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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: June 2009
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1244 South Capitol
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1333 M St.
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20 M ('07)
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On Saturday I finally took some updated photos of the no-longer-beige building at 900 M, and confirmed that there is a "Domino's Coming Soon" sign in the window. I also moseyed a few blocks east to get my first photos of the demolition of the ramps between the 11th Street Bridges and RFK--the photos don't do a very good job of capturing the progress, though comparing them with their befores does help. I also added a few of the shots to my 11th Street Bridges photos page, or you can just browse the entire batch of photos from the day.
 

The DC Housing Authority, which has been unable to find a corner of the financial markets unfrozen enough to buy bonds that in normal times would help pay for infrastructure and redevelopment, is applying for $9.5 million from a nearly $1 billion Housing and Urban Development "Capital Fund Recovery Act" fund that has been created to, among other things, provide "gap financing" for public housing projects, like Capper/Carrollsburg, that are stalled thanks to the problems in the municipal bond market.
According to this "narrative and schedule" that DCHA included with its application to HUD, the money would finance both public infrastructure and private site improvements needed to begin the construction of the second phase of the Capitol Quarter mixed-income townhouse development (the blocks between Third and Fourth south of I), which will have 163 units, 47 of which are public housing rental units (along with 60 market-rate, 39 workforce-rate, and 17 public housing home ownership units). The narrative indicates that the $55 million Capper PILOT bonds approved by the city council last year that were to fund the new community center and infrastructure improvements not only in the Phase II blocks but also on the north and east sides of Canal Park and over to the DPW site never made it into the bond market; attempts to secure loans from both Fannie Mae and Wachovia also were fruitless.
There's a lot of detail in the narrative that I'm not going to try to summarize (I start to glaze over once I get to Low Income Housing Tax Credits [LIHTC] and anything having to do with "leveraging"):, but it does say that if awarded the HUD CFRC grant money, DCHA would immediately have its engineers complete permit drawings, which can then be put into the city's permitting process (estimated to last 90 days), after which infrastructure work can begin--the schedule at the end of the document estimates a start date of Dec. 1. This work would include repair or replacement underground water, sewer, and "dry utilities" lines, new streets, curbs, and gutters, additional lighting, and public landscaping.
The HUD funds would also be used to pay for the land preparation costs and foundation construction of the 47 public housing units, covering a $1 million gap that occurred in the planned Phase II funding thanks to problems in the LIHTC market.
The housing authority says that, if this HUD money is not forthcoming, "over $41 million in economic activity in the District will not be realized," and that "approximately 150 construction and other related jobs will not be created." Plus, the delay in building these 47 public housing units "will continue to frustrate the hopes of former residents to return to their neighborhoods in order to reestablish the deep social roots that existed prior to the demolition of their apartments."
The grants will be awarded later this summer.
The AP Press wrote a few weeks ago about this HUD program, which was expanded in May beyond just the "high performing" housing authorities originally eligible to apply for funds; this $1 billion fund is money beyond the $3 billion in stimulus money that will be going to the nation's 3,100-plus housing authorities via formula-based distributions.
(Boy, I hate to post this at 4 pm on a summer Friday, when people aren't exactly attuned to grant applications. But news is news...)
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* Just out from DDOT (press release now online), a new "Where's My Bus" app for the Circulator buses. Go to circulator.dc.gov (it's formatted for cellphones and PDAs, but works in any browser), pick your line and stop, and find out how far away the next bus is. (Here's the information for the 4th and M stop, heading toward Union Station.) They say an iPhone app will be coming will be coming later this summer.
* From the BID's newsletter (which I'm not finding on their redesigned web site), the latest update on residential leasing and sales for the second quarter of 2009: The buildings known as Axiom and Jefferson (at 70 and 100 I) and Onyx on First are at a combined 60 percent leased for the 960 units in the three buildings; 909 New Jersey (which opened in early April) has 25 percent of its 237 units leased. The Capitol Quarter townhouses are listed at 88 of 113 units sold (though I'm not sure how the public housing rental and for-sale units figure into that number), and Capitol Hill Tower is reported as being 80 percent sold. No numbers are reported for Velocity Condos, which according to a presentation by Michael Stevens last week is supposed to open in late August or September. All told, the BID says there are an estimated 1,863 residents in the Capitol Riverfront.
* A WBJ piece from today's print edition on Willco Cos.'s new $100 million fund says that the company "does not plan to dip into the fund for development projects in the pipeline, such as its 700,000-square-foot mixed-use project adjacent to Nationals Park, at Square 701, the intersection of M and First streets SE. That project is in pre-development mode right now without a major tenant; Willco doesn't expect to kick off construction until it sees 'signs of life in that neighborhood,' Goldblatt said." This lot is probably better known as Nats Parking Lot F, and the former home of Normandie Liquors and other small businesses.
 

With thanks to reader JW for the eagle eyes, I can pass along that there is now a "Domino's Coming Soon" sign in the window in one of the three retail slots at 900 M Street, the beige building that was recently a dialysis center but originally was a Hudson car dealership. (Out of date photos here; guess I'd better get over there this weekend.) The leasing company has said they are looking for national tenants for the spaces--I haven't heard if there are any leases signed for the other two units. (Though my mind always wanders back to this story from last August that mentioned a Dunkin Donuts franchisee scouting locations near the Navy Yard.)
Now, will people consider this "new" retail in Near Southeast, or just a restoration of the old order? After all, Domino's used to be one of the few food options in Near Southeast, at its original outpost at South Capitol and M, until it closed in early 2008. (That site is owned by Monument.)
 

