Monday, September 29, 2008

Forensics Lab Delayed?

According to this article from The Examiner, Council member Mendelson held a hearing today to find out the progress towards creating the Consolidated Forensics Laboratory in Southwest. From the article: "D.C. has set aside tens of millions of federal and local dollars to build itself what officials are promising will be a top-notch crime lab. But the administration scrapped early plans to move the lab to 225 Virginia Ave. SE despite a rent-free lease for the first year of the space." However, the article incorrectly states that the 1st District HQ will move to the Virginia Avenue site. Actually, the 1st District HQ is moving to the former Bowen Elementary School on M Street. There is a construction fence around the school and from what I could tell from walking by the site last week, the retrofit has begun. In fact, this press release from the DC Government from last Wednesday states the following: "Mayor Adrian M. Fenty showcased construction progress the city has made in completing renovating Bowen Elementary School, the relocation site for the Metropolitan Police Department’s First District Station. Renovations at Bowen ES are being completed by the Office of Public Education Facilities Modernization (OPEFM) who began working on the project in July 2008. Bowen is currently undergoing the last stage of demolition and is expected to be completed by Jan. 2009." The Consolidated Forensics Laboratory is scheduled to be complete in 2011. You can read my post from June about this project.

Government Employees Use BlackBerry

A new ad campaign by BlackBerry targeting government employees features three government agency buildings in Southwest. I took this photo of the ad inside the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station. The ad shows (from left to right) the Forrestal Building (Dept. of Energy HQ), the Department of Education HQ, and HUD HQ.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Waterfront Station Gets Construction Financing

Despite the fact that debt is hard to come by these days, Waterfront Associates has been able to obtain $250 million in construction financing for Waterfront Station, according to this article from the WBJ. From the article: "The financing includes the project’s first two buildings, totaling 628,000 square feet of office and ground-level retail space. The office component is fully leased to the District of Columbia for various governmental offices, and the retail component will include a Safeway supermarket, a CVS pharmacy and other retail tenants. At full build-out, Waterfront Station is expected to include 1.2 million square feet of office space, 1,000 residential units and at least 110,000 square feet of stores and restaurants." Construction has reached street level (photos to come next week after all the rain that's forecast passes us) and phase one is supposed to deliver in 2010. Update: Here is one cloudy photo I was able to take between downpours on Sunday of the cranes hovering over Waterfront Station taken from across the Washington Channel.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Update on SW Waterfront Project

At tonight's SWNA meeting, Elinor Bacon from ER Bacon Development, one of the development partners of the Hoffman-Struever Waterfront, LLC team, gave an update on the progress at the SW Waterfront redevelopment project. They are trying to get the Land Disposition Agreement struck between the city and the development team, so they can go into the design phase and begin construction. The bill is still pending in the DC Council. A hearing is supposed to be held in Councilmember Brown's Committee of Economic Development on October 6th. Bacon expects the bill to pass the council within the next two months, so by early next year, the development team can get started on the design process. A $198 million bond was approve for infrastructure improvements in July as stated in one of my prior posts, as well as what's planned at the site. The timetable for development is as follows:

2009: Design process to begin

2011 - 2013: Construction of phase I (the central part of the site where hotels, office, and residential will go)

2013 - 2015: Construction of phase II (the northern part of the site near the fish market and where most of the retail will go)

2015 - 2017: Construction of phase III (the southern part of the site closest to the existing residential neighborhood, where there won't be as much activity)

The rendering is from the development team's website.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

MLK Memorial Creators to Apply Next Week for Building Permits

According to this Washington Post article, the design of the MLK Memorial was approved by the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. From the article: "The unanimous approval of the commission appeared to clear the way for construction of the $120 million crescent-shape memorial on the northwest shore of the Tidal Basin near the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial...Initial utility work began on the site in August, and the memorial is scheduled to be completed in 2010." The creators of the memorial will apply to the Department of Interior for building permits next week. As I mentioned in a previous post, the commission had some issues regarding the design of the sculpture of Dr. King, however, they ended up approving the memorial with conditions.

What Bloggers are Saying About Southwest

- DCMetrocentric dreams about people living at L'Enfant Plaza. JBG plans about 200 apartment units at L'Enfant Plaza. They also wanted to bring the National Children's Museum to the site, but National Harbor was able to snag the museum, as well as another SW landmark - The Awakening statue. A part of the plan for L'Enfant Plaza is to bring retail to ground level. Who knows when all of this is supposed to happen, though.

- Imagine, DC wants Buzzard Point to get developed. Akridge has a nine-acre parcel at Buzzard Point and plans to develop a campus-like complex - most likely for a government agency. A few blocks away, the Coast Guard has its headquarters building, but since the Department of Homeland Security has plans to move to the St. Elizabeth's campus in Anacostia, the owners of the HQ building could either find a new tenant or redevelop the site.

