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Search term: (zoning) : 200 matching blog entries

Updated Drawings of Planned Homewood Suites at 50 M
Jul 2, 2014 9:37 AM
With its Capitol Gateway Overlay Review hearing now less than two weeks away, the developers of the Homewood Suites hotel planned at 50 M Street SE have submitted to the Zoning Commission new drawings of the building. Click to embiggen.
The angles are from Half Street (left) and Cushing Street (right). The site is directly across M from the west entrance to the Navy Yard-Ballpark Metro station.
The building is planned to be an 11-story, 140,000-sq-ft structure with one level of underground parking with a requested 40 vehicle parking spaces instead of the mandated 53, and 12 spaces for bicycles. I wrote more about the plans a few weeks back, or you can check out the project page for more details and photos of the current location.

A Peek at the Plans for 50 M's Homewood Suites Hotel
May 9, 2014 9:00 AM
Last week developers submitted to the Zoning Commission plans and drawings for the Homewood Suites Hotel being developed at 50 M Street, on the northeast corner of Half and M SE, one block north of Nationals Park.
This is part of the Capitol Gateway Overlay Review that projects in many parts of the neighborhood are required to go through, to make sure that new buildings meet the many goals for design that were set when the area was just a gleam in the Office of Planning's eye.
The filing mentions the basics: the hotel will be 11 stories/40,000 square feet, of which about 4,800 square feet will be reserved for ground-floor retail. There will be a pool and fitness center, a rooftop terrace, and a green roof. And if the current design becomes the final design, the project would most likely meet LEED Silver requirements.
Also included were some early elevations, such as the one at right and a few others that I snagged and have put on a newly thrown-together 50 M Street project page. (And yes, it's in the new JDLand design format--I can't be bothered to build a separate one in the old layout. If it's not displaying right for you, drop me a line and tell me what browser you're using.)
The only special exception to the CG Overlay being sought is that the developers are asking to include only 40 parking spaces, when 53 would be the normal base requirement, because of the hotel's "urban location" directly across from the west entrance of the Navy Yard-Ballpark Metro station. Judging from the drawings, the underground parking entrance will be on Cushing Street; and the developers stated in the filings that they would be building a new sidewalk along the property's frontage on that street.
ANC 6D will be reviewing the project at its next meeting, on Monday, May 12 at 7 pm at 200 I St. SE., in advance of the Zoning Commission's as-yet unscheduled hearing.

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

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

Tuesday Tidbits: Mmm, Mmm, Good Edition
Mar 11, 2014 3:58 PM
Goodness, these piled up all of a sudden. Let's start with the food and drink-related items:
* Strolling by the long-in-the-works Willie's Brew and 'Que at the Boilermaker Shops over the weekend, I saw that flat screen TVs are now up on the walls. I imagine they are dreaming of being open by Opening Day.
* Ice Cream Jubilee at the Lumber Shed now has its tenant layout permit approved, so work should be underway there.
* Tom Sietsema had good things to say about Osteria Morini.
* PoPville reports that Hill Country's attempts to open a temporary location on Tingey Plaza behind USDOT haven't worked out.
And, on the non-digestible front:
* SWill reports on ANC 6D's newest commissioner, Stacy Cloyd, who is filling the 6D02 vacancy left by Ed Kaminski. A resident of Southwest, Stacy will also be representing areas east of South Capitol, including Velocity, Capitol Hill Tower, and Nats Park (and River Parc, before long).
* DDOT has released its draft Request for Proposals to the short-list finalists for the first two phases of the South Capitol Street project, which include building the new bridge and also rebuilding the interchange of I-295 and the Suitland Parkway.
* The new owners of the lot at South Capitol and N just north of Nats Park have withdrawn the pending zoning case for the site, which predated the property's recent sale. The previous ownership group had long been working on an office project, but in its withdrawal letter 1244 South Capitol Residential LLC says it is "studying development of the property for residential uses," and that it plans "to submit a new application for Capitol Gateway review in the near future."
* Outside the boundaries, but Near Southeast residents may still be interested in the looming start of the huge Wharf project on the Southwest Waterfront, with a ceremonial groundbreaking scheduled for March 19. Here's the Post's story on the new development, along with a photo gallery (which might seem to have a somewhat familiar style) of the current waterfront, before it's gone.

Zoning News: Yes to Vet, and Capper Hearing to Come
Feb 14, 2014 12:16 PM
Now that I've come out of my snow bunker (being a weather geek is a terrible disease), I'll pass along these notes from the past week or so in Zoning Land:
* VET: The commission on Feb. 6 approved 5-0-0 Forest City's request for a wording change to allow a veterinary hospital to operate in the Southeast Federal Center Overlay area (basically, the Yards).
As I wrote a week or so ago, a vet is a potential tenant in Twelve12's retail space on Tingey Street, but before a lease can be signed, "veterinary boarding hospital and veterinary hospital uses" needed to be added to the SFC overlay's allowed uses, subject to a number of conditions (no more than 50 percent of the tenant space can be for boarding, that any animal legally sold in the District can be boarded, incidental boarding of animals for convalesence is allowed, order and waste handling requirements, and that grooming and supplies can only be "accessory" uses). There was some back-and-forth about the word "incidental," and it was agreed that that wording be better phrased before the final vote.
Forest City does not announce tenants until a lease is executed, so the name of the potential vet has not been released.
* CAPPER: On Feb. 10, the commission voted to "set down" for a full hearing the Housing Authority's request to modify the Capper PUD to allow 30 of the affordable housing units planned for squares 739, 767 and 768 to be transferred outside the Capper boundaries to the block where the Park Chelsea is currently under construction. (See the this map culled from the Office of Planning Report to help you visualize.)
The planning folks have a number of issues they want DCHA to address before the hearing on this modification, but not among them is the biggest issue that ANC 6D has with Square 767: that the Housing Authority is thinking about a plan that would change the original plans for a single 147-unit mixed-income building to two buildings, one a market rate-only condo building and the other an affordable housing-only building. (This plan is not mentioned in the housing authority's filings with the zoning commission.)
During the discussion, commission chair Anthony Hood noted that ANC 6D is "one of the ANCs that this commission knows is very engaged," which was in reference to the strongly worded letter the commission received with 6D's concerns that they and the community still need to be "appropriately briefed" about DCHA's plans, and that the commission be able to "fully vet our concerns with them regarding the request for modification." Hood also said, "Let's make sure the next vote we see shows that everyone is working together."
Concurrently, the commission's vote also deferred action on DCHA's parallel request for a five-year extension to the PUD covering these same three squares, saying that the extension request decision hinges on the modification case's decision. The Office of Planning is recommending just a two-year extension, and zoning commissioner Marcie Cohen said that DCHA needs to provide much more detailed information on the steps taken up to this point to secure financing, since it is her opinion that the initial filing doesn't seem show a "compelling need" for an exemption.
The hearing date isn't yet set, and DCHA will have to go to ANC 6D (and probably 6B as well) in order to request support before its zoning commission appearance. The Housing Authority and 6D have had a pretty contentious relationship over the years in regards to the Capper redevelopment, and it's unlikely that the deliberations over this zoning request will change that.

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

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

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

Four-Phase Residential Project Proposed for East M Street
Nov 6, 2013 9:01 AM
In another blast from the past, we've learned from WBJ that the Cohen Companies have filed zoning paperwork for their proposed project at 1333 M Street SE, a mere 3 1/2 years since they last discussed the development of this three-acre triangular plot of land east of the 11th Street Bridges near the Anacostia River.
However, it's no longer the 815,000-sq-ft office/hotel/retail project that was unveiled in 2010 -- Cohen, developer of the Velocity Condos at 1st and L, now is proposing a four-phase, three-building project with 673 residential units and 10,370 square feet of retail use. WBJ quotes Eric Siegel of Cohen as saying "the office market is just not there" in DC, and that the company felt that "creating a sense of place with a residential community was a much better opportunity than just creating an office environment."
Currently the site is home to, well, not much. Temporary trailers and surface parking were installed as part of the 11th Street Bridges project, and this stretch of M is pretty ripped up now as part of DC Water's big dig. To the west of the site are the two buildings and large surface parking lots of Maritime Plaza, and south of Water Street is the stretch of waterfront uses known as Boathouse Row. The invisible "intersection" of 13th and M is probably known to passersby only because of the somewhat incongruous mini-traffic circle built there. The eastern end of the triangle is where Water Street meets M, which isn't exactly exciting either (though my photos of that spot are from before DC Water started ripping it up). Directly to the north of the triangle are both the CSX train tracks and the stretch of road that is on its way to becoming Southeast Blvd.
The first phase of the project would be a 10-story, 218-unit building, viewed in the design as the first of two towers in a single building at 1333 M. A large open lawn area would be installed to the south of the building, at least until construction of the second tower, planned for Phase II, which would have 133 units in a nine-story building.
Together, the two buildings would have 7,200 square feet of retail and 112 parking spaces. A retail plaza would be on the south side of Tower B, and a ground-level pool would be built during the second phase between the two towers, as would a large "grand staircase" down to Water Street from the promenade along the southern edge of the property that is expected to be built during Phase I.
Phase III/Building 2 would be built on the west end of the triangle and would have 234 units in an 11-story building that would also contain 3,170 square feet of retail, and Phase IV/Building 3 would be a teensy nine-story 88-unit building on the eastern end of the site.
There would also eventually be a new street coming off the traffic circle on a portion of the south side of the site at 13th and M, named Virginia Avenue since it is on the footprint of the original avenue (which disappeared east of 11th at some point many years ago).
The zoning application describes the project as "a visionary mixed-use development that reactivates the Anacostia River and provides evocative public spaces giving a full life cycle to the previously underutilized site," intended to "celebrate the waterfront, by creating a dynamic promenade down to the river with a flexible retail plaza space where pedestrians, cyclists, retail users, residents and cultural events come together."
It may be worth noting that, should the Maritime Plaza folks ever build the final phases of that development, the river views across huge parking lots to the southwest of the Cohen site will probably be altered somewhat.
Someone will probably ask about the remediation issues for this site (which I mentioned back in 2010). This is part of the old Washington Gas/Steuart Petroleum site, and it was previously discussed that soil approximately 11 feet below grade is contaminated. There is no mention in the new zoning filings about this, but I'm guessing it will be brought up at some point. UPDATE: The magic of Twitter allows me to get word that Cohen says the contamination has been cleaned.
I could go into all manner of additional detail about the plans, but with a project this big with a zoning PUD to go through I figure I have plenty of time to get to the nitty gritty. But don't let that stop anyone from hashing over the design, the location, the probability of completion, and more. (Meanwhile, compare it all to the 2010 office/hotel/retail plans, just for the fun of it.)
Comments (28)
More posts: 1333m, Development News, zoning

Movie Theater Zoning Plans Submitted; Late '15 Opening?
Mar 1, 2013 11:06 AM
Forest City Washington is moving forward with the plans for a sixteen screen movie theater near Nationals Park, having submitted a truckload of documents this week to the Zoning Commission for its plans to redevelop more than five acres of land currently occupied by DC Water.
This site, which sits between the current footprint of the Yards and the ballpark, would be turned into four new city blocks with 600 residential units in two buildings, an expansion of Diamond Teague Park, and somewhere around 50,000 square feet in retail, which would include the theater that we first heard about a few months ago.
The plan apparently would be to build the theater first (and in fact FCW is requesting second-stage PUD approval for the theater plans, for those of you who know what that means), and in the zoning filing FCW says that they intend to file for building permits by this fall and start construction by the beginning of 2014, with an expected opening of the theater by late 2015.
There would be 337 parking spaces at the theater, which would be above-ground and contained within the first four floors of the theater building. DC Water would continue its operations on the other three blocks that are part of this plan while the theater is constructed and operating, with the development of those blocks waiting until those operations can be relocated (and, of course, "subject to market conditions)."
A few months ago I wrote in great detail about the plans for the theater itself, expected to be operated by Showplace Icon, after a public meeting was held for residents about the crowds that might be drawn, who seemed mostly mollified by the "policies to encourage courteous behavior." Read that post for more.
There should be a hearing on these plans within the next few months. And I'll dig through the documents to look for more tidbits, but mainly I wanted folks to finally see a rendering!

Monument Realty Planning 'One M Street' Office Building
Dec 20, 2012 10:39 AM
On January 17, the Zoning Commission will be taking up a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review request from Monument Realty for "One M Street," an approximately 328,000-square-foot office building planned for the southeast corner of South Capitol and M streets, SE, on what old-timers know as the old Domino's site, just to the north of the self-storage building.
The building, which is referred to in the zoning submittals as a speculative development, would have a large lobby entrance at the corner of South Capitol and M and somewhere between 9,000 and 17,260 square feet of ground-floor retail, plus four floors of underground parking with 310 spaces. It would be 12 stories high along M Street, but as seen in the above rendering grabbed from the documents, the height along South Capitol would be lower, because of the "different characters" of the two streets. You can see another rendering of the building, as seen from M Street at Van, here.
This has also been referred to the National Capital Planning Commission for review, and ANC 6D will of course be getting a crack at it as well. There's no estimated timeline mentioned in the zoning documents. (But we know how I feel about "estimated" start dates these days anyway. Show me a shovel in the ground!)
Monument has owned the Domino's parcel on the corner since 2005, and added the L-shaped parcel to its east and south in 2008 as part of its settlement with WMATA over not getting the Southeastern Bus Garage site just to the east. Monument, as most people know, built quite a portfolio of land in the blocks just to the north of Nationals Park in 2004 and 2005, having completed 55 M Street in 2009 and still controlling the rest of the land on the east side of Half Street, along with the old Sunoco site on the northeast corner of Half and M and the old BP/Amoco site on the northeast corner of South Capitol and N.
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More posts: M Street, onem, South Capitol St., zoning

Plans Submitted for a 1st Street Hotel, With Interesting Details
Sep 16, 2012 1:35 PM
Late last week, "Capital Riverfront Hotel LLC" * submitted to the Zoning Commission plans for a 167ish-room hotel on the small L-shaped lot that the Welch family has owned for a number of years at 1st and N Streets just north of Nationals Park.
According to documents submitted as part of the required Capitol Gateway Overlay Review, the development would have no ground-floor retail along either 1st or N.
Also, the developers are requesting that they be able to provide zero below-ground or on-site parking instead of the 44 spaces that would be required by current zoning regulations, saying that the hotel would provide valet parking services, and also would emphasize the building's location near Metro, Circulator, and other transit options.
(Needless to say, it would be interesting to see exactly how valet service on 1st just north of N would work during a sold-out baseball game going on a few feet to the south, given how 1st fills up with traffic heading toward the parking lots at the Yards.)
As seen in the above rendering, the site for the proposed hotel wraps around the two-story retail building that has been proposed as part of its 660,000-square-foot Ballpark Square development that I've written about over the past few months, which would have its own 170ish-unit hotel, positioned between a 224,000-square-foot office building fronting M Street and a 285ish-unit residential building toward the south end of the street, as well as the retail building, separated from the rest by the Welch lot.
Recently "Ballpark Square LLC and SCD Acquisitions LLC" (which appears to be a team headed by Grosvenor, with Skanska and McCaffery Interests also on board) submitted updated designs for that project in advance of its Oct. 1 zoning hearing, in which the residential building just to the north of the L-shaped lot has had its U-shaped design reconfigured to open to the south, giving residents in the courtyard-facing units some amount of a view toward Nats Park. Which of course would completely disappear if the hotel were to be built right up against the property line. (You can compare the white box in the top rendering to the red-brick building at the right of this rendering to place the proposed hotel's location vis-a-vis the residential building.)
The updated filing by Grosvenor et al even gives oblique reference to the goings-on, saying "As will be discussed at the hearing, the Applicant is exploring alternative residential layouts to address the potential future development of the parcel to the south of the residential component."
It does lead one to wonder what if anything might be going on behind the scenes between the two parties. And also exactly how the Zoning Commission might feel about the hotel's designs as initially submitted.
* Points immediately deducted for the wrong spelling of Capitol.
Comments (3)
More posts: Development News, lhotel, Square 701, zoning

District Selling Density Rights Near Ballpark, Maybe for Square 701
Aug 19, 2012 6:48 AM
The Washington Business Journal reported on Friday that the city has put 300,000 square feet of "combined lot development rights" that it controls near Nationals Park up for bid, and that the likely target is the new Square 701 project that would bring a combined office/hotel/residential/retail project to the block along 1st Street SE where Nats Parking Lot F currently resides.
A few months back I detailed the plans for the site as described in zoning filings:
* a 224,500-square-foot office building at the corner of 1st and M;
* a 180-unit hotel just to the south of the office building, separated by a 30-foot-courtyard;
* a 292-unit residential project south of the hotel in two buildings, both parallel to 1st Street, with a courtyard between them and a glass bridge connecting them; and
* 43,000 square feet of retail, 36,000 sf of which will be in the office/hotel/residential buildings (called the "Main Parcel"), while the remaining 7,000 sf will be in a separate two-story retail-only building at the corner of 1st and N (on the "South Parcel"), with a design "inspired by the industrial character of the existing neighborhood."
The zoning hearing for this project--technically a Capitol Gateway Overlay District Review--has now been scheduled for October 1. (And hey, look at that, the hearing announcement mentions the applicant is also seeking approval "for the use of Combined Lot Development rights ['CLDs'].") The project will also likely come before ANC 6D at its September meeting. You can see some early renderings here, though I understand there have been some changes to the design since these were filed with the Zoning Commission.
(Note that WBJ lists the likely CLDs buyer as Willco, the developers who controlled the block for many years, but that the zoning filings on the project list Grosvenor as the Owner/Developer and McCaffery Interests as Development/Construction Management Services Consultants. Plus, "Ballpark Square LLC and SCD Acquisitions LLC" is described as the "contract purchaser" of the 81,000-square-foot lot. But no deals have shown up in land records just yet.)
And, commiserations to DC United Fans who saw "Buzzard Point" in the initial reporting on this story and immediately began dreaming of the team's new stadium....
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More posts: Development News, Square 701, zoning

Capper Community Center's Second Time Extension Approved
Jul 12, 2012 11:06 AM
On Monday night, the Zoning Commission voted 4-0-1 to approve DCHA's request for a second two-year time extension on the PUD deadlines to build the Capper Community Center on the now-empty lot on 5th Street SE between K and L. With this vote, building permits would need to be filed by July 1, 2014, with construction needing to be underway by July 1, 2015, provided another extension isn't someday requested and granted.
The extension received votes of support from both ANC 6B and ANC 6D, and a letter from a steering committee of Capper public housing residents also expressed support. Commissioner Peter May, referencing the "contentious" discussions in the past regarding this project and his own unhappiness about seeing it delayed, said it was "reassuring to know that key members of the community are supportive," otherwise he would be "similiarly unhappy." But he did vote in favor of the extension, as did Chairman Anthony Hood and commissioners Marcie Cohen and Michael Turnbull. (The commission's fifth seat is currently empty, with vice chair Konrad Schlater's recent decampment for a new job in Chicago.)
Included the paperwork provided to the Zoning Commission is a letter from DC Housing Authority executive director Adrianne Todman detailing the various high-finance moves over the past few years that have helped the overall Capper redevelopment move forward but that haven't trickled down to fund the community center. The letter says that the Housing Authority anticipates a $55 million bond issuance within the next year that will pay off the previous $29 million Bond Anticipation Notes and provide enough proceeds to continue the infrastructure work around Capper "and to construct the community center, which we estimate will cost $7.6 million." These moves require legislation, so we'll be able to cast an eye toward the DC council this fall to see if things are progressing as anticipated.
Also in that letter is this tidbit: "Lastly, DCHA is working with and soliciting a potential anchor tenant that will operate the community center and also contribute funding for the construction of the community center." Very interesting....
If you want to know still more about the history of plans for a new community center on this site (the old one was demolished in 2007), I point you to this pile of posts.
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ANC 6D Agenda: Parking Update, Capper PUD (and the Wharf)
Jun 8, 2012 10:10 AM
The agenda for the June 11 ANC 6D meeting has been sent out (and hopefully posted soon). The big-ticket item is a vote on the Stage 2 PUD for the Southwest Waterfront plans, which I doubt will be a lightning-quick discussion--when the agenda has it budgeted for 90 minutes, you know it's gonna be long.
But there are also two Near Southeast items of interest listed: an update on baseball game-day parking from DDOT (first discussed at the May meeting) and the Capper Community Center PUD extension request (also discussed in May).
I'm not yet up to sitting through a meeting of that length (though I'm coming along), so if these items are of interest, get thee to 1100 4th St. SW at 7 pm on Monday.

Renderings for the Proposed Square 701 Project by Nats Park
Jun 4, 2012 4:19 PM
Last week I wrote about the new mixed-use project just north of Nationals Park that has begun its trek through the city's zoning review process. And now I have a few renderings, and some new pertinent details. First, the pretty stuff, since that's what most people want to see (click to enlarge):
Quoting myself, the lineup from right (M Street) to left (N Street) is:
* a 224,500-square-foot office building at the corner of 1st and M;
* a 180-unit hotel just to the south of the office building, separated by a 30-foot-courtyard;
* a 292-unit residential project south of the hotel in two buildings, both parallel to 1st Street, with a courtyard between them and a glass bridge connecting them; and
* 43,000 square feet of retail, 36,000 sf of which will be in the office/hotel/residential buildings (called the "Main Parcel"), while the remaining 7,000 sf will be in a separate two-story retail-only building at the corner of 1st and N (on the "South Parcel"), with a design "inspired by the industrial character of the existing neighborhood."
Here's the view from the other direction, at 1st and N, with the two-story retail building that would be just across from the Nats' parking garage at left, with the two parallel residential buildings to its right, then the hotel, then the office building:
Having now seen more of the zoning filing, I can pass along that the "Owner/Developer" is listed as Grosvenor, with Chicago-based McCaffery Interests listed as "Development/Construction Management Services Consultants." I'm sure there will be some sussing out of the land deal before long. (Note: I had the wrong Grosvenor link for the first few minutes this post was up. I'm blaming it on being medicated.)
Read my previous post for more details....
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Details on New Mixed-Use Project Just North of Nationals Park
May 29, 2012 6:36 PM
Back in March I wrote that something was afoot on the block just north of Nationals Park where Nats Parking Lot F resides, and new confirmation of that is a filing with the Zoning Commission for a review of a new mixed-use project that would bring office, hotel, residential, and retail spaces to 1st St. SE between M and N.
The applicant is listed only as "Ballpark Square LLC and SCD Acquisitions LLC," with a footnote mentioning that they are the "contract purchaser" of the 81,000-square-foot property, currently owned by a number of LLCs but generally described as controlled by Willco Companies. My sources continue to tell me that the purchaser is McCaffery Interests, the developer behind the Market Common residential/retail project in Clarendon, Georgetown Centre, the renovation of Mazza Gallerie, the big Potomac Yard redevelopment across the river, and other local developments, along with a number of big projects in Chicago, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere.
The zoning filing lays out the design of the 1st Street project ("Ballpark Square", mayhaps?) as:
* a 224,500-square-foot office building at the corner of 1st and M;
* a 180-unit hotel just to the south of the office building, separated by a 30-foot-courtyard;
* a 292-unit residential project south of the hotel in two buildings, both parallel to 1st Street, with a courtyard between them and a glass bridge connecting them; and
* 43,000 square feet of retail, 36,000 sf of which will be in the office/hotel/residential buildings (called the "Main Parcel"), while the remaining 7,000 sf will be in a separate two-story retail-only building at the corner of 1st and N (on the "South Parcel"), with a design "inspired by the industrial character of the existing neighborhood."
(And there might be a juicy story behind the retail-only building, because apparently the Ballpark Square folks couldn't successfully acquire the 9,000 sq ft of lots owned by the Welch family in an L shape around the corner lots at 1st and N, necessitating the two separate parcels.)
The buildings will be 130 feet high, and there will be approximately 366 parking spaces, all beneath the main parcel (and there will be bike parking, too). The residential and hotel buildings are being designed by Hickok Cole, and Gensler is the architect for the office building.
The zoning filing describes the site as having "the opportunity to become a linchpin for the entertainment district that the Distrct has long envisioned in the Ballpark area," and that it will "attract people who attend baseball games, but also provide the everyday amenities essential to the residents living in the project and nearby." And, "[p]erhaps most importantly, this project will convert a vacant site to vibrant and active uses that contribute to the rejuvenation of the Capitol Riverfront by complementing the epicenter of this community, the Ballpark."
In addition to needing a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review for the plans, the developers are also needing some zoning relief, to be allowed to scrap four required parking spaces for the separate retail building on the south parcel along with variances for loading, rear yard, and open court requirements that I'm just not up to writing much about right now.
Goodies like renderings, elevations, and additional details (like a timeline!) will be coming (though the ANC commish tweeted a sneak peek a few days ago), and this would be brought up before ANC 6D for its support before the Zoning Commission would vote on the review and variances.
This site is just to the east of Monument Realty's stalled Half Street project, which has similar plans for hotel, residential, and retail to the south of its 55 M Street office building. And across from that is Akridge's Half Street project, looking to bring office, residential, and retail to the west side of the street. In other words, there's a whole lot of mixed use on the boards just north of Nats Park. Who will get out of the blocks first?
UPDATE, 6/4: Renderings!
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Florida Rock Update at ANC 6D: Tweaked Designs, More Retail
May 16, 2012 7:56 AM
At Monday's ANC 6D meeting, representatives of MRP Realty made a presentation showing the updates to the RiverFront on the Anacostia project (aka Florida Rock) that they will be taking to the Zoning Commission later this year.
These designs are part of the quest to make changes to the original design approved by the commission in 2008, chief of which is to switch the first phase of the 1.1-million-square-foot mixed-use project from an office building to a 300ish-unit apartment building at 1st Street and Potomac Avenue, along with a series of other changes that I've written about previously. (Dear heavens, don't make me write it all again.)
Here are the slides that were presented by the developers, which should be of interest even without the accompanying narration. The renderings are much more detailed and "showier" than those given to the Zoning Commission back in February, which was part of what the developers were tasked with providing in their next go-round with the ZC.
Most obviously, the developers appear to have gotten the "more retail!" message that had been delivered pretty clearly at the last two zoning commission sessions on the new design, with 18,650 square feet of retail now covering most of the first floor of the Phase I residential building, bumped up from 12,520 sf in the previous version (some of which the developers had been wanting to mark off for "temporary resident uses" until the market for retail in the area could be proven). The entire site is now designed to have 48,360 sf of retail, but this is still down from the 64,200 sf that was in the plans approved by the Zoning Commission back in 2008. (This increase in retail also means that the "four red doors" facing Potomac Avenue that sent zoning commissioner Michael Turnbull through the roof back in February are now gone.)
There was also much time spent on the designs for the public spaces that span the 5.5-acre site. With large lawns, wetlands-type areas that would actually be bio-filtration mechanisms, quieter tree-covered spaces, and a marina that could potentially have 40-50 slips, the additions could be seen as echoing the Yards Park a couple blocks to the east.. But there are also some "beach" areas where sand would be placed, and a large sculpture could be included in the "Riverfront Plaza" at the foot of 1st Street. The esplanade is still a major part of the design, but there is no longer a separate bike path--pedestrians and cyclists would share the boardwalk as it runs through the entire site, from South Capitol Street to Diamond Teague Park. And there may even be locations where some of the concrete blocks from the old concrete plant site would be incorporated into the public spaces.
I could write more about the specifics, but since the project will be back in front of ANC 6D looking for a resolution of support in July, and then at the Zoning Commission on Sept. 20, I'd prefer to save some words for the presentations to come.
I've added some of the renderings from this presentation to my Florida Rock project page. And, when looking at all of this, remember that the western two buildings (phases 3 and 4, an office building and a hotel), are not be able to be built until the new South Capitol Street/Douglass Bridge is built a bit to the south of the current bridge, which now runs directly through the Florida Rock footprint. And there's as yet no timeline for that new bridge.
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More posts: ANC News, Florida Rock, meetings, zoning

Florida Rock Zoning Update - Revised Plans OKed for Set Down
Feb 15, 2012 10:46 AM
I wrote recently about the bumpy first trip back to the Zoning Commission for the new designs for the project known as Florida Rock. The developers (MRP and FRP) want to build a residential building at 1st and Potomac instead of the originally planned office building, and also are looking for some tweaks to the plans originally approved in 2008 by the Zoning Commission for the rest of the six-acre site.
At that meeting on Jan. 30, reactions of the zoning commissioners ranged from generally supportive of the changes to concerned about specific aspects of them to labeling the new filing "an affront." Because commission chair Anthony Hood was not in attendance, and because there were a few items that the commissioners wanted from the developers, the vote on whether to "set down" the case for a full hearing was deferred.
On Monday, Feb. 13, the full commission took up the case again. Despite the developers offering to increase the total amount of retail for the entire site by about 11,000 sq ft (up to 36,370 sq ft total), vice chair Konrad Schlater again felt the retail offerings to be lacking, describing the designs as having "no vision" and a "missed opportunity" for one of the city's few large-scale waterfront developments, adding that he doesn't get the sense that the design takes full advantage of the site and "how it can meet the waterfront."
Commissioner Michael Turnbull, who had unleashed the strongest broadsides last time around, said that he was "not going to go down the same road," but echoed Schlater's concerns about the lack of retail, especially the design of the east residential building that shows "four red doors" along Potomac Avenue, with no retail on that street despite being directly across from Nationals Park. "This is a destination, a prime piece of land that begs for a gripping design," Turnbull said, agreeing that there is a lack of vision for the entire site.
Commissioners Peter May and Marcie Cohen both said there are parts of the new design they prefer, with Cohen mentioning how the old design "had its back to the river," and that the new residential building opens up toward the Anacostia. But May also echoed the others by saying the idea that the project is "lacking in vision and missing an opportunity along Potomac Avenue is certainly right on."
Chairman Hood also expressed his concern that this is a prime site and that "we don't want a lost opportunity," but is happy that there is a new residential component in the revised design.
"Are we fully satisfied? No," Hood said, and while he feels the designs need "some refining and revisiting," he felt that "the applicant has heard us." With that, the commission then voted 4-1 to approve the motion to "set down" the case, with Turnbull voting against. Now the developers will work with the Office of Planning to come back to the Zoning Commission with detailed plans for the new Phase 1 residential building and general revisions to the rest of the project that they feel can get the commission's approval.
For more details on the latest design, read my two recent posts, and also check out my Florida Rock page for drawings from the initial filing in December that will now presumably be tweaked before the hearing, whenever that may be. The developers will also need to come before ANC 6D before the zoning hearing to get that commission's support (or not) before going to zoning.
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Florida Rock Zoning, Take 356: Concerns About New Design
Feb 2, 2012 5:43 PM
On Monday night, the city's Zoning Commission had its first crack at the new request for modifications to the existing Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the Florida Rock site across the street from Nationals Park, as the commissioners deliberated on whether to "set down" the request for a hearing. As mentioned previously, the developers want to change the site's first phase from office to residential, and also have done some reworking of the rest of the design for the six-acre site that the Zoning Commission approved after much deliberation and tweaking back in 2008.
Commissioner Michael Turnbull was first out of the gate with comments about the new designs, and he was not at all happy, calling it a "major gut" to the original PUD, saying that he felt the applicant should start the PUD process all over again. Describing the new plans as "bastardized," "stick architecture from the suburbs," "boxy," "10 steps backward," and "an affront to the Zoning Commission" and city residents, Turnbull pledged to be "so damn critical" if the new design moves forward. (If you've got a few minutes, you can watch his remarks for yourself.)
Commissioner Peter May, on the other hand, said that he is actually more comfortable with the new design, given that there were features he "really questioned" in the 2008 design, but that the latest filing is "pretty simplistic" in terms of the drawings, and did say that the architecture is "kind of boring," especially from the waterside view. (The image at right is the Phase 1 residential building, as seen from the river.) He also wanted to see more comparisons to the previously approved design so that they could understand more what they may be giving up with the new design, but that he found the overall plan "more appealing than before."
Vice-chair Konrad Schlater's biggest concern was over the scaling back of the retail component, which has gone from 80,000 square feet of "retail and service uses" in the 2008 PUD to about 23,400 square feet in the new filing, with 7,000 sf of that being turned over to residential amenities "until a retail market is established." "It seems like a missed opportunity to have space on the boardwalk that is not retail," Schlater said, adding that the city does not have a lot of projects right on a waterfront like this, and that the entire development really should be a retail destination. (He also caught that, while the 2008 PUD called for LEED certification for each phase, the new filing says that the project "will be LEED certifiable for each phase." Semantics, or...?)
With commission chair Anthony Hood not in attendance, the four commissioners decided to defer a decision on the set-down request until Hood can weigh in with his thoughts; this would also give the developers time to file additional information, such as comparing the new designs with the 2008 plans. This could come up at the next public hearing, on Feb. 13.
So, what are the differences?
With the entire filing available online (if you search), I was able to go through and cull out some of the most representative drawings from this new design, which I've put on my Florida Rock project page. At the bottom of that page you can also see some images of the designs that were approved in 2008. The first image at left, from 2008 (click to enlarge), shows the four buildings and the public spaces with a lot of curves and glass and "articulation."
Compare that to the latest design. While this is clearly a very early drawing, it does show four much more boxy structures, as commissioner Turnbull said. You can also see the curves-versus-corners differences in the site-plan comparison graphic I created, which also shows the differing layouts of the public spaces, again going from a lot of flowing, rounded paths and open areas to straighter-edged movements, with the total amount of "lot occupancy" going down to 44 percent in the new design from 58 percent in the old. The phase 1 apartment building is the most fleshed out in the renderings, but there are additional drawings giving a general sense of the site layout.
The Office of Planning's setdown report goes through the changes requested in a fair amount of detail.
It will be interesting to see how this the Zoning Commission handles this, as well as ANC 6D, which has always been very supportive of this project during its long gestation but has not yet had an opportunity to weigh in/vote on the new design. (And of course, we here at JDLand want to know what YOU think!) The developers are hoping to begin construction on the first phase apartment building in Spring 2013, but it would appear that this zoning process, like everything else tied to this project up to now, may not be as speedy as they might want.
If you want more background on how the commission reached its approvals in 2008, my many (MANY!) posts on the project are worth browsing, including the one I wrote in December detailing the changes in the new request. And do check out the latest drawings (and scroll down for the old ones).
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Florida Rock Headed Back to Zoning Commission With Changes
Dec 9, 2011 2:29 PM
I almost can't bring myself to write the words, but the owners of the Florida Rock site just south of Nationals Park have filed with the Zoning Commission for not only the previously reported plan to change the planned first phase office building to a residential one, but also to revisit parts of the site plan for the three subsequent phases. (For those of you versed in zoning speak, they are requesting to "revert Phases II, III, and IV to First Stage Approvals with modifications.")
This is going to be a lengthy process, with hearings at the Zoning Commission, reports from the Office of Planning and others, and presentations to the ANC (starting with one this coming Monday night, Dec. 12). So I'm going to avoid getting into the weeds too much too early, and will just give some bullet points of what changes they are looking for. (You're free to read these 57 pages of the filing for more detail.)
* The new Phase 1 building, at the far east end of the site (next to Diamond Teague Park) will now be the aforementioned residential building, a nine-story U-shaped design oriented toward the river with 300-350 units and 286 below-grade parking spaces. There will still be 12,500 square feet of retail, though they are asking that 7,000 of it be "flex space" that "may alternatively be dedicated to residential amenity space" until retail gets going. There will be a private courtyard within the "U", but there will also be the open space on the buildings' east side, now dubbed Anacostia Plaza, that will be open enough to maintain open views from First Street and the stadium's Grand Staircase to the river but will also provide "passive recreation space."
* The esplanade that has always been such a big part of the site plan remains, acting as the portion of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail connecting South Capitol Street to Teague Park, the new pedestrian bridge, and the Yards Park. The Esplanade will "relate" to the "design vernacular" of the newly constructed boardwalks, and will also have a lot of stormwater management and bio-filtration offerings.
* On the building's west side will be the "Mews," which they call a pedestrian boulevard separating the Phase 1 building from the planned Phase 2 residential building. This path will also provide access to parking and loading for the first two phases, but "a dynamic paving design . . . will help distinguish this area as an urban space that privileges pedestrians over vehicles."
* The filing says they anticipate construction to begin in the second quarter of 2013, with first move-ins in early 2015 and the entire phase completed by summer 2015.
As for overall changes, here's what seem to be the most interesting changes from the previously approved design that the developers are looking for:
* The new plan would bring 1,164,640 square feet of gross floor area (4.6 FAR), up from 1,115,400 sq ft/4.4 FAR in the last plan. The other three phases' uses would remain unchanged (residential, office, hotel).
* Building heights of 130 feet for Phase 2-4 are being requested, compared to 130/112/130 last time around.
* Below-grade parking spaces would go from 1,010 to 1,144.
Plus, though It's hard to tell from one small site plan concept drawing, a lot of the public space design, especially to the east of the Phase 3 and 4 buildings, looks scaled back from the 2008 design. (UPDATE: Here's a graphic put together from another part of the filing that compares the 2008 site plan with the current one.)
The filing also says that "the Applicant would like the flexibility to provide interim uses on Phases, II, III, IV so that the site will not simply lay dormant pending construction," and lists a park, a farmers market, or other "simple, temporary retail uses" as examples.
And, just as in the previous plans, development of phases 3 and 4 are completely dependent on the construction of a new South Capitol Street Bridge, since the current bridge bisects the property where those buildings are planned.
Again, this is early in this new process, and there will be plenty of filings and presentations to come for all the additional detail you're going to be clamoring for. For now, the takeaway is that FRP/MRP want to get started on a residential building at 1st and Potomac in the spring of 2013, and still want to move forward on the rest of the site with a design similar to what was approved 3 1/2 years ago, but with some modifications.
This project first began its zoning quest in 1998, and went through a four-year process ending in 2008 to get its second-stage approvals. I should also note that Davis Buckley Architects, who worked on the project throughout that 10-year ordeal, is no longer part of the design team; SK&I is now on board, with Oculus as the landscape design firm. The site's owners, FRP Development/Florida Rock Properties, announced their partnership with MRP Realty earlier this year.
(As for the concrete plant currently on site, I haven't looked lately, but demolition is underway, and the filing says it should be done by the end of the year. Tom Boswell's heart will be broken.)
UPDATE, 1/3: Just before Christmas, demolition was finished on the plant, making it #166 in my Demolished Buildings Gallery.
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Most Minor of Modifications to Yards' Teeter Building OKed by 6D
Nov 15, 2011 10:23 PM
On Monday night, ANC 6D gave its support to a series of minor modifications (very minor--did I mention they were minor?) to the previously approved design of the new residential/retail/grocery development planned for the southeast corner of 4th and M, SE.
Because the lease with Harris Teeter has been executed since the project's zoning approvals were received, Forest City needs an okay for the company's signage, which you can see in the updated rendering. An outdoor seating area on 4th Street has also been added, and the design of the residential building's vestibule on 4th has been altered in order to use "structural glass." There were also slight changes to the roof structure, the sunscreens on the residential windows, the design of the trellises shielding the parking deck, and other items that should probably just be read about in the Office of Planning report that supports the proposed changes. (If you want the real nitty gritty of the updated design for this block, you can look through the full submittal to the Office of Zoning.)
Alex Nyhan of Forest City told 6D that he expects excavation on the site to start in about a month, with superstructure work beginning in the spring. This would bring the opening date to late 2013 or early 2014. (The entire block, consisting of the 55,000-square-foot Teeter, 218 apartments, and the as-yet-unnamed health club and other retail spaces at the south end of the site, is being built at the same time.)
There weren't many questions from commissioners. David Garber, who said that this was the first project reviewed by his new 11-member Near Southeast Citizen Development Advisory Committee, did question the project's representatives about the plans for bike parking. (Shocker!) Nyhan said there would be racks on 4th Street, and that they would be working with Harris Teeter to allow bikers to bring their bikes into the store and take them down to the parking level via elevator, but that no biking would be allowed into the parking garage. There was also discussion of whether the entrance to the garage could be expanded to allow for bike racks at street level, but Nyhan said there is not enough room in the design to widen the entrance.
The ANC then voted unanimously to support the project. It will be taken up by the Zoning Commission at its Nov. 28 meeting, having been removed from the Monday night agenda so that the ANC could be allowed to weigh in before the ZC voted.
You can see my Yards Parcel D project page for more details and photos.