It's been a while since I've posted a big batch of new photos (and be assured that the guilt has been killing me), so I made a couple of quick runs today to rectify this. The showiest shots are to be had at Capitol Quarter, of course, with the houses on both sides of L between Fourth and Fifth now mostly occupied, and those up Fourth and on the south side of K now painted and landscaped. If you want an even fuller set of photos than what's on my CQ page, go to the CQ Phase I Expanded Archive to see all angles of the intersections where construction is either completed or still underway. (The multicolored houses up against the bright blue sky, lit by the summer-solstice-height-sun, show why I tend to wait for sunny days to update the photo archive. Well, that and I'm lazy and am always looking for an excuse to not go take pictures.)
Meanwhile, at Canal Park, I finally got some photos of the sod on the southern block, and the first hints of grass on the other two blocks as the seeding starts to grow in.
And, over at 1015 Half Street, the glass continues to be hung on the northern exterior, so I took some photos of that side of the building. (The southern side looks the same as it did in May, so I happily skipped those photos.) The block does now look a little different from when Nation was there.... (See the expanded archive for additional shots.)
Here's the complete batch of today's photos, but to see their "before"s, as well as the other photos along the way, click the icon. Or you can just browse the Photo Archive by street, direction, and/or date.
 

A few follow-ups from a recent entry:
* The Committee on Finance and Revenue held its hearing on Tuesday morning on B18-0299, the "Waterfront Park at the Yards Funding Act of 2009," which will create a fund to maintain and "program" the park from a special assessment on development at the Yards, plus sales tax revenues at the park's retail venues for five years, and proceeds from any "naming rights." The hearing wasn't exactly a barnburner--there were three three-minute statements by Jamison Weinbaum of the Office of the Deputy Mayor, Alex Nyhan of Forest City, and Michael Stevens of the Capitol Riverfront BID--Nyhan described the funding set-up as "taxing ourselves extra," and also mentioned that an $2 million for getting the park started has been secured from the USDOT PILOT funding.
Jack Evans really only had one question: how much will it cost the city? Weinbaum explained that the sales taxes from the retail pavilions that would normally go into the city's general fund will for five years go into this new maintenance fund, but since there is no income from the park's property now, there will be no net loss to the city, and then will be a gain after five years. Evans said that he likes this model of having the private sector taking care of the park (even though the park will be city-owned when it's completed).
If you want to see the testimonies and questions, watch the streaming video (you can skip ahead to the 1:09:00 mark, since it was a long hearing).
* The Twitter box at the top of my home page was out of commission on Tuesday, so those of you who don't suscribe to my Tweets either directly or on Facebook missed out on the flurry of updates about the natural gas smell at Third and Virginia. Reader MB (who had already called Washington Gas four times) talked to a cop who was parked at the intersection Tuesday morning, who called in the smell, and before long fire trucks had arrived, followed by Washington Gas. The southern part of the intersection was closed until nearly 9:30 that night, with two pretty deep holes dug and all sorts of work done. MB reports this morning that the smell appears to be gone (I didn't notice it when driving through this morning, unlike on Monday).
* Speaking of that stretch of Third Street, the new No Parking during rush hour signs have now been posted on both sides of Third Street beneath the SE Freeway. If you drive north out of Near Southeast during afternoon rush, let me know if traffic appears to be flowing better.
 

* Tuesday morning at 10 am the council's Committee on Finance and Revenue is conducting hearings on a bunch of bills, including B18-0299, the "Waterfront Park at the Yards Act of 2009," which would "authorize the Mayor to enter into an agreement to provide for the operation and maintenance of a public park on the Anacostia River Waterfront; to establish a Waterfront Park Maintenance Fund into which certain designated revenues, including certain sales tax revenue, shall be deposited; and to impose a special assessment on properties specially benefited by the park." I'm kind of bleary today, and so haven't yet the proposed act terribly closely, but I can report that one of the potential revenue streams mentioned in the bill is the "naming rights" for the park. (Alas, I don't think I have enough change under the sofa cushions to bid on this.) The hearing is at 10 am in room 412 (and should be on DC Cable 13 and live webcast, though tomorrow's schedule isn't posted yet).
* The latest on Cornercopia--reader DT (who is *gunning* for my free sandwich offer) reports speaking today with the man who will be running with the deli, who said that they are awaiting permits, and hope to open in July. Maybe even July 1.
* Reader MB reports having smelled natural gas a number of times recently in the intersection of Third and Virginia, right before you head north under the SE Freeway underpass. I just drove through there a little while ago and smelled it quite strongly inside my car, even with the windows rolled up. She says she's called Washington Gas a number of times, and it seems to get fixed temporarily, but then returns. She left a message with the mayor's office today. So, if you hear a big BOOM, you'll know what happened, and the Powers That Be can't say they weren't warned.
* Reader CA reported last week having seen a big gathering of people outside the Post plant at 225 Virginia--I saw them myself at around 1 pm today, and it appeared to maybe be a group of young folk involved in the DC summer jobs program, but I don't know for sure. I can say they didn't look like a swarm of developers desperate to sublease the property.
* Lastly, a nearby resident has heard from DDOT and Tommy Wells's office that, within the next couple weeks, the two lanes of parking on Third Street underneath the freeway will be marked as No Parking during rush hours. This should allow for a de-facto creation of left turn and thru lanes for the northbound lanes at the light on the north side of the freeway, perhaps allowing thru traffic to get through the light more quickly and to shorten the backup southward down Third.
 

