Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Zoning Analysis of Southwest to Begin Soon

According to the Summer 2008 issue of the Ward 6 Neighborhood Planning Update, the DC Office of Planning will conduct a study of conditions in Southwest in order to help guide zoning and future development in the area. The boundaries of the study area are the Southeast-Southwest freeway to the north, the south side of P Street to the south, the Washington Channel to the west, and South Capitol Street to the east. Buzzard Point is not included in this study. Currently, there are 11 zoning districts within these boundaries, in addition to federal land, as a result of "reactive" zoning, since the zoning districts were created after Southwest was redeveloped in the 1950s and 1960s. Some issues that will be analyzed include possibly reopening some streets in the original L'Enfant plan, designate structures as historic, guide where new development should occur, and how to maximize transit use in the neighborhood. The community will be involved during this study period in a series of meetings, which are supposed to start in late summer and conclude in late fall of this year. Once the dates of the meetings are released, I'll post them here.

DCMud Lists Major Southwest Development Projects

This DCMud post describes major development projects in the pipeline around the city. Three southwest projects made the list, including the Southwest Waterfront, Waterfront (Waterside Mall), and the two city-owned sites at 4th & E Street, all three of which have been described in prior posts here, here, and here.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Articles About Southwest Development

Here's a Washington Times article, which was picked up by JDLand, that gives an overview of two major development projects in Southwest: Waterside Mall (AKA Waterfront) and the SW Waterfront. The article states that vertical construction is underway at Waterfront and the first phase of office buildings will be ready by 2010. Construction along the Southwest Waterfront should begin in late 2010 or 2011 with completion in 2017. The entire Southwest Waterfront project will be LEED-Silver certified. Also, earlier this week, DCMetrocentric had a post about the Southwest Waterfront which received several comments about the rendering resembling the Inner Harbor and National Harbor. The developers could be a little more daring with the architecture, especially in Southwest, which doesn't look like the rest of DC to begin with. These are probably just preliminary images, so things may change before construction actually begins. If you look closely at the rendering, you can see what looks like a streetcar running along Maine Avenue...wouldn't that be nice!

Monday, July 14, 2008

National Capital Framework Plan Released

Last week the National Capital Planning Commission in conjunction with the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts released their National Capital Framework Plan, which hopes to invigorate areas adjacent to the National Mall. Here's a link to the plan. A major portion of the plan deals with the Southwest Federal Center area, including L'Enfant Plaza and Banneker Overlook. Another component of the plan deals with East Potomac Park. I'll write in more detail about these components of the plan over the next couple of days.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Investors Look to Cash-In on Stadium Proximity

On the front page of this week's Washington Business Journal (print subscribers only) and from jdland.com, an article describes how a pair of investors have amassed 23 properties just off South Capitol Street over a span of 18 years. However, since the opening of Nationals Park, the properties have been put up for sale for $12 million, but no takers so far. One reason could be that the properties are surrounded by James Creek and Syphax Gardens, two public housing projects owned by the DC Housing Authority. Over in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, the Capper-Carrollsburg housing project was demolished and is in the process of being redeveloped into a mixed income community as a part of a federal government program called Hope VI. Funding from that HUD program is hard to come by, so it's highly unlikely something similar could happen at James Creek or Syphax Gardens. In addition, there are no immediate plans by the DC Government to expand their New Communities initiative to these two housing projects, as they are doing across the river at Barry Farms and near North Capitol Street at Northwest One. From the article: "'At this point, we don’t have the funding to redo our housing developments in Southwest,' said Dena Michaelson, a spokeswoman for the housing authority"..."In the last 18 months, the housing authority has spent $1.3 million on major upgrades to Syphax Gardens. It also is planning to improve landscaping and lighting at Syphax and other properties in Southwest." Development on the west side of South Capitol Street has been pretty quiet compared to the other side of the street, but some activity should get underway soon. Camden Property Trust has cleared a site at South Capitol & O Street where an apartment building is planned. However, activity has ceased at the site in the past few months, perhaps due to the amount of apartments already under construction near Nationals Park. I've heard that development activity is supposed to resume at the site before the end of the year. Also, the former Taco Bell & Pizza Hut site at 1101 South Capitol Street will become an office building developed by Ruben Companies. So, the investors of the 23 properties may need to wait a while longer for the construction boom to hit the west side of South Capitol Street before they can cash in on their 18 year investment.

DDOT Puts Brakes on L'Enfant Bus Depot

Marc Fisher reports in his blog that DDOT is reevaluating their decision to require intercity buses to move from various locations around downtown to a site at L'Enfant Plaza (see my original post here). There were lots of complaints about the move to L'Enfant since it's not pedestrian friendly, not on the Red Line, and is not located downtown. Granted, there isn't much to do around L'Enfant Plaza, but it's served by four rail lines plus VRE, only one metro stop from the Smithsonian & Penn Quarter, and two stops from Gallery Place, Nationals Park, and Pentagon City Mall. Also, it's proximate to I-395, which makes for a quick exit from the city so buses aren't crowding downtown streets. There are worse places that DDOT could have thought of, but anywhere that doesn't have a NW next to its address might as well be Siberia for some people.

SW Waterfront to Receive Public Financing

According to this article from the Washington Business Journal, the DC Council last week approved $198 million in bonds for infrastructure improvements in order to redevelop the Southwest Waterfront. From the article: "The project, planned by D.C. condo builder PN Hoffman, Inc. and Baltimore-based Struever Bros. Eccles & Rouse, could create 770 housing units, 700,000 square feet of offices, three hotels, 280,000 square feet of retail and 150,000 square feet of cultural attractions, as well as parks and four new piers." This $1.5 billion project will dramatically change the waterfront, which currently consists of redundant streets, warehouse-like buildings that house nightclubs H2O and Zanzibar, as well as the Fish Market, cruise boats, a marina, and a few restaurants. The bill to provide the bonds must still pass 2nd reading by the Council. In addition, the Council will have to approve the sale of land along the waterfront to the development team.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Metro Entrance at Constitution Center Reopens

As I was driving along D Street this afternoon, I noticed the L'Enfant Plaza Metro entrance in the courtyard of Constitution Center between 7th & 6th Street has been reopened. The Metro entrance has been closed since the renovation began at the former DOT heaquarters in 2007. Constitution Center is supposed to be complete by 2010.

DMV Inspections...Now by Appointment

DCist reports that the DMV now accepts appointments at their 1001 Half Street inspection site from 6:30am to 6pm Tuesday - Friday. Here's a link to the site where you can make online appointments. Well that's good news...I have to get my car inspected next month, so no more waiting forever in a line that wraps around the block onto I Street.