi service to and from Alexandria for baseball games and a river cruise company that began service earlier this month. Another outfit is hoping to launch a separate water taxi service this summer.
The park includes two piers, a 250-foot commercial pier and a 200-foot pier for non-motorized vessels, like kayaks and canoes, as well as sustainable elements like floating wetlands and shoreline plantings. A portion of the $8 million cost of the park ($800,000) was paid by Florida Rock next door as part of its zoning agreements for its new development, and funding has also come from the USDOT HQ Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) fund. (Someday the area next to Teague on the Florida Rock site will be a large public plaza that will in effect expand the size of the park considerably. And eventually there is supposed to be a floating bridge connecting Teague's boardwalk with the Park at the Yards, though there's no timeline on that.)
Alas, I was unable to be at the event today, so no photos. But here's the press release from the mayor's office. And you can check out my Teague page to see before-and-after photos, like the ones above.
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More posts: Teague Park, zoning

Casa Degli Angeli Denied Zoning Change
Nov 19, 2009 5:14 PM
The long-vacant apartment building on the northwest corner of Third and L that was resurrected earlier this year as "Casa degli Angeli," a nautical-themed short-term rental operation, lost its bid last week to become a bed and breakfast, when the Board of Zoning Adjustment was forced to deny the operator's request for a variance. As spelled out in the Office of Planning's report on the case, the Casa would not be meeting the standards for an "accessory use" because the building's owner would not be living there, plus the plan to rent out seven bedrooms (making it more of an inn than a B&B), would run counter to the intent of the zoning regulations that allow only limited non-residential uses in residential zones.
The four BZA board members were apologetic, clearly feeling that the idea to run the building as a B&B was at heart a good one, but that the city's regulations clearly precluded them from approving the request. (Here's the video of the hearing; I used the nifty "TinyClip" option to link to just this portion of what was otherwise a very long hearing.)
Casa's propietor, "Captain Apollo," tells me that he intends to continue to run the building as a short-term 30-day rental building, and will still be attempting to turn it into a B&B at some point down the road.
Comments (10)
More posts: Casa Degli Angeli, meetings, zoning

Zoning Commission Okays Florida Rock Time Extension
Nov 16, 2009 12:33 PM
Catching up from last week.... On Monday (Nov. 9), the Zoning Commission voted 5-0 to approve Florida Rock Properties' request for a two-year time extension on the 2008 zoning order for its RiverFront project at First and Potomac, across from Nationals Park. Citing the current Economic Difficulties, the developers requested the extension so that their deadline for securing building permits for the project's first phase (an office building on the east side of the site, near Diamond Teague Park) is now mid-2012, with a construction start date deadline of mid-2013. My RiverFront page gives all sorts of additional details on the project, if you need a refresher.
The Office of Planning supported the extension request (you can read their report for details), and zoning commissioners Hood and Turnbull both called the project a "good effort," mentioning how much work by the developers, the architect (Davis Buckley) and the commission had gone into the zoning order. (Those of you who haven't been around quite so long may not be aware that Florida Rock first began its long and winding road through the DC zoning process in the late 1990s.) This extension was supported by ANC 6D at its October meeting.
If you want to see the zoning hearing, you can go to the Office of Zoning's wonderful fabulous incredible Video on Demand section, where not only can you pick the meeting you wish to see but can then use their index to skip to the portion of the meeting you're interested in. I may never watch an entire public meeting live ever again!
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More posts: Florida Rock, meetings, zoning