From the Nats: "The Washington Nationals are expecting capacity crowds for their three games vs. the Boston Red Sox, Tuesday, June 23, Wednesday, June 24 and Thursday, June 25 at 7:05pm. Nationals fans attending the games are encouraged to arrive early to avoid rush hour delays and long lines. Nationals Park Center Field gates open at 4:30pm, and fans arriving early may view Nationals Batting Practice, beginning at 4:50pm."
"Fans planning on driving to Nationals Park may pre-purchase their parking at nationals.com/waytogo. Fans may also park for free at RFK Stadium, Lot 8, and take the free Nats Express to the ballpark. The Nats Express runs continuously from an hour and a half before first pitch through an hour and a half after the last out. Nationals Park is conveniently located on the Metrorail Green Line, at the Navy Yard Metro Station."
If you're not going to the game, be prepared for much heavier traffic, especially on South Capitol, M, and near the various cash parking lots (in the Yards, at Third and K, Seventh and M, and other spots here and there in the neighborhood.)
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Two pieces from today's Washington Business Journal, both for subscribers only, tell of difficulties for two of Near Southeast's developers:
* Opus East, which birthed 100 M and the under construction 1015 Half, is "teetering on the verge of bankruptcy" because the "U.S. General Services Administration has refused to pay the developer for 'even one penny' of the more than $35 million the company has invested in erecting a new federal building in College Park." Its parent company, Opus Corp., is exploring bankruptcy or restructuring for Opus East and Opus West--two other Opus companies went into Chapter 11 this spring. The article also says that Opus East's deal with MayfieldGentry Realty Advisors of Detroit to buy 100 M fell through in May; but 1015 Half is, for now, "continuing in full swing."
* And Monument Realty is having trouble, though not on Half Street--"At the end of May, at least three contractors filed suit in D.C. Superior Court to enforce more than $1.3 million in mechanic's liens the contractors filed against the last of three condominium buildings Monument is building at Potomac Place Tower near the Southwest waterfront. [...] At least one of the contractors is asking the court for a forced sale, if necessary, to collect amounts due."
 

