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Catching Up with Lower 8th Street: Emblem Condos, La Mediterra
Jan 8, 2018 2:29 PM
With my trip to the disabled list delayed thanks to a very-last-minute insurance snafu, I decided on Sunday to finally limp over to 8th Street for the first time in forever to see what has sprouted.
* EMBLEM: There's one obvious new sprout on lower 8th, and that is the nearly-topped-out construction of a new condo building on the southeast corner of 8th and Virginia. It's officially known as the Emblem at Barracks Row, a 20-unit building being built and run by Bozzuto. Every unit has a unique layout, according to the web site, and there will be six penthouse units, most with outdoor terraces. (And since it's only four stories tall, it's a sticks-and-bricks building, which we don't see many of in these parts.) There will also be 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Sales on the units should begin this year. (I do not know the price ranges.) A rendering of the finished product can be peeked at here.
* LA MEDITERRA: A new restaurant has opened south of L, next door to Las Placitas in the space once occupied by Ziaffat. It's La Mediterra Fusion Grill, serving kabobs, shwarma, and other Mediterranean offerings (and wings!), and it is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Here's a peek at the menu, if you have your x-ray specs handy.
* NAILS!: I think it's been there a few months, but Navy Nails and Spa is now in the ground floor of the gray building on the northeast corner of 8th and M.
* POTOMAC AVENUE DOINGS: Meanwhile, around the corner on Potomac Avenue between 8th and 9th, the long-vacant apartment building at 816 Potomac is now undergoing renovations to be a rental building with what now is targeted to be 19 units, if designs are approved. As for the empty lot next to that building at the corner of 9th and Potomac, the Board of Zoning Adjustment voted in December to approve plans for a four-story, 49-unit building at 818 Potomac, which would also be notable for plans to have a "parking elevator" garage that would allow 43 cars to be parked/stacked on one level. Both projects are being developed by the Murillo Malnati Group.
Comments (17)
More posts: 801va, 816potomac, 818potomac, 8th Street, mediterra

The Brig Opening Softly at 4 pm Friday, June 17
Jun 15, 2016 4:15 PM
Not sure what I can write beyond this:
The Brig is located on the northwest corner of 8th and L Streets, SE (1007 8th for your GPS). See my project page for photos and links to posts on the long and winding road to this milestone. And see you all there for a JDLand Happy Hour at some point in the relative near future.
UPDATE, 6/17: Yup.
Comments (15)

Wednesday Tidbits: Second Verse, Same as the First
May 25, 2016 10:55 AM
Not much to report these days, but instead of digging digging digging looking for teeny tiny stuff to pass along, the reaction of someone who's been doing this way too long is "Hey! Extended vacation!" But here's a few items:
* PARC RIVERSIDE PHASE 2: These are "studies", with materials and colors subject to change, but the architects for the second phase of Toll Brothers' Parc Riverside apartments at Half and K passed along to ANC 6D02 commissioner Stacy Cloyd some images of what the building could look like. (And now you see why when I mentioned them in another post recently I said that Phase 2 doesn't look very different from Phase 1.) The middle image, as seen from Half and I, shows the two Parc Riversideseseses as one long facade, albeit with slightly altered treatments. The other two are views from Half and L.
* REHAB CENTER PROPOSED ON LOWER 8TH: Capitol Hill Corner reports on a proposal to the Bureau of Prisons for a 300-bed resident rehabilitation center (aka "halfway house") to be located at 810 Potomac Ave., SE, across the street from both the Blue Castle and the historic Latrobe Gate to the Navy Yard. Council member Charles Allen and ANC 6B both have weighed in with strong opposition, listing all manner of reasons that this building at the corner of 8th and Potomac (and 8th and M, for that matter) "is not the right site," with 6B commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg quoted as saying, "This is an egregious thing to do to lower 8th, which is transitioning from being under-developed into a residential neighborhood." UPDATE: ANC 6D commissioner Meredith Fascett has posted on Facebook that she is opposing this as well, and says that MPD, Barracks Row Main Street, and the Capitol Riverfront BID are also in opposition.
* COFFEE WITH CHUCK SLIDES: If you want the latest update from the Virginia Avenue Tunnel, here's the slides from the May 18th neighborhood session. There's lots of photos of sections the new tunnel, including some that bloggers would probably be shot on sight for trying to get.
And, an addition a few hours later:
* AKRIDGE SELLING: WBJ says that Akridge is putting on the market its holdings along the east side of 1st Street between K and L, across from Velocity and the Parc Riverside and home until 2011 to the Market Deli and a slew of other now-gone buildings.
Comments (17)

The Brig Gearing Up for a Spring Opening. No, Really.
Mar 19, 2016 10:24 AM
Here's a good object lesson in reading the fabulous JDLand comment threads on a regular basis--because if you did, you would already know that on Friday, in the midst of the spirited discussion about the Bardo Big River liquor license, a comment appeared from the owner of the Brig, the long (long long) in-process beer garden at 8th and L Streets, SE:
"the brig is on track to open in 30-60 days.
"Pavers are going in as are the 40 taps.
"More info and probably a big story after JD reads this.
"Bring your well behaved dogs here too.
"1007 8th Street SE at the corner of 8th and L."
And lo and behold, as my pictures from mere minutes ago attest, pavers are indeed going in, and temporary signage has appeared, and a new iron fence (currently still behind the existing cyclone fence).
There is still work to be done on the inside of the building, and then certificates of occupancy and health department approval, so I wouldn't carve any date in stone just yet, but the homestretch does appear to be in view.
The road to this point began all the way back in late 2010 with plans for a combination restaurant/beer garden in a new building right on the corner. It spent most of 2011 in historic preservation review, then returned in 2013 with a simplified design that eventually was approved, and a building permit was issued in November 2014, with construction getting underway in early 2015. The work proceeded, shall we say, slowly, with the service building's exterior looking complete in November, but by then it was, well, winter.
When it does open, perhaps it will be a good spot for the next JDLand Happy Hour.
Comments (28)

Developer Planning 22-Unit Condo Building at 8th and Virginia
Nov 4, 2015 9:40 PM
Perhaps the third time will be the charm for the long-empty lot at 801 Virginia, as in recent weeks the bureaucratic wheels have been turning on a new plan to put 22 condos and 3,000 square feet of ground-floor retail in a four-story building on the southeast corner of 8th and Virginia.
Both Urban Turf and Capitol Hill Corner have reported on the plans by Northfield Development, which include 16 one-bedroom units, three studios, and three two-bedroom units, along with 11 ground-floor parking spaces tucked in behind the ground floor. Both the parking entrance and the resident entrance will be on L Street.
Developers apparently told a supportive ANC 6B that they anticipate breaking ground in March 2016, making it a busy time for that stretch of Virginia, which is currently closed for the Virginia Avenue Tunnel reconstruction.
In late October the Historic Preservation Review Board found the plans to be "generally compatible" with the Capitol Hill Historic District, though the developers are being asked to "refine the design so that it has more of the character of Capitol Hill, including a weightier base, an attention to details and materials, [...] and more substantial corners."
If one takes a long stroll through the JDLand archives, one can read about how the land was bought in the summer of 2005 (not a typo) for $2.5 million with plans for a mixed residential/office/retail building advertised in 2007 as "The Admiral." The former gas station seen here that stood on the site was demolished in early 2006 (#34 in the Demolished Buildings gallery), but the lot remained unbuilt. Then in the fall of 2008 it reappeared as a planned office building, which actually got BZA approval before also not moving forward. Then the land was purchased by Northfield in July, for what property records say is $1.825 million.
While for a few years the tunnel construction will be yet another hurdle (literally) to getting visitors at the main section of Barracks Row to cross under the freeway, the opening of Ziaafat Grill as well as the arrivals Any Minute Now of Las Placitas and the Brig at 8th and L plus potential plans by the National Community Church for the Blue Castle could perhaps be the first tugs southward that Lower Barracks Row has been looking for. We Shall See.
As for the condo lineup in the neighborhood, the list of potential projects is finally starting to grow, with PN Hoffman's 140-unit building at 4th and Tingey (Yards "Parcel O") looking to be the first out of the gate with construction expected to start next year. The Jair Lynch Companies have said that a portion of his project to fill in the Half Street Hole will be condos, and of course there's the possibility of a condo building on Square 767 in the Capper redevelopment footprint. And 10 Van Street is being "contemplated" as condos, as is the MRP building slated for the Navy Yard Metro station Chiller Plant site at Half and L. It will be interesting to see what comes to fruition.... (If you are keeping track at home, the last [well, only] condo building to be built in the neighborhood was Velocity, which opened in 2009. The co-ops at Capitol Hill Tower opened in 2006.)
Comments (0)
More posts: 801va, Development News, 8th Street

Thursday Tidbits: Las Placitas, Navy Yard Items, South Park
Oct 15, 2015 9:50 AM
* LOWER LAS PLACITAS: Capitol Hill Corner reports that the owners of Las Placitas told ANC 6B that they hope to open in their new location at 8th and L Streets SE on Nov. 1. The space will have 40 seats inside and another 38 along the building's north side.
* 'CAPERS: Excerpts from the one-woman play "'Capers," about how residents of Capper/Carrollsburg dealt with the housing project's demolition, is being performed tonight (Oct. 15) at 7 pm at 400 M St. SE, hosted by the Arthur Capper Carollsburg Community Village. You can also catch the entire play four nights next week at the Forum Theatre in Silver Spring.
* DSS BARRY CEREMONY: The Display Ship Barry isn't actually leaving just yet, but on Saturday Oct. 17 the Navy is holding a departure ceremony at 10 am inside the fences of the Navy Yard. See the announcement for details, including how to get into the base if you wish to attend. It was announced in February that the ship will be dismantled and removed from its home along the Anacostia Riverwalk.
* WATCH. BOX.: A "watch box" (guard shack) that stood as part of the sentry post at the Navy Yard's 8th Street entrance from 1853ish until 1905ish and was passed through by Abraham Lincoln just hours before his assassination has been restored and formally ribbon-cut on Oct. 8 after its return earlier this year from a 110-year stay at Indian Head. (Though unfortunately it's on display on a portion of the grounds that most of us will never see.)
* SODOSOPA: South Park took on gentrification last week, with the new neighborhood of SoDoSoPa, the Lofts at SoDoSoPa, and the Residences at the Lofts at SoDoSoPa. And there was this: "What this town needs is a Whole Foods. It will instantly validate us as a town that cares about stuff." (And yet you people still refuse to adopt my new name for this neighborhood, Near Capitol Ballpark River Yards, #NeCaBaRY.)
* BRIDGE BEFORE AND AFTER: DDOT's historic photos Tumblr recently included a shot from 1966 of the early construction of the downriver 11th Street Bridge span. And I realized I have a photo taken from a very similar location as the span was dismantled in 2012 and its offspring was built. (The piers remain in the water, though, as the potential underpinnings of the 11th Street Bridge Park.)

Surprise! Ziaafat Grill Now Open on Lower 8th Street
Sep 24, 2015 10:31 AM
Perhaps I haven't had my ear to the right parts of the ground, so it's a bit of a shock to see these photos, passed along by the official JDLand stringer this morning, announcing that Ziaafat Grill and Restaurant is now open for business at 1102 8th Street SE, in the old Levi's Port Cafe space and next door to the eventual new home for Las Placitas.
The menu shows a lineup of Indian food, with a buffet at all times as well as chicken tikka, kabobs, lamp chops, biryani, and karahi. And nan, of course.
I do not know the hours (not seeing a phone number to call on the menu posted in the window), so if anyone feels like heading over there for lunch and coming back with a report, you'll get a JDLand Gold Star. UPDATE: The BID says the hours are 10 am to 10 pm daily.
(I'll update here as I get more info, but didn't want this dish to be served cold, as it were. Also, the "Muy Pronto" sign in the Las Placitas window is pretty funny.)
If you never went to Levi's, you may not know that it's not exactly a spacious interior, so be prepared for more of a carryout option than fine sit-down dining.
Comments (3)
More posts: 8th Street, Restaurants/Nightlife, ziaafat

Las Placitas Now Moving to 1100 8th St. SE Instead
Sep 10, 2015 1:34 PM
It was back in July that the Barracks Row folks tweeted out that 8th Street mainstay restaurant Las Placitas would be moving to the old Quizno's space at 8th and M SE--but now it's being reported by PoPville that the new location will actually be the old Chicken Tortilla space at 1100 8th St., SE, on the southeast corner of 8th and L.
And if I had just walked on that side of the street during a long photo-taking excursion on Sunday that included multiple shots at 8th and L, I would have seen the signs in the window, but at least the high resolution of my camera can now confirm that the signs were/are there.
This spot is one block south of the freeway, and let's call it three blocks south of Las Placitas's existing home, which will eventually become expansion space for Matchbox.

Las Placitas Moving to Old Quizno's Space at 8th and M SE
Jul 29, 2015 10:54 PM
I cannot tell you a thing other than what is contained within this tweet from Barracks Row Main Street, so I will just repeat it:
"Very happy that Las Placitas is staying on Barracks Row! They'll move this fall to the old Quiznos space at 8th and M on lower 8th Street."
Las Placitas with its Mexican fare is of course one of the mainstays of 8th Street, but it had been announced a few weeks back that its lease was not being renewed, and that next-door neighbor Matchbox would be expanding into the space.
As for the new location, there hasn't been much going on since Quizno's left a few years back, and other restaurants in the 1100 block of 8th--Chicken Tortilla and Levi's Port Café--have been closed for a while as well.
This space, on the northeast corner of 8th and M, is immediately to the north of the Navy Yard's Latrobe Gate, and is also across the street from the Blue Castle, which was bought late last year by the National Community Church. Plus, one block to the north is where The Brig will open, someday. And this may be especially good news for the eventual tenants of the Lofts at Capitol Quarter, now under construction at 7th and L, who will have a sit-down restaurant a block away.

Progress Report: The Brig, Lower 8th Street's Beer Garden-to-Be
Feb 1, 2015 9:21 AM
On the northwest corner of 8th and L streets, SE, work is proceeding on the space that will become the beer garden now known as The Brig.
As we found out a few months ago, the design has been scaled back from a restaurant with a roof deck and patio to a more typical beer garden look--a big outdoor space with tables along with a "service" building that has no seating.
As you can see, there is definite progress on the service building, with a mid-year-ish opening looking to be doable.
The driveway at the west side of the lot will allow for food trucks to sell their wares.
The photos give a feel for the amount of patio acreage as well, and show that some noontime shade will come from a group of trees along L Street, though they could maybe benefit from a bit of a haircut (to, ahem, spruce the look up a little).
You can read my past posts on The Brig to catch up on the long and winding road to this point. And this group of before-and-afters shows the lot over the past not-quite-10-years. (And I can't decide if I need to add the corrugated tin shack visible behind the stockade fence in the early shots to my Demolished Buildings Gallery.)
Comments (1)

A Brief Q&A with Mark Batterson on Plans for the Blue Castle
Dec 3, 2014 12:25 PM
It was a blockbuster piece of news a few weeks ago that the National Community Church had decided to buy the Navy Yard Car Barn, aka the Blue Castle, at 770 M St. SE.
There hasn't been any official statement about the purchase from the church, but recently its lead pastor, Mark Batterson, agreed to reply by e-mail to a list of questions I sent his way about how this move came about and what the church may be envisioning for the landmark building. (Hyperlinks added by me.)
JD: How did the idea of buying the Blue Castle end up on your radar?
MB: Our team had been actively seeking ways to build out our Virginia Ave property, but we’ve been in a holding pattern because of the CSX project. When we heard that the Blue Castle was for sale, it made sense. We just had to make the math work. After quite extensive research with a development team, we came to the conclusion that it will be easier, faster, and perhaps less expensive, to build on top of the castle than it would be to build on Virginia Avenue.
We feel very fortunate to have gotten the contract. We know this is an incredibly iconic building that is interwoven into our city's history. We hope to steward it well.
JD: What are your plans for the building? i.e., Will it be purely uses for your church, or will the neighborhood see some sort of benefit as well? Also, do you have any plans to expand the building itself? How much additional square footage could that potentially include?
MB: We plan to develop the Blue Castle property by building what NCC needs on the roof deck of the existing structure. The key components of the build-out are a multi-purpose performance space with 1500-2000 seats, as well as a central location for our staff. The performance space will be designed for seven day a week use as a music venue and/or theater space. We will assess community needs to make sure the castle serves the best and highest use. We have some preliminary ideas that we think the community will be excited about, but we need to get a little further down the planning road. One thing we know for sure is that we’d like to build out another Ebenezer’s Coffeehouse, like our coffeehouse at 201 F Street, NE.
JD: What about the existing tenants?
MB: The existing tenants have a lease through July of 2018. We have not made any decisions beyond that, but our goal is for the space to serve community needs. Part of our process will be listening to the needs and goals of neighbors, as well as figuring out what best compliments NCC. We will explore a wide variety of uses, along with current uses; in determining it's future.
JD: What sort of timeline are you looking at for making it into what you are hoping it will be?
MB: Until the architectural designs are completed, we can't estimate an accurate timeline. But we have already initiated some conceptual design work. So the wheels are turning. National Community Church continues to outgrow our spaces, so we need it as soon as possible. We also know that there is a timeline and protocol to follow. This is an iconic building, and we want to make sure we get it right.
JD: How does this impact your previously announced plans for your land along Virginia Avenue?
MB: We view the Blue Castle as a better path forward in addressing spacing needs because development of the property is not directly impacted by CSX. The building is also three times larger than Virginia Avenue. This will help us move toward our 2020 vision of 20 expressions of NCC by 2020.
Ultimately, our goal is to master plan both the Blue Castle and Virginia Avenue. Because we own both properties, it positions us to have a more coordinated development.
JD: And, finally... What. About. the. Blue?
MB: Honestly, we hope that someday the Blue Castle will just be the Castle. Of course, we have to factor in the financial impact. And we'l obviously need to work with DCRA and HPRB to make a determination on any changes to the exterior of the Blue Castle.

