Near Southeast DC: Past News Items - October 2008
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Lots of New Photos From Around The Yards
Oct 31, 2008 1:15 PM
As I mentioned a few days ago, I was able to snag some time behind the fences at The Yards this week (with permission!!) and took a bunch of pictures. I also took this opportunity to do a bit of cleanup on the many Yards pages on this site, so if you haven't wandered through all of them in a while, I suggest taking the time to do so, keeping an eye out for the ubiquitous icon. Some highlights (click through to the pages for more details on each project):
* I posted a fair number of photos (plus some new renderings) of the Foundry Lofts at Third and Tingey, where the new top two floors are starting to be framed. You can also see how the a portion of the new Water Street just south of the Foundry has been paved, and curbs have been installed; ditto with the new portion of Third Street that will run alongside the building down to the park.
* There aren't really many exciting new photos of the Yards Park yet, but I added in new renderings and also spruced up the page some. The park and the Foundry Lofts apartments (along with the Boilermaker Shop retail pavilion) are expected to deliver in mid-2010.
* I made my first close-up visit to the Factory 202 building at Fifth and M (the old Gun Assembly Building), and got a few new images like the one at right. (Look for the "Pistol Range" photo for added entertainment.) This building is expected to be condos, delivering in 2011.
* I added a lot of new images to the Later Phases page, where you can see a good close-up of the little Building 74 next to Factory 202, which will eventually be townhouses. You'll also see more of the infrastructure work going on, including curb cuts already in place at Fourth and Tingey (even though the southern part of Fourth doesn't exist there yet). There's also a new red brick wall going in along the boundary with the Navy Yard, where a new block of Fifth Street will be built.
* You should also check out my Yards Overview page for the hard-to-read map, to help orient yourself to all the locations.
* Or, if you just want a pile of pictures without the "guided tour," here's all the new photos on one page (which includes images not posted on any of the above pages.) Click the icon to see other photos from the past few years from the same location.
Hopefully that's enough to keep everyone entertained for a while.

Articles from November's Hill Rag
Oct 31, 2008 1:43 AM
A few items in the new issue of the Hill Rag might be of interest to Near Southeast denizens and aficionados:
* Columnist Peter Waldron looks at the few ANC commissioner races where there's actually a challenger, which includes Near Southeast's single member district (6D07), where longtime commissioner Bob Siegel is facing Capitol Hill Tower resident Geoffrey Kreiss. Some interesting background to be had on both candidates, if you're still needing to make a decision.
* There's a summary of the October ANC6D meeting, in case you found my lousy one wanting. (It also includes info on some of the Southwest-related items brought up.)
* An article called "Anacostia Waterfront: Where is the Environment Vision Now?" looks at the fate of the environmental vision for the Anacostia that was published by the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation shortly before its demise. This portion was eye-catching: "Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells 6 cites the 'inertia of bureaucracy' that the Fenty government allows with respect to the Anacostia environment. The stadium is the mayor's pride, but 'the failure of the Anacostia Trail network to be completed by this time leaves me disgusted,' Wells says. The river walk and trail limps along, and new park access is mostly on the drawing board. The Fenty administration has not made environment a priority. Wells argues, 'I don't see a financial component in the budget.' " The Wayback Machine has a copy of the draft standards.
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Akridge Buys More Land on Square 740
Oct 30, 2008 3:29 PM
According to the city's land records, on October 7 Akridge paid $4.65 million for the three properties totalling about 7,000 square feet on the south side of K Street between New Jersey and First, all owned by the Cohen family. (Currently on these properties are a defunct garage and an empty lot, as seen in the photo at right). Akridge already owns the lots along First Street south of K down to the Market Deli at L Street; and, from what I can see in my very-unlearned reading of other land records, it also now has agreements with both the Market Deli and the cab garage on the northwest corner of New Jersey and L.
The only non-Akridge lots left on this block (known as Square 740) are two tiny lots directly behind the Market Deli on L Street and the buildings in the middle of the block along New Jersey where Positive Nature used to operate. (I'll also note, for those for whom this actually means anything, that the Positive Nature lots were the recipients of 52,000 square feet in transferable development rights earlier this year.)
This block is kind of the "last frontier" in the neighborhood, the only one without any sort of large development announced anywhere on it.
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More posts: mnorth, square 740

