Square 699N - Velocity Condos, Toll Brothers Site

Bethesda developer Ron Cohen purchased the entire block known as Square 699N in October 2005 for $55 million with plans to develop it in three phases. A 14-story 200-unit condo building known as Velocity opened at 1025 1st St. SE in fall 2009. The second phase land at 1st and K, originally planned to be another 200-unit condo building, was sold to Toll Brothers in April 2012; the third phase land along Half Street was also sold to Toll, in October 2012. There will also be a center courtyard serving all buildings.


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Progress and More Progress on 900-Plus Residential Units
Dec 15, 2013 7:40 PM
After not having a new high-rise residential project under construction in the neighborhood since spring 2009, it's sort of amazing to realize there are now three such buildings up out of the ground, with more than 900 new rental units in the pipeline for delivery within the next year to eighteen months. (And there could be another 650 units added to tally if both the Yards/Parcel N and 800 New Jersey/Whole Foods projects get going as expected in the coming months.)
The farthest along is the Twelve12 building at 4th and M, SE, at the Yards, which has its two residential towers topped out and its Harris Teeter space glassed in. Plus, it is also now seeing the glass being hung on the Vida Fitness/retail area at 4th and Tingey:
It will have 218 units, and the first move-ins are expected to happen by mid-year. This project is also where Sweetgreen and TaKorean will be located.
Meanwhile, the Toll Brothers building dubbed River Parc is racing right along, with five-plus of its 13 stories completed, helping to make the southwest corner of 1st and K look a teensy bit different than it did seven years ago:
This building will have 277 units, and is expected to begin leasing toward the end of 2014.
And up near the freeway, at New Jersey and I, the Park Chelsea is moving along, though the vertical progress of this 433-unit building is a bit slower than its smaller brethren. But as of now neighborhood eyes are probably more fixed on the completed paving of the new block of I Street between 2nd and New Jersey, though when the street will actually open to the public is not being trumpeted. (Spring 2014? Late 2014? We shall see!)
I think that, of the three, the Park Chelsea will have the biggest impact on the neighborhood skyline, both from on the ground (as you can now start to see in the various vantage points in the project's expanded before-and-after archive) as well as when looking into Near Southeast from the freeway. (And then it won't be too long until the Chelsea's sibling 800 New Jersey sneaks in just to its north and tweaks the views even further.). The downside is that a lot of views of the Capitol dome from Canal Park and Capitol Hill Tower are going to be lost to progress....
For more information/renderings for each project, and for more photos showing how these construction sites looked before work got underway, check out the Twelve12, River Parc, and Park Chelsea project pages. And join in with me in looking forward to the days starting to get longer, so that I can stop having to deal with the rotten winter sun angle and shadows.

Toll Brothers Apartment Building Quickly Out of the Gate
Oct 27, 2013 2:41 PM
At 1st and K SE, the neighborhood is getting a great demonstration of how quickly a just-started apartment building project can pop into view if the below-ground infrastructure is already completed.
Toll Brothers bought the site from the Cohen Companies last year, and because Cohen had originally planned a sister building to Velocity on the lot, it had gone ahead and built the garage and other underground necessities at the same time Velocity was built in 2007. But then, well, Phase 2 never actually happened, and the covered garage remained a Tetris-like landscape until Toll came along.
It was at the end of last month that nearby residents started seeing the first hints of work at the site, and now a few weeks later the ground floor of the building is already up, as you can see.
Toll is keeping details about the building pretty close to its vest--unless you're a Velocity resident. That group received a briefing in September and was told that the building will be called River Parc, will have 277 rental units, no retail, and is expected to start leasing next fall with completion in spring 2015.
And Velocity residents were even shown a rendering of the new building (thanks to Jake for grabbing a pic of the poster board, which I've straightened out a bit--UPDATE: and see below for two more).
This stretch of 1st Street between K and L used to be made up of small auto-related businesses, with the buildings facing K having a bit more tawdry offerings, such as the "In & Out Video 'and so much more'". All were demolished in Spring 2007, and now the vista looks a little different, not only on this block but elsewhere:
See my Toll Brothers page for more details and photos.
UPDATE: And now two additional renderings have fallen into my hands, showing the view that the Velocity folks will see across the courtyard (left), and the view coming up 1st Street from L (right):

Catching Up on Photos - Toll Brothers
Sep 29, 2013 4:01 PM
Some work appears to be underway on the southwest corner of 1st and K, where Toll Brothers now has building permits for a 13-story, 250ish-unit apartment building. The Tetris-like boxes that have covered rebar and other infrastructure since work was completed on Velocity and the accompanying garage under what's now the Toll site are being removed:
This will allow Toll to begin work on their building more or less at ground level, rather than spending months on excavation and below-ground construction.
See more photos and information about the project here.

