Near Southeast DC: Past News Items - May 2006
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Background on Demolished Richards House
May 31, 2006 2:31 PM

Because I've been writing about Near Southeast for 3 1/2 years now, I admit to not always explaining every item in minute detail--I work under the assumption that everyone's been reading along from the beginning and has committed every iota of my prose to memory. (It's not at all a wise strategy, but you have to admit it saves space.) Anyway, I made mentions over the past few weeks of the demolition of the one nice structure on the ballpark site, which I referred to as the Ken Wyban house (after it's last owner). I didn't give much additional background, but you can go to Douglas Willinger's South Capitol Street Frederick Douglass Mall blog to get a bit more detail--it was actually the Alfred Richards House, built in the 1840s and named after it's original owner. (You'll recognize a lot of familiar verbage and photos in the entry, as Willinger quotes from my site--thanks for the hat tip.) The blog itself discusses the fate of South Capitol Street, which in 1990s planning documents was going to be transformed into a grand boulevard/promenade--the stadium has changed those plans, and Willinger is not happy...

An Umpire for the Stadium?
May 31, 2006 2:24 PM
the Post's DC Wire blog reports today that Mayor Williams has proposed an Office of Baseball, at a cost of $750,000. Why? As DCist succinctly puts it, "Essentially, this new Office of Baseball will serve to mediate conflicts between the D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission, the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation, and the Lerner family." (The brewing battle over the stadium's parking garages shows that the three groups aren't exactly on the same page.) But, in a stunner, the DC Council appears uninterested in shelling out another batch of dough having to do with the stadium.
UPDATE: Speaking of the stadium, Clark/Hunt/Smoot has now posted the final version of the Project Labor Agreement, signed back in late March.
UPDATE II: Here's the Post's piece on the Office of Baseball, and the WashTimes piece, which seems to have the most information (including that Williams has already signed an executive order creating the office). It also includes some info on the parking garages debate: "City Administrator Robert Bobb said District officials planned to meet with the Lerners and officials from the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. yesterday and today to discuss possible solutions to the parking question. He said the groups would reach an agreement about the placement of the parking structure by this afternoon and that the plans would be complete when submitted to the National Capitol Planning Commission tomorrow." (Which tells me that NCPC didn't remind me to look at their agenda for today's meeting! Waah! There's a request for "approval of preliminary and final site and building plans" for the stadium.)
More posts: parking, Nationals Park

New Pictures: 20 M and Capper Seniors #2
May 30, 2006 8:37 AM

Both the office building at 20 M Street and the wraparound construction at Capper Seniors #2 are starting to become much more visible, so I've added new pictures to each of their pages.

June Events at the Naval Historical Center
May 30, 2006 7:53 AM
The Naval Historical Center at the Navy Yard has released its list of June events, which I've added to my Neighborhood Calendar.
More posts: Navy Yard

Stadium Construction Update
May 28, 2006 9:00 AM
The one structure on the stadium site that maybe should have been saved--the Victorian rowhouse at Van and N--was demolished late this week, leaving now just the buildings on the east side of Half Street between N and O as the only ones left to take down. I added a couple of new shots to the stadium construction gallery, although not a full complement (I'm being lazy this holiday weekend). I'll also note that the WashTimes ran its own piece on Saturday on the looming battle between the city and the Lerners over the parking garages....
More posts: Nationals Park

Capitol Quarter Prices Go Up
May 26, 2006 7:13 PM
Without a shovel in the ground, EYA has raised the prices on the upcoming Capitol Quarter townhome development at Capper/Carrollsburg--their page now says "Townhomes from $500s" (up from $400s). Cha-ching! They still appear to be targeting Fall 2006 for the start of sales.
More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter

100 M Street Given Zoning Approval
May 26, 2006 10:41 AM

In news from last night's Zoning Commission meeting (and thank the heavens that DCOZ has gotten its live webcast up and running again), the commission gave final approval to the office building proposed for 100 M Street, a 263,000-sq-ft tower being developed by Opus East. Opus is planning to do its construction contemporaneously with the Faison residential project just to its north, and indications are that they plan to start work by the end of this year. A side note--Opus was unable to procure lot 0800, a 1,485-sq-ft empty triangular lot that runs along the southeast portion of Opus's land, abutting the north-south alley at New Jersey Avenue. It makes no real difference in Opus's plans, but is another interesting example of people not selling to developers, which is a fine-enough stand except for when you have a lot that will then be unable to ever have anything built on it....

