Near Southeast DC: Past News Items - May 2007
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NBC4 on Camping at Capitol Quarter
May 31, 2007 10:20 PM
I was trying desperately to ignore this, because of inexcusable factual errors from the text version that make me want to prevent them from getting any traffic from this link, but people are inundating me with the clip, so here you go: NBC 4 ran a piece on Wednesday about Capitol Quarter, with video of the folks camping out. So if you can get past the labeling of the development as being "East of the River" (grrrrr) and the mention of its location as being near the "East-West Freeway" (GRRRRRRRRRRRR), enjoy. Impossibly high standards aside, the piece gives a good overview of what's happening, although there's no real news in it for regular readers here.
More posts: Capper, Capitol Quarter

Farmers Market Launching at New DOT Plaza
May 31, 2007 4:14 PM

A very cool announcement just arrived in my inbox, with news there is now going to be a Farmer's Market every Tuesday at the new plaza on the southwest corner of the DOT site, on New Jersey Avenue. It will run from 10 am to 2 pm, with "Farm-Fresh Produce, Baked Goods and More!" And then you can sit on the new plaza, by the new "water wall", and munch on your goodies. This will be a very nice (and healthy) addition to the food choices in Near Southeast, at least on Tuesdays.... UPDATE: I should add that this is not technically a new undertaking--DOT (along with the USDA) began running a weekly summer farmer's market back during the Clinton administration at their old building in Southwest, and are bringing the tradition along with them to their new home.

New Sidewalks on New Jersey
May 31, 2007 12:53 PM
Thanks to reader G. for giving me a heads up on the work being done along New Jersey Avenue to put in new sidewalks (specifically across the street from Capitol Hill Tower and alongside the DPW Trash Transfer station north of K). DDOT tells me that this is part of the planned South Capitol Streetscape improvements that we'll be seeing over the next few months along the streets between New Jersey and South Capitol. I don't have many details yet on exactly what the improvements will entail and the exact locations, but I think we'll get some additional information from next week's DDOT briefing on the Douglass Bridge Extreme Makeover. These may not be fabulous artsy-fartsy sidewalks in this phase, but concrete is better than dirt pathways--and when the blocks get redeveloped, the developers will be responsible for bringing their sidewalks up to Anacostia Waterfront Initiative standards. The new New Jersey Avenue sidewalks are being done all the way north to the freeway, to make it easier for folks to walk to Capitol Hill--and by extension, to the Capitol South Metro station (take note, ballpark-goers).
More posts: New Jersey Ave.

Ballpark and Beyond: This Week's Links
May 31, 2007 1:32 AM
Welcome to those of you wandering over from my Ballpark and Beyond column this week in the Post's District Extra. I promised that if you visited here, you'd get links to all those fabulous sites and documents you read about, and so here they are:
* WMATA Bus Garage Move to DC Village: Here is the Metro press release about the board's action on the proposed move of the garage, and also the May 24 board meeting's agenda, and the link to the archived audiocast (the bus garage item is about 50 minutes into the audio).
* Capitol Riverfront BID: The text of the bill before the council creating the BID is online; the Capitol Riverfront BID web site has their executive summary, bylaws, and operating plan; and the council hearing on the bill is June 12.
* Camping Out at Capitol Quarter: You can visit the official Capitol Quarter web site for information on the market-rate townhouses for sale, and the Capitol Quarter Workforce Housing web site for details on how the program works, what income levels qualify, and the restrictions placed on buyers. And there's my Capitol Quarter page, too, for photos and more links.
And feel free to scroll down and read my entries that didn't make the paper (I'm far more talkative than the print version could possibly handle), and click on the map at right to learn more about what's happening in Near Southeast.
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Last Douglass Bridge Weekend Closure
May 30, 2007 1:22 PM
From DDOT, a reminder that the last weekend closure of the outbound/southbound lanes of the Douglass Bridge (i.e., the South Capitol Street Bridge) is on tap, starting at 10 pm Friday June 1 and reopening sometime before the Monday June 4 afternoon rush hour. Of course, in a few weeks we'll all be dreaming of the days of mere weekend closures, when the bridge is closed in both directions for all of July and August for its Extreme Makeover, when "the bridge's elevated northern approach will be lowered to become an at-grade roadway with a new intersection at South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue. Additional improvements will occur such as paving and painting the entire bridge. Ultimately, nearly three blocks of elevated roadway--which currently act as a barrier to access across South Capitol Street--will be removed and replaced with at-grade intersections that will help knit the neighborhood together."