Toll Brothers Buys Second Square 699N Lot From Cohen
Oct 31, 2012 12:10 PM
DC property records show that on Oct. 1, "Toll DC LP" paid $14.5 million to the Cohen Companies for the final empty lot on the Square 699N/Velocity block, running along the east side of Half Street SE between K and L, across from 1015 Half Street.
With Toll's $24 million purchase back in May of the 1st and K portion of the same square with plans to build a 250ish-unit residential building, this now gives the company a second toe-hold inside the District, both on the same block.
There are rumors that the 1st and K site could see construction start in the spring, but there have been no announcements. (And I can't really even say "wait to watch for digging," since on that 1st and K site the garage and underground infrastructure was already dug and completed when the Cohen companies built Velocity.)
It's starting to be quite a tote board of projects that "could" begin in 2013. Florida Rock residential, the Park Chelsea, the new Yards Parcel N building, Square 701.... Maybe we should start a pool!

Toll Brothers Buys Velocity Sibling Site, Will Build Residential
May 2, 2012 11:08 AM
I've learned today that mega-developer Toll Brothers has purchased the Square 699N land directly north of the Velocity Condos building on 1st Street SE for $24 million, with the intention of building a 250ish-unit residential building.
This land has been owned by the Cohen Companies since their purchase of the entire block bounded by 1st, Half, K, and L in 2005.
In fact, the garage and below-grade structure for the Toll Brothers lot is already built--that's why you see all the funny beige boxes on the land, covering vent shafts and other infrastructure items. Cohen had planned to move forward with a sibling for Velocity soon after it completed the condo building, but that never came to fruition.
This would be Toll Brothers's first building in DC proper, I believe, but they have plenty of offerings in the Metro area. And, as I found out today, they don't just do single-family homes (White Flint Station is an example of a condo building of theirs in the area). UPDATE: SWill from across the way mentions in the comments that TB bought White Flint Station after it was completed and converted it to condos from apartments. Apologies for the assumption.
More to come on this, I'm sure. And it will no doubt be seen as another indication of the strength of Near Southeast's residential market.
[And I should add that Cohen still owns the third lot on the block, along Half Street.]

A Few More Nats Park Photos (Eateries Etc.), and Other Tidbits
Jun 15, 2011 9:29 AM
I wandered down to Nationals Park last night to take in the atmosphere of not only the four new eateries, but also the return of Ryan Zimmerman. It was a healthy crowd (26,700+), and only about half of them seemed to be in line at Shake Shack and the other new food concessions (though by later in the game, the non-Shake Shack options had no lines).
I took another slew of photos (since the original batch from Monday's preview event proved to be pretty popular) mainly trying to get shots of these new "iconic" ballpark features from various angles, along with a few other shots of interest. As you can see in the shot at right, you can look at Blue Smoke and Box Frites with the Yards Park "iconic" pedestrian bridge and Navy Yard riverwalk directly behind, or with an east-of-the-river vista. I also grabbed a view of the progress on the bridge between Diamond Teague Park and Yards Park, my first shots of Das Bullpen, and both the sunset and the moonrise. And they would have all been even better if I had brought the official JDLand DSLR camera and not my less-than-fabulous point-and-shoot. Browse the gallery, and then mock me for leaving in the top of the 7th inning.
Other recently tweeted tidbits:
* The Yards' new Facebook page now includes a 2 1/2-minute virtual tour of what the neighborhood will look like when it's all built out. To see what it looks like now (and what it looked like a few years back), wander through my Yards project page.
* On Sunday morning a group of volunteers descended on the empty lot just east of the Velocity condo building to turn it into a demonstration rain garden. It's a project of the DC chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and is being funded by REI and the Cohen Companies (developers of the block), among others. They are having a meeting at Velocity on June 20 at 6 pm to discuss the project, and there will be another work day on the site on Saturday, June 25. The project's blog has photos and a lot of details; it's officially named the David Stemper Memorial Rain Garden, in honor of a Surfrider volunteer who passed away in 2010.
* The BID says that the next Truckeroo food truck festival at Half and M SE will be on Friday, July 15.
* Last week CSX sent a letter out to residents who live near Virginia Avenue introducing the plans to rehab the Virginia Avenue Tunnel. (It was probably quite useful for people who don't read JDLand!)