Catching Up with The Brig: Your Basic Outdoor Beer Garden
Nov 7, 2014 11:06 AM
Monday's news that "The Brig", the long-planned beer garden at 8th and L, is moving forward caught certain observers flat-footed, especially certain observers who had lost the thread of the project's long road through the city's historic preservation review process, especially as it reappeared during 2013. (Though, to be fair, certain observers were in 2013 distracted by other circumstances.)
But in reading various documents more closely, the equally big news is that the project has gone from a restaurant with a roof deck and patio to a design that's more in keeping with the idea of a real "beer garden" -- the design that will now be built is of a big outdoor space with tables and room to stand around, plus a small "service" building that has no seating.
In 2011, site owners Mark Brody and Alan Gaunoux had planned what I described at the time as a "one-story building with a roof deck, in addition to the proposed ground-level summer garden. The look of the building (which is closer to 1 1/2 stories high) is very industrial, with large multi-paned windows and lots of "wood rainscreening" on the exterior and the roof deck."
The Historic Preservation Review Board's staff report in Feb. 2011 referred to the design's "somewhat chaotic and unfinished appearance," but the commissioners felt that it was on the right track and "was very close" to achieving acceptance. The next month, the owners returned with a "substantially simplified" design, moving to a brick veneer and other changes. This version appeared on the board's consent calendar, with final approval delegated to the board's staff.
And then we fast-forward to April of 2013, when Brody and Gaunoux returned to the HPRB with a scaled-back plan after apparently having "reevaluated their finances." The HPRB staff report described the new version as "largely an open-air 'use' of the existing lot, with a smaller service building rather than the indoor restaurant space previously proposed."
The new design included a one-story stucco building along the northern edge of the property, just for restrooms, storage, a small kitchen, and the bar opening up to the garden. There would be a roof-type structure projecting 10 feet southward to cover the bar area, and a paved area along the east edge of the site that could provide space for a food truck and trash collection. The bulk of the site would be "paved" with flagstone, and there would be a 6'6" "ornamental" metal fence surrounding the site, plus a central pole anchoring string lights that would provide illumination. All of which, according to the board's staff, would improve on the "visually disadvantageous" parking lot now on the site, as seen in the above photograph from March of 2014.
The service building became a focus, with the Historic Preservation Office having "discouraged the applicants from proposing trailers, shipping containers, or portable toilets." In June, a revision of the revised design updated the service building including signage and new fixed shutters on the building's blank wall along 8th Street, plus a "decorative parapet" and cornice along the roof line, similar to what is seen on several of the one-story buildings along Barracks Row.
On July 11, 2013, the board approved these concept plans, and by mid-August a building permit had been applied for, with a scope of work described as "a prepared food shop with an accessory fast food establishment (food truck) for 210 seats and 399 occupants." That permit took nearly 15 months and numerous corrections to get its approvals, with the permit finally being issued last week and the owner saying that he expects to break ground soon.
(And this huge summary doesn't even get into the Class CT Tavern liquor license fight back in 2011!)
So, all in all, it does sound like if you're one who likes your beer garden to be heavy on the "garden," this will be right up your alley. It also sounds like it's perhaps starting small, without too much of an investment, to see whether it catches on.
Comments (7)

National Community Church Buying the Blue Castle
Nov 4, 2014 3:31 PM
WBJ's Michael Neibauer, with his teeth as always deeply sunken into the news of Lower 8th Street, is reporting what I had heard within the past few days but could not confirm, that the National Community Church is buying the old Navy Yard Card Barn, aka the Blue Castle, at 770 M Street SE.
Madison Marquette, the current owners of the Blue Castle, put it on the market about a year ago, after purchasing it in 2007 from PREI, which had bought it in 2005.
WBJ reports that the sale price is expected to be between $25 million and $35 million, with the church benefitting from a $4.5 million donation to help fund the purchase, along with income from existing leases for the Castle's remaining tenants to help cover the $1.5 million-a-year mortgage.
As you may recall, NCC went on a Lower 8th buying spree back in 2010 and 2011, snapping up 10 lots on the block bounded by Virginia, 7th, 8th, and K, including the old Miles Glass building at 8th and Virginia, which was demolished in 2012. (Their holdings do not include the lot on the corner of 8th and L, where "The Brig" beergarden is going to go.) The church also owns and operates out of the former People's Church a few blocks to the north, on Barracks Row.
When making the Square 906 purchases in 2010 and 2011, it was with an eye toward perhaps some combination of coffee house, performance space, and church offices, though no designs or plans have ever publicly begun moving forward.
The church's Virginia Avenue lots are also right on the front lines of the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel project--and back in August the Post quoted NCC head Mark Batterson as saying, "It’s been difficult to take the first step because we don’t know exactly what or when CSX will build and how that will affect us." Which, alongside today's news, does make one wonder about the NCC-related future of those properties.
WBJ says that Batterson told his congregation that the church "hopes to tack on several new floors" to the building--though I have no doubt that that will be a festive trip through the historic preservation review process, along with the Navy giving the stink-eye from across M Street.

A REALLY Unexpected Green Light: 8th Street Beer Garden, 'The Brig'
Nov 3, 2014 11:15 AM
A truly unexpected piece of news has just come across the transom, via WBJ: Apparently a permit was issued Friday that will allow the start of construction on the long-planned beer garden at 8th and L, SE.
It will be called "The Brig," and will seat 210 and serve 299, and property owner Alan Gaunoux told WBJ that he "expects to break ground next week." I believe the seating is configured as 99 indoor seats and another 200 outside. (see update, below)
This project has been so dormant that I haven't written a post about it since November of 2011. I thought it was still languishing in the Historic Preservation Review Board process, but apparently all systems must be go, though, as WBJ says, "early versions of the development were scaled back[.]"
You can see the rendering from back in 2011 and read the multiple posts on the project's early days on my project page, though I don't know how much it resembles what will actually be coming. It is still apparently a one-story structure, with a bar, and some food, and perhaps some live music.
UPDATE: I will write another post on this in a few days--I'm looking at documentation that indicates this is definitely a very far scaled back operation in terms of a "building" from what was being looked at in 2011. Puts the "garden" in beergarden.
Comments (8)

Late Monday Tidbits: Starting 2014 Off Right (Kind Of)
Jan 6, 2014 6:47 PM
Trying to start 2014 off right--even if it means posting a few things I didn't quite get to in 2013.
* ANC: Ed Kaminski has resigned as Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for 6D02, the area basically from the ballpark northward to the south side of I Street. A special election will be in the offing before too long.
* METRO: Via CapBiz, Metro has put out "development concepts" for the five station sites it is touting to developers. However, when it came to the Navy Yard/Chiller Plant site on the southwest corner of Half and L, there were no pretty drawings, just a suggestion to acquire the privately owned lot next door, and that maybe a project with ground-floor retail would be nice, too. If you want to know the increasingly long history of WMATA's attempts to find a developer for this land (and get a new chiller plant as part of the deal), here's some reading for you.
* BALLPARK SQUARE: New fence signage along 1st Street north of Nats Park touting the Ballpark Square residential/hotel/retail development, "delivering in late 2015." There do appear to be building permits for the residential and hotel parts of the development currently working through the pipeline, though there is No Time To Lose to hit that "late 2015" date (and co-developer McCaffery hedges a bit with "early 2016"). I will note, though, that there is something kind of missing in the rendering shown on the fence signage. (Hint: It's L-shaped, and is by a different developer, and is supposed to start soon too.)
* WAYBACK: The Hill is Home's "Lost Capitol Hill" series looks at the Anacostia Engine House, located at 8th and Virginia for most of the years from 1839 until the glorious arrival of the Southeast Freeway in the 1960s.
* NO, REALLY: My latest excuse explanation for my decreased blogging output. (Though if you follow JDLand on Facebook or Twitter, you already know this.)

Tidbits: BID Reports, Artomatic to Crystal City, Tunnel Items, More
Jan 18, 2012 2:33 PM
There's been a whirlwind of "big" posts as 2012 has gotten underway, so here's a few items I've neglected:
* BID Reports: At its annual meeting last week, the Capitol Riverfront BID released both its annual report and the "Green Print of Growth" study they commissioned, which showed that the portion of the Green Line from the Navy Yard station to Georgia Avenue/Petworth has become over the past 10 years a "regional leader" in "capturing highly-prized young professional housing demand and high-wage employment," just nosing ahead of the Orange Line's Rosslyn-Ballston corridor and outstripping the Red Line's stretch in Northwest DC when looking at household growth in the 18-to-34 demographic. The report also says (shocker!) that "the analysis conducted suggests that the Capitol Riverfront--given its Green Line access at the Navy Yard Station and its significant amount of development capacity--is among the most competitive locations in the region for households, companies, and retailers."
You can read the executive summary, the complete version, and the slides that RCLCO's Shyam Kannan displayed during his presentation at the meeting. (Additional coverage from WBJ and CapBiz.)
This was followed by a commentary by BID chief Michael Stevens in Monday's Washington Post/Capital Business in which he argued: "It's time for business and residents to recognize and acknowledge a new reality: The Green Line corridor has emerged as a powerful economic engine for the District and the region. And it's time for Metro, the city and the private sector to invest more in the area to support this growth trajectory."
UPDATE: Also coming out of the annual meeting, the BID voted to change how it handles its taxes, which still needs to be approved by the city council to take effect. (WBJ)
* On a parallel track, though it doesn't have to do with Near Southeast specifically, the Post's Steve Pearlstein wrote over the weekend about how signs suggest "that the next phase of growth in the Washington region will focus on these underdeveloped areas in the eastern quadrants of the District and some of the region’s older, closer-in suburbs."
* New Views: While I was at the BID's meeting, I took the opportunity to get some photos of the inside of 1015 Half Street, plus one shot looking out that shows not all views of the U.S. Capitol dome are, by default, "majestic." (Alternate caption: "Would you like fries with that democracy?") One Twitterer suggested that the rock circle at far right, on the Capitol Hill Power Plant's property, is where the ritual sacrifices are held. So, if you see the Congressional leadership skulking around I Street late at night....
* Artomatic Decision: The Post's Jonathan O'Connell tweeted this morning that Artomatic is headed to Crystal City. Organizers had been looking at both 1015 Half and the old National Geospatial Intelligence building at 101 M.
* CSX: The Virginia Avenue Tunnel web site now has public comments on the Nov. 30 "concepts" meeting, as well as the transcript of that session. Comments are still being accepted through the end of January.
* Protest: A reader who lives on 7th Street just across from the Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters has passed along that the neighbors on that block have decided to lodge a formal protest at the liquor license renewal of the 7th and L Market, thanks to having witnessed multiple examples over the past few years of public drunkenness and urination, loitering, littering, drug dealing, indecent exposure, and even one proposition by a prostitute. There's no doubt that that market is a bit of a throwback to the neighborhood's previous incarnation; it will be interesting to see how this proceeds, and also how the eventual arrival of the National Community Church on that block changes (or doesn't change) things.
* AIIIEEEE!: Don't have enough to worry about these days? How about rising sea levels inundating areas along DC's waterfronts? (WaPo/Capital Weather Gang)
* Neighborhood News Roundup: The Post's new Where We Live real estate blog has a rundown and photo gallery today on the latest progress on the development and food fronts in Near Southeast. If it all looks and sounds strangely familiar, that shouldn't be a surprise.

Raze Permit (Re-)Filed for Miles Glass Site, Plus 816 Potomac
Jan 10, 2012 9:07 AM
Back in February, the National Community Church applied for a raze permit for the Miles Glass site on the southwest corner of 8th and Virginia that it acquired along with a number of adjoining lots on Square 906 in 2010 and 2011. However, perhaps something was not quite right, because two new raze permit applications for 733 Virginia are now in the city's database, along with a separate new one for the car garage next door at 701 Virginia, the lot that finalized NCC's footprint.
Last week, NCC representatives told ANC 6B's Planning and Zoning Committee that they plan to have the demolitions completed by March, and will "then move to establish a temporary parking lot and community green space for an estimated two-year period" while the church continues to work on its final plans for the site, which in the past have been described as being a combination of coffee house, performance space, and church offices.
Any goings-on at the site, though, will be impacted by CSX's planned Virginia Avenue Tunnel construction, and in October NCC head Mark Batterson told the Washington Business Journal that "it doesn't make sense to do our project and then have them come through and rip everything up and make it difficult for us to even access our property."
Meanwhile, a couple blocks to the southeast, two raze permits have also now been filed for 816 Potomac, the long-closed-up brown apartment building on the northwest corner of 9th and Potomac. This property is one of the lots on Square 930 that Madison Marquette now co-owns as part of its "joint venture" with ICP Partners.

Whatever Happened To: The Beer Garden at 8th and L?
Nov 8, 2011 1:29 PM
It was one year ago today that we heard the first rumblings of plans for a beer garden to be built on the northwest corner of 8th and L, SE. It would have 99 indoor seats and space for an additional 200 customers in a "summer garden," and would offer live music.
The project went through all manner of liquor license wrangling, followed by a lot of work on the design in order to satisfy the Historic Preservation Review Board (which it finally did, in March). At many of these sessions, the owner spoke of wanting to get the project underway as quickly as possible, but since the HPRB approvals in spring, it hasn't seemed like anything has been happening.
However, late last week, when I was playing around with DDOT's new Public Space Permit locator app and figuring out how to import its Occupancy Permit data into my own list of Near Southeast Public Space Permits, I saw that a construction staging area permit had been issued for 720 L St. SE on Sept. 22. Some digging into the city's building permits application also found building permits applied for on Aug. 18, but still not yet approved.
I contacted the owner, Mark Brody, and he tells me that they indeed are working on permits, but "it's taking longer than expected." (I know, this is a shocker.)
So, no timetable for the project's opening at this point, but it appears it hasn't fallen completely off the map.
For more, you can see my 8th Street Beer Garden project page, or read the posts from the approvals process.
(And, speaking of the permits feed on the JDLand home page, I've tinkered with both the public space and building permits so that they're now sorted and grouped by address.)

Madison Marquette to Launch Blue Castle Redevelopment Process
Oct 28, 2011 1:44 PM
Today's Washington Business Journal reports (subscribers only, alas) that Madison Marquette, owners of the "Blue Castle" at 770 M Street SE and co-owners of a series of additional parcels across 8th, "will soon formally launch its Lower Barracks Row redevelopment process, hiring land use planners, wooing an anchor retailer for the historic car barn and tackling a range of hurdles that stand in the way."
It's that "range of hurdles" that the article focuses on--MM will need to figure out where will parking for the car barn be able to be placed and how much additional height can be added given not only historic and building height restrictions but the Navy Yard's concerns with having buildings that can look over their walls.
Then there's the looming CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel construction, which could impact all of the landowners along Lower 8th given the disruptions that will no doubt ensue during the project. Mark Batterson of the National Community Church, which now owns all of the properties along Virginia between 7th and 8th and is looking to build a large coffee house/performance space and offices there, says in the article that their planning is very much tied up in CSX's timeline. "It doesn't make sense to do our project and then have them come through and rip everything up and make it difficult for us to even access our property."
Back in 2009 and 2010 there was a long Lower 8th Street Vision Process, which suggested allowing building heights of 65 to 85 feet on new structures 20 to 30 feet behind existing historic 8th Street structures. (The process report has a lot of drawings on how the 45-foot limit along 8th could co-exist with these potential greater heights further off the street.)
And, while not mentioned in the WBJ article, there's still the question of whether the Marines will end up building a new barracks in this area, as they have been hoping to do.
So, while the current Blue Castle leases are up in 2012, giving MM the opening to begin the process, the article makes clear that any makeover of Lower 8th will probably proceed slowly, at best.
Oh, and when it's all done, the Blue Castle probably won't be blue anymore:
(Rendering courtesy Madison Marquette. And maybe there's a hint in it of where they think the parking could go!)

Friday Tidbit Overload (Isn't August Supposed to Be Slow?)
Aug 5, 2011 2:30 PM
A slew of tidbits, some already tweeted, some not:
* The third Truckeroo food truck festival is now scheduled for next Friday, Aug. 12, from 11 am to 11 pm. They'll keep doing them monthly, through October.
* This isn't news for anyone who's seen the big holes punched in the sides, but work on the Boilermaker Shops retail space at the Yards is finally underway. It's expected to take about a year. This is where the new brewpub by the Churchkey folks will be, along with Buzz Bakery, Austin Grill Express, BRB, and Huey's 24-7 diner.
* Along with their announcement of a new Circulator route that will run from east of the river across the 11th Street Bridge and up 8th St. SE over to Potomac Avenue, DDOT has also announced that the Navy Yard Circulator route will no longer go into the Union Station garage. Instead, it will stop at a new location near the flagpoles in front of the building. There won't be any stop at Louisiana and D anymore, either. (See the DDOT presentation posted by DCist for the details, with the Navy Yard route stuff being on page 7.)
* The Capitol Hill Day School's blog is doing a good job keeping track not only of the renovation work at Dent School, but also on the progress on their temporary location at 5th and K, SE. The modular classrooms are arriving, plus there's now power!
* For people who don't stay glued to comment threads (for shame!), ANC commissioner David Garber recently posted with more details about the Georgetown University Health Disparities office moving into the retail space at Capitol Hill Tower: "I was reassured that this will not be a health clinic, and that it is better to think of it as the research center's "home base" on this side of the city. It will mostly be office space, and employees will spend most of their time outside the office at sites in Wards 6, 7, and 8, facilitating research on environmental health, obesity, and breast cancer research. I was told that no more than five clients would be visiting the office each day -- not as a medical clinic-- but that the space would likely also be used to hold meetings for the center's organizational and community-based task forces/committees."
* The Hill is Home gives an update on the 8th Street underpass, where a mural is about to be created to spiff up the space, and where the public parking lot is going to get new signage, lighting, and pricing to encourage Barracks Row visitors to use it.
* President Obama gave a big speech on jobs at the Navy Yard this morning, which will be notable mostly for how my Google News Alert for "washington navy yard" will take days to get back to normal.
There's probably more than this, but this has already cut into that mini-break I was trying to take....