Teeter/Residential Building at the Yards on 6D November Agenda
Nov 10, 2011 5:08 PM
While you're spending your weekend trying not to head toward the Navy Yard Metro station by mistake, you can take a moment or two to add Monday's ANC 6D meeting to your calendar. The agenda doesn't seem to be getting updated online these days, but an e-mailed version shows that the only Near Southeast item to be discussed will be the Harris Teeter/residential building in the Yards, on 4th Street south of M. There are few minor modifications to the design approved by the Zoning Commission nearly a year ago that need new approvals (including an "upgraded" design for the entrance to the residential building), and so those are what will be presented to the ANC.
There was a bit of a flurry on Thursday morning when a tweet from a local business symposium indicated the work would begin on this project "next week." However, I checked with Forest City, and there's still a building permit that hasn't yet been approved, so while they hope to start construction reallyreallyreally soon, "next week" might be a bit optimistic.
If you're just joining us, this project originally was planned to be an office building on top of the Harris Teeter, but will now instead be two long and narrow apartment buildings with a total of 200ish-units, with their entrance at 1212 4th St. SE. The Teeter will be 55,000 square feet and will have its main entrance near M Street. While the executive architect for the entire project is Shalom Baranes, the interior designer for the apartments is Core Architects out of Toronto, and you can see a few renderings on their site as being for "The Yards" (looks like a lobby or community room space, maybe?) , along with their many other projects.
On the south end of the block, at 4th and Tingey, there will be a four-story building with another 55,000 square feet of retail space, with what's expected to be a spa/fitness center/gym tenant on the top two floors and retail on the bottom two (seen at above left). There will also be a new narrow service road running south from M between this new development and Building 202 for loading zone access. Access to residential parking will be from Tingey, and the grocery and retail parking entrance will be on 4th, next to the residential lobby entrance. The retail spaces are being designed by Kenneth Park Architects.
You can check out my Yards 401 M/Parcel D page for more information, photos, and renderings. (Plus, in case you're wondering, this building site is just across 4th Street from the Boilermaker Shops retail space, about a block to the northeast of the Foundry Lofts, and a block from the Yards Park.)
The ANC 6D meeting is on Monday Nov. 14 at 7 pm at 1100 4th St., SW (the Safeway building), in the 2nd Floor DCRA meeting room.

Raze Permit for Concrete Plant on Florida Rock Site Approved
Oct 6, 2011 10:11 AM
The DC approved building permits feed, now back online (thank you!), brings the news today that the raze permit filed in February for the concrete plant on the Florida Rock site across from Nationals Park has now been approved. With the move of the operations around the corner down South Capitol Street to Buzzard Point finished, demolition should be able to get underway fairly soon. (Though whether it actually WILL....)
As we found out a few months ago, site owner Florida Rock Properties has entered into a joint venture with MidAtlantic Realty Partners to move forward on the first phase of the 1.1-million-square-foot "RiverFront on the Anacostia" redevelopment of the site, which they are hoping will be a 200-unit apartment building on the eastern edge of the site (across from the Nationals Park grand staircase at First and Potomac, next to Diamond Teague Park) instead of the office building originally planned. The Zoning Commission will need to approve this change, and that process should be beginning soon. Apparently there will be a presentation on the new plans at the Oct. 17 ANC 6D meeting (though the agenda isn't out yet). Their hope is to begin construction in the spring of 2013.
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More posts: Development News, Florida Rock, zoning

DCHA Files for Time Extension on Two Capper Apartment Projects
Sep 7, 2011 3:06 PM
The DC Housing Authority has filed a request with the Zoning Commission for a time extension to construct the mixed-income apartment buildings it has planned for the north half of Square 882 (the old Capper Seniors block along L Street between 5th and 7th, seen at right) and the north half of Square 769, between 2nd and 3rd on L just east of Canal Park (below, the building at left, next to the proposed 250 M Street).
When the plans for these two buildings were approved by the Zoning Commission in 2009 (see the zoning order), it was required that building permits be applied for by August of this year, with construction to begin by August of 2012. However, attempts at funding either the Square 882 189-unit building or 171-unit Square 769N building the have not thus far borne any fruit, and so a time extension is needed. Between them, the buildings would have 72 units reserved for households making less than 60 percent of the area median income, and the Square 769 building would also have just over 4,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space.
The Zoning Commission will hear this request at its meeting on Monday night; because there is no request to modify any portion of the PUD beyond the time requirement, this will most likely be handled as a consent calendar item. There will also be a presentation on this request and the state of the Capper redevelopment in general at Monday's ANC 6D meeting. (There was also one given at Tuesday night's ANC 6B's Planning and Zoning Committee meeting, but I had a baseball game to watch.) But since the Zoning Commission hearing is at the same time as the 6D meeting, it would seem that there is no anticipated opposition from 6D.
The Office of Planning prepared a short report recommending approval of the time extension, showing that the requirements for an extension have been met. It also quotes the development team as saying that there have been 75 outreach efforts for financing, all unsuccessful. "The inability to secure financing for residential projects, especially those including affordable units, is not unusual in the current marketplace."
If you want to know more about these two planned apartment projects, and the other three mixed-income buildings planned along the east side of Canal Park and on the DPW/trash transfer site, my Capper Apartments page has additional background, as do the scads of blog posts I've written on the various plans. And my main Capper page has the background on the entire redevelopment project.
UPDATE: And, of course, within seconds of my pulling the trigger and posting this entry, I've received a copy of the letter to the Zoning Commission requesting the PUD. Which I'm posting before reading.

Zoning Commission Approves Office Space in Yards Lumber Shed
Jul 7, 2011 7:33 PM
In a wonderfully short hearing on Thursday night, the Zoning Commission voted 5-0 to approve Forest City Washington's request for an amendment to the current Southeast Federal Center Zoning Overlay to allow the company to temporarily move its offices to the second floor of the historic Lumber Shed building at the Yards Park.
The company made the request because, while there has been "great interest" from potential retail tenants for the first floor of the building, the second floor has not as yet been as enticing, and filling the ground-floor spaces alone is not enough to get construction financing secured. Because Forest City is "anxious" to get the building started, their move to occupy the second floor can settle the financing issues and finalize deals with interested tenants, which means that construction on the 34,000-square-foot building could begin this year and be open by early 2013.
There had been some concerns at the setdown hearing back in April about the "temporary" request being for a period of 20 years, but Forest City's representatives emphasized (as they also did to the ANC in April) that their intent is to be in the Lumber Shed only until there is office space elsewhere in the Yards to which they can move. Alex Nyhan of Forest City explained that getting retail uses into the second floor is currently "challenging" because the building is "by itself" at the Yards (without much built out around it), which is exacerbated by the fact that it's a somewhat seasonal destination. But Forest City feels that once the other projects in the first phases of the Yards are built out, there will be a demand for the second floor, plus "the onus is on us" to make the Yards into a location where second-floor retail not only at the Lumber Shed but in other Yards buildings is attractive to tenants.
The discussion seemed to satisfy the zoning commissioners, and with the Office of Planning in support of the change and no voices in opposition, the unanimous vote came quickly.
Nyhan also gave the commission a quick update on the status of the other first-phase Yards projects, to help illustrate that "after many years of planning" things are starting to move:
* The Foundry Lofts 170-unit apartment building will begin pre-leasing in August, and will open in October;
* The Boilermaker Shops retail space has announced five restaurant tenants, and will begin construction this month, opening in Fall 2012;
* And 401 M Street, home to a planned Harris Teeter and 200ish-unit apartment building, is expected to start construction this fall.
If you want to give up 30 minutes of your time to check out the proceedings yourself, the hearing should be available for on-demand viewing sometime on Friday. My post from the ANC deliberations on the request also has more information.

Zoning Approvals Given for Temporary Capitol Hill Day School
May 17, 2011 4:25 PM
On Tuesday morning the Board of Zoning Adjustment voted to approve three exceptions and variances that will allow the Capitol Hill Day School to use the currently empty lot at 5th and K streets SE as a temporary location for its operations while its Dent School building at 2nd and South Carolina undergoes renovations.
This move, which has the support of ANC 6D and the Capitol Quarter Homeowners Association, would bring a "modular building" to the site this summer, with the school's expectation that it will return to the Dent building in early 2012.
There will be no on-site parking, but the school is leasing 29 parking spaces in the big parking lot one block to the east, on the site of the old Capper Seniors building (Nats lot "W"). And the Office of Planning report on the application says that DDOT has "agreed to prohibit parking between mid-June 2011 and the end of January 2012 on school days between 7 am and 6 pm on the east side of the block [...] in order to facilitate the drop off and pick up of students." (I'll note that this 7 am start time is one hour earlier than what was announced at the ANC 6D meeting where this plan was discussed.) CHDS representatives also told 6D at that meeting that they will be asking parents coming from north of the freeway to drive south on 4th, turn left on L, and then turn left on 5th to pull into one of their four drop-off spots, where students are then guided out of the cars. (Buses will pull in and out of these spots as well.) The spaces will be available for parking after 6 pm and on weekends and holidays.
There were few questions from the board; Commissioner May did ask whether this plan will negatively impact the long-delayed plans for the new community center to be built on the site. The current requirements placed on the community center project by the Zoning Commission as part of the Capper PUD are that the Housing Authority must apply for a building permit by July 1, 2012, and that construction must begin no later than June 30, 2013, dates which are far enough in the future to not be delayed by the Day School's occupation of the site.
The commission then voted to approve the requested relief; but, after a representative from the city's office of the attorney general raised some concerns, the hearing then devolved into a long technical and legal discussion of defining which conditions of a previous order were being addressed, which I totally admit to bailing out of. But in the end the project was still approved. You can watch the video of the hearing when it's posted if you want more information; and the Office of Planning report is also a very good resource for the zoning issues, plus there's a drawing on page 3 that shows how the temporary building will occupy the lot.
The Day School has a blog with information about the renovation project, and I imagine they'll pass along soon more details about when work will start at 5th and K.
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HPRB Staff Recommends No Landmark Designation for Market Deli
Apr 22, 2011 12:04 PM
The staff recommendation to the Historic Preservation Review Board on the application for historic landmark status for the Market Deli has just been posted, and the gist is right at the top: "After careful consideration, staff recommends that the Historic Preservation Review Board not designate the property at 1024 1st Street, SE (Square 740, Lot 802) nor that it forward the application to the National Register of Historic Places with a recommendation for listing."
Recognizing that the argument that as a "building type becomes scarcer in a neighborhood, it takes on the role of representing the whole class of similar buildings that has been lost" is not a "frivolous" one, the staff report nonetheless says that "to accept such an argument absolutely or uncritically would set an unacceptably low bar for significance and thus, designation." It goes on to discuss the history and historical context of the building, as well as the building type, not finding that the structure rises to the level of landmarking in any of the areas.
It then summarizes: "The Board has previously rejected nominations for properties that have been merely typical of their neighborhoods, taking the position that, by definition, these do not rise to the level of landmarks worthy of notoriety. In this case, the nomination and the resource itself do not demonstrate that they are sufficiently associated with historical periods or patterns of growth that have contributed significantly to the development of the District."
You can read my initial entry on the landmark nomination for more background; it was championed by ANC 6D07 commissioner David Garber, and supported by ANC 6D, but sparked a pretty vociferous backlash from some neighbors, as can be seen in the comments on those entries. (I hope to have the Memorandum in Opposition prepared by some of these neighbors soon.)
The hearing by the board itself on the landmark designation takes place Thursday, April 28, so this is not yet a done deal; this is merely the staff's recommendation. There will be plenty of people testifying on both sides, I imagine. (At least it's first up on the agenda, at 10 am.)
(PS: I'm not sure that the staff document as posted is complete; I'm only seeing two pages, and it seems to not really "conclude." Will see if a revised version pops up.)
UPDATE: Here is the very detailed Memorandum in Opposition submitted by a group of neighbors; unfortunately there's no credit line as to who submitted it, and the names of the undersigned aren't included.
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ANC Recap No. 2: Lumber Shed Zoning Change Request OK'ed
Apr 12, 2011 2:31 PM
Although the Yards Park has been open since September of last year, the historic Lumber Shed that sits just south of Water Street between 3rd and 4th is not yet in its final form. Second-phase plans have always been for the shed to be turned into a glass-enclosed retail pavilion; however, as Forest City has been seeking tenants they have discovered that the vast majority of leasing interest has been for the first floor, not the second.
In order to get the building to the required percentage of leased space in order to get financing to start construction, Forest City is wanting to move their offices to the second floor of the shed, which requires a text amendment to the site's zoning. It would be on an interim basis, for no more than 20 years, and would allow Forest City to move its offices elsewhere before the end of that 20 years, and would require a return to retail or restaurant uses on the second floor after they move out. If the Zoning Commission approves the change, Forest City says they are looking to start construction this year and open the building in 2012. As part of the process for this zoning change, Forest City prepared a series of renderings of the completed renovation, which they have been kind enough to pass along to me. (Click on them to see enlarged versions.)
When Forest City first came to ANC 6D with information about this zoning text amendment request in March, the commissioners had concerns on three areas: the design of the roof (and whether it would be "green"), whether there would be controls in place to prevent the office workers from marring the look and feel of the glass walls by hanging posters or papers on them or putting other clutter too close to the glass, and whether the nighttime lighting of the shed on both floors would be designed to create a desired "jewel box" look.
Forest City addressed these issues at Monday's meeting. A green roof was studied, they said, but ultimately it was decided that it couldn't be implemented in a fashion that would respect the historic profile of the roof and the building, and given that the building is surrounded by almost 100,000 square feet of "permeable" surface (i.e, the park), they felt that another 300 or 400 square feet was not a necessity. The color of the roof will be a charcoal gray. As for the "Post-Its on the Glass" issue, Forest City said that they will stipulate rules as to not hanging items on the glass and how far away other items should be. And the company also agreed to the "jewel box lighting" concept of both floors, provided that it's left up to Forest City to determine the appropriate lighting levels. The rendering at top right (see larger version) shows the nighttime lighting of the building as envisioned.
In addition, David Garber suggested/requested that a sign or plaque of some sort be affixed to the building (but not on the glass!) to explain its historic significance, which Forest City also agreed to.
With questions answered, agreements reached, and plaques affixed, the ANC voted 6-0 to support the zoning change. No date for the hearing with the Zoning Commission has been set as of yet.
The Lumber Shed is not the only retail pavilion planned for the park's later phases--designs call for two additional buildings along Water Street on the empty lots to the east of the shed. You can see more information and renderings on my Yards Park page (scroll down a ways if the link doesn't jump you down to the Second Phase section).
(Coming tomorrow, one more post on 6D's meeting, with a roundup of the other Near Southeast-related items on the agenda.)

ANC 6D Supports Temporary Capitol Hill Day School; Capper Update
Mar 15, 2011 10:25 AM
(There were a number of Near Southeast-related items on Monday night's ANC 6D agenda, so I'm going to break up the reports into a couple of posts. One or two more to come over the next day or so.)
Representatives of the Capitol Hill Day School came to 6D to ask for the commission's support on a zoning case that would allow the school to erect "modular classrooms" on the empty community center lot at 5th and K while their current location at 2nd and South Carolina undergoes renovation. As I wrote last week, the school would occupy the lot starting in June, with the intent of returning to the Dent School building in January 2012. There were a few additional details given last night:
* CHDS has secured 29 spaces in the big parking lot at 7th and L for faculty.
* They will be requesting from DDOT that six of the street parking spaces (half the block) on the east side of 5th in front of the lot be changed to No Parking from 8 am to 6 pm weekdays, to act as a drop-off zone for parents and buses. They will ask parents coming from north of the freeway to drive south on 4th, turn left on L, and then turn left on 5th to pull into one of their four drop-off spots, where kids are guided quickly out of the cars. (You can see this in operation at 2nd and South Carolina.) Their school buses would also operate in those spots during the day. But the spaces would be available for resident parking after 6 pm, before 8 am, and on weekends, with a "minimal" number of nighttime events beyond a Back to School night.
* Headmaster Jason Gray said that the school wants to be "as minimally disruptive as we can, be good community members, and leave the site better than we left it." They'll be landscaping the site (and fencing it), and will clear the lot and clean it up once they move out.
* In return for using this DC Housing Authority lot, CHDS has agreed to fund three scholarships for public housing children to attend the school, though details on how the students will be picked are still being worked out.
The commission voted 6-1 to support the zoning request, with only Commissioner Roger Moffatt voting against. The BZA will hear the case on May 17. If you want to know more about the CHDS renovation project, you can check out their wiki, and they are also keeping a blog on the construction project.
There was also a general update on the progress of the overall Capper redevelopment given by David Cortiella of DCHA. Some bullet points:
* Construction on the second phase of Capitol Quarter is actually a bit ahead of schedule; Cortiella said the first move-ins are scheduled for July/August, but I've heard from EYA that it may be more like May/June.
* DCHA is in the process of building a new lot for DPW so that it can move out of the New Jersey & K site; Cortiella expects this to happen by August, at which time site remediation and demolition can begin, working toward the building of I Street through to New Jersey Avenue (along with all manner of infrastructure work). This would take about 18 months.
* The financing for the mixed-income apartment project on Square 882 (just south of the Marine barracks) has apparently proven difficult to secure, and is still being worked on, with Cortiella saying he "expects" it by the end of the year.
* The community center's financing is dependent on whether a second bond can be floated to get the rest of the $55 million PILOT monies; the $29 million bond sold in 2010 is paying for infrastructure work around Canal Park and the DPW site, and by spring of next year it should be known whether this second bond will be happening.
* The entire project is still on track to eventually provide the 707 units of public housing that were on the site before redevelopment; about 337 have already been delivered.
(Plus, it wasn't mentioned at the meeting, but there's a lottery of up to 11 Capitol Quarter workforce housing units coming March 26.)

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.

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.

401 M Street Project at the Yards Switching to Residential, Could Deliver a Grocery Store in 2013
Sep 9, 2010 10:59 PM
One of the top three questions that gets asked here at JDLand is "When is a grocery store coming to the Near Capitol Ballpark River Yards area?" (Well, maybe it doesn't get asked quite like that.) For a number of years there's been a planned grocery space on the southeast corner of 4th and M, as part of the first phase of development at the Yards; but thanks to the Economic Difficulties there hasn't been any recent indication of when (or if) that building might get underway.
However, it seems that the wheels are finally beginning to turn, and Forest City is now starting the process of shepherding a revised design for the site (known as "Parcel D") through the city's planning processes. And it appears that a full-service grocery store could be arriving in the neighborhood by late 2013 or early 2014. While that's not exactly right around the corner, those dates would seem to be an improvement over "someday, we hope."
These new designs replace the original plans for one office and one residential building with a single 220ish-unit apartment building, with 20 percent of the units earmarked as affordable housing. The 50,000 square feet of ground-floor grocery store space would still be at the north end of the block (near the red brick wall and turret), plus there would be additional retail space that would include a three-story fitness and spa facility. (And note that this is new construction, on a currently empty lot--the large red brick Gun Mount Shop just to the east of Parcel D is a separate project known as "Factory 202", designed as condos in the original plans.)
Forest City is hoping that construction could possibly start in early 2012, with a delivery in late 2013 or thereabouts. (But, repeat after me: dates like this are not written in stone.)
No names are officially attached to either big retail space at this time. However, WBJ reported a year ago that Harris Teeter has signed a letter of intent for the grocery store space, and, gosh, Vida Fitness sure is hanging around in the neighborhood a lot these days! Plus Vida said a few months ago that they have plans to open a branch in the Navy Yard area in 2013.
These new designs will apparently be presented to ANC 6D on Monday (a meeting which I, alas, will be missing), plus they are on the agenda for Thursday's Commission of Fine Arts meeting. They should also be going to the Zoning Commission at some point, so more details should become available as the process goes along.
I hope to have renderings of the new design soon, and will update this post when I get them. In the meantime, you'll have to settle for some renderings on my project page of the old original designs for 401 M and 400 Tingey from back in 2007.
UPDATE: Renderings have now been added to my 401 M/Parcel D page. A little taste of Southwest DC in the apartment building design, isn't there? The fitness/spa facility at Fourth and Tingey is much more modern (and I believe it will have space for some additional retail as well).

Zoning Commission Allows Community Center Delay
Jul 13, 2010 3:11 PM
At Monday night's Zoning Commission meeting, the commissioners voted 3-0 after a brief discussion to approve a request by the DC Housing Authority and the Capper/Carrollsburg redevelopers to extend (again) the approved timeline for the long-planned Community Center at Fifth and K. The commissioners saw letters of support from both ANC 6B and 6D (you can see 6D's letter here), and seemed appeased by the notion that the $7-plus million required to build the center is figured into the $25 million that DCHA plans to eventually receive from a second bond offering (after the $29 million one late last year that's paying for infrastructure improvements), once the market improves.
In return for 6D's support for the time extension, the Housing Authority agreed to a number of conditions, mainly having to do with status reports and project updates, but also agreed (according to the letter) to "work with the ANC, D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation, and the Marine Corps to implement the agreement governing use of the Marine Corps' playing fields for the community." This is apparently a reaction to attempts to gain wider public access than is currently given to the fields at 7th and Virginia barracks as was originally agreed to when DCHA transferred that land to the Marines back in 1999.
The new time extension for the community center calls for building permit applications to be filed by July 1, 2012, with construction having to begin within 12 months of that date.
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Brief Break from Blogging Breather for Bullet Points
Jul 9, 2010 2:36 PM
I'm still eyeing a couple more days of (mostly) blog-free living, but a few items should probably be mentioned before the weekend, and so that you don't think I'm never coming back. First, the calendar:
* On Monday at 6:30 pm, the Zoning Commission will take up the Housing Authority's new request for another time extension to the zoning order that requires construction of the Capper Community Center. DCHA had asked for a two-year extension last year, but was only granted one year, and made clear at that time that they didn't foresee having the money to start the center in that shorter time frame, and that they'd be back to ask for another extension. And now they are.
* Speaking of the community center, there's now a big sign on its footprint (at Fifth and L) touting that the second phase of Capitol Quarter's townhouses is being funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. But you knew that already.
* Monday at 7 pm is the monthly ANC 6D meeting. I was hoping the agenda would be out before I posted this, but alas, no. Check back here or on their web site to see what scintillating topics will be up for discussion. (UPDATE: the agenda is now out, and there's nothing really major on it, other than a public space permit for the street work for Phase 2 of Capitol Quarter.)
* On Tuesday, July 13, the Capitol Hill Group Ministry is having its "All-Star Party Night" at Nationals Park, offering the chance to take batting practice, throw pitches in the bullpen, tour the locker room, meet Teddy, and more. Tickets are $55 per person and $15 for children under 12, with proceeds going to CHGM's programs for homeless and low-income families.
And a few other items:
* Today's WBJ reports that a third piece of "public" art is coming to Nationals Park; this time it will be 30 "stainless steel-domed forms which will accurately follow the theoretical model of the trajectory of a curving fast-ball pitch," which will be hung early next year on the exterior of the eastern garage. The steel spheres with cutout "laces," each seven feet in diameter, will feature programmable LED lights; the piece will cost about $950,000. As for the other two pieces of public art already at the stadium (the bronze statues in the Center Field Plaza and the "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" mobile near the First Base Gate), I'll quote WBJ's Michael Neibauer: "The first two pieces of public art at the stadium were, to be kind, not well-received at their unveiling in April 2009. The works were selected by arts professionals and D.C. residents, according to the arts commission, but some wonder: Did anyone ask the fans?"
* A reader reports that the Anacostia Boathouse at 11th and O, in between the 11th Street Bridges spans, has been demolished, which was expected because of the footprint of the new bridges. Haven't seen for myself yet to confirm.
* And I haven't felt the earth shift on its axis yet, so I assume the Little Red Building's exterior is still standing, although interior demolition has been going on all week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yards Requests Zoning Change for Trapeze School
Jul 10, 2009 2:44 PM
On Monday (July 13) the Zoning Commission will be hearing a request from Forest City for a text amendment to the Southeast Federal Center Overlay that would "authorize a Trapeze School and Aerial Performing Arts Center in the SEFC/R-5-E Zone District at the Yards." This is the Trapeze School New York, which left Baltimore's Inner Harbor earlier this year and is currently flying through the air on the old DC Convention Center site at Ninth and H, NW. The school would take up residence on the lot on the southeast corner of Fourth and Tingey ("Parcel O"), which someday will be a residential building but is not expected to be developed anytime soon. It's also just north of the site of the Park at the Yards, which is scheduled to open next year.
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Skyline Gets Hip; Marine Letter on Capper Zoning
Jun 15, 2009 8:39 AM
* This is about 50 feet off-topic, but Hank Stuever wrote a neat piece in today's Post Style section about the Capitol Skyline Hotel at South Capitol and I, SW, and the revitalization it's undergoing, including the creation of a series of weekend events this summer, such as Spike Mendelsohn grilling burgers poolside on Sundays. If you look at the article online and see the "This Story" box of links, there's one for "Video: Capitol Skyline Pool, 1969", which just happens to be a brief clip of my family swimming there (I'm the little fireplug just learning to swim). It's hard to see in this version, but at about the 24-second mark, when my dad is about to spring off the diving board, you can briefly see the "Esso" sign in the background that marks where the gas station just to the south of the hotel operated for so many years....
* Last week I wrote about the approval by both the NCPC and the Zoning Commission of the Capper zoning changes, and mentioned that the letter from the Marines that indicated the Corps' continued objections to the plans for apartments and an office building on the old Capper Seniors site at Seventh and M, was not included with other materials about the case. I now have the letter, which says in part:
"The Marine Corps [Anti-terrorism/Force Protection] issues are much greater in scope than those of the Navy. Because of our issues are more complex, considerable analysis and study is required to develop a solution that is acceptable, to the Marine Corps, the Developer, the Housing Authority and the District Planners. This detailed study must also be conducted in context of the larger community of stakeholders and historic integrity of the Marine Barracks as an institution. The Marine Corps has implemented a master planning effort to research and develop broad and unique solutions to these issues at hand." And: "The Marine Corps requires additional time to carry out our study and to develop acceptable solutions. Without adequate time to address these issues, including the possible need for alternatives on [the old Capper Seniors site], the Marine Barracks Mission and full function of that Institution could be jeopardized."
The Marines requested that the zoning action be tabled until adequate time was given to address their issues, but both the NCPC and the Zoning Commission gave the office and apartment plans their final approval anyway, with the record including the agreement between the developer and the Navy to address security concerns.
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More posts: Barracks, South Capitol St., zoning

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

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

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

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

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

BID Newsletter; Bike Rack Ceremony; Capper Zoning Vote?; Teague Dedication
Apr 26, 2009 6:18 PM
The latest Capitol Riverfront Connections newsletter from the BID was sent out late last week, with updates on the LEED for Homes plaque presentation last week at Capitol Quarter, an interview with BID executive director Michael Stevens on Newschannel8, and news of a ceremony coming tomorrow (Monday) at 2 pm on the Tingey Plaza at USDOT, where Mayor Fenty will kick off the launch of 28 new artistic bike racks around the city.
Also on Monday, at 6:30 pm, is a Zoning Commission hearing where a first vote could possibly come on the batch of zoning changes being requested for Capper/Carrollsburg to which I've dedicated so many bytes lately.
And, on Tuesday morning at 8:30 am is a dedication ceremony and breakfast fundraiser (also with the mayor) for Diamond Teague Park, being held across the street at the foot of the stadium's grand staircase. Tickets are $50 per person.

ANC Concerns about Capper Returns, Community Center Construction Delays
Apr 14, 2009 2:22 PM
At Monday night's meeting, ANC 6D voted 6-0-1 to approve a letter drafted by commissioners McBee and Siegel responding to submissions by the Housing Authority in the wake of the marathon March 20 zoning commission hearing on the various modifications and extensions being requested for the Capper PUD. As I wrote on the 20th, there was much discussion about DCHA's request to delay construction of the planned community center until at least 2011, and there was also testimony by two former Capper residents that DCHA isn't adhering to what the 2004 zoning order requires in terms of job training and other social services for the former Capper residents.
The letter ANC 6D is now forwarding to the Zoning Commission can be read here, and it addresses in detail the Community Support Services Program (CSSP) and the community center. The DCHA numbers quoted in the ANC letter show an initial CSSP case load since 2005 of 828 cases, with only 394 cases now active due to residents declining to participate, being declared ineligible, or having gone "missing." The letter also says that no further funding for the CSSP program is forthcoming from HUD, and says that the numbers provided by DCHA "do not paint a good picture for a Hope VI Project whose main objective is sustainability and empowerment for the effected community."
As for the community center planned for Fifth and K, the ANC says that its delay "has already done sufficient damage" and that its absence "will fail to address the social and educational needs of the residents." The ANC also notes a lack of any mention of the center in various testimonies by DCHA on their budget and on stimulus dollars coming to the city, saying "we now have no confidence [...] that the Center will ever be built."
The Zoning Commission's next hearing on these Capper doings is expected to be on April 27.

4 1/2 Hours of Capper Zoning in Capsule Form
Mar 20, 2009 7:04 PM
How can I possibly summarize in this small space the never-ending parade of testimony and questions at last night's hearing on the various Capper zoning modification requests? (I just thank the heavens I watched the web cast and didn't attend in person.) If you didn't avail yourself of this entertainment, you'll just have to wait for the transcript to come out to get all the specifics, but here's a few bullet points on issues that were brought up (read the Office of Planning report on what was actually being requested):
* Commissioner May was displeased that there were no "sample boards" of the exterior finishes for the two new apartment buildings, as is apparently required for a stage 2 planned-unit-development approval.
* The commissioners were clearly befuddled by the scope of the requests, variances, and exceptions before them, even though last year they had requested that the three separate filings be grouped together in a single hearing.
* There was much discussion of the request to further delay the construction of the community center until at least 2011, with the Housing Authority testifying at length as to the financial realities of the bond and lending markets (see more about that here), and members of the public and ANC commissioners (Siegel and McBee of 6D) emphasizing as they have in the past "the community's" need for the center and questioning DCHA's idea that the neighborhood needs to reach a "critical mass" before the center should be built (does 300 completed units out of a planned 1700 meet that threshold?). DCHA said repeatedly that building a community center is a promise they have made that will not be broken, but that right now it's just not a possibility.
* Two former Capper residents testified to their belief that the Housing Authority is not adhering to what's required in terms of job training and other social services that are supposed to be provided while residents are waiting to move back, which got chair Anthony Hood into a bit of a dander. (Read pages 12-14 of the 2004 Capper zoning order to see what is expected in this realm.) This and the other public comments (such as the "why can't you use Obama's stimulus money?" question that had come up at ANC 6D) brought a somewhat forceful response from David Cortiella of the Housing Authority as to what they're doing for the former residents, and he again went through the current barriers to financing the center. There was then a minor dustup between commissioners Jeffries and May, with May pressing the housing authority on its performance and timeline and Jeffries expressing some level of surprise that the zoning commission was questioning a Hope VI redevelopment's financial problems "in this economic climate."
By the time the hearing wrapped up at 11:15 pm (and I'd be lying if I said I had paid attention to every word), the commission was requesting a series of additional filings from the housing authority and its team, and put it all on their April 27 agenda. (And look for this to be back on the ANC 6D agenda on April 13, too.)
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More posts: ANC News, Capper, meetings, zoning

Capper PUD Hearing on Thursday; New Renderings and Background Info
Mar 18, 2009 1:52 PM
I've just about reached my recommended yearly allowance of writing about the various Capper zoning requests that are pending right now, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel, since the hearing is finally being held Thursday night at 6:30 pm. If you've grown tired (as I have) of my haphazard attempts to describe exactly what's being requested, you can now pour through the Office of Planning report, which gives far more detail than I've ever attempted. Even if you don't want to know that much about it all, there's a pretty good map on page three of the report that details the plans for every block of Capper/Carrollsburg (though without any timelines for the future projects). I have a similar map on my main Capper page, but this one does add a lot of detail.
I've also managed to snag the first renderings of two of the planned Capper apartment buildings, which I've added to my project page. One (seen at top left) shows the 171-unit building planned for L Street, next to Canal Park and behind the proposed 250 M Street office building. There's also now a first look at the 189-unit building planned for the 600 block of L Street (seen above), on the north side of the old Capper Seniors lot and just south of the Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters. In the original Capper plans, this site was going to be townhouses, but it was decided that an apartment building would fit in better with the larger surrounding structures.
The Thursday hearing will be available via live web cast, if you're so inclined.