Friday's Post has an adjective-filled front page article looking at the electric "E-Cruzers" that have been buzzing around Near Southeast and Barracks Row for the past year or so:
"They dart from the barren Anacostia riverfront to the fertile terrain of nearby Capitol Hill, where they scoop up drunk baseball fans from the Ugly Mug and Molly Malone's. They sneak down an alley to Seventh Street SE, under the thump-thumping overpass of I-295, onto the gentle slope of M Street. Toward the sunset these carts go, past the walled-off Navy Yard and into the back roads of the Yards, D.C.'s newest planned neighborhood, which is still weedy lots and hollow remnants of ship-building plants.
"The street-legal vehicles look like golf cart limousines. They seat six comfortably, run on a batch of eight-volt batteries and burn 2 cents of electricity per mile.
"On weekdays at lunchtime and for all home baseball games, the fleet glides past whiny street sweepers and belching motorcycles. They move suits during the day and jerseys at night. The ride is free; bars and restaurants subsidize the enterprise."
(However, the first-paragraph reference to the ballpark district as a "wasteland of arrested development" might rankle some folks a bit.)
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On Saturday EYA will be opening its new Capitol Quarter Sales Center and two model homes, in the row of houses now being finished along Fourth Street just north of L. They were nice enough to give me a sneak peek this afternoon, and I've posted some very quick photos of the interiors. The models are the Addison II and Banneker II designs, with the sales center in the ground floor of the Banneker. (You'll have to march up to the Banneker's third floor to see all the finishes and options.)
My photos of Capitol Quarter itself are a little outdated (damn rain)--the houses on both sides of L between Fourth and Fifth are now done and owners are moving in, while the houses along Fourth will start having their closings next month. The houses along Fifth are framed but not yet bricked, and foundations are being built in the next block, north of K Street. There's currently 21 houses for sale.
The grand opening is from noon to 4 pm on Saturday, at 1020 Fourth Street, SE, for those of you who need an address for your GPS.
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From the Post's DC Wire blog: "City officials are close to finalizing a deal to build a new convention center hotel without having to secure an additional hundreds of millions of dollars in public financing, officials said today. Under the framework of the agreement, the city and the convention center authority will put up an additional $80 million. The city earlier had pledged $187 million for the project, which has languished due to tight credit markets. The rest of the money for the $537 million project will come from private sources. Frustrated that the hotel project had yet to break ground, convention center and D.C. Council members began exploring earlier this month whether the city could secure full public financing for the project. They argued the city was losing convention business to neighboring jurisdictions. But Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi, who was worried about the District breaching its debt limit, helped broker a deal in which Capstone Development will team with ING to secure private financing, sources said. The project is slated to be a 1,167 Marriott Marquis, which would be one of the city's largest hotels."
More here. Now to wait and see where that extra $80 million will come from...
UPDATE: WBJ reports on the near deal, which includes this: "The developers and key members of the D.C. Council began considering alternatives and Thursday said they had found one. In it, the Washington Convention Center Authority would contribute an $80 million loan -- a far smaller price tag than the mayor proposed -- and the developers would raise their equity participation from $135 million to $320 million with the backing of ING Clarion Real Estate Investment, the U.S. subsidiary of ING Real Estate and one of the city's largest property owners."
UPDATE II: The Examiner's story, with this morsel: "Evans, chairman of the Finance and Revenue Committee, said he hoped to forestall the 'hysteria' of people thinking their projects were being eliminated. No projects will be dropped, he said. 'We're heading in the completely opposite direction,' he said."
UPDATE III: And the Post's for-print-publication version of their article, with a slightly less snarky Evans quote: "In recent days, some community and political leaders became concerned when the Washington Business Journal published a story suggesting that some development projects would have to be scrapped so the hotel could be built without exceeding the city's debt limit. Evans said the prospect of full public financing appears to have motivated the developers into putting up the equity so they could gain more of the profits. 'It caused everyone to focus, step up and get it done,' said Evans, who added that he hopes the council will vote on the proposal next month so construction can begin in the fall."
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Just out from Tommy Wells's office:
"(Washington, DC) - Councilmember Tommy Wells issued a statement today regarding the recent reports of the District's interest in delaying committed community development dollars to publicly fund a downtown Convention Center hotel.
Stated Councilmember Wells, "I am asking the Chief Financial Officer and my Council colleagues to cease discussion about the possibility of delaying the TIF and PILOT funds promised to the Southwest and Capitol Riverfront communities and incorrectly stating the projects are not on track. It is unwise for the City to even suggest going back on its commitment at the exact moment the project is moving forward to attract private financing. If attempted, it would create uncertainty and jeopardize the jobs, affordable housing, retail amenities and public investment that have been promised to our residents."
"The District has just finished the Land Disposition Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding between all lease holders, allowing the Southwest development team to move ahead with the amenity based project," added Wells.
Wells concluded, "Diverting funding away from the Southwest and Southeast neighborhoods at this time in favor of a fully government funded mega hotel breaks the promise we made to our residents that we are ready to move forward."
UPDATE: From the comments, one commenter says another commenter received an e-mail from Jack Evans, saying the following:
"The Council is not considering eliminating subsidies to neighborhood development projects the Council has previously approved. Projects such as O Street Market, which of course is of paramount importance, and projects in other wards will continue to move forward. Frankly, the biggest impediment to moving forward on some of these projects is not the public financing aspect but the ability to raise private equity--which as you can well imagine can be quite difficult these days.
"The Council, Mayor, and CFO, however are examining the actual debt service needs of each project on a fiscal year by year basis. In general, we tend to over-reserve debt authority on these projects. If we re-align these authorizations with what the projects are likely to require in actual debt service in FY 10 - 13, then it becomes more plausible to finance the new convention center hotel publicly while staying under the 12% debt cap. After FY 13 it is likely District revenues will continue to grow as the economy strengthens and the overall debt cap becomes less and less of an issue. So at this point all we are doing is exploring whether we can finance the hotel while continuing to move projects forward by better managing our debt.
"The Committee on Finance and Revenue, which I Chair, is holding a joint public hearing on the financing for the new Convention Center hotel next Wednesday, June 24th at 11 am and I invite everyone to testify. I think it is especially important for folks to come and emphasize how important it is to build the hotel and move forward so it is open by January 2013 when we have our first bookings in the hotel. I remain open minded as to how we finance the project, but our timeframes are fairly short here and we'll have to take final actions and move forward in the next few months. "
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* The news about perhaps paying for the convention center by taking money from various in-the-pipeline projects around the city has generated a lot of comment, not only here but in the form of a letter from Monty Hoffman of PN Hoffman to Chairman Gray in which he said that moving funds away from the planned redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront "would be a horrific business, legal, and community tragedy for the city." And SWDC Blog is reporting this morning that Kwame Brown says the list in the original WBJ article was of all tax-increment-financing plans approved by the City Council, which might be a wider list than just projects from which funds could be diverted.
* Roll Call has a piece on the "slow-to-develop" Capitol Riverfront neighborhood: "Today, visitors to the stadium emerge from the Metro onto an almost empty street flanked by tall fences. Billions of dollars of real estate is planned for the area, but for now, it only offers a few half-empty buildings and the occasional fast-food restaurant." But there is this as well: "The buildings aren't all empty. BID estimates that about 1,600 people live in the area, leasing about half of the available apartments. Office buildings hold about 35,000 workers; Opus East, for example, has leased 50 percent of the units for its new building at 100 M St. SE." (Full disclosure: I'm quoted a few times.)
* On the flip side, a just-released CBRE report on the impact of the federal stimulus package on the DC and Baltimore region says: "The commercial real estate industry has begun to see an impact from the transportation-related stimulus activities. Government contractors are actively touring office buildings in the Capitol Riverfront submarket of Washington, DC, home to the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Transportation, for new growth related to stimulus-funded contracts. These tours are noteworthy as the submarket has seen limited interest over the first six months of the year as a result of the national and local economic recessions." We're also still waiting to hear which federal agency might be about to lease 100,000-sq-ft of space at 20 M, and whether Booz Allen Hamilton is taking 30,000 sq ft at 55 M or elsewhere in the neighborhood.
* And, if you saw a boat full of partying real estate professionals cruising up the Anacostia on Tuesday, it was the Urban Land Institute Washington's annual boat tour, which took the Odyssey from the Southwest Waterfront up to the Yards and then back toward Rosslyn and Georgetown.
* The news of the day gave the Republicans some trouble in the bullpen at last night's Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park. And the GOP's woes in Washington continued, with the Democrats winning the game for the first time in eight years, 15-10.
* I forgot to post this last week: M.L. Clark Real Estate, which negotiated the deal for the city to sublet 225 Virginia Avenue, is going out of business, says WBJ, with its two brokers moving to Cassidy & Pinkard.
* A reminder that this Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm is the Third Annual Ward 6 Family Day.
 