June: Month O'Meetings
May 29, 2007 12:41 PM

The calendar for June is quickly filling up with all sorts of meetings and hearings on various Near Southeast-related projects, and although I've been adding them to my Upcoming Events list, I thought it would be a good idea to highlight them. So mark your calendars, and if you're interested in participating, many of the links have information on how to do so.

* It's not actually in June, but on May 31 at 6:30 pm (close enough!), the Zoning Commission is having another public hearing at 6:30 pm at One Judiciary Square on Case 06-41, Camden Development/1325 South Capitol Street, this time to consider the project as a consolidated planned unit development and map amendment request to rezone as C-3-C.
* The Anacostia Waterfront Corporation public board meeting originally scheduled for last week was postponed and will now be held on June 1 at 1105 New Jersey Ave., SE, at 6 pm; agenda items include "South Capitol Waterfront Modification of Contract for Parsons Brinckerhoff" (which I believe has to do with the project to design Diamond Teague Park) and "Baseball District: Western Development Litigation" (which is the lawsuit that resulted from when the city opted not to move forward with Herb Miller's Garages Wrapped With Development Goodness plan for on-site stadium parking).
* On June 7, the DC Council Committee on Workforce Development and Government Operations is having a Public Oversight Hearing at the Wilson Building at 9 am on the proposed relocation of the Metropolitan Police Department Headquarters to 225 Virginia Ave., SE, also known as the old Star/Post plant. (UPDATED with a date change to June 7.)
* On June 12, the council's Committee on Finance and Revenue will have a public hearing at 11 am on the bill to create the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District (bill B17-0208, "Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District Amendment Act of 2007").
* On June 14, WMATA's Planning, Development, and Real Estate Committee will be meeting, and included in their anticipated agenda items is "approval of developer selection and term sheet for the Navy Yard station east entrance", which is referring to a joint development solicitation proposal back in September 2006, looking to develop the 4,400 square feet owned by WMATA above the Navy Yard station entrance at New Jersey and M with some combination of a public plaza at ground level and development above it.
* On June 16, the council's Committee on Economic Development is having a Public Roundtable on "Progress of Economic Development Projects in Southwest and Near Southeast DC," at the Westminster Presbyterian Church at 400 I St., SW, at 10 am. (This was listed in the June issue of the Southwester, I don't have a link to an official announcement yet.) UPDATE, 6/1: I've now got a copy of the meeting notice.
* And on June 20, the Zoning Commission is having a public hearing at One Judiciary Square at 6:30 pm on Case 06-32, a proposed text amendment to add Square 766 [the old Post Plant at 225 Virginia Ave.] to the Capitol South Receiving Zone, a move that would allow greater height and density on the lot than under its current zoning.
So, don't ever say that this stuff sneaks through the political process without anyone knowing about it! The trick is trying to stay awake through it all.
UPDATE: I should add, even though it's outside of my purview, that on June 7 there will be a Zoning Commission hearing on the updated plans for Waterside Mall on M Street in Southwest.

Updated Stadium Photos
May 28, 2007 5:01 PM
Despite the bleccch weather of the weekend (hazy and humid does not make for pictures that "pop"), I did make the circuit around the ballpark on Sunday and so have updated my Stadium Exterior Construction Photo Gallery. And we need to enjoy the pictures from the raised portion of South Capitol Street between the river and O Street, because I've only got one month left to stand at those vantage points until the viaduct gets closed and the makeover begins. Waah! (Though I'm willing to sacrifice those perches if it results in a cleaned-up South Capitol Street.)
More posts: Nationals Park

Stadium Art: Yes. No. Yes. No.
May 28, 2007 3:42 PM

Last week, I posted about a Call for Artists posted on the web site of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities to "design and create a suspended public art installation along the main concourse of the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium," with a budget for the project of $200,000. Well, according to today's Examiner, it turns out that back on May 15, when the city's budget was approved, the $850,000 originally included for spending on various stadium art-related projects was zeroed out because, you guessed it, the council determined that this money if spent would violate the $611 million spending cap on All Things Ballpark, even though a plan had been hatched earlier this year where "art was to be purchased with general obligation bonds, permanently owned by the commission and leased to the team at no cost, which put the works outside" the cap. And note that, rather than now being able to spend that $850,000 on other arts projects in the city, the commission doesn't have access to that money at all. The Examiner says that the Fenty administration is "still is negotiating to revive the projects."