ANC 6D Doings (Short Version: Three Thumbs Up)
Oct 19, 2009 8:56 PM
While my dinner is in the oven, here's the speediest of reports from tonight's ANC 6D meeting:
* The ANC voted 7-0 on a resolution supporting the city council's proposed marriage equality act.
* They voted 5-2 to support Florida Rock Properties' pending request in front of the Zoning Commission to extend the deadline for the first building permit application at RiverFront two years, to June, 2012, which would push the deadline for the start of first-phase construction to 2013. (Read this entry for more details, and see my project page for specifics on the development itself.) It's expected that this will be taken up at the November 9th ZC public meeting.
David Briggs of Holland and Knight, representing FRP, said that while the developer has worked "assiduously and tenaciously" since last year to find either equity or construction funding, the notion of starting the first-phase office building within the current zoning timeline is "just not viable." FRP does say, though, that they will be continuing to search for funding if they receive the extension. In the meantime, FRP made its required $800,000 payment to the city last fall to help defray the costs of Diamond Teague Park next door; I asked if there were any possibility that perhaps the land on the very east end of the Florida Rock site, which will eventually be a public plaza that abuts Teague Park, might be cleared and opened as public space before the construction begins on the office building--they're "looking at options."
* The commissioners also voted 7-0 to support the zoning special exception request by the operator of the six-unit "Casa degli Angeli" at Third and L, which is currently operating as a month-to-month room rental and which is looking for a zoning change to become a full-fledged bed and breakfast. The Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing is scheduled for Nov. 17.

RiverFront/Florida Rock Seeking Time Extension From Zoning Commission; More Zoning, CSX, CapitalSpace
Oct 18, 2009 2:49 PM
The agenda for Monday's ANC 6D meeting has been posted, with two Near Southeast items listed. The first is that the developers of the RiverFront (aka Florida Rock) site between the Anacostia and the ballpark are apparently filing for a time extension on their zoning PUD ("planned unit development," for those of you mercifully unaware). When the zoning approval for this project finally came through in 2008 (after years of slogging through the process), the developers were given until May of 2010 to apply for building permits for the first phase of the project (an office building on the east end of the site, near Diamond Teague Park), with construction then required to start by May 2011. So, although it was recently reported that Florida Rock Properties is looking for an equity partner to help finance the development of the site, they clearly believe that it will be tough for them to meet the zoning order timeline.
Timeline extensions are increasingly common cases being heard by the Zoning Commission these days, as financing for commercial real estate development continues to be extremely difficult to procure; the Capper redevelopment received one earlier this year. I don't yet see a hearing date for FRP's extension request on the zoning calendar.
In other tidbits:
* Also on the 6D agenda is the "Casa degli Angeli" at Third and L, which has a Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing scheduled for Nov. 17. The six-unit building, which is currently operating as a month-to-month room rental, is looking for a zoning change to become a full-fledged bed and breakfast.
* The latest issue of Voice of the Hill has more detail on the CSX plans to expand the Virginia Avenue tunnel; you can read the documents that CSX submitted to the National Capital Regional Transportation Planning Board for some additional details. Quoting the Voice: "CSX spokesperson Bob Sullivan said the project would take between two-and-a-half and three years, while a District Department of Transportation Department official made a slightly lower estimate. 'We anticipate that there would be some traffic impacts during the course of this project, which is probably going to last a couple of years,' said agency spokesperson John Lisle.'" Neighbors in the area are concerned: ANC 6B will be getting a briefing about the plans at its Nov. 10 meeting.
* On Oct. 27, there's a public meeting about the CapitalSpace plan, "the first comprehensive analysis of Washington's parks and open space in almost 40 years," which is attempting to get the various federal and local agencies that run the many parks in the city more closely coordinated, along with other plans to improve the parks themselves. The meeting is at the MLK Library from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