From the Washington Business Journal: "The D.C. Council may consider withdrawing millions of dollars in subsidies from stalled city real estate projects to publicly finance a convention center hotel. D.C. Chief Financial Officer Natwar Gandhi met with members of the D.C. Council on Monday and discussed the list of projects with $704 million in subsidies that have already been passed and could be diverted to the hotel. The list includes the Southwest waterfront, the Arthur Capper / Carrollsburg residential development on the Capitol Riverfront, the mixed-use O Street Market in Shaw and seven other economic development incentives."
The list names both the PILOT fundings for Capper ($55 million) and the Yards ($30 million), though I'm not sure exactly how that would work, given that some of that money is already going to the construction currently underway at Capitol Quarter, the Park at the Yards, and Diamond Teague Park. (Though the $30 million cited for the Yards/DOT PILOT is a lot less than the total $112 million sum received from that PILOT; the Capper $55 million, though, is the full amount of that PILOT.) There's a hearing now scheduled for June 24.
If you want more background on what exactly the PILOT funds are and how they work, here's some old entries of mine to browse.
UPDATE: In the "What Does This Mean for Capper?" department: The funding is in place to finish Phase I of the Capitol Quarter townhomes now under construction (unless the council is *really* grabby), but the Housing Authority has been having a hard time looking for funding for CQ's second phase as well as the four mixed-income apartment buildings slated to be built around Canal Park. So I'm *guessing* that the money the council is wanting to grab would further delay that work? But I'm not sure, because I don't know exactly how much of the PILOT's $55 million is already spent or being spent just on CQ's first phase.
The two parks, as well as some other projects along the Anacostia Waterfront, are tied to what my archives say was a $112 million PILOT from the construction of the US Department of Transportaton HQ. I just confirmed earlier today that Diamond Teague is still on schedule for a mid-July opening, and given all the flourishes (such as the groundbreaking) of the public/private partnership for the Park at the Yards I would think they wouldn't grab that money away. (I was wrong in an early version of this post to say that Canal Park was part of the DOT PILOT; it was originally, but not in the final version, apparently.) The DOT PILOT is also supposed to fund Marvin Gaye Park and Kingman Island; and DMPED said at the time that "Funds could also be used to finance parks and infrastructure at Poplar Point, the Southwest Waterfront, the Southwest Waterfront Fish Market, along South Capitol Street and a pedestrian bridge connecting the Parkside neighborhood to the Minnesota Avenue Metrorail Station."
 

Tomorrow (Wednesday, June 17) is the annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game, being held at Nationals Park at 7 pm. Quoting: "For nearly 50 years, Democrats and Republicans have taken a night off from their political wrangling for a different partisan competition: the Annual Roll Call Congressional Baseball Game. This year, the squads will take the field on June 17 at Nationals Park to battle not only for bragging rights and the coveted Roll Call trophy but also to raise funds for a pair of local charities. The Washington Literacy Council runs reading programs for adults and children while the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington helps children build confidence, develop character and acquire the skills needed to become productive, civic-minded, responsible adults." (h/t WeLoveDC)
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* This is about 50 feet off-topic, but Hank Stuever wrote a neat piece in today's Post Style section about the Capitol Skyline Hotel at South Capitol and I, SW, and the revitalization it's undergoing, including the creation of a series of weekend events this summer, such as Spike Mendelsohn grilling burgers poolside on Sundays. If you look at the article online and see the "This Story" box of links, there's one for "Video: Capitol Skyline Pool, 1969", which just happens to be a brief clip of my family swimming there (I'm the little fireplug just learning to swim). It's hard to see in this version, but at about the 24-second mark, when my dad is about to spring off the diving board, you can briefly see the "Esso" sign in the background that marks where the gas station just to the south of the hotel operated for so many years....
* Last week I wrote about the approval by both the NCPC and the Zoning Commission of the Capper zoning changes, and mentioned that the letter from the Marines that indicated the Corps' continued objections to the plans for apartments and an office building on the old Capper Seniors site at Seventh and M, was not included with other materials about the case. I now have the letter, which says in part:
"The Marine Corps [Anti-terrorism/Force Protection] issues are much greater in scope than those of the Navy. Because of our issues are more complex, considerable analysis and study is required to develop a solution that is acceptable, to the Marine Corps, the Developer, the Housing Authority and the District Planners. This detailed study must also be conducted in context of the larger community of stakeholders and historic integrity of the Marine Barracks as an institution. The Marine Corps has implemented a master planning effort to research and develop broad and unique solutions to these issues at hand." And: "The Marine Corps requires additional time to carry out our study and to develop acceptable solutions. Without adequate time to address these issues, including the possible need for alternatives on [the old Capper Seniors site], the Marine Barracks Mission and full function of that Institution could be jeopardized."
The Marines requested that the zoning action be tabled until adequate time was given to address their issues, but both the NCPC and the Zoning Commission gave the office and apartment plans their final approval anyway, with the record including the agreement between the developer and the Navy to address security concerns.
 

From today's Washington Business Journal (subscribers only), news that Jim Butz and Greg Lamb of what was once JPI East have taken over what was left of that company (down to 22 employees from 380 a few years ago) and are partnering with Matt Klein and other principals at Akridge to create the Jefferson Apartment Group. Butz and Lamb "continue to hold a partnership stake in JPI [Multifamily]'s holdings," which includes 70 and 100 I and 909 New Jersey. The article says that Jefferson Apartment Group is "already targeting five properties" in DC, Philadelphia, and Boston, and "is in the early stages of planning and zoning new developments in Fairfax Count and Philadelphia," but doesn't mention what may be happening with 23 I, the fourth JPI property in Near Southeast on the Wendy's site at Half and I.
 