ANC 6D Supports Capper PUD Modifications
Mar 10, 2009 10:57 AM
I can't hardly bring myself to write about the Capper PUD modification requests *again* (my first post on them was back in July), so I'll just stick to the basics and say that on Monday night ANC 6D voted to support the three requests, with provisos that the Zoning Commission request the start date for construction of the community center be in 2011 and not 2012 and that the Housing Authority provide *50* parking spaces in the lot at 7th and M for health-care workers who visit the Capper Seniors #1 apartment building, where apparently there is trouble with parking (according to commissioner Robert Siegel, who lives across the street). The delay on the community center was again a major sticking point (just as it was at the February meeting where these requests were also presented, giving Monday night a very Groundhog Day feel), and the Housing Authority representatives again explained that the center must be financed with bonds, which are all but impossible to "float" these days given the economic realities. (The bonds that eventually pay for the community center will also pay for the demolition of the trash transfer station and the other infrastructure work needed on the western edge of the Capper footprint, around Canal Park.) Cries of "but what about the Obama stimulus money?" also were left unsatisfied. But, in the end, with the extra wording proposed by Commissioner Sobelsohn and approved by Siegel, the resolution passed.
The Zoning Commission will have its hearing on these three requests on March 19. Read my February or July postings for all the specifics. And I hope to at some point get renderings of the apartment buildings planned for L Street between Second and Third and between Sixth and Seventh (hint, hint).
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More posts: ANC News, Capper, meetings, zoning

Four Renderings of Akridge's Half Street
Mar 9, 2009 10:28 AM
With thanks to the folks at Akridge, I at last have some renderings of their planned 700,000-sq-ft mixed-use project on Half Street, which I've added to my project page and paired with the "before" photos of the same location. These are the plans that were approved by the Zoning Commission last month, and you can read my more detailed description of the project for additional information. Construction could begin in 2010.
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More posts: Akridge/Half St., Development News, zoning

ANC 6D Meeting on Monday
Mar 6, 2009 1:44 PM
The agenda has been sent out (though not yet posted) for Monday's ANC 6D meeting, at 7 pm at St. Augustine's church at 6th and M streets, SW. The only Near Southeast item on the agenda is a vote on the three zoning PUD modifications being sought for the Capper/Carrollsburg redevelopment--they were presented to the ANC back in February, which you can read about here. Other agenda items include updates on the Waterside Mall redevelopment and the Southwest Zoning Planning process, the SunTrust marathon, the proposals for the new firehouse at 4th and School, SW, and the job fair held in Southwest earlier this week for employment at Nationals Park.

Yards Park Phase 2 Plans Approved
Mar 3, 2009 9:20 AM
Last night the Zoning Commission unanimously approved Forest City's Phase 2 plans for the waterfront park at The Yards, which include three glass-enclosed pavilions offering 50,000-sq-ft of retail and a 60-foot "visual marker" at the edge of the water on the boardwalk. You can see more renderings and designs on my Yards Park page (scroll down a bit for Phase 2), and this National Capital Planning Commission report has a lot of information as well, with many of the same drawings that were presented last night. I described it all thusly a few months ago:
The "light tower," designed by James Carpenter Design Associates, is made up of stainless steel prisms that reflect light during the day and will be subtly illuminated at night. The top is actually 70 feet from the top of the water, but 10 feet of that is the boardwalk; the structure itself is only 60 feet high.
The storage shed, as I've mentioned in the past, will lose its faaaahbulous salmon-colored corregated skin and will be enclosed with non-reflective glass. The other two buildings (currently given the wonderfully descriptive monikers of P2A and P2B) will also be mainly glass structures. There will be a restaurant court in front of the center building, overlooking the area of the park that steps down toward the waterfront.
The commissioners were very complimentary of the designs, with only a bit of concern expressed about whether the tower (made of stainless steel prisms) was either a bit too small for its surroundings (commissioners Jeffries and Keating) or if perhaps its base was a little too plain (May and Turnbull). Turnbull was also concerned about sustainable design features of the pavilions, and, more succinctly, that the walls made all of glass would just make the buildings into "a very hot box." May also said that Forest City needs to come up with better names for the vertical marker and the retail pavilions, though he also dryly added he was "not advocating selling the naming rights."
The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development testified in support of the project, and the Office of Planning recommended approval--their staff report is worth reading for more details on the project and on the various zoning exceptions and speical requests Forest City was seeking. ANC 6D voted last month 6-0-1 to support the project, and there were no other witnesses either for or against the plans.
In the end, with the commissioners having made no requests for additional materials or clarifications, it was decided to take their vote immediately, and approval was given 5-0. Because this was a Southeast Federal Center Overlay Review, this was the only vote that will be taken.
The first phase, which is expected to begin construction in the next three months and be completed by mid-2010, is the basic layout of the park and the boardwalks. The third phase will be the piers and marina, which Forest City said last night is targeted for completion in 2012 or 2013.
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More posts: meetings, Retail, The Yards, Yards Park, zoning

Capitol Power Plant Going Green?; Yards Park Phase 2 Zoning Hearing Monday; Lawsuit to Stop 11th Street Bridges
Mar 1, 2009 9:56 AM
* (h/t reader F) The AP takes a look at the Capitol Power Plant just north of the SE Freeway, the neighborhood's second most "favorite" landmark (after the school buses) with its smokestacks obscuring the view of the Capitol dome from many locations. On Thursday, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi wrote a letter to the Architect of the Capitol asking that the power plant switch from burning coal to using natural gas for its operations, saying "The switch to natural gas will allow the CPP to dramatically reduce carbon and criteria pollutant emissions, eliminating more than 95 percent of sulfur oxides and at least 50 percent of carbon monoxide...We strongly encourage you to move forward aggressively with us on a comprehensive set of policies for the entire Capitol complex and the entire Legislative Branch to quickly reduce emissions and petroleum consumption through energy efficiency, renewable energy, and clean alternative fuels." The AP's story tells how Congress has been trying to clean up the plant and make it more "green," and the potholes in the road to making it run completely on natural gas. I'm guessing it wouldn't be wise to start counting the minutes until the smokestacks are gone.
* On Monday at 6:30 pm the Zoning Commission is scheduled to have its hearing on the Phase 2 plans for the park at The Yards, though we'll see if the weather wreaks havoc with the schedule. Here's my notes on the presentation of the designs to ANC 6D, and my Yards Park page has renderings.
* (UPDATE) Missed this--the Examiner reported on Friday that the Capitol Hill Restoration Society has filed suit to stop construction of the new 11th Street Bridges, citing its "significant, irreversible, adverse effects" on the surrounding area. The CHRS web site has a bit more detail as well.
* Tickets still available for Elton and Billy. Apparently there was a bit of a glitch yesterday when they went on sale.

Zoning Commission Approves Akridge Half Street
Feb 26, 2009 7:51 PM
On Monday night, the Zoning Commission gave final approval to the Capitol Gateway Overlay Review of Akridge's Half Street project, on the site of the old WMATA bus garage at Half and M. Normally this would be where I would link to my entry with a detailed description of the late January hearing on this review--except that I couldn't find it. And as I thought back, it then dawned on me that I didn't actually write one. I think I was waiting to see if maybe I could get some renderings (which I've failed at), and then life sped onward. Oops. Feel free to ask for your money back.
But at least I wrote a long description of the project when it was presented to ANC 6D in December--or, if you really want to know how the hearing went, here's the transcript. (Though it will be pretty hard to follow along without any drawings to look at.)
The 700,000-sq-ft mixed-use project could get underway in early 2010. The bus garage will probably be demolished pretty soon, to clear the space for stadium parking.

ANC Supports Yards Park Phase 2; Tidbits on 11th Street Bridges; Nothing Else
Feb 11, 2009 1:29 PM
* With thanks to SWill for passing the word (since I couldn't attend the meeting), I can report that ANC 6D on Monday night voted to support the plans for phase 2 of the Yards Park, which will be going in front of the Zoning Commission on March 2. (You can read my summary of last week's presentation to the ANC on the plans for more information.)
* If you're looking for analysis of what exactly the plans for the new 11th Street Bridges configuration might mean, Greater Greater Washington is taking a look at them (part one here; part two not yet posted). For what might perhaps be called an opposing viewpoint, DDOT's chief engineer Kathleen Penney contributed this article in the February Hill Rag about what DDOT sees as the benefits of the project. And, if you want some 11th Street Bridges material to use as a sleeping aid, I pass along this link (via Tommy Wells's blog) to the RFP for the design/build contract. (The "amendment" link is the *slightly* more comprehensible one.) There was a hearing last week on a bill about the contracting procedures for the bridge, but I'm not *so* desperate for content to wade into that.
(UPDATE) I already posted about this, but it's a good time to mention again that there's a public forum on the 11th Street Bridges on Feb. 17: "Sustainable Development, Infrastructure, and the Future of the District of Columbia," at the MLK Library at 6:30 pm. (DDOT just sent around its own announcement, now posted online.)
* And hey, check it out, the council has finally updated the user interface for its legislation database!
* Other than that, all is very quiet these days. Though those following my Twittering were apprised yesterday of this breaking news item: "[I] Dreamt last night that 3rd and K Market was reopening both as a bodega and a swank Indian food joint. With a new noodle place next door."

Lazy Weekend Tidbits: Capitol Quarter, ANC 6D
Feb 8, 2009 11:10 AM
Been kind of a nice few days here without much news, so now I'm having to force myself back into the routine. I'll start small:
* An update to the post about the new houses released at Capitol Quarter: EYA tells me that the houses released are spread throughout the development: 421 L Street, under construction and expected to be ready in April (listed for $720,340 on the EYA "Move In Now" list), two houses in the block just to the north (expected to be ready in the fall), and four houses in the block bounded by I/Virginia, Fifth, Fourth, and K that could be ready by the end of the year. On all of these blocks the reservations placed by homeowners over the past few years have now been converted to contracts; that is expected to happen for the final Phase 1 block (between Third and Fourth and Virginia and I) later this year.
* The agenda for Monday night's ANC 6D meeting is posted, and it includes a vote on the Phase 2 designs of the Yards Park that were discussed at last week's special meeting. I've also now added a bunch of those Phase 2 renderings to my Yards Park page. Other items on the ANC 6D agenda are about Southwest subjects, though I should note that the National Marathon on March 21 (which they'll be discussing) will be coming across the Douglass Bridge, briefly using South Capitol Street until it turns west on P Street.
There's also an agenda item about a BZA application for 1101 South Capitol St., SW, which was the old KFC. This is a good opportunity for me to mention that, with two blogs about Southwest now in full flight, I'm going back to my original boundaries, which old-timers will remember stopped in the median of South Capitol Street, which is where Southeast ends and Southwest begins. I'm lucky enough to be watching a neighborhood that has probably the firmest boundaries of any in the city, so I'm going to respect them!
* City budget season is nearly upon us. I've added to my calendar a partial list of dates for FY08-09 oversight and FY10 budget hearings, for agencies that have the most bearing on Near Southeast. Check the DC Council web site for the full list.

Capper Zoning Changes Presented to ANC 6D
Feb 4, 2009 3:17 PM
The last item to summarize from Monday's ANC 6D presentation hearing was an update on the series of changes being requested to the Capper/Carrollsburg PUD. I've been writing about some portion of these requests since July, so here's some bullet points I've previously written (I just can't bring myself to have to compose new entries about this stuff AGAIN), along with comments from the ANC commissioners:
* Expanding the number of units at Capper: "There are five new apartment buildings slated to be built, three of which along the east side of Canal Park where the temporary parking lots are, and another at New Jersey and K on the trash transfer site. And there is a new plan for a fifth apartment building, on L Street across from the Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (B.E.Q), on the northern portion of the old Capper Seniors footprint.
"Under the original Capper plans, there was to be a strip of 61 townhouses built on this spot, but the DC Housing Authority has recognized that these homes would be dwarfed by the B.E.Q. to the north and the two planned office buildings directly behind them at 600 M Street. So DCHA has now filed a request with the Zoning Commission to allow an expansion in the total number of housing units allowed at Capper to 1,747, which would allow the construction of a four-story 189-unit apartment building (with a massing very similar to the B.E.Q.) on this stretch of L Street known as Square 882N. This Zoning Commission request is also looking to expand the number of units in the planned apartment building on the south side of L Street between Second and Third (let's call it Square 769N) to 171 units[.]"
The ANC was told that the Square 769N building was originally designed to be a market-rate condo building only, but that financing realities have forced a switch to rentals. And because rental units can be smaller, they were able to not only add more than 60 units, but make 34 of those units public housing, allowing a lower proportion of public housing units in the other four apartment buildings while still maintaining the required Hope VI one-to-one replacement of the original 695 Capper public housing units.
As for the Square 882 buildings, the change to apartments from townhouses would require a boost in parking spaces from 49 to 172--but they are proposing to lower the total spaces at the office building from 400 to 284. This is part of a request to bring down the overall number of required parking spaces from 1,845 to 1,780, including the removal of the requirement for 70 off-site spaces for 400 M Street, which have been determined to be unnecessary.
(Note that the Square 769 and Square 882 issues before the Zoning Commission are technically a PUD second-stage review.)
* Time Extensions: "There were also requests for three time extensions: to extend the first-stage PUD for an additional five years, to extend the deadline for filing second-stage approvals for the apartment building sites along Canal Park (including the trash-transfer station site) to 2013, and to extend the deadline for filing a building permit application for the planned community center at Fifth and K to January 2011, with an included extension of the start of construction to January 2012."
Commissioner Bob Siegel in particular is very unhappy about the delay in the community center construction, saying that the senior residents of 900 5th Street need an exercise room and other amenities. But he was told that, simply, the community center is unfinanceable right now.
And Commissioner Ron McBee wants to revisit the community benefits that were agreed to in the original Capper PUD, asking the presenters to get him a list of those benefits--I can do it for them, by pointing to pages 12-14 of the 2004 zoning order.
The Zoning Commission will be hearing all these items on March 19. You can see the hearing notice for the zoning-related specifics on the three cases

First Look at Phase 2 of the Yards Park
Feb 2, 2009 11:00 PM
Tonight ANC 6D had a special "presentation" meeting, to lighten the load of next Monday's business meeting so that everyone could go home before 2 am. On the agenda were three items, all of which are JDLand perennials. I'll post on Tuesday about the Capper zoning stuff and the South Capitol Street EIS, which didn't really contain much that I haven't previously covered; the third item was the designs for the second phase of the waterfront park at the Yards.
The first phase, which is expected to begin construction in the next three months and be completed by mid-2010, is the basic layout of the park and the boardwalks. The second phase comprises 55,000 square feet of retail in the to-be-rehabbed Lumber Storage Shed and two new buildings, as well as a 60-foot-tall "visual marker" (seen at left) just to the southwest of the shed. (The third phase will be the piers and marina.) I was dreading coming home to describe these latest plans with no renderings to accompany my ramblings, but then I found the National Capital Planning Commission has done all my work for me, thanks to these phase 2 designs being in front of the commission at their meeting this Thursday (and for which the NCPC staff has recommended approval). You can see all of the drawings presented to the ANC in this NCPC document, along with a lot of description of the designs, but I'll hit some highlights.
The "light tower," designed by James Carpenter Design Associates, is made up of stainless steel prisms that reflect light during the day and will be subtly illuminated at night. The top is actually 70 feet from the top of the water, but 10 feet of that is the boardwalk; the structure itself is only 60 feet high.
The storage shed, as I've mentioned in the past, will lose its faaaahbulous salmon-colored corregated skin and will be enclosed with non-reflective glass. The other two buildings (currently given the wonderfully descriptive monikers of P2A and P2B) will also be mainly glass structures. There will be a restaurant court in front of the center building, overlooking the area of the park that steps down toward the waterfront. (A drawing of the three buildings' southern facades is here; a larger version of the rendering at right showing how the buildings are not at all dominant when viewed from the waterfront is here. See the NCPC document for additional views.)
The questions from the ANC commissioners included whether this public park financed by public dollars and owned by the city would be open to the public, whether there would be preferences for ANC 6D-based businesses for the retail spaces and the six kiosks planned near the light tower, and if there would be any city-controlled vending spaces in the park.
The designs will be presented to the Zoning Commission on March 2 (there are also some exceptions and/or variances being requested). The ANC will presumably be voting on whether or not to support the project at its Feb. 9 meeting.

Pre-Weekend Roundup
Jan 30, 2009 12:57 PM
Some little items to head into the weekend:
* The Capitol Riverfront BID is going with a Best of the 80s theme for its Riverfront Reel summer outdoor movie series, and has a survey up to determine the most popular flicks. (Though let me just say that the omission of Die Hard has me white with rage....)
* DDOT is holding an "Anacostia Waterfront Forum" on Feb. 17 at the MLK Library at 6:30 pm, "on the role that replacing the 11th Street Bridges will have in creating a more inclusive and sustainable Distrct."
* Also from the BID, news that the Earth Conservation Corps has scheduled a dedication ceremony for Diamond Teague Park on April 28. I've been told that if all goes "as planned," the construction of the in-water structures (the docks and the piers) should be completed by Opening Day, though the plantings and other work on the dry-land portion of the park would be completed by the beginning of July.
* Greater Greater Washington is not happy that the US DOT is having a "sale" on its parking spaces.
* City Paper's Housing Complex blog is bewildered about where this Capitol Quarter "neighborhood" might possibly be. (Teh Google probably could have answered that.)
* The US Department of Justice and some Shell Oil entities are nearing a $2.1 million settlement for damages and cleanup costs at the Southeast Federal Center (now the Yards) after what the feds allege was benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene contamination of soil and groundwater "from leaking underground storage tanks located at a former filling station adjacent to the contamination."
* I did attend last night's zoning hearing on Akridge's Half Street project, and will post a summary when I recover from the nearly four-hour session. But I did hear that the bus garage on the site will be demolished pretty soon, to make way for temporary parking. Both Akridge and Monument are talking with the Nationals about providing their spaces for gameday parking. (Monument has told me that their underground garage at 55 M--and the little addition to the south--will be complete by Opening Day.) That's a lot of spaces that weren't around last year....
* DCRA has restarted the Building Permits feed. And there was much rejoicing.

Reminder: Akridge/Half Street at Zoning Commission
Jan 28, 2009 9:30 PM
Thursday (Jan. 29) at 6:30 pm is the Zoning Commission Capitol Gateway Overlay Review for Akridge's planned 700,000-sq-ft mixed-use project along Half Street. You can read my summary of the project plans as presented to the ANC a few months back for details; the ANC voted to support this plan at their January meeting. (I still don't have any renderings--I hope to soon!)
There's also the Office of Planning's hearing report for the project, which was prepared a few weeks ago; it says that OP is "very supportive of the project" but was unable to make a recommendation at the time of the report because it required additional information. I believe there's been some back-and-forth between Akridge and the planning office since then, but details will have to come at the hearing. The OP report is a good offering if you want a pretty detailed analysis of how the project stands up against the CG Overlay requirements as well as explaining the various exceptions and variances being requested.
If you don't feel like schlepping down to the Zoning Commission offices at 441 4th St., NW at 6:30 pm (and there's no one who understands that more than me), you can watch the proceedings on live webcast (no archived offerings, though). I imagine I might send a Tweet or two, if there's something worthwhile.

Special ANC 6D Presentation Meeting on Feb. 2
Jan 27, 2009 7:45 PM
With developers of three large projects needing to make presentations, ANC 6D has decided to have a separate presentation meeting on Feb. 2 in advance of its Feb. 9 monthly business meeting. And all three are Near Southeast spectaculars:
* The Housing Authority will be there to talk about the various modifications it's seeking to the Capper PUD, in advance of its March 19 Zoning Commission hearing;
* DDOT will be making a presentation on the final South Capitol Street Environmental Impact Statement (this includes the plans for the new Douglass Bridge), which I wrote about a few weeks back; and
* Forest City will be making a presentation about the park at the Yards (I believe these are the designs for Phase II, which include the various pavilions and the docks and marinas). The National Capital Planning Commission will be taking a look at Yards designs at their Feb. 5 meeting, and the Zoning Commission hearing on the park's second phase is scheduled for March 2.
The meeting is at the ANC 6D offices on the second floor of 1501 Half Street, SW, at 7 pm.

Tidbits: Teague Park Started, Bridges and Stimulus, Reservation 17A, Exxon For Sale?, Capper Zoning, More
Jan 24, 2009 2:40 PM
Some items from the past few days. Big ones first:
* It's probably been true for weeks, but I've just now been by Diamond Teague Park for the first time in a while and can confirm that construction is definitely underway there. Fences are up, cranes (three of them?) are in place, and workers were there. Pictures tomorrow. (Probably *lots* of pictures tomorrow from all over, as long as the weather stays reasonably clear.)
* City Paper got its hands on the letter Mayor Fenty sent to DC Delegate Norton about the city's priorities should the Feds decide to toss some stimulus package dollars in this direction. As I predicted, the two Near Southeast bridge projects were mentioned: "In particular, aspects of the Eleventh Street and South Capitol Street Bridge replacement projects could be undertaken immediately." He also mentions the city's backlog of maintenance projects, along with investments in Metro and the implentation of the streetcar project. And school modernization. And public safety issues.And environmental initiatives. And housing affordability. And health care. (And now here's the stimulus bill itself, though it doesn't get down into specific projects. On the other hand, considering these two bridges ease the commutes to and from the district of the House Majority Leader....)
* Back in mid-November, the transfer of the plot of land known as Reservation 17A from the Feds to the city finally took place; it runs between New Jersey Avenue and Second Street, and is straddled by the trash transfer station building. With this now under District control, various wheels can start turning in that area, including allowing the establishment of I Street between Second and New Jersey that will form the southern boundary of WC Smith's 800 New Jersey Avenue project. There's hopes that the trash transfer station could be demolished in 2010.
* Reader T. reported yesterday that a small bought-at-the-hardware-store For Sale sign went up at 10th and M yesterday, in front of the fence of the Exxon station. I'm not sure what the deal is, since the land is actually owned by the Exxon Corporation, and you'd think they'd have better methods of marketing the land.
* The public notice for the March 19 Zoning Commission hearing on various Capper PUD alteration requests is now available.
* WBJ reports that the Nationals have parted ways with Centerplate, last year's concessionare at the ballpark. This year it will be Levy Restaurants for the food and Facility Merchandising Inc. for the retail.
* More of the fences are coming down at 55 M, as you can see on the web cam. (Though it took me more than a month to notice that the plywood "tunnel" at the Metro exit had disappeared.)
* The Douglass Bridge will be closed at 5 am Sunday until 10am-ish to test the swing span.

ANC 6D Meeting Monday Night
Jan 9, 2009 9:38 AM
The agenda is out (though not net yet online) for Monday's ANC 6D meeting, and if you've liked the past few meetings, you'll love this one, because it's pretty much a rehash of recent agendas: the Capper PUD modifications (described here), the Capitol Quarter trash enclosures (perhaps the fourth time's the charm), and Akridge's Half Street project, which is going to the Zoning Commission at the end of this month. (For Southwest folks, the Hogate's liquor license discussion is back, too.) And, although it's not on the agenda now, I'm guessing there might be some inauguration-related discussions. The ANC meets at St. Augustine's church, Sixth and M streets, SW, at 7 pm.

First Tidbits on Akridge's 25 M Project at Half Street
Dec 9, 2008 2:00 PM
It's been more than a year since WMATA first awarded the Southeastern Bus Garage property at Half and M to Akridge (and almost six months since the suit brought by Monument Realty over the bidding process was settled), and at Monday night's ANC 6D meeting there was a first public peek at the designs for this central site being called 25 M Street, on the block just north of Nationals Park bounded by Half, M, N, and Van. And clearly Akridge is taking this project very seriously, as they arrived at the meeting with an army of people, including heavy-hitter architects Bill Hellmuth of HOK (who designed the office portion), Philip Esocoff of Esocoff and Associates (designers of the residential portion), and Jon Eisen of StreetSense (the group working on the retail).
I don't have any renderings yet (hope to within a month or so), but the ones displayed showed buildings with what Hellmuth described as "much more active facades" that "are not like a K Street monolith." There will be three buildings: two office buildings totaling 363,000 square feet, and a 276-unit residential building at N Street with roof terraces from which residents can look into the ballpark and watch the games. The facades step "out" and "in" (far enough in some places to require a zoning special exception), including some spots in the M Street office building that will allow tenants to look south into the ballpark, too. The general feel is not unlike the Monument designs for the other side of Half. (And, with a raze permit already requested, none of this incorporates the existing bus garage building.)
There will also be 56,000 square feet of retail, with a mix of one-, two-, and 2 1/2-story spaces occupying 69 percent of the ground floor, which will require a special exception from the Capitol Gateway Zoning Overlay's requirement of 75 percent. They are expecting to have national retailers for the spaces along Half Street, but are planning to look for smaller local "service" retailers for the additional space along Van Street.
They are also creating what they call the "Via," a pedestrian-only "street" that runs from Half to Van between the two office buildings at the same spot in their block as "Monument Street" will be across the way (just south of 55 M). They are envisioning a "one-of-a-kind" DC destination: a marketplace with stalls and local vendors, where you could get fresh food, "quick-bite" carry-out, etc. (They mentioned Pittsburgh as an example, and I'm assuming they're referencing the Strip District.) The renderings also showed two glass-enclosed suspended walkways above the Via to connect the two office buildings.
The entire project will be LEED certified (as is now required in DC), though they aren't sure yet what level they'll be shooting for ("the goal is to get as high as we can"). Hellmuth said that HOK is not doing a single building in DC right now that isn't at least LEED Silver, and that all major tenants want to be in LEED buildings.
I didn't get the total number of underground parking spaces, but the residential will have three spaces for every four units. (Monument's project across the street, of similar size, would eventually have about 700 spaces.)
Akridge indicated that their "ideal start date" is January 2010, with construction of the entire 700,000-sq-ft project estimated at 22 months. But there is no firm commitment that it will start at that time (thanks to the Current Economic Situation), plus it could end up being built in phases.
The ANC commissioners seemed receptive to the plans (Bob Siegel said that it gave him a "nice, warm feeling"), though with the usual questions about employment for local residents and LSDBE considerations, and concerns about residents and tenants having to work around ballpark traffic.
Akridge was officially at the ANC to request its support for both the zoning overlay review and the special exceptions being requested. While some commissioners were ready to vote to give support immediately, others weren't, and so after a number of differing motions that all failed it was decided that representatives of both sides would work together to discuss "issues" so that the ANC can vote on the project at its Jan. 12 meeting. The Zoning Overlay Review hearing is on Jan. 29.
And, not that there's much to see yet, but I do know have an Akridge/25 M project page, mainly with views of the bus garage from various angles.

ANC 6D Doings, Part 1: Artomatic, Nats Express, and Capper PUD Modification Requests
Dec 8, 2008 11:10 PM
Just got back from ANC 6D's meeting, and I'll leave you waiting until Tuesday for the first details on Akridge's Half Street plans (I don't want to give it short shrift) but here's the other Near Southeast items of the evening:
* Commissioner David Sobelsohn said an announcement is likely coming next week that the city's 2009 Artomatic festival will be held in ANC 6D, "most likely ANC 6D07" (which is Near Southeast). I know nothing more than that.
* Sobelsohn also introduced a resolution to send a letter to Tommy Wells, DDOT, and other officials expressing the ANC's support for the continuation of free parking at RFK and the Nats Express shuttle buses "to reduce the incidence of illegal on-street parking in ANC 6D by people attending events at Nationals Park." The resolution passed 6-0. A few weeks ago it was reported that Wells wants to discontinue the service.
* The DC Housing Authority came requesting the ANC's support for a series of zoning items having to do with the Capper PUD, including extending some deadlines and also expanding the number of residential units offered. (You can read all about them here; I'm too worn out to go into them all again tonight.) There wasn't much discussion of the request itself, because the commissioners were, shall we say, displeased that a huge packet of supporting materials arrived on their doorsteps just last Friday (6D07's Bob Siegel didn't receive his at all, and were unmoved when told it was basically the same information they had received in July.
There was also displeasure expressed about the request to delay the start date for the Community Center at 5th and K to 2012, with the commissioners wondering what level the DCHA would consider a "critical mass" of residents that would make the center viable. (Only 300 of the planned 1500 units have been built so far, so it would seem that the threshold might perhaps be a bit higher.) But the Housing Authority made clear that obtaining financing for the project is the larger hurdle. The support request will be brought up again at the ANC's January 12 meeting.
* I admit that I didn't stick around for the late-in-the-agenda item on the Capper trash enclosures. But DCHA mentioned that they had met with the city's Public Space Committee in advance of their monthly meeting, and were making progress on modifications to the design. ANC chair Moffatt asked if the enclosures still exist at all in the new design, and when he got the "yes" answer, that ended the discussion.

ANC 6D Meeting Monday (First Peek at 25 M)
Dec 5, 2008 12:44 PM
The agenda for Monday's ANC 6D monthly meeting is out, and the most enticing item is Akridge looking for the commission's support in advance of its Jan. 29 Capitol Gateway zoning overlay review for its new 700,000-sq-ft mixed-use development at 25 M, on the site of the old WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage, in the block directly north of Nationals Park. At this point, little has been put forth publicly about the project other than it'll be a office/residential/retail mix, and is expected to get underway in early 2010.
Also on the agenda is a third go-round with the DC Housing Authority over the designs for some external trash enclosures for some of the units at Capitol Quarter. I wrote about the first discussion here, and the Hill Rag has the report on the second one. Will the third time be the charm, or will bad things come in threes? There will also be a status report about the Capper redevelopment in general.
There's also apparently a letter being brought by Commissioner Sobelsohn to express the ANC's support for retaining the Nats Express shuttle bus that brings stadium-goers to the neighborhood from the parking lots at RFK. I imagine that the ANC will be expressing some level of concern about increased traffic and parking problems if that shuttle service goes away (it was reported last month that Tommy Wells is in favor of ending it).
The ANC meeting is at 7 pm at St. Augustine's Church at Sixth and M streets, SW.

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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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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Zoning Overlay Review for Akridge Half Street Project
Nov 25, 2008 12:42 PM
While we're all busy looking at the hole in the ground on the east side of Half Street, plans are apparently moving forward across the way: Akridge's 700,000-sq-ft mixed-use project on the old WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage site (just across from the Metro station entrance) is now on the Zoning Commission docket for a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review on Jan. 29, 2009.
This project will cover the entire block bounded by M, N, Van, and Half, which is the stretch along which fans walk to Nationals Park from the west entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station. (Akridge bought the southernmost parcel from Monument Realty back in late August, at the same time it finally closed on its $46 million purchase of bus garage site.) A raze permit application was filed for the bus garage building in September.
There hasn't been much made public yet about this development, other than it will be a mix of office, residential, and retail, and the hearing announcement says that the FAR will be 7.9 and the maximum building height will be 110 feet. In addition to the overlay review (which sets out some firm guidelines for projects along M Street and in the Ballpark District), Akridge is also asking for relief from roof structure requirements, loading requirements, ground-floor retail requirements, and step-back requirements.
It's been reported that Akridge is expecting to begin on the project in 2010; they've hired HOK (designers of the ballpark and the Plaza on K), Esocoff & Associates (Onyx) and StreetSense Inc. to design what an Akridge press release calls a "one-of-a-kind destination." Quoting further: "'Half Street is the city's newest and most unique urban destination,' says Matthew J. Klein, Akridge President. 'This stretch between the Metro and the ballpark has great energy and we look forward to capitalizing on that and other natural amenities like the river, to deliver the area's best urban living, working, shopping, dining, and entertainment project.'"
I've marked this movement by finally giving the site its own project page (now separate from the old "Ballpark District" page). Hopefully in the lead-up to the zoning hearing we'll get a peek at some renderings.

Mini-Roundup: Metro Station Entrance Closed, Zoning News, Taxation w/out Representation Street Hearing
Nov 16, 2008 5:42 PM
A bunch of items to start the week with:
* Remember that the west entrance to the Navy Yard Metro station at Half and M is closed every evening this week from 8 pm until closing, thanks to work on 55 M Street.
* On Monday (Nov. 13), the Zoning Commission gave final approval to moving 225 Virginia Avenue into the Capitol South Receiving Zone, which will allow any construction on the block to have greater height and density than the 6.5 FAR/90-ft-height currently allowed. This was approved with two caveats: that there is Zoning Commission review of the design of the portions of a building proposed to rise higher than 90 feet to confirm that the building will be sufficiently setback from the eastern building face, and that any structure will provide a suitable northern focal point for the Canal Blocks Park. Read my entry from the hearing a few weeks ago for more information.
* On Nov. 24 at 2 pm, the city council will be having a hearing about B17-0909, the "Taxation Without Representation Street Renaming Act of 2008," which would "designate the portion of South Capitol Street, SE that intersects with N Street SE and Potomac Avenue SE as 'Taxation Without Representation Street, SE." It just so happens that this is the portion of South Capitol Street that runs alongside Nationals Park, where the council was thwarted in earlier attempts to install an electronic tote board showing the federal taxes that DC residents pay while still having no voting representation in the US Congress.
* Tommy Wells is taking nominations for the Second Annual Livable, Walkable Awards.
* For weeks I've been meaning to post that Nationals Park made the list of Travel and Leisure Magazine's "Must-See Green American Landmarks," thanks to being the first LEED-certified professional sports facility.

ANC Agenda, Public Space Permit Feed Returns, School Bus Tea Leaves
Nov 7, 2008 9:59 AM
* The agenda for Monday's ANC 6D meeting has been sent around (not yet posted online). They'll be revisiting the designs for exterior trash enclosures on certain Capitol Quarter townhouses that were discussed and given the thumbs down last month. Other items include the potential modification of the 70 bus route, the franchise agreement between the city and Verizon for FiOS, and street closures for the SunTrust National Marathon on March 21. The meeting is at 7 pm at St. Augustine's church, Sixth and M streets, SW.
* Meeting at the same time on Monday (well, starting at 6:30 pm) will be the DC Zoning Commission, with a vote on the proposal to move 225 Virginia Avenue into the Capitol South Receiving Zone (read about it here).
* The city's Public Space Permit feed is back. Yay! Hopefully the Building Permit feed won't be far behind.
* One thing we've all learned over the years is to not believe anything about the school buses leaving Canal Park until we actually see them all drive away. But I will note that the DC Housing Authority currently has a solicitation out for a contractor to build surface parking lots at DC Village (which is where the buses are relocating to). Bids are due Nov. 18. I'm hearing "mumbleJanuarymumbleFebruarymumble" as a potential timetable for the departure of the buses, but see sentence #1 of this paragraph.
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More posts: ANC News, Canal Park, Capper, meetings, zoning

Brief Zoning Commission Hearing on Post Plant
Oct 28, 2008 10:58 AM
On Monday night the Zoning Commission held a brief hearing on Case 06-32a, the request by the city to move the old Post Plant at 225 Virginia Avenue into the "Capitol South Receiving Zone," which would allow the block to receive transferable development rights, allowing greater height and density than the 6.5 FAR and 90-ft-height currently allowed.
When this was originally brought before the commission by developer Washington Telecom Associates for setdown two years ago, the Office of Planning indicated that they wouldn't support the request because of concerns about the added density on that block affecting both Canal Park to the south and Capper/Carrollsburg townhouses to the east (read the transcript for more details). Since that time, the city subleased the building (paying $500k a month in rent), but has decided not to use it to house police department functions and so is in the process of finding a developer to take over its sublease (which also has an option to buy).
In their pre-hearing report and during last night's session, OP said they are now prepared to support the move to the receiving zone, "provided that there is Zoning Commission review of the design of the portions of a building proposed to rise higher than 90' " which would confirm that the building "will be sufficiently setback from the eastern building face to avoid shadowing the lower buildings in Square 797 to the east" and that it "will provide a suitable northern focal point for the Canal Blocks Park." The OP report says that this lot would not be exempt from the city's inclusionary zoning requirements.
The three commissioners in attendance (Hood, May, and Turnbull) asked a few cursory questions, and noted that there was no report from ANC 6D nor any witnesses in support or opposition. The ZC will vote on this case at its Nov. 10 public meeting.
With the OPM page on the 225 Virginia Request for Expressions of Interest saying that notification was to have happened yesterday, I thought there was a possibility that this hearing would give us some hint as to who might be taking over the city's lease, but the Office of Planning said they didn't know who the developer might be.

