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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Jan 22, 2008
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With thanks to a diligent web searcher who taught me to check from now on, we've got the first satellite images I've seen of Nationals Park under construction. They look to be from Fall 2006, maybe early October, as best as I can tell from the ballpark progress as well as the cleared lots at 100 M/Onyx and 70/100 I. Capitol Hill Tower and Capper Seniors #1 are finished, DOT is getting there, and 20 M and 400 M are progressing.
Buried deep here at JDLand is my From Above page, comparing Near Southeast satellite photos from 1988, 2002, 2004, and 2005, and I've now added this new 2006 shot. And I also took the new one and highlighted what's already changed from when it was taken, only 16 months ago.
And speaking of the ballpark, Wednesday's Post has a piece about the ballpark's design as it speeds toward completion.
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I've just gotten back from the first of the two town halls on Tommy Wells's Performance Parking plan to address on-street parking near the stadium, and it seemed to go pretty well. (I did not see any pitchforks or vats of boiling oil.) I'm not going to summarize the plan again, so please read the new FAQ on Tommy's web site as well as the bill itself and my post on it back in December to get up to speed. The audience comments were mainly to take issue with portions of the proposal (or to pose questions that indicated they had not digested much of the information Tommy and his staffer Neha Bhatt had just spent 30 minutes presenting), but no one rose to say the entire plan was bad.
As the meeting's scheduled ending time drew near, the topic was finally brought up of how on-street parking will be handled on Opening Day and until Tommy's pilot can be enacted. It appears that DDOT is going to be able to cobble together an initial version of the eventual plan; here are my notes on how they expect it to work, keeping in mind that this was not an official presentation of the plans and that the map displayed was hard to read (so don't take any of my boundaries or descriptions as gospel):
* New multispace meter kiosks will be installed to control and price parking on streets from Second Street, SE, over across South Capitol to Second Street, SW, north of M (I, K, and L streets), including New Jersey Avenue, and on the two frontage streets next to the freeway (I Street and Virginia Avenue). These will be "ballpark-area retail streets" as described in the plan, where on gamedays the meters will allow parking for four hours, but at a rate of $4 or $5 an hour. (There will also be "retail street" multispace meters installed on Pennsylvania Avenue, at Eastern Market, and along Eighth Street, but I'm concentrating here on Near Southeast boundaries.)
* New multispace meters will be installed on M Street SE/SW, First Street SE, and Potomac Avenue south of the ballpark, but no gametime parking will be allowed on those streets. These will allow parking for two hours at all other times.
* On pretty much any other street in Near Southeast I didn't mention above, and on most Southwest streets other than Buzzards Point and at the waterfront, the "residential" profile will be implemented, but because there won't be enough multispace meters yet, these streets will be controlled by signage and by supposedly very aggressive enforcement by DPW (which was met with a fair amount of derisive laughter). On these residential streets, Zone 6 stickered vehicles can park without restriction on either side of the street. However, non-Zone 6 vehicles must only park on one side of the street (marked with signs until the meters arrive), and can only park for two hours. Fines are expected to be raised to perhaps the $50 level for parking longer than two hours, and it's possible that non-Zone 6 vehicles parked on the residential-only side of the street will get towed. Eventually, when the meters arrive, parking will cost some nominal amount on these streets.
The questions that still are being worked on include how parking will be handled for guests of residents, and how church parking will be handled. Apparently some in the city government are wanting to not have any sort of enforcement on Sundays, but that did not go over well with the crowd and Tommy seemed to indicate a preference for extending the parking plan to Sundays and working with the churches on extra guest passes. There was also concern that the plan in its current state does not include Maine Avenue and Water Street, which could be inundated with stadium-goers if the parking there isn't regulated. Also not yet determined is when to extend the residential parking hours to in the evening, since some streets only have parking restrictions now until 6:30 pm--should it be extended to 8 pm, or 10 pm, both of which would thwart stadium-goers from trying to use those spaces?
I'm sure there will be more written about this in the coming days by other media outlets, but at least the first real news of how curbside parking will be handled on Opening Day has seeped out. Wednesday's Town Hall, at Brent Elementary School at 301 North Carolina Ave., SE, will probably focus less on stadium-area parking and more on Pennsylvania Avenue/Eastern Market/Eighth Street.
Maps and specifics will be coming from Tommy's office within a few weeks, after boundaries have been decided on.
There's also continuing concern about how Pope Day will work on April 17, since it's a weekday/workday and most parking lots will be filled with commuters. I have come up with a brilliant solution that I'm attempting to float at all levels of the DC government, so please pass it on: In DC, April 16 is now a city government holiday known as Emancipation Day. My simple solution is to move Emancipation Day one day forward, to April 17, to at least get non-essential city workers off the streets and out of the subway on that day while we're overrun with Benedict fans.
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Madison Marquette, the new owners of the Blue Castle at 770 M Street, are dipping their toes into social networking by creating a Facebook page where people can comment on ideas and plans for the old trolley barn's redevelopment. Also, here's the press release from last week on the acquisition. Madison Marquette is also one of the finalists in the Poplar Point redevelopment sweepstakes.
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The buildings along Potomac Avenue between Eighth and Ninth streets--the white corner building that houses Quizno's (810 Potomac) and the boarded-up brown brick apartment building next door at Ninth and Potomac--are now up for sale (asking price not listed). The current owners, ICP Partners, purchased the properties in February 2006 for $9 million; they're currently assessed at around $6.5 million. These owners are part of the group that has been trying to develop 801 Virginia Avenue since 2005--and I imagine it's a sign of what might be happening with that project that the splashy web site that they launched back in August is now gone. Perhaps someone with better access to commercial property listings than I have might want to peek and see if the 801 Virginia lot (0929 0007) is up for sale as well?
(I should also note that the Dogma lot on the *other* end of the block from the Admiral, at 821 Virginia, is apparently for sale, for $4 million. Dogma's lease runs through 2014.)
UPDATE: Thanks to reader A. for letting me know that the 801 Virginia lot is indeed listed for sale, for $4.5 million.

Well, at least the "on-time" portion of the mantra still holds. From the Examiner: "The costs of acquiring land needed to build the Washington Nationals ballpark have exceeded original estimates by $50 million, busting the publicly financed stadium's $631 million budget with more increases yet to come, documents show. Thanks almost entirely to land acquisition, the tab for the stadium is now pegged at $674 million, an increase of $43.2 million over the original budget, according to a Jan. 16 report provided to the D.C. Council by the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission." Except that: "Land acquisition was not included in the stadium's $611 million price cap, meaning the sports commission can bridge the budget gap with excess revenues from the ballpark fund -- composed mainly of stadium sales taxes and a 1 percent tax on D.C. businesses. It also means that while the project is technically over budget, it has not breached the statutory cap."
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