Jun 12, 2009 9:37 AM
* Reader S. reports in from Nats Park that filming is happening there today on the Owen Wilson baseball movie. S. is an extra, and says that Owen is there, but hasn't seen any other stars yet.
* The Navy Yard Museum is presenting "American Girl Day" on June 27, saluting the series of books that has taken the youngsters by storm. Valerie Tripp, one of the authors, will be signing books, and there will be hands-on activities, prizes, and more. RSVP required; it runs from 11 am to 3 pm. See the flyer for more.
* Two readers confirmed my Tweet yesterday that the "Taxation Without Representation" street signs have now been posted on South Capitol Street between N and Potomac.
* The new owner of the Little Red Building at Second and L formerly known as the Star Market is moving on getting the existing liquor license changed to allow more than just beer and wine (a process originally started by the previous owner). My intern reported that the sign now posted says that the deadline for filings on the case is July 20 and the hearing is (I think) August 10; however, the hearing notice hasn't yet appeared in the DC Register, and the ABRA web site is woefully out of date these days.
* Greater Greater Washington discusses attempts to get USDOT security to back off from hassling photographers; I've had problems there for years, even though there is no law prohibiting the photographing of federal buildings. (They even hassle me when I'm taking photos of The Yards, which, to be gentle about it, is *really* none of their damn business.)
* I hear that the Cornercopia Deli is still about three weeks from opening; we'll see if that date holds. And yes, my free-sandwich offer to the first reader who alerts me to the deli actually being open for business still stands.
* There's a couple sales/leasing events at Velocity and Onyx over the next few days that readers have alerted me to; but if those sorts of tidbits are of interest to you, you'll want to check in with the BID; I'm going to shy away from adding those type of shindigs to my already overburdened lineup of items I track.
 

Jun 9, 2009 3:34 PM
Last night the Zoning Commission voted 3-0-2 to give final approval to the Capper zoning requests that have been wandering through the system for nearly a year. The record was reopened to add correspondence between the developer (Capper-Carrollsburg Ventures LLC, which includes the DC Housing Authority), the Marines, and the Navy Yard in reference to security concerns both service branches have about 90-foot buildings being constructed on the site of the old Capper Seniors building at Seventh and M. (Read more about the concerns here.)
The National Capital Planning Commission documents I linked to last week included letters sent by the Marines and the Navy in early April setting out their objections; the NCPC has now posted new letters from the Navy and also Holland and Knight (representing the developers), laying out the wording of the agreement between the parties to install (at the services' expense) surveillance cameras on the top of both the new office building that faces the Navy Yard and the new apartment building that faces the Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters, and that the developer will provide to the Navy Yard a list of tenants on the fourth through eighth floors of the office building, though "this provision shall not be deemed to grant the Navy any right to approve or disapprove of any tenants in the office building." There's also a requirement to notify the Navy and Marines about any events to be held on the roof decks of the buildings, but "for informational purposes only," without requiring any type of approval. With the Navy agreeing to the wording of this agreement, its objection to the zoning case was withdrawn.
I'll note that there's also reference in these letters to a June 3 letter from the Marines that is not included in the document packet, which seems to indicate that the Marines did not agree to the wording despite the developer's having believed that there had been an agreement. Quoting (see page 9): "In fact, nothing in the Marines' June 3rd letter indicates why the Applicant's proposed conditions are unacceptable, or what remaining concerns the Marines have." There's then this sentence, which seems to be hinting at plans by the Marines for some new development: "The Marines, beyond the scope of the proposed modifications which are the subject of this pending application, have requested a delay to accommodate their entirely new planning initiative." And what would this new planning initiative be? I'm hearing murmurs that the Marines may be looking for more land for more barracks, though I'm not able to confirm that.
In any event, the developer laid out a list of reasons that this zoning approval should not be delayed, and both the NCPC (last week) and the Zoning Commission (last night) gave their approvals for the zoning changes in spite of whatever objections the Marines were putting forth.
There wasn't much discussion of all of this at the Zoning Commission's meeting, but I need an excuse to link to the Video on Demand section of the DCOZ web site, which apparently has been around for months but which I only noticed last night. So, if you want to watch this or any ZC/BZA public meeting going back to November of 2008, they're now there for the taking. (And it's also nice to see how quickly last night's video was posted.)
Now, with these Capper zoning changes approved, the next milestone to watch for will be when the Housing Authority can find financing for another PILOT bond offering to rebuild the infrastructure on the west side of the Capper footprint (including around Canal Park), as well as the mitigation and demolition of the trash transfer station at New Jersey and K. That PILOT financing will also fund the Community Center that has been the subject of much contentious back-and-forth. Are the credit markets unfrozen enough to get this PILOT off the ground? We shall see....
 