Zoning Commission Approves Trapeze School at the Yards; A Revised Tentative Phase I Timeline
Sep 21, 2009 7:47 PM
In a blissfully short 26-minute hearing, the city's Zoning Commission approved tonight the series of amendment requests to allow the Trapeze School New York to set up shop on Parcel O at the Yards, on the southeast corner of Fourth and Tingey.
The commissioners seemed satisfied with the information they had in the Office of Planning report and the submissions from Forest City and the Trapeze School, and asked few questions (Chairman Hood was clearly trying to move things along). This is a temporary approval, allowing the Trapeze School to be at the Yards for five years, or longer if a Special Exception is later granted. The text amendments also waved the on-site parking requirement for the school, with new commissioner Konrad Schlater saying he was "comfortable" with it because parking "is definitely overbuilt" in the area around the ballpark. ANC 6D had voted 7-0 in support of the case as well. It's now expected that the National Capital Planning Commission will address the Trapeze School at its Oct. 1 meeting.
No date for the opening of the school in its new home was mentioned, though it was explained that Forest City was trying to expedite the process since the school is having to vacate its home at the old convention center site. There will still be building permits to be filed for and approved before the tent can be lifted.
Toward the end of the hearing, Ramsey Meiser of Forest City gave a bit of an update on the other projects in the first phase of the Yards. Here's the latest:
* They are continuing to work with the city's Housing Finance Agency to get the money together to (re)start on the Foundry Lofts, with a hoped-for completion date of late 2010 or early 2011.
* The Boilermaker Shop could open in 2011; this dovetails with what a commenter in this thread reported hearing over the weekend, although earlier today Forest City would not officially confirm for me any scheduled start date for the project, only that some retail tenants have been signed, but that Forest City can't name them publicly just yet. (Maybe in October.)
* The first retail in the Park at the Yards (in the old Lumber Shed building) could open in 2012; the park itself is expected to open next summer.
* "Parcel D", on the southeast corner of Fourth and M, is the site of the expected Harris Teeter (though Meiser didn't name them, saying only "a grocery store," since neither Forest City nor Harris Teeter have confirmed this rumor yet), and is now apparently going to be a residential building instead of office, which had been hinted at recently. It's expected delivery date is currently 2013.
* The Factory 202 lofts building at Fifth and M is not expected before 2014.
And all that's just the first phase! Meiser also said that Parcel N, the site of a surface parking lot on the southwest corner of Fourth and Tingey, would probably be the first project of Phase 2. But no date on that yet.
If you want to watch the hearing, visit DCOZ's On Demand Video page.

Reminder: Zoning Hearing on Yards/Trapeze School
Sep 18, 2009 10:55 AM
A reminder that on Monday (Sept. 21) the Zoning Commission will be hearing a request from Forest City for a text amendment to the Southeast Federal Center Overlay that would "authorize a Trapeze School and Aerial Performing Arts Center in the SEFC/R-5-E Zone District at the Yards." This is the Trapeze School New York, which left Baltimore's Inner Harbor earlier this year and is currently flying through the air on the old DC Convention Center site at Ninth and H, NW. The school would take up residence on the lot on the southeast corner of Fourth and Tingey ("Parcel O"), which someday will be a residential building but is not expected to be developed anytime soon. It's also just north of the site of the Park at the Yards, which is scheduled to open next year.
Here's the report prepared by the Office of Planning in advance of Monday's hearing, in which they recommend approval of the four text amendments being sought. They're asking for the trapeze school to be allowed for five years (or longer, via a special expection), and to dispense with the off-street parking requirement, since there's already so much surface parking at the Yards. There's also some technical needs to actually create tax parcel lots on the site to allow for the issuance of building permits.
The hearing is at 6:30 pm at 441 4th St., NW (Suite 220 South), or you can watch the live feed or wait for the video on demand (it gives me a smile just to type that--I've waited for video on demand for zoning hearings for so long!)

Upcoming Zoning Hearings (Trapeze School, B & B)
Jul 24, 2009 8:57 PM
What could be more interesting late on a Friday evening than news of two upcoming zoning hearings?
* On Sept. 21 the Zoning Commission will be having its hearing on the necessary amendments to the Southeast Federal Center Overlay to allow the trapeze school to set up shop on Parcel O on the southeast corner of Fourth and Tingey. You can read the Office of Planning's setdown report for more information on what's being requested.
* On Nov. 17 the Board of Zoning Adjustment will consider a special exception to allow the naval-themed Casa degli Angeli at Third and L to operate as a six-room bed and breakfast (right now it's renting rooms month-to-month).
Both of these have been entered on my calendar--don't forget that you can easily add events from my calendar to yours if you're using Google Calendar, and you can also subscribe to its RSS feed to be notified automatically.