Capper PUD Items at Monday's Zoning Commission
Oct 23, 2008 12:14 PM
On Monday night, the Zoning Commission briefly took up a group of items having to do with the Planned Unit Development (PUD) approved for Capper/Carrollsburg back in 2004. The first was the request that I've written about in the past to expand the allowed number of residential units in apartment buildings planned for two spots along L Street (between Second and Third behind the proposed 250 M Street office building and on the north side of the Old Capper Seniors site). See my previous entry for specifics.
There were also requests for three time extensions: to extend the first-stage PUD for an additional five years, to extend the deadline for filing second-stage approvals for the apartment building sites along Canal Park (including the trash-transfer station site) to 2013, and to extend the deadline for filing a building permit application for the planned community center at Fifth and K to January 2011, with an included extension of the start of construction to January 2012.
The commission voted 4-0-1 to have all of these items come up together on a future date to be determined (as one public hearing and one special public meeting for those of you well-versed in ZC phraseology).

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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Mayor Receives $800k From Florida Rock for Diamond Teague; Latest on RiverFront Timetable
Oct 6, 2008 7:05 PM
A press release from the mayor's office (not yet online) tells us that this afternoon Mayor Fenty accepted $800,000 from the developers of Florida Rock/RiverFront for the construction of Diamond Teague Park next door. This contribution was part of the second-stage Planned Unit Development approval given by the Zoning Commission a few months back for the 1.1-million-square-foot mixed-use project.
Here's what the press release says about the park (emphases mine): "The District will use the $800,000 contribution from Florida Rock to help pay for Diamond Teague Park, which is dedicated to the memory of Diamond Teague, a member of the Earth Conservation Corps (ECC) who was murdered five years ago. The Park will include a water taxi; new boat slips for the ECC and fire and life safety vessels; an environmental pier for educational groups, kayaks and canoes; and a riverfront boardwalk and a half-acre park. Construction of the park is expected to start in November and will be completed this spring."
The event was also touted as an "unveiling" of the plans for the Florida Rock site, which I'm assuming (since I wasn't able to be at this event today) haven't changed too much since they were approved by the Zoning Commission in May. The press release has the raw numbers, which don't look too different: "Florida Rock's 'Riverfront on the Anacostia' will include about 560,000 square feet of residential and hotel space - with 29,000 square feet is reserved for affordable housing. It will also include about 545,000 square feet of commercial office space, at least 80,000 square feet of retail and a large waterfront plaza with a waterfront promenade."
But there is one line in the release that's going to chagrin those who have been looking forward to this project: "Construction could begin as soon as 2011." During the time leading up to the final zoning approvals, RiverFront's developers had said that it was possible that the first phase of the project--the eastern office building and the public plaza, adjacent to Teague Park--could see construction begin in fall 2009.

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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Deadline for Post Plant Replies Pushed to Oct. 15; Hints on Trash Transfer Station Status
Oct 3, 2008 10:10 AM
A recent wander past the Office of Property Management page on 225 Virginia (aka the old Post Plant) brings the news that the deadline for proposals from entities interested in taking over the city's $500,000-a-month sublease has been pushed back to Oct. 15. The page has also been updated with a few other items of note:
* One of the results of the case that's coming before the Zoning Commission on Oct. 27 that seeks to add the plant's block to the Capitol South Receiving Zone would be to allow the property to receive transferred development rights, which allows for increased density (i.e., add some floors on top), though the page notes that "[a]dditional height is expected to be subject to some design review by the Office of Planning."
* The building is not a historic building, and the city will not be seeking any historic landmark designation for it.
There's also this: "The trash transfer station located at 900 New Jersey Avenue, SE is expected to be relocated by September, 2009." I get asked a lot about What The Deal Is with the trash transfer station, so here's a bit of a roundup:
The city is working on moving the current DPW operations out of the building to other locations around the area, with that September 2009 mentioned above now being the official timetable (though perhaps some of the functions will be gone sooner than that). In the meantime, the city is still waiting for the little plot of land on the edge of the transfer station known as Reservation 17A to be transferred to District control from the Feds. (That land will then be transferred from the city to William C. Smith to round out the land that will be home to their 1.1-million-sq-ft 800 New Jersey Avenue project.) This transfer has been hung up for almost two years (it's part of the same transfer that would give Federal land at Poplar Point and in Hill East to the city), but there may be some movement soon.
The next step once DPW has left and the land transfer is settled would be for the city to start the infrastructure work, environmental cleanup, and demolition around the trash transfer site (including the new section of I Street to be built between New Jersey and Second), which will be paid for via another PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) plan that requires financing via the bond and credit markets--you know, those same bond and credit markets that are wheezing just a wee bit right now.
[All together now:] We shall see....

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

Housing Authority at the Zoning Commission, Asking to Expand Number of Residential Units at Capper
Sep 9, 2008 1:09 PM
At last night's Zoning Commission monthly public meeting, the DC Housing Authority made a presentation on the latest request for changes to the approved Planned Unit Development at Capper/Carrollsburg. I wrote a long explanatory entry about this request and the plans for multi-unit residential buildings at Capper back in July, and so I'm just going to plagiarize myself here:
"There are five new apartment buildings slated to be built, three of which along the east side of Canal Park where the temporary parking lots are, and another at New Jersey and K on the trash transfer site. And there is a new plan for a fifth apartment building, on L Street across from the Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (B.E.Q), on the northern portion of the old Capper Seniors footprint.
"Under the original Capper plans, there was to be a strip of 61 townhouses built on this spot, but the DC Housing Authority has recognized that these homes would be dwarfed by the B.E.Q. to the north and the two planned office buildings directly behind them at 600 M Street. So DCHA has now filed a request with the Zoning Commission to allow an expansion in the total number of housing units allowed at Capper to 1,747, which would allow the construction of a four-story 189-unit apartment building (with a massing very similar to the B.E.Q.) on this stretch of L Street known as Square 882N. This Zoning Commission request is also looking to expand the number of units in the planned apartment building on the south side of L Street between Second and Third (let's call it Square 769N) to 171 units, as a result of its block-mate 250 M Street having recently gotten approvals to be built higher than originally requested."
As for last night's Zoning Commission presentation, there was a feeling apparently that it wasn't clear enough, so DCHA will be returning in early October with additional details.

Yards Park Phase II Zoning Hearing in March; Living Classrooms Plans Main Campus Building
Aug 19, 2008 9:05 AM
It's more than six months away, but the second phase of the Waterfront Park at the Yards is now scheduled for a Zoning Commission SEFC Overlay District Review on March 2, 2009 (after having briefly been scheduled for Nov. 17, 2008). It's in this review that we'll see the plans for the renovation of the Lumber Shed into a glass-walled retail building, plus the designs for two new two-story retail pavilions connected to the shed's east side. There will also be the first look at the proposed "public art tower" that Forest City is wanting to build right on the waterfront at Third Street.
You can see early designs for the three retail buildings (and the position of the art tower, if not the design itself) in the rendering on my Yards Park page, right at the center, and of course plenty of photos of what the area currently looks like.
One other project at the Yards park that is just starting to pop up on the radar is a new "main campus building" for Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region, to be located on the far eastern edge of the park (just off the right edge of the rendering), along the waterfront just before the park meets the Navy Yard. Living Classrooms is a non-profit group that "uses maritime settings, community revitalization projects and other challenging learning environments" to provide hands-on education and job skills training for students (especially at-risk youth). They will be handling the design and management of the new environmental center at Kingman Island further up the Anacostia, and currently operate out of Building 74 at the Yards (the little brick building--to be townhouses someday--just west of Hull Street at M, seen here). And, according to their web site, Living Classrooms has been "asked to oversee and manage marina and some waterside activities" at the new Yards park.
There is no timeline for when Living Classrooms' new building will get underway. It's currently in the design phase (see an early rendering here), and when that's completed, there will be a fundraising drive to finance the project.
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More posts: Retail, The Yards, Yards Park, zoning

DC Getting Out from Under Post Plant Lease? (Updated)
Aug 14, 2008 12:39 AM
Fox5 News blows the lid off of 225 Virginia Avenue, telling the world what us smart people have known for a while about the old Post plant, saying that "DC taxpayers would be outraged to know a building that the city government spent millions on has been left sitting vacant": "The building was supposed to consolidate five public safety functions into one building to increase efficiency of the police department. A year ago the Fenty administration changed their minds on the plans, so the multimillion dollar building is just sitting there, empty. The city spent an additional 1 million for the plans to renovate and has, to date, paid more than $6.5 million in rent." Monthly rent is $500,000.
However, there might be some actual news at the end of the piece: "By the end of the week, the Office of Property Management will request someone else take over the lease and option to purchase the vacant building." The Mayor announced the city's intent to do exactly this back in November 2007 (back when the District was wooing NPR for the building before losing them to NoMa) so perhaps this story suddenly appearing now means they've found someone. We'll see.
You can read my 225 Virginia news items if you want more of a history on the plans to move MPD (and then not move MPD) there. (Though I bet Phil Mendelson still hasn't given up hope.)
UPDATE, 8/14: It turns out my crack about Phil Mendelson was more on-target than I might have imagined--the Fox 5 story (and this more complete one in today's Examiner) were spurred on by a press release from Mendelson noting the one-year anniversary of the city deciding to not move MPD to 225 Virginia and castigating the city for the money being spent on the building. It's not yet posted on Mendelson's site, but it includes this quote: "At this point, I hope the administration won't be so desperate that they will make a bad situation even worse by trying to unload this property in a sweetheart deal with some developer in return for tax or zoning promises." The Examiner indirectly quotes city spokesman Sean Madigan as saying that the city "plans to seek" developers' interest, so an actual deal is not immediately forthcoming--there's going to be a Request for Expressions of Interest to look for within the next few days, I guess.
(This is also a good lesson in how news stories are so often driven by press releases, without any indication of their existence. Boo.)
Mendelson's comment about "zoning promises" also reminds me to finally mention that within the past week the request to add 225 Virginia to the Capitol South Receiving Zone has suddenly popped back onto the Zoning Commission's calendar (now scheduled for Oct. 27), after lying dormant since early 2007.

Morning Roundup: Office Space Market, Gun Stores, Live Online Chat about Drag Queens
Aug 11, 2008 10:08 AM
* Monday's Post has a couple of pieces on the state of the area's commercial real estate market, and looks specifically at how NoMa doesn't have tenants racing in despite the high-profile acquisitions of NPR and the Justice Department. It also compares NoMa to Near Southeast, and quotes Russell Hines of Monument Realty as saying that "although the slow economy has made leasing the building more complicated, the company had seen interest from some associations and other private companies looking to escape high rents downtown." Alas, the piece mentions "50 M" as Monument's 275,000-sq-ft office building scheduled for completion next year when it means 55 M. (50 M is Monument's project, too--a proposed 130,000-sq-ft office building on the old Sunoco station site, but they are looking for tenants before starting construction there.)
* A Sunday Examiner piece looks at the temporary zoning rules covering where gun stores can be located in DC: "Firearms dealers who apply for a D.C. location will be largely restricted to high density commercial areas downtown and kept at least two football fields away from where people live, play and pray, according to emergency rules now in place." Included in the allowed zones are C-3-C areas, which means that the area of Near Southeast between South Capitol, Second, M, and the freeway (my "North of M" area) is covered. (See the map on page 8 of the OP report for exact boundaries.) Other restrictions: "All applicants, under the new rules, must appear before the Board of Zoning Adjustments to obtain a special zoning exception. Retail stores will be limited to the downtown area, generally between Massachusetts and Pennsylvania avenues Northwest, in addition to about 25 square blocks between Independence Avenue and M Street in Southwest. No dealer will be allowed within 600 feet of a residence, school, library, church or playground." Of course, the gun stores would have to be able to afford the rents in the pricey new buildings going up, since there aren't too many other places left in the neighborhood.
* Late notice (unless you're subscribed to my Twitter feed, in which case you heard about this yesterday), but there's a Live Online chat today at noon with the author of the Post magazine's piece on the drag queens of Near Southeast, and the man known as "Mame Dennis" who was the focal point of the article will be participating, too.

What's Next at Capper/Carrollsburg
Jul 31, 2008 12:04 PM
While the focus lately has been on the start of the Capitol Quarter townhouses, there is more to the redevelopment of the old Capper/Carrollsburg public housing complex. There are the two completed seniors buildings (Capper Seniors #1 and 400 M Street), now providing 300 of the 700 old Capper public housing units that are being replaced. The first phase of Capitol Quarter includes 39 subsidized rental units, and the second phase (which is probably not going to start delivering until 2011) will have another 47 subsidized rentals; this is in addition to the sales of 121 market-rate and 91 workforce-rate townhouses throughout both phases. That leaves a little over 300 public housing units to come, which will be included in the 1,300 apartments expected to be constructed at Capper over the next five years or so.
There are five new apartment buildings slated to be built, three of which along the east side of Canal Park where the temporary parking lots are, and another at New Jersey and K on the trash transfer site. And there is a new plan for a fifth apartment building, on L Street across from the Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters (B.E.Q), on the northern portion of the old Capper Seniors footprint.
Under the original Capper plans, there was to be a strip of 61 townhouses built on this spot, but the DC Housing Authority has recognized that these homes would be dwarfed by the B.E.Q. to the north and the two planned office buildings directly behind them at 600 M Street. So DCHA has now filed a request with the Zoning Commission to allow an expansion in the total number of housing units allowed at Capper to 1,747, which would allow the construction of a four-story 189-unit apartment building (with a massing very similar to the B.E.Q.) on this stretch of L Street known as Square 882N. This Zoning Commission request is also looking to expand the number of units in the planned apartment building on the south side of L Street between Second and Third (let's call it Square 769N) to 171 units, as a result of its block-mate 250 M Street having recently gotten approvals to be built higher than originally requested.
I've updated the map and descriptions on my Capper Overview page to reflect these latest plans for the area, and it's worth taking a look at if you're not really familiar with exactly how wide-ranging the Capper Planned Unit Development is. (Reading the 2004 zoning order establishing the PUD and laying out the requirements isn't a bad idea, either.) I should also note that the apartment and office buildings will combine to have about 50,000 square feet of ground-floor retail. There should also be a new community center at Fifth and K, but it doesn't seem to be on the front burner just yet.
Of course, the question then becomes: when? Timelines are always dicey and should be taken with a couple pounds of salt, but it appears that these two L Street apartment buildings (882N and 769N) would be first up on the agenda, perhaps being delivered in 2011. The other two buildings on Second Street would come next, and the anticipated 400-unit building on the trash transfer site would probably be the last one to be built, finishing maybe sometime in 2013. The three office buildings and the second phase of Capitol Quarter townhouses would be sprinkled throughout that time frame as well, with 250 M Street probably being the first office building to get underway, possibly even later this year. (Have I thrown in enough "maybe"s and "possibly"s and "perhaps"s for you?)
At least these plans don't have to wait until school buses get moved!

Pre-Holiday Wrap Up
Jul 3, 2008 9:40 PM
Not that there's probably anybody left in town (*tap* *tap* -- is this thing on?), but just in case, here's a few items before I downshift into low-posting holiday mode over the weekend and into next week:
* My Ballpark and Beyond column in today's Post covers some of the latest news on retail (i.e., banks) I've posted here over the past few weeks (Wachovia at 20 M, SunTrust at 100 M, plans for 900 M). There's also a blurb on the month-old news of the zoning approvals for the Waterfront Park at the Yards. The column normally appears in just the District Extra, but If you live in Prince George's County, you got a crack at it this week as they snuck it in on page 11 of the P.G. Extra, too. But note that we're scaling way back on how often the column will appear (probably just monthly from now on) since the news isn't flowing as fast and furious-ly as it was last year.
* No one's invited me to the roof of any of the sparkly new Near Southeast buildings to watch the fireworks. I'll say it: I'm miffed. I do and I do and I do for you people, and this is the thanks I get.... [/sarcastic martyr mode off]
* I've tinkered again with the big homepage map, trying to have it make a little more sense. I've added checkmarks for the completed projects, and turned the list of projects down the left side (marked on the map with boxes) into only ones that are under construction or ones which the developers have done an especially good job of making me believe they'll start soon. The rest of the map is a whole lot of stars marking proposed projects. And they're all color-coded to differentiate between office, residential, and recreational/retail.
My real desire is to completely redesign the homepage, but I haven't had any inspirations come to me yet. Although, in the meantime, I've added another three random before-and-after photo pairings down on the bottom right of the homepage (after you do a lot of scrolling), just to fill some space. I also expanded my Neighborhood Blogs list of links.
Happy 4th, everyone!
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More posts: 900m, Retail, The Yards, Yards Park, zoning

City Council Today - South Cap/N Alley Closing, Tax Pay-Out Bill, Tingey Street (Updated with Results)
Jul 1, 2008 9:29 AM
Today is the city council's monthly legislative meeting, and since they don't have one in August, this one--like all July ones--has an agenda a mile long, with a few items related to Near Southeast:
There's an emergency bill to correct a problem with the 2005 bill that transferred Tingey Street to the city--a drafting error apparently drew the road through part of the Pattern Shop Lofts.
And the "Taxation Without Representation Federal Tax Pay-Out Message Board Installation Act of 2007" (Bill 17-0028) is finally getting a vote--this is the bill that would put electronic tote boards on the Wilson Building and the ballpark showing the federal taxes that District residents pay while still having no votiing representation in Congress. You can read more about it here and here--I don't know if the bill being voted on today has the same language as the original one introduced in 2007, since the council was told pretty clearly by the Sports and Entertainment Commission that the stadium's lease agreement states that the Nationals control the signage on the stadium's interior, exterior, and perimeter, and the DCSEC's outside counsel feels that this tote-board bill "could conflict" with the lease.
But first up, on the consent agenda, is the bill to close the alley between South Capitol and Van just north of the old BP Amoco station on N Street across from the ballpark. This request is coming from Monument Realty, so they can combine the Amoco lot with the parking lot to the north of the alley and develop the site as a residential building with somewhere between 180 and 210 rental units, with 15 or 16 of them being affordable units priced at between 50 and 80 percent of the area median income. There would also be about 14,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.
I failed my fiduciary duty to ever post a summary of the hearing on this bill held back in May, but most of what was said at the council hearing wasn't too different from the presentation about the closing to ANC 6D in January. Monument's representatives told the council that they would expect to start the project approximately 18 months after receiving the alley closing (depending on market conditions, of course), meaning it wouldn't deliver before 2011. Monument is not so far committing to any sort of LEED certification for the building (though I imagine that changes if they don't build it before the city's new green building laws go into effect). The project would also need a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review by the Zoning Commission.
The hearing starts at 10 am, and can be seen on DC Cable 13 or via streaming video. I'll update this entry later today with the various outcomes.
UPDATE: I haven't started watching the proceedings yet (I'll be spending my evening fast-forwarding through them), but the Post's DC Wire blog has an entry on another bill of interest being brought up today, to improve upon the locations carved out for street vendors near the ballpark (here's the map). Some council members want the vendors much closer (presumably, along Half and N streets), which the Nationals and MLB are not much in favor of. Other council members say that bringing the vendors closer should wait until the construction near the ballpark is completed. We'll see what happens with the bill today.
FAST-FORWARDING UPDATE: What more could I want to do with my evening than to sit here speeding through 8-plus hours of city council proceedings? Here's what I'm finding:
* The Square 700 alley closing passed its first reading on the consent agenda.
* The Tax Pay-Out Message Board bill passed its first reading--Chairman Gray said that the second message board would be built "on public space near the Washington Nationals baseball stadium," which gets around the problems I described above with the original bill. Apparently Chairman Gray had discussions with the Nationals earlier this year about putting the sign at the ballpark, and the Nationals did not indicate any sort of desire to have the sign, so the compromise was hatched to put it on public land near the ballpark (I'm trying to find out where). Marion Barry pronounced himself "appalled" at the Nationals' refusal to put up the sign at the city-funded ballpark, calling the team "not good citizens." The sign at the Wilson Building is to be erected in time for the 2009 presidential inauguration, so that the entire parade can march right past it.
* The "Tingey Street, SE Right of Way Amendment Emergency Act of 2008" passed its first reading, so the street will no longer run through Building 160. Whew!
* I'm going to address the vending expansion bill in a new entry. Check back later for that.

In Case You Missed It (Last Week's News Again)
Jun 2, 2008 10:11 AM
There was a big pile of news this past week from Near Southeast, so I'll boil it down to bullet points and links in case you couldn't keep up:
* Construction is really about to begin on the first townhouses at Capitol Quarter, now that financing has been closed for the public housing units;
* The first phase of the waterfront park at The Yards got the thumbs up from the Zoning Commission, and is expected to be completed by summer 2009;
* Onyx on First will be opening its first five floors of apartments in late July or early August, and initial rents have been announced;
* 100 M will be substantially completed in November, and tenants should start moving into the office building early in 2009. SunTrust Bank is the first retail tenant, and the developer is looking for restaurants for the other spaces;
* The planned office building at 250 M got Zoning Commission approval for a modification to its design; and
* Street vendors will start popping up for ballgames north of M Street on Tuesday (June 3). You can see the map of where they'll be.

Yards Park Phase I Gets Zoning Approval
May 31, 2008 7:19 AM
In what chair Anthony Hood remarked might have been the Zoning Commission's first-ever landscape architecture-only case, the Zoning Commission on Thursday night approved the design for the first phase of the waterfront park at The Yards, the nearly 6-acre green space along the Anacostia River on the site of the once walled-off Southeast Federal Center. My project page has a number of the renderings that were displayed during the presentation, and additional descriptions of what's planned for the site can be found in these two blog entries.
Representatives of Forest City said that they are committed to opening the first phase of the park in the summer of 2009. The second phase, which will include the renovation of the Lumber Storage Shed and the construction of other retail pavilions and buildings, is expected to come before the Zoning Commission this fall. Phase 3 will be the piers and marinas. Somewhat surprising was the news that the floating boardwalk connecting the Great Lawn on the western side of the park to Diamond Teague Park and the ballpark is now going to be built by the city as part of the construction of Teague rather than by Forest City as part of this park.
Much of the discussion by the zoning commissioners (that I saw--I watched from home in my fuzzy slippers and the webcast went wonky a few times in the middle) centered around the pedestrian bridge that runs across the bulkhead and the new freshwater canal. Its very "forward" design---described by Commissioner Etherly as an "aggressive architectural play" and by vice chair Jeffries as a "Slinky," a moniker that I'm sure the developers would probably prefer to not catch on--was not met with universal acclaim. The commissioners did seem recognize its intended role as a piece of art and one of the iconic elements of the park. Jeffries emphasized--and others agreed--that because the designs for the buildings and for the "art tower" are coming at a later date, the bridge is setting the stage for the rest of the architecture at the park, and that the future designs must play off what the bridge has started.
Peter May did not like the bridge (though I missed a lot of his comments because of the webcast problems). He expressed a worry that the bridge, along with the not-yet-designed art tower and whatever's planned for Poplar Point, could create a series of "Look at Me" moments along the Anacostia, all trying to compete for attention. "The 'Look at Me' moment for a waterfront park should be the river itself," he said.
There were also discussions of the lighting plans, and concerns as to whether or not the bridge has a railing (it does). Jeffries asked a lot about the vegetation planned for the different sections of the park, and expressed a wish for some landscaping that is a bit more "wild" in nature, to which Forest City seemed receptive.
There were letters of support from ANC 6D, which voted 7-0 on May 12 to approve the plans, as well as from the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the National Capital Planning Commission, which approved the park's design back in February. So, in the end, the commission decided to go ahead and vote for approval of the plans immediately, although the issuance of the final order is subject to the commission receiving some new renderings showing more clearly the railing on the bridge. The vote was 4-0-1, with commissioner Turnbull not present.
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More posts: ANC News, Retail, The Yards, Yards Park, zoning

250 M Gets Preliminary Zoning Approval
May 29, 2008 3:10 PM
Last night the Zoning Commission voted 5-0 to extend the allowed building height and expand the total square footage of the proposed office building at 250 M Street in what is technically a modification to the Capper/Carrollsburg second-stage PUD that this office building is part of. The building, which will be going for LEED silver certification and which will have ground-floor retail, will now be 130 feet high and have 233,405 square feet of space. The discussions at the hearing centered mainly on the penthouse structure, the "next generation" elevator technology that allows for less overhead space, and how exactly the agreement with ANC 6D should be viewed.
William C. Smith's Brad Fennell testified that the developer has agreed to additional amenities beyond those in the original PUD (which included $325,000 toward the funding of Canal Park). He described the new amenities as "recruiting construction workers from ANC 6D by purchasing quarterly ads in the Southwester, creating an overall goal of 20% first-source employment for qualified ANC 6D residents, and providing contracting and new hiring opportunitiess for local residents and subcontractors by giving tiebreaking preferences to subcontractors headquartered in ANC 6D and for qualified construction workers living in that area." On May 12 the ANC tied 3-3 on the project, but apparently some subsequent tweaking of the proffer into this final form resulted in a letter from the ANC indicating that four commissioners would support the project with these additional amenities. The Zoning Commissioners felt that, since this was not an official vote of the ANC, it couldn't be given the required "great weight," but could be looked at the same as any feedback from a neighborhood association. The fact that no ANC members appeared at the hearing to testify in opposition also was noted.
You can read the Office of Planning report for all the specifics you could ever want about the changes in the design; if you're really interested, you can also read the original second-stage PUD approval of 250 M from last July, that last night's ruling is modifying. (The original Capper PUD is worth a look as well if you aren't familiar with what's been approved for the area's redevelopment.) Also, since I haven't mentioned it lately, it should be noted that this office building is technically a joint venture between WC Smith and the DC Housing Authority, with the monies from it helping to "financially leverage" the rest of the redevelopment of the Cappers.
This was the first vote; final action on this modification will be scheduled for a month or so from now. Earlier this year a WC Smith representative had told me that construction could begin in the middle of this year, but there was no mention of start dates at the hearing.
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More posts: 250 M, M Street, zoning

A Smattering of Ballpark and Soccer Links
May 29, 2008 9:41 AM
* The Post's DC Wire blog is reporting that at 5 pm today DCRA will be having a lottery for the 28 street vending spots near Nationals Park. "Winners will enjoy their spots for one month, starting on June 1. Then the process starts all over again with a lottery on the last Tuesday of each month until the baseball season ends." (Vendors grumbling about neon-green On the Fly's vending on Half Street have found out that the eco-vendor is actually on private property.)
* From the Examiner: David Catania gets back into the baseball carping business, saying the city should get its money back from the consultants who predicted in 2005 that the Nats would average 39,000 fans in the first year at Nationals Park, since there's only been an average of 29,000 fans during the first third of the season. Catania says "that ERA may have seriously overestimated ticket sales, which represents a major portion of stadium-related revenues." However, DC CEO Natwar Gandhi has replied that "the ballpark bonds are structured in such a way "that a significant drop in attendance would not hinder our ability to pay debt service" and that "in a worst-case scenario, total attendance at the new stadium could drop to approximately 10,000 people per game without affecting debt-service payments." The Examiner also says: "Ticket prices at the new ballpark are 20 percent higher than the consultant predicted, Gandhi said, which will drastically reduce the effect of reduced attendance." I wonder if the consultants factored in cold and miserable April weather? The Post's DC Wire has more on this.
* The Nats announced earlier this year that tours of the ballpark are available on non-gamedays; yesterday they sent out word that proceeds from those tours will benefit the team's Dream Foundation, which currently has a number of initiatives underway, including the Neighborhood Initiative that's providing three years of funding to the Earth Conservation Corps. Info about the tours is available here.
* My Ballpark and Beyond column in today's District Extra is short and sweet, with blurbs on the RiverFront/Florida Rock zoning approval and the almost-arrival of 700 new residential units at 70 and 100 I Street.
* Also in the District Extra is a big piece on whether the diversity of the Nats' roster, "combined with their state-of-the-art stadium, will be enough to attract young blacks and Latinos to the game in the District."
* DC United wants the city to pay $225 million for its Poplar Point stadium, which the Post says is "far more than some city leaders say they would support" and that "even the amount officials have considered, $150 million, has raised some concern with D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, whose analysis has concluded such a deal could push the government above a Wall Street debt ceiling that he recommended last year." In the meantime, Marc Fisher thinks it's all a bad idea.

Square 700 Alley Closing Hearing Thursday
May 28, 2008 4:08 PM
It's nowhere near as exciting as zoning hearings (then again, what is?), but I see that the City Council hearing on the bill to close a 2,400-sq-ft alley on Square 700 is happening tomorrow (May 29), after having been canceled back in February. The alley is just north of what used to be the BP Amoco station on South Capitol Street at N (which is now Nats Parking Lot N). Monument Realty is requesting this closure to allow for the combining of both the Amoco site and the parking lot to its north, with plans to build what was described in January as a residential building with 150-200 units and 14,000 sq ft of ground-floor retail space, as part of Monument's Half Street projects. Additional details are in my January report on Monument's request for ANC 6D's support (which they didn't get, thanks to a 2-2-1 vote). The bill is B017-0552, if you'd like some light afternoon reading. The hearing is scheduled be televised/streamed on DC Cable 13, starting at 10 am.
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This Week in Zoning: 250 M, Yards Park
May 27, 2008 2:03 PM
There's two Near Southeast projects with hearings in front of the Zoning Commission this week:
* On Wednesday (5/28) the ZC will hear the request to extend the height of the office building planned for 250 M Street. I've written about this here, and you can read the Office of Planning's final report for much more detail on the request (and see the latest design). OP recommends approval of what is technically a modification to the Capper/Carrollsburg second-stage PUD (yes, this office building is part of the Capper redevelopment). After initially refusing to vote on the plan because of a lack of community benefits, ANC 6D voted 3-3 on it at its May meeting, which means there will be no support from the ANC. (I wasn't at this meeting, so I can't give you the specifics of what the developer offered to the ANC, or why the resolution didn't pass.) It's possible that 250 M will begin construction this year, but there's no confirmation of that.
* The next night (Thursday 5/29) the ZC will undertake a Southeast Federal Center Zoning Overlay District Review for the first-phase plans of the 5.5-acre waterfront park at The Yards. This design was approved by the National Capital Planning Commission back in February (with some suggestions for refining the pedestrian bridge that is one of the focal points of the design). The Office of Planning report for Thursday's hearing gives a lot of good detail on the plans for the park, as does my original entry from when the design was unveiled. OP supports the design for the park, while also hoping for refinements to the bridge and noting that there should be additional bike racks. You can all sorts of cool renderings of the plans on my Yards Park project page. The first phase of the park is expected to be finished by the end of 2009; subsequent phases, which will include piers and retail pavilions, will come later.
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More posts: 250 M, The Yards, Yards Park, zoning

Florida Rock Gets Its Final Zoning Approval
May 23, 2008 10:35 AM
With a unanimous 5-0 vote after a brief discussion, the Zoning Commission approved last night the plans for "RiverFront," the 5.8-acre mixed-use project on the Anacostia River south of Nationals Park, ending the decade-long trip through the zoning process for the site long known as Florida Rock.
Before the final vote, chairman Anthony Hood quoted from the recent ruling by the National Capital Planning Commission that the RiverFront project "would not adversely effect" any federal interests. Remarking that the passage "says it all," Hood read: "This project is expected to bring activity and amenities to the Anacostia waterfront and is respecting the planning for the South Capitol Street corridor and the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. Furthermore, it is enhancing the connection of the Nationals Baseball Park and surrounding district to the Anacostia waterfront, goals supported by the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative[.]"
Now it's onto construction drawings and a trip through the city's permitting process. It's not expected that work will begin until sometime in 2009 on the first phase of the site, which includes an office building with ground-floor retail and a public plaza across Potomac Avenue from the ballpark's grand staircase. [see update below for caveat]
If you want to know more (dear heavens, I'm not going to go through all the details AGAIN), look at my project page for renderings and also scroll through five years' worth of news items on it all. UPDATE: The press release is out, and I'll note that it gives no indication of when the first phase could start. Given the Monument Realty news of financing troubles, Camden's pause at 1345 South Capitol, and the commercial real estate biz in general, it's probably best to now be pretty skeptical of start dates until permit approvals start popping up and shovels start digging into the ground.
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Monday ANC Meeting Agenda Items
May 11, 2008 3:37 PM
The agenda for Monday's ANC 6D meeting has been sent around (although not posted on their web site, sigh), and it has a couple of Near Southeast items. There will be a presentation on the plans for the Waterfront Park at The Yards, in advance of a May 29 Southeast Federal Center Overlay District Review covering new structures that will be built to house retail pavilions at the park. There's also apparently a public space permit application from the Onyx folks at 1100 First Street for a fence along L Street, plus garden masonry piers and light fixtures. And the developers of the 250 M Street office building are back again, after having not gotten very far at last month's meeting with their request for support for a second-stage PUD modification at a May 28 zoning hearing to increase the building's height (but not its square footage) from what was originally approved, since the commissioners wanted a new round of community benefits in return for their support, which W.C. Smith balked at given that the project isn't requesting to take any new amount of public space. We'll see if there were any negotiations since then. The meeting will be at 7 pm at St. Augustine's church at 6th and M streets, SW.
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More posts: 250 M, ANC News, M Street, The Yards, Yards Park, zoning

401 M Review, Five Guys Sidewalk Cafe Approved
Apr 25, 2008 8:31 PM
Just a quick note that both the zoning review and special exception applications for the office/residential/grocery project planned at 401 M Street at The Yards and the Public Space Committee's consideration of an application for Five Guys to operate a sidewalk cafe appear to have been approved. (I didn't get to see either meeting, so I know nothing more than that.) See the entry below for additional links and details to find out what the heck I'm talking about. And normal posting here on the blog will resume very soon (I promise), since the JDLand batteries are now just about recharged.

Thursday Meeting Preview (WMATA, Yards, Five Guys)
Apr 23, 2008 10:36 AM
A somewhat busy Thursday (April 24) is on the boards:
* We might be getting some news on the state of Monument Realty's lawsuit against WMATA over the sale of the Southeastern Bus Garage to Akridge--the WMATA Board of Directors is meeting at 11 am, and the agenda for their executive session includes "Legal Issues - Monument vs. WMATA." I know nothing beyond that.
* Forest City's plans for the office/residential/retail project at 401 M Street will be getting a Southeast Federal Center Overlay District Review in front of the Zoning Commission at 6:30 pm at Suite 220 South, 441 4th St., NW; you can also catch it via live webcast, if it's working. Read more about this from my ANC 6D wrapup last week and an earlier entry on the project.
* And, if you want to make your voice heard about the public space application by Five Guys for a sidewalk seating area, the Public Space Committee will be bringing it up at its monthly meeting, at 941 North Capitol Street, NE, 7th Floor, starting at 10 am. This is the application that ANC6D refused to support last week because of the lack of a community benefits package for the "loss of public space."