Jun 8, 2009 1:42 PM
This morning's news-filled Tweeting, merely cut-and-pasted because I'm tired and cranky (though still on a high from Federer's win):
* "Reader J reports that there was a shooting this morning in the 7th and M parking lot across from the Navy Yard entrance." Followed by: "MPD says on 1D mailing list that 7th & M shooting suspect "is not at large" and that this involved MPD and US Marshalls."
* "RT @atweber: on a positive note they are rolling out the sod at Canal Park. (JD sez--just the southern block; other 2 to be seeded.)"
And, if grass and guns aren't enough for you, read City Paper, the Sports Bog, and the Post on how the DC fire chief is snuffing out all fireworks at Nationals Park after debris fell on him at Sunday's game, with the WashTimes is now reporting that the fireworks will most likely be restored."
UPDATE: Here is the Post story on the shooting:
"An armed homicide suspect being sought by D.C. police died of a gunshot wound today after officers confronted him on M Street SE near the Washington Navy Yard, authorities said. It was not immediately clear whether the wound was self-inflicted or from a police bullet.
"Police said the man, whose identify was being withheld pending notification of his next of kin, was being sought by the D.C. police fugitive task force in connection with a May 31 slaying in the city. Members of the task force encountered him at midmorning in the 600 block of M Street, not far from Nationals Park, police said.
"After the man brandished a handgun, police said, at least one officer fired at him, but there was some indication that the fatal wound was self-inflicted. The shooting was still under investigation this afternoon."
UPDATE II: WTOP says the man, 38-year-old Allan Haggins, shot himself.
UPDATE III: NBC says Haggins [different spelling] was being pursued in for the murder of Goldean Hawkins, whose funeral was being held this morning' at St. Matthew's Church at New Jersey and L. Haggins was spotted by police in the 500 block of M Street SE, and pursued him to the parking lot in the next block, where "Haggins produced a handgun in the parking lot, police said, prompting two officers to fire their handguns at the suspect, striking his body. Haggins then shot himself, police said."
FIREWORKS UPDATE: City Paper says that the fire department says the problem has been fixed: "Alan Etter, the spokesperson from the fire department, says the angle in which the devices were being deployed had to be changed so the fallout would end up outside the stadium. 'They did tell me that the product itself is being revised so that there's less debris that is subject to fall on people,' Etter says. But adds: 'None of this stuff is on fire.'"
 

Jun 5, 2009 12:17 PM
From today's print edition of the Washington Business Journal (subscribers only), news that two as-yet-unoccupied office buildings in Near Southeast may be close to securing tenants. WBJ says that Monument Realty is "in discussions" with Booz Allen Hamilton to lease more than 30,000 square feet of space at 55 M (currently home to Artomatic), though Booz is apparently also looking at Lerner's 20 M across the street and the under-construction 1015 Half a block to the north.
The article also says that an "undisclosed federal agency is on the cusp of announcing" a 100,000-sq-ft lease at 20 M. I have heard murmurings of some outfit moving to 20 M--if someone wants to whisper in my ear who it is, I'm listening!
 

Jun 4, 2009 11:21 PM
* ANC 6D's meeting on Monday night (June 8) looks to be a little shorter than usual, with only a few agenda items, one of which is a public space permit request by the Courtyard by Marriott to expand (?) their sidewalk cafe.
* Speaking of L Street, a reader wrote today about the Little Red Building at Second and L, once known as the Star Market. Apparently the owner was posting a liquor license hearing notice, which gives me a feeling of deja vu, since this also happened in September 2006. The owner told my anonymous tipster about his plans for the building, which are pretty much what we've been hearing since 2006: tear down the building and build a new two-story structure, with the first floor being a liquor store and the second floor being a deli (at other points over the past few years it was a sushi bar and then a wine bar on the second floor). The plans have even stayed mostly the same after the building changed hands last year for $900,000. See my various posts from 2006 through 2008 about the previous attempts to change the building's liquor license and the negotiations with the ANC.
* Lots of coverage today of the city "landing a movie project," though it's the Owen Wilson/Reese Withersoon/Paul Rudd baseball movie that was first reported on back in May. Parts of it will be filmed at Nationals Park.
* In a similar vein, the Post reports today on the trapeze school coming to DC, which we discussed a few days back. Negotiations are still underway to have them "land" (ar-ar) at The Yards after they spend the summer on the old Convention Center site.
 

Jun 3, 2009 10:19 PM
* Admit it: you know you want to see it--here's NBC's coverage of the Obama visit to Five Guys, from Tuesday night's "Inside the Obama White House" special. (Click on "Part 5", "Out to Lunch with Obama.") With a bunch of brief glimpses of the Little Red Building!
* The Third Annual Ward 6 Family Day is happening on June 20, from 11 am to 3 pm at the Rosedale Rec Center in Northeast. Tommy Wells's web site says activities will include "Capitol Hill Bikes free bike safety inspections and adjustments, celebrity kickball game, Washington Humane Society animal adoption and training, basketball games, face painting, moon bounce, corn hole tournament, horseshoes and live music. In addition, the pool will be open for the summer."
* The Nationals are having their first Ladies Night and Homerun Happy Hour of 2009, Thursday night (June 4). Free food (Hard Times) and beverages, and "shopping, dancing, massages and manicures with participating vendors." There'll even be a mechanical bull. Tickets are $30, and include a seat in sections 101-104.
* The Board of Zoning Adjustment has approved Donohoe's requested extension on the special exception it received back in 2007 for its planned office building at 1111 New Jersey Avenue, which would have expired at the end of this year. I didn't watch the hearing, so I don't know how long the extension is good for.
* WBJ and City Paper have coverage of the naming of Valerie Santos Young as the new Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.
* The May issue of the Waterfront Watch newsletter on doings around the Anacostia River is now available.
* The June Hill Rag has a summary of May's ANC 6D meeting, where Capitol Riverfront BID executive director Michael Stevens gave a primer on the BID's operations and plans.
* Speaking of the BID, they've redesigned their web site.
 