Details on the Trapeze School at the Yards
Jul 13, 2009 7:02 PM
I've gotten out of practice at this zoning stuff, so I didn't make clear that tonight's Zoning Commission hearing action with regards to moving the Trapeze School New York to the southeast corner of Fourth and Tingey at the Yards was going to merely be a vote for "set down," meaning that the commissioners would vote on whether the case can move forward to a full hearing. And, with no discussion or objection, the ZC did just that, 3-0-2 (commissioners May and Turnbull weren't present).
However, all is not lost, because as part of tonight's action, the Office of Planning prepared its set down report on the case, which has more detail for those who might be interested. Section IV is probably what most people want to know, so I'll just copy and paste (hey, it's summer, and I'm lazy):
"The applicant requests a text amendment that would allow the location of a trapeze school and aerial performing arts center, in the SEFC/R-5-E portion of the site, as a matter of right use for a period of five years. Additionally, the Zoning Commission would be able to extend the use beyond this time frame by special exception.
"The amendment would allow the relocation of an existing trapeze school, which currently operates on the site of the former D.C. Convention Center at 9th and H Streets, N.W, to Parcel O of the SEFC site. The trapeze school operates in this location on a temporary basis as well, and must vacate the premises by September 2009. The amendment is required to allow such a use within a residential district and would specifically limit the commercial use allowed to a trapeze school, to be permitted on a temporary basis.
"The proposed facility would be comprised of an indoor trapeze rig located within a tent structure as well as an outdoor flying trapeze rig. The tent is proposed to have a footprint of 50' by 80', which would be surrounded by walkways. The outdoor rig could be easily moved to different locations on the site and would be surrounded by a temporary fence. The proposed entrance to the trapeze facility would be on 4th Street, SE. The maximum height of the tent and outdoor rig would be 36' and 32' feet, respectively. The trapeze school would offer a variety of classes, for groups and individuals, as well as entertainment.
"Proposed activities include flying trapeze classes, trampoline classes, and team building corporate workshops. Performances and shows would also be held by participants of the intensive flying trapeze class as well as staff members. As parking for teachers, students, and participants is proposed to be provided adjacent to the site, OP recommends that the text amendment also include language to allow the required parking to be located off site (on Parcel N of the SEFC site), directly across 4th Street, SE."

Yards Requests Zoning Change for Trapeze School
Jul 10, 2009 2:44 PM
On Monday (July 13) the Zoning Commission will be hearing a request from Forest City for a text amendment to the Southeast Federal Center Overlay that would "authorize a Trapeze School and Aerial Performing Arts Center in the SEFC/R-5-E Zone District at the Yards." This is the Trapeze School New York, which left Baltimore's Inner Harbor earlier this year and is currently flying through the air on the old DC Convention Center site at Ninth and H, NW. The school would take up residence on the lot on the southeast corner of Fourth and Tingey ("Parcel O"), which someday will be a residential building but is not expected to be developed anytime soon. It's also just north of the site of the Park at the Yards, which is scheduled to open next year.

Skyline Gets Hip; Marine Letter on Capper Zoning
Jun 15, 2009 8:39 AM
* This is about 50 feet off-topic, but Hank Stuever wrote a neat piece in today's Post Style section about the Capitol Skyline Hotel at South Capitol and I, SW, and the revitalization it's undergoing, including the creation of a series of weekend events this summer, such as Spike Mendelsohn grilling burgers poolside on Sundays. If you look at the article online and see the "This Story" box of links, there's one for "Video: Capitol Skyline Pool, 1969", which just happens to be a brief clip of my family swimming there (I'm the little fireplug just learning to swim). It's hard to see in this version, but at about the 24-second mark, when my dad is about to spring off the diving board, you can briefly see the "Esso" sign in the background that marks where the gas station just to the south of the hotel operated for so many years....
* Last week I wrote about the approval by both the NCPC and the Zoning Commission of the Capper zoning changes, and mentioned that the letter from the Marines that indicated the Corps' continued objections to the plans for apartments and an office building on the old Capper Seniors site at Seventh and M, was not included with other materials about the case. I now have the letter, which says in part:
"The Marine Corps [Anti-terrorism/Force Protection] issues are much greater in scope than those of the Navy. Because of our issues are more complex, considerable analysis and study is required to develop a solution that is acceptable, to the Marine Corps, the Developer, the Housing Authority and the District Planners. This detailed study must also be conducted in context of the larger community of stakeholders and historic integrity of the Marine Barracks as an institution. The Marine Corps has implemented a master planning effort to research and develop broad and unique solutions to these issues at hand." And: "The Marine Corps requires additional time to carry out our study and to develop acceptable solutions. Without adequate time to address these issues, including the possible need for alternatives on [the old Capper Seniors site], the Marine Barracks Mission and full function of that Institution could be jeopardized."
The Marines requested that the zoning action be tabled until adequate time was given to address their issues, but both the NCPC and the Zoning Commission gave the office and apartment plans their final approval anyway, with the record including the agreement between the developer and the Navy to address security concerns.
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More posts: Barracks, South Capitol St., zoning