More posts: Nationals Park

Post Writes About The Yards
May 28, 2007 9:34 AM
Today's Post Business section has "A Neighborhood Rises at The Yards," which gives a quick overview of the plans for the old Southeast Federal Center, as well as a profile of Deborah Ratner Salzberg of Forest City Washington. The article mentions a lot of what I posted back in March, that the infrastructure work at the Yards will begin soon (sewer lines, paving streets, putting up street lights and planting trees) so that it can look a bit more presentable when baseball arrives across the street in 2008. (It's expected that surface parking for stadium-goers will be available on lots at The Yards not slated for immediate redevelopment, but no announcement has been made yet.) The article also confirms my previously posted information that the brown-and-white Building 160/Old Pattern/Joiner Shop will be rehabilitated as a residential building, with an expected completion date in 2009. The article also mentions that Building 173/the Old Lumber Storage Shed (the terra cotta-colored building at the north end of the site of the planned five-acre waterfront park) will be remade into a restaurant pavilion; the first phase of the park is expected in 2010. Additional near-term projects not mentioned in the story are the planned renovation of Building 167/the Old Boiler Maker's Shop just to the rear of the new DOT HQ into a retail building and the redevelopment of Building 202/the Old Gun Assembly Shop at 5th and M into another residential block in a joint project between Forest City and PN Hoffman.
You can look at my Yards overview page for a hard-to-read map and guide to the various projects expected to come during the many years of the Yards' redevelopment; there's also plenty of pictures on the Yards Photos tab, as well as a new rendering that appeared with the Post story of what Building 160's renovation will look like. You'll also see at the top of the page a shot of the new Yards sign that appeared at 1st and N this past week.

Northbound South Capitol Access at Potomac Ave. [Sometimes] Closed; Briefing on Bridge Plans
May 27, 2007 11:57 AM

For those of you who like to drive the loop around the stadium site to check out the latest progress, be advised that you can no longer go will often find the road closed north from Potomac Avenue on the mini-South Capitol Street that runs on the east side of the viaduct (pictures here); it's been closed as prep work gets underway for the lowering of the Douglass Bridge starting in July. The work now starting on the new Nationals office building that will run along the southern end of South Capitol Street (see my stadium renderings page for drawings) has spilled out into that access road from time to time over the past week or sol. If you don't make that drive yourself and are hoping for an update to my Stadium Construction Gallery, I'm somewhat hamstrung by the overcast weather this weekend (which makes for pretty icky photos), so unless there's a break in the cloud cover it may possibly be a few days before I add a new batch of shots.

Speaking of the bridge work, on June 7 DDOT is having a press briefing on the project, which they are now calling an "Extreme Makeover" -- hmmmm, I think I said that first ;-). The briefing will discuss traffic detours, construction plans and schedule, commuting solutions (such as Bridge Bucks), and the additional improvements to South Capitol Street that are coming. In other words, soon we'll finally get the details on how this is all going to shake out.
UPDATE: Apologies for the mix-up in the comments above about the street closure; it's open today, when no work is going on at the stadium site. And, just to repay you for that boo-boo, I went out and took pictures even though the sky is not bright blue; will probably have them posted tomorrow.

WMATA Approves Temporary Altering of Douglass Bridge Bus Routes
May 25, 2007 10:05 PM

I mentioned this in my preview of Thursday's WMATA board meeting, but then missed it in my summary of what happened, so we'll throw it over to the Post: "Fares on four Metrobus routes that will be detoured in July and August, when District officials will close the South Capitol Street Bridge for a major construction project, will be temporarily reduced, the Metro board said.The fare on the A9 route will go from $1.25 to 75 cents, and the express bus fare on the P17, P19 and W13 routes will drop from $3 to $1.25 during construction. The routes will temporarily end at Metrorail stations on the Green Line to help buses and commuters avoid traffic detoured by the bridge closing. The A9 (South Capitol Street Line) will end at the Anacostia station, and the P17, P19 (Oxon Hill-Fort Washington Line) and W13 (Bock Road Line) routes will end at the Southern Avenue Metrorail station."

The Post piece also briefly mentions the vote to move the Southeastern Bus Garage to DC Village, and you can read my entry from yesterday for more detail on how exactly the debate went, and also for links to various documents about the move. There was no word today that I've heard as to whether the city had reached a deal on moving the shelter beds currently at DC Village--remember, if that doesn't happen by Thursday May 31, the boards' approval vote of the move and the various next steps does not take effect. And you can listen to the archived audiocast of the meeting if you're especially interested.