Justin's Applying for Sidewalk Tables; Additional Info on the New Liquor Store (and the Little Red Building)
Jun 3, 2010 10:49 AM
The report from Wednesday night's ANC6D ABC Committee meeting:
* Justin's Cafe is seeking to add four tables, with umbrellas and four chairs each, on the sidewalk directly in front of the restaurant. They would be available the same hours as the restaurant itself, until 1 am Monday through Thursday, 2 am Friday and Saturday, and 10 pm Sunday. There were concerns from a commissioner or two about whether people might walk away from the outdoor seating area with alcoholic drinks, about the additional noise brought by 16 or so people outside, and about whether cigarette smoke from the tables would waft up and bother the Velocity units directly above. Justin Ross replied that a sign would be posted about alcohol only being consumed on the premises, and that smokeless ashtrays would be available for the tables (and that since people can't smoke inside the restaurant, there's already a lot of smoking going on outside on the sidewalk). Velocity's management had sent along a letter in full support of the plan.
The committee voted 4-0 in favor of recommending that the ANC support the application, and that vote should come at the ANC's June 14 meeting, if Justin's voluntary and community cooperation agreements are revised in time.
* The owners of Capitol Hill Wine and Spirits on Pennsylvania Avenue SE came to talk with the committee about their plans for a new "upscale" liquor store at 909 New Jersey Ave., SE, which they will be calling Harry's SE & SW. (For about nine years they ran the Harry's liquor store at Waterside Mall in SW, which closed about five years ago.)
They have signed a lease agreement to take the two retail spaces on the north side of the building, at the corner of New Jersey and I, and they will be knocking down the wall between them in order to end up with about 2,200 square feet of space. The hours would be 9 am to 9 pm Monday through Saturday (or possibly 10 pm on Fridays and Saturdays), and closed on Sunday. They would sell beer, wine, and liquor, as well as milk, sodas, juice, cheese, and other "quick stop" items, but would not sell sandwiches as had been mentioned on the meeting agenda. They hope to open in September or October.
Much of the discussion centered around whether they will try to get an exemption in order to allow sales of "singles," which is a very hot-button issue. The owners said that they want the exception so that they can sell "high end" Belgian beers, which come in single bottles, and have no intent to sell the cheaper singles that can attract a somewhat less desirable element. However, ANC 6D chairman Ron McBee said that he imagines it would be very difficult to get support from the full ANC for the exception, and that there would also be concerns about any attempts to amend the singles law that might make it look like the law was targeted toward one socioeconomic class and not another.
Also discussed was the possible impact of this new store on the long-held plans for a similar high-end liquor store at Second and L SE on the site of the "Little Red Building." The ABRA rules state that liquor stores can't open within 400 feet of each other, and these two would be more than 500 feet apart as the crow flies. But Mr. Park, the owner of the LRB, is clearly concerned about whether the neighborhood can support two very similar operations. He is moving forward with plans to demolish the LRB and put up a new structure, and is also looking at an October-ish opening date. (He said he'd send me the building plans soon.)
In the end, the committee voted 4-0 in favor of recommending that the ANC support Harry's license application. A voluntary agreement and a community cooperation agreement will now need to be hammered out, and those involved weren't sure if one could be ready by the June 14 ANC meeting, in which case it would probably come up at the July 12 one.

Justin's Cafe Opens Today (and SW Safeway, Too)
Apr 16, 2010 8:08 AM
The word yesterday from the BID is that Justin's Cafe is opening today, and, if so, that means the neighborhood gets its first new restaurant in a long LONG time and what might be considered its first "real" bar. (For a new restaurant, you have to go back to the opening of Five Guys in 2005, if you're not counting the 2007 opening of Starbucks or the arrival of the restaurant and bar at the Courtyard by Marriott in 2007 or the Bullpen.) If you get there for some food or drinks, post your thoughts in the comments.
I'm thinking of maybe next Thursday, April 22, as an unofficial little JDLand Happy Hour? (In other words, I'll go have a drink or two, and see if anyone else comes along. :-) )
Also opening today is the new and improved Safeway at Fourth and M, SW. If you shop there, pass along what you see.

Justin's Cafe Gets Liquor License; April 16 Opening
Apr 6, 2010 8:32 PM
I've just received the news from Justin Ross that he got his liquor license today, and that Justin's Cafe is on target for an April 16 opening. (Yes, I know I was skeptical of that date a while back, but now that I've heard it from the guy who's name is on the sign....)
If you haven't been following along, Justin's will be a restaurant with full bar serving pizzas, sandwiches, and salads, open seven days a week with regular "bar hours," just a few blocks up First Street from Nationals Park. Here's an electronic version of the menu.
We'll have to do a JDLand get-together there in late April.

Links Roundup (Evergreen Media Coverage, Justin's, Nexus Gold Club Memories, Marines Meeting Reminder)
Mar 23, 2010 9:46 AM
* WBJ is first out of the gates with what I expect to be an avalanche of whats-new-around-the-ballpark stories, tied to Opening Day and now a March staple for all DC media outlets. Nothing new in it, and a few quibbles (Justin's Cafe isn't open yet, the water taxis also ran late last year, Sayres lease is 20k), but I guess it's a decent quick roundup if you're not keeping track. Which, if you're reading this blog, you are. :)
UPDATE: Ah, now I know where WBJ got the idea--the BID's State of the Capitol Riverfront Spring Update. Basically a straight copy-and-paste. (Not the end of the world, of course, but never a bad idea to be straight with readers about your sourcing.)
* Speaking of Justin's, ABRA said yesterday that there were no protests filed for its liquor license application. A reader reports that Velocity is telling residents that the restaurant will open April 16, but after watching rumored opening date after rumored opening date come and go for other places in the past, I remain skeptical of any rumor other than "it's opening tomorrow." (That isn't to say that the dates that get floated are necessarily propaganda--just that the final road to opening a business has a lot of potential pitfalls, especially in the permit process.) On the other hand, a reader passed along an electronic version of the menu, if you want to whet your appetite while waiting; though note that the web site listed hasn't launched yet.
* From the Post: the nude dancing license that used to belong to the Nexus Gold Club--on the site of what is now 909 New Jersey--is now being rebirthed as the "Stadium Club," a strip club getting ready to open on Queens Chapel Road, NE.
* Don't forget that the second public workshop in the Marines' project to build a new barracks, focusing on potential development sites, is tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at Van Ness Elementary (1150 5th St., SE), with a repeat tomorrow from 8:30 to 10:30 am at the North Hall of Eastern Market. The agendas are here (and if you're trying to figure out how to get into Van Ness, the project web site says: "Enter through the main doors on the eastern side of the building (where the parking lot is) and follow the signs to the auditorium downstairs"). If the discussion going on in this comments thread is any indication, it's going to be an interesting meeting.