Final Approval for Capper Zoning Changes; More Info on Security Requirements at 7th and M
Jun 9, 2009 3:34 PM
Last night the Zoning Commission voted 3-0-2 to give final approval to the Capper zoning requests that have been wandering through the system for nearly a year. The record was reopened to add correspondence between the developer (Capper-Carrollsburg Ventures LLC, which includes the DC Housing Authority), the Marines, and the Navy Yard in reference to security concerns both service branches have about 90-foot buildings being constructed on the site of the old Capper Seniors building at Seventh and M. (Read more about the concerns here.)
The National Capital Planning Commission documents I linked to last week included letters sent by the Marines and the Navy in early April setting out their objections; the NCPC has now posted new letters from the Navy and also Holland and Knight (representing the developers), laying out the wording of the agreement between the parties to install (at the services' expense) surveillance cameras on the top of both the new office building that faces the Navy Yard and the new apartment building that faces the Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters, and that the developer will provide to the Navy Yard a list of tenants on the fourth through eighth floors of the office building, though "this provision shall not be deemed to grant the Navy any right to approve or disapprove of any tenants in the office building." There's also a requirement to notify the Navy and Marines about any events to be held on the roof decks of the buildings, but "for informational purposes only," without requiring any type of approval. With the Navy agreeing to the wording of this agreement, its objection to the zoning case was withdrawn.
I'll note that there's also reference in these letters to a June 3 letter from the Marines that is not included in the document packet, which seems to indicate that the Marines did not agree to the wording despite the developer's having believed that there had been an agreement. Quoting (see page 9): "In fact, nothing in the Marines' June 3rd letter indicates why the Applicant's proposed conditions are unacceptable, or what remaining concerns the Marines have." There's then this sentence, which seems to be hinting at plans by the Marines for some new development: "The Marines, beyond the scope of the proposed modifications which are the subject of this pending application, have requested a delay to accommodate their entirely new planning initiative." And what would this new planning initiative be? I'm hearing murmurs that the Marines may be looking for more land for more barracks, though I'm not able to confirm that.
In any event, the developer laid out a list of reasons that this zoning approval should not be delayed, and both the NCPC (last week) and the Zoning Commission (last night) gave their approvals for the zoning changes in spite of whatever objections the Marines were putting forth.
There wasn't much discussion of all of this at the Zoning Commission's meeting, but I need an excuse to link to the Video on Demand section of the DCOZ web site, which apparently has been around for months but which I only noticed last night. So, if you want to watch this or any ZC/BZA public meeting going back to November of 2008, they're now there for the taking. (And it's also nice to see how quickly last night's video was posted.)
Now, with these Capper zoning changes approved, the next milestone to watch for will be when the Housing Authority can find financing for another PILOT bond offering to rebuild the infrastructure on the west side of the Capper footprint (including around Canal Park), as well as the mitigation and demolition of the trash transfer station at New Jersey and K. That PILOT financing will also fund the Community Center that has been the subject of much contentious back-and-forth. Are the credit markets unfrozen enough to get this PILOT off the ground? We shall see....