Pope Day Arrives in the Hood; This Week's Column
Apr 17, 2008 8:56 AM
So, the faithful are streaming toward the ballpark as we speak. Although the 55 M cam showed the upper decks pretty empty with about 90 minutes to go, Channel 9 (already on the air with its coverage of the mass) gives a better view of the tens of thousands already inside. (48,000 people are expected.) How's everyone faring, either trying to get out of the neighborhood or into it for work? Or is everyone just staying home? And, for those reading this later today who went to the mass, how did your trip go?
In other news, my Ballpark and Beyond column this week is yet another one about stadium parking, taken mainly from my Monday night post about ANC 6D's muted reaction to parking and traffic issues (along with the Zoning Commission's approval of having additional lots built in Southwest if landowners want them). I also tossed in a quick roundup of the private cash lots springing up.
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More ANC 6D Doings (Yards, 250 M, Five Guys, Vendors, Ziegfield's)
Apr 15, 2008 1:03 PM
I'm just going to bullet-point all this stuff. Follow links for additional background. (See my entry from last night for news on the ANC's discussion about parking and traffic issues during the first games at the ballpark.)
* The commissioners voted to support Forest City Washington's plans for an office/residential/retail project (including a grocery store) at 401 M Street in The Yards. This support hinged on a Memorandum of Understanding on community benefits being offered by Forest City, including a lottery that could allow a 25 percent preference (or higher) for ANC 6D residents when it comes to the 30ish affordable housing rental units in the 194-unit project. (The final verbage of the MOU was hashed out at the meeting; talk about watching the sausage get made.) An audience member complained that LEED certification for the project should not be considered an amenity, but Forest City replied that the city's green building law does not go into effect until 2012, and these buildings are expected to be completed in 2011. Other components include preferences for ANC 6D certified business enterprises and a promise to report yearly to the ANC about the project. A lack of a community benefits package had tripped up this request for support at the ANC's April meeting. This project now goes to the Zoning Commission for a Southeast Federal Center Overlay Review on April 24.
* A request to support William C. Smith's modifications to its plans for 250 M Street (raising the height of the building to 130 feet) was postponed, as the commissioners expressed their unhappiness at the lack of any community benefits. The developer's representatives said that community benefits were part of the original approval of the project as part of the Capper/Carrollsburg PUD, and that this modification is not resulting in any increase in square footage from that original plan. Commissioners had no suggestions for what benefits they would be seeking, only that they want more. This project may be back in front of the ANC at its May meeting, since the Zoning Commission hearing on the PUD modification isn't until late May.
* A request to support a public space permit request by Five Guys to add an outdoor seating area at its Second Street location was turned down, not only because the commissioners said that Five Guys had not provided information on the request to all the commissioners in a timely manner but because there's no offer of, you guessed it, a community benefits package in return for the "public space" being taken.
* A representative of the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs updated the commission on plans to add 40 vendors on the streets surrounding the ballpark, thanks to emergency legislation passed on April 1 by the council. The mayor is expected to sign the act today, at which point DCRA will have 21 days to identify sidewalk locations for the vendors to set up shop. It's not expected that any will be on South Capitol Street or on M Street (thanks to narrow sidewalks), and rules prohibit vendors on residential streets. However, in a few months a larger initiative will get underway, with the Capitol Riverfront BID's involvement, to create a "Development Zone" allowed for in the recent overhaul of city vending regulations, which will give the city and residents greater say in where vendors are placed, what they sell, and the appearance of their carts. And, in response to questions from commissioners and audience members: no cigarettes or alcohol will be sold at these carts, and there don't appear to be any concerns on the city's behalf about terrorism related to these carts or their operators. (I'm just reporting what was asked.)
* The commission voted to support the liquor license application of former O Street clubs Ziegfield's and Secrets to reopen at 1824 Half St., SW, at the site of the old "Lime" nightclub. A voluntary agreement with the clubs' owner was reached to address concerns about traffic, cooperation with police, and community input.

Zoning Approval for Possible Additional Surface Lots; ANC 6D Says Little About Ballpark's Debut; Community Meeting about On-Street Parking
Apr 14, 2008 11:12 PM
On Monday night, without much discussion, the Zoning Commission gave approval to the request to add additional blocks in Buzzards Point to the zoning amendment allowing temporary surface parking lots near the baseball stadium. The commissioners who spoke mentioned the need to give the Nationals the flexibility the team was seeking to be able to build new surface lots as development possibly takes away the lots currently in use. The vote was unanimous, although Commissioner Turnbull stated for the record his concern that lots north of Potomac Avenue, closer to the residential portion of Southwest, could introduce significant traffic. As of now, the Nationals have announced no plans to use any lots at Buzzards Point this season.
At about the same time the Zoning Commission was voting, ANC 6D was discussing how the first few games at the ballpark went, in terms of traffic and parking impacts on Southwest and Near Southeast. And, for a group of people who, shall we say, have not been shy over the past few years about voicing fears as to how the new stadium would impact their neighborhood, the reaction was surprisingly muted. Visitor parking passes did not seem to get to all residences, additional signage needs to be installed, issues with left turns and parking enforcement on G Street, SW will need to be addressed, and there were questions about whether the parking restrictions on M Street could be eased, but overall the commissioners seemed to feel that there had been no major issues. Commissioner Robert Siegel, who represents all of the ANC east of South Capitol, proclaimed himself "very pleased." (Though Commissioner David Sobelsohn did remark that things "will go smoothly as long as the Nationals keep losing.")
The meeting itself was pretty sparsely attended, with few of the residents who have been vocal about potential problems at previous meetings on hand. Only a couple people in the audience spoke up about any issues they'd had or seen, and did so without much emotion. The discussion was over in probably about 15 minutes. If you've ever attended an ANC 6D meeting, you know how astonishing this is.
Tommy Wells will be having a community meeting to look at how the new on-street parking regulations are working, both for residential streets and the retail stretches along Pennsylvania Avenue and Barracks Row, on May 7 at 7 pm, at the Capitol Hill United Methodist Church (Fifth Street and Seward Square, SE).
There's other items to report from tonight's meeting, but I'll write about those in an entry to come.
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More posts: ANC News, parking, Nationals Park, zoning

Yet Another Batch of Mostly Cloudy Photos; Monday Meeting Reminders; Pope Street Closings
Apr 13, 2008 2:21 PM
If you like photos of streetscapes taken under overcast skies, this has been the site for you lately. Yeesh. On Saturday, before the rains came, I updated my shots of the western side of New Jersey Ave., showing how projects like 909 New Jersey, 70/100 I, Onyx, and 100 M have changed the view in the past year. At least the sun was out for the brief time on Friday evening when I took new photos of the western side of the ballpark, along South Capitol Street. So, adding these to the photos I took earlier in the week of First and Half streets, the current state of construction in Near Southeast is pretty well documented. And now the sun shall come out, but I'll be waiting a few weeks until the next round of updates (probably early May).
Monday brings some meetings with Near Southeast items of interest. At 6:30 pm the Zoning Commission will have its monthly meeting, and is scheduled to vote on whether to open up additional blocks in Southwest to possible temporary surface parking lots (you can watch via live webcast). At 7 pm at St. Augustine's church at 601 M St., SW, ANC 6D will have its monthly meeting, and will be looking at Forest City's plans for office and residential buildings at 401 M Street/400 Tingey at The Yards, and the request by the developers of the proposed 250 M Street office building to increase its height to 130 feet. The project at The Yards has its hearing at the Zoning Commission on April 24, and 250 M's is scheduled for May 14.
And, for this week's visit from the Pope, the Post has a huge graphic of road closures and other information to help get through the festivities. Note that, in addition to the closure of South Capitol Street from 2 am to 2 pm Thursday, it shows that Van, Half, First, and Potomac in SE will be closed at some point, as will O, P, Q, and Potomac SW from Half Street to South Capitol. "Expect other road closures around the ballpark from 9 pm Wednesday until 2 pm Thursday," it says.

Yards/401 M Street at NCPC, ANC 6D (Again)
Apr 2, 2008 3:46 PM
As I wrote a month ago in an entry that was visible for about five minutes thanks to all of the ballpark news, the first new-construction buildings at The Yards are now winding their way through the zoning process. It's two buildings that look like one--a 320,000-square-foot 10-story office building at 401 M Street and an 11-story 180ish-unit apartment building to its south at 400 Tingey Street. They would both have ground-floor retail, but it's what's planned for 401 M that will probably have everyone's attention, because a grocery store is proposed for that space, just inside the historic wall and sentry tower on the southeast corner of Fourth and M. The office building would be LEED certified, and the 20 percent of the residential building would be affordable housing units (up to 50 percent of the area median income).
The Parcel D plans have already been reviewed by the National Capital Planning Commission in advance of its meeting tomorrow (April 3), with the executive director reporting that the buildings are not inconsistent with the Comprehensive Plan and do not adversely affect any other federal interests.
The Zoning Commission Southeast Federal Center Overlay Review of the plans and three associated variance requests is now rescheduled for April 24. ANC 6D will be bringing it up again at its April 14 meeting, after electing not to vote on the project at its March 10 meeting because of the lack of a community benefits package--see the summary of the meeting in the April Hill Rag (I was out of town, and so don't have any additional details).
As for start dates, documents earlier in the year had the office portion getting started in 2008 for a 2010 delivery, and the residential portion starting "based on market conditions." However, a reader is reporting that a sign now up at Fourth and M says "Coming 2011." I'll see if I can get any further details. (UPDATE: Yup, 2011 is now the current "estimate" for the project. So, don't stop shopping at the Capitol Hill Safeway just yet.)
In the meantime, work on renovating the Boilermaker Shop at Third and Tingey into a 46,000-sq-ft retail pavilion should be starting Any Minute Now, as should the rehab of the Pattern Joiner Shop across the street into a 170-unit apartment building. Both are expected to be finished in 2009. (Did you see the light displays being projected onto the Pattern Joiner building during the ballgames?) The Factory 202 residential rehab of the old Gun Mount Shop at Fifth and M, which is a joint project between Forest City and PN Hoffman, also now has a "Coming 2011" sign.

Temporary Surface Lots in Southwest, Con't.
Mar 25, 2008 6:04 PM
There's not a lot to say about Monday night's continuation of the Zoning Commission's hearing on whether to amend the city's zoning laws to allow temporary surface parking on eight lots in Buzzards Point. This session was mainly to have representatives of the Nationals and DDOT available for questions from the commissioners, and most of the time was spent taking them through the Ballpark Traffic Management Plan.
The big question seemed to be the one that chairman Hood opened with: are additional lots (beyond the ones approved over the summer) required by the Nationals this year? Gregory McCarthy of the Nationals replied that the team has its parking-space inventory complete for the 2008 season, but that some of the lots being used could be lost to development projects in 2009, requiring the team to continue to find locations for parking. Commissioner May noted that some buildings in the area are already under construction and would have underground parking available when they open, but McCarthy said that "most" are residential buildings that wouldn't be able to offer stadium parking because of their need to have the bulk of their spaces available at night for tenants. (There are two office buildings opening in the next year which could be targets for Nats parking--100 M and 55 M.)
There was also some discussion of the state of sidewalks (and lack thereof) in Buzzards Point, which the commission feels DDOT would need to address before allowing parking in that area. DDOT representative Karina Ricks was a little vague on whether new sidewalks would be DDOT's responsibility or whether it would be up to the lot owners at DDOT's behest to build acceptable sidewalks.
There were some questions about the routing of traffic toward existing parking lots and whether it is going to keep fans off the residential streets; McCarthy told the commissioners about the brochures going out with season-ticket parking passes giving the preferred routes to a fan's specific parking lot. If the ability to build new lots in Buzzards Point were to be approved, DDOT indicated that the current traffic management plans would be revised to take the additional traffic heading to that area into account.
(And speaking of this, apparently signs are now popping up along M Street to guide fans to parking lots based on zone color; there will also be signs about which freeway exit to take for which zones put up soon, according to McCarthy.)
It's expected that the commission will vote on this proposed amendment at its April 13 public meeting. If you want more information on this case (07-08A), here's the Office of Planning report, and you can also read my discussions of the original amendment for more detail on the limitations and rules of these lots. And, it should be emphasized that, if this amendment passes, it doesn't mean that surface lots will definitely be built on these blocks--this is just a change in zoning rules to allow the possibility of lots, if the landowners wish to build them.
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More posts: parking, Nationals Park, zoning

Reminder: Zoning Hearing on Parking in Southwest
Mar 24, 2008 2:39 PM
Just a reminder that tonight at 6:30 pm is the continuation of the Zoning Commission hearing about whether to potentially allow temporary surface parking lots on some squares in Buzzards Point in Southwest. This is not approving lots themselves, just changing the zoning of certain blocks to give landowners the option to add lots if they wanted, as was done last year with a number of blocks in Near Southeast (only some of which now having parking lots on them). The hearing was continued so that DDOT and Nationals representatives could be there to answer questions. As of now, no Nationals parking lots are located in Southwest, except for one already existing surface lot right under the Southwest Freeway.
For more on all this, read my entry from before the first hearing, which includes the Office of Planning's report that has more details on which blocks would be covered, along with explanations of the rules governing these temporary surface lots (including that combined they may not total more than 3,775 spaces). There's also the ANC 6D resolution opposing this change. Tonight's hearing is at Suite 220 South, 441 4th St., NW, or can be watched via a live webcast, which is the preferred method of lazy bloggers.
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Fourth Street Now One Way; Visitor Passes; Ballpark and Development; Recent Headlines Again
Mar 24, 2008 7:44 AM
* Within the past week, Fourth Street between the SE Freeway and M Street has been signed and striped to become one-way southbound. It's always been one-way southbound north of the freeway, but extending that another four blocks seems to be a bit of a surprise.
* If you live in Southwest or on Capitol Hill and received in the past few days a nondescript envelope addressed to "Ward 6 Resident" from DDOT, don't throw it out (like I almost did)--it's your Visitor Parking Pass. Guard this with your life.
* As soon as I swear off chasing every little story on the ballpark unless it somehow relates to the neighborhood, both the Post and the Examiner come out with stories this morning doing just that, talking about the development that's exploded in Near Southeast over the past few years. (And thanks for the hat tip, Michael.) Sayeth the Post, on A1: "Nationals Park opens this weekend and appears nearly complete. But it's surrounded for blocks by a construction zone. [...] Despite appearances, this is just the way District leaders hoped it would be: a ballpark set amid a vast Southeast Washington neighborhood in the middle of one of the biggest overhauls in city history. Some 500 acres are to be transformed, spreading south from Capitol Hill to the Anacostia River, sweeping away an accumulation of old auto body shops, sex clubs and debris-filled lots[.]" If you've read either of these stories and are looking to know more about all the development underway around the ballpark, I invite you to look at the big ole' map at the top right of my home page--moving your mouse across it gives you the basics on each project, and clicking the map takes you to pages chock full of additional details and photos.
* If you took a long weekend, you missed a lot of big news: Florida Rock got its preliminary zoning approvals, Metro has a plan to lease the Southeastern Bus Garage and an adjacent parking lot to the Nats, and I took scads of photos: check out the neighborhood from above with my latest rooftop photos, see pictures from Saturday's GW game at the ballpark, and see the exterior of the stadium in a pile of new shots taken yesterday.
* This is part of something bigger I'm working on that's not quite ready, but if you want to travel back to see how things used to look where Second Base now sits, here's your time machine. You're facing north, then you'll turn clockwise to catch the views in all directions....

Florida Rock Gets Preliminary Zoning Approval
Mar 21, 2008 10:13 AM
With a surprise motion at the end of last night's second-stage PUD hearing, the Zoning Commission has given preliminary approval to the design of RiverFront on the Anacostia (better known as Florida Rock), the 1.1-million-square-foot four-building mixed-use project nestled between Nationals Park, the Anacostia River, the Douglass Bridge, and Diamond Teague Park. It's been about 11 years since FRP Development first entered the zoning process for this site, and almost two years since the commission unexpectedly sent architects back to the drawing board for a design that better responded to the changes brought by the ballpark.
You can see a few renderings of the latest design on my project page, and read about the specifics (dear heavens, I'm not going to summarize it all AGAIN--read the Office of Planning report for more on this submittal). The one big addition to the design is a large sculpture to be placed on the public plaza ("Anacostia Place") across from the grand staircase of the ballpark, celebrating the Anacostia River watershed, which the commissioners seemed to respond to favorably.
The commissioners all remarked that the project has come a long way, and were pleased with the overall design. There were some concerns from commissioners Peter May of the National Park Service and Gregory Jeffries about the facades of the two western buildings that will face the proposed traffic oval on South Capitol Street at the foot of a new Douglass Bridge, that they aren't "animated" enough in terms of retail for such a prominent location. May had also called the project "too complex", with too much going on with different facades and finishes, but when longtime commissioner Michael Turnbull of the Office of the Architect of the Capitol said that he "liked the complexity," it was clear that there weren't going to be requests for large-scale changes to the design.
After 2 1/2 hours of presentations and questions, Chairman Hood brought up the idea of giving initial approval immediately, which, judging by the wide-eyed glances between the many representatives and consultants in the audience, was not expected. Commissioner May was not really in favor of moving forward, and Jeffries initially seemed to be leaning that way but then hemmed and hawed his way back to agreeing that the proposed action could go forward. (Earlier Jeffries had noted with some surprise that a project of this scope had not brought out a single member of the community in opposition.)
It was decided that the developers need to submit more detailed drawings of the plans for the South Capitol Street facades, and that no final approval would be given to the project until all commissioners approved of them. Commissioner May ended up abstaining on the vote, which was 4-0-1.
Architect Davis Buckley asked for six weeks to prepare the new renderings, and the commission scheduled a Special Public Meeting for May 22 at 6 pm to take final action.
This doesn't mean that earthmovers will arrive on May 23 to start building Anacostia Place and the eastern office building; construction drawings will have to be completed, and the trip through the vaunted DC permitting process will have to begin. But the notion of a Fall 2009 start date for the first phase of this project is looking closer to a reality. As for when the entire project could be completed, the western two buildings are dependent on the construction of the new Douglass Bridge before they can start. So, mark your calendar for about 2018.
I hope to snag some additional renderings included in last night's presentation; there was also a cool fly-over animation of RiverFront and its relationship with its surroundings, though it included the long-defunct Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness once envisioned for the north side of the ballpark, causing Commissioner Turnbull to spend some time lamenting What MIght Have Been.
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Reminder: Florida Rock Zoning Hearing Tomorrow
Mar 19, 2008 12:50 PM
Just a reminder that Thursday (March 20) is the latest go-round in Florida Rock vs. the Zoning Commission. I'm not going to rehash the long history here (read the old news items if you need to get caught up), but tonight's hearing is on the revised design for what's now known as RiverFront on the Anacostia that first started showing up last summer. You can see renderings on my project page, and also read the Office of Planning report on tonight's hearing to find out the latest on the proposal. OP has recommended that this design be approved, subject to a couple of sign-offs from city agencies and a few other items. ANC 6D approved this plan (as it has approved most everything on this project) back in January--my entry on that vote contains a lot of information on where the project now stands as well. (Can you tell I'm in a rush?)
When could it all get underway? Quoting from that January entry: "As for when some movement will actually be seen at the site, David Briggs of Holland & Knight set out a timeline based on zoning approvals, construction drawings, and the vaunted DC permitting process that estimates the start of construction on the first phase (the eastern office building) in probably fall of 2009. He mentioned a number of times the amount of pressure that Florida Rock is under to shut down the concrete plant and to build temporary parking lots, but he explained that the site currently makes money for its company and shareholders, and there's little interest in closing it down sooner than necessary. (Briggs did say that a temporary landscaping of the eastern plaza, next to Diamond Teague, could be a possibility once the zoning approvals are received, but that the underground parking for RiverFront does extend beneath that plaza, and so excavation and construction work will need to be done there.)"
The hearing is at 6:30 pm at Suite 220 South, 441 4th St., NW; you can watch via live webcast, although that option has been problematic a few times lately. Watch this space late Thursday/early Friday for a report on it all, with perhaps further updates on timelines and whatnot.
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1111 New Jersey Passes Zoning Review
Mar 12, 2008 2:52 PM
I wasn't able to see the meeting myself (I was at Madison Square Garden watching my beloved Roger Federer beat Pete Sampras), but on Monday night the Zoning Commission gave its approval on the Capitol Gateway Overlay Review for 1111 New Jersey Avenue, Donohoe's 220,000-square-foot office building to be built just north of the east entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station. At the first part of this hearing a few weeks ago, there was much back-and-forth about whether the garage entrance should be on New Jersey Avenue (the developer's preference) or in the alley (DDOT's preference, which was not looked on fondly by the zoning commissioners). My sources tell me that DDOT has "somewhat grudgingly" agreed to allow the entrance to be on New Jersey after all, but that they expect Donohoe to work with them to better manage the public space on New Jersey and probably reduce the amount of parking offered. The web site for the project says that it will be completed in 2010, which would probably mean a start date later this year; we shall see if that indeed comes to pass. Read more about the previous discussion on the garage entrance and on what exactly a CG Overlay Review is, if you're wanting more information.
Hopefully soon I can post an update on what happened at ANC 6D on Monday, the *other* meeting I missed while in New York.
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More posts: 1111 New Jersey, Square 743N, zoning

Monday Meetings; Parking Signs; Birds-Eye View
Mar 9, 2008 3:18 PM
* I mentioned this a few days back, but why not pass along another reminder that Monday at 7 pm is the ANC 6D monthly meeting, with presentations and votes on 401 M Street, the ballpark traffic management plan, and the South Capitol Street Draft EIS, plus a briefing by the Nats on the Opening Day "Fan Fest" activities. To get in on the fun, go to St. Augustine's Episcopal Church at 6th and M St., SW, starting at 7 pm.
* If the ANC isn't your bag, you can watch the Zoning Commission take up again the Capitol Gateway Overlay Review for Donohoe's planned office building at 1111 New Jersey. It's a continuation of the last hearing, which revolved mostly around whether the garage access would be from New Jersey or from the alley. The hearing starts at 6:00 pm, and 1111 is also on the public meeting agenda at 6:30 pm, which perhaps is a display of optimism that Donohoe and DDOT will have the garage issue straightened out and the review ruling can be made. Watch the webcast, if you're so inclined. (I'm going to be missing both of these meetings, so it might be a few days before I can get the scoop on them.)
* The new Enhanced Residential Parking Permit signs, which allow non-Zone 6 parking only on one side of the street in certain areas near the ballpark, continue to get installed. They came to my street north of the freeway within the past day or so.
* I thought I did good with last week's find of a November 2006 satellite photo of the neighborhood, but reader JK has upped the ante with the "Bird's-Eye View" option at Microsoft Live Search, showing not-real-high-up images from March 2007. But be careful when you're scrolling around--if you go to fast, the images flip back to shots from early 2003. (Which is festive in its own fun-house kind of way.)

Hearings on First New Buildings at the Yards; Ballpark and South Capitol EIS Also on ANC 6D Agenda
Mar 7, 2008 8:49 AM
Beginning the trek through the approvals process are the first new-construction buildings planned for The Yards--a 320,000-square-foot office building at 401 M Street and a 170ish-unit apartment building to its south at 400 Tingey Street. They would both have ground-floor retail, but it's what's planned for 401 M that will probably have everyone's attention, because a grocery store is proposed for that space, just inside the historic wall and sentry tower on the southeast corner of Fourth and M. (No, which grocery store it could be hasn't been announced yet.) Recent documents have said that 401 M could begin construction in late 2008, with delivery in 2010; the residential building's start depends on "market conditions." (Uh-oh.) A few more early renderings are on my 401 M/400 Tingey page. (See my Yards First Phase page for information on the retail and residential projects that are getting underway this year.)
There's a Zoning Commission Southeast Federal Center Overlay Review of the plans scheduled for April 17, and ANC 6D will be voting on whether to support the project at its March 10 meeting.
Also at Monday's ANC 6D meeting will be presentations and votes on plans for the Opening Day Fan Fest at the ballpark, the ballpark Transportation and Residential Curbside Management Plan (formerly known as the TOPP), and the South Capitol Street Draft Environmental Impact Statement. I attended Wednesday night's public meeting on the Draft EIS, and while the slides from the meeting haven't yet been posted on its web site, the DEIS's executive summary is a good substitute for the information that was available at the meeting--you can read my summary of the plans as well. There wasn't much public comment (maybe seven or eight speakers), and the concerns seemed to be more about making sure DDOT does a good job of handling the inconveniences and resident issues as a result of the planned changes, rather than any real opposition to the plans themselves. The public comment period ends March 31, and the Final EIS is expected to come out late this year.
Alas, I won't be able to attend this ANC meeting that's so chock full of Near Southeast goodness. But I'm guessing that spending that evening watching the Roger Federer-Pete Sampras exhibition at Madison Square Garden might be a bit more enjoyable.

Ballpark and Beyond Column This Week
Feb 21, 2008 9:40 AM
My Ballpark and Beyond column in today's District Extra of the Post covers last week's release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for South Capitol Street, the impending closure of Metro's Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M, tonight's zoning hearing on allowing additional temporary surface parking lots in Southwest, and a reminder about today's ballpark job fair.
(And I've been under the weather the past few days, hence the somewhat brief updates.)

Zoning Amendment for Parking Lots in SW; Residents Not Happy
Feb 13, 2008 2:35 PM
At Monday's ANC 6D meeting (which I missed because I had three meetings on my calendar for that night and the ANC never released an agenda for me to know whether I should go or not), there was apparently a big discussion of Zoning Case 07-08A, scheduled to be heard on Feb. 21, which seeks to allow temporary surface parking lots for no more than five years on a series of blocks in Southwest, mainly in Buzzards Point (squares 603, 605, 658, 661, 662, 662E, 664, 664E, and Square 658, Lot 7 for those of you with tax parcel maps handy, or look on the last page of this). A temporary emergency version of this text amendment passed with no discussion back in October; the Feb. 21 hearing is to make the amendment good for five years.
When the original case (07-08) establishing the ability to build temporary lots on a number of blocks in Near Southeast was passed, parking lots did not automatically appear on every block covered in the amendment. However, ANC 6D and residents of Southwest are apparently viewing this new amendment as the city going back on a promise to not build any parking lots in Southwest. Here is the ANC 6D resolution.
I've been at meetings over the past few months where city and team officials have said that there would be no ballpark parking offered in Buzzards Point this season because of the lack of sidewalks, streetlamps, and other improvements; the Office of Planning report for Case 07-08A says: "The Nationals have advised OP that, to date, no agreements with owners of individual lots have been reached so it is not likely that any of the temporary parking will be located on these sites prior to opening day in 2008[.]" I'm checking with the Nationals to see if this has changed. But certainly Buzzards Point would be still be viewed as a prime location for additional surface parking, if it's needed.
It's anticipated that the need for temporary surface lots will lessen as new buildings go up near the ballpark; in the next two years or so, underground garages that could potentially offer additional stadium parking will open at Monument Half Street, 100 M, 1015 Half, Onyx, 70/100 I, Velocity, and 909 New Jersey.
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More posts: ANC News, parking, Nationals Park, zoning

1111 New Jersey - Where to Put the Garage
Feb 1, 2008 10:39 AM
Last night the Zoning Commission heard the Capitol Gateway Overlay Review case for 1111 New Jersey, Donohoe's now 220,000-square-foot office building on the northwest corner of New Jersey and M. The Office of Planning report laid out how the project properly adheres to the requirements of the CG Overlay, and there was actually very little discussion by the commissioners of the building's design or landscape (save for a few questions about the width of the sidewalk on M Street, which is wider than what the CG Overlay calls for, because of various hardware for the Navy Yard Metro station below).
What took up the bulk of the discussion was whether the building's parking garage should be accessed via New Jersey Avenue or via the block's alley that runs north-south between L and M (which is shared with 100 M, Onyx, and whatever gets built on the St. Matthew's site). The original design had the garage driveway on New Jersey, but DDOT is asking that it be moved to the alley because of both a desire to not have curb cuts on a major state street like New Jersey and because the alley is an existing curb cut where pedestrians expect vehicular flow. But the commissioners were uniformly unhappy with the alley solution, given the narrowness of the alley (14 feet), the heavy amount of traffic there will be, and the very awkward garage entrance/exit that Donohoe has had to come up with in order to make the alley entry work. Donohoe didn't appear to be especially happy with the alley solution, either, but DDOT was pretty firm in their desire to have it there.
The record was left open, and DDOT and Donohoe said they would continue to work on the garage issue. A ruling on the overlay review could come at the March 11 Zoning Commission meeting.
Chairman Anthony Hood also briefly touched on ANC 6D's opposition to the project because of a lack of a community benefits package--Hood said that this project is not a PUD, and any desires to have amenities packages be part of CG Overlay reviews should have been dealt with when the Overlay was created, so the ANC's opposition was viewed as not germaine.
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More posts: 1111 New Jersey, ANC News, Square 743N, zoning

Thursday Zoning Commission Hearing on 1111 New Jersey
Jan 30, 2008 1:39 PM
On Thursday (Jan. 31) at 6:30 pm the Zoning Commission is having its Capitol Gateway Overlay review hearing for 1111 New Jersey Avenue, Donohoe's office building at the corner of New Jersey and M. As I've written before, this project has been expanded to include 220,000 square feet of office space with 5,700 square feet of ground-floor retail in a 130-foot-tall glass-facade building, and is now subject to a CG review because of acquiring some land from WMATA that fronts M Street. This was presented to the ANC two weeks ago, which did not support the project because of the lack of a community benefits package.
The Office of Planning is recommending that this project be approved by the Zoning Commission; you can see the OP report here, which lays out point-by-point how the project stands up against the various CG requirements. There's also a request for a zoning special exception to waive a rear yard requirement; the Board of Zoning Adjustment approved a similar waiver request back in May, but they're having to apply for the exception again because the building has grown in size since the BZA ruling, so there's now more building inside the rear yard area.
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More posts: 1111 New Jersey, Metro/WMATA, Square 743N, zoning

Monday's Public Meetings (Parking, Half Street)
Jan 29, 2008 1:47 PM
Last night ANC 6D held a special public meeting to decide whether or not to support Tommy Wells' Performance Parking bill when it has its council hearing on Wednesday. I was unable to attend, but reports from my vast network of moles indicate that the ANC will be supporting the bill, albeit it while "expressing strong concern" over some still-outstanding issues. (We'll find out what those are during Andy Litsky's testimony at the hearing.) The ANC vote was 4-2.
At almost the same time, the Zoning Commission held a brief special public meeting to take up the series of minor modifications that Monument Realty requested to its design for the east side of Half Street (yes, the area that's already under construction). I talked about these in slightly more detail a few weeks ago when this first came to the Zoning Commission; the ZC declined to approve these as part of its consent agenda at that meeting because the commissioners wanted a little bit more clarification, which they got in the filings for this second hearing. The only question that came from the dais was why Metro nixed the wire mesh panels with LED lights that Monument had originally envisioned as the walls around the Navy Yard station entrance at Half and M--the reply was that, in addition to weatherproofing concerns, Metro wanted its security people to be able to see into the station by shining a light from a car on the street, instead of having to go into the station. The wire mesh is now being replaced with a glass "frit" (yes, I had to look it up, too) that will be backlit with the lighting scheme Monument wants. With that, the commission approved the request 5-0; all the minor modifications are explained in the Office of Planning report.

ANC 6D Report #3: Newest Florida Rock Design
Jan 18, 2008 1:35 PM
The last Near Southeast item on Monday's ANC 6D meeting was a request for the commission's support of the latest design of RiverFront on the Anacostia, better known as Florida Rock. This is the nearly six acres of land directly south of the ballpark, on the Anacostia River, where developers have spent 10 years trying to transition away from the concrete business currently operating there to a 1.1-million-square-foot mixed-use waterfront destination. They came close to an approved design in 2006, but in February 2007 the Zoning Commission unexpectedly sent the architects back to the drawing board, wanting a greater amount of residential space in the project, better views to and from the ballpark, and a better "expression of place."
After nearly a year, a revised design is ready to go to the Zoning Commission for approval. It now includes 323,000 square feet of residential space, 80,000 square feet of retail and 465,000 square feet of office space.
Some of the ideas floated early in the redesign process have been modified or removed, most notably "The Pitch", the plaza directly across from the ballpark's grand staircase and adjacent to the planned Diamond Teague Park. This space no longer has pitcher and catcher statues but is instead now a "festive" open plaza that will be more "integrated" with Teague and will help with the expected flow of ballpark visitors coming to and from the water taxi piers that someday may materialize out by the little red brick pumphouse.
Also, the residential and hotel buildings have had their heights grow to 130 feet, to allow for the extra square footage the zoning commission wanted. But the hotel's top two floors will now be "pure residential".
As for when some movement will actually be seen at the site, David Briggs of Holland & Knight set out a timeline based on zoning approvals, construction drawings, and the vaunted DC permitting process that estimates the start of construction on the first phase (the eastern office building) in probably fall of 2009.
He mentioned a number of times the amount of pressure that Florida Rock is under to shut down the concrete plant and to build temporary parking lots, but he explained that the site currently makes money for its company and shareholders, and there's little interest in closing it down sooner than necessary. (Briggs did say that a temporary landscaping of the eastern plaza, next to Diamond Teague, could be a possibility once the zoning approvals are received, but that the underground parking for RiverFront does extend beneath that plaza, and so excavation and construction work will need to be done there.)
It should be noted that this timeline is really about the first two phases (the eastern office building and the 160-unit residential building), because the western office building and the hotel can't be built until the construction of a new Douglass Bridge allows Florida Rock to use its land that is currently occupied by the old bridge. (The year 2016 was tossed around as a possible date for when these later phases could get started.)
Community benefits remain similar to past presentations, including an estimated 25 units of workforce housing, anticipated LEED certification for the buildings, First Source and LSDBE hiring, and a combined underground loading dock for the three western buildings, as well as the more basic amenity of replacing a huge concrete plant with shiny new buildings and access to the waterfront. The ANC has always been enthusiastic about this project, and this time around was no different, with the commissioners voting 5-2 to support the new design. The Zoning Commission hearing, for what is officially considered a modification to the project's second-stage PUD, is scheduled for March 20.
I'm really trying to just hit the newsiest items here--definitely take some time to look through my RiverFront page (have to stop calling it Florida Rock sometime) for much more detail on the current design. And read all the archived news items, too, if you want a better feel for the twists and turns this project has taken.

ANC Report #2: Monument Alley Closing Request
Jan 17, 2008 5:44 PM
At Monday night's ANC 6D meeting, Monument Realty presented its request for the ANC's support in closing a 2,417-square-foot alley that runs between South Capitol and Van streets not far north of N Street. This alley is north of the now-closed BP Amoco and south of what is now a WMATA employee parking lot on land owned by Monument (there used to be a neon yellow bungalow there, until late 2006). Christy Shiker of Holland & Knight told the commissioners that the Amoco property--which faces the ballpark's western parking garage--is too small to develop on its own, but with the alley closed and the lots combined, Monument would build a 130-foot-high residential building with approximately 150 to 200 units plus 14,000 square feet of ground-floor (or perhaps two-story) retail. Monument is not committing at this time to pursuing LEED certification for this building.
Shiker then described the community benefits package that Monument was offering to the ANC in return for the loss of this public space, including a $50,000 contribution to the community fund, the retail, First Source employment preferences, and an affordable housing component that would match whatever is called for whenever the city's Inclusionary Zoning mandates are finally hammered out. Monument would also work toward agreements on ANC6D resident preferences, to be determined with the ANC at a later date.
This became a sticking point, with Commissioner David Sobelsohn concerned about giving the ANC's support for this project merely on promises to make agreements later. Shiker pointed out that Monument has made these agreements before for their other Ballpark District projects, and also that the ANC will have another crack at the project when down the road it undergoes its mandatory Capitol Gateway Overlay Review. But Sobelsohn still felt that the ANC was being handed a "take it or leave it" proposition.
An audience member asked if Monument would be planning to build a temporary parking lot if the alley closing is approved, but Shiker said that Monument's goal is to develop the land, that they "want a building, not a parking lot." (Though one must admit that that is some pretty plum stadium-parking territory.) There were also questions about the Public Space Storage building just to the north (echoing my WTDW entry from last week), but Monument's representatives said that they didn't think the storage company would be moving.
Commissioner Bob Siegel moved to support the alley closing with further negotiations on the proposed benefits package as the project proceeds, but the ANC voted 2-2-1 and so the resolution did not pass.
The alley closing bill is B17-0552, and Shiker told the ANC that she expected a public hearing in late February, with perhaps council action in March or April. No date for actual construction of the project was mentioned.
Coming tomorrow--a recap of the Florida Rock portion of the ANC meeting, though you don't have to wait until then to see the latest project renderings that were presented. But my long-winded summary of what was said during the meeting will have to wait a bit longer.