Near Southeast Assessments, Down 1.8 Percent (Or Up 1.9 Percent, Depending on Your Point of View)
Mar 2, 2010 9:52 AM
It's assessment season again, and the Examiner reports that, citywide, commercial property assessments are down 10 percent, with residential numbers dropping between three and four percent. So I fired up the database I keep of the numbers for Near Southeast, added the new data as I do each year when the new numbers come out, and came up with a total assessed value for all properties of just under $5.9 billion, which is a 1.8 percent drop from the $6.01 billion tally reported in March of 2009.
But, wait! As I dug a little further, I found a flaw in my methodology that hadn't quite occurred to me before this year (though it probably hadn't been an issue too often before now): 11 of the big commercial buildings in Near Southeast had apparently appealed their initial 2010 assessments (sent out last year), lowering their tax bills by between 2 percent and 38 percent, from a combined $1.13 billion in the initial assessments to $909.36 million post-appeals. (Ten other buildings are showing no change in those assessments, and one--909 New Jersey--actually saw an 8 percent bump upwards, which was probably more of a function of the initial estimate being from before the building was completed.)
Taking these changes into account, the total assessments for 2010 for the neighborhood is closer to $5.88 billion, meaning that tally of the 2011 numbers just released of $5.89 billion would actually be a 1.9 percent increase. Except that I imagine that some property owners will be appealing again (since some of the 2011 numbers go right back to the original 2010 numbers that were appealed), and the $5.99 billion number will come down again.
Not all property in the neighborhood took a hit--with the opening of the first portions of Capitol Quarter, the blocks between Fourth and Fifth Street saw an increased value of $33 million, and the completion of Velocity raised the assessed value of its block from $99 million to $162 million.
And, since everyone will want to know: the behemoth of the area--Nationals Park--has an assessment unchanged from last year, at just a hair under $1 billion.
I'll check the numbers again later this year to see how many proposed 2011 assessments get altered.
Here's a quick table of the big properties that saw their 2010 assessments change from the original number released early in 2009:
Property Original 2010 Revised 2010 % Diff. Proposed 2011
300 M $132.26M $82.00M -38% $74.69M
55 M $162.60M $110.66M -32% $110.66M
80 M $124.08M $92.75M -25% $111.27M
100 M $90.98M $68.18M -25% $90.98M
1201 M (Martime #1) $87.97M $72.57M -18% $64.74M
1100 NJ $142.79M $121.40M -15% $139.16M
100 I $85.20M $73.00M -14% $85.20M
70 I $132.28M $119.00M -10% $132.28M
1000 NJ * $84.46M $81.06M -4% $79.75M
770 M (Blue Castle) $23.93M $23.17M -3% $23.93M
1220 12th (Maritime #2) $66.99M $65.57M -2% $47.57M
909 NJ $68.05M $73.58M 8% $79.93M
* This is for the residential portion of Capitol Hill Tower; the 2010 assessments on the Courtyard by Marriott show no change.

Justin's Cafe Liquor License Hearing March 22
Jan 26, 2010 10:23 AM
For those keeping track, the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration has finally posted the hearing date for the liquor license for Justin's Cafe, and it's scheduled for March 22 at 10 am. From the notice: "NATURE OF OPERATION: New cafeteria-style restaurant serving salads, sandwiches, and pizza with 33 seats. Occupancy load of 61. HOURS OF OPERATION AND SALES / SERVICE / CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES: Sunday 11:30 am - 10 pm, Monday through Thursday 11:30 am - 1 am and Friday & Saturday 11:30 am - 2 am."
As I've written, Justin is also asking for a stipulated license, which will allow him to open the restaurant and sell alcohol before the March 22 hearing date. But I haven't heard of an opening date yet, though a reader reports that the amount of construction "stuff" in the space seems to have lessened.

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

Tidbits (ANC 6D, Boathouse, Georgia Ave, Cupcakes!)
Jan 11, 2010 12:00 PM
A few items of note:
* Tonight is ANC 6D's monthly business meeting, at 7 pm at St. Augustine's Church, Sixth and M, SW. But, as is so often the case, there's no agenda yet released. However, the commission should be voting on whether to support the liquor license application of Justin's Cafe, which was approved by the ANC's alcohol/beverage subcommittee last week. Other than that, the lineup will just be a bundle of surprises! UPDATE: The agenda is now posted.
* The folks with A rower from the Anacostia Community Boathouse Association has started a blog to track the move of the boathouse operations away from its current home in between the 11th Street Bridges up-river to the Anacostia Marina. The move is happening because the new bridges are going to necessitate the demoition of the two existing boathouse buildings. (UPDATED with a new name for the blog, along with a clarification)
* The Hill is Home has a "Lost Capitol Hill" post about the original Georgia Avenue, SE, which is now Potomac Avenue. On these maps from the early 1900s of Near Southeast, you can see Georgia Avenue in 1903, but not in 1909. (If you haven't wandered through these maps before, they're worth a few minutes. Go to the main page, click on a section of the neighborhood, and then you can use the links to go from 1903 to 1909 to 1915 to 1921.
*The Curbside Cupcake folks are venturing into Near Southeast these days, and will be at New Jersey and M tomorrow (Tuesday, Jan. 12) from noon to 1 pm. (They set up shop there for a while last Tuesday, too.)
* And, while outside my boundaries, I think it's worth mentioning that Big Chair Coffee opened at 2122 MLK Avenue in Anacostia this morning--And Now, Anacostia has a pile of photos of the place, which is one of the only (if not the only) coffee house east of the river.