More posts: 100 M, Square 743N, zoning

More Zoning Commission Actions
May 26, 2006 10:04 AM

Also from last night, the Zoning Commission worked on two Office of Planning proposed amendments to the Capitol Gateway Overlay, Case 05-10 (which was given first approval and will now enter a 30-day comment period), and Case 06-25, which was approved for setdown. Case 05-10 had its hearing in January (here's the transcript, as well as the draft of the changes requested), but has had a few deferrments. Case 06-25 is a proposed CG Overlay amendment to extend the CG boundaries to include properties on the west side of South Capitol Street from M Street south, so that the character of both sides of South Capitol Street matches.

Finally, they discussed Case 06-22, which is the baseball stadium--the hearing itself will be on June 26, this was just a session to allow the commissioners to make comments that the petitioners can then be ready to address at the hearing. Many concerns were expressed about the parking structures, and also about the South Plaza (why it's in a spot where there won't be many people), and about the "knife-edge" administration building. They are interested in finding out "best practices" from other stadiums in urban settings, how parking is handled in those situations. The June hearing should be interesting....

Stadium Parking Lots--Aboveground or Underground?
May 25, 2006 8:34 AM

"Owners Want City to Shift Gears on Parking," from today's Post, tells that the Lerners want the parking structures that are part of the stadium site to be built aboveground, while city planners have been pushing to have the garages moved underground so as not to take up precious space with the boxy structures. The stadium's budget calls for two aboveground parking lots, along the north side of the stadium site on N Street, and the Lerners seem concerned that the parking be done in time for the stadium opening, which would be harder to do if the parking garages were belowground (not to mention the extra millions of dollars it would cost--out of the Lerners's pockets--to move them underground). The city is trying to negotiate a compromise. We shall see.... (It should be noted that, despite how the article reads, these structures would not replace the "Ballpark District"--there are still the blocks north of M Street between South Capitol and 1st that are part of the Ballpark District planning of the AWC--this would just mean that the very northern part of the stadium site, along N Street, wouldn't have additional entertainment offerings.)

More posts: parking, Nationals Park

Stadium Construction Update
May 24, 2006 11:30 AM
Pile driving has begun at the ballpark site, at a spot just northwest of Ist and (formerly) O streets. And the red-brick car repair building on the west side of Half Street has now been demolished, leaving only the industrial buildings on the east side of Half and south side of N, plus Ken Wyban's house on N Street.
More posts: Nationals Park

Historic Preservation Board Review of Southeast Federal Center
May 23, 2006 9:56 AM
Short notice, but on May 25, the DC Historic Preservation Review Board will be doing a "Section 106 Review/Master Plan Review" of the Southeast Federal Center/Washington Navy Yard Annex, as part of the HPRB's May meeting. The meeting notice lists this as "General Services Administration and Forest City Washington, Programmatic Agreement, Master Plan, and Historic Preservation Design Guidelines." I can't tell you much more--after perusing the "Citizen's Guide to Section 106 Review"; I imagine this review is to make some determination about the five old buildings remaining on the SFC site, and how they will be handled during the redevelopment of the Federal Center (which should be getting underway later this year, according to various published accounts).
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More posts: The Yards

DOT Move-In Date
May 22, 2006 9:42 AM

With the new US DOT HQ getting close to completion, it's time to start wondering when staff will actually start moving in. An internal Q&A recently said that the official move-in date for now remains September, but may be moved to early 2007 because of a change order for construction that GSA is negotiating. It also says that the move will take place over an 11-week period. And clearly some staff are not looking forward to the new digs, as evidenced by

JPI NJ Ave. Project Gets BZA Approval
May 22, 2006 9:37 AM
A teensy bit slow on this, I apologize, but I did want to note that the second of JPI's two residential projects in Near Southeast, at 901 New Jersey Avenue (sometimes better known as the "Nexus Site") received approval last Tuesday from the Board of Zoning Adjustment for its variance and special exception applications. There was one condition put on the application--that any antennas on the roof be hidden from view--and JPI agreed to that. Construction will probably begin on this site late in 2006 (ditto for JPI's other site, on I Street).