Yards Park Public-Private Partnership Announced
Oct 29, 2008 2:17 PM
This morning inside the Boilermaker Shop at Fourth and Tingey Mayor Fenty announced the completion of a $42 million public-private partnership to fund and maintain the 5.5-acre Waterfront Park at The Yards. He was joined by Forest City's Deborah Ratner Salzberg, Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells, and Capitol Riverfront BID executive director Michael Stevens, all of whom extolled the potential not only of the park (the neighborhood's "front yard", Stevens said) but of all of what is coming to Near Southeast. In the press release, Fenty is quoted as saying, "This is a great example of the kind of great urban spaces we can create when we think creatively and work together with partners who share our vision for transforming the banks of the Anacostia River into a world class waterfront."
Construction will begin on the park in January, and is being funded by the PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) that the city created last year. Once the park is built, the BID will be in charge of maintaining and "programming" it. One caveat for those who have been looking forward to seeing the park completed--it is now scheduled for a mid-2010 opening, along with the Boilermaker Shop and the Pattern Shop Foundry Lofts (they renamed the dang building; I can't wait to change it everywhere on the site).
I took a few photos at the event (seems like it's been forever since there was one of these, especially after the avalanche of them back in 2007 and early 2008). You'll also see on that page the latest renderings of the park, the Foundry Lofts building, and some views along Water Street. The park images aren't new, but the others are, and it may be a few days before I get them integrated into the site, so I figured I'd toss them up here for now.
I also got to take a tour behind the fences across much of the 44 acres of The Yards, and of course snapped a bunch of photos. However, since there are hardly any *streets* in most of these locations just yet, it makes my cataloging and posting of pictures much more time-consuming than with other projects. So I hope to post them in the next few days. At least the sun was out, unlike last time!
There was a fair amount of media at this event, so check back for links to stories (and the press releases, once they're posted).
UPDATE: A video report from NBC4, and a few paragraphs from the Post. The AP gave it a little write-up, too. And the Yards has now posted its own press release.

Development Slows in Ballpark District; Yards Park Funding Announcement on Wednesday
Oct 28, 2008 11:30 PM
Nothing in this WashTimes piece will be news for people who wander by here on a regular basis, but "Economy halts developers' ballpark plans" is a good survey that's probably still worth a read in case you've missed something. The crux is that the current economy has put an end to building on spec--"'Until you're getting your office building 70 percent leased up, you're not moving forward,' said Michael Stevens, executive director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District." And with things as they are, companies aren't moving to new office space, either. There's also this: "Monument Vice President Russell Hines said the financing difficulty is not because of pre-leasing requirements but rather demands for larger amounts of collateral on loans. Lenders once were willing to finance 75 percent of a project with only the project itself as collateral. Now, however, companies ask developers to put up additional assets to back the loan, even for just 50 percent financing."
One thing that is moving forward: Wednesday morning the mayor will be announcing a $42 million public/private deal between Forest City, the city, and the BID to build and maintain the 5.5-acre waterfront park at The Yards. The target date for the park has been mid-2009; we'll see at tomorrow's event whether that's still in the cards.
UPDATE: On his blog, Tim Lemke of the Times addresses a few issues that Forest City had with his article. And my entry on the park announcement is here.
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More posts: The Yards, Yards Park

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

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.

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

Half Street Hole: Construction Starting, But....
Oct 23, 2008 1:01 PM
Folks watching the Half Street Hole just south of 55 M Street have noted the arrival of a crane in the past few days. I've contacted Monument Realty, and they've confirmed that some construction is getting underway--but it's just to complete the three-level underground garage on the southern portion of the street, not to begin the hotel and residential projects. Perhaps all that parking directly north of the ballpark is seen as some worthwhile income while waiting for the residential market to improve....
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More posts: Monument/Half St.

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).

Upcoming Events: Living Classrooms Fundraiser, Navy Yard Special Events
Oct 22, 2008 3:13 PM
* A reminder that Friday night (Oct. 24) is the "Night at the Yards" fundraiser for Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region. Individual tickets are $125 in advance, $135 at the door for the event to be held in a big tent at Fourth and Tingey, with music by the English Beat and Rita Rocks. Living Classrooms is planning to eventually build its new main campus building on the eastern end of the waterfront park at the Yards, near the Navy Yard.
* Also on Friday night is the annual "Ghost Ship Barry" event, where kids can take a haunted tour of the display ship Barry at the Navy Yard. "The Ghost Ship Barry is suitable for children ages 4-9 from 5 to 7pm. After 7pm, Ghost Ship Barry will become much scarier and is only appropriate for children over the age of 9. This event is free and open to the public, but a 24-hour RSVP to 202-433-6897 is required for entry to the Washington Navy Yard. Please do not wear Halloween costumes for safety reasons."
* On Saturday night (Oct. 25) the Navy Yard is offering a candlelight tour, starting at the Navy Museum at 7 pm. This is also free and open to the public, but also requires a 24-hour RSVP for entry. Free parking is available.