Justin's Cafe Gets 6D's ABC Committee Support
Jan 6, 2010 9:40 PM
A very quick update from tonight's meeting of ANC 6D's alcohol/beverage committee, which voted 3-0 both to recommend support Justin's Cafe's application for a liquor license, and to recommend that a "stipulated license" be granted. This means that the restaurant could operate under a temporary license until its (still as yet unscheduled) hearing in front of the liquor board is completed. The full ANC will vote on these recommendations at their meeting on Monday (Jan. 11).
Owner Justin Ross said that the build out isn't quite complete yet and that there's still a few weeks of work to take care of, but he's hoping to open within four weeks or so.

This Week's Events, and a Few Other Quick Items
Dec 14, 2009 10:41 AM
Rounding up the items on this week's agenda:
* Tonight is ANC 6D's monthly meeting. Alas, no agenda released yet, a common occurrence that should put them on Santa's "naughty" list.
* Tuesday through Friday is the BID's Holiday Market, running each day on Canal Park from noon to 6 pm, with live music from noon to 2. (If you're seeing activity at Second and M today, that's what it is.)
* Tuesday has the next Lower Eighth Street Visioning meetings, at 8:30 am and 7 pm at 535 8th St., SE. These sessions will "focus on best practice examples and build-out scenarios," and an agenda just mailed out by the BID (which is running the sessions) shows guest speakers Richard Lake of Roadside Development (the folks behind the redo of the O Street Market) and Wayne Dickson of Blake Real Estate. There's also an agenda item on "The Need for a Community Center."
* On Wednesday (Dec. 16) the BID is throwing a free Residents' Holiday Party at the Courtyard by Marriott, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. They'll also keep the Holiday Market open an extra hour (until 7 pm) for residents, and there'll be live music.
* The BID is having its annual meeting on Thursday, with speakers Tommy Wells, Stan Kasten of the Nationals, and Christopher Leinberger, a walkable urbanism expert from the Brookings Institution. In previewing the event on the Breaking Ground blog last week, WBJ's Melissa Castro listed a series of stats about the Capitol Riverfront provided by Jones Lang LaSalle, including that the total office vacancy rate for the area through the third quarter is at 19.2 percent (though it's listed as being at 14.7 percent at the end of October in this subsequent WBJ article). It would have been nice, though, if she'd given @capitolhilldc credit (rather than just "a Twitter user") for the tweet about being the 24th person in line at the DOT Starbucks Thursday morning, which also brought a few fun responses when I retweeted it.
* ANC 6D07 rep Bob Siegel mentioned this at last week's ABC committee meeting, and it's confirmed in the city's land records: there are now 12 units occupied at Velocity.

A Few Tidbits on Justin's Cafe
Dec 10, 2009 11:11 AM
From last night's meeting of ANC 6D's ABC Committee, some bullet points on Justin's Cafe, the planned "fast casual" restaurant in the ground floor of Velocity on First Street between K and L (some of these are old, some are new, but for those just tuning in...):
* Justin Ross, the owner, is hoping to open the place by late January, although because of some issues with an ill partner, the liquor license has not yet been applied for, but he hopes that the paperwork will be filed with the city within the next week. (He won't open the restaurant until the liquor license has been granted, although he says the construction is now about 85 percent done.) He's applying for a Class C restaurant license, for beer, wine, and liquor.
* Expected hours are 11:30 am to 11 pm for food service (10 pm Sunday), with hopes that the bar can stay open later, perhaps until 2 am Friday/Saturday and 1 am other days.
* The space is not huge, about 1,400 square feet--it will have 24 seats for eating, and nine stools at the bar. There will be no outside tables. It will be an order-at-the-counter-and-sit set up (though he also expects a fair amount of takeout orders for nearby offices).
* No live entertainment, just TVs and music.
* The menu is salads and soup, sandwiches/paninis, and American-Neapolitan pizzas. Lots of veggies with the sandwiches and on the pizzas (he handed out a draft of it at the meeting). Sweet potato fries are on the menu, and bread choices are three-grain wheat, ciabatta, baguette, and spinach tortilla wrap (along with white/wheat crusts for the pizzas).
* JustinsCafe.com will be the web site, though it's not up yet.
Nats fans should note that this will become the closest *indoor* bar to the ballpark, as it's only two blocks north of the parking garages.
The ANC and Justin will be negotiating a voluntary agreement, which will probably go to the ANC for approval at its January meeting, but the subcommittee members and the 6D commissioners in attendance seem very pleased with the project.