Video of Obama at Five Guys, Ward 6 Family Day, and Other Tidbits
Jun 3, 2009 10:19 PM
* Admit it: you know you want to see it--here's NBC's coverage of the Obama visit to Five Guys, from Tuesday night's "Inside the Obama White House" special. (Click on "Part 5", "Out to Lunch with Obama.") With a bunch of brief glimpses of the Little Red Building!
* The Third Annual Ward 6 Family Day is happening on June 20, from 11 am to 3 pm at the Rosedale Rec Center in Northeast. Tommy Wells's web site says activities will include "Capitol Hill Bikes free bike safety inspections and adjustments, celebrity kickball game, Washington Humane Society animal adoption and training, basketball games, face painting, moon bounce, corn hole tournament, horseshoes and live music. In addition, the pool will be open for the summer."
* The Nationals are having their first Ladies Night and Homerun Happy Hour of 2009, Thursday night (June 4). Free food (Hard Times) and beverages, and "shopping, dancing, massages and manicures with participating vendors." There'll even be a mechanical bull. Tickets are $30, and include a seat in sections 101-104.
* The Board of Zoning Adjustment has approved Donohoe's requested extension on the special exception it received back in 2007 for its planned office building at 1111 New Jersey Avenue, which would have expired at the end of this year. I didn't watch the hearing, so I don't know how long the extension is good for.
* WBJ and City Paper have coverage of the naming of Valerie Santos Young as the new Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
* The May issue of the Waterfront Watch newsletter on doings around the Anacostia River is now available.
* The June Hill Rag has a summary of May's ANC 6D meeting, where Capitol Riverfront BID executive director Michael Stevens gave a primer on the BID's operations and plans.
* Speaking of the BID, they've redesigned their web site.

Navy/Marines Concerned About Buildings at 7th and M
Jun 3, 2009 1:02 PM
Contained in the materials for Thursday's meeting of the National Capital Planning Commission is a document that sheds some light on something I've always wondered about--exactly how does the Navy Yard feel about the planned 90-foot-tall office building right across the street at 600 M, on the site of the old Capper Seniors building? And, concurrently, how do the Marines feel about the planned apartments directly between this new 600 M building and the Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters on L Street?
The NCPC board is reviewing the Zoning Commission's approval of the slew of Capper zoning changes that I wrote so much about earlier this year, some of which focus on these two new buildings on the old Capper Seniors site. The Executive Director's recommendation document (which provides some good background if you haven't been following along), refers to letters included in the document to the Zoning Commission from both the Navy and Marines stating that the new buildings on what's known as Square 882 "may pose a safety and security threat to the military personnel at both the Navy Yard and the Marine Barracks and that the there will be a visual impact on the Navy Yard Historic District."
Apparently the Navy, Marines, the DC Housing Authority, and Forest City (developers of 600 M) have tentatively agreed to a few steps to mitigate these concerns: the placement of surveillance cameras on the roofs of the proposed buildings, procedures for notifying the Navy and Marines when the roofs are to be accessed, review by the Marines and Navy Yard of tenants wishing to occupy the third through eighth floors of the 600 M office building, and a "window design to enhance security for Navy and Marines." (On this last point, the document says that "the Navy and Marines would request that the windows facing their sites not be operational," but I wonder how tenants in the proposed apartment building along L Street would feel if none of their windows could ever be opened.) The document says that memorandums of understanding between the housing authority and the Navy and the Marines should be able to be completed within the next few weeks.
Additionally, in its letter to the Zoning Commission, the Navy Yard mentions its belief that "buildings exceeding the currently permitted fifty (50) foot height restrictions located across M Street from the Navy Yard Historic District will negatively impact the view shed from the Navy Yard" and "could potentially compromise the integrity of the Washington Navy Yard Historic District, including the Latrobe Gate." It might be worth noting here that the old Capper Seniors building, built in the 1950s and demolished in 2007, was nine stories high, and so an uninterrupted "view shed" is not something that the Navy Yard has always enjoyed since its arrival in the neighborhood back in 1799.
The NCPC's reason for reviewing Zoning Commission cases in DC is to determine whether the proposed actions would have an "adverse effect" on federal interests, and, in this case, the NCPC staff is advising their commission to vote to advise the Zoning Commission that these Capper cases do indeed meet that "adverse effect" standard. Also, the NCPC staff is recommending that the Zoning Commission delay their final action on this case (scheduled for Monday, June 8) to allow the agreement described above to be finalized.