Capitol Riverfront BID Legislation Introduced
May 25, 2007 10:31 AM
It's a Capitol Riverfront kind of day here, as I now see that the bill to create the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District was introduced to the DC city council last week by Tommy Wells and Jack Evans; it's B17-0208, "Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District Amendment Act of 2007." The text of the bill is online; it describes the boundaries as being all of Near Southeast and most of Buzzards Point (from 2nd Street SW eastward, with a few jogs along Q and P), and it sets out the taxes it will assess on commercial properties within the BID. No word yet on when hearings will be. You can visit the Capitol Riverfront BID web site to read their executive summary, bylaws, and operating plan, and also take a look at some of my previous entries on the creation of the BID. And what exactly is a Business Improvement District? It's an area where the majority of property owners agree to an "self-tax" that pays for services that aren't provided by the city, like security, public space maintenance and cleanup, marketing, promotion, development, parking, transportation, etc. Here's the Wikipedia entry, if you want more general background on BIDs, and RestoreDC also has a page on DC's BIDs.

Capitol Riverfront Promo Video Available
May 25, 2007 10:07 AM

Hat tip to reader K. for the news that the Capitol Riverfront promotional video commissioned by the Washington DC Economic Partnership I mentioned last week is now available online (it's not streaming, you have to wait for the 4 MB or so Quicktime file to download before watching it). Quoting again from the press release: "The five-minute video fuses massing models, renderings, map graphics, fly-by animations, copy writing and narration into a montage of the current and planned development of this highly sought-after area of Washington, DC." Definitely watch it, it's very well done as these things go, although anyone who spends time at JDLand won't see any great surprises. Keep in mind that it's a video geared toward investors and commercial entities, with plenty of statistics and enticing images (millions of square feet of office space! thousands of new residential units! stadiums! riverwalks! happy patrons strolling past shiny new chain establishments!) but there are some neat animated snippets of some of the buildings in progress in Near Southeast, and renderings maps of the plans for the Southwest Waterfront and Poplar Point. One thing I did learn--the map in the video shows the possible DC United stadium at Poplar Point as being located more to east, across from the Navy Yard, and not on the little peninsula directly across the river from the Nationals ballpark.

More posts:

All Sorts of New Overhead Photos Posted
May 24, 2007 10:46 PM
What a beautiful day! And with that weather, what luck that I had arranged some trips high up into a few of the tall buildings around the neighborhood to get new shots of the latest demolished lots and holes in the ground. I've uploaded these new pictures From Above and matched them with "before" shots on a whole slew of pages (you might have to scroll a bit to see the new pictures): Nation/1015 Half, the old Edge/Wet block on Square 699N, the North of M overview page, the Monument Half Street page (that's a biiiiig hole in the ground), the 100 M/Onyx on First page (where the construction on the Onyx end of the block is getting close to street level), 70/100 I Street, 909 New Jersey (showing the A1 garage all alone) and even the Stadium Construction Gallery (waaaaaay at the bottom, with a view from just a bit to the side of Dead Center Field, albeit four blocks away). I also created a new Overhead Photos page, showing all the ones I've posted on the site, grouped together by location. And I also created a special view with larger-than-usual pictures from today (don't miss it!), because it was so beautiful and you really could see forever from those high-up locations, and I wanted people to be able to see more than just little specks of buildings.

Interview with Ballpark Project Manager
May 24, 2007 4:48 PM
Thanks to the legions of folks who sent me this link today (it's been kind of a busy day!)--it's video of an interview (11 minutes) yesterday on Washington Post Live with John Stranix, who represents the owners as a project manager for the new Nationals ballpark. Short version? It's going great! Otherwise, not much news that hasn't been posted here (except for mentioning that the turf will be put down in October). But you do get to see the computer-generated tour of the stadium again, along with some recent video clips from the infield.
More posts: Nationals Park

WMATA Board Approves Plan to Move to DC Village. Except....
May 24, 2007 1:36 PM
At today's WMATA board meeting, the board approved the plans to move forward with the move of the Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M streets to DC Village. The specific actions they approved were to hold a public hearing on the project, advertise the Phase 1 construction contract, negotiate with the city to aquire the DC Village property, apply for a Federal bus facility grant, and authorize the sale of the garage and its parking lot; however, board member (and DC councilman) Jim Graham asked for an amendment to the resolution, stating that if the city does not have an agreement on the relocation of the homeless shelter currently at DC Village (which would be closed with the move of the garage) within seven days, this resolution will not take effect. Graham said that he had hoped the deal would have been completed by today, but that "the word immiment really accurately describes how close we are." If there is no deal, the resolution would have to come back to the WMATA board again for re-approval next month. If the agreement is reached, then Metro is planning to have a public hearing on the proposed plan, probably in July based on now having to wait for the shelter agreement to be struck. Here is the Metro press release about the board's action and the proposed move of the garage, and also the meeting's agenda, and the link to the archived audiocast (the bus garage item is about 50 minutes into the audio).