ANC Doings -- 1111 New Jersey CG Overlay Review
Jan 16, 2008 1:42 PM
(This is the first of three dispatches I'll be posting over the next few days from Monday's ANC 6D meeting. Can you feel the excitement building?)
The developers of the planned office building at 1111 New Jersey came looking for the ANC's support in advance of their Jan. 31 Capitol Gateway Overlay Review at the Zoning Commission. This project has been revised over the past few months after Donohoe was chosen by WMATA to acquire the 5,000-square-foot lot on top of the Navy Yard Metro's east entrance at New Jersey and M--by expanding 1111 New Jersey's footprint to this lot, which fronts M Street, the project became subject to a CG Overlay Review (boring tutorial here). While the WMATA land is being sold to Donohoe, this is in fact a joint development project with WMATA, who I imagine will receive a dollar or two over the coming years once the building is built and leased.
The new design was described by WDG Architecture as 220,000 square feet of office space with 5,700 square feet of ground-floor retail in a glass-facade building. While it uses a smidge of the WMATA land, the project will not be built on top of the station entrance as is happening with 55 M--the station canopy will remain, and a there will be a large public plaza at this "important corner", along with a 60-foot setback with a double line of trees stretching up New Jersey. (Non-obsessive observers might not remember that 1111 NJ's footprint does not include the site of St. Matthew's Church immediately to the north--that lot is being acquired by Ruben Companies for a rumored residential project, where no plans have yet been made, a Ruben rep tells me.)
Donohoe indicated that it plans to go for LEED certification for 1111, and mentioned that some of the ground-floor space would be designed with restaurant uses in mind, though the presenters said they remain aware of the requirements for community-oriented retail and preferred uses in the overlay area.
Beyond the LEED certification, retail, and public spaces, the developer offered no community benefits package to the ANC. Donohoe considers this project a matter of right that requires no additional benefits offerings, a stand which reopened the wounds from back in April when the earlier iteration of this project came before the ANC looking for support for a zoning special exception (and was voted down, though the BZA approved the waiver anyway).
The feelings of the commissioners hadn't changed in the intervening months, and they voted 5-0 not to support the project because of the lack of community benefits. (There was some procedural wrangling about the wording of the motion, but since the church where the ANC meetings are held is absolutely impossible to hear in, I didn't get the specifics--something about voting "not to support" versus voting "to oppose", I believe.)
No timeline for the start of construction was mentioned. Perhaps more information will be forthcoming at the Jan. 31 zoning hearing.
More ANC reports coming tomorrow--I'll have news of Monument Realty's plans for the BP Amoco site at South Capitol and N, followed by the latest in the Florida Rock saga. Stay tuned!
UPDATE: Donohoe was nice enough to pass along the rendering of the new design, which I've added to the top of my 1111 New Jersey page.
UPDATE II: Correcting a smidge of misinformation on the St. Matthew's site.

Structural Work Completed on Navy Yard Station
Jan 15, 2008 2:05 PM
The official announcement will come soon, but Monument Realty has confirmed to me that today they are turning over to WMATA the west entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station --on schedule--so that "fare installation" can begin (i.e., making the entrance useable). Monument says they completed their building structural commitments to WMATA back on Dec. 21. (hat tip to Nats320)
If you look at the Half Street web cam, you can see that the station entrance at lower center does look like it's getting cleaned up somewhat. Monument's initial Half Street project--office, hotel, residential, retail--is not scheduled to be completed until the end of 2009, but the Metro station is expected to be reopened in time for the beginning of baseball. The 55 M Street office building is currently being built on top of the Metro entrance; the southern half of the block, which is currently a big hole but where a hotel and residential units will be offered, should see construction begin soon. Retail will line the ground floor (and some second-floor spaces) all along Half. No tenants have been announced yet for the retail spaces, and, as I mentioned this morning, Monument appears to be looking for a new chain to operate the 200-room hotel.
As for what Half Street will look like during the inaugural season of the ballpark while construction continues, the Office of Planning report on Monument's request for some minor modifications to their Half Street designs has a description: "As part of the original proposal, the applicant showed a covered walkway on the east side of Half Street as a temporary condition during construction. Present plans call for pedestrian traffic to be directed to the other side of Half Street on non-game days, and for the entire street to be opened to pedestrian traffic on game days. Therefore there is no need for a covered walkway. The applicant has committed, however, to maintain a decorative fence at the edge of their construction zone as generally shown in the original plans."

Half Street and 250 M at the Zoning Commission
Jan 15, 2008 9:38 AM
On Monday night the Zoning Commission considered two Near Southeast cases on its consent calendar. I wasn't there (having chosen to go to the ANC meeting scheduled for the same time), and the ZC's web feed experienced technical difficulties, so I'm posting some bare bones info that folks at the meeting have been nice enough to pass along.
Monument Realty asked for 22 "minor modifications" to its previously approved design for the under-construction eastern side of Half Street. According to the Office of Planning report, the changes mostly centered on adjustments to the exterior architecture and the layout of the residential component. The most noteworthy change request is probably switching from a multicolored LED screen at the Metro entrance at Half and M (which WMATA turned down, apparently) to a backlit laminated glass panel. Also, nestled deep in the OP report is a request to modify the design for the hotel windows because the "hotel operator has pulled out" -- early on, the word had been that W Aloft would be running the midblock hotel on Half Street, but apparently this is no longer the case; I've heard nothing on any new operator. You can read the report to see the other requested changes. Though this was on the Zoning Commission's consent calendar, and the commission acknowledged that the changes are small, they still wanted to see some renderings showing the befores-and-afters of the proposed changes, and have scheduled a special public meeting for Jan. 28 at 6 pm to consider the request.
Now that the eastern side of Second Street (running along Canal Park) is considered "re-opened" (it's a long story), the developers of 250 M Street are requesting to base the office building's height on the width of Second Street, which is wider than M Street. This would allow 250 M to go up to 130 feet, which apparently is the same as the height of 1100 New Jersey on the west side of the park, although apparently the building's planned square footage would actually decrease slightly which would increase the total square footage to 233,405. Though this was on the consent calendar, the commission asked the Office of Planning to submit a report on this, and there will be a public hearing.
UPDATED to fix an error about 250 M's proposed new square footage.
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More posts: 250 M, Metro/WMATA, Monument/Half St., staddis, zoning

Jan. 14 Public Meetings (And One from Last Night)
Jan 11, 2008 3:18 PM
Agendas are out for two public meetings on Monday night (Jan. 14) that have Near Southeast items of interest:
*ANC 6D's agenda includes presentations and requests for support on the following: a new request for an alley closing on the southern end of the block bounded by Half, M, N, and South Capitol (B17-0552, "Closing of a Public Alley in Square 700"); the Capitol Gateway Overlay Review for 1111 New Jersey Ave., which will be at the Zoning Commission on Jan. 31; and new design/modified second-stage PUD for RiverFront on the Anacostia (Florida Rock), which is expected to go to the Zoning Commission in the next few months. The meeting is at St. Augustine's Church, 6th and M Streets, SW, at 7 pm.
* The Zoning Commission will hear requests for "minor modifications" to William C. Smith's 250 M Street project and Monument's Half Street project; alas, I haven't been able to find out what these modifications are. That meeting is at 6:30 pm at 441 Fourth St., NW, and is also available via live webcast.
I should also mention here that last night the Zoning Commission voted preliminary approval of a series of text and map amendments at the Yards, most of which are far too dull for even me to get into; read the hearing announcement if you want more details.

First Parking Lots About to Start, RFP Issued for Management
Dec 17, 2007 10:27 AM
While the plan that Tommy Wells announced last week to address on-street parking around the ballpark and on Capitol Hill is just beginning its trek through the legislative process, the first of the new parking lots that the city and the Nationals will want stadium-goers to use will get underway soon. Building permits have been approved in the last few weeks for temporary surface lots in the Capper footprint at Second and K, Second and L, and Sixth and M, and work on the first two should be starting this month. (The third lot will get started in January, after the wreckage from the almost-completed demolition of the old Capper Seniors building is cleared away.)
At the same time, a Request for Proposals has been issued by DC Housing Enterprises for the management of these lots, offering a one-year contract with up to four one-year renewal options. The RFP, while chock full of selection criteria, required certifications and other specifications, also gives a few details about the planned operations of the lots themselves, which together will have about 670 spaces (or more, if valet parking is used). They will be offering monthly prepaid public parking on weekdays from 6 am to 7 pm, at a rate of not less than $150 per month; some daily parking may be allowed as well.
But users of the lots will have to vacate prior to any Nationals game, since the lots are "expected to be subject to an exclusive arrangement" with the team that gives all spaces over to ballgame parking from two hours before the game until three hours after. And a nice arrangement it is--the DC Housing Authority will apparently receive $10 per parking space per game, whether all spaces are used or not.
The zoning rule passed earlier this year that allowed the creation of temporary ballpark-area lots such as these says that they may also be used for a "seasonal or occasional market for produce, arts or crafts with non-permanent structures," though no plans for anything like that have been announced. The rule also states that the lots can only last until April 2013, since it is believed development around the ballpark will bring plenty of underground parking that will negate the need for these surface lots. The three Capper lots will eventually be replaced with a mix of apartment buildings, townhouses, and office buildings, though start dates for those projects have not been announced.
One block south of Capper, at the Yards, another batch of temporary surface lots are planned, which would have about 700 spaces. Beyond these and the garages with 1,225 spaces on the ballpark site itself, no other stadium parking locations have been publicly identified, though the Nationals have said they have found enough parking spaces for all season ticket holders--they just haven't said where they all are yet. And the city and the team continue to say that Metro will be the best way to get to the ballpark.
You can check out my stadium parking map to see where these new lots are--it also shows the other locations where zoning allows temporary lots, plus existing lots and underground garages where parking could be made available.

Updated Florida Rock Renderings
Dec 14, 2007 9:12 AM
I've received two new renderings of RiverFront on the Anacostia, the 5.8-acre mixed-use development planned for the Florida Rock site that sits on the Anacostia River just south of the ballpark. There's a view from the river showing the four buildings that make up the project (two office buildings, one residential, and one hotel), and a detailed view from Potomac Avenue and First Street showing the eastern office building (which would be the first building under construction) and the others along Potomac Avenue that would face the ballpark. The developers will be having a hearing in front of the Zoning Commission sometime within the next few months to get this latest iteration of the design approved; once that process is complete, construction could begin. The entire project will take a number of years to complete. As for the question most often asked--when will the concrete business still operating on the site be shut down?--my learned answer is: I don't know.
Take a look at my RiverFront page for much more detail on the current design for the site, which also includes a public plaza at the eastern end of the site that will abut Diamond Teague Park (and that helps to give unobstructed views of the river from the ballpark's grand staircase). The planned Anacostia Riverwalk runs all along the site's south side, with a promenade area no less than 75 feet wide (and with separate bike and pedestrian paths). There's also "Potomac Quay", a glass-enclosed retail walk running between the eastern office building and the residential building and a huge water feature at the "Piazza Cascade", tieing together the three western buildings of the project. And, for a look at some of the long and winding road that this project has traversed over the years, scan the news items I've posted.
More posts: Florida Rock, zoning

ANC Supports Yards Zoning Changes
Dec 11, 2007 12:17 PM
It's nowhere near as exciting as a liquor license at the ballpark, but I should still pass along that the ANC voted 4-0-3 to support Forest City Washington's request for map and text amendments at The Yards that is going in front of the Zoning Commission on Jan. 11. (The three abstentions were because those commissioners had not received the packet of explanatory materials before the meeting.) The amendments are all pretty technical (larger setback along the Yards's boundary with the Navy Yard, clarifications about ground-floor retail requirements, etc.). You can see the amendments spelled out in the Zoning Commission hearing announcement.
More posts: ANC News, The Yards, zoning

Reading the Tea Leaves on Upcoming Projects - Updated with More 1111 New Jersey News
Dec 7, 2007 1:02 PM
Because I'm not always so successful in getting people to tell me the current status of various projects, I spend a lot of time pouring through documents hoping to get hints here or there, and within the past few days I've uncovered a few new ones. I sent out some e-mails asking for additional information, but those have gone unanswered (waaaaah!), so I'll just post what I've seen, and wait for the various bureaucratic processes to move along to get more information.
The developers of the planned office building at 1111 New Jersey Avenue are having a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review in front of the Zoning Commission on Jan. 31. This review is now required because Donohoe is buying the land on top of the Navy Yard Metro station east entrance, which means that the project's property now "fronts" M Street and must get a review by the Zoning Commission to make sure it follows the design and usage requirements laid out by the CG Overlay. I haven't seen any new renderings yet to know whether the building has grown from its original 146,000-sq-ft design (note: see UPDATE below). No mentions yet of when construction might start. Presumably this design will be presented to ANC 6D, at perhaps its January meeting.
And, in the Questions and Responses posted along with the Capper PILOT underwriters RFP, there's the following statements:
* 250 M Street, the 200,000-sq-ft office building by William C. Smith, "will commence construction on or about May 2008";
* 600 M Street, the 500,000-sq-ft office building by Forest City on the old Capper Seniors site, "is expected to commence construction in late 2009 or early 2010 -- Stage II PUD process with the District Zoning Commission has already commenced"; and
* 800 New Jersey/120 Canal, the planned 1.1-million-sq-ft mixed use project by William C. Smith on the land north of I between Second and New Jersey (known as Square 737), "will commence Stage II PUD upon transfer of District land in early 2008."
1111 NJ UPDATE: Amazingly, just a few hours later, another document popped up with additional information on 1111 New Jersey: it's for the Dec. 13 WMATA board meeting, a request to execute the sale announced back in June of the 5,612-sq-ft WMATA land at New Jersey and M to "NJA Associates" (aka Donohoe). And it describes the "new" 1111 NJ thusly (emphases mine):
"The Developer proposes to combine the WMATA property with an adjacent 16,406 sf developer-owned site and develop an office building with ground floor retail. Its current proposal to the District of Columbia Zoning Commission is for an approximately 211,000 sf building, a portion of which cantilevers over the WMATA property. At ground level, the proposal includes a wide plaza surrounding the Metro entrance, consistent with the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative Framework Plan. The Developer will make modifications to Metro facilities at its own cost and subject to WMATA approval. At present the modifications are expected to be limited to adjustments to the vent shaft and new paving in the plaza area. The existing entrance canopy will remain. The entrance will be protected during construction. The Developer has stated that it does not currently anticipate any need to close the entrance during construction."
WMATA is selling the land for $2.3 million plus an unnamed additional payment if the approved project is larger 206,000 square feet.

Permits for First Temporary Surface Lots Approved
Nov 29, 2007 9:25 AM
The city's Approved Building Permits Feed tells us that yesterday three permits were approved for the construction of temporary parking lots on three blocks within the Capper/Carrollsburg footprint: Squares 767 and 768, which are cleared lots between Second and Third and I and L (just to the east of what-may-someday-become-Canal Park), and Square 882 between L and M and west of Seventh, where the old Capper Seniors building is in the midst of coming down. This doesn't necessarily mean that construction will start tomorrow (I don't know if the contracts that were advertised a few months back have been awarded yet), but it does mean that what is sometimes the biggest hurdle to construction in the city has already been passed.
As part of the rules governing their creation, the lots will be open for general paid parking during non-game times, and can also be used for "a seasonal or occasional market for produce, arts or crafts." These lots should yield somewhere between 670 and 720 spaces. Eventually these locations will be home to new apartment buildings along Third Street and both a new office building and townhouses on the Capper Seniors site; the parking lots themselves are only allowed until 2013.
You can find out more background about parking plans for baseball on my Stadium Parking and Transportation page, though no specifics have been announced yet as to which lots the Nationals are planning to use for season-ticket holders.
UPDATE: I'm hearing that work on the Third Street lots should get underway in December, and on the Seventh and M lot in January.

Latest Florida Rock Design Moves Another Step Forward
Nov 20, 2007 1:54 PM
At Monday night's Zoning Commission hearing, Florida Rock's request for a hearing on the revised design for RiverFront on the Anacostia was approved. (See Monday's post for the quick description of the project.) You can read the Office of Planning report on the latest design, which also includes a lot of good history as to the twists and turns this project has taken over the years.
There have been some small changes since this revised design was first unveiled back in June, and even some further changes from renderings I posted here in September, with the Office of Planning looking for more variation of materials used for the four buildings proposed for the project instead of being all glass (to "minimize the potential campus effect," according to the report). There's also been some changes to the amenities package that the developer is offering, though this is still being worked out between the developer and the Office of Planning. As of this filing, they have expanded the amount of workforce-level housing to 29,000 square feet/25 units to bring it in line with the city's inclusionary zoning requirements. On the flip side, they have scaled back their financial contribution to the creation of Diamond Teague Park to $350,000 from $3.5 million, since the park is now fully funded from other sources.
You can see some new renderings of the latest design and specifics about the project on my Florida Rock/RiverFront page (though note that the site map and the rendering of the entire project are older; I hope to get updated versions soon). And, just as a reminder, this is a project that is planned to be completed in multiple phases over many years. The developers would start with the eastern office building and the plaza known as "The Pitch" adjacent to Diamond Teague Park, perhaps in 2008.
The developers have asked for an expedited hearing on this new design (technically known as a modification to the project's second-stage PUD), so it could appear on the commission's calendar before too long.
More posts: Florida Rock, zoning

Short Takes on Teague Park, Poplar Point, Yards
Nov 19, 2007 11:36 AM
Three quick items:
* I've received word that the Commission on Fine Arts approved the revised design for Diamond Teague Park at its meeting last week. This follows on the heels of a favorable response from the National Capital Planning Commission back on Nov. 1. Next steps are continuing through the permitting process with first the Army Corps of Engineers (because of the piers and water access) and then eventually local permits. Hopefully I can get a copy of the revised site plan for the park in the near future.
* Forest City Enterprises, one of the big guns in Near Southeast with its redevelopment of both The Yards and Capper/Carrollsburg, has been named one of the four short-list developers for Poplar Point. Mid-City Urban, which is partnering with Forest City on Capper, is also one of the finalists, as part of a team with General Growth Properties and Doracon.
* There's a Zoning Commission hearing now scheduled for Jan. 10, 2008 on a series of changes to the zoning rules that govern the redevelopment of The Yards. These changes are spelled out in the hearing notice, and are described as text amendments that "clarify requirements of the SEFC Overlay District and correct technical errors." There's also a request to readjust the SFC's property line between it and the Navy Yard and also change a few of the zone district boundaries as part of the realignment of Water Street within the Federal Center.
More posts: Capper, Teague Park, The Yards, zoning

Florida Rock Back at the Zoning Commission
Nov 19, 2007 12:02 AM
Monday (Nov. 19) is the monthly Zoning Commission meeting, and Florida Rock (or, "RiverFront on the Anacostia") is one of the agenda items. I *believe* it's going to be a request for a new hearing on the project's revised design, which I first posted here in June, and which received favorable comments from the Zoning Commission in July. (This is a modification to the second-stage PUD, for those In The Know.) The meeting is at 6:30 pm, and will be shown via live webcast.
As always, this monthly zoning meeting overlaps with ANC 6D's monthly meeting; I haven't yet seen an agenda for that meeting, so at this point, I'm going to commit myself to finding out what's up with Florida Rock. (I knew I shouldn't have given the entire JDLand staff the week off at Thanksgiving.)
If you're arriving late and don't know what Florida Rock is, the project page will give you most of the scoop. But the short version is that it's the nearly six acres of land directly south of the ballpark, on the Anacostia River. The developers have been working for nearly 10 years to get this property transitioned away from the concrete business currently there to a 1.1 million square foot mixed-use waterfront destination.
At the February meeting where approval of the design was expected, the Zoning Commission unexpectedly sent the architects back to the drawing board, wanting a greater amount of residential space in the project, better views to and from the ballpark, and a better "expression of place." And now the developers are hoping to get this project moving forward, so that perhaps the first phase--an office-building with ground-floor retail and a public plaza on the easternmost end of the site, next to Diamond Teague Park--could get underway in 2008. The rest of the project, with a hotel, residential building, office building, public spaces, retail, and the riverwalk along the Anacostia, could take a while to be completed, especially given that the western portion of the site is probably not going to be ready until the current Douglass Bridge is demolished and the new new Douglass Bridge is built.
You can see the latest renderings, along with some watercolors and much more detailed descriptions of the revised design, on the project page.
UPDATE: The ANC agenda is now online, and other than the ballpark liquor license application that I wrote about a few weeks ago, there's no pressing Near Southeast news listed.

Square 696 Alley Closing Hearing -- The $7 Million Question
Nov 16, 2007 8:52 AM
Thanks to the glories of the On Demand video offerings at the city's Office of Cable Television web site, I was able to catch Wednesday's hearing on the request to close the 8,197-square-foot alley that bisects Square 696, the block bounded by I, K, First, and Half streets that DRI Development bought in April for $64 million. As I posted a few weeks ago after DRI's presentation to ANC 6D, DRI is planning more than 825,000 square feet of office and retail on the block, in three buildings that would be built in three phases, the first being a 300,000-square-foot office building along I Street that could begin construction in the summer of 2008.
As part of its successful bid to get the ANC's support, DRI and its development partner Jamestown Properties have committed to a $100,000 payment to the Near Southeast/Southwest community fund, LEED certification, and an 8,000-square-foot public plaza at First and K streets to replace the "public space" being lost by the alley closing.
The early part of the hearing was pretty standard as these types of sessions go. The development's representatives described their agreement with the ANC, and also the planned 37,000-square-feet of retail what would serve not only the office tenants but also the residential projects that will soon surround the block on all sides. Also touted were the large south-facing public plaza (light-filled and sunny!) with a 20-foot-wide pedestrian "breezeway" through the block to open the area to pedestrians arriving from I Street, the innovative loading ramps within turnaround space inside the buildings to eliminate the need for commercial vehicles to back up or turn around out in the streets, the fitness center with changing and shower facilities to encourage bicycle use, and more.
Then, Council Member Tommy Wells began to ask questions about the amount of the developers' required contribution to the city's Housing Production Trust Fund, dedicated to the creation of affordable housing. Wells brought up a slight discrepancy between the number the developers were citing versus what the Office of Planning had determined the figure to be.
Developer figure? Approximately $890,000.
Office of Planning figure? More like $8 million.
The hearing then became a blur of real and estimated assessed values, total F.A.R. based on T.D.R.s (that's total floor-area ratios based on transfers of development rights, for those of you whose minds are blissfully unsullied with this stuff), buildable square footage, and on-the-fly calculations. Council Chairman Vincent Gray, after commenting that even the $890,000 figure cited by the developers would be the largest trust fund contribution ever, wondered how many projects in the District "would see the light of day" if the city starts talking about $8 million contributions. Wells and Gray agreed that the calculating discrepancies need to be resolved so that the trust fund law can be implemented consistently, and the hearing ended with pledges from the applicant to provide additional information.
And despite the wrangling over the trust fund contribution, Council Member Wells made sure to reiterate that he supports the project, especially because of the environmentally friendly aspects of the design.
In the meantime, the last tenant on the block (a taxi repair garage) will be vacating when its lease expires in February.
Check my Square 696 page for an early sitemap of the project, along with photos of the block.
More posts: Plaza on K/Square 696, zoning

Ballpark and Beyond This Week
Oct 18, 2007 9:42 AM
My Ballpark and Beyond column in today's District Extra in the Post covers the new zoning amendment for additional temporary surface parking lots (here's the Office of Planning report with all the details), and a little blurb about three of the historic call boxes along First Street disappearing recently, which you might have missed when I posted it here on Tuesday because it was at the end of two veeeeery long entries.
More posts: parking, Nationals Park, zoning

Another Zoning Request for More Ballpark Surface Parking Lot Locations
Oct 16, 2007 9:18 AM
With Opening Day 2008 inching closer, the cobbling together of parking at the new ballpark is apparently turning out to be a greater challenge than constructing an on-time on-budget stadium. So this week the city put in another zoning amendment request to allow more temporary surface parking lots, this time covering eight squares in Southwest, all between P, T, 2nd, and South Capitol streets. (See my Stadium Parking page for a map with the new lots highlighted.) You can read the Office of Planning's report on the new case (07-08A) for more detail.
On Monday night the Zoning Commission approved this request on an emergency basis, meaning that the zoning change takes effect immediately, lasting 120 days while a hearing is scheduled and a permanent amendment is voted on.
As with the original amendment approved earlier this year, the lots can last no more than five years, are required to be available for public parking during non-game times, and must have District Department of Transportation approval of their traffic routing plans to ensure that access to the lots is not directed along I, P, or Fourth streets, SW. There's also a new requirement being added with this latest request, that a minimum of five percent of the spaces in these lots be reserved for a car/ride-share program.
These new lots are still subject to the cap of 3,775 total spaces laid out in the first amendment, unless special exceptions are obtained after the cap is reached from the Board of Zoning Adjustment on a per-lot basis. As with the squares covered earlier this year, it's not expected that lots will suddenly sprout on every one of the locations covered in the request; the main goal appears to be additional flexibility in finding possible spots for the needed spaces.
A separate zoning action a few months ago approved three temporary surface lots totaling under 800 spaces at The Yards, across the street from the stadium. There are also apparently negotiations underway about using the lots at RFK and providing shuttle service to the new ballpark.
There are other locations within a few blocks of the ballpark that will no doubt become temporary parking lots as well--one example is the Lerners' recent permit applications to build a lot on land they own at 1000 South Capitol Street.
At Monday's ANC 6D meeting, when this new zoning amendment was discussed, commissioners mentioned rumors of additional lots perhaps coming to the recently closed KFC and Exxon locations on the west side of South Capitol. But these blocks are not in the Capitol Gateway Zoning Overlay, and so don't require the special approval needed for the squares in the previous amendment requests. And these additional locations still require the Nationals to contract with the landowners, which might not always be an easy negotiation.
The ANC commissioners did not bring up many concerns about this new request, other than asking for confirmation that the traffic controls in the initial amendment cover these new lots, which Judi Greenberg of the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development assured was the case.
Commissioner Ron McBee said that he hopes to organize a town hall meeting for Southwest residents about all the parking plans when they are more concrete, and vice chair Andy Litsky reminded Greenberg that the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission is supposed to be meeting with community leaders to address ballpark-related concerns, but that there hasn't been a meeting in six months.
The zoning commission's approval of the emergency action came with little discussion, perhaps reflecting that most of the potential issues with these temporary lots were hashed out in the first request.
Time should solve many of the initial parking issues around the ballpark; right now there are seven office and residential projects already under construction around Near Southeast that by 2008 and 2009 will have multiple levels of underground parking that could potentially be available for gametime, just as with the lots are in the buildings around the Verizon Center. Most of the squares in these recent zoning requests, along most every other block between South Capitol and Second, will also eventually be home to buildings with underground parking.
UPDATE: An e-mail sent out today to Nationals season ticket holders says that 2008 ticket package information will be sent out "in the next month or so", and that a "comprehensive transportation package will also be sent to all season ticket holders shortly after you have received your seat location information." Presumably the "transportation package" means parking plans for season ticket holders (and maybe a really good Metro map!).
More posts: ANC News, parking, Nationals Park, zoning

Commission of Fine Arts Reviewing Diamond Teague Park Design
Oct 12, 2007 4:12 PM
I don't know how I missed this (I'm going to blame my RSS reader), but back in September the Commission on Fine Arts was shown a design for Diamond Teague Park, the new public space being planned for the foot of First Street across from the ballpark. Just posted on the CFA web site is a letter from the commission to Deputy Mayor Neil Albert, whose office is now handling the park's creation, laying out some problems that the commission had with the initial design. The letter led me to the web site of Landscape Architecture Bureau, which is designing the park, and I found deep in it some sitemaps and renderings of the park that look to be of the initial design shown to the CFA. (What is it with architecture and design firms and their insistence on building Flash sites that make it impossible to link directly to anything? Aaaaargh! Stop it! Stop it!!!!)
I've added one of these drawings to my Diamond Teague page so that you don't have to spend a bunch of time digging to find it, and on it you can see "the small triangular subdivisions and narrow walkways to the floating docks" that the CFA described as "fussy and timid and not in scale with the stadium and its visual connection to the river."
The city seems to have responded quickly, because a revised design for the park is now on the CFA agenda for its Thursday, October 18 meeting. (A pretty speedy turnaround--does this mean they are trying to get something done with the park to coincide with Opening Day 2008?)
Even if the specifics of the design change, I'm guessing the general layout will remain the same. The map shows a water taxi pier to be built near the Earth Conservation Corps pumphouse, and the floating bridge connecting this part of the riverfront with the waterfront park at The Yards. I'm also interested to see on this site map that apparently Potomac Avenue is going to be extended east of First Street, to then turn north on a line with a new "1 1/2 Street" that will eventually run parallel to First Street in The Yards.
(As for Florida Rock next door, there had originally been rumors that it was going to have a setdown hearing at this month's Zoning Commission public meeting, but it's not on the agenda, and appears to have been delayed at least until November.)
UPDATE: I've removed the sitemap of the park, after having heard that it's an older design that doesn't show what the proper boundaries of the park will be, especially on the western side that abuts the Florida Rock property. Hopefully we'll be able to see a copy of the newer design they're working on soon.

ANC Commissioner Warns Monument on Navy Yard Metro Renovation Threats
Oct 11, 2007 12:13 AM
When word broke a few days back that Monument Realty had lost the bidding for the WMATA Southeastern Bus Garage site at Half and M, the Post described a letter from Monument principal partner Jeffrey T. Neal to WMATA that threatened a slow-down in Monument's work on the renovation and expansion of the Navy Yard Metro station if the company was not awarded the garage site as it felt it had been promised. (It has also been reported that Monument is already seven weeks behind schedule on the project.) This station is of course the lynchpin of the city's plans to get stadium-goers to and from Nationals Park, particularly in the near-term before the parking situation is sorted out.
Now, with Monument's plans for developing the old Randall School site on I Street in Southwest about to come up before the Zoning Commission, ANC6D vice chairman Andy Litsky has written a sternly worded letter to representatives of Monument and its Randall partner the Corcoran Gallery of Art, cc'ed to Tommy Wells and WMATA board members Jim Graham and Marion Barry, that boils down to this: "[U]nless Mr. Neal and Monument Realty withdraw this threat -- in writing and in advance of our vote on Monday night -- I will oppose this PUD at the ANC and in testimony before the Zoning Commission." He goes on to say: "The time has finally come for District residents and policy makers to stand up to developers who use threats and lawsuits as leverage in one part of the city and yet expect -- and often receive -- support for their special projects, PUDs and city tax incentives in another. Enough is enough."
You can read the entire letter here (I PDF'ed the e-mail without the headers so as not to blab a bunch of e-mail addresses to the world). The ANC meets on October 15; the Zoning Commission hearing is Nov. 8.

Florida Rock Heading Back to Zoning Commission; New Renderings
Oct 2, 2007 2:50 PM
The developers of the Florida Rock site immediately to the south of the new ballpark have been spending the past few months working to flesh out the new design unveiled back in June, and apparently will be going to the Zoning Commission on Oct. 15 for setdown of their new application for a second-stage PUD. (If you understood almost nothing in that last sentence, don't worry about it.) That means a full hearing on the new design could possibly happen before the end of 2007, and if the bureaucratic gods align, perhaps work could begin on the first phase of the project in 2008. I've received a few new renderings showing a bit more detail, and have added them to my Florida Rock page (I'm not ready to start officially calling it RiverFront on the Anacostia just yet). Look for the icon to see them.
More posts: Florida Rock, zoning

Square 696 Alley Closing Gets ANC Support
Sep 11, 2007 11:04 AM
Last night a request to close the alley that runs between I and K streets parallel to Half and First on Square 696 was on the ANC 6D agenda. But first there was three-and-a-half hours of discussion and debate on various Southwest issues, including the Randall School, Waterside Mall, the Nassif Building, and more--at least, I think that's what they were talking about, because the acoustics at St. Augustine's Church are so horrendous that everyone could have been describing their summer vacations for all I know.
Finally, at about 10:30, representatives of DRI Development and architect HOK gave a brief summary of their plans for the block, which are still very much in the early stages, but were described as "something other than your standard box." The plans show three office buildings (not four, as we've heard up to now) all with ground-floor retail, connected by a "galleria"-type lobby in the center. There would also be an 8,000-sq-ft public plaza opening up to K Street, to give open space to not only the office workers but also the residents of the four buildings surrounding Square 696.
As part of the alley closing request, DRI and its development partner Jamestown Properties are offering a $100,000 payment to the Near Southeast/Southwest community fund, a promise that the building will be LEED certified (a vegetated roof is part of the plans), and the 8,000-sq-ft open space of the plaza to replace the 8,000-sq-ft of "public space" being lost by the alley closing.
The ANC commissioners were quite pleased with what they heard, congratulating the developers on working with the commission on the benefits package before presenting their alley closing request. Commissioner McBee suggested that perhaps some public art could be included at the plaza, as well as public wifi. The final vote was 6-1 in favor of the project, with only Commissioner Skolnik opposing.
DRI was kind enough to pass along the preliminary site plan, which I've added to my Square 696 page. The alley closing request will now wind its way through the city council.
More posts: ANC News, Plaza on K/Square 696, zoning

Another Week, Another Column About Parking
Aug 2, 2007 8:58 AM
I'm pretty sure that this blog has posts about more than just parking lots, but it sure doesn't seem like it lately in my Ballpark and Beyond column in the Post, as this week's items are about the draft Transportation Operations and Parking Plan and the various Zoning Commission votes in the past week on temporary surface lots at The Yards and other locations around Near Southeast. You can also check out Stadium Parking page for more background on the scrambling to find enough parking spaces for ballpark goers, and my Yards page for more information and renderings about the plans for its redevelopment. And if you're interested in the TOPP, don't forget the open house tonight from 6 to 8 pm at 20 M Street, SE.
More posts: parking, Nationals Park, The Yards, zoning

August Hill Rag Articles
Jul 31, 2007 10:59 AM
Within the past few weeks I've posted a lot about the MPD move to 225 Virginia Ave. and the falderal over the surface parking lots zoning amendment including Canal Park, but if you can't get enough, the August issue of the Hill Rag has pieces on both items. And a summary of the July ANC 6D meeting, too.