Slowly Returning to Full-Strength Blogging
May 4, 2009 9:54 PM
I know people have noticed that JDLand's coverage (and quality) has taken a nosedive in 2009--some of it is because of life at My Real Job is particularly hectic in this era of big change (and plummeting revenue), but I can also now finally reveal that my free time for the past few months has been swallowed up by my planning and executing a huge 100-guest surprise party for my mother, which finally went off without a hitch on Sunday morning. With that wrapped up, I will now try to remember exactly how I used to do things here. I'll start tentatively:
* Despite a few readers being told that the Bullpen beer garden at Half and N would open on May 1, it hasn't yet opened. I haven't heard any new date.
* From Friday's WashBizJournal: "Dozens of high-profile projects are facing liens from hard-pressed contractors. In just one week of March, Forest City Washington was slapped with a $191,460 lien for work done at its Yards project near the baseball stadium, while Faison Enterprises Inc. and Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds LLC got hit with a $118,674 lien at the nearby Onyx Apartments."
* The Board of Zoning Adjustment calendar for June indicates that Donohoe has filed for a time extension on the special exception it received back in 2007 for its planned office building at 1111 New Jersey Avenue. The original order expires in December unless building permit applications are filed before then; Donohoe's request for an extension would appear to indicate that that won't be happening this year.
* The National Capital Planning Commission has its May meeting on Thursday, and one of the items up for approval is a $63 million planned modernization and 50,000-sq-ft expansion of building W-200 at 11th and N at the Navy Yard. This NCPC document gives a wealth of information about the plans for W-200, but also includes this interesting tidbit:
"[S]taff strongly recommends that the Commission require the Navy undertake and coordinate with NCPC development of an updated WNY master plan, including a transportation management plan that demonstrate how the WNY parking ratio meets NCPC's Comprehensive Plan goals, and submit that plan to the Commission prior to submitting any new project." The Navy Yard's last official master plan update was in the 1990s.
* A postcard that was delivered to our house this morning listed 309 K St. SE (one of the remaining old townhouses) as being scheduled to be sold at a foreclosure auction this month; however, the auctioner's web site says the property has been removed from the auction. Starting bid was going to be at $50,000.
* Speaking of that block of existing homes, someone has finally begun to renovate the old multi-unit building at Third and L that has been vacant for as long as I've been watching the neighborhood. A local resident has leased it and is turning it into Casa degli Angeli, a nautical-themed "month-to-month" bed and breakfast.

Zoning Commission Approves Slightly Shorter Community Center Delay
Apr 28, 2009 2:20 PM
On Monday night, a surprisingly contentious Zoning Commission meeting resulted in the three voting members approving a delay in the deadline for the Housing Authority to file for building permits for the proposed Capper Community Center; however, after some heated exchanges between commissioners, it was decided to vote not for the DCHA's requested deadline of Jan. 1, 2011, but instead a shorter deadline of July 1, 2010.
Commissioner May argued that DCHA had not made a compelling case for why the center isn't going forward, and that the discussion at the March hearing (transcript here, my description here, and a letter from ANC 6D about it all here) on the extension "resonated" with him, and he recalled that the community center was one of the prime benefits for residents when the original Capper PUD was approved. Jeffries, as frustrated and blunt as I've seen him (probably because his term is about to end), said repeatedly that "the world is a different place now," that the developers needed to be given some flexibility to get things done, and that it was not the place of the commission to "be punitive" given the current economic conidtions. Chairman Hood attempted to find middle ground between the two (which begat Jeffries curtly telling Hood "this is a time when you're going to have to take a side"), although in the end all three voted for the July 2010 deadline.
Representatives of the Housing Authority said they'd be trying their best to meet that deadline, but with the difficulties of finding funding for the project, they might very well be returning to request an extension of that July 2010 deadline.
The other requests, including an overall extension of the PUD deadline to Dec. 31, 2013 and a bunch of other items I can't bring myself to write about again, were approved with far less sturm und drang.
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