Next Week's Events (Justin's Cafe Liquor License, Boathouse Lighting, ANC6B)
Dec 3, 2009 9:17 AM
A couple events on the calendar for the week of Dec. 7 to highlight:
* On Wednesday, Dec. 9, ANC 6D's ABC committee will be having its monthly meeting (in advance of the full ANC meeting on Dec. 14), and on the agenda is "presentation of plans by Justin Ross re Justin's Cafe planned for 1st & L Streets, SE." This is the first step in the (long) process for Velocity's restaurant to get its liquor license, although I haven't yet seen an announcement/posting for their official ABRA hearing (maybe it'll be in tomorrow's DC Register). The meeting is at 7 pm at King Greenleaf Recreation Center, 201 N Street, S.W.
* The Anacostia Community Boathouse Association will be having its annual Boathouse Lighting and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 6:30 pm. This year's honorees include Tommy Wells, winner of the ACBA's "Champion" Award, who will get to flip the switch to turn on the holiday lights. The boathouse is at 1115 O Street, SE, nestled between the two spans of the 11th Street Bridges.
* ANC 6B (which is mostly Capitol Hill but includes the Eighth Street area south of the freeway in its boundaries) is having its monthly meeting on Dec. 8, and it includes a presentation by WASA on the Combined Sewer Overflow Project, and a resolution on the Ward 6 Residential Parking Protection Pilot Act of 2009, which has its city council hearing on Dec. 10. The meeting is at 7 pm at the Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Ave., SE.

CapQuarter Framing at Fourth and I; Final Velocity Pics
Nov 28, 2009 2:53 PM
Though I'm about to disappear down the college football rabbit hole for the the rest of the day, I couldn't resist getting a few quick photos of the new framing that's going up on the last block of Capitol Quarter's first phase, on the northwest corner of Fourth and I.
I also wandered over to First Street to get "final" photos of Velocity building now that the building has opened, including a shot of the sign now up at Justin's Cafe (not that you can really see the sign, thanks to poor sun positioning. Might have to sneak back over there early in the morning).
Here's the complete batch of before-and-after photos for the shots I posted today.
And now, time to go bite my orange-and-blue nails for a few hours.

BID Holiday Market; Justin's Cafe Photos
Nov 27, 2009 9:28 AM
News from the Capitol Riverfront BID:
* They've announced their second annual Holiday Market, running Dec. 15-18, from noon to 6 pm each day, at Second and M, on the Canal Park footprint.. "For four days, the Capitol Riverfront will present a festive holiday market with local artisans selling handcrafted jewelry, crafts, photography, holiday trees and greenery, and more. Enjoy a variety of festive foods and live music daily from noon - 2 pm."
* The BID has also posted a few photos of the construction work (and the sign) at the "soon-to-open" Justin's Cafe at Velocity on their Facebook page.

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

A Roundup of Recently Tweeted Tidbits (Mostly)
Oct 29, 2009 1:07 PM
Not much big news these days, but here's some tidbits, most of which are links that I've Tweeted in the past few days:
* The BID and the Washington DC Economic Partnership held a "Capitol Riverfront Storefront Summit" on Tuesday morning, which The Hill is Home summarized, with quotes from the owners of Cornercopia and the Subway on Second Street. No splashy announcements of new retailers, though.
* The WBJ's Top Shelf blog pivoted off of the summit to write about Justin's Cafe at Velocity, which the owner now says "hopes to open in about two months from now."
* UrbanTurf asks: How do People Like Living in "Capitol Riverfront"?
* Beyond DC went to the Columbia Heights streetcar meeting on Monday, and posted more details about DDOT's plans. The Ward 7 public meeting is tonight, at 650 Anacostia Ave., NE, from 7 to 8:30 pm.
* The Bullpen is still selling tickets for its big Halloween night bash, from 9 pm to 1 am (with a fully heated tent!). An e-mail says that more than 400 tickets have been sold.
* The American Cancer Society is hosting Making Strides for Breast Cancer, a 5K walk to fund breast cancer research, at Nationals Park on Saturday. Two laps around the stadium, and one inside lap on the First Concourse. (I think I've done that walk a whole bunch of times over the past four years!)
* The council's Committee on Finance and Revenue has scheduled a November 12 hearing on the pending bill that would allow the city sell bonds to pay for phase 3 infrastructure work at Capper. (Though I don't see the hearing notice online yet.) For more about this, read my entry from a few days back.

Velocity Says Restaurant Opening 'This Fall'
Oct 7, 2009 11:18 AM
From the new "Velocity Voice" newsletter that a reader was nice enough to pass along, a blurb that says "Justin's Cafe" in the ground floor of Velocity (at First and L) will open "this fall." The menu will feature "fresh salads, sandwiches and wood oven baked pizzas," and there will be a full bar. Earlier this year a "late August/September" date had been being given for the restaurant's opening, but clearly that has slipped.
I've been scrounging around for a bit more detail, but don't have much more news. Judging from the city's building permits database, it looks like the restaurant's construction permit was filed in June but hasn't been approved yet (I'd link to it, but DCRA rebuilt their pending apps database to make any links to inside pages impossible--boo). The city's Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration site doesn't show any current liquor license for the site, nor does there appear to have been any recent notification to ANC 6D about one, but the ABRA web site isn't always up-to-the-minute accurate; I've got a question into them about any pending license. (I'll update when/if I hear back.) UPDATE: ABRA doesn't have any liquor license already on file, and no new application has been filed yet. Doesn't mean that one isn't coming, of course, just that it hasn't happened yet.