- JDLand reports some movement at 1345 South Capitol Street. I saw some equipment there a few days ago and wondered if construction would begin on the apartment building that Camden Property Trust is planning at the site. My sources tell me construction is supposed to begin in the next few months, but then again, it was supposed to start last year.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Street Closures for The Nation's Triathlon

This Sunday, the 2008 Nation's Triathlon will cause some streets to be closed in Southwest, mostly for the running portion of the race. The traffic advisory from DDOT says the following streets will be closed:

5 am – 1 pm

Rock Creek Parkway at Virginia Avenue to Ohio Drive

Independence Avenue from 14th to 23rd Streets

Ohio Drive to West Potomac Park

Ohio Drive to East Potomac Park (Haines Point)

Constitution Avenue from 15th to 17th Streets

15th Street from Constitution Avenue to Maine Avenue

Parkway Drive from Rock Creek Parkway to Lincoln Circle

6 am – 1 pm

Rock Creek Parkway from Connecticut Avenue/Calvert Street to Virginia Avenue

East Basin Drive

Maine Avenue from I-395 ramp to Independence Avenue split

17th Street from Constitution Avenue to Independence Avenue

Madison Drive from 7th to 14th Streets

Clara Barton Parkway from Glen Echo to Chain Bridge (Route 123)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Walking Town Comes to SW

On Saturday, September 20th and Sunday, September 21st, Cultural Tourism DC will bring back Walking Town DC, Fall Edition to the streets of DC. There will be six tours on Saturday featuring sites in SW, including DC By Foot: Monument Tour, The Southwest Waterfront, The National Mall: What the Memorials Don’t Tell You, Capital Sites by Bike, The Secrets of Federal Center, SW, and Washington Waterfront. On Sunday, there will be three tours, including two DC by Foot: Monument Tours and Bike Tour of the South West Gateway Art Installation. For more information, see the schedule.

Safeway Task Force Expanded

I attended Monday's ANC 6D's business meeting, and one of the agenda items was the Safeway Task Force. Some of the issues the task force are trying to tackle include increasing safety in and around Safeway, opening more check-out lines during peak times, opening restrooms to customers, and properly labeling items with the correct prices. The ANC commissioners unanimously approved a measure to increase the number of members of the Safeway Task Force from three to ten. The current members of the task force include Commissioners Sobelsohn (6D 02), McBee (6D 03), and Siegel (6D 07). The seven other members will be comprised of citizens that live within the boundaries of ANC 6D - one person representing each of the seven single-member districts. Two people have already been appointed from 6D 02 and 6D 03. If you are interested in serving on the task force and live in one of the districts not yet represented, contact your ANC Commissioner.

MLK Memorial Design is Approved

An article in the Washington Business Journal states that the National Capital Planning Commission approved the final designs for the MLK Memorial on September 4th. From the article: "The features approved by the National Capital Planning Commission include a semicircle-shaped wall inscribed with King’s words, a stone “mountain of despair” referencing a phrase from his speeches, a carved statue of King, a visitors building and red maple trees nearby...The King memorial, to be built across the tidal basin from the Jefferson Memorial, will be the first to be built since the World War II Memorial was completed in 2004. The project is scheduled to be completed by 2010 is expected to cost $120 million." Here's a link to my post in June about the project. The rendering is from the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

ANC Business Meeting

The next meeting of ANC 6D will be tomorrow at 7pm at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church. The agenda isn't available on the website yet.

Safeway Wants to Redo All DC Stores

An article in this week's Washington Business Journal (paid subscribers only), describes how Safeway is in the process of redoing their stores across the city as "urban concept" stores. From the article: "The newest Safeway, at the CityVista condo complex at Fifth and K streets NW in Mount Vernon Triangle, exhibits all the features of its 'lifestyle' format, which Steve Neibergall, eastern division president, said represents the company’s commitment to fresh perishables and customer service. Safeway began the makeovers nationwide four years ago, and nine of the D.C. stores have been redone, he said, refashioned for between $2 million and $6 million apiece, sometimes to include pharmacies, floral departments and in-store Starbucks cafes. 'We want to be a place where you go to get more than groceries,' Neibergall says. All 17 stores in D.C. will be done by 2011, including completely rebuilt stores at the former Waterside Mall in Southwest and an 18th as part of new development at the Fort Totten Metro." As mentioned in my post from earlier this week, the new 55,000 SF Safeway at Waterfront Station is currently under construction and is anticipated to be complete in 2010. The new one can't come soon enough, as the current Safeway is run down and its shelves are understocked. I haven't shopped there since Harris Teeter opened on Capitol Hill a few months ago.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Cantina Cup Washington DC Regatta

Cantina Marina is hosting the first annual Cantina Cup Washington DC Regatta on Saturday, September 27th. From Cantina Marina's website: "Register your two person crew to race on the Potomac River in FJ Sailboats provided by DC Sail. All participants must be 21 or older. Entry is $50 per team, 100% of which goes to DC Sail, a branch of NMHF, a 501(c)(3) non-profit promoting adult education and sailing in the District of Columbia. Skipper bags will be provided by Mount Gay Rum and Cantina Marina." The regatta starts at 2pm.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Progress at Waterfront Station

In Wednesday's Real Estate Bisnow, the feature story is the progress at Waterfront Station, the redevelopment of the Waterside Mall at 4th Street and M Street. According to the article, the massive hole in the ground as seen from this web cam will reach grade in the next couple of weeks. So far, Safeway and CVS have signed long-term leases and the development team is working with Bank of America. Those same three tenants are the only ones that currently exist at the site. CVS and Bank of America were moved to temporary trailers in the parking lot in the wake of construction, while the Safeway is in a separate building that will be torn down once the new 55,000 SF urban concept Safeway opens in 2010. Demolition of the old Waterside Mall occurred on November 1st, 2007. Here is a photo of the stripped interior of the Mall the day of demolition:

Here's a photo of the gold-painted wrecking ball taking down a portion of the east side of Waterside Mall:

The first two office buildings that will house two DC Government agencies (the Office of the CFO and DCRA) are expected to open in 2010, along with two residential buildings. The residential buildings will be created from reskinning and retrofitting the existing office towers that once was home to the EPA. A reopened 4th Street will also run through the middle of the site.