Zoning Commission Actions on 1325 South Capitol, Canal Park Parking
Jul 30, 2007 8:39 PM
The Zoning Commission shoe-horned in one last public meeting tonight before its August break, and took up a couple of Near Southeast-related items.
After having asked for revisions, clarifications, and refilings on three previous occasions, the commissioners once again had before them a first vote to approve the planned 276-unit residential project by Camden Development at 1325 South Capitol Street, across the street from the Nationals ballpark. The major sticking point in the last two meetings has been the design of the western side of the building, which is technically the "rear" of the building but will be on full display to much of Southwest because only low-rise buildings back up to the project site. Commissioner Turnbull had led the complaints in previous meetings about the need to "step up" the architecture, and while he was not jumping up and down for joy (calling the latest revisions "brutal at times"), he indicated that the plans had indeed made some progress. Commissioners Parsons and Hood agreed, and the commission voted to give first approval to the project three votes to zero, with commissioners Mitten and Jeffries not voting (having not participated in the case). The project now goes to the National Capital Planning Commission for its review, with a final vote by the Zoning Commission in the fall.
The Commission also gave its final approval to Case 07-08, which amends the zoning regulations to allow temporary surface parking lots on various blocks near the stadium. This is the case that stirred an outcry a few weeks ago when it was discovered after the commission's preliminary approval that the language specifying the parcels approved for parking included the three blocks slated for Canal Park. But with a supplemental report from the Office of Planning amending the language, and also with the report from the National Capital Planning Commission indicating its support of the amendment as long as the Canal Park boo-boo was fixed, the zoning commission approved the amended amendment three votes to zero, with commissioners Parsons and Jeffries not voting. And then they amended the original emergency amendment, too, just to make 100% sure that there were no loopholes big enough to build a parking lot on.
More posts: 1325sc, parking, South Capitol St., zoning

Zoning Commission Approves Temporary Surface Lots at The Yards
Jul 26, 2007 8:16 PM
With little discussion, the Zoning Commission tonight took final action and approved Case 07-17, the request for a special exception and a Southeast Federal Center Overlay District review of plans for temporary surface parking lots to last no more than five years at The Yards. The only news coming out of the hearing (other than the approval itself) was that just today it was decided to not include Parcel L, the lot just to the east of the WASA building, because of property line, fencing, and other issues still being negotiated with WASA. This means that approximately 785 spaces can be created at The Yards with this zoning approval (down from the 900 or so originally anticipated, though the Parcel L lot may still be requested at a later date). The National Capital Planning Commission will be voting on this case at its August 2 hearing, but zoning Commissioner Hood announced that the NCPC staff was recommending approval of the case as well. You can see the locations of the Yards lots on my Stadium Parking page, with the Parcel L lot now removed from the map. UPDATE: Should have included this link for folks looking for more information--the Office of Planning's report to the Zoning Commission on this case, which lays out the request in greater detail and explains OP's support.
More posts: parking, The Yards, zoning

Broadcast of Recent Economic Development Roundtable; Other Thursday Events
Jul 25, 2007 10:04 AM
Back in mid-June there was a Saturday morning public roundtable by the city council's Committee on Economic Redevelopment on current development projects in Southwest and Near Southeast. If you didn't get to go, you can watch it tomorrow (Thursday June 26) at 6:40 pm on DC Cable 13, or via live streaming video. Of course, that's at the same time as the Zoning Commission hearing on Forest City's request to add temporary surface parking lots to the The Yards (also available via streaming video) so you'll have to make a choice.
And if you want to give over your entire day to monitoring developments (welcome to my world!), at 10 am Thursday is the WMATA board meeting where they will decide whether to sell the Southeastern Bus Garage to the city; this will also be available via live and archived streaming audio.
More posts: Metro/WMATA, parking, staddis, The Yards, zoning

Temporary Surface Parking Lots at The Yards
Jul 17, 2007 12:46 PM
As I posted a few weeks ago, a request is now making its way through the process that would allow the construction of another batch of temporary surface parking lots, this time at The Yards, totaling an additional 950 spaces. Temporary surface lots are actually already allowed at The Yards under the Southeast Federal Center Zoning Overlay, subject to this mandatory review. The Zoning Commission hearing is on July 26, and the Office of Planning has completed its report supporting the request, saying among other things that these lots would actually improve the appearance of the parcels and surrounding area--if you've looked at the south side of Tingey Street, you know thiis isn't very far off. (The OP report has a lot of good detail on the Yards parking proposal, so be sure to read it.)
My network of moles inform me that at last week's ANC 6D meeting, after a presentation on the plan, no one made a motion to support it, and when one commissioner made a motion to oppose, no one seconded. (Voice of the Hill has a blurb on this meeting as well.) Ouch!
The case will also then be reviewed by the National Capital Planning Commission at its August 2 meeting.
If you want to know more about the state of ballpark-related parking, my Stadium Parking and Transportation page has the gory details, including a map of the possible lots and links to the slew of documents that have been generated over this subject. And the clock is now ticking on when that draft Transportation Operations and Parking Plan is supposed to be released (it was going to hit the streets in June, it was said...).
More posts: ANC News, parking, Nationals Park, The Yards, zoning

NCPC Gives Stamp of Approval to Temporary Surface Parking and Plans for The Yards
Jul 12, 2007 2:40 PM
This afternoon, the National Capital Planning Commission gave their "does not adversely effect federal interests" approval to the recent zoning amendment allowing temporary surface parking lots on various blocks near the stadium, subject to the removal of the Canal Park parcels from the amendment and also that any of the temporary lots on waterfront parcels be set back a minimum of 75 feet from the Anacostia shoreline. They also want the final order of the text amendment to make clear that the five-year cap on these lots cannot be extended via a Board of Zoning Adjustment Special Exception.
The staff report indicated what we've heard in the last day or so, that the Office of Planning will indeed be modifying the amendment to take out Reservation 17 parcels B, C, and D (the Canal Park blocks) before the Zoning Commission's final vote on July 30. There was also slightly curt exchange between two of the commissioners during the discussion of the parking situation about why the US Department of Transporation headquarters can't make some accommodation to allow public parking (as the Reagan building does) in some of its 800 parking spaces; as is now so often the case in this city, "Sept. 11" was the answer.
The commission also approved the 35% design plans for The Yards--many of the renderings and drawings that were in the presentation to the board today are already on my Yards First Phase page. This submittal to the NCPC covered the streetscape, landscape, and infrastructure improvement plans, and the plans for the first four developments on the site--renovation of two existing buildings to create 430 residential units, the renovation of Building 167 into a 46,000-sq-ft retail space, and the construction of two new buildings at 4th and M that would have 320,000 sq ft of office space, a grocery store, and 170+ apartments. Work on the streetscape and infrastructure improvements will be starting this summer, and the first of the building renovations will get underway next year, with 170 apartments and the Building 167 retail to be delivered in mid-2009. This plan will also be in front of the Commission on Fine Arts on July 19.
I hope to get electronic versions soon of the staff recommendation documents for both of these votes, which contain lots of good summary information for people who haven't been following these cases quite as, um, closely as SOME people. I'll update here when I get them.
So, for Canal Park fans, everything seems to be pointing to the hoped-for conclusion, though it won't be 100% written in stone until the July 30 Zoning Commission meeting.
UPDATE: Here's the recommendation document for The Yards; I hope to have the parking one on Friday, so check back.
UPDATE II: Believe it or not, NBC 4 covered the meeting today. (Maybe they got the idea from today's District Extra!)
More posts: Canal Park, parking, The Yards, zoning

Ballpark and Beyond This Week
Jul 12, 2007 9:00 AM
My Ballpark and Beyond column in The Post's District Extra today covers the Canal Park parking lot brouhaha. If you're arriving here looking for more background, here's the zoning amendment that started it all, last night's news that the Office of Planning looks firmly committed to rectifying the oversight, my page with details on all the plans for stadium parking around Near Southeast, today's NCPC meeting agenda, and my Canal Park page for details on the plans for the park itself. I'll be posting later today on the outcome of the NCPC meeting.
More posts: Canal Park, zoning

Canal Park-ing
Jul 11, 2007 9:08 PM
In advance of Thursday's National Capital Planning Commission meeting that will review the surface parking lots zoning amendment, the Voice of the Hill has posted a piece about the controversial inclusion of the Canal Park blocks within the parcels approved for parking. Much of the piece covers territory I've written about over the past few days, but has some new nuggets. Money quote: "Joel Lawson, the Office of Planning's acting deputy director for neighborhood and long-range planning, said the portions of squares containing Canal Park were never intended to be used for parking and should not have been included. 'I can understand why people are concerned about this,' he said. But, he added, 'We knew the parking wasn't going to go there.' He said the planning office will amend its request to make explicit this provision." Another quote, from the spokesman for Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development Neil Albert: "We have no intention to use this three-block site for stadium parking, and we fully expect to move forward in building this important public amenity on schedule." This would appear to make the NCPC meeting less of a critical juncture, but I'll still be there to check it out. Besides, they're also having a big presentation on the first-phase plans for The Yards.
More posts: Canal Park, parking, The Yards, zoning

Zoning Commission Meeting Wrapup
Jul 10, 2007 9:11 AM
Once again venturing reluctantly into the world of live human beings, I went to last night's Zoning Commission meeting. Here's a wrapup:
* After waiting a month to get input from the Office of Planning, the ZC gave some guidance on Florida Rock's revised plans for its 5.8-acre site on the Anacostia. The phrase uttered most often was "on the right track" -- each commissioner mentioned something in the new designs that they weren't completely crazy about (the glass "campanile" viewing tower on the east building seemed not to have wowed them), but they were mainly complimentary, making clear that the new design was an improvement over the last go-round and is closer to what the ZC wants to see on the site. (Read my entry from February for more background on the ZC's objections to the last design.)
This was not any sort of decision-making stage--the Florida Rock developers were wanting to make sure that they didn't expend vast amounts of energy pursuing a design that would end up again being nixed by the commission, and now with the sense that their latest idea has the ZC's support, they can work on their designs in more detail and apply for a modification to their second-stage PUD, which would then have a public hearing. I don't have any idea at this point what the time frame on this would be.
* Camden Development's planned 276-unit residential building at 1325 South Capitol Street was looking for a vote to approve its PUD, after a hearing a few weeks ago when Commissioner Turnbull complained that the western side of the building (facing Southwest) wasn't designed well enough given how "on display" it will be, and Commissioner Hood wanted more information on how the affordable units would be allocated throughout the building. So tonight, after some revised submittals, it came before the commission for a vote to approve its design--and Commissioner Turnbull complained that the western side of the building wasn't designed well enough given how "on display" it will be, and Commissioner Hood wanted more information on how the affordable units would be allocated throughout the building. In other words, neither felt that their concerns from last time had been addressed, and so have requested further filings before a scheduled vote on July 30.
* In an easier item, the commission voted 5-0 to give final approval to the design of the planned office building at 250 M Street. But, as reported a few weeks ago, developer William C. Smith has indicated that they are waiting for the building to be about one-third leased before starting construction.
* Finally (yay), the commissioned approved for setdown (meaning there can be a hearing) on Forest City's request for various amendments to the Southeast Federal Center Overlay as part of their plans to develop The Yards. These requests address some pretty darn technical issues in the overlay and are pretty baffling, even for obsessives like me, so I will just point you to the Office of Planning report if you really want to know what's happening. Please note that this is not the case requesting surface parking lots at The Yards--it's having its hearing on July 26.

Canal Park Parking - NCPC Staff Recommendation
Jul 9, 2007 4:16 PM
UPDATE: With a mere 14 minutes to spare, I've just now been informed that the 30-day comment period on the zoning text amendment ends today at 4:30, so if by chance you're reading this in the next few minutes, you can fax your comments and contact information to the DCOZ at (202) 727-6072 so that it can be considered when they take final action on July 30.
Maneuvering continues today on the No-Parking-on-Canal-Park front: there is word that the National Capital Planning Commission staff is recommending that the NCPC board should request at its Thursday meeting that the Canal Park site be excluded from the proposed zoning amendment that is allowing temporary surface parking on certain lots in Near Southeast. (The NCPC weighs in on all zoning changes that might "impact federal interests," and they are considering Canal Park an amenity for US Department of Transportation workers across the street, thereby making it of "federal interest." Heh.) It should be noted that the NCPC board does not have to go along with its staff's recommendations. In addition, the zoning commission does not have to incorporate the NCPC's comments when it takes its own final action on the parking lots, but I imagine the word will get to the zoning commission as loudly as it did to the NCPC about the strong desire to exclude the Canal Park blocks from the final parking amendment.
I'm waiting now for some clarification from the Office of Zoning of exactly what the future votes and procedures are on the parking amendment--it was adopted as an emergency measure in May, which I believe means that at some point the temporary amendment must be made permanent. That would appear to give time and wiggle room for additional changes to the amendment if desired by the ZC, but I'm checking to be sure.

More posts: Canal Park, zoning

Week O'Meetings
Jul 8, 2007 2:27 PM
With the calendar inching toward DC's annual August shutdown, there's a boatload of meetings and hearings on the agenda this week as everyone tries to get their work done before heading for the beach. Here's a not-very-detailed rundown, so follow the links if you want more detailed information:
* Monday starts bright and early with the "public hearing and preliminary finding" by the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development on the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District application, in Room 301 of the Wilson Building, 10 am.
* The Zoning Commission's monthly public meeting on Monday night includes a final vote on the plans for the 250 M Street office building and a first vote on the 1325 South Capitol Street residential project. In addition, there's a new case looking for various amendments to the Southeast Federal Center overlay; here's the Office of Planning report spelling them out. The commission is also scheduled to address Florida Rock's request for guidance on its revised design, which has the support of the Office of Planning. The meeting is at 6:30 pm at One Judiciary Square (Suite 220 South), but also can be watched via live webcast.
* At about the same time, ANC 6D is having its monthly meeting, and will be having a presentation and vote on Forest City's July 26 zoning hearing to allow temporary surface parking lots at The Yards. This meeting is at 7 pm at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, 6th and M Streets, SW. (Having to make a choice, I'm opting for the zoning meeting, so it might take a little while before I find out what happened at the ANC.)
* Tuesday's city council meeting at 10 am will include a final vote on the bill to create the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District.
* On Tuesday night WMATA is having a public hearing on the proposed move of the Southeastern Bus Garage from its current location at Half and M to a new facility at DC Village in Southwest. (It's probably geared more toward residents near the new location.) There's an open house at 5:30 pm, and the hearing itself starts at 6:30, at 2700 Martin Luther King Dr. SE.
* The Nationals ballpark is having its "Topping Out" party on Wednesday at noon.
* WMATA's Planning, Development and Real Estate Committee is meeting in executive session on Thursday morning to address something having to do with the Southeastern Bus Garage, but they're not saying what.
* Thursday also sees the National Capital Planning Commission meeting that Canal Park fans mobilized for, with the NCPC's agenda including the zoning commission case approving temporary surface parking lots on various blocks in Near Southeast that include Canal Park in their boundaries. There's also a presentation on the the first phase of The Yards. The meeting is at 12:30 pm at 401 9th St., NW, Suite 500.
* Wrapping up the week (pant pant pant) is a city council Subcommittee on Economic Development hearing on the transition plans for folding in the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation and the National Capital Revitalization Corporation into the office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development; it's in the council chamber at the Wilson Building at 10 am, and may also be broadcast on DC cable channel 13 and via streaming video.
And then I will spend the weekend alseep.

Wells Springs Into Action for Canal Park
Jul 6, 2007 5:40 PM
Another day of lightning-fast developments in Near Southeast, so apologies for the disjointedness.... A letter has been posted on Tommy Wells's blog, to the chairman of the National Capital Planning Commission, making it clear that council member Wells does not want to see any delay in the construction of Canal Park (see my earlier entry for background on all of this). The rest of the blog entry says that these concerns have been communicated to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Neil Albert as well (and Mr. Albert agreed). The letter specifically tells the NCPC: "The temporary parking zoning amendment must be modified to include clarifying language to protect the park site from any zoning changes, temporary or otherwise. Specifically, no temporary surface lots should be permitted on US Reservation 17, parcels B, C and D, which are the location of the proposed Washington Canal Park." Crisis averted? The NCPC meeting is July 12.
And, as a bonus, Wells's post says that Canal Park is scheduled to begin construction in August, the first start date I've heard. But until I see yellow school buses driving off into the sunset, I'll remain merely cautiously optimistic.
More posts: Canal Park, zoning

Concerns About Canal Park and Parking - Update
Jul 6, 2007 12:12 PM
While I've been following for weeks the zoning procedures around the plans for temporary surface parking lots in the blocks north of M Street, I'm hearing today for the first time that there may be some pressure behind the scenes to delay construction of Canal Park, so that its three blocks of space could be used for temporary surface parking to help fulfill the necessary spaces for Nationals ballgames.
It is indeed true that those three blocks are covered under Zoning Case 07-08, which was approved back in May, but because of some odd tax parcel configurations (where the parcels 767, 768, and 769 actually stretch across the eastern half of 2nd Street over to 3rd and so also include the three blocks where Capper buildings were demolished earlier this year), I always just assumed that those references in the zoning requests were merely for the Capper portions of the parcels and not the Canal Park portions. Plus, plans seemed to be moving forward for Canal Park to begin construction in time for a Spring 2008 opening, so it didn't appear to be an issue (much the way that Case 07-08 asked for the ability to build temporary lots on the Pepco site in Buzzards Point even though Pepco says they wouldn't be vacating those blocks anytime soon).
However, with apparently some salivating going on in some quarters over those additional lots (where school buses currently reside), some people fear that the near-term building of Canal Park could be in jeopardy. There is a meeting on July 12 of the National Capital Planning Commission, where approval of Case 07-08 is on the agenda; if this issue of parking lots/no parking lots on the Canal Park site is something that concerns you one way or the other, you may wish follow the NCPC guidelines for participation in the meeting. And getting in touch with the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation (which is in charge of the park's development) and/or Tommy Wells's office may also be an approach you want to take.
UPDATE, 7/6: I'm now hearing whispers that the salivating over Canal Park might not actually be completely stadium-related, but also a part of the continuing need for the Metropolitan Police Department to find about 150 extra spaces to have enough parking for their proposed move into 225 Virginia Avenue....


WMATA Expecting at Least $2.3 Million for Navy Yard East Entrance
Jul 6, 2007 6:17 AM
(I found out the hard way that my subscription to Metro's press releases doesn't seem to be working these days, so this item is about a week late.) In WMATA's press release announcing their choice of NJA Associates (aka Donohoe) to develop the east entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station, it's mentioned that Metro will receive at least $2.3 million from the sale of the 5,612-sq-ft property, but that that could grow to $3.4 million if Donohoe can get zoning waivers to expand their planned 1111 New Jersey office building up to 220,000 sq ft. (Its original design came in at 146,000 sq ft, and with the new land but no zoning waivers they could go to 206,000 sq ft.) (UPDATED because of switched numbers in the original headline.)

More posts: 1111 New Jersey, Metro/WMATA, Square 743N, zoning

WMATA Board Approves Navy Yard East Entrance Sale
Jun 28, 2007 11:41 AM
Without any discussion, the Metro board has voted unanimously to select NJA Associates (a subsidiary of Donohoe) to develop the Navy Yard subway station's east entrance at New Jersey and M; there will now be negotiations for the sale itself. You can read my Monday entry for more background on the plan, or visit my 1111 New Jersey Ave. page for information on Donohoe's planned office building right next to the station, which the company apparently plans to expand onto this additional land. You can also look at the WMATA documents on the plan, although they aren't ridiculously heavy on detail. Next steps? Waiting for word of the actual sale, and keeping an eye out for Donohoe's revised design, which will now have to go through a Capitol Gateway Overlay zoning review since the expanded lot would front on M Street.
More posts: 1111 New Jersey, Metro/WMATA, Square 743N, zoning

WMATA to Sell Navy Yard East Entrance to Donohoe
Jun 25, 2007 9:01 AM
WMATA's Planning, Development, and Real Estate subcommittee has recommended to the full board that NJA Associates LLC (a subsidiary of Donohoe) be picked to purchase and develop the 5,612-sq-ft east entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station at New Jersey and M. Donohoe already owns 16,406 sq ft directly adjoining this property, and has received zoning approvals for its plans to build the 1111 New Jersey Avenue office building on the site; however, they would apparently expand the building's design to 206,000 sq ft with the new land acquisition, or go up to as much as 220,000 sq ft if the Zoning Commmission approves. And since the building would front M Street with this expanded configuration, it would also need to go through a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review to make sure it conforms with the design requirements now expected of M Street buildings.
The full WMATA board will consider approval of the plan to begin negotiating this sale at this Thursday's meeting; you can see a rendering of Donohoe's pre-expansion design on my 1111 NJ page, and also feel free to look at the Joint Development Solicitation from last fall that started this process. (And, anticipating your questions: no, there's been no movement that I've heard or seen on the sale of the Chiller Plant site on the southwest corner of Half and L.)
UPDATE: Of course, the west side of the Navy Yard station is already getting developed and expanded, as work continues on 55 M Street, the office building that will fill the northern portion of Monument's Half Street development.
More posts: 1111 New Jersey, Metro/WMATA, Square 743N, zoning

Council Actions Today - BID and Ballpark
Jun 21, 2007 1:24 PM
Just a quick sleep-inducing update on actions at today's City Council legislative meeting (have I mentioned that you people don't pay me enough?):
* B17-0208, creating the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District that would cover all of Near Southeast and Buzzards Point, passed on the consent agenda on its first reading. There will now be a Public Hearing and Preliminary Finding on the BID application by the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development on July 9. The bill's second reading will be on July 10. (See my previous BID entries for background.)
* Bill 17-0011, the "Ballpark Hard and Soft Costs Cap Act of 2007," makes permanent the legislation passed in 2006 that set a city spending cap of $630 million. There was some bickering when council member Catania asked to add an amendment updating the soft costs amount in the bill to $117 million from the originally specified $111 million as a result of the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission's May 31 report. Council member Evans was quite vehement about not changing numbers on dais without consulting the CFO's office to be sure that even an innocuous-seeming change like this one wouldn't end up having unintended consequences (and he also was miffed that Catania hadn't shown him the amendment before the meeting), but in the end the amendment was agreed to.
Council member Kwame Brown said that a new report by the DC Auditor indicated that the stadium remains on budget at this time, although there items that will need "close attention paid" to them. Catania expanded on that by citing a series of numbers from the auditors' report indicating that the city still has up to $95 million in additional costs when there is only $6.7 million left in the contingency fund; however, $72 million of that is the amount that the eminent-domain'ed landowners are seeking from the city in compensation, which may not be exactly how much they receive once the hundred years' worth of court battles are finally completed. Catania said that the council needs to face these potential problem numbers instead of "putting our head in the sand."
* Finally, Bill 17-0021, the "Ballpark Parking Completion Amendment Act of 2007," was passed, creating permanent legislation exempting from zoning restrictions the parking garages on the north end of the stadium site; council member Mendelson asked that before second reading, a sunset provision originally in the emergency legislation that requires the exemption to end by the end of 2008 be inserted into this permanent legislation.

Capper Building #2 Almost Finished
Jun 18, 2007 8:58 AM
The final touches are starting to be put on Capper Building #2, the wraparound addition to the Carroll Apartments at 4th and M. It's expected that new residents will start arriving in July, with full occupancy by the end of the summer. While this was originally planned as a building for low-income senior citizens, there was a modification to its zoning back in March to allow younger residents with lower incomes as well. Seniors who have lived at Capper / Carrollsburg but chose not to move to the new Capper Seniors #1 when it opened in December get first dibs on units in this second building, followed by other former Capper residents who meet the requirements of having an earned income and having participated in their community supportive services program. Applications are also being accepted from non-Capper residents who have incomes between 50 and 60 percent of the area median income (just under $38,000 for a single person or $54,000 for a family of four). If you meet the income requirements and are interested in applying, you can visit the BallparkApts.com web site for more information, or call 202-546-1024.
As for the old Capper Seniors building at 601 L Street, it is scheduled to be demolished sometime this summer late this year. Temporary surface parking lots will be built on the site in time for the opening of the ballpark in spring 2008, but long-range plans call for office buildings to be eventually developed there.
UPDATED 6/19 with the revised timeline for demolition of the old Capper Seniors building; it's now scheduled to happen toward the end of 2007, thanks to hazmat abatement needing to take longer than originally planned.

Florida Rock Zoning Correspondence Deferred
Jun 12, 2007 8:18 PM
Last night there was scheduled to be a discussion at the Zoning Commission's public meeting about Florida Rock (aka "RiverFront on the Anacostia"); the developer and architect had requested guidance from the commission about whether the project's new design is what the commission was looking for when it asked for revisions back in February. However, chair Carol Mitten announced that the agenda item was being deferred to the commission's July 9 public meeting, so that the Office of Planning can submit comments on the plans. That'll teach me to drag myself down there and show up in person instead of just hanging out at home watching the webcast!
More posts: Florida Rock, zoning

More on MPD/Post Plant
Jun 12, 2007 12:28 PM
Last night at its monthly meeting, ANC 6D passed a resolution opposing the proposed relocation of the First Distrct Police Station currently at 415 4th St. SW to the old Post Plant at 225 Virginia Ave. SE. There's a series of 11 bullet points describing the ANC's opposition, many of which were brought up at the city council subcommittee hearing last week, most notably of course being the potential impact on "community policing" if the police are no longer housed right in the community. Other issues such as parking at the new site, the "massing" of so many police functions in such a small area given that the 1D1 substation is just four blocks away, and the potential loss of easy walk-in visits to 1D if they are housed in the same building that contains high-level MPD functions such as the chief's office, the Special Operations Division, the evidence warehouse, and other departments.
I also finally got a chance to see the portions of the hearing that weren't originally broadcast, and one of the items that jumped out at me (and that is mentioned in the ANC resolution as well) is that the Office of Property Management is already looking for 10,000 square feet of "swing space" for the 1D substation, because it needs to be out of its current location by early 2009 to make way for the new combined forensics lab. Because of timing issues with getting the 225 Virginia building ready for occupancy (a project that could cost up to $100 million), 1D may not be able to move directly to the new building. (OPM said it should know within 60 days if 1D will need to move to swing space.) Both Carol Schwartz and Tommy Wells were quite skeptical of moving 1D to 225 Virginia, with Schwartz saying "Have you thought of how ridiculous that is?" (But she said it really nicely.) The council members pressed OPM and MPD about why the forensics lab couldn't be at 225 Virginia instead, but issues with ceiling heights and ventilation seemed to be stumbling points, although former OPM head Carol Mitten testified that it wouldn't be impossible. There was also a lot of discussion about the possibility of buying 225 Virginia outright, rather than leasing it.
And of course, as I mentioned in my initial summary, parking issues were a large part of the conversation as well. Neither OPM or MPD would commit to Wells's idea of a ban on employee on-street parking; and as I said last week, OPM and MPD were floating the DPW trash transfer lot at 2nd and K as a parking alternative without seeming to be aware that that lot is already going to the DC Housing Authority as part of the Capper/Carrollsburg Hope VI project. (I shouted it at the TV as loudly and often as I could, but apparently they couldn't hear me.) As described, a new parking structure built on top of the surface lot at 3rd and I would have about 520 spaces, 200 of which would be for police vehicles and another 100 for 1D staff, leaving only 200 spaces for the remaining 500 employees at this new headquarters.
Next steps? OPM is now looking at getting architectural drawings and guaranteed maximum buildout costs to the council by October (two months later than originally forecast); there is also supposed to be a parking plan given to the committee within the next two weeks, and also at some point a meeting between OPM, MPD, and ANCs 6B and 6D. A separate Zoning Commission hearing on adding the site to the Capitol South Receiving Zone originally scheduled for this week has now been postponed. I imagine there will be a fair amount of behind-the-scenes maneuvering on the project that we won't hear much about until it comes time for the city council to vote on paying for the renovations to the building.


Another Round of Surface Parking Lot Requests - Update
Jun 11, 2007 3:17 PM
As expected, there is now a request in front of the Zoning Commission to approve temporary surface parking lots on parcels totaling 396,000 sq ft in the Southeast Federal Center (i.e., "The Yards"), to last no more than five years and to be available for Nationals ballpark parking (among other uses). There are four lots, which I highlighted a few months back on my Stadium Parking page map: on the southeast corner of 1st and N (where there is already a parking lot, along with a one-story brick building scheduled to be demolished); two spots on the SEFC land south of Tingey and DOT and east of the WASA pumping plant; and on the southeast corner of 4th and M, behind the red brick wall, where a surface lot already exists. According to the meeting notice, temporary lots at the SEFC are already permitted under the existing Southeast Federal Center overlay, subject to approval by the Zoning Commission.
I don't know anything more about this other than that there will be a ZC hearing on July 26; I'll be working to find out exactly how many spaces these lots may make available, although in the presentation slides from the March public meeting there was an indication that 1,700 additional spaces could be available at the Federal Center. These would be on top of the other temporary surface lots recently approved, and would bring the count of potential available spaces on all temporary lots to 5,475 spaces, on top of the 1,225 spaces being constructed on the stadium footprint (adding up to 6,700 spaces, higher than the 4,900 spaces that planners anticipate will be needed for the highest-attendance games). Of course, not all of the identified potential lots will end up being used, and the likely total count from all lots is probably closer to 5,200, but this is clearly a healthy-sized addition to the lots approved last month. More information as I get it.
UPDATED with corrected numbers on the potential spaces, because math is apparently not my strong suit late on a Friday night. But these new numbers are still just speculation on my part based on that March public meeting on parking--we have to wait to see exactly how many spaces planners are anticipating at the SEFC.
UPDATE, 6/11: This zoning request apparently would allow for 925 paking spaces in four lots at The Yards; so it's far lower than what was projected for the SEFC at the March public meeting on the stadium transportation planning. It does mean that, if approved, up to 5,925 permanent and temporary spaces are in the mix around the stadium site (1,225 on the ballpark site itself and the rest from the temporary surface lots). And that doesn't count any possible spaces in lots beneath already-constructed buildings near the stadium. But hopefully some clarity will arrive when the draft Traffic Operations and Parking Plan is released by the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission, supposedly this month.
More posts: parking, Nationals Park, The Yards, zoning

New Florida Rock Designs Now Posted
Jun 6, 2007 2:00 PM
I've now added to my Florida Rock page the new proposed site map and some watercolors illustrating the revised design of "RiverFront on the Anacostia." As I said yesterday, the architect has written to the Zoning Commission asking if these new plans are in line with what the ZC was looking for when it sent the planners back to the drawing board in February (by the way, here's the transcript of that meeting); the commission will be addressing this letter at its Public Meeting on Monday, June 11. It would be expected that then more hearings would be held on the new designs later this year.
I've tried to highlight the changes and new features of the plan beneath each of the new images, but apologies in advance if my text comes up short; I'm not exactly known for flowery prose and colorful descriptions.
More posts: Florida Rock, zoning

Amendment Allowing Strip Club Relocation in Near Southeast (An Analysis)
Jun 6, 2007 10:49 AM
Tucked in the stories (Post and WashTimes) about the bill that passed its first reading in front of the council yesterday--allowing the relocation of the strip clubs that have left Near Southeast because of the arrival of the stadium and surrounding development--was word that an amendment to the bill had passed allowing clubs to relocate to certain zoned areas within 5,000 feet of the ballpark. People are already e-mailing me with the vapors, so here's what I've been able to find out.
The circle covered by a one-mile radius around the stadium site stretches across all of Near Southeast, most of Buzzards Point, a fair amount of Southwest, and even into Anacostia and small portions of Capitol Hill. But the text of the amendment says that the clubs can relocate "in any C-3, C-4, or C-5 zone within 5000 feet from the Baseball Stadium footprint"; once you take into account those restrictions, when you look at the zoning maps you'll see that there are very few locations that have those zone designations; in Near Southeast, the only areas meeting that criteria are the land bounded by South Capitol, I, M, and New Jersey (what I call the "North of M" area) and the area just south the freeway over to the Post Plant. In Southwest, the area between I, M, South Capitol, and 2nd St. SW, and the Waterside Mall parcel, are the only C-3/4/5 zones within the 5,000-foot radius. And across the river in Anacostia there is only one small area zoned C-3-A.
But, given the character of the areas in Near Southeast where these one-time strip club relocations would be allowed, it would appear to be a remote possibility--after all, what the clubs generally look for are large spaces with low rents, and with most C-3 parcels in Near Southeast now purchased by developers with grand plans for shiny new buildings, it would seem that the large-space/low-rent options east of South Capitol are few and far between. Unless the club owners decide to build big tents beneath the freeway.

Florida Rock Project Revised, Rechristened
Jun 5, 2007 8:30 PM
When last we left the planned redevelopment of the Florida Rock site that sits on the Anacostia River just south of the new baseball stadium back in February, the Zoning Commission had surprisingly sent the architects back to the drawing board, concerned with how the project's design was fitting in with its new neighbor to the north and with the its now-prime location as a gateway to the Capitol Riverfront area. It's been quiet for a few months, but I received word today that Florida Rock Properties and Davis Buckley Architects and Planners have a revised design for this project, as well as a new name--RiverFront on the Anacostia--and are requesting that the Zoning Commission review the new plans (described as "a holistic re-thinking", especially of its public spaces) to confirm that they "respond positively" to the concerns expressed by the ZC back in March.
There are still two office buildings, a residential building, and a hotel, but the configuration has now changed to create three distinct public spaces, including a large new commercial public plaza called "The Pitch" (with sculptures of a pitcher and catcher on a grassy mound) directly across from the grand staircase of the ballpark and next to the proposed Diamond Teague Park. There is also a "multi-story transparent atrium space" called "Potomac Quay" linking Potomac Avenue to the riverfront, and a large oval "Piazza Cascade" with a central water feature that is at the center of three of the four buildings on the site. The esplanade and bike path running along the riverfront remain unchanged.
Although the overall density of the development remains unchanged (4.4 FAR for those of you in the know), residential space is now 557,700 square feet or 2.2 FAR, which is 50% of the density (up from 40%); to achieve this, the residential building and the hotel building (which in the new plan would have two residential floors on top) would be 130 feet high; the east office building by "The Pitch" would be 92 feet high, and the west office building 112 feet. The amount of retail has also been expanded, to 85,000 square feet.
I hope to have electronic versions of the new site plan and some early watercolor imaginings of the revised design within the next day or so, and when I post them I'll include better descriptions of what the new design is hoping to accomplish. (Yes, I'm looking at hard copies right now, so I can see all these designs and you can't. Nyaaah! But hopefully you won't have to wait too long.)
The Zoning Commission has put this request for review of the new plans on the agenda for next Monday (June 11); if the commission indicates that the revised design is on the right track in terms of how it responds to the issues that the ZC brought up in February, then there would be a hearing scheduled on this proposed modification for the second-stage PUD, probably in the fall.
UPDATED to fix the incorrect amount of total residential space, which is 557,700 square feet.
More posts: Florida Rock, zoning

1325 South Capitol's Zoning Hearing
Jun 1, 2007 9:51 AM
On Thursday night the Zoning Commission had another hearing on Case 06-41, Camden Development's 276-unit residential project at 1325 South Capitol Street. It's been a long trek for this project, having been caught in limbo as the Capitol Gateway Overlay was expanded to include their location and as the city's Inclusionary Zoning law came into being, and so they were back for another hearing because it was decided that in order to properly handle the case it needed to be resubmitted as a Planned Unit Development--I can't bear to try to get anymore specific than that, so here's the transcript from the March ZC hearing on the matter. The submitted plan last night was basically same as at their February hearing (here's the transcript).
Commissioner Turnbull led the questioning, and he seemed exasperated by the western facade of the project, expressing much concern it since will be facing the low-rise residential neighborhood in Southwest; even though the developer had added some additional articulation since the last hearing, he considered it "bland" and remarked that it's not just the back of a building, because it's very visible to the surrounding neighborhood. Turnbull also asked for information on where the affordable housing units will be in the building, wanting to make sure they wouldn't only be on the west side of the building; the developers responded that they are spread throughout floors 1-6 on three sides of the building. Turnbull also took issue with the non-green design of the roof, but the developers explained that they had to put the air conditioning mechanics on the roof to lessen the noise impact on the neighbors. The other two commissioners present, Hood and Parsons, expressed their strong support for all of the issues brought up by Turnbull.
Joel Lawson of the Office of Planning testified in support of the project, mentioning that the landscaped courtyard in the back will be a "nice feature" for neighbors; he said that additional articulation of the rear of the building would be fine, but that OP was happy with the current massing. It was also noted that ANC 6D supports the project as well. And the wife of one neighbor who had originally wanted to testify in opposition to the project announced they were now supporting it, after the ANC negotiated a deal for the neighors at 2, 4, 6, and 8 O Street to be able to lease parking spaces in the project's garage for 50% off the market rate.
The commission asked for documentation on the affordable-housing unit layout and some additional work on the rear side of the building; the submittal, response, and draft order process is to be completed by June 21, with a vote to be scheduled soon afterward.
More posts: 1325sc, South Capitol St., zoning

June: Month O'Meetings
May 29, 2007 12:41 PM
The calendar for June is quickly filling up with all sorts of meetings and hearings on various Near Southeast-related projects, and although I've been adding them to my Upcoming Events list, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight them. So mark your calendars, and if you're interested in participating, many of the links have information on how to do so.
* It's not actually in June, but on May 31 at 6:30 pm (close enough!), the Zoning Commission is having another public hearing at 6:30 pm at One Judiciary Square on Case 06-41, Camden Development/1325 South Capitol Street, this time to consider the project as a consolidated planned unit development and map amendment request to rezone as C-3-C.
* The Anacostia Waterfront Corporation public board meeting originally scheduled for last week was postponed and will now be held on June 1 at 1105 New Jersey Ave., SE, at 6 pm; agenda items include "South Capitol Waterfront Modification of Contract for Parsons Brinckerhoff" (which I believe has to do with the project to design Diamond Teague Park) and "Baseball District: Western Development Litigation" (which is the lawsuit that resulted from when the city opted not to move forward with Herb Miller's Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness plan for on-site stadium parking).
* On June 7, the DC Council Committee on Workforce Development and Government Operations is having a Public Oversight Hearing at the Wilson Building at 9 am on the proposed relocation of the Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters to 225 Virginia Ave., SE, also known as the old Star/Post plant. (UPDATED with a date change to June 7.)
* On June 12, the council's Committee on Finance and Revenue will have a public hearing at 11 am on the bill to create the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District (bill B17-0208, "Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District Amendment Act of 2007").
* On June 14, WMATA's Planning, Development, and Real Estate Committee will be meeting, and included in their anticipated agenda items is "approval of developer selection and term sheet for the Navy Yard station east entrance", which is referring to a joint development solicitation proposal back in September 2006, looking to develop the 4,400 square feet owned by WMATA above the Navy Yard station entrance at New Jersey and M with some combination of a public plaza at ground level and development above it.
* On June 16, the council's Committee on Economic Development is having a Public Roundtable on "Progress of Economic Development Projects in Southwest and Near Southeast DC," at the Westminster Presbyterian Church at 400 I St., SW, at 10 am. (This was listed in the June issue of the Southwester, I don't have a link to an official announcement yet.) UPDATE, 6/1: I've now got a copy of the meeting notice.
* And on June 20, the Zoning Commission is having a public hearing at One Judiciary Square at 6:30 pm on Case 06-32, a proposed text amendment to add Square 766 [the old Post Plant at 225 Virginia Ave.] to the Capitol South Receiving Zone, a move that would allow greater height and density on the lot than under its current zoning.
So, don't ever say that this stuff sneaks through the political process without anyone knowing about it! The trick is trying to stay awake through it all.
UPDATE: I should add, even though it's outside of my purview, that on June 7 there will be a Zoning Commission hearing on the updated plans for Waterside Mall on M Street in Southwest.