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

Velocity Move-Ins May Start in September
Jul 20, 2009 12:54 PM
Last last week the sales team at Velocity began contacting residents-to-be with the news that they are planning to begin settlements on units in the building on Sept. 21 (unless issues crop up), and also will be moving the sales center into the building itself on Sept. 1 (there will also be three additional model units opened, on the 10th floor where the current model unit is, too).
The 200-unit building is still less than half sold, which is deduced from learning that the sales people are advising reservation holders who are planning to get an FHA or VA loan or who are making less than a 20-percent downpayment that it will be extremely difficult to find a mortgage lender until the building is 51 percent sold. Construction on Velocity began in Spring 2007, and the sales center opened that Fall.
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Heading to Opening Day? What You'll See That You Didn't See Last Year
Apr 12, 2009 7:59 PM
[Note: I'm back in town after almost a week away (reminder to self: next year don't skip town the week before the home opener), so apologies if my coverage of the various events and media pieces has seemed even less scintillating than usual. And now I'm going to end the week with one more less-than-perfect entry, which I should have written before I left but didn't do it until now....]
If you haven't been back to Nationals Park or the surrounding Near Capitol Ballpark River Yards neighborhood since last year's Opening Day, here's what you'll see that wasn't completed on your last visit:
* 55 M Street - Right on top of the west entrance of the Navy Yard Metro station, at the head of Half Street, is Monument Realty's 275,000-sq-ft office building, which has been finished in the last few months and which will be home to Artomatic this summer. No office or retail tenants have been announced, although WBJ reported a few weeks back that Gordon Biersch may be eyeing some of 55 M's ground-floor space. The rest of Monument's Half Street site remains a large hole in the ground, with financing for the planned 350 residential units and adjoining hotel directly across from the ballpark nowhere to be found.
* 70 and 100 I Street - Sibling apartment buildings officially known as the Axiom and Jefferson at Capitol Yards first began move-ins in late summer 2008, and their combined 700 units are reported to be about 50 percent leased. (They're the big brick buildings sitting just south of the Freeway.)

* Onyx on First - Another apartment building (though it had been originally planned as condos), Onyx opened at the corner of First and L streets in late fall of 2008. It has approximately 266 units.

* 100 M Street - On the site of the old On Luck cafeteria at First and M, this 240,000-sq-ft office building opened right at the tail end of 2008, and is close to 40 percent leased, with Parsons occupying about one-third of the space. A SunTrust Bank branch is under construction on the ground floor--there's additional retail space where a restaurant could be a possibility, though no deals have been announced.

* 909 New Jersey - Finished mere moments ago (it opened last week), this 237-unit apartment building at New Jersey and I by JPI (developers of 70 and 100 I) is catching eyes with its blue-edged nighttime profile, and is generating piles of "have they signed anyone for their retail space?" messages in my inbox (answer: not that I've heard so far). Baseball fans walking down from Capitol South will also appreciate the wide new sidewalk now just one block south of the freeway.

As for what's currently underway, there's the first phase of townhouses at Capitol Quarter (where the first residents will move in this month and where work will continue into next year), the 200-unit Velocity condo building at First and L, and the 440,000-sq-ft office building at 1015 Half Street (which will be completed in 2010 but will already be cursed for obscuring the view of the Capitol dome from some seats in the ballpark that had it last year). There's also construction continuing at Diamond Teague Park, right across from the ballpark's grand staircase, but the somewhat optimistic timeline of having the water taxi piers completed by Opening Day has now been revised to "midseason."
Work had begun on rehabbing the brown-and-white Pattern/Joiner Shop at the Yards last year (which folks walking to the ballpark from the Nats Express drop-off will see), but financing problems brought the work to a halt early in 2009, and Forest City continues to look for money to restart the project.
The most prominent structure that's disappeared in the past 12 months is the former WMATA bus garage on Half Street just across from the subway entrance, demolished two weeks ago to make way for Akridge's planned 700,000-sq-ft mixed-use development, though that project won't get underway before 2010. (The south end of Akridge's Half Street land is where the [not-a-]beer garden may appear later this summer.)
But, as has been written about extensively elsewhere, as of now there's no new places to eat since last year (though a deli is coming to Third and K in May), and most likely no additional projects will get underway before next year.
So, study this little guide and amaze your friends with your knowledge of what's what as you look at the ballpark's surroundings.

Sports Bar at Velocity?
Apr 9, 2009 9:35 PM
From a piece in Friday's Post about [the lack of] food and drink options near Nationals Park: "The Velocity Capitol Riverfront condominiums, slated to open at First and L streets SE in the fall, will have a sports bar as part of its ground floor retail space." This is slightly different from what the Velocity sales office was telling prospective buyers earlier this year, which was that an Italian bistro was being planned.
The article also gives more details on the Akridge "block party" space at Half and N, mentions Artomatic, and talks about access via Circulator bus to the restaurants on Barracks Row.