Jun 3, 2009 1:02 PM
Contained in the materials for Thursday's meeting of the National Capital Planning Commission is a document that sheds some light on something I've always wondered about--exactly how does the Navy Yard feel about the planned 90-foot-tall office building right across the street at 600 M, on the site of the old Capper Seniors building? And, concurrently, how do the Marines feel about the planned apartments directly between this new 600 M building and the Marine Bachelor Enlisted Quarters on L Street?
The NCPC board is reviewing the Zoning Commission's approval of the slew of Capper zoning changes that I wrote so much about earlier this year, some of which focus on these two new buildings on the old Capper Seniors site. The Executive Director's recommendation document (which provides some good background if you haven't been following along), refers to letters included in the document to the Zoning Commission from both the Navy and Marines stating that the new buildings on what's known as Square 882 "may pose a safety and security threat to the military personnel at both the Navy Yard and the Marine Barracks and that the there will be a visual impact on the Navy Yard Historic District."
Apparently the Navy, Marines, the DC Housing Authority, and Forest City (developers of 600 M) have tentatively agreed to a few steps to mitigate these concerns: the placement of surveillance cameras on the roofs of the proposed buildings, procedures for notifying the Navy and Marines when the roofs are to be accessed, review by the Marines and Navy Yard of tenants wishing to occupy the third through eighth floors of the 600 M office building, and a "window design to enhance security for Navy and Marines." (On this last point, the document says that "the Navy and Marines would request that the windows facing their sites not be operational," but I wonder how tenants in the proposed apartment building along L Street would feel if none of their windows could ever be opened.) The document says that memorandums of understanding between the housing authority and the Navy and the Marines should be able to be completed within the next few weeks.
Additionally, in its letter to the Zoning Commission, the Navy Yard mentions its belief that "buildings exceeding the currently permitted fifty (50) foot height restrictions located across M Street from the Navy Yard Historic District will negatively impact the view shed from the Navy Yard" and "could potentially compromise the integrity of the Washington Navy Yard Historic District, including the Latrobe Gate." It might be worth noting here that the old Capper Seniors building, built in the 1950s and demolished in 2007, was nine stories high, and so an uninterrupted "view shed" is not something that the Navy Yard has always enjoyed since its arrival in the neighborhood back in 1799.
The NCPC's reason for reviewing Zoning Commission cases in DC is to determine whether the proposed actions would have an "adverse effect" on federal interests, and, in this case, the NCPC staff is advising their commission to vote to advise the Zoning Commission that these Capper cases do indeed meet that "adverse effect" standard. Also, the NCPC staff is recommending that the Zoning Commission delay their final action on this case (scheduled for Monday, June 8) to allow the agreement described above to be finalized.
 

Jun 2, 2009 1:32 PM
The BID's Thursday night outdoor summer movie series is starting this week (June 4), and like last year it's being held on the plaza at New Jersey and Tingey (behind USDOT). It's a "Best of the 80s" theme, and they're starting with Back to the Future. The rest of the lineup: The Princess Bride, Ghostbusters, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Caddyshack, The Breakfast Club, E.T., Top Gun, Dirty Dancing, and Big. There are also giveaways and other activities--check the flyer for more information. The movies are free and begin at sundown, and food and drinks are available from the On the Fly food carts.
 

Jun 2, 2009 9:41 AM
Some recent items of note, some Tweeted over the past few days and some I just lazily haven't gotten around to mentioning until now:
* Several readers wrote in to mention the awnings now in place at the Cornercopia Deli at Third and K, which were installed on Friday. Still no word on when it might open--but to make sure that I hear about it ASAP when its doors do open, I pledge to buy a sandwich there for the first reader who alerts me that the deli is open to customers.
* If you haven't been in the unit blocks of either I or K streets--the Wendy's (on the site of the on-hold 23 I Street apartment building by JPI) is now completely demolished, and glass is now being hung on 1015 Half Street. If you're wondering why the west side of 1015 Half is not glassed but has just a plain beige exterior--remember that that side will just be facing an alley, with 1000 South Capitol someday rising between it and South Capitol Street. (Emphasis on the *someday.*)
* The Obama Five Guys on Second Street has seen a 50 percent jump in business since the president's visit on Friday, says Politics Daily. And plenty of people are ordering the "Obama Burger," a cheesburger with lettuce, tomato, mustard, and jalapenos.
* A little excitement at USDOT on Monday when a suspicious package forced the evacuation of the Fourth Street building. According to DC Fire and EMS's Twitter feed, it was a package leaking diesel fuel.
* Greater Greater Washington spent some time looking more closely at the schematic of the new 11th Street Bridges that I posted about last week.
* The Post had a good report on Saturday's high school baseball Congressional Bank Classic at Nationals Park.
* UrbanTurf.com took a look at Capitol Hill Tower.
* "Artomatic Moves to DC's Empty Ballpark District."
* The Mayor wants to clean out the Community Benefits Fund funded by the ballpark to pay for 10 weeks of his summer jobs program, says the Examiner. Members of the council say that six weeks (the amount that can be paid for by the original amount budgeted for the program) is good enough, and that money should go to various projects they've earmarked. (UPDATE: The council voted today *not* to cut the program to six weeks.)
 

Jun 2, 2009 9:12 AM
Remember "Taxation Without Representation Street," the city's renaming of the three blocks of South Capitol Street in front of Nationals Park? The Examiner does, and checks to see if anything's happened with it: "As of April 24, the team's legal address was formally changed to 1500 Taxation Without Representation St. SE, thanks to an act of the D.C. Council. But no one would know it: The D.C. Department of Transportation has yet to change the street signs, and the Nationals apparently have no intention of redesigning their letterhead."
 

Jun 1, 2009 1:00 PM
On Sunday I wandered around What Will Someday Be Canal Park (dodging the crowds at the Obama Five Guys, where business is apparently up 50 percent since Friday), and got my first photos of the completely cleared blocks, now that the trailers have been hauled away. I gave my Canal Park page a bit of a refreshing, with some new angles and lots of before-and-afters.
I also captured the new sign at the corner of Second and M, which shows an early map of Washington with the old canal clearly marked. Sharp-eyed observers will note that this newly erected sign points people to CanalParkDC.org, even though it remains offline after popping up briefly, then disappearing, then reppearing, then disappearing. But look what commenter Justin found.
 
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