Tidbits: ANC Redistricting, Canal History, Greenspace, 8th St. Deal
Jun 29, 2011 1:29 PM
After all the big news of late, downshifting into a Tidbits post doesn't really seem like much fun, and of course if you're following me on Twitter or Facebook (or checking out the Twitter box on the JDLand home page every so often), you've already been alerted to many of these. But, onward:
* If you're wondering how the ANC redistricting process will work (especially since the ward version was so much fun!), here's the official memo on the procedures going forward. As in previous years, ANC single member districts will have populations between 1,900 and 2,100 residents. Census Tract 72, which covers all of Near Southeast and so includes all of ANC 6D07 plus the small number of houses from 7th Street east to 11th that are in ANC 6B04, was counted at 2,794 residents in the 2010 census.
The Office of Planning has the census-block-by-census-block numbers, but, ahem, I don't actually know which blocks are which, though if I had to guess by looking at the numbers and how the blocks are organized, I'd say that 6D07 probably came in at 2,743 and south-of-the-freeway 6B04 at 51. Ish. (Perhaps an ANC version of the GGW Redistricting Game isn't far off!) It isn't enough to split 6D07 into two single member districts, but it also can't stay as is. The question will also loom large as to whether new boundaries will split the neighborhood even more between ANC 6B (Capitol Hill) and 6D (Southwest), or move it all into one or the other. UPDATE: Thanks to IMGoph in the comments, I got a look at the map, and it appears the actual residential split is 2,767 to 27. Read my comment for details. I'll make a map at some point.
UPDATE 2: And here's a quick and dirty map, showing block by block what the census folks recorded the neighborhood's residential population at, as of April 1, 2010. As I mention in the comments, the residential buildings west of 2nd Street SE add up to 2,054 residents, perfectly within the numeric requirements for an SMD. But how SMDs will actually be divvied up is anyone's guess right now, beyond the fact that there's no way the vast bulk of Near Southeast will continue to be in just one SMD.
Council members are supposed to appoint their ward task force members by Friday, with progress reports due on Aug. 1 and Sept. 1. The entire process has to be completed by the end of 2011.
* The Hill is Home has posted the first of a two-part look at the history of the Washington Canal, which used to run along where Canal Park is under construction. (Speaking of which, I grabbed a quick cellphone shot from above the park last week showing the work on the southern block, where the foundation for the pavilion is being built.)
* Housing Complex writes about the deal finally being finalized for Greenspace to move into the empty retail spaces in the 1st Street facade of Nationals Park, creating a "12,000-square-foot center for green building and design." This has been in the works for nearly two years, but even though there was a "launch" of the space on Tuesday (which I didn't hear about until people at the event started live-tweeting it), Housing Complex says that the project won't come to fruition until Greenspace "is able to raise another $600,000 in cash and in-kind contributions, adding up to the $2 million necessary to build out what's currently a blank shell." Perhaps someday, when Florida Rock is built out to the south and later Yards phases along 1st Street are completed, the "real" retail envisioned for this portion of the ballpark will come to pass. Here's the press release on the Greenspace project.
* Madison Marquette, owner of the Blue Castle at 770 M St. SE, has now apparently completed a joint venture deal with local landowners ICP Group for all ICP's various properties on the east side of 8th Street south of the freeway, including the gray building at 8th and Potomac that houses Quizno's and the other properties along the 800 block of Potomac, and others. No news as to what might be done on those blocks, though if the new Marine Barracks site search ever crops back up, a group owning all of the land on Squares 929 and 930 could conceivably submit a proposal for a public-private partnership.
Coming later today, an equally bulleted post highlighting the slew of upcoming events in the neighborhood, both for this holiday weekend and beyond.

NCC Buying the People's Church on Barracks Row
Mar 27, 2011 12:23 PM
Today the head of the National Community Church is announcing to his parishioners that a deal has been struck for NCC to buy the People's Church at 535 8th St. SE in the middle of Barracks Row.
With their home base at Ebenezers Coffee House near Union Station overflowing and any completed construction on their new Virginia Avenue footprint probably 3-4 years away, this gives the church an instant "phase 1" building with more than double the capacity of Ebenezers.
Mark Batterson tells me that the first service on 8th Street will be on Palm Sunday, April 17. They'll have one service a week there until the land deal is completed in early June, after which more services and events will be held at the new location, but they'll continue to meet at Ebenezers as well. In time, they are looking at converting the building back to its previous life as a movie theater: it opened as Meader's Theater in 1910, then became the New Academy Theatre before being converted to a church in the early 1960s. (If you've been inside the church, you certainly would recognize the seats and layout as vintage movie theater design.) NCC may even reopen the balcony, which has been closed off as a separate meeting space. They also hope to adapt the stage so that the space can be used for community events; and they're open to suggestions and ideas if you have any.
The People's Church will be moving to Maryland, where most of their members now live.
This gives NCC a bit of breathing room for designing and getting through all the bureaucratic hoops of building at 8th and Virginia, but Batterson considers 535 8th to be a "stepping stone" to the new location. And you can see how excited he is in his recent tweets hinting at the deal, which described to me as a "double miracle for both churches."
UPDATE: Here's Batterson's blog post on the news, with some cool vintage photographs of 535 8th.

Simplified Design for 8th Street Beer Garden on HPRB Agenda
Mar 21, 2011 10:22 AM
The proposed 8th Street Beer Garden is back before the Historic Preservation Review Board, with a "substantially simplified" design that the board's staff has deemed sufficiently compatible with the character of the surrounding Capitol Hill Historic District.
The first floor is now proposed to have a brick veneer (though it's not really shown on the new rendering that the beer garden team was kind enough to pass along), and there have been other changes that HPRB staff say have improved the overall proportions of the building. There's also now a pergola (arbor) on the roof to help with shading on sunny days. Sidewalk seating spaces are also shown, though the developer will have to get a public space permit and work around the bus stop currently at the 8th and L intersection.
There are still a few small issues the HPRB staff would like to see addressed, but they have recommended that the concept be approved by the board, and the project has been placed on the consent calendar for the March 24 meeting. (Though the board may choose to remove it from consent if they have any issues they want to discuss before voting.)
You can see a larger view of this revised design alongside the previous version and some current photographs on my new 8th Street Beer Garden page, which isn't exactly a barn-burner but at least it's something. (It goes hand-in-hand with my new National Community Church page, which has photos of the lots NCC now owns.)
The HPRB meeting is on Thursday at 10 am, and will be available via live streaming or on demand. (Or you could go to the meeting in person, but that's so 20th century.)
UPDATE, 3/24: The consent portion of the agenda passed with no discussion, so the design concept is now considered approved by the board ("as consistent with the purposes of the preservation act"), with final approval delegated to HPRB staff.
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More posts: The Brig Beer Garden, 8th Street, meetings, square 906

National Community Church Finalizes Square 906 Footprint
Mar 2, 2011 7:59 AM
Last night the National Community Church held its "All Church Celebration" at the Lincoln Theater, and, while I wasn't there for the "big announcement," I do know that lead pastor Mark Batterson told the assembly that the last of their land acquisitions on Square 906 (bounded by Virginia, 7th, 8th, and L) have been finalized.
As I've been conjecturing, this includes the auto garage on the corner of 7th and Virginia. But it also includes a contract for the two small apartment buildings at 716 and 718 L Street, just west of the alley. Batterson tells me that they are leasing back the garage to the current occupants until July so that they can find a new location.
Combined with the Miles Glass site that started it all and the empty lot on 7th, this now gives NCC (the folks behind the successful Ebenezers coffee house near Union Station) over 26,000 square feet of land on a somewhat T-shaped footprint on which to build their combination coffee house/performance space/offices. As I've mentioned previously, Batterson wrote on his blog in mid-February that they are now "full-steam ahead with designs" now that the footprint is finalized, and that he is "looking forward to initiating meetings with Historic Preservation, ANC, Riverfront Bid, Barracks Row Main Street, Office of Planning, etc." It wil be interesting to see if the zoning and height changes that business owners are looking for along lower 8th get through, and whether NCC would be taking advantage of being able to build a bit higher as a result.
Of course, this isn't the only new activity on Square 906, since it's on the south end of the block where the beer garden at 8th and L is supposed to be going in once the design gets through its historic preservation review, a process NCC will have to undergo as well since the block is within the Capitol Hill Historic District. This Saints and Sinners stretch of 8th is definitely going be a focus of activity in 2011.

Beer Garden Historic Preservation Hearing: It's 'Very Close'
Feb 26, 2011 3:28 PM
On Thursday the city's Historic Preservation Review Board took up the designs for the new building to be constructed at 720 L St. SE that is going to house a beer garden. You can watch the proceedings if you want (it's about 25 minutes long), which might be of interest if you're an architect or deeply interested in building design.
The commissioners all seemed to feel that the staff report (which I summarized here) was on the right track with its comments on the building's design: "You're close, you're very close," said board member Robert Sonderman to the building's team, and staffer Amanda Molson and other board members seemed to agree.
Before the board members had a chance to weigh in, applicant Mark Brody responded to some of the concerns in the staff report, offering to remove the rain screens that go up above the roof deck, reducing the number of finishes, providing more information about how the roof deck's lighting and sun-screening will be designed, and looking more at how the business relates to the 8th Street streetscape (Brody said that they'll be trying to include a sidewalk cafe in the final plans).
Architect Matthew Battin did seem a little frustrated by the amount of input the design has received, talking about how some design changes have been in response to comments, which have then generated comments that counteracted the initial comments. The board members seemed sympathetic to the "too many cooks" issue, and many focused on wanting the design to be simplified in order to "clarify the concept." They also seemed to like the industrial/warehouse feel, and were not concerned about it fitting in with the Capitol Hill Historic District. There was some discussion about using roll-up windows rather than the flat ones to further emphasize the warehouse feel (though costs do seem to be a concern in much of the design). There was also a suggestion that an archaelogist be brought to the site, given its location near the Navy Yard and on a hill with views of the Potomac where "the people before us" lived.
While the original staff recommendation was for the design to be approved by staff once comments are incorporated, chair Catherine Buell suggested it come back to the board one more time, "hopefully on the consent calendar." This was approved unanimously.
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More posts: The Brig Beer Garden, 8th Street, meetings

Survey on Attitudes Toward Barracks Row Restaurants
Feb 23, 2011 9:31 AM
[While this is technically outside of my strict boundaries, I know a lot of Near Southeast residents patronize the restaurants and shops on 8th Street, so....] A survey is being conducted on resident attitudes toward restaurants on Barracks Row. It's being funded by the business owners, and is being overseen by Barracks Row Main Street. Deadline for completing the survey is midnight, Sunday, Feb. 27, and four participants will win a $25 gift certificate to the Barracks Row restaurant of their choice.

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More posts: 8th Street

8th Street Beer Garden Design Historic Preservation Review
Feb 21, 2011 11:09 AM
Posted on Friday was the Staff Report from the Historic Preservation Review Board on the design for the proposed Bier Garden at 8th and L, SE, as the owners of the site at 720 L continue to work toward constructing a one-story building with an accompanying summer garden and roof deck. (You can look to the left, or see a slightly larger version of the design, as it was presented to ANC 6B last week; 6B voted to support the design.)
If you're not up for reading all six pages yourself, here's my Zagat-style report on the report:
It makes for good reading if you're interested in how new buildings in historic districts are evaluated; you might be surprised (I was!) that design guidelines actually "discourage the exact duplication of historic styles," opting instead to encourage applicants to consider a new building as an "enhancement" to the district "while respecting the historic context." The report discusses how the decision to go with a one-story structure could draw on "the vernacular of Washington's modest industrial buildings and alley warehouses," and in fact the report includes a photo of the Bier Garden lot in 1949, when a one-story building housing a laundry/tailor stood on the site.
The report finds that the proposed massing of the new building does reflect the character of the historic district and "references recognizable attributes" of both industrial buildings and traditional beer gardens. The report also sees the rain screen and other more contemporary design choices as reflecting the "whimsy, casualness and somewhat ad-hoc nature of many outdoor beer gardens."
However, there are concerns that there are so many finishes applied "in so many different directions" that the result is a "somewhat chaotic and unfinished appearance," and suggests selecting one or two key ideas that would allow the building "to be showcased in a less hectic manner." Other major issues cited include choices on the roof deck (and the lack of any lighting or shade up there in the current design), the proportions of the doors, and the designs of the rain screens, as well as how the building's "streetscape presence" along both 8th and L.
The report ends with a recommendation that the applicants "restudy the issues outlined [...] as they pertain to the principles of design cohesiveness, proportion and scale, and streetscape presence." It's also recommended that the board delegate final approval of the design to the board staff once the comments from staff and the board are addressed in the revisions.
The hearing begins at 10 am on Thursday, and can be watched live, or on demand starting the next day. (And this will actually be the first HPRB hearing I'll have ever watched!) You can read my previous Bier Garden posts if you're needing to get caught up.
UPDATE: And now we return back to "Beer Garden" from "Bier Garden," as Mark Brody informs me that it was a typo on the plans.

New York Times on 8th Street; NCC Moving Forward
Feb 16, 2011 4:09 PM
Flying around the Twitterverse yesterday and today has been a pile of links to "In Washington, a Historic Retail Strip is Revived," a New York Times article on Barracks Row, with a big focus on the portion of it south of the freeway often called "Lower 8th."
A quote: "But like many cities around the country, Washington is stuck with the consequences of allowing a highway to slash through an urban neighborhood. In 1962, the Southeast Freeway bisected Barracks Row. 'That became the moat,' said Michael Stevens, the executive director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District, which has helped to promote development around the new ballpark. 'It created a large physical barrier.'"
The article, which has a festive accompanying photo of Madison Marquette representatives outside of the Blue Castle, mentions the Lower 8th Visioning Report that I wrote about last week, and also the National Community Church's plans to build a church and performance space at the corner of 8th and Virginia, which the head of Barracks Row Main Street is quoted as saying "will definitely be a catalyst for development. We have a number of investors who just didn't want to be first."
Speaking of which, NCC's Mark Batterson has posted on his blog today that their Capitol Hill campus "footprint is finalized," which I would guess means that the deal has closed for the auto-repair garage at 7th and K that I mentioned NCC was trying to acquire (if in fact that's the lot they're looking at, because it's never been said publicly). Batterson also says NCC is "doing another set of conceptual drawings," and that with the site finalized "we're full-steam ahead with designs." And: "Looking forward to initiating meetings with Historic Preservation, ANC, Riverfront Bid, Barracks Row Main Street, Office of Planning, etc. I think our development will be a catalyst for and part of the renaissance that will happen in that part of the city."

More Property Moves on Lower 8th; The Visioning?
Feb 10, 2011 3:25 PM
In my post about the Bier Garden plans for the northeast corner of 8th and L, SE, I promised a couple of extra tidbits about Lower 8th Street. To wit:
* Rumors abound that the National Community Church has acquired the auto repair garage at the corner of 7th and K/Virginia, SE, but despite someone saying otherwise at Tuesday's ANC 6B meeting, I'm told that no deal has been completed as yet. But even that at least confirms my not-terribly-hard-to-guess suspicions that NCC would be eyeing that lot for their new coffeehouse/performance space/offices, since they now own the land to both the east and south of the site. The garage's lot is 5,300 square feet, and was assessed in 2010 for just under $1.5 million.
* Madison Marquette, the developer who owns the Blue Castle at 770 M St., SE and is also now a partner in the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, is entering into a joint venture with the ICP Group, owner of the gray building (with Quizno's) at 8th and Potomac and other Square 929 properties that have been suffering from extended financing troubles. WBJ reported on this in late January, noting that those familiar with the deal "say Madison and its 'fairly deep pockets' will take over as lead developer for all the parcels." This also presumably gives Madison access to ICP's properties on Square 929, just across 8th Street from the NCC/Bier Garden block and to the north of the Quizno's block.
Squares 929 and 930 have been the subject of a lot of discussion as one of the sites that the Marines might be looking at as a location for their new barracks, because a development team could submit a proposal for a public/private partnership on that site if they controlled all properties on those two blocks. (This assumes the Marines do decide to go the public/private route; they could instead build additional barracks space on their existing land at 7th and L or manage to acquire some other government-owned site, such as the old Capper Seniors/Square 882 site, which is owned by DCHA but which seems to be stalled in its attempts to get funding for the mixed-income apartment project on the north side of the block.) There's also the Navy's potential plans to expand outside their walls, which could include some of the close-by lots along 8th or maybe the old Exxon site at 11th and M.
In fact, in an e-mail to me last month, ICP President Leon Kafele referenced these possibilities by saying that the joint venture with Madison Marquette will "position [ICP's] assets to better respond to the Marines Corps and Navy Yard supply and demand for a BEQ, retail, and office space on or around lower 8th Street Barracks Row." And Madison has mentioned in public meetings that the Blue Castle could become home to some of the "shared uses" that the Marines are hoping to have be part of any new barracks venture.
So, with NCC and the Bier Garden making moves on Square 906, Madison Marquette increasing its presence by making deals on Squares 929 and 930, and the Navy and Marines in the mix as well, does this mean that Lower 8th is starting to perk up? And, how will any new projects tie in with the Lower 8th Street Vision Report developed by the Capitol Riverfront BID along with all manner of representatives of Barracks Row, the Navy and Marines, business owners, and local residents?
I haven't written much about the whole vision thing, especially once the discussion of the Marines' land needs began to focus south of the freeway and it became clear that until they decide what they're doing about their barracks, any real discussion of what Lower 8th may look like in the future is very much up in the air.
That said, the vision report has mostly general recommendations that aren't exactly controversial: "Encourage a Mix of Uses," "Historic Preservation is a Must," improve the underpass to encourage pedestrians to come down from north of the freeway, address parking/circulation issues, and others.
But there is one concrete suggestion in the report: increasing height and density limits on some of these squares. The current 45-foot limit on 8th would be maintained for new structures, but greater heights (65 to 85 feet) could then allowed 20 to 30 feet behind existing historic 8th Street structures.
You can see on page 17 of the report some drawings of what the Bier Garden corner at 8th and L would look like with a 45-foot building on the site, and there are other drawings depicting height changes on the following pages, including allowing the less-historic western side of the Blue Castle to be built up higher.
The Bier Garden's one-story-plus-roof-deck design would seem to be not exactly what the visioners envisioned, but the developer has said he anticipates it to be a temporary structure (though that's not a guarantee). There's been no public opposition to the Bier Garden from the BID or Barracks Row Main Street--but no letters of support, either.
It will be interesting to see what the National Community Church comes up with for their design, and whether it'll try to take advantage of the desire for larger building heights set out in the vision document, if that idea ends up being embraced by the city.
And, there's still the Marines' decision to look for, which could be the biggest driver of all for redefining Lower 8th.