Morning Roundup - Back to the Ballpark Edition
Apr 3, 2009 9:03 AM
I'll be back later today with news from a "What's New at the Ballpark" tour, but here's a few items to clear off the desk first:
* There's a baseball game tomorrow night! It's the Nats vs. the O's in what is looking to become a traditional exhibition game. It's at 6:05 pm (though there's also a shindig for season-ticket holders earlier in the afternoon), and the usual suspects are gearing up to help people get to the ballpark. Metro has updated their Go Metro! Go Nats! page, which includes a brochure on all the bus/rail options. And, because tomorrow has a sports tripleheader (Nats, Wizards, and DC United), Metro is letting people know they're ready. However, the new DC Circulator route (which is run by the city, not Metro) will not be running tomorrow--its expanded service for Nats weekend gates will start during the regular season. On the other hand, the Nats Express shuttle will be running from the free parking at RFK from noon until 90 minutes after the game ends. The Nats have a Way to Go page of their own with details on how to get to the ballpark, but it looks like it still needs a touch of refreshing for 2009.
* While the ballpark tour today will include a sampling of the food offerings at the stadium by new concessionaire Levy Restaurants, Dan Steinberg has already broken the news of the lineup of beers at the ballpark for 2009. Because it's important to have one's priorities straight.
* There may be some better feeling between city officials and the Nats during the pre-game ceremonies tomorrow (where Mayor Fenty will throw out the first pitch and council chairman Gray will give the "Washington, let's play ball!" salute), because the team has paid its 2009 rent on time.
* In non-ballpark news, UrbanTurf reports that Velocity Condos is having a "preview weekend"--apparently they've completed construction on one of the models in the building itself (they've had a full-scale model inside their sales center since it opened last year). Tours are by appointment, with prices starting in the $300s. Their official web site is velocitycapitol.com (though it doesn't mention the preview).
* The WMATA bus garage is now history. The weather's too lousy for me to get pictures today, but I'll get some tomorrow. The question is, will Half Street be open by tomorrow afternoon?
* But, the real cliffhanger of the weekend is: will we be seeing the schoolbuses driven off the Canal Park lots? Those of you with the prime vantage points are deputized to alert us all if you see them driving off (and not coming back).

Groundbreaking at Diamond Teague on Friday; 909 New Jersey Soon; Occupancy Numbers; More
Feb 12, 2009 7:38 PM
* On Friday at 10:30 am the mayor will be hosting a groundbreaking at Diamond Teague Park; construction started back in December (photos on my project page from a few weeks ago show the piers and ramps around the pumphouse have already been dismantled). The timeline as described to me at the end of January is that the new piers are to be ready by Opening Day, with the landscaping and land-based improvements to be completed by July; we'll see if those dates are still operative at tomorrow's event.
* The Capitol Riverfront BID newsletter says that JPI's 909 New Jersey is "set to open ahead of schedule in April." The "909 at Capitol Yards" official web site has floor plans and more information.
* Also from the BID newsletter (which isn't posted on their web site, otherwise I'd link to it), some occupancy numbers for the three buildings participating in this weekend's "Luck of the Draw" art extravaganza: Velocity has sold 52 of its 200 units (which is still right around the 25-percent mark reported back in July of last year); 100 I Street is 25 percent leased (it was reported at around 16 percent leased in December), and Onyx on First is 27 percent leased (after having been 8 percent leased in December).
* The BID also has the list of public events over the next few weeks at the Navy Yard. (I used to be on a mailing list for these and would add them to my calendar, but that ceased a while ago and the Navy Museum's own web site calendar hasn't been updated since last year.)
* Off-topic, but DC United says they're moving to Prince George's County.
* And Now, Anacostia has more on the legislation introduced today by Tommy Wells to place a five-cent fee on paper and plastic bags with the goal of helping to clean up the Anacostia River. (There's also a web site, trashfreeanacostia.com.)

Details on 'Luck of the Draw' This Weekend
Feb 10, 2009 12:37 PM
From a just-sent-out press release, more details on the "Luck of the Draw Art and Music Event" being put on by Artomatic, Pink Line Project, and the Capitol Riverfront BID in the neighborhood this weekend:
"Luck of the Draw will transform selected units, lounges, courtyards and the parking lots at Velocity Condominium, Axiom at Capitol Yards and Onyx on First residential buildings with photography, installation art, graffiti artists, live music, DJs and dancing to create a threeday neighborhood art and entertainment event. Start the night at the Velocity Condominium's entertainment tent on Half Street between L St and K St SE, and then head over to Axiom at Capitol Yards at 100 I (Eye) St SE and Onyx on First at 1100 First St SE. Draw playing cards at each location and, in traditional Washington, DC style, barter, trade and negotiate with others for the best 5-card poker hand to enter a raffle and win an iPod Nano. Beverages and snacks will be available at the venues as well."
It's free and open to the public. Hours are 6 pm to 10 pm on Friday and Saturday (the 13th and 14th) and 2pm to 6 pm on Sunday the 15th.


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