Since January, 2003
            
 Page Through from Before to After

It's that time of year, when every media outlet in the DC Metro area is about to unleash a tidal wave of Nationals Park pre-Opening Day content: Here's what's new inside the ballpark, here's the Opening Day specials outside the ballpark, here's how to get to the ballpark, and here's where to park at the ballpark.*
I am not immune, of course, but I also add a separate category: Here's what you will see that's new outside the ballpark. And it's considerably different than what you would remember if you haven't ventured to Near Southeast/Capitol Riverfront/Navy Yard/#NeCaBaRY since the end of the we-shall-not-speak-of-it 2015 season.
The short version? You'll see skeletons. Concrete skeletons. In all directions. In various stages of progress. Buildings are erupting in the blocks surrounding Nats Park the way that {insert tortured Bryce Harper-erupt-home runs reference here}.
Alas, none of them are precisely on the block of Half Street just north of the ballpark (wait 'til next year!), but this latest pulse in the neighborhood's transformation will be one more obvious to stadium-goers than in any year since the ballpark opened, resulting in close to 3,000 new residential units, 365 new hotel rooms, and 230,000 square feet of office space by the time these current projects all finish up in 2017.
And all of the activity means that there are lane closures and sidewalk closures to be on the lookout for, no matter which mode of conveyance you use to get to the stadium.
You can check out my quick-and-dirty map of what you'll be seeing, but should you want a typically wordy JDLand guided tour, read on:
* If you arrive via South Capitol Street, either from the north or the south, you'll be greeted with new apartment-buildings-to-be Dock 79 on the waterfront (below, left) and 909 Half (below, middle) just south of the freeway, along with a hole just north of Nats Parking Garage B that will soon sport a skeleton of its own, for the 1244 South Capitol Street apartment building. Then when you turn onto M Street you'll see the new Homewood Suites (below, right) rising up on the northeast corner of Half and M:
* If you take the subway and get out at New Jersey Avenue to avoid the crowds, you'll see the new Insignia on M apartment building (below, left) rising just behind the station entrance, and then you'll smartly cross M Street immediately to take advantage of new wide walkways (below, right) that should be completed soon to cut across the block formerly occupied by Spooky Building 213, all while noticing the skeletons just north of the ballpark that are the F1rst residential building and a new Residence Inn (with a hole where the 99 M office building will probably be its own skeleton by late in the season) .
* If you head down toward the ballpark from Capitol Hill, you'll be greeted with an entirely new vista on New Jersey Avenue, with the Agora and ORE 82 apartment buildings under construction and the Park Chelsea now all but finished (below, left). If you choose to use 3rd or 4th or 5th or 7th or 8th or 11th for your pre-game arrival or post-game departure, you'll have the pleasure of crossing the multi-block Big Dig that is the Virginia Avenue Tunnel expansion and reconstruction (below, middle)--be forewarned, lanes and sidewalks are shifted and will likely shift again during the season. On the flip side, there's now a new block of I Street open, between 2nd and New Jersey (below, right).
* If you decide to wander over to the Yards (you know, where Bluejacket is), you'll see that the Arris apartment building is finished and open, and the new marina at the Yards Park is well on its way to an opening in the coming months.
* NEW FOOD AND DRINK: As for new food and drink offerings, there aren't a lot of changes from the lineup at the end of last season (when Due South and Scarlet Oak snuck in under the wire). Buffalo Wild Wings will be the most obvious to most people, in its prime location between the Half Street Metro entrance and the ballpark Center Field Gate. The former Park Tavern at Canal Park is now "Il Parco," serving pizza and other Italian fare. And Barracks Row mainstay Las Placitas has now moved south of the freeway to 8th and L.
* SOON FOOD AND DRINK: As of this writing there are also three new ventures shooting for openings in May. Whaley's, a raw bar and restaurant from the DGS Delicatessen folks, will open in the Lumber Shed at the Yards in the space between Osteria Morini and Agua 301. In addition, Philz Coffee will be coming to the 300 block of Tingey Street, if you need your caffeine before gametime. And long-awaited beer garden The Brig will be opening at 8th and L.
What's not different from last year? Most of the food and drink establishments you likely frequented in 2015 are still around, including the Fairgrounds. (Though if you were a fan of Sizzlin' Express or Buzz Bakery, well, my condolences on your loss.) Also not different from last year is that there's still no "brew garden" immediately south of the ballpark, after Bardo's application for a liquor license was turned down.
If this post (and the accompanying What's New Since Last Season page, with all the details) seems like a messy hodge-podge, well, the neighborhood is pretty much a messy hodge-podge at the moment, too. But it was my fiduciary duty to provide this rundown.
* A post on the 2016 updates to my Stadium Parking Map will be coming soon, though there's already some early intel, including the official return of the lot at 1st and N.
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conngs0 says: (3/31/16 10:27 AM)
The neighborhood gets better each year! I'm almost a little sad that this will be the last year for the Fairgrounds if only because it keeps so much of the crowd from realizing that there are other good options nearby...

The Sakura Matsuri Festival is supposed to be on the streets and not in the spooky park, right? If so, they better get crackin' on the preparations!


Brett M says: (3/31/16 12:15 PM)
What a huge difference a year makes! I'm most excited about Arris because it looks really cool (for DC standards) and the Buffalo Wild Wings because I've always wanted to try it out.


JD says: (3/31/16 8:19 PM)
I think this is the reason that the two Parcel O buildings haven't gotten started yet:

link

(there needed to be a ruling by the zoning administrator confirming that the penthouse design was allowed under the revised penthouse regulations passed recently)


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1300 4TH ST SE 1001   
02/22/21 
AP BOWER RETAIL LLC / null
E2104231 / SUPPLEMENTAL
1346 4TH ST SE APT 1M   
02/06/21 
null / NA NA NA
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01/29/21 
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