The Blog Goes Multi-Platform
May 24, 2007 12:49 AM

We've got a bit of a milestone here at JDLand, because starting today the Post's District Extra section has a new column called "Ballpark and Beyond," which will take selected news and photos from this very blog and publish them in convenient, on-the-go, dead-tree format. (So if you don't get the paper, or you don't get the DC edition, pick one up when you're within the city limits on Thursday to check it out.) It's quite exciting, as you can imagine, to be able to have my work here be circulated out to a much wider audience, and it's also great that the Post is finding a place in print for news that is very "hyperlocal." (This is probably where I should mention that I've worked in the Post newsroom for nine years, not as a reporter or editor but as a computer geek, and that this web site has always been and will continue to be my own project.)

If you're a long-time visitor to the site, don't worry, nothing is going to change. I'll still yammer on incessantly about renderings and zoning text amendments, though perhaps with fuller explanations than I have in the past (to catch the newcomers reading the print version up to speed). But otherwise, I'm going to keep on doing what I've always done. Just think of this as the site going "multi-platform."
For those of you who are new to the site, thanks for dropping by, and I hope you'll take a look around to see what's available. The map to the right gives you the basics--move your mouse over it, and you'll get information on the various projects in the neighborhood. (You can also scroll down to the Project Directory for a more straightforward list of what's happening.) Click on the map, and you'll be taken to the project pages, where you can get more detail, links, photos, and news items (here's my Nationals Ballpark page as an example--be sure to click on the "tabs" to see the additional information). There's also the Photo Archive, where you can pick an intersection and see a sampling of the thousands of photos I've taken of Near Southeast since 2003, and watch the view change. (Or not change, depending on where you're looking.) I also have data feeds from the DC government that are updated daily with crime reports, public space and building permits, service requests, and recent real estate transactions. Plus there's a calendar of upcoming events. And of course you should check back often to see what the latest is, because I post new items a heck of a lot more than once a week.
So hopefully this new venture will be a success. And who knows, maybe there's more to come.
PS: You can now also get to this site by using the URL www.ballparkandbeyond.com. But do not fear, it'll always be at JDLand.

More posts:

More Stadium Garage Renderings
May 23, 2007 4:19 PM
I don't know if these are new, or just new to me, but I found today two new drawings of the infamous parking garages now under construction on the north end of the ballpark site, which I've put on my Stadium Renderings page (they came from the DC Sports and Entertainment Commissions' Ballpark Gallery). One shows an overhead view of the two garages, and the second appears to be a ground-level view of the western garage as it would look to fans arriving via the main plaza at Half and N streets. I guess we won't have to wait all that much longer to see if the pretty watercolor renderings match what ends up being built.
More posts: parking, Nationals Park

Humane Society Shelter Opening Now Scheduled for September
May 23, 2007 1:03 PM
In an Examiner article today about the Washington Humane Society's plan to consolidate operations in a single building in Northeast, it was mentioned that the planned Spay/Neuter Clinic under construction at 10th and L SE is now going to open in September; I guess the June move-in date announced back in April arrived a little too quickly. For more on the plans, I'll quote again from the society's Spring 2007 newsletter: "As if being the largest Spay/Neuter Clinic in the Metropolitan area was not already enough, in June 2007, the Washington Humane Society will unveil the first ever low-cost Regional Spay/Neuter Center, created specifically to service the entire DC metropolitan area. The new facility will be named the National Capital Area Spay and Neuter Surgical Center. The current low-cost Spay/Neuter Clinic is located on Georgia Avenue in Northwest and will move to Capitol Hill, 1001 L Street, SE to a facility that is nearly four times the size of the current location. [...] The new National Capital Area Spay and Neuter Surgical Center will provide an average of fifty sterilization surgeries on both dogs and cats every day, five days a week."
More posts: spayclinic, square 976

Bridge Bucks Program Debuts
May 23, 2007 12:55 PM
A couple weeks back I posted about DDOT's new "Bridge Bucks" program, which offers $50 per month toward transit fares and vanpool fees for people who will be affected by this summer's Extreme Makeover: Frederick Douglass Bridge. DDOT sent out a press release yesterday saying that the program has now launched, and you can visit the Bridge Bucks site for more details. Or, as I said then, avoid it all and just take a nice eight-week summer vacation; you could spend it camping at 4th and L.
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