New Stadium Site Photos
May 20, 2006 1:25 PM
The last building along O Street between South Capitol and Half streets (the "Heat" building at the corner) is now a pile of rubble, completing the demolition of the gay clubs. I took a boatload of photos today, from all angles around the stadium site, and have added them to the stadium construction gallery. Let the icon be your guide.
More posts: Nationals Park

What to Call Near Southeast
May 19, 2006 9:02 PM
I've been remiss in not posting this piece from May's Hill Rag: "Navy Yard or Capitol Quarter?" which talks about what to call the neighborhood I've devoted this web site to. The article says: "City planning maps say 'Near Southeast' but nobody uses that name." I'd argue with that (after all, this site has been called "Near Southeast DC Redevelopment" for 3 1/2 years now), and I would also note that, even as far back as the 1930s, the Washington Post was referring to the area as "Near Southeast." I know that some people want to call the neighborhood "Navy Yard," but I find that a little hard to work with, given that the Navy Yard itself is as large as some neighborhoods in the city--if a few years from now someone says, "Hey, this great restaurant opened in Navy Yard," isn't the response always going to be, "Do you mean the Navy Yard neighborhood, or within the Navy Yard itself?" I would imagine that eventually the neighborhood's image will be very much tied to the stadium, and also to the waterfront, and a name will assert itself from there, and not from attempts by developers and consultants to name the entire area based on their own projects...
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Today's Stadium Demolition Update
May 17, 2006 9:21 AM
Two more buildings have come down in the ballpark footprint in the last 24 hours: the blue Follies building on O Street, and the AAMCO car repair shop on South Capitol between N and O. And the white garage at 1st and N continues to be demolished, the brick parts of the structure near N Place were torn down yesterday.
FRIDAY UPDATE: The trash garage at 1st and O is now completely gone; so is the third of the four buildings on the north side of O (leaving only the four-story building that was home to Heat). The buildings along Half between O and N remain, however--they're probably on next week's agenda. (No new pictures, I'm trying to pace myself a bit.) Even better news--during the 30 minutes I spent walking around the ballpark site, the prices at the Half and M Sunoco dropped from $3.19 to $3.11. (No, I'm not taking credit.)
More posts: 50m, Nationals Park

AWC Board Meeting Tonight
May 17, 2006 9:20 AM
Note that there is a Anacostia Waterfront Corporation Public Board Meeting tonight at 6 pm, at 1901 Mississippi Ave., SE. Remember to check my Neighborhood Events Calendar (down the home page a bit on the right side) to keep up with public meetings, hearings, and events.

Project for *Other* Side of South Capitol Street
May 15, 2006 9:15 PM

Longtime readers know that I'm pretty militant about remaining within my Near Southeast boundaries--otherwise, folks would have me covering the entire city, and I don't get enough sleep as it is :-). But I do relent once in a while, especially when it comes to something that's all of about 30 feet outside my purview, and so I'll mention this Post item, "Development Buzz Crosses South Capitol Street," which says: "A Texas real estate investment trust, Camden Living, bought two lots totaling about 41,000 square feet in the 1300 block of South Capitol St. SW at the corner of O Street, just across from the baseball stadium site. [...] Camden Living, which specializes in residential rental properties, is expected to build apartments on the lots, which now house a taxicab company, a storage lot and a small office building." I won't continue to follow this project, but at least those of you who are interested can now do your own sleuthing....

Van Ness Elementary School to be Closed
May 15, 2006 2:44 PM
In what shouldn't be a shock at this point, the superintendent of the DC public schools has recommended that Van Ness Elementary be one of six schools to be closed by August, according to the Post ("D.C. Will Close Six Public Schools"). The 90 students that are currently at Van Ness (in Head Start and special-ed courses) would be moved to Prospect Elementary. The school board will hold public hearings on the plan and take a final vote June 28--you can see the Superintendent's Recommendation Report for more information. But keep in mind, as I mentioned in a previous entry: "However, as school board member Tommy Wells explained, the city won't be selling school properties, and the feeling is very strong that an elementary school must remain in Near Southeast. Given that Van Ness's M Street location could be enticing to developers, it's possible that the city would agree to a swap, to have a new Van Ness built somewhere else in the neighborhood in exchange for a developer getting rights to the 5th and M lot."

Another Day, Another Stadium Demolition Update
May 15, 2006 2:35 PM
The four red-brick rowhouses on N Street between Van and South Capitol bit the dust today; my stadium construction gallery has before-and-after photos, as well as some updated shots of the demolition of the trash transfer garage at 1st and N. (Note that Ken Wyban's restored Victorian townhouse is still standing, at least as of today. Maybe they'll hang onto it for a while, and think about including it in any of the non-stadium entertainment development they might be planning for that spot?)
More posts: Nationals Park
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