Nats to Expand WiFi Offerings at the Ballpark
Oct 22, 2008 11:28 AM
From PC World (and also a ton of other places via press release): "After a first successful season running 802.11n high-speed Wi-Fi throughout its glimmering new ballpark, Nationals Park officials in Washington plan to add more applications for next year, including video game clips that fans at the park can wirelessly pick up on their handhelds. [...] In addition to sending video clips of spectacular game plays to fans at Nationals Park, Zachariah said he hopes to have other types of wireless interactions between fans. Among these is making it possible for fans to send text comments or photos that could be posted on the park's 4,800-square-foot high-definition scoreboard. Plans also include using RFID (radio frequency identification) tags to track cash bags over the Wi-Fi network as they are carried from a concession stand to the safe, Zachariah added. The tags could also be distributed to parents who could attch them to their children, in case they get lost in the ballpark. Plans for next spring also include allowing a voice over Wi-Fi system for stadium staff to use during emergencies when cellular networks may be overtaxed, Zachariah added. Fans could also place food orders over Wi-Fi and have the orders delivered to their seats."
The article says it cost about $280,000 for all the equipment and installation.
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ANC 6D Report (909 NJ and Cap Quarter Permits)
Oct 21, 2008 3:11 PM
Here's a brief wrap-up of Near Southeast-related items from last night's ANC 6D meeting (though the folks following my Twitter feed got some pithy tidbits in real time):
* JPI was there requesting support for a public space permit to put up a sign at 909 New Jersey. If you've been thinking that this apartment building looks pretty far along, you're correct: the JPI rep said that they're looking to deliver the first units in February. The building has 6,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, of which 4,000 is expected to be leased to restaurants. The discussion about the sign permit devolved into concerns about the main staircase on New Jersey Avenue splitting up the public space, which DDOT's public space committee has already approved but which ANC members weren't sure they'd ever seen. The vote on the sign permit request was 4-0-2 in favor of asking DDOT to postpone the decision on the sign as a protest against the sign and NJ Ave public space permits not having been done together.
* EYA and the DC Housing Authority presented their request for ANC support for some new brick "screens" on certain public housing units at Capitol Quarter that won't have alley access and so will need to have their trash and recycling cans placed by the buildings' fronts. There are nine corner buildings in Capitol Quarter with 27 public housing units that will need these screens, though there are also corner buildings at CQ that are not public housing, and there are additional public housing units that are not in these corner buildings. But the ANC felt that these trash screens would make the affected units easily identified as public housing, which would negate what commissioners described as the "concept of Hope VI" where you're not supposed to be able to "tell the difference" in market-rate and public-housing units from the outside. There were also concerns about units with windows above the trash enclosures (i.e., the smell and also having to look out at the trash bins). The rep from DCHA asked the ANC to table the request for support rather than oppose it (so that EYA and DCHA could come back with some revised designs), but the ANC voted 5-0 to oppose the request anyway.
Both these public space permits are on Thursday's agenda of the city's Public Space Committee.
There was also to be a discussion of the stadium Traffic Operations and Parking Plan, but it got moved to late in the agenda, and it sounded like it was going to be just in terms of the impact on Southwest, so I will admit that I didn't stick around.

Stadium Now $688M; Council Unhappy with Rent Deal
Oct 21, 2008 10:00 AM
Two ballpark items (both Twittered yesterday):
* The Post's DC Wire blog reports that David Catania is pointing to the latest Sports and Entertainment Commission cost report that says the ballpark costs to the city are now up to $688 million. (The Examiner has a piece on this, too.)
* That estimate does not include the $4 million that the city agreed to pay for additional stadium improvements in Friday night's rent agreement with the team, a deal which some council members are expressing unhappiness about. " 'On its face, I've got some questions about it,' said Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D). 'The way I read it, we got the $3.5 million we would have gotten anyway, and we gave up $4 million in additional concessions.' "
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More posts: Nationals Park

Capitol Quarter Demolition Photos
Oct 20, 2008 10:12 AM
For those who haven't wandered past themselves, I've posted a few photos of the post-demolition landscape at Capitol Quarter--this was done because of structural problems uncovered in the foundations, which EYA decided were severe enough to require the demolition of the existing work rather than just trying to patch it or shore it up. If you want to see how the construction went up and then came down, here's all the photos of the southeast corner of Fourth and L taken this year.
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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter

Nats, City Tentatively Agree on Unpaid Rent
Oct 17, 2008 11:07 PM
From WTOP: "A tentative agreement has been reached between the District and the Washington Nationals over millions of dollars in unpaid rent for the new ballpark. D.C. Acting Attorney General Peter Nickles informed D.C. council members he has received an email from the Nationals indicating the team is ready to sign an agreement. He did not talk about the specifics. There has been ongoing dispute between the Lerner family and the Nationals over more than $3 million. The Lerners say Nationals Park was not 'substantially complete' by Opening Day of the 2008 baseball season. D.C. officials disagreed."
Here's the Post's DC Wire blog entry, which has some detail: "Acting D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said tonight that he is on the verge an agreement with the Washington Nationals in which the team would pay $3.5 million in rent for the ballpark that it has refused to pay since the spring. In exchange, the District would seek extended warranties to cover repairs on the ballpark, Nickles said. Nickles said the agreement could be finalized tonight." More to come, I imagine.
UPDATE, 10/18: WTOP says the agreement was indeed signed last night: "Acting Attorney General Peter Nickles says the Nationals will pay the District $3.5 million on Monday. In exchange the city will return letters of credit to the Lerners, who own the team, extend the park's liquor license, and resolve 3-to-4-thousand unfinished items in the stadium. The city will also try to get warranty extensions from builders on things like elevators. Both the Nationals and the District say this solves all their issues and the team will pay full rent going forward." And, for posterity's sake, here's the Post piece on the agreement.
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Capitol Quarter Foundations, Frames Coming Down
Oct 16, 2008 2:10 AM
I Twittered this about a half-hour ago, but I thought I'd let the Web 1.0 folks know that demolition is underway on the south side of L Street between Fourth and Fifth, taking down the framing and foundation of the Capitol Quarter townhouses that are going to have to be redone. (Why? Read this.)

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More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter

Roundup: ANC 6D Agenda, 11th Street Bridges Short List, Metro Ballpark Crowds
Oct 15, 2008 2:20 PM
* The ANC 6D agenda for its meeting on Monday Oct. 20 has been sent around (though not yet posted online). There will be a discussion of the Ballpark Traffic Operations and Parking Plan as it relates to Southwest, plus public space requests for building signage at 909 New Jersey and "Brick Walls for Trash Enclosures" at Capitol Quarter. (These are also on the Oct. 23 agenda of the city's Public Space Commitee.)
* The short list for a design/build team to reconstruct the 11th Street Bridges is out--Shirley Design-Build LLC, Skansa/Facchina, Archer Western Contractors LLC, Perini/Parsons Joint Venture, and KCA Constructors Joint Venture. According to the procurement schedule, a draft RFP should already be out (haven't found it online), and final RFP should be issued by the end of the year, with a contract signed with the vendor by June 1, 2009.
* Metro announced yesterday that 53 percent of baseball game attendees this year arrived at Nationals Park via Metrorail. That's 1.8 million bodies, averaging 23,000 people entering and exiting the Navy Yard station at the 80 home games in 2008. (It apparently doesn't count people who took the bus or walked down from Capitol South.) In the last two years at RFK, only 38 percent of attendees took the subway. Marc Fisher has some thoughts on it all (including some questions on Metro's math).

Anacostia Waterfront Community Fair on Nov. 15
Oct 14, 2008 6:01 PM
Back in January the city held the first Anacostia Waterfront Community Fair, with representatives from not only developers but city agencies manning booths with all sorts of information about all the projects planned along the Anacostia River corridor. It seemed to have been well received at the time, and clearly it was judged a success because they've now scheduled a second go-round, on Saturday Nov. 15 from 1 pm to 5 pm, this time at Nationals Park. Here's the "save the date flyer"--the e-mail alert I received about the event says that, in addition to info on projects and refreshments, there will be "waterfront tours."
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Demolished Buildings Gallery, Now in Poster Form
Oct 14, 2008 1:17 PM
(Warning: this is another one of those goofy things I've done for myself that I'm just throwing open to the masses in case anyone's interested.) On a lark a few weeks ago, I created a poster-sized photo gallery of more than 100 of the buildings demolished in Near Southeast since I started taking pictures, which I've pompously titled "Before the Ballpark." It comes in two sizes: 16x24 or 20x30, and having just received the prints myself, I have to say that the reproduction quality is pretty darn good--certainly suitable for framing and hanging in the house, apartment, condo, workspace, restaurant, or sales office of your choice. Ordering is done through Qoop.com, and though I do get a small royalty, I don't have anything to do with the taking or fulfilling of orders. (Thank goodness.)
There might be other items to come, after I get my life back in mid-November.
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