Meanwhile, at the Beer Garden to the East....
Feb 8, 2011 11:33 PM
While the neighborhood's big Beer Garden News last week was the plan by the Bullpen folks to create one at Half and M, SE, the other proposed beer garden in the area, at 8th and L, SE, is continuing to proceed through the city's bureaucracy. With its liquor license having been dealt with last month, this "Bier Garden" is now undergoing the Historic Preservation Review process, a necessary step thanks to its location within the Capitol Hill Historic District (which I'm sure Das Bullpen is thankful to be well outside of).
Original plans for a temporary structure were undoable thanks to historic district restrictions, so now the applicant, Mark Brody, and his architect have opted to go with a one-story building with a roof deck, in addition to the proposed ground-level summer garden. The look of the building (which is closer to 1 1/2 stories high) is very industrial, with large multi-paned windows and lots of "wood rainscreening" on the exterior and the roof deck. (I've asked for electronic versions of the color renderings that were shown at Tuesday night's ANC 6B meeting, but Mr. Brody is still pondering whether to pass them along.) UPDATE: Since the renderings have been submitted to the Historic Preservation Office and have been shown at a public meeting, an interested party passed them along. (UPDATE 1A: And Mr. Brody's architect has now sent it to me as well--thank you!) Here is the main image, looking at the corner of 8th and L:
The ANC's Planning and Zoning Committee had a first look at the designs on Feb. 1, and, according to the committee report, expressed a number of concerns about "the proposed materials, the open deck design, and the lack of letters of support from other establishments and or affected neighbors" as well as the "unfinished appearance" and issues with not having received details such as "views of the affected area with relationship to existing structures and plat specifications."
By the time the full commission met Tuesday night, Brody had made some changes to the initial designs, and forwarded letters of support from two neighbors on L Street as well 18 letters from Capitol Quarter residents (thanks probably to an e-mail that went to the private CQ mailing list asking for support). When asked, Brody said that Mark Batterson of the National Community Church (which is buying up the north side of this "Saints and Sinners" block to build a new office and performance space) has decided that he "will take no position" on the beer garden plans.
There ensued much discussion, with the bulk of concerns coming from Kirsten Oldenburg (in whose SMD this is) and David Garrison, who both clearly are unhappy with the design, especially the roof deck. (Perhaps Kirsten will write more about this project on her blog so I don't have to try to summarize, HINT HINT.) But other commissioners made clear their desire to get something built on this portion of Barracks Row south of the freeway to help jump-start the area.
After an initial motion to oppose the designs while the applicant and the city's Historic Preservation Review Board continue to make refinements failed 3-7, a second motion to take no position failed 4-6, followed finally by a motion that passed 7-3 to support the designs, with an accompanying letter to the Historic Preservation Office detailing the commission's concerns about safety on the roof deck, the design of the doors (too stubby, Oldenburg says), the "parapet" that is above the front door, and the design's "historic character." Commissioners Oldenburg, Garrison, and Norman Metzger were the three commissioners in opposition. The HPRB may hear this case at its Feb. 24 meeting, though that agenda has not yet been set. (Note that the Capitol Hill Restoration Society will be a source of comments about the project as well.)
Interestingly, the liquor license apparently will not cover the roof deck, so Brody will have to come back to the ANC if he intends to serve alcohol in that space. There was also mention made of wanting to have sidewalk tables during warm weather, which will require a public space permit and another trip back to the ANC (athough the bus stop right out front might make for a space issue).
There's probably more to write about this, but I'm pacing myself, since I'm guessing there will be plenty of additional chances to cover the process. And hopefully I'll get some renderings to post soon, but when the project gets onto an HPRB agenda they'll become part of the public record, so I'll definitely have them then.
There were some additional South of the Freeway tibits that came out during these discussions, but I'll save those for another post.
UPDATE: Here's Kirsten Oldenburg's thoughts and concerns about the design.

Nat'l Community Church Buys Empty Lot on 7th
Jan 11, 2011 4:23 PM
This has been hinted at throughout the fall, and property records now reflect that the National Community Church/Ebernezers folks have added to the Miles Glass site on Virginia Avenue they bought in August by purchasing an empty lot around the corner on 7th Street, SE, for $875,000 in December. This now gives them about 19,000 square feet of land on Parcel 906, if my math is correct.
If you look at the satellite view of the block, you can see how NCC's holdings--the Miles Glass building, the empty lot just to its west, now and this separate empty lot on 7th across from the Marine Barracks--are connected. And one certainly has to wonder if the car shop on the corner of 7th and K/Virginia, now surrounded by a single landowner, is going to be staying in that spot much longer. (The other empty lot on the block, at the lower right, is where the Bavarian Beer Garden may be going in, creating the Saints and Sinners stretch along 8th.)
If you haven't been following along, the church's head, Mark Batterson, wrote on his blog in late August about the purchase of the 8th and Virginia site, saying that church is running out of space for services and staff at Ebenezers near Union Station, and since his vision for NCC is 20 locations and more than 100 staffers, they're looking at "going vertical" and constructing a building with about 50,000 square feet of space. They have been doing some "visioning" to figure out their plans for the site, and Batterson told City Paper in November about ideas of "two performance spaces, one at about 500 seat capacity and another at a thousand, with at least one level of underground parking to handle the crowds," but nothing specific has been announced yet.
The empty lot on 7th was once going to have a small apartment building constructed on it, but was foreclosed on in 2009 and sold for $400,000 at auction.

6B Protesting 8th Street Beer Garden Liquor License (While Working on a Voluntary Agreement)
Dec 15, 2010 1:01 PM
On Tuesday night the full ANC 6B commission took up the issue of whether to support the liquor license application for the new "Bavarian Beer Garden" that a businessman is trying to open at 8th and L, SE. I wrote a lot about it last week when the ANC's ABC subcommittee met, and you can read that (long) entry for most of the background, as well as read the committee report that came out of it.
Commissioners are still very leery of approving a tavern license "with an entertainment endorsement" without having much more information about the plans for the bar, worrying that if they give their support and what is currently billed as just being some "oompah" music turns into a nightclub with music late at night seven days a week, there will be little recourse. (The fact that this is the first restaurant venture by the applicant has them a bit nervous as well.) Their desire is to write various hours/occupancy/entertainment-type restrictions into the Voluntary Agreement, perhaps including some that can then be revisited a few years down the road when it's clear how the bar is operating.
Mark Brody, the applicant, told the commissioners that he is willing to sign a voluntary agreement, and is willing to negotiate over the requested hours of operation and occupancy load (which is at 399 on the initial application), so the negotiations will soon get underway. (The vote by the commissioners to support the license once a voluntary agreement is signed was 7-3.)
However, because the deadline for protesting the license application before ABRA is Monday (Dec. 20), and because the full ANC would need to approve any voluntary agreement by vote at a business meeting, the ANC is going officially be "in protest" with ABRA on the license until the agreements are worked out. (You can read the ABRA Protest Process FAQ for more details, including about how the parties would then be scheduled for a "settlement conference" with an ABRA mediator.)
The hearing date is January 3.

8th Street Beer Garden at 6B's ABC Committee
Dec 9, 2010 9:55 PM
Despite having arrived fashionably late to tonight's ANC 6B ABC committee meeting, I still managed to get there in time to hear the initial presentation by Mark Brody on his plans for the "Bavarian Beer Garden" that he is looking to bring to the currently vacant northwest corner of 8th and L, SE. (This is the "Saints and Sinners" block, which is also going to have the National Community Church's new operations on the Miles Glass site on the north end of the block.)
As I've written previously, he and his business partner (who has owned the property for more than 20 years--Brody appears to have bought a half-interest in the lots earlier this year for $600,000, according to property records) are applying for a liquor license for a tavern/beer garden that would seat 99 customers inside, with space for another 200 outside in the summer garden. They're looking to be open from 11 am to 2 am Sunday through Thursday, and until 3 am on Friday and Saturday, with the hours of alcohol sales matching those "open" hours. They also want to have live entertainment (oompah! oompah!) from noon to midnight on Sunday, 6 pm to midnight Monday through Friday, and noon to 2 am on Saturday. Brody said it would be "upscale," with beer running around $7, and there would be food, though no menu has been determined yet.
Brody brought no drawings or designs, but said they would put a newly constructed building along 8th Street, with the entrance on the corner, and the beer garden would be behind it, butting up against the driveway from Miles Glass that punches through to L Street. (Brody and his partner own the two small buildings on the west side of the driveway.) Brody suggested that having a large nightlife offering south of the freeway would help pull people south on 8th, and make them less reticent to use the parking lot beneath the freeway (which tied into the discussion around the previous agenda item, another restaurant in the 500 block of 8th). He also mentioned the large surface parking lots that exist nearby that would have more than enough capacity to hold the large number of patrons his plans are for, though certain bloggers in the audience mentioned that the big one at 7th and L is probably going to see construction start on its north portion before too much longer.
There was considerable skepticism from the commissioners (especially chair David Garrison) when Brody said that he hopes to be up and running "by spring," especially since the lot is in the historic district and he would still need all of his designs approved by the Capitol Hill Historic Society and the city's Historic Preservation Review Board, as well as go through the not-always-smooth building permitting process.
He and his partner (who is in construction) are looking at building a smaller "temporary" building now, with a more permanent three- or four-story structure to come later. But when the commissioners expressed their concern about having very little to go on in terms of design and concept before they make a decision as to whether to support the liquor license application, Brody said that he and his partner won't be building anything without getting the license first.
Commissioners also mentioned "Heart and Soul" a few times, which Hill veterans will remember as the venture at 8th and Pennsylvania that got its approvals as a restaurant with some live entertainment and turned into a nightclub that became a nightmare for residents. "What you're giving me screams 'nightclub,' " said 6B05 rep Ken Jarboe.
Neil Glick of 6B08 talked about the size of the plans, that this would be the largest space on the Hill except for maybe Remington's, and that "we can't just give away" support without much to go on, especially since Brody has not had any dealings with 6B before.
Kirsten Oldenberg, in whose single-member district (6B04) this site is located, listed similar concerns, as well as the fact that, if the temporary building is a success, why would the owners ever then tear it down to build something better? She also mentioned the Lower 8th Vision draft plan that has just been submitted to the Office of Planning, wondering if this project fits in to that vision.
6B07 commissioner Carol Green separated herself a bit from her brethren by saying that she feels the area south of the freeway needs something now.
Jarboe then mentioned the possibility of writing into the voluntary agreement that the liquor license be temporary (three or four years) so that the project can get started soon, but "to give [the license] to you forever and ever opens us up for mischief later on."
The license is on the agenda for the full ANC 6B commission meeting on Tuesday (Dec. 14), at 7 pm at the People's Church at 535 8th St., SE, but with things like a voluntary agreement still needing to be written, along with probably some strong feelings about wanting more information, I'm not sure how the timeline is going to work out, with the liquor license hearing date set for January 3.
UPDATE: After deliberations (which were public but I mistakenly didn't stick around for), the ABC Committee has decided to support the liquor license application contingent on the applicant and the city's ABC Board agreeing to a Voluntary Agreement that limits hours and occupancy (terms to come). 6B is also going to argue for a temporary license (as I described above), but it's not clear that the ABC Board would go along with that. There will be more discussion of this at Tuesday's full ANC meeting.

Upcoming Calendar of Events (Through Dec. 17)
Dec 6, 2010 10:46 AM
This is a painful post for me to write. (No, seriously--I hurt my left thumb last week, and typing doesn't help.) But I will power through to bring you news of upcoming events, all while wondering why Decembers are always so busy with public meetings--because it's not like we don't we have enough to do already....
ADD: Oops. Tonight (Dec. 6) is the 4th Annual Livable Walkable Community Awards, at Arena Stage at 6:30 pm.
* Tuesday (Dec. 7) is the second Marine Barracks site search public forum, in Eastern Market's North Hall. I can't find the agenda for it, but the CIMP web site describes it thusly: "Session 2 will begin with at 5:00 pm with an open house where information will be provided in displays, and subject matter experts will be present to discuss various aspects of the CIMP with a facilitated discussion to authenticate community development objectives to begin at 7:00 PM." You can see the draft community objectives handed out at last week's meeting, and read my summary of that session, as well as the scads of posts through the past year of this process.
* Wednesday (Dec. 8) is the neighborhood meeting with DC Public Schools interim chancellor Kaya Henderson on the movement to reopen Van Ness Elementary at 5th and M, SE. The meeting is at 6 pm (note the time change) at the Courtyard by Marriott at New Jersey and L, and while no decision on reopening the school will be announced, DCPS will be talking about the preliminary findings from the survey they did this fall about whether there would be enough students to justify reopening the school. Read my previous posts for details.
* On Thursday (Dec. 9) the ANC 6B ABC Committee will meet at 7 pm at the Southeast Neighborhood Library at 403 7th St., SE, and it will be taking up the new liquor license application for the Bavarian Beer Garden at 8th and L, SE. It's looking to be a 99-seat tavern, with an additional 200 outdoor seats in summer, and would operate from 11 am to 2 am Sunday through Thursday and 11 am to 3 am on Fridays and Saturdays. There's also apparently the possibility of live entertainment. The application will also be taken up by the full ANC at its regular meeting on Dec. 14 at 7 pm at 535 8th St., SE.
* Monday (Dec. 13) is ANC 6D's monthly meeting--the agenda should be out later this week.
* Tuesday, Dec. 14 is the BID's Annual Meeting, at 11:30 am at 100 M St., SE. There will be a keynote address by George Hawkins, general manager of DC Water, plus the BID will release its 2010 Annual Report and State of the Capitol Riverfront.
* The BID also launches its Holiday Market on the 14th, running daily through the 18th on the sidewalk outside of 1100 New Jersey Ave., SE, across from the Navy Yard Metro station. "Shop the market for wool sweaters and mittens, homemade soaps, jewelry, antique maps, wreaths and holiday greenery, paintings, and much more!" See the flyer for more details, or the latest BID newsletter.
* Also on the 14th is the aforementioned ANC 6B monthly meeting, which includes a report by Michael Stevens of the BID on the Lower 8th Street Visioning Process report that's being submitted to the Office of Planning. (This will also be presented to the ANC's Planning and Zoning Committee on Dec. 7 at 7 pm at 535 8th St., SE.)
* Finally, on Dec. 17, the James L. Brooks movie "How Do You Know" opens--this is the one that was filmed at Nationals Park (and all around DC) back in 2009, and stars Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, and Jack Nicholson.
Ow.

Documents and a Few Notes from Barracks Forum
Dec 2, 2010 1:09 PM
With the selection of a location for a new Marine Barracks more than a year away, there wasn't much big news coming out of Monday's public forum, at least not in terms of my focus, the area south of the freeway. (There were lots of discussions about the disposition of the Building 20, the barracks building at 8th and Virginia the Marines are trying to get out of--I'll be leaving the blogging about that part of the process to Norm Metzger, who has posted some thoughts from Monday's meeting.)
The handouts, displays, and presentation slides are now posted on the CIMP web site for your perusal. And it must be said that the feel of this meeting was more collegial and less antagonistic than some of the previous ones have been--getting Virginia Avenue Park out of the mix seems to have dialed down the temperature somewhat, though it's clear that both sides (the Marines and the community) are still cautious and not completely at ease in working with their counterparts.
At this point, there's much more focus on the process of it all rather than any specific outcomes--how the RFP will be written and what requirements it will have for developers, whether there will be a community representative on the selection committee (doubtful), and the like. Writing about process isn't really my cup of tea--I just want to know about what comes out at the other end! That said, If I had to come up with a few bullet points that were of interest or sounded new, here's what I'd highlight:
* The approach to finding a new site really has changed from when this started a year ago--originally, the Marines were only looking at public property (Virginia Avenue Park, Tyler Elementary, Square 882, the annex at 7th and Virginia, and inside the Navy Yard), but now there's the Square 929/930 option on the east side of 8th Street as well as the "Exxon" site at 11th and M. That changes how the process moves forward though, since there will now need to be special federal legislation to allow for a public-private venture. Doing this, though, means that any private lands that end up being used for the new barracks will stay on the DC tax rolls, since a developer will own the land and lease space to the Marines. It also pushes the timeline for the choice of a developer into 2012, with construction at least a year after the decision gets made. There will also have to be a NEPA process.
* The Marine Institute is "being BRAC'ed" out of the Navy Yard, and apparently will be moving to Building 20, taking up 25 percent of the new building (the maximum amount the Marines can occupy and have the building not need the security-required deep setbacks from the street). David Perry of Barracks Row Main Street called this news "a good thing." There will be lots of ensuing discussion about how the remaining 75 percent of that building/site should be structured. (North of the freeway! Outside of my boundaries!)
* It's been determined through the antiterrorism/force protection guidance that there can be underground parking at a new barracks, but that the parking control gate would need to be 82 feet away from the barracks.
* The US Department of Transportation expressed its interest in sharing a child care facility with the new barracks, since USDOT moved 6,000 employees to Near Southeast in 2007 without any sort of day care offerings.
* The DC Housing Authority seems open ("let's have a dialogue," David Cortiella said) to talking about the community center site at 5th and K, which the Marines would probably want to gobble up if they decided to build the new barracks on the annex site. A community center would then be part of any shared-use facilities built. But DCHA has some timing issues that would need to be ironed out, the biggest being that they are required by the Zoning Commission to file building permits no later than July of next year.
* Michael Stevens of the Capitol Riverfront BID talked about how the BID wants to see the RFP laid out, including urban design guidelines that would need to be adhered to: no blank walls, first-floor retail uses, no major surface parking, no loss of parks, no street closures (though he acknowledged that one might be tough), and preservation of existing historic buildings; using these guidelines on the 8th and 11th Street sites would be a big boon to the efforts to revitalize lower 8th Street (which David Perry of BRMS also talked about). He also mentioned making sure no land goes off the tax rolls as an important issue.
* The Barracks' commanding officer, Col. Paul D. Montanes, put particular emphasis on his desire to integrate the barracks with the community, specifically mentioning the Navy Yard's brick wall as something he wants to avoid. He called this process a chance to build something special, not "an eyesore or a prison," and said that he considers the Marines at the barracks to be "ambassadors," and he wants them to be part of the community.
There was a lot more (maybe I should scan my illegible notes and post them!), but those were the big items; you can look through the materials if you want to know more. (Never use me as a stand-in if this is a topic you're really interested in--go to the forums!) At the end of the meeting they handed out a draft Community Development Objectives document, which will be the topic of discussion at the next forum, on Dec. 7 at Eastern Market's North Hall from 7 to 9 pm (preceded by another open house from 5 to 7 pm). If you want to submit your comments to the Marines about any aspect of the process, you can do so online. (If you're just checking in, here's my previous posts on the search so far.)
UPDATE: City Paper was there, too, and has a more general summary, for people who maybe haven't been following along.
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More posts: Barracks, Community Center, 8th Street, meetings

A Few Pre-Turkey Day Bullet Points
Nov 23, 2010 1:48 PM
I imagine it'll be pretty quiet around these parts for the rest of the week. So here's a few recently Tweeted items -- and one new one -- to make it look like I haven't completely given up blogging:
* It appears that the owner(s) of multiple lots along the 700 block of L Street (the brown apartment buildings plus the corner lot where the beer garden is headed) has sold half-interest in those properties to "Calle Ocho, LLC" (8th Street, get it?). But note that the empty lot that comes through from the Miles Glass property on the north end of the block and splits these four lots (0013, 0014, 0824, and 0825) is not (as of now?) part of this block of properties.
* EYA and the DC Housing Authority were awarded last week a Jack Kemp Workforce Housing Model of Excellence Award for the first phase of Capitol Quarter. (I just wish that the ULI folks who put out the press release hadn't said that the neighborhood is "The Yards.") The Jack Kemp awards are given to "workforce housing developments that represent outstanding achievements in several areas, including innovative financing, unique construction methodologies, strong public/private partnerships, and replicability to achieve workforce housing affordability."
* Speaking of Capitol Quarter, if you scroll down my homepage to the Building Permits feed, you'll see that the first permits have been approved for Capitol Quarter Phase II houses, for lots on 3rd, I and K.
* The Capitol Riverfront BID's Holiday Market is back for another year, running from Dec. 14-18 on the sidewalk outside of 1100 New Jersey Avenue. "Shop the market for wool sweaters and mittens, homemade soaps, jewelry, antique maps, wreaths and holiday greenery, paintings, and much more!" See the flyer for more details.
* You can check out the BID's latest newsletter for more tidbits, including that work on 225 Virginia/200 I is scheduled to start next month, with occupancy expected in mid-2012. (Just in time to have a big old railroad trench dug in their backyard!) UPDATE: Yes, yes, there's already been a hole punched in the east side of the building, as people have been telling me for a more than week now. I wouldn't quite call that start of construction if nothing much has happened since....
* And, not a news item per se, but some pondering: as part of the need to close what is expected to be a nearly $500 million budget shortfall, Mayor-Almost Vince Gray announced on Monday a freeze on all capital projects that are not yet underway, while a "blue-ribbon panel of experts" reviews which are necessary. There's no specifics on the list of frozen projects reported yet, but I am wondering if Canal Park, which is getting $13.5 million of its $20 million price tag from the Office of the Deputy Mayor of Economic Development, might be on this list. We shall see....
Enjoy your holidays, everyone!

