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
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.)
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.
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!
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
* 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.
Reminder: Zoning Hearing on Yards/Trapeze School
Sep 18, 2009 10:55 AM
A reminder that on Monday (Sept. 21) the Zoning Commission will be hearing a request from Forest City for a text amendment
to the Southeast Federal Center Overlay
that would "authorize a Trapeze School and Aerial Performing Arts Center in the SEFC/R-5-E Zone District at the Yards
." This is the Trapeze School New York
, which left Baltimore's Inner Harbor earlier this year
and is currently flying through the air on the old DC Convention Center site at Ninth and H, NW. The school would take up residence on the lot on the southeast corner of Fourth and Tingey
("Parcel O"), which someday will be a residential building but is not expected to be developed anytime soon. It's also just north of the site of the Park at the Yards
, which is scheduled to open next year.
Here's the report prepared by the Office of Planning
in advance of Monday's hearing, in which they recommend approval of the four text amendments being sought. They're asking for the trapeze school to be allowed for five years (or longer, via a special expection), and to dispense with the off-street parking requirement, since there's already so much surface parking at the Yards. There's also some technical needs to actually create tax parcel lots on the site to allow for the issuance of building permits.
The hearing is at 6:30 pm at 441 4th St., NW (Suite 220 South), or you can watch the live feed
or wait for the video on demand
(it gives me a smile just to type that--I've waited for video on demand for zoning hearings for so long!)
Upcoming Zoning Hearings (Trapeze School, B & B)
Jul 24, 2009 8:57 PM
What could be more interesting late on a Friday evening than news of two upcoming zoning hearings?
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."