Temporary Stadium-Area Surface Parking Lots Approved
May 21, 2007 9:31 PM
Tonight the Zoning Commission approved with a 3-0-2 vote Case 07-08, the request to allow temporary surface parking lots (lasting no more than five years) on a number of parcels within walking distance of the Nationals ballpark. (I considered this hearing so important that I took off my fuzzy slippers and actually ventured to Judiciary Square to attend in person rather than watching Ye Olde Webcast.) Commissioners Mitten, Hood, and Turnbull voted for the action; Commissioners Parsons and Jeffries did not attend.
The Office of Planning, while making clear in its report that it strongly encourages the use of mass transit and other alternatives to cars and would not normally support surface parking lots, testified that these lots and the 3,775 maximum spaces they would provide (see my Stadium Parking page for a map that shows their locations) will help to alleviate the short-term shortage of available parking during the next few years until new developments with additional underground parking in the area are completed.
It was requested that the case be approved immediately, on an emergency basis, with the explanation that the sooner the Nationals know where their lots are going to be, the better they can tailor the assignments of season-ticket holders to different lots based on where they are arriving from. (It was also emphasized numerous times that the parking lots are just one part of the overall traffic planning for the stadium.)
The main opposition to the amendment came from residents of Southwest, and ANC 6D commissioner Andy Litsky testified that the neighborhoods were not so much concerned with the lots themselves, but how traffic would be directed to the lots, with the bulk of the consternation focused on 4th, P, and I Streets, SW, which the residents consider to be local roads but which were mentioned by a traffic consultant at the March public meeting as being likely routes to the possible lots in Buzzards Point. There was also a surprising moment when a representative of Pepco testified that there's no way that Square 665 at Buzzards Point can be considered an option for a surface lot, because there's a substation still in operation on it. The Office of Planning explained that this text amendment was merely identifying "potential" lots, and that it's assumed that not all squares will ever actually have surface parking on them, and in fact the presentation slides by traffic consultant Gorove Slade from the March public meeting indicated that most likely no parking would be created at Buzzards Point. Ken Laden of DDOT then testified that his agency has never considered 4th, P, and I in SW to be important streets, because the vast majority of the lot locations are on the east side of South Capitol Street and that DDOT is trying to keep the bulk of the traffic in Near Southeast (where there are currently very few residential developments).
This gave the zoning commissioners an opening they were looking for, and they crafted a pretty sweet way to take the residents' concerns into account: because each surface parking lot will still have to go through the normal DC approval process for a Certificate of Occupancy (environmental review, DDOT review, etc.), they ordered that the associated traffic plans submitted with the COO may not include directing traffic to/from the lots down local streets (specifically mentioning 4th, P, and I). With that, the amendment was approved on an emergency basis. Andy Litsky said he was "pleased" with the decision.
As for the overall traffic management plan, apparently DDOT was not real happy with the first draft that they received on April 30 from the DC Sports and Entertainment Commission (Laden said it wasn't "user-friendly") and are expecting a new draft in early June, which will then be put out for public comment (and I'm guessing there will be plenty of that). It will include the same sort of on-street parking restrictions that have been used around RFK, where no one can park during games without a special residential parking permit, although exactly how far the boundaries of that restricted area will reach is still under discussion.
And DDOT's Laden also said that an agreement is close to being reached that would add a Circulator bus line from Union Station to the new US Capitol Visitors' Center to the Capitol South and Navy Yard Metro stations, which would give direct access to the red, orange, and blue lines without having to change trains at L'Enfant Plaza.
Above all, it was repeated numerous times that this will be a work-in-progress, that the plans will be tweaked and massaged as the planners see what works and what doesn't. In other words, while traffic will undoubtedly be a nightmare on Opening Day 2008, that doesn't mean it will always be that way. And, oh yeah, take Metro.
For additional background, here's my post from when the zoning case first came up. And be sure to read the Office of Planning's report, Andy Litsky's testimony, and the presentation slides from the March public meeting. And all my other Stadium Parking and Transporation documents and links.
UPDATE: Here's the Post piece on the hearing.


New Drawing of 250 M Street
May 18, 2007 11:20 AM
Hot on the heels of the Zoning Commission's approval of William C. Smith's plan for its 190,000-sq-ft office building at 250 M Street, I've found an updated drawing of what the project will look like (designed by Hickok Cole Architects), and I've added it to my 250 M Street page. You can see how the building is designed to echo 1100 New Jersey Avenue, its neighbor across Canal Park.
More posts: 1100nj, 250 M, Homewood Suites, M Street, zoning

Upcoming Zoning Hearing on Stadium Parking
May 18, 2007 9:49 AM
A reminder before the weekend starts that on Monday night the Zoning Commission will be having its hearing on Case 07-08, the request to amend the city's zoning laws to allow temporary (no longer than five years) surface parking lots on certain squares in Near Southeast and Southwest to help provide parking for the new stadium. (It's available via live webcast [but not archived] for those who don't wish to schlep to the meeting.) You can read the Office of Planning's report in support of the case that I posted earlier this week and see my map laying out where the parking lots would be located; there's also a piece in this morning's Examiner about how nearby residents (read: residents in Southwest, since there are hardly any in Near Southeast) are "furious, fearing that the location of the new lots will force traffic onto their narrow neighborhood streets, trapping them in their homes on game days." Note that the mention by Andy Litsky in the article of 4th Street is referring to the street in Southwest, not Southeast. My Stadium Transportation and Parking page also has in addition to the map the various presentations by DDOT and the traffic consultants about the plans to get people to and from the stadium, the on-street parking plans (i.e., none), and also the news items from the past few months about this subject. I imagine the zoning hearing is going to be quite festive.

More posts: parking, Traffic Issues, zoning

Meeting Wrap-Up - 250 M Approved, ANC Thumbs Down on Parking
May 15, 2007 12:11 PM
Let's go around the horn and see what happened at last night's various meetings.
* The Zoning Commission voted to give final approval to the plans for 250 M Street, William C. Smith's planned 190,000-sq-ft office building on M Street just east of what will be Canal Park. The building, which is actually part of the Capper/Carrollsburg Planned Unit Development (and will help fund all the redevelopment at Capper), is expected to start construction at the end of 2007.
* ANC 6D had three Near Southeast items on the agenda--unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend, so I'm giving you the quick and dirty results, and will hopefully have links later for additional details. First, they gave their approval (again) to the 276-unit residential building planned by Camden Development at 1325 South Capitol Street, but this was pretty prefunctory since they approved it a few months back and nothing has really changed except a bureaucratic need to resubmit the plan to the Zoning Commission in a different manner; the ZC hearing is on May 31. Second, they voted not to support Zoning Commission Case 07-08, the request to amend the city's zoning laws to allow temporary (no longer than five years) surface parking lots on certain squares in Near Southeast to help provide parking for the new stadium. There was also a presentation by the DC Housing Authority on what's been happening with Capper/Carrollsburg and the Capper seniors buildings, but of course you've been reading this site religiously and so know it all already.
UPDATE: Apparently the feelings against the parking case ran pretty strong; and I understand that Andy Litsky of the ANC will be testifying in opposition at the Zoning Commission hearing next Monday (May 21).


Stadium Parking - Office of Planning Report
May 14, 2007 3:17 PM
Tonight ANC 6D will be briefed and will vote on whether to support Zoning Commission Case 07-08, the request for text amendments to current zoning regulations to permit and regulate temporary surface parking lots on specified blocks near the stadium. Here's the Office of Planning's report to the Zoning Commission on the proposed zoning changes--it's not very different from the original report they submitted back in April, as I understand it the only major difference is asking that parking spaces for baseball be reserved for 1.5 hours before events (rather than the 3 hours initially suggested). The hearing before the Zoning Commission is on May 21. For more background on the plans for parking and other transportation issues around the stadium site, see my Stadium Parking page for maps, presentations, and other documents.
More posts: ANC News, parking, Nationals Park, zoning

Public Hearing on Proposed MPD Move to Post Plant
May 11, 2007 12:07 PM
A public hearing has been scheduled for June 6 by the DC Council's Committee on Workforce Development and Government Operations on the proposed relocation of the Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters to the old Post Plant at 225 Virginia Ave. If you're interested in testifying, the directions are in the hearing announcement; and if you have strong feelings on the proposal (which I've been getting some inkling of), you should probably make your feelings known to council member Tommy Wells and also to Carol Schwartz, who is the chair of this committee.
And it should also be noted that on June 14 the DC Zoning Commission will be having a public hearing on a request to move the 225 Virginia Ave. tax square to the Capitol South receiving zone (the same zone as other properties zoned C-3-C along I Street south of the SE Freeway), which, as I understand it, would allow for a greater height and density on that spot than is currently allowed.


ANC 6D May Agenda - And 250 M Back at the Zoning Commission
May 9, 2007 12:46 PM
The agenda for May ANC 6D meeting has been sent out (though it's not yet available on their web site). In addition to a presentation and vote on the Waterside Mall plans, there's a bunch of Near Southeast-related items on the agenda, ones that I've been posting about here for a while:
* There will be a presentation and vote on 1325 South Capitol's resubmission to the Zoning Commission as a PUD (that hearing is now scheduled for May 31). This is the planned 276-unit residential building across the street from the Nationals ballpark, which because of some procedural muck had to resubmit its plans in a different format.
* Also scheduled is an update by the DC Housing Authority on the latest goings-on at Capper/Carrollsburg, including status reports on the Senior Buildings (which I imagine will include the change for Capper Building #2 [aka the "Ballpark Apartments"] to allow workforce-level residents in addition to low-income seniors), as well as on the planned demolition this summer of the old Capper Seniors building at 7th and M, and the latest with the townhomes at Capitol Quarter, as more market-rate houses go on the market and with infrastructure construction expected to begin soon (and "vertical construction" probably starting in early fall).
* And there's also a presentation and vote on the (gaaaaak) Supplemental Stadium Surface Parking plan that's having its zoning hearing on May 21. My Stadium Transportation and Parking page (and its News Items tab) can give you the gory details.
This meeting is scheduled for the same time as Monday's Zoning Commission meeting, which includes on its newly-posted agenda the final approval vote on the 250 M Street office building project (which has been delayed a bit over the past few months), so it's a tough call which one I'll be focusing on. (Especially since we know how much I love ANC meetings.)

1111 New Jersey's Zoning Special Exception Approved
May 8, 2007 12:32 PM
Today the Board of Zoning Adjustment heard an application by Donohoe to waive the rear-yard requirement for its planned 146,000-sq-ft office building at 1111 New Jersey. I don't want to get too far into the weeds of it all, but basically this rear "yard" requirement was actually applying to the airspace along the alley between L and M above the project's first floor (because by right the first floor can run right to the alley line). Donohoe's position was that, by allowing them to build to the rear property line on all floors, they could build an 11-story building with higher ceilings on the 1st floor (16 feet), making the space far more desirable to prospective retail tenants. If they were unable to use that airspace, they would instead build a 12-story building of the same square footage, but with only 12-ft ceilings on the 1st floor (and shorter ceiling heights on the other floors). Although ANC 6D opposed this application on the grounds that it lacked a community benefits package (which is not required in a "by-right" project), the BZA felt that the higher ceiling heights on the first floor that would be allowed by granting this special exception, and the resulting higher-quality retail prospects that could be drawn to the building, could be considered to benefit the community. And with the pastor of St. Matthew's Church (which sits directly to 1111's north) saying that he is in favor of the project, and with the Office of Planning, the Capitol Hill Historical Society, and the neighboring developments (100 M Street and Onyx on First both sit across the alley from 1111 New Jersey) supporting it as well, and with other required standards of the rules met (sufficient distance between 1111 and adjacent structures, sitelines sufficiently separated, and adequate off-street parking [114 spaces], loading docks, and delivery space), the BZA voted 5-0 to approve this application. I've been told that this project could begin construction this summer.
UPDATE: Actually, I now hear that the project may not start until closer to the end of 2007. I don't know for sure, but perhaps the schedule is also being impacted by an upcoming item on the WMATA Planning, Development and Real Estate subcommittee agenda for June 14: "Approval of Developer Selection and Term Sheet for the Navy Yard East Entrance", which is referring to a joint development solicitation proposal back in September 2006, looking to develop the 4,400 square feet owned by WMATA above the Navy Yard station entrance at New Jersey and M with some combination of a public plaza at ground level and development above it. So we shall see....

BZA Hearing Tomorrow for 1111 New Jersey
May 7, 2007 12:12 PM
Donohoe's planned 146,000-sq-ft office building at 1111 New Jersey Ave. (on the west side of New Jersey between L and M) takes a step forward tomorrow with a hearing in front of the Board of Zoning Adjustment--they're looking for a special exception for a waver of the rear yard requirement, which apparently would allow them to put up an 11-story building with higher ceilings as opposed to a 12-story building with lower ceilings if they have to keep the rear yard. ANC 6D voted in April to oppose this application, but more because the developers are not providing a community benefits package than any issues with the application itself. The hearing should be webcast, and I'd tell you what time it's scheduled for, but the Zoning Schedules and Agendas site has been down for three days now, so I can't look it up to confirm.
UPDATE: The BZA site is back, so I can tell you that the hearing is the third item on the agenda for the session that begins at 9:30 am.


Latest on Trying to Find the Gay Clubs New Homes
May 4, 2007 9:28 AM
For those of you interested in the plight of the gay nightclubs with nude dancing that have left Near Southeast and their attempts to reopen elsewhere in the city, today's Washington Blade has an update on a new bill introduced by Jim Graham to attempt to fix a zoning issue that stalled an attempt by Wet/Edge to reopen (with "straight" nude dancing) in Northeast. UPDATE, May 8: Here's a short Examiner piece on Graham's expectations of meeting resistance when trying to get his bill passed.

Surface Parking Zoning Hearing Scheduled
Apr 11, 2007 6:12 PM
Wasting no time, the Zoning Commission has scheduled for May 21 the public hearing on Case 07-08, the request to allow temporary surface lots at various locations within walking distance of the stadium. Note that some of the stadium parking and transportation items in the news and on the web these days are pretty chock full of misassumptions, misinformation, and misunderstandings, so do yourselves (and my blood pressure) a favor and read for yourself the various source documents and meeting notes I've posted, look at the map, do a little critical thinking, and try not to yell "The sky is falling!" just yet. (If we're staring at the same information in September or October, then we can all chant it together.)
More posts: parking, zoning

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.

Roundup from Last Night's Zoning Meeting
Apr 10, 2007 9:29 AM
Last night's Zoning Commission meeting had four Near Southeast items on the agenda; we can start with the easy one and say that Case 06-25, the latest batch of text amendments to the Capitol Gateway Zoning Overlay, was given final approval. Next, the expected final vote on Case 06-41, the new residential project at 1325 South Capitol Street, was delayed because of some procedural issues that went way above my head and that now require a special public meeting to sort out (which will probably be in the next six weeks). But the item of greatest interest is Case 07-08, the request for zoning changes that would allow temporary surface parking lots on certain blocks within range of the Nationals ballpark. It had been brought as an emergency request because of the time sensitivity of needing to get the lots built before the weather gets cold again (if it ever gets warm first!!!), meaning that the rule could have gone into effect immediately (with hearings to make it permanent within the next 120 days), but the commissioners balked at the idea, saying that too many emergency requests are coming down the pike these days that don't really deserve the special treatment. They did agree to an expedited hearing date (one that only needs to be advertised for 30 days), but there is clearly some concern amongst the commissioners about the whole idea, with one of them rightly asking to make sure that the rule prohibits any non-commercial use of the lots (like for trash truck parking or other industrial-type uses). So, be prepared to read plenty more about this in coming months, and read my previous post on the zoning request for more details, which includes links to the Office of Planning report on the request.

More posts: 1325sc, Capper, parking, Nationals Park, zoning

Zoning Changes Requested to Allow Temporary Surface Parking Lots; Transporation Task Force
Apr 5, 2007 4:25 PM
On April 9, the DC Zoning Commission will be entertaining Case 07-08, an emergency request to allow for changes to the Capitol Gateway Zoning Overlay to allow for the construction of temporary surface parking lots--to last no more than five years--on certain squares within Near Southeast. There is also a companion case, 03-12E/03-13E, specifically requesting a minor modification to the Capper/Carrollsburg zoning orders to allow surface parking lots on four squares within Capper--the three blocks bounded by 2nd, I, M, and 3rd (next to Canal Park) and on Square 882, the current home of the old Capper Seniors building, which is expected to be demolished this summer.
I'm not going to go into great detail, because I need to pace myself on the subject of parking or else I will pop a vein before Opening Day. But here's the gist: the city and the Nationals want to be able to build temporary surface parking to handle the estimated 3,800 cars that will need parking beyond the 1,225 spaces on the stadium site. These lots will be available as public parking during non-event times (so you DOT workers who want to drive to work should be paying close attention). This zoning request covers certain squares directly around the stadium and at Capper; apparently there will be a subsequent submission requesting similar amendments to the Southeast Federal Center Overlay to allow surface parking there as well.
As to why the Office of Planning is supporting this request, here's a quote from their report to the Zoning Commission (emphasis mine): "Although much of the parking needed to serve the Ballpark's patrons will eventually be accommodated by parking within nearby future buildings, these buildings will not yet be constructed when the Ballpark opens in 2008. While OP strongly encourages the use of mass transit and encourages the Nationals to provide meaningful incentives for the use of mass transit and other alternatives to the private automobile, OP shares their concern that a short term shortage of parking available to patrons could lead to illegal parking on streets and private property in the surrounding area, and could have an impact on the short term success of this important District facility. This proposal would help to address the short term need for an interim parking solution."
And, another OP quote (again, emphasis mine): "Normally, OP is not supportive of surface parking lots. In addition to being a poor use of the District's valuable land base, extensive surface parking lots disrupt neighborhood fabric; can be a source of crime, noise, trash, and light-spill; encourage the use of the private automobile over other less environmentally damaging forms of transportation; and contribute significantly to storm water run-off water pollution problems facing our great river systems. OP would not support surface parking on these squares as a permanent use to address currently perceived parking need."
For more background and explanation of OP's stance, I strongly suggest reading the OP report (specifically the last four pages).
And, against my better judgment, I have created a new Planning for Stadium Transportation and Parking page, pulling together the various documents that have been released recently (mainly from last month's TOPP meeting). I've also thrown together a map that is nowhere near official marking what I understand to be various possible locations for stadium parking. It will change as time goes on, and do not take it as gospel, but it does show which sites come under this zoning request, along with other possible sites. Opening Day is still a year away, and there will be much jawboning on this subject over the coming weeks and months. So, everyone take a deep breath, keep an eye on updates as more information gets released, and try not to panic too far ahead of time.
And remember that every organization in town really wants you to take Metro.
UPDATE: And with fine timing, Near Southeast's councilman Tommy Wells has just announced the creation of a new transportation task force for Near Southeast and Southwest, bringing together representatives of the government, residents, and developers to address the concerns of neighborhoods facing not only baseball, but also the coming influx of thousands of new workers and residents.


Zoning News
Mar 27, 2007 8:45 AM
A few items of Near Southeast interest were on last night's Zoning Commission agenda. First, the commission unanimously approved the modification to the Capper/Carrollsburg PUD to change the makeup of Capper Seniors #2 (now nearly completed at 4th and M) from all units for low-income seniors to add some workforce-level (30-60% median income) units as well. Seniors will have first preference, followed by former Capper/Carrollsburg residents who meet the income requirements; because there are no one-bedroom units in the public housing portion of Capitol Quarter, making this switch at Capper Seniors #2 means that former residents in need of a one-bedroom have the chance to move back this year, instead of waiting for 2011 when the multifamily mixed-income buildings get built along 2nd Street. In return for this modification, the developers agreed to amendments recommended by the Office of Planning that additional shared parking spaces be created within three blocks of the building, and that two ride-sharing cars be located at Capper/Carrollsburg (also within three blocks of Seniors #2). So, look for more news in the coming weeks on the "Ballpark Apartments".
The commission also unanimously approved a modification to the office building at 100 M Street that needed to be undertaken because their sidewalk along 1st Street is being narrowed thanks to a decision by DDOT to widen 1st Street north of M to allow for two traffic lanes, two parking lanes, and a bike lane. The commissioners were not happy with DDOT's move, lamenting that the ZC's attempts to create walkable communities with vibrant ground-floor retail and outdoor seating space can get thwarted by a DDOT decision like this one. But the commissioners also agreed that the 100 M developers shouldn't be penalized for DDOT's mischief.
There was supposed to be a final vote on the Capitol Gateway Overlay Review for 1325 South Capitol, the new residential building across from the Nationals ballpark, but that has been deferred to the commission's April 9 public meeting.


Updated Rendering for 1325 South Capitol
Mar 16, 2007 6:24 PM
While you ponder the upcoming Zoning Commission vote on the 1325 South Capitol Street residential project, you can gaze at a new drawing of the building, nicked from the WDG Architecture web site. It's certainly a much more detailed and spiffier rendering than what was previously released....

More posts: 1325sc, South Capitol St., zoning

Zoning Commission and Capper Seniors #2; Other Zoning Items
Mar 16, 2007 3:11 PM
The Zoning Commission has deferred until its March 26 Special Public Meeting any decision on whether to allow Capper Seniors #2 to be redesignated as a mutlifamily workforce (30%-60% annual median income) dwelling in addition to having its low-income senior citizens units. ZC chair Carol Mitten noted a bit of a disconnect between statements offered by the DC Housing Authority and the Office of Planning, and so both are to meet before March 26 to formulate a recommendation.
The March 26 special meeting will also have the ZC's final vote on the 1325 South Capitol Street residential project, and also the "minor modification" being requested at 100 M Street.
And, since I gave the Office of Zoning a bit of a hammering a few weeks back when they debuted their new online calendar, it's only fair that I now rave over the return of monthly at-a-glance lists for Zoning Commission and BZA meetings, which make finding out what's happening far far easier. Thanks, guys, not only is it great to see this functionality back, but you did a really nice job with it, too.

ANC 6D Monthly Meeting
Mar 12, 2007 7:51 AM
The draft agenda for the March 12 ANC 6D meeting has been sent out (although not posted on their web site as yet, alas), and there are a few Near Southeast items of interest: discussion and vote on an construction agreement (presumably between the developers and the neighborhood/ANC) for 1325 South Capitol Street (the 276-unit residential project across from the ballpark); a presentation on modifications being requested in front of the Zoning Commission to the plans for the office building at 100 M Street (I don't know any details, will post when I find out); and a presentation on streetscapes at the The Yards/Southeast Federal Center (ooooh, more hints of moving forward!). There's also a meeting on the planned Monument Realty project on the Randall School site at Half and I Streets SW (blissfully outside of my purview). The meeting is at St. Augustine's Church at 6th and M Streets, SW at 7 pm.
UPDATE: The 100 M Street change is quite minor, according to Opus East, a result of actual construction drawings evolving from the original design drawings. I also hear tell that First Street is going to be widened at some point by DDOT, which means that 100 M and Onyx on First won't have a wide/deep sidewalk along as originally thought. (I don't have any details on the First Street work.)
UPDATE II: The ANC 6D report in the new issue of the Hill Rag has more details on the 1325 South Cap construction agreement as discussed at the February meeting, though I don't know whether it's changed or not going into tonight's meeting. It also says the project has 276 units, not 244 as I've been reporting.

Request to Add Workforce Housing to Capper Seniors #2 -- And a Mystery Solved?
Mar 7, 2007 2:10 PM
A new item popped up on this coming Monday's (March 12) Zoning Commission agenda, and apparently it is a request by the developers of Capper/Carrollsburg to revise one of the conditions in the original PUD to allow units in the new Capper Seniors #2 building to be made available as workforce housing (30%-60% annual median income) in addition to the already approved low-income senior units. This will probably be something that the ZC will have to have hearings on, but we'll find out on Monday.
And, let's think for a moment.... Income-limited units, in a building that will be ready this spring, close to Barracks Row and the Navy Yard Metro and the stadium.... Could this be the mysterious Ballpark Apartments? It would explain why they're using a portion of one of the Capper drawings in their ads (with no apparent fear of being sued), and there are indeed water and monument views from various angles in that new building (at least for now). It's a cirumstantial case, but a pretty strong one, methinks. Let's see what shakes out.
More posts: 400m, Capper, Capper Senior Apt Bldgs, zoning

1325 South Capitol at the Zoning Commission
Feb 23, 2007 4:16 PM
Last night was the public hearing and Capitol Gateway Overlay Review for 1325 South Capitol Street, a 244-unit residential building planned by Camden Development for the northwest corner of South Capitol and O streets, right across the street from the new baseball stadium. First, I will admit right off that I am only grudgingly following this project (I still optimally want my coverage area to end in the South Capitol Street median), but I'm not sure that excuses the sordid truth that, while watching the webcast of the hearing, I kind of, well, um, nodded off. Multiple times. So apologies that what follows does not rise to the normal level of JDLand OCD Detail.
In general, the ZC commissioners were favorable toward the project and were also cognizant that 1325 is a bit of a test case in terms of being the first structure going up on South Capitol Street under all the new rules; they were also quite happy to see a residential project on South Capitol, seemingly expecting that the street would only be drawing in office developments. There was some concern that the ground floor level of 1325 is not completely retail--there will be a two-story retail component on the O Street corner, but the rest of the first floor will include a gym and other areas for residents; but these areas will have the same sort of glassed-in look to make it appear "active." There was also discussion of the west side of the building, which abuts a number of townhouses and will be easily seen when looking eastward from the neighborhood, that because of this layout it can't really be considered the "back of the building", and so the commissioners want more "articulation" on that side. Also, the project will not being applying for LEED certification, but the commissioners want to hear more about what "green" steps the project will be taking. There was also some discussion about the Inclusionary Zoning (i.e., affordable housing) components, and whether the project can restrict those units to the lower floors.
If all requested additional submissions are made in time, a ZC Special Public Meeting will be scheduled for March 20 for an initial vote. (Perhaps I won't be as sleepy on that night.) It is expected that construction would begin sometime this summer, with delivery in summer 2009.
More posts: 1325sc, South Capitol St., zoning

Florida Rock Project Still Moving Forward
Feb 22, 2007 1:20 PM
Thanks to reader Scott for snagging this press release off the wires [links mine]: "Patriot Transportation Holding, Inc. announced today that its subsidiary, Florida Rock Properties, Inc. ("FRP"), continues to pursue its efforts to obtain approval of a final planned unit development application for its Washington, D.C. property located on the banks of the Anacostia River across Potomac Avenue from the new baseball stadium being constructed for the Washington Nationals. In response to comments recently received from members of the District of Columbia Zoning Commission, FRP is seeking to refocus the proposed project to respond to the concerns raised. FRP believes that its proposed project, which had previously received preliminary approval, will complement the new stadium and will contribute to the overall redevelopment of the baseball stadium district. At this time, Patriot is uncertain when the Zoning Commission will act finally on the FRP application or what action the Commission may take." If you read on, you'll even get a nice little explanation as to how Florida Rock Properties, Florida Rock Industries, Patriot, and Vulcan Materials are connected (or not connected). It's like they wrote it just for me! For background, read these previous posts.
More posts: Florida Rock, zoning

Meetings and Whatnot
Feb 21, 2007 2:26 PM
Tomorrow night (Feb. 22), the DC Zoning Commission is having a public hearing on Case 06-41, a Capitol Gateway Overlay Review for 1325 South Capitol Street, the planned 244-unit residential building at South Capitol and O streets SW, right across from the ballpark. The ZC hearing is available via live webcast. Apparently this project was presented at the Feb. 12 ANC 6D meeting, but since the ANC for four of the last five months has been unable or unwilling to send out its agendas before the meetings or post them on their web site (check out those dates!), I wasn't able to post a heads up that this project was going to be discussed.
On the other hand, the agenda has already been released for the Feb. 28 Anacostia Waterfront Corporation Public Board Meeting, where one of the main items will be a presentation and public comments on the AWC's Draft Environmental Standards, and also a presentation on their new Workforce Intermediary Services. See the agenda for time and place and how to participate.


Reaction to Zoning Commission's Florida Rock Move
Feb 16, 2007 10:28 AM
Today's Washington Business Journal print edition (available online to subscribers only) addresses Monday's Zoning Commission decision to request large-scale changes to the Florida Rock development plan (which the WBJ had trumpeted merely a week ago as being on the cusp of approval), saying that the recommendations for a redesign "were news to the developer and the Anacostia Waterfront Corp., which has been involved in the project-planning process. 'We were astounded,' says David Briggs, FRP's representative and land-use attorney at Holland + Knight. FRP plans to meet with the District's Office of Planning to determine its next course of action. The Office of Planning is expected to reconnect [JD: recommend?] incorporating the commission's suggestions unless the developer wants to leave the site as is -- a concrete mixing and gravel storage area."
More posts: Florida Rock, zoning

Latest Capitol Gateway Overlay Amendment Published
Feb 16, 2007 9:49 AM
Today's DC Register has published the final version of the text amendment (case 05-10) to the Capitol Gateway Overlay District zoning regulations that has been winding through the process since early 2005. From the order: "The amendments place limits on density transferred through combined deployments, extend the Zoning Commission review and approval process and design guidelines to additional properties within the boundaries of the Capitol Gateway ("GC") Overlay, and establish preferred retail and entertainment use requirements and regulations along First and Half Streets S.E. within the area. In addition, the rules impose, within the Overlay, a 15-foot setback and a 1:1 upper story step-back above a height of 110 feet for buildings fronting South Capitol Street; an upper stories set-back for building[s] fronting Half Street S.E.; and a 1:1 upper story step-back above a height of 110 feet for buildings fronting Potomave Avenue S.E. and S.W. The rules also provide for referral to the National Capital Planning Commission of all applications for the review of buildings and uses on lots that abut South Capitol Street." Whew! The CG Overlay has yet to be posted in its entirety on the Zoning Commission web site (see that "Reserved" for Chapter 11?), but in the interim I've cobbled together the various ZC orders and other documents (we're still waiting on the publication of the final order for ZC case 06-25, which extended the CG Overlay boundary across South Capitol Street) into a single sleep-inducing document. You can also read my explanatory treatise from a few months back on this Overlay and its companion, the Southeast Federal Center Overlay.
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More posts: South Capitol St., staddis, The Yards, zoning

Breaking News - Zoning Commission Sends Florida Rock Back to the Drawing Board (But Monument Realty Gets Its Approvals)
Feb 12, 2007 8:36 PM
The long and winding road of the Florida Rock project took a pretty surprising turn tonight, as the Zoning Commission opted not to vote on the second-stage PUD, instead asking the applicant for to come back with an altered design that addresses the commission's concerns: the need for a greater amount of residential within the project (up from the current 40%, with the understanding that this would cut down the amount of office space), better views of and from the stadium (specifically in terms of the views of the Anacostia River from the grand staircase at 1st Street, and also the views of the stadium from the South Capitol Street Bridge), and a somewhat amorphous desire for a better "expression of place" (something that makes the site and the project more identifiable on the waterfront side).
Commissioners Parsons and Jeffries led the discussion about the concerns; Parsons in particular was extremely concerned that the project--which started long ago, well before there was a stadium to the north--would be looked at as a huge missed opportunity if it were approved in its current form. He mentioned how originally there was great emphasis put on the need to keep the axis of Half Street running through the project (see the project map to orient yourself and understand the discussion), but now that Half Street doesn't exist anymore thanks to the ballpark, perhaps the site could be pushed in at the center to allow more space at its ends and to respond to the stadium. Commissioner Jeffries expressed that this should be much more of a "civic" location (i.e., more for residents and less for office workers), and that there needs to be a better design plan, and that the commission has a responsibility to "get this right." When Commissioner Turnbull said that these requests constitute "major surgery", Jeffries replied that in his view the project needs major surgery, that incremental changes aren't getting the project where it needs to be.
Next steps? Good question--there was talk about how, when an extension was requested back in 2004, there were concerns that if it weren't granted the Florida Rock people would just leave a concrete plant on this valuable land, and the commissioners expressed a bit of worry about whether they'd do that now--and Commissioner Hood, who was skeptical of these requests at such a late date in the process, said that if he were the applicant, he would leave it as a concrete plant at this point. Yeowch. I will keep you apprised, of course.
UPDATE: Monument Realty's Half Street mixed-use project was given final approval on a 5-0 vote, with the exception of one variance request. Commissioners Mitten, Hood, and Parsons all remarked on how much they like the project, and Parsons made mention of how responsive Monument was to the concerns expressed by the commission at the January hearing.

More posts: Florida Rock, Monument/Half St., staddis, zoning

Florida Rock and Monument Zoning Votes on Monday - AWC Meeting Tuesday
Feb 11, 2007 6:23 PM
Tomorrow (Monday) night is a big Zoning Commission meeting, with votes expected on both the Florida Rock second-stage PUD and the Monument Realty/Half Street project (The 250 M Street vote has been put off again.) This is available on live webcast if you're so inclined. If the projects are approved, there's then a public comment period before a final approval vote a few weeks down the road.
Also, the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation has just announced a Tuesday meeting "to consider resolutions regarding development agreements with the JBG Companies and the Government of the District of Columbia related to the implementation of a PILOT agreement for the new US Department of Transportation Headquarters"--no, I can't really tell you what this means. The meeting can be listened to via teleconference (call 877-529-9893 and enter access code 800). See my Calendar of Events for times and locations.

WBJ on Florida Rock
Feb 9, 2007 2:12 PM
Today's Washington Business Journal has a piece (subscribers only for 30 days) detailing the arduous journey of the 1.1-million-sq-ft Florida Rock project over the years (which JDLand readers are intimately familiar with already!): "Finally, its time has come. At least that's what developers of 100 Potomac Ave. SE -- which is along the Anacostia River and smack across the street from the new baseball stadium being built -- are hoping. FRP Development of Sparks, Md. started the redevelop process for the 5.8-acre site more than a decade ago. And now is waiting a final decision on the project plan from the District Zoning Commission Feb. 12. If approved, the plan would go to the National Capital Planning Commission review and come back for final action in April. It also would finalize one of the integral pieces of the Anacostia waterfront redevelopment, which has been one of the city's goals for decades. [...] The plan, as it is now, is for development of 1.1 million square feet spread over four buildings: 600,000 square feet office, more than 60,000 square feet retail, 160 apartment units and a 235-room hotel, all with 1,087 below-ground parking spots. In addition, the project will be set back 75 feet from the waterfront and will have a river walk that would provide public access to the river. " As for a timeline? "If the approval goes through, FRP Development will start work on the office/retail buildings on the eastern side and closer to the ballpark first, which could be as soon as next year, Briggs says. The rest of the project would be a phased development that could take another 10 years to build out because construction of the third and fourth buildings would have to wait until the District completes building the new [Frederick Douglass] bridge." You can see renderings and drawings on my Florida Rock page (with updated ones hopefully coming soon).
More posts: Florida Rock, zoning

Updated Florida Rock Project Map
Feb 5, 2007 12:46 PM
The architects of the Florida Rock project (Davis Buckley Architects and Planners) have generously passed along an updated "map" showing the layout of the 5.8-acre site that sits between the Nationals ballpark and the Anacostia River. The project will have 600,000 sq ft office space, 92,000 sq ft retail, 160 residential units, and a 235-room hotel, spread across four buildings. There will also be a waterfront esplanade, and the eastern edge of the site (where a big portion of the retail will be located on multiple glassed-in floors) will be the western border of the new 39,000-sq-ft First Street Plaza that the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation is planning for the foot of First Street. The Zoning Commission is scheduled to vote on the Florida Rock second-stage PUD on Feb. 12; the project would take a number of years to be completed, but hopes are that construction would begin on the eastern portion in early 2008. And stay tuned, there hopefully will be new renderings of the buildings themselves within the next few weeks.

More posts: Florida Rock, Teague Park, zoning