A Few More Details on NCC/Miles Glass Plans
Nov 17, 2010 3:48 PM
City Paper's Housing Complex blog has some new details on the plans for the Miles Glass site at 8th and Virginia by the new owners, the National Community Church (aka the Ebenezer's Coffeehouse folks). Pastor Mark Batterson says that he's envisioning "two performance spaces, one at about 500 seat capacity and another at a thousand, with at least one level of underground parking to handle the crowds. To keep the kids busy while adults are worshiping–or drinking coffee, or going to a play–there will be a large childcare center so special that they've retained the architects who created downtown Disney to design it."
They are also negotiating with adjacent parcels (which Batterson alluded to a few weeks ago, which by his description seems to include the empty lot on 7th), to make the "campus" somewhere between 50,000 and 75,000 square feet of developed space when completed. Batterson hopes to break ground within a year, with construction taking 12 to 18 months (so, probably 2013).
With a coffee house/performance space/church at the north end of the block and a beer garden at the south end, I may have to dub this spot the Saints and Sinners Stretch of 8th Street.
UPDATE, 11/18: If you've got ideas or notions for what you'd like to NCC do on this site, leave them in the comments--Mark Batterson has posted there this morning that everything's still really "up in the air" at this point, and they'd love to hear feedback.

Beer Garden Coming to 8th and L?
Nov 8, 2010 5:23 PM
An Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration Notice of Public Hearing appeared in last Friday's DC Register for an outfit called "Bavarian Beer Garden" seeking a Retail Class "C" Tavern license to open a "new tavern, beer garden with European/American food" on the northwest corner of 8th and L, SE. This corner is currently an empty lot (sorry for the old photo), and is next to some of the land that the National Community Church just bought as part of its purchase of the Miles Glass site (a small amount of the Miles Glass property runs all the way through to L Street).
The hearing notice says that the tavern/beer garden would seat 99 customers inside, with space for another 200 outside in the summer garden. They're looking to be open from 11 am to 2 am Sunday through Thursday, and until 3 am on Friday and Saturday, with the hours of alcohol sales matching those "open" hours.
This is part of the "Lower 8th Street" area that the Barracks Row folks are trying to revive; but I'll also note that it's in the block directly north of the Blue Castle, which I believe still has charter schools operating inside, so I wonder if there's going to be an issue there.
The lot resides in ANC 6B, and I don't believe anything has come before its ABC subcommittee yet.
The ABRA hearing date is set for Jan. 3, 2011, with petitions to appear before the board about this application needing to be submitted by Dec. 20.
(h/t Prince of Petworth, who has photos of the site taken today)

Barracks Row Board Endorses Marine Barracks Option for 8th/9th Streets, Park Fans Upset
Nov 4, 2010 4:36 PM
I'm trying to conserve energy on all things having to do with the Marines' search for a new barracks until some decisions actually get made, so today I'm just pointing you toward a post at The Hill is Home describing how the Barracks Row Main Street board passed a resolution endorsing the two blocks between 8th and 9th south of the freeway ("929-930") as their preferred site for the new barracks--and how that endorsement has riled up the fans of the Virginia Avenue Park and the community garden hosted there, who see BRMS's endorsement of the site as endorsing the "bulldozing" of the park.
The BRMS's executive director has quickly denied this, saying that the submitted proposal for 929-930 "replaces, at a nearly 2-to-1 ratio, the square footage lost as additional green space on other portions of the site," but the Save the Virginia Avenue Park Committee is, shall we say, skeptical and displeased, as you can see in the THIH's blog post and its comments thread. Controversy is a-swirling!
For a bit more background, you can also read my recent entry about the meeting where the unsolicited development plan for the 929-930 site recently submitted to the Marines by two landowners on those blocks was first mentioned. There was also discussion at that meeting about how any developer looking to work with the Marines on the Barracks project will need to demonstrate that they have control of all portions of the site they're proposing, which would be a dicey propostion if the 929-930 proposal includes any chunk of the park, since the National Park Service (which controls the park) won't state its views on the Marines taking part of the park until a NEPA process is completed. Unless the Marines convince Congress to pass "special legislation," according to Norm Metzger. My previous posts on the search process give additional background, if you're itching for more information.
But it's best to remember at this point that there are still no announced decisions on where the Marines may go. There are public forums scheduled for Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 to update the community on the process.
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More posts: Barracks, 8th Street, Virginia Ave Park

National Community Church Buying More Property
Oct 15, 2010 9:39 AM
A few weeks ago I wrote about the purchase of the "Miles Glass" site on the southwest corner of 8th and Virginia by the National Community Church, the "theater church" group that's also behind the rehabbed Ebenezers Coffeehouse near Union Station. Now, in a post on his blog, NCC leader Mark Batterson says that he has "just locked in another contract on an empty lot that abuts 733 Virginia Avenue, SE."
Given Batterson's description that the church will now have frontage on 7th, 8th, Virginia, and L, it would appear that the new lot under contract is the empty one directly across from the Marine Barracks on 7th, where a few years back a small developer had dreams of an apartment building, but never followed through; the lot then sold for $400,000 through a foreclosure sale last year.
Batterson says that this lot will enable NCC to add about 15,000 square feet to their final footprint--"and I don't think we're done yet." (Maybe that auto garage on the southeast corner of 7th and K is noticing that the church will soon own the land on both sides of it.)
The church is buying the properties because they're running out of space for services and staff at Ebenezers, Batterson has written. There's been no official announcement of what exactly they're planning for the site, but in a tweet to me right after I wrote about the first land purchase, Batterson said, "definitely another Ebenezers and we'd like to design a theater."

Tuesday Tidbits: 401 M, What if the Blue Castle Weren't Blue, Austin Grill Express at Nats Park?
Oct 5, 2010 2:29 PM
Some news on Near Southeast, still not the 9th Most Dangerous Neighborhood in the US:
* The National Capital Planning Commission's staff has recommended approval of the new designs for 401 M Street at the Yards, the new-construction building now redesigned to have residential units on top of a grocery-store-that-totally-isn't-Harris-Teeter-because-they-haven't-said-so-officially. The staff "recommends that the Commission recommend" [I love that] "that the massing and facade scale and articulation of the new building on Parcel D be studied and refined further as the design is developed. Staff notes that the grocery store should be treated with cladding that differentiates it from the residential tower and clearly acknowledges the presence and complements the scale of the sentry tower." You can see the designs on my 401 M page. The NCPC meets Thursday, Oct. 7, but this is a consent calendar agenda item, so it won't be discussed at the meeting.
* A subscribers-only WBJ piece discusses the new "Austin Grill Express" food-court concession that serves wings, burritos, tacos, and salads, that already has 11 locations since it launched about a year ago. There's another 11 on the way by the end of the year, and the owner is hoping for another 40 to 50 of them next year. One of the locations the owners are talking to? Nationals Park.
* What would the Blue Castle look like if it weren't blue? Madison Marquette included a rendering of a revamped 770 M (with what looks like a grocery offering of some sort) in the slides it showed at last week's Southwest Waterfront public meeting. There's been no official news of plans for the building, or a timeline on when work might happen. For those just joining us, the Blue Castle was originally a "car barn" back when DC had trolleys and then streetcars.

Miles Glass Site at 8th and Virginia Bought by National Community Church
Sep 22, 2010 10:56 AM
The "Miles Glass" site on the southwest corner of 8th and Virginia has been vacant and for sale for a number of years now, but in late August it was purchased for $3.5 million, by the National Community Church, the group behind the rehabbed Ebenezers Coffeehouse near Union Station in Northeast. According to their web site, NCC is "one church with [six] locations," broadcasting their Sunday services at multiple locations in addition to Ebenezers, such as the old Tivoli Theater in Columbia Heights and movie theaters in Georgetown, Ballston, Kingstowne, and Potomac Yard.
The church's head, Mark Batterson, wrote on his blog in late August about the purchase of the 8th and Virginia site, which he called "the last piece of property on Capitol Hill." The church is running out of space for services and staff at Ebenezers, he wrote, and since his vision for NCC is 20 locations and more than 100 staffers, they're looking at "going vertical" and constructing a building with about 50,000 square feet of space.
I don't know anything at this point about timing, design, or anything, but I'm guessing because of its location on 8th Street any proposed building will have to go through the city's zoning processes (as well as probably historic preservation and ANC 6B). And it looks like they may be in the very early stages of design themselves, because today is apparently the "visioning charrette" for the new property.
Note that the purchase covers the Miles Glass building and attached garage as well as the vacant lot just to the west. But the adjacent storefronts on 8th Street, including Al's Deli, are not part of the purchase.
As for managing to secure the property, apparently there must have been some divine intervention, because according to Batterson, NCC lost the contract to other parties three times before finally purchasing the site.

Comparison of Potential New Barracks Site
Jun 21, 2010 3:27 PM
Via ANC 6B commissioner Norm Metzger, the Marines have sent out a one-page Comparison of Key Components chart, looking at the four possible sites for a new Marine barracks that appear to still be in the running (Square 882 is not on the chart, so this letter must have worked). There's not necessarily anything new in this table, but if you haven't slogged through the documents on the project's web site, it's a nice quick overview of the pros and cons (from the Marines' standpoint) of each location.
It does look like maybe they're looking at using their current Annex site at Seventh and L a little more intensely than it seemed in their early public workshops, with the possibility of expanding its footprint westward to Fifth Street, which would mean taking over the site where a new community center is to be built, and demolishing the parking garage built just east of Fifth in 2004. (But a new community center could be built as part of the "shared uses" scenario that the Marines are looking to enter into as part of their new plans to "create a win-win solution" for both the community and the USMC.) The baseball and soccer fields currently on the site would most likely be taken over in this scenario.
The Square 929/930 and 11th Street Exxon sites both would mean that the Virginia Avenue PARK AND Garden would have to be relocated, and though the document says that "replacement sites to be provided with goal of no net loss," the PARK AND garden's fans are fighting hard to not lose their current location.
The option of relocating the barracks to a site within the walls of the Navy Yard is also still on the table, though with the Navy talking about its own needs for an additional 700,000 square feet, it would seem difficult to reconcile the two expansion plans within the finite space of the WNY.
There probably won't be much news on the Barracks front until the "charrette" in September (details TBA), unless the Development Fairy makes a surprise appearance before then and finds a location that pleases all sides. For more background on the search up to now, read my previous entries.
(UPDATED to prevent hordes of Virginia Avenue Park fans from burning me in effigy for mistakenly referring only to the garden and not the entire park.)
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More posts: Barracks, Community Center, 8th Street, Navy Yard

Historic Blue Castle and Streetcars Photos (and a Rant)
May 25, 2010 12:25 PM
Back before it was painted all manner of shades of blue, the building on the northwest corner of Eighth and M known as the "Blue Castle" was a car barn for the DC streetcar system. Madison Marquette, now the owners of the building, have just posted on Facebook a bunch of historic photos showing both the building in its pre-blue days as well as lots of shots of the old DC trolleys and streetcars. Definitely worth checking out.
And this gives me an excuse to link to my own Historic Photos page, which includes some of the photos that Madison Marquette posted along with others of the neighborhood from about 1918 to 1992. (There's also my Historic Maps page, for plats showing the neighborhood for various years between 1903 and 1921, if you want more wayback goodness.)
There are a lot more cool historic Near Southeast images out there, but unfortunately some libraries and historical societies tend to be quite strict about reproducing photos from their archives (often requiring payment even for use of low-res images that already exist online), so rather than those photos getting seen by people who are truly interested, they languish in file cabinets or little-used online databases. It's a shame, because I could have a lot of fun with them, but the attendant bureaucracy has pretty well stifled my interest in pursuing them any farther or even linking to them. Plus I'm too honorable to just steal the thumbnails and post them anyway, which I could certainly do. (And you can be very sure that my photos will never end up with these levels of restrictions.)
At least the great archive of historic photos that DDOT had begun to populate a few years ago is still around (though not on their new site, you kind of have to go digging for it via Google). Hopefully they'll get around to adding more shots. I've got a scanner, DDOT, let me at them!
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More posts: Blue Castle, 8th Street, Rearview Mirror

This Week's Events: Lower 8th Visioning, Marine Barracks, ANCs 6B and 6D (and Trapeze School?)
Feb 22, 2010 8:27 PM
A few items on the agenda this week, should you choose to accept any or all of these missions:
* The Lower 8th Street Visioning Process is having its final public meetings on Tuesday (Feb. 23) at 8:30 am and 7 pm at the People's Church, 535 8th St., SE. In case you haven't been following along, here's a good description by Barracks Row Main Street of what the process has been and hopes to achieve (via The Hill is Home): "The Lower 8th Street SE Visioning Process Advisory Committee has coordinated a vision process with property owners, other community stakeholders, and Barracks Row Main Street along the Lower 8th Street, SE corridor. Sponsored by the Capitol Riverfront BID, this process is an attempt to gain consensus on a vision for the area and to address issues of height, density, mix of uses, parking and access, as well as what should be the character of a redesigned Virginia Avenue Park as an amenity or community benefit for the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood and Capitol Hill. If consensus can be reached on the vision, it could serve as the basis for asking the Office of Planning to develop a small area neighborhood plan that could then be used as justification for any agreed upon zoning or density changes. This final meeting will attempt to synthesize a community consensus on the vision of Lower 8th Street." (A lot of qualified statements in there.)
* Alas, at the same time as the 8th Street evening session is the rescheduled ANC 6B monthly meeting, at 7 pm at the Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE.
* Also via The Hill is Home, news that the first community workshop on the Marines' "Community Integrated Master Plan" as they look for a new location for their barracks and other facility needs is scheduled for Wednesday (Feb. 24) from 6 to 8 pm at the Van Ness Elementary School at 5th and M, SE. This first workshop "will focus on the goals and objectives" of the CIMP, according to the project's web site.
* On Thursday, Feb. 25, ANC 6D is having its snow-postponed monthly meeting, at St. Augustine's church at 6th and M, SW, at 7 pm.
* The Trapeze School posted on its Facebook page this afternoon that they're getting their inspections on Tuesday, and are hoping to have their first classes in their new home at Fourth and Tingey at the Yards on Thursday.

Tidbits From the Past Few Days (Foreclosure, Marines, WMATA Cuts, 11th Street Bridges, 1015 Half)
Jan 21, 2010 10:35 AM
Rounding up some new and Tweeted tidbits, now that I've recovered from cranking out the State of the Hood:
* (h/t "reader X") The second foreclosure sale held yesterday for the boarded-up apartment building and surrounding lots at Potomac, Ninth and L brought no bids above the $2 million starting point, so the properties will now return to the lender. An earlier auction back in October had brought a $2.461 million winning bid, but that deal fell through. The properties were originally bought by ICP Partners in 2006, along with the gray building at Eighth and Potomac, for $9 million.
* Via ANC 6B03 commissioner Norm Metzger, the Marines have created a web site for their "Community Integrated Master Plan." The site describes this planning process as evaluating "community-military development partnering options" because "[t]here are unmet facility needs and security requirements at Marine Barracks Washington and a potential to meet common community and military needs through the process" and that their goal is "to use a coordinated planning process to create a win-win in meeting the development needs of the local community and Marine Corps." Now that that's cleared up, you can go to the open house they're having on Jan. 27 from 5 to 8 pm in the North Hall of Eastern Market, to "assist the planning team in identifying issues, concerns, and potential opportunities for military-community development partnering."
* One of many service reductions proposed by WMATA to help close their FY2010 budget gap is to shut down one of the two entrances to the Navy Yard metro station on weekends. (They don't say which one.) The public hearing on their various proposals is Jan. 27 at 5:30 pm. UPDATE: From Michael Perkins, in the comments, it would be the west entrance, at Half and M. I wonder if this would only be when there are no stadium events?
* Via the Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce's Twitter feed, there will apparently be one more Lower 8th Street visioning session, on February 22. After this final session, the group will forward its recommendations to the Office of Planning on what sort of development should be emphasized for these blocks south of the freeway.
* In Sunday's Post, Dr. Gridlock took a look at the 11th Street Bridges project, telling drivers what to expect as the construction unfolds, and that the "new bridges will forge a link between Maryland, the District and Virginia that has been missing since the original highway plan for the District was abandoned decades ago. And it will create a new link between neighborhoods on both sides of the Anacostia while relieving them of some of the commuter traffic that spills onto local streets."
* As part of the start of work on the bridges, a raze permit application has been filed to demolish the old red brick buildings between the current bridges that housed the Anacostia Community Boathouse, whose operations are now moving up-river to a temporary (maybe permanent) home at the Anacostia Marina.
* A little time spent trolling through public records shows that within the past month a bunch of the liens brought against Opus East when they liquidated and stopped work on 1015 Half Street have been settled. No indications from the new owner (Douglas Wilson Companies) as to when construction might restart, despite their statements back in October that it would be happening soon.

Lots on Potomac/9th/L Back Up for Auction
Jan 15, 2010 12:47 PM
(thanks to reader C for the tip) If you are desperate to own the nine lots along Potomac Avenue, Ninth, and L that were foreclosed on earlier this year, you've got a second shot. They were picked up at auction in October for $2.461 million, but apparently that sale has fallen through, because the lots are once again on the Alex Cooper Auctioneers web site, scheduled to be auctioned again on January 21. The properties were owned by ICP Partners, who defaulted on a $2.3 million loan in 2009. ICP tried hard earlier this year to drum up interest in these lotsplus the gray building at Eighth and Potomac that houses Quiznos (which is not part of this foreclosure), after a previous sale attempt in 2008 went nowhere. ICP paid $9 million for all 10 properties in 2006.
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More posts: 816-20 Potomac, 8th Street

Tidbits (Parking Data, Opera, Lower 8th, More)
Jan 14, 2010 10:56 PM
Some small recently-Tweeted items (which you can have delivered directly to your Facebook news feed if you become a "fan" of JDLand.com). Some of these probably deserved their own entry, but goodness, 140-character blogging sure makes me lazy!
* I wrote back in December about the DDOT public meeting that gave a lot of updated information about how the Performance Parking Pilot around the ballpark is going; DDOT has now posted a 21-page report with all the details, which is worth reading for anyone interested not only in how parking is being handled in the neighborhood, but about the non-automotive improvements that the meter income will be funding.
* The Third "Opera in the Outfield" at Nationals Park will be on September 11, a simulcast of the Washington National Opera's season premiere, Verdi's "Un Ballo in Maschera" ("A Masked Ball").
* The Lower 8th Street Visioning project has posted both the materials from its December sessions, and the agenda for the upcoming meetings on Jan. 19, which "will progress to looking at best mix of uses, breakout workshops on land use, density and parking, and closing with a Q&A."
* Peeking at the building permits feed, I noted the approved permit for the ballpark, described as "INTERIOR DEMOLITION AS PER PLANS TO SUIT TENANT 'PNC DIAMOND CLUB'." A Twitter follower indicated that they had seen the work on the Diamond Club already underway. No word from the Nationals on what exactly is coming.
* The Nats put out this "Nats in Your Neighborhood" newsletter, detailing good works around the city, including the work last month by the Dream Foundation on the United Southwest Health Center a few blocks from the ballpark, in Southwest.
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More posts: 8th Street, Nationals Park

ANC Supports Liquor License for Justin's Cafe
Jan 11, 2010 11:46 PM
Tonight ANC 6D gave its support in two separate votes to restaurateur Justin Ross's liquor license application for his new "Justin's Cafe" sandwich/salad/pizza place in the ground floor of the Velocity condo building at First and L streets, SE. There was little discussion, other than some concerns by commissioner Roger Moffatt about voting to support the full liquor license before the hearing is even "placarded," i.e., posted on the restaurant site, because he felt that this might prevent residents' concerns from being part of the ANC's decision (though, of course, the ABRA liquor license hearing process specifically allows for public comment). Two residents in the audience spoke strongly in favor of the proposed plans, and, in the end, the votes were 6-0-1 for a temporary "stipulated" license and 6-1 for the full license (Moffatt voting present/against on the two motions).
There's still no date set for the license hearing (Justin filed his application on Dec. 30), but he indicated that things should be moving pretty quickly in terms of getting the restaurant opened, and the stipulated license will allow him to serve alcohol until the full license is voted on.
Other Near Southeast-related tidbits:
* The Marines are going to be hosting an open house on January 27 from 5 to 8 pm at Eastern Market's north hall--they are formulating a new master plan for all of their space needs, and are looking to "partner" with residents, developments, government agencies, or any organization that can provide the space they're looking for. The open house seems to be the first step in "reaching out," though it all seemed a bit murky, and perhaps will be better explained when announcements for the open house are released. (Though "lower Eighth Street" was mentioned.)
* The commission also elected its offers for 2010, with Ron McBee being named chair. Vice chair Robert Siegel, secretary David Sobelsohn, and treasurer Jane Jorgensen retained their posts.
* This was the first time in all the ANC 6D meetings I've attended (starting in probably 2004) that I actually stayed until the very end (it lasted a mere three hours). Whether this is something to celebrate is another issue, especially on a night like this one where the heat at St. Augustine's seemed particularly, um, nonexistent. They did announce that soon the ANC and the Southwest Neighborhood Association will be moving to new digs at Waterfront (the new development about to open at the old Waterside Mall site at Fourth and M, SW). They will also have a public meeting space that presumably will have both sufficient HVAC offerings and decent acoustics, so that I will actually be able to *hear* what's going on.

Yards Gets LEED Gold; Buzzard Point Planning; Other Links (Parking, DOT HQ, Lower 8th, Jeff Neal)
Nov 24, 2009 9:42 PM
* The Yards has been designated a LEED Gold Certified Neighborhood Development Plan, based on the 42-acre project's stage two design plan, which "integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism, and green building into the first national system for neighborhood design." Read Forest City's press release, or learn more about the LEED for Neighborhood Development program.
* Southwest...The Little Quadrant With the Really Long Blog Name (hey, we kid because we love) gives a full report on the meetings last week to create a plan for Buzzard Point. The American Planning Association has posted its press release summarizing the sessions, saying that "Buzzard Point is a distinct area and should build on its strong existing residential character" and that any future plans should "[a]void using a cookie-cutter approach to redeveloping the neighborhood; the type of redevelopment taking place east of South Capitol Street is not what should occur west of South Capitol Street." (Yikes, now there's going to be a rumble in the South Capitol Street median.)
* Michael Perkins is not the person you want to be unable to find a parking space. Speaking of which, here's the second part of GGW's report on last week's Ward 6 Performance Parking public meeting.
* The US Department of Transportation HQ on M Street has been named a winner of the Phoenix Award, which "honors excellence in brownfield redevelopment" and honors companies and individuals who have worked "to solve critical environmental and community challenges when transforming formerly used real estate into productive new uses."
* Voice of the Hill reports on the latest Lower 8th Street visioning sessions: "Barracks Row Main Street executive director James Dalpee suggested that a Columbia Heights-style model, with several big anchor stores, might be what's needed to spur retail in the area," though "while they are dreaming big dreams, planners also have to contend with a number of potential obstacles. They include CSX's plans to tear up Virginia Avenue from 2nd to 11th streets for up to three years to make room for a double-stack train tunnel; the Marine Barracks master plan, which is set to be unveiled soon; and the 11th Street Bridges expansion project."
* WBJ's Breaking Ground blog points to a video by the Huffington Post's investigative unit on "Commercial Real Estate: the Next Hole in the Economy," which "stars" Jeff Neal of Monument Realty talking about the buying "binge" his company went on to snap up lots around the ballpark site in 2004 and 2005. (Though I think it's funny to see WBJ getting a bit snippy about news organizations "discovering holes in the ground" after they did, since I'd be willing to wager that they weren't the first to report on those sites, anyway.) WBJ also says that Neal is developing a reality TV show. Also be sure to check out the comments on the YouTube video for the sort of level-headed, reasoned discourse that we've all become accustomed to on the interwebs.

Donate Coats at Nats Park; Buzzard Point Study; Other Tidbits; Meeting Reminders
Nov 17, 2009 2:06 PM
Today's tidbits:
* The Nationals are in the middle of the One Warm Coat Drive, which is collecting "clean, reuseable" coats and jackets that will be distributed to District adults and children free of charge by the Coalition for the Homeless. Coats may be taken to the Team Store on the southwest corner of Half and N streets, SE, which will be open at 11 am everyday between now and Dec. 11 (except for Thanksgiving), with the store staying open until 3 pm from now to Nov. 25, 6 pm on the 27th and 28th, and 4 pm from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.
* Buzzard Point--the peninsula south of Potomac Avenue where the Anacostia and Potomac meet--is 95 percent outside of my boundaries (technically there's a sliver of Southeast over there since South Capitol Street runs down to R Street), but I'll still pass this along. The American Planning Association is going to develop a Strategic Vision for Buzzard Point, and there's a community meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, Nov. 18) from 6 to 8:30 pm, followed by a walking tour on Thursday, Nov. 19, from 8 to 9:30 pm, and then an "initial findings" meeting on Saturday, Nov. 21, at 2 pm. The Thursday and Saturday meetings are at the MPD-1D station at the old Bowen Elementary School at 101 M St., SW, and the walking tour leaves from King-Greenleaf Rec Center at 201 N St., SW. More information about the project and meetings here. (Note: meeting locations revised from original post)
* This is from last week, but WBJ reports that the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments is joining a regional group looking at possible ferry service from Occoquan to points along the Potomac and Anacosita Rivers (including the Navy Yard).
* The city has announced the first move related to the reconstruction of the 11th Street Bridges--they're going to close the pedestrian bridge over DC295 in Anacostia on or about Nov. 30, because it needs to be demolished to make way for the construction of a new ramp that will link southbound 295 with the new bridges.
And, two last-minute meeting reminders:
* If you're reading this in the next few hours, you can still make tonight's Lower 8th Street Visioning session, at 7 pm at 535 8th Street, SE. @CapitolHillDC live-tweeted this morning's session, if you want to see what went on. The agenda is available on the blogspot site.
* Competing with the Buzzard Point meeting is DDOT's public meeting on the Ward 6 Performance Parking Pilot, starting at 6:30 pm Wednesday (Nov. 18) at Friendship Baptist Church, 900 Delaware Ave., SW. This is a meeting I'm actually going to be able to attend! Woo-hoo!

Back Soon, I Promise; But Here's a Few Tidbits
Nov 13, 2009 1:15 PM
I warned last week that this was going to be a week where I'd be missing almost everything, and I haven't disappointed. This is probably the longest period this site has been quiet in many years, and I apologize. But all will be back to normal in the next few days, and I'll catch up with all the various doings, I promise.
In the meantime, mark your calendars for two meetings:
The next Lower 8th Street Visioning sessions, on Nov. 17 at 8:30 am and 7 pm, where one topic of discussion is apparently going to be the CSX plans for Virginia Avenue. (This was discussed at Tuesday's ANC 6B meeting, and one of my readers was nice enough to send his detailed notes from the session; also, here's the report from The Hill is Home.)
The next night, on November 18, DDOT is holding a public meeting on the Ward 6 Performance Parking Pilot program. There will be updates on signage improvements, the revenue generated from the meters, plans for "non-automotive transportation improvement modifications" that will be paid for with the meter revenue, and more. It's at Friendship Baptist Church, 900 Delaware Ave., SW, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. If you're not sure exactly what the Performance Parking Pilot program is, here's the scoop.
Also, I see on the DCRA Building Permits Feed that the building permit for Justin's Cafe at Velocity was approved on Nov. 9. No evidence yet online of a liquor license application yet.
Hope this can satisfy everyone's insatiable thirst for Near Southeast news for a little while longer....

Calendar Items (Confirmed, Cancelled, Moved)
Oct 5, 2009 2:40 PM
A few changes and confirmations to note:
* It appears that the foreclosure auction of nine lots along Potomac Avenue and Ninth Street is going forward, scheduled for 12:15 pm tomorrow (Tuesday, Oct. 6) at the Alex Cooper offices.
* From The BID: "Due to lowering fall temperatures, the BID has decided to cancel the rescheduled outdoor showing of Star Wars this Thursday, October 8th."
* And the Lower Eighth Street Visioning Community Input meetings originally scheduled for Oct. 7 have been moved to Oct. 20, at 8:30 am and 7 pm.
These items and more appear on my Events Calendar....
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More posts: 816-20 Potomac, Capitol Riverfront BID, 8th Street

Roundup of Recent Little Items
Sep 28, 2009 7:23 PM
Some recently Tweeted tidbits, and a few other morsels:
* Cornercopia is now open on Sundays from 10 am to 6 pm, according to a Tweet from Albert today.
* It's the last homestand of the 2009 season at the ballpark, with a 7:05 pm start on Tuesday and a 4:35 pm on Wednesday. (Oh--it's the Mets.)
* There's going to be a big Halloween shindig at the Bullpen on Oct. 31 from 9 pm to 1 am; three bands, a DJ, and costumes required.
* Velocity Condos is having its "Grand Opening" event on Oct. 3 and 4. Settlements on units in the building were supposed to begin on Sept. 21, but I haven't heard whether they have indeed started.
* WAMU did a brief report this morning on the BID's work (via events like the recent picnic and walking tour) to drum up interest in the neighborhood, especially to show retailers that there's a customer base. "Some 2,100 people live in the redevelopment zone, but McManus says more 'urban pioneers' need to arrive before retailers can move in."
* A group of owners, merchants, and residents working on ideas to perk up the southern end of Eighth Street (south of the freeway) now have a blog. There are apparently going to be a series of public meetings as part of the "visioning process," on Oct. 20, Nov. 17, Dec. 15, and Jan. 19, at 8:30 am and 7 pm. Their aim is to "attempt to gain consensus on a vision for the area and to address issues of height, density, mix of uses, parking and access, as well as what should be the character of a redesigned Virginia Avenue Park as an amenity or community benefit for the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood and Capitol Hill. If consensus can be reached on the vision, it could serve as the basis for asking the Office of Planning to develop a small area neighborhood plan that could then be used as justification for any agreed upon zoning or density changes."
* The Examiner reported last week that CSX is proposing to expand the amount of freight it moves through DC, which would require the expansion of the Virginia Avenue tunnel, the New Jersey Avenue overpass, and other locations to allow for double-height rail cars. The plan is supported by the National Capital Regional Transportation Planning Board and by DDOT.

New Photos Posted (Hat Tip: Mr. Blue Sky)
Sep 20, 2009 6:24 PM
Even at my laziest, it's hard to not pull out my camera on a day like today and head to the Hood. But without a lot of projects going on, I had the chance to also wander by some locations I've not paid as much attention to as I should. Here's the highlights:
I stopped by 11th and 12th streets to get caught up on the RFK ramp demolition that's part of the 11th Street Bridges project. The ramps across M have been down for a while now, making M Street along this stretch seem slightly less claustrophobic. The remaining concrete pillars (like the one at left, and the stubs on the south side of M) make for some interesting sculptures.

Capitol Quarter continues to progress on its third block (between K, I, Fifth, and Fourth), with some houses now bricked and framing coming soon to the north side of the block, making St. Paul's church not look quite so lonely anymore. Plus, the first foundations are being poured on the fourth and final block of phase 1, along Virginia Avenue between Third and Fourth.
I even ventured down to the fences at the Park at the Yards to see what I could see, and on the west side of the footprint I could glimpse some of the work being done on the Canal Basin water feature at the foot of Third Street as well as some clearing of the area that will be the Great Lawn. Here's the latest photos, or check the Yards Park page to see some of them matched with the renderings of what the spots will look like.

This isn't the most earth-shattering shot of the day, but I did feel it necessary to finally get a shot of 900 M Street now that Domino's is open.

Last but not least, I wandered around Virginia Avenue Park, finally getting my set of "baseline" photos along Ninth Street (only six years later than I should have). I also took some photos of the park itself but I'm going to take a little more time and not do a rush-job on the park photos; the one above, of the community garden, will have to tide you over a little longer.
As always, on any of these pages, click on the icon to see a complete set of before-and-afters of the location you're viewing. (And boy, am I loving being able to post larger thumbnails of photos here in the blog entries, thanks to the redesign of the home page. But don't forget to click through to see the non-thumbnailed versions.)


Group Working on Dog Park at Virginia Ave. Park
Sep 10, 2009 1:41 PM
There's a move afoot to create a dog park in a portion of Virginia Avenue Park, the little-known greenspace nestled between Ninth and 11th streets, SE, just south (and under!) the SE Freeway. (I'm as guilty as anyone for not swinging by there more often--I only have a few paltry photos posted, and hardly any recent ones.) "Capitol Canines" is proposing to use space on the 11th Street side of the park, and at Tuesday's ANC6B meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to support the proposal.
This idea is still very much in its early stages, and the group will be needing to raise money to get the improvements built. (Virginia Avenue Park itself is run and maintained by the city's Department of Parks and Recreation, although property records say the land is owned by the feds.) Here's an early rendering of the vision for the park, with the dog park at right; at left is a new playground that a private developer/individual is interested in creating, and the existing community garden is at the bottom, along L Street. The three groups will need to coordinate together as the project moves forward.
If you're interested in being part of the project or in getting more information, you can join the Google Group they've set up; the petition they're circulating for support is also available online.
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More posts: ANC News, Dog Parks, 8th Street, Virginia Ave Park

Domino's at 900 M Now Open
Jul 28, 2009 9:01 PM
Reader J passed me the word late this afternoon that the Domino's at 900 M Street appeared to be open, and I confirmed the tip with a quick drive-by a little while ago. The lights were on, a customer was at the counter, and the signs in the window were flashing. It's not yet available as a location on the Domino's web site, but I'm sure they'll take your call--the phone number (from a sign above the door) is 202-484-3030, the same as the old Domino's at South Capitol and M (not that I had it memorized or anything).
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More posts: 900m, 8th Street, Restaurants/Nightlife

Nationals Park Job Fair; Interest in Potomac Ave. Sale
Feb 26, 2009 11:53 PM
* From Tommy Wells:, an announcement of a Southwest Community Job Fair for Positions at Nationals Park, on Tuesday, March 3, from noon to 8 pm at the King-Greenleaf Recreation Center at 201 N St., SW. Applicants must be 18 or older; see the announcement for additional details.
* ICP Partners, the owners of the properties along Potomac Avenue between Eighth and Ninth, sent out a press release this week to announce that the sealed bid sale is "producing robust activity" in advance of its March 15 deadline: "The inquiries from various users for the site include a Navy Yard focused hotel and apartments, University Campus, retail and offices, and a childcare center for Navy Yard employees." They also put out a press release earlier this month to announce they had "signed [letters of intent] with a couple of the largest hospitality companies in the world to evaluate the feasibility of developing and managing hotels in certain urban markets, including 820 Potomac Avenue in SE Washington, DC."
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More posts: 816-20 Potomac, 8th Street, Nationals Park

A.M. Tidbits: 8th Street Lot, Anacostia Waterfront, N22
Feb 18, 2009 10:36 AM
* The folks at Barracks Row Main Street have passed along the news that today the chain link fences are being removed from around the parking lot under the Southeast Freeway at Eighth and I. New lighting has been installed, and once the parking meters and striping are complete, this lot that was formerly restricted to use by the Marines will become a 60-space public parking lot.
* I didn't make the Anacostia Waterfront Forum meeting last night; hopefully the DDOT folks will post any slides or other materials on the Anacostia Waterfront web site. However, yesterday WAMU did two reports on the initiative, with interviews with many of the people scheduled to speak at the forum: you can hear them here. (And, a PS to DDOT: it might not be a bad idea to have the old AWC URL redirect to the new web site instead of dc.gov.)
* A reminder that tomorrow (Thursday) is the WMATA public hearing on decommissioning the N22 Union Station/Eastern Market/Navy Yard bus line, so that DC can replace it with a shiny red Circulator bus. It's at 6:30 pm at Metro's headquarters, 600 Fifth St., NW.
* (h/t G St.) I have to admit I found this pretty funny, but only because I've been lucky enough to never discuss dog parks, nor have I come up with a "ridiculous acronym" for the neighborhood. (Though goodness knows plenty of other people are trying.) Plus, I was born on Capitol Hill, and really am a "DC Lifer." Nyaaah!
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More posts: 816-20 Potomac, circulator, 8th Street, Metro/WMATA

Landowners at Ninth and Potomac Talking to Hotels
Feb 9, 2009 2:32 PM
I've received a press release from ICP Partners, the folks who own the properties along Potomac Avenue between Eighth and Ninth (just north of M Street). Quoting: "The ICP Group, Inc. announces today that it will create an urban hotel index fund that will focus on developing and operating hotels in U.S emerging markets. As a benchmark, ICP has signed [letters of intent] with a couple of the largest hospitality companies in the world to evaluate the feasibility of developing and managing hotels in certain urban markets, including 820 Potomac Avenue in SE Washington, DC." This would be on the eastern part of the Potomac Avenue stretch of the block, the parking lot that wraps around onto Ninth Street. No word on who the hospitality companies are. Some may remember that this land (along with the building at Eighth and Potomac where Quizno's resides in the ground floor) was put up for sale in a sealed bid process back in December. More as I get it.
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More posts: 816-20 Potomac, 8th Street

Roundup: NatsFest, Wendy's, Yards Park, Teague Park, Lower Barracks Row
Jan 22, 2009 1:53 PM
Pulling together some reminders and other recent Twittered tidbits:
* This Sunday is NatsFest at the ballpark, from 1 pm to 5 pm. It's being held indoors in the various club areas, so if you've never gotten to see some of the lounges, or the conference center, or the clubhouse, this might be a good opportunity. Season-ticket holders get four free tickets; for the rest of the world it's $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12.
* Last week a raze permit was issued for the defunct Wendy's on I Street. No word on when demolition will actually occur. This is where JPI is planning its fourth Capitol Yards apartment building, 23 I Street, but there's been no recent intelligence on when they might decide to get underway.
* Construction hasn't yet begun on the Park at the Yards, but some additional information and more detailed renderings should be coming to light over the next month. Forest City is scheduled to make presentations to the National Capital Planning Commission on Feb. 5, and the Commission on Fine Arts on Feb. 16, and possibly ANC 6D on Feb. 9.
* A reader is reporting this morning that a derrick crane is going up at Diamond Teague Park--perhaps that's to begin work on the water taxi piers. (Though note that there was already a crane of some sort there back in December when I took these photos.)
* Apparently the various property owners surrounding the section of Eighth Street south of the freeway have gotten together along with the Capitol Riverfront BID to start working on plans to perk up the area, using the Connect Barracks Row report by University of Maryland Urban Studies and Planning students as a jumping-off point. Look for public meetings in February-ish.

Lots of Little Items (Real Life Still Intervenes): Plaza on K Renderings, Barracks Row, More
Jan 14, 2009 2:38 PM
Still knee-deep in inauguration craziness in real life, so can't devote much time to Hood things these days. Here's some quick bullet items, which at least I've managed to Twitter over the past few days so that I'm not completely shirking my responsibilities. (Don't forget that these Tweets get displayed at the upper right of the JDLand home page, if you just want to check them every so often.)
* I've received some swell new renderings of the Plaza on K office/retail project at First and K. The official web site also now has a whole lot of detailed information as well. Transwestern announced last week that they have officially begun marketing the project, and that the two buildings along First Street--88 K and 77 I--would make up the first phase. There's also a 10,000-square-foot public plaza at First and K that would be surrounded by ground-floor retail. It also is "designed to LEED Gold standards." See the above links for additional details. No timeline for the start of the first phase--I'm guessing they're not building on spec in this environment.
* The final Connect Barracks Row report has been posted; this was the study by University of Maryland students on how to reconfigure the southern end of Eighth Street below the freeway to better connect it with its neighbors to the north.
* I mentioned the other day that none of the *hundreds* of Near Southeast bars would be taking advantage of the special Inauguration extended hours, but I was incorrect. A lot of people (like me!) probably don't know that the "Bachelor's Mill/Back Door Pub" at 1104 Eighth Street SE in the block north of the Navy Yard even exists (even though their web site lists it as "The District's oldest and largest entertainment complex exclusively dedicated to the gay and lesbian communities"), but they're on the list of approved late-hours venues.
* A resident reports that last two little buildings standing on the 1345 South Capitol footprint have been demolished in the past few days. But no word on whether this means Camden is starting to move forward on this apartment project.
* I failed again, and couldn't make the ANC 6B meeting on Tuesday night. But I'm hoping that the update on the South Capitol Street Final EIS--my main reason for going--will be done for ANC 6D next month.
* Every year I've celebrated on January 20 the anniversary of my starting to track the goings-on in Near Southeast (Jan. 20, 2003 was the first day I went out to take photos, which I then posted on my web site). The past few years I've marked it by posting my annual State of the Hood roundup. However, this year, given that the lead-up to January 20 is going to be just a touch busy, I'm guessing I'll miss my self-imposed deadline by a few days. Waaah!
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Reminder: This Week's Flurry of Events
Dec 15, 2008 12:32 PM
Though I'm ready to give a stern talking-to to the folks who thought jam-packing the time just before the holidays with so many events was a good idea, here's a reminder of all that's happening Near Southeast-wise this week:
* On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the BID is putting on a Holiday Market at 1100 New Jersey Avenue. It will run from 11:30 am to 6 pm, and will feature "local artisans selling handcrafted jewelry, pottery, crafts, watercolors, photography, and more."
* On Tuesday at 6:30 pm is a community meeting on the planning process for Boathouse Row, which I wrote about recently. It's at Watkins Elementary, 420 12th Street, SE, and is being held by the Office of Planning. There's a pile of information from the city on this Master Plan process, if you want more information.
* Also on Tuesday, the city council will be having its final vote on the Taxation Without Representation Street bill, along with a pile of other legislative items they'll be trying to get out of the way before the end of the year.
* On Wednesday at 6:30 pm the Anacostia Community Boathouse Association is having its annual Boathouse Lighting and Community Awards Ceremony. City Administrator Dan Tangherlini will be honored, and then will flip the switch to illuminate the boathouse's holiday lights. The boathouse is at 1115 O Street, SE (between the spans of the 11th Street Bridges).
* The Capitol Riverfront BID is having its Annual Meeting and "State of the Capitol Riverfront" at 11:30 am on Thursday.
* The group of urban planning students at the University of Maryland who have been studying the lower part of Eighth Street will be presenting their "Connect Barracks Row" findings at a public meeting on Thursday from 7:30 pm to 9 pm at the Navy Yard Car Barn, better known as the Blue Castle, at 770 M Street, SE. You can see the presentation from their Oct. 29 community meeting and read a little more about the project on their web site.
These are all listed on my Events Calendar. I wish I could live up to my normal obsessiveness and say that I'm going to be at every one of these, but real life is intervening all over the place.

Sealed Bid Sale for Potomac Avenue Lots
Dec 4, 2008 12:46 PM
The owners of the series of lots along Potomac Avenue between Eighth and Ninth have announced a Sealed Bid Sale for the properties, with a due date of March 15, 2009. The offering, which includes the building at Eighth and Potomac where the Quizno's is located, the boarded-up brown apartment building at Ninth and Potomac, and all the land in between (totaling .81 acre), is being handled by an affiliate of Lincoln Property Company. The current owners are the ICP Group, which purchased all these properties in early 2006 for $9 million, and had put them on the market earlier this year, apparently without success. ICP are also the folks who tried to get the Admiral Condo project off the ground at Eighth and Virginia, but are now disentangling themselves from that project (now an office development) as well.
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More posts: 816-20 Potomac, 8th Street

Connect Barracks Row Presentation on Dec. 18
Nov 28, 2008 9:09 AM
The group of urban planning students at the University of Maryland who have been studying the lower part of Eighth Street will be presenting their "Connect Barracks Row" findings at a public meeting on Dec. 18 from 7:30 pm to 9 pm at the Navy Yard Car Barn, better known as the Blue Castle, at 770 M Street, SE. You can see the presentation from their Oct. 29 community meeting and read a little more about the project on their web site.
The students' work also got a write-up in today's Washington Business Journal (subscribers only), which says: "Their findings so far come as no surprise: Walking beneath the noisy highway is undesirable, parking isn't easy to find and there is little reason to go to the site in the first place."
In describing lower Eighth Street, WBJ also says: "A developer had plans to turn one block into housing and residential space, but that plan apparently went nowhere." Sounds like a reference to the original plans for the Admiral at 801 Virginia, which as I've been writing over the past few weeks has been redesigned as an office building and received its Board of Zoning Adjustment approvals on Tuesday.
There's also mention of the hopes by Madison Marquette to turn the Blue Castle into a 99,000-sq-ft retail destination, but no progress has been announced.
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More posts: 8th Street, meetings, Retail, zoning

BZA Approves Revised 801 Virginia Design
Nov 25, 2008 11:06 PM
This afternoon the city's Board of Zoning Adjustment approved unanimously two requested variances that will allow 801 Virginia Avenue to go forward as a 19,000-sq-ft office building with 3,000 feet of ground-floor retail. I admit to listening to the webcast with only about half an ear, but the bulk of the discussion seemed to be centered around the applicant's request to only have 17 underground parking spaces instead of the required 30 (17 is still four more than were allotted in the original condo-building design). As I wrote about a few weeks back, the developers say that groundwater levels and potential soil contamination issues would make it prohibitively expensive to dig two additional levels of parking (and having to have the garage entrance on L Street apparently doesn't help, either).
The 17 spaces will all be assigned to the office tenants, so there will be no parking for retail customers. (There was some discussion of creating overflow parking if necessary at 816 Potomac Avenue, another property owned by the same developer.) The applicant's traffic consultant also laid out the proximity of the site to Metro subway stations and bus lines, and with the request having the full support of the Office of Planning, ANC 6B, and the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, the board voted to approve the variances.
No word on when the project might get underway.
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More posts: 801va, 8th Street, meetings, Retail, zoning

8th Street Lot to Open to the Public
Oct 28, 2008 5:36 PM
Since people are talking about this in the comments on my post about the Connect Barracks Row meeting Wednesday night, it's timely to point to this Infosnack post that breaks news about the parking lot on Eighth Street under the Southeast Freeway. Apparently at last week's ANC 6B meeting DDOT informed the ANC that the Marines are going to be vacating the lot, and that DDOT is proposing "market-based pricing" of the lot, using either stick meters or multi-space meters. Read the post for more details.
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More posts: ANC News, 8th Street

Community Meeting About South End of 8th Street
Oct 24, 2008 2:04 PM
A project called "Connect Barracks Row," organized by University of Maryland graduate students in a Community Planning class, is looking at how the portion of Eighth Street between the Southeast Freeway and M Street, SE "can be developed to best benefit and connect the surrounding communities." To that end, they are having a community meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 29, where they are hoping to get feedback and ideas on how to make this stretch more vibrant and pedestrian-friendly, and how to overcome the barrier that is the freeway. The meeting is at 7 pm at Friendship House, 619 D Street, SE--here's the invitation flyer for more information. UPDATE: And here's the press release, for a bit more background.
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More posts: 8th Street

801 Virginia's Switch from Condo to Office
Oct 8, 2008 6:30 PM
At Monday night's ANC 6B Planning and Zoning Committee meeting, there was a presentation about the new plans for the southeast corner of Eighth Street and Virginia Avenue, where a few years ago a small group of investors planned a four-story condo building dubbed "The Admiral." As I mentioned a few days back, the owners are now wanting to switch to an office building that would still have ground floor retail, and are going in front of the Board of Zoning Adjustment on Nov. 25 for some items that need to be addressed as part of this change.
According to the presentation, the new office building would use the same design as the condo building, with a few tweaks (they appear to be wanting to get rid of the turret in the original design). But because of the switch to office space, the number of parking spaces required goes up to 30, far more than the 13 in the condo design. According to the architects, groundwater and possible soil contamination issues (since a gas station used to be located there) would make digging two extra levels of parking prohibitively expensive, and so they are seeking relief from the 30-space requirement. (And, for those wondering, the garage entrance would be on L Street, not Eighth or Virginia).
Commissioner David Garrison asked about the ownership of the lot (which has been on the market for nearly a year) and about the property's tax status, given that it was listed on the city's tax sale rolls last month. He was told that the lot has not been sold but that investment partnerships are being shuffled and sold, which should be completed soon, and that the delinquent taxes are to have been taken care of; Garrison asked for some sort of documentation on both before the ANC votes (presumably on Oct. 14) on whether or not to support the zoning exception requests.
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More posts: 801va, ANC News, 8th Street, meetings, zoning

801 Virginia Office Bldg Plans Coming to ANC 6B
Oct 3, 2008 4:33 PM
I wrote a few days back about the appearance of a zoning variance request for a new office building at 801 Virginia Avenue, site of the once-planned Admiral condo project that fell by the wayside last year. The Board of Zoning Adjustment will be taking it up on Nov. 25, and I now see this request on the ANC 6B docket, first at its Planning and Zoning Committee meeting on Oct. 7, and then in front of the full ANC on Oct. 14. Both meetings are at 7 pm at the Old Naval Hospital, 921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE. (As always, all these dates are on my nifty Near Southeast Events Calendar, brought to you by Google Calendar with all sorts of bells and whistles to either subscribe to an RSS feed of calendar updates or add the events to your own Google Calendar or other iCal-enabled offering.)
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More posts: 801va, ANC News, 8th Street, meetings, zoning

Something Happening at 801 Virginia?
Sep 26, 2008 1:30 PM
When last we left the plot of land on the southeast corner of Eighth Street and Virginia Avenue, we had learned that the owners (known as "801 Virginia Avenue LLC") had landed on the city's tax sale list, a few months after they put the site up for sale, with their plans for "The Admiral" condo-building-with-ground-floor-retail appearing to have collapsed. There's no indication in the land records that the lot has sold, and nothing on the Office of Tax Revenue web site to indicate what might have happened with the tax sale, but now appearing on the agenda for the Nov. 25 meeting of the city's Board of Zoning Adjustment is an application by "801 Virginia Ave LLC by Phillips Ocilla Davis Development LLC" for variances "to allow the construction of a new commercial office building with ground floor retail [...] at premises 801 Virginia Avenue, S.E." Hmmmm.....
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More posts: 801va, 8th Street, zoning

Neighborhood Properties Heading to Tax Auction
Aug 22, 2008 9:19 AM
(Thanks to reader K. for the tip.) With the real estate market and general economy in their current states, it's not surprising that quite a few properties in the city are heading to tax sales, which is what happens when property taxes have gone unpaid. The 2008 DC Real Property Tax Sale is scheduled to begin on September 17, and there are some notable Near Southeast addresses:
* 801 Virginia Avenue, where "the Admiral" condo building was planned until the investors put the site up for sale last year. Its tax bill is listed at nearly $78,000.
* 1010 Seventh Street (the empty lot across from the Marine Barracks), where a small developer had been planning a 12-unit condo building and where the tax bill is just over $30,000. (UPDATED to correct address, though the three parcels that make up the lot are owned by the 1012 Seventh Street Southeast LLC.)
* 1026 Third Street, the brown multi-unit building on the corner of Third and L that's been boarded up and for sale since at least 2003, though the unpaid tax bill is only $417. (Maybe if we all look under our sofa cushions....)
But, as the notice states: "Purchasers must be aware that additional liabilities, which are not reflected in the total amount" may be due, including liens previously sold to a third party. So don't pull out your checkbook unless you know what you're doing.
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More posts: 801va, 8th Street, square 906

Call for Artists to Spruce Up 8th Street Underpass
May 13, 2008 3:28 PM
From DDOT: "The Barracks Row Main Street in Washington, DC seeks an artist or artist team to design, create and install an urban mural for the SE Freeway overpass that divides the south end of 8th Street SE, now known as Barracks Row. The goal of this project is to create a unique landmark that expresses the character of the surrounding neighborhood. The large mural will help draw residents and non-residents for repeated viewings to the area and reinforce a sense of place within this community." Deadline is June 13, with the schedule calling for the work to be completed by early 2009. see the announcement for more details. The money is coming from federal highway funds, but the project itself is being run by the Barracks Row folks along with DDOT.
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More posts: 8th Street

Blue Castle Gets a Facebook Page
Jan 22, 2008 12:03 PM
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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More posts: Blue Castle, 8th Street

8th and Potomac Properties for Sale; Admiral Dying?
Jan 22, 2008 10:35 AM
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 AdmiralCondo.com 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.
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More posts: 801va, 816-20 Potomac, 8th Street

This Week's Ballpark and Beyond Column
Aug 30, 2007 11:27 AM
My Ballpark and Beyond column in today's District Extra of the Post covers the recent departure of AnA Towing to make way for DRI's Square 696 development; the raze permits for the old Capper Seniors complex and the buildings just north of the stadium along First and N streets; and the planned opening in September of the new Spay and Neuter Center at 1001 L Street. (I can't believe I made it through a column without a single piece about parking!)

Al's Deli Building on 8th Street Sold
Aug 21, 2007 12:21 PM
The DC Property Sales database has finished its August recess, and now reports that 1003 8th Street, SE, home to Al's Famous Delicatessen, was bought on July 19 for $620,000 by "1003 8th Street LLC." As of a few days ago, Al's was still open, and I haven't heard about any plans for the site. No sign yet, though, as to whether the old Miles Glass building next door is changing hands, which I thought might be the case after Mac's Tire Service closed at the end of June -- as of now, there's no records in the database indicating that building has been sold, but the database is about a month behind. Here's a photo of the buildings--the building that sold is the four-story one in the middle, and the Miles Glass building is the funky two-story one on the right.
UPDATE, 10/17: Two months later, I finally figure out that the Miles Glass building is actually part of the lot that makes up 1003 8th Street, so it was part of this sale.
More posts: 8th Street, square 906

Web Site for 801 Virginia Ave.
Aug 15, 2007 8:47 AM
It must be admitted that lately I've spent most of my Near Southeast on-the-ground time west of New Jersey Avenue, given that all of the active projects are in that area. So I'm embarrassed to see that there's now fence drapes around the lot at 801 Virginia Avenue, advertising a new web site for this condo-and-retail project, at admiralcondo.com. There's not really much more there than a somewhat balky Flash video and a preview list registration form, but if you're interested in this 40,000-sq-ft project that is slated to have 17 residential units (with parking) on top of ground-floor retail and some office space, take a look. There's also the web site of the realtor selling the commercial space, for additional detail. I've updated my own 801 Virginia page with a few new photos as well.
More posts: 801va, 8th Street

Blue Castle Back Up for Sale
Jul 6, 2007 7:22 AM
From today's Washington Business Journal (subscribers only), word that the Blue Castle at 770 M Street is up for sale, after having been purchased in 2005 for $20.2 million by Preferred Real Estate Investments (who might be needing the money to pay for their way-too-overly-Flash'ed redesigned web site). It's nearly 100,000 square feet on a 1.6-acre site, and is zoned for development of up to 200,000 sq ft. The WBJ blurb quotes Bill Collins of Cassidy & Pinkard Colliers as saying there's much interest in the building and proposals are already being received. But it's noted that the two charter schools currently in the building have leases through 2012.
More posts: Blue Castle, 8th Street

Miles Glass Tire Shop Closed
Jun 26, 2007 4:23 PM
Thanks go to eagle-eyed correspondent Mark for passing along the news this weekend that Mac's Tire Service shop in the old Miles Glass building at 8th and Virginia appears to have closed. I have no details to pass along, as to whether the property's been sold or if the shop just shut down on its own. Anyone with details is of course encouraged to drop me a line. It's quite a cool building, in a good location on 8th Street--it would certainly seem to have possibilities, but they'd better not involve demolishing it or getting rid of that festive sign!
UPDATE: I've been alerted that Mac's has not closed permanently, but has moved to 423 Florida Ave. NE.
More posts: 8th Street, square 906

ANC Doings
Apr 11, 2007 2:56 PM
Some very brief Near Southeast-related updates from two ANC meetings this week (I wasn't in attendance at either, so these are just quick summaries I received from Other Parties): At ANC 6D on Monday, the commissioners voted 3-2-2 to oppose a zoning special exception request (waiver of the rear yard requirement) for the planned office building at 1111 New Jersey Ave., the Donohoe project on the west side of New Jersey between L and M (on top of the eastern Navy Yard Metro station entrance); the Board of Zoning Adjustment hearing is on May 8. As always, the biggest sticking point appeared to be battle between the ANC's we-want-a-community-benefits-package-in-return-for-our-support stance and the developer's this-is-a-matter-of-right-project-we-don't-have-to-give-you-anything stance. (And you wonder why I avoid these meetings like the plague.)
Meanwhile, over at ANC 6B (which is in charge of the sliver of Near Southeast around 8th Street/Barracks Row), the process is beginning about the possibility of razing the abandoned beige apartment building on Potomac between 8th and 9th and replacing it with a new four-story building with ground-floor retail and two levels of underground parking (though this is still just in the conceptual phase and may not be the final plan). A raze permit has been applied for, but because this small section of Near Southeast is part of the Capitol Hill Historic District, the Historic Preservation Office will be involved in the process. More later, I'm sure.

801 Virginia Avenue Gets Its Permits
Feb 23, 2007 10:23 AM
I've received word that all permits have at last been secured for 801 Virginia Avenue, the 40,000-sq-ft residential/retail/office project on the southeast corner of 8th and Virginia. It will have 17 residential units (condos), plus about 8,000 sq ft of office and retail space. The developers expect to begin construction within the next 90 days, with completion expected in summer 2008. More information is available on the this web site (geared toward selling the office/retail space)--marketing of the condos should begin "soon", I'm told.
More posts: 801va, 8th Street

801 Virginia Ave. Update
Oct 27, 2006 1:18 PM
After some delays, it appears that the mixed-use project on the southeast corner of 8th and Virginia may be moving forward soon. 801 Virginia Avenue will have 15 residences on it's upper floors, with 3,200 sq ft of retail at ground level and 4,750 sq ft of office space. The developers were nice enough to pass along a new rendering, which I've added to my 801 Virginia page. They are anticipating delivering the project in 2007.
More posts: 801va, 8th Street

All Sorts of Upcoming Meetings
Sep 19, 2006 6:41 PM
In case you don't make it a habit to look at my Neighborhood Events Calendar halfway down the home page (boo!), I'm making mention of a few upcoming meetings: Sept. 20 has the Capitol Hill Restoration Society's Preservation Café, "Barracks Row Below the Freeway"; Sept. 21 has a Washington Canal Park Community Stakeholders Meeting; Sept. 28 has an Anacostia Waterfront Corporation Public Board Meeting. See my calendar for times and places.
More posts: Anacostia Waterfront Corp., Canal Park, 8th Street

CHRS Preservation Cafe: Barracks Row Below the Freeway
Sep 13, 2006 2:19 PM
The Capitol Hill Restoration Society has announced its next Preservation Café, "Barracks Row Below the Freeway," which will highlight the renovations and new ventures that have ocurred since the blocks were incorporated into the historic district five years ago as well as discuss the history and historic resources of the area. It's scheduled for Sept. 20, at the Trattoria Alberto restaurant top floor, 506 8th St., SE, from 6:30 - 7:15 pm.

More posts: 8th Street

Blue Castle Rumors - Not True
May 11, 2006 11:51 AM
UPDATE: Whole Foods is *not* coming to the Blue Castle--I've confirmed this with Preferred Real Estate Investments, Inc., the owner of the Blue Castle.
Original entry: In this week's The Hill, Duncan Spencer reports (scroll down a bit) that it's "confirmed" that a Whole Foods grocery store is coming to the Blue Castle at 8th and M. There's no mention of it on the web site of the castle's owners (Preferred Real Estate Investments, Inc.), but we all know that SOME web sites are better at updating with new information than OTHERS! Back when the sale was announced, the owners said they'd be trying to get Whole Foods and a national bookstore chain. Am trying to track down some confirmation. Meanwhile, Spencer's column also mentions two other Near Southeast items, one being the Anacostia Riverwalk and the issues with it running along the Navy Yard's waterfront (i.e., right now no one can get to it without going through the Navy Yard gates and showing ID). The article also says that the Southeast Federal Center financing has not been settled between GSA and Forest City Washington, although I thought it indeed had been back in June of 2005 when the development agreement was signed. Spencer also says that no SFC construction is expected for at least a year and a half--but the recent article from Shopping Center Business magazine quotes a Forest City representative as saying that "bulldozers will be moving by the end of the year at Southeast Federal Center." So make of all of that what you will.
More posts: Blue Castle, 8th Street, Navy Yard, Retail, The Yards

Car Barn Gets Historic Designation
Mar 24, 2006 9:56 AM
Yesterday the DC Historic Preservation Review Board approved the Historic Landmark nomination of the Navy Yard Car Barn (aka the "Blue Castle" at 7th and M). This means that the building has now been added to the DC Inventory of Historic Sites, and is also now protected under DC's Historic Preservation Law. What does this mean for the company that just paid $20 million for the property with plans to use it for retail? We shall see.
More posts: Blue Castle, 8th Street

10 Potomac Ave. Lots Sold for $9M
Mar 7, 2006 11:59 AM
While we wait for the city council to get to the baseball stuff on today's agenda, I'll pass along this news item--according to the DC Land Sales database, on Feb. 3, "ICP PARTNERS POTOMAC 810 LLC" purchased 10 lots along Potomac Avenue between 8th and 9th streets for $9 million. This includes the boarded up apartment building on Potomac, the building on M Street housing Quizno's, and the lots along 9th and the eastern edge of L. No word yet as to what their plans for this spot may be, but it is a prime location, just across the street from the Latrobe Gate of the Navy Yard. (Note that ICP Parnters is part of 801 Virginia Avenue LLC group currently developing the 801 Virginia Avenue project.)

More posts: 801va, 816-20 Potomac, 8th Street

Hearing on Blue Castle Building
Feb 17, 2006 9:34 AM
On March 23, the DC Historic Preservation Review Board will be holding a public hearing to consider whether to designate the Navy Yard Car Barn at 770 M Street (more popularly known as the "Blue Castle") as a historic landmark, and also to consider nominating it to the National Register of Historic Places. The hearing will be at 10 am, Room 220 South, 441 Fourth St. NW. (Remember, you can always check my Upcoming Events calendar to see what meetings, hearings, and other Near Southeast items of interest are happening.)
More posts: Blue Castle, 8th Street

Lots of Other New Pictures
Feb 16, 2006 9:55 PM
In addition to the pictures I posted earlier from the site of the new baseball stadium, there's also new pictures now on my Capitol Hill Tower, DOT HQ, and 20 M Street pages. I've also got a few new shots and some additional information on the project at 801 Virginia Ave. (if you've been past there, you may have noticed that the buildings on the lot have been demolished.)

801 Virginia Ave. Project Rendering
Dec 27, 2005 7:52 AM
ICP Partners, the developers of the new project at 801 Virginia Avenue, have been kind enough to pass along a rendering of the four-story building that is going to be built on the southeast corner of the 8th and Virginia intersection--you can see it at the top of the "My Photos" section on my 8th Street Historic District page. The project is to have 15 residences, and retail spaces along 8th Street, and could be completed by the end of 2006.
More posts: 801va, 8th Street

Blue Castle Sold; Redevelopment Eyed
Dec 27, 2005 7:17 AM
Catching up a bit here after the holiday.... Preferred Real Estate Investments has purchased the "Blue Castle" building on the corner of 8th and M, for $20 million. According to the Post: "Executives at the Conshohocken, Pa., developer said the location of the 100,000-square-foot building makes it ideal for retail stores such as a Barnes & Noble bookstore and a Whole Foods grocery. The upscale stores eventually would supplant three charter schools that now are in the building." They hope to start construction in 2007. (And they're planning to de-Blue the building a bit, too, by painting it a more sedate shade; but they plan on preserving the arched windows and exposed brick interior.) Note that it doesn't sound like there are as yet commitments from any retailers for the site.
More posts: Blue Castle, 8th Street, Retail

ANC 6B December Meeting Agenda
Dec 1, 2005 7:05 AM
ANC 6B has posted its December Meeting Agenda, which is scheduled to include reports on two Near Southeast projects from its Planning and Zoning Committee's Dec. 6 meeting: the Capper/Carrollsburg second-stage PUD (which is going before the DC Zoning Commission on Dec. 19), and a new proposed project at 1006-1010 7th Street, SE, which plans to combine 3 [currently empty] lots and construct 4-story building with offices on 1st floor and 3 residential floors above (9 apts.). This would be on the east side of 7th Street, across from the Marine BEQ and next to the five rowhouses that are being renovated (just north of the 7th and L Market). This project is also on the agenda for the Dec. 15 Historic Preservation Review Board Meeting. On a similar front, the proposed mixed-use project at 801 Virginia Ave. is also on the HPRB agenda (again), it appears the original proposal (see the July ANC 6B minutes for details) has been revised. My 8th Street Historic District page has a photo or two of these 7th and 8th Street locations.
More posts: ANC News, Capper, 8th Street, square 906, zoning

Updated Photos
Nov 28, 2005 8:10 PM
Blech, after all this stadium stuff recently, I feel the need to clense my digital palate, so I've returned to my original Near Southeast mission for a moment and have posted some new photos. My latest Capper Seniors #1 photos show that construction is moving along, and I've added a cool comparison to my New Jersey Avenue page from the SE Freeway (don't ask how I took them) showing the impact of Capitol Hill Tower and the DOT HQ on the Near SE skyline in the past 11 months. And I've documented some minor changes in the landscape of the Ballpark District (with the demolition of a few small buildings along Half Street) and the 8th Street Historic District. I also tossed in a few updated shots on my M Street, Capitol Hill Tower, and DOT HQ pages, too. (As always, scroll the pages and look for the  icon.) Speaking of the Ballpark District, Stephen Green of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development said today at the stadium hearing that the four finalists for the "master developer" gig were interviewed by the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation today, and that a team should be named by the first or second week in December.

New Page for East M Street Area
Nov 8, 2005 6:38 PM
I've added a new page for the East M Street Area, that triangle of land east of the 11th Street Bridges and south of the Southeast Freeway that makes up the very eastern portion of Near Southeast. The Maritime Plaza development is the most obvious occupant of this area, but rowers and the like have staked a claim to this site's water access as well. The Anacostia Waterfront Initiative's plans should bring welcome changes to this stretch in the years to come. (The addition of this area to the main map on my home page is not particularly elegant, but I couldn't shrink the map any farther!) I've also renamed the former East End page, giving it its proper designation "8th Street Historic District." (Both these monikers come from the Near Southeast Urban Design Framework, which is worth a look if you've never seen it or haven't looked at it in a while, to see what the city had in mind back in 2003 for this neck of the woods--you know, before anyone was talking about a stadium!!)

New Photos
Oct 29, 2005 5:01 PM
It's Photo Updates day, and I've added a pile of them--look for the   icon to see my latest photos on these pages: DOT HQ, Capper Seniors, Capitol Hill Tower, Canal Park, 20 M Street, East End, M Street, Marine B.E.Q., and New Jersey Avenue, and even one if you dig enough on South Capitol Street. Whew!

New Restaurant on 8th
Oct 29, 2005 4:28 PM
If you haven't seen it yet, Chicken Tortilla has opened at 8th and L (see photo on my East End page), serving charbroiled rotisserie chicken. It's open M-F 10-7, and 11-4 on Saturdays.
More posts: 8th Street

Oct 14, 2005 11:57 PM
In case you don't have enough Near Southeast items on your calendar:
• The October meeting of ANC 6D (which includes about 85% of Near Southeast in its borders) will be held Monday, Oct. 17. The agenda includes two presentations of Near Southeast interest: one on the Capper/Carrollsburg Second Stage PUD, and one on the Florida Rock PUD. [entry repeated from a few days ago as a reminder]
• The Capitol Hill Restoration Society will be hosting a forum about the Anacostia Waterfront Initiatve on October 25. In addition to outlining the framework of the redevelopment plans (from the South Capitol Street corridor to the new stadium (!) through the Navy Yard up through Reservation 13 and RFK), the presentation will highlight how the initiative will relate to Capitol Hill in terms of business opportunities, urban density, and historic preservation. 
• The small mixed-use project at 801 Virginia Avenue winds its way through the bureaucracy with a hearing in front of the Historic Preservation Review Board on October 27. The developer wishes to demolish the auto repair shop and replace it with a four-story building with 17 residences and ground-floor retail.

Oct 13, 2005 4:00 PM
The Oct. 13 Voice of the Hill (PDF here) has pieces on two Near Southeast items: the cleanup of the Virginia Avenue Park at 9th and Virginia in the East End (on page 4), and an item (page 14) on the vacant Washington Star/Washington Post building at 3rd and Virginia, and the Washington Canal Park project just to the plant's south. (Scroll to the bottom of my Canal Park page, and you can see rough drawings of how the building could look after a conversion to office or mixed-use.) The article mentions a target date of 2007 or 2008 for Canal Park, which is a pretty fair delay from the original 2006 completion timeline. You can also look at my Capper/Carrollsburg page for more information about the housing that will be going up around the park.


Oct 2, 2005 5:03 PM
It's been a busy busy weekend here at the Near Southeast page. To reflect the true boundaries of the area I'm tracking, the map at right has been expanded, to 11th Street to the east and to South Capitol and S Streets in the south. I've also added two new pages to the site: the New South Capitol Street Bridge page, and the Near Southeast East End page, both of which have lots and lots of photos, and links to information about what's happening in those spots. I've also finally made my Navy Yard page more than an afterthought, adding many more pictures (although not so many from inside the Navy Yard walls, I don't want a visit from the Homeland Security folks). I know this makes the map smaller and a bit harder to read, but I also needed to leave some space for when more projects get underway. And, in the midst of all that, I added new photos to many of the existing pages: check out the DOT HQ, Washington Canal Park, Capitol Hill TowerFlorida Rock, and WASA pages to see them. (You'll also find a few new pictures on some other pages, but it'd be embarassing to mention them here when there's only one new photo on a page.)


Sep 14, 2005 5:34 PM
I will admit that I have tended to focus on news west of 7th Street, SE, ignoring the small additional sliver of Near Southeast south of the freeway between 7th and the 11th Street Bridge. (Some would argue that the land east of the 11th Street Bridge, including Maritime Plaza, is also part of Near Southeast, but I'm putting my foot down and deeming that Hill East.) But I promise now to add those few blocks to their rightful place on this site (if not on the map at right, at least not yet!). So, with that, a few items:
• The land at 801 Virginia Avenue (the southeast corner of the 8th and Virginia intersection, currently occupied by an auto repair shop and a gas station), was bought in early August for $2.5 million. According to August's Voice of the Hill (see page 5) (along with a correction on page 3 in its September issue), the developer is planning a four-story building with 15 residential units, with retail spaces along 8th Street. ANC 6B has approved the project along to the Historic Preservation Review board. More as I get it.
• The DC Department of Transportation has scheduled two public meetings on the East Washington Traffic Relief Program, a six-year, $263-million project to build four ramps on the east side of the 11th Street Bridge, two of which will provide direct connections between the 11th Street Bridge and the Anacostia Freeway. The meetings, Oct. 5 and Oct. 6, are both "scoping" meetings to begin preparing an Environmental Impact Statement for the project (the Notice of Intent to prepare the EIS was published in the Sept. 13 Federal Register).  See the EIS project web site (which was just launched sometime in the last 12 hours, it was "coming soon" when I first looked this morning!) for more information. This March 26, 2005 press release from the mayor's office gives more details on the project, as does the Middle Anacostia River Crossings Transportation Study site.
More posts: 11th Street Bridges, 801va, 8th Street, Traffic Issues