Sunday, October 26, 2008

Zoning Analysis of SW to Begin in January

The DC Office of Planning will kick off their analysis of zoning in Southwest in January 2009 with a community-wide public meeting. It was originally scheduled to begin in late Summer, but apparently has been delayed. Read my post from July about this topic.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Street Closures for Marine Corps Marathon

The Marine Corps Marathon will be held tomorrow and according to this traffic advisory from DDOT, several streets will be closed, including many in SW. Here are the list of streets that will be closed in SW during the marathon from 4am to as late at 1:30pm:
- West Potomac Park
- East Potomac Park (Access to Golf Course and Tennis Courts will be Available)
- Maine Avenue, SW from East Basin Drive to Independence Avenue
- Independence Avenue, SW from Maine Avenue to Ohio Drive
- Ohio Drive, SW between Independence Avenue and Lincoln Circle
- Lincoln Circle from Ohio Drive, SW to 23rd Street, NW
- 23rd Street, NW from Lincoln Circle to Constitution Avenue
- Constitution Avenue, NW from 23rd Street to 15th Street
- 15th Street from Constitution Avenue, NW to Independence Avenue, SW
- 17th Street from Constitution Avenue, NW to Independence Avenue, SW
- Madison Drive, NW from 14th Street to 3rd Street
- 3rd Street, NW from Pennsylvania Ave, NW to Maryland Ave., SW
- Pennsylvania Avenue, NW from 3rd Street to E. Capitol Circle
- 1st Street from Pennsylvania Ave., NW to Maryland Ave., SW
- Maryland Avenue, SW from S. Capitol Circle to 3rd Street
- Jefferson Drive, SW from 3rd Street to 14th Street
- 14th Street, SW from Jefferson Drive to northbound HOV lanes
- HOV lanes from 14th Street, SW to HOV ramp at S. Eads Street

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Scenes from Southwest

Here's a photo of a couple of bicyclists riding along M Street near Tiber Island on a recent Saturday morning.

This next photo is of the Francis Case Memorial Bridge, which crosses over the Washington Channel. Wouldn't it be cool if as a part of the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront that the bridge was lit up at night like some of the causeway bridges in Miami?

Here's a peek at a part of the SW waterfront from Banneker Overlook. In the distance you can see East Potomac Park and way off in the distance is the masonic temple in Alexandria and the control tower at Reagan National Airport.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Updated Waterfront Station Photos

Here are some updated photos of Waterfront Station I took back on October 11th. The first photo shows a SUV in the middle of the right-of-way of 4th Street, which should be reopened for the first time since the 1960s when the first phase of construction is complete in 2010.

The next photo is of construction on the west side of 4th Street.

This next photo is of the east side of 4th Street. It appears that construction is occurring a little faster on the east side of the street, since columns are already visible rising from the 1st floor.

The last photo is of the current Safeway, as seen through the Waterfront-SEU Metro entrance canopy.

A new urban lifestyle Safeway will be built as a part of phase one of construction, similar to the new Safeway that recently opened in Mount Vernon Triangle. I went to the new Safeway for the first time over the weekend and despite its awkward layout, it is light years better than our SW Safeway. The next time I'm at the MVT Safeway I'll take some photos, to give an idea of what our new Safeway may look like in 2010.

November Issue of The Southwester is Available

Here's a link to November's issue of The Southwester, a monthly newspaper dealing with local SW issues and events published by SWNA.

ANC 6D Business Meeting

Here's a reminder that tonight is ANC 6D's monthly business meeting at 7pm at St. Augustine's church on 6th & M Street. The agenda can be found on their website.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Southwest is Most Like Which Other Neighborhood in the U.S.?

DCist had a story today about comparing DC neighborhoods to other city neighborhoods using a tool from Homethinking. When I pulled up Southwest (they have it listed as South West), the website listed the city neighborhood most like Southwest to be Bay Colony Club in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with a score of 87 out of 100. Really? The scores used on Homethinking are calculated using demographic data from the Census, such as age, marital status, number of kids, and frequency of arts and culture activities. People can also make reviews about the results and those reviews can change the overall score for a neighborhood. Let's take a look at the two neighborhoods. On this website about Bay Colony Club, here's the neighborhood description: "The Bay Colony Club is a gated waterfront community that lets you unwind amidst a busy city. It is looked at as one of the most prominent island enclave. Balconies overlook the Intracostal Waterway of Fort Lauderdale. You will feel as if you are on vacation when you are here! The entrance into Bay Colony Club is guarded by a 24-hour security gate, once through the gate you enter the with beautiful tree lined streets. The Bay Colony Club offers superb amenities all throughout the property. There are three clubhouses each with sparkling pools and one has a Cabana bar with a pool located on the Intracoastal. They also feature meeting rooms, bathrooms, recreation rooms and workout equipment. The fitness club features state of the art workout equipment as well as sauna and showers. There are also six state of the art clay tennis courts on the property. Boaters can slip their vessels into one of our slips. They can accommodate vessels 50 feet and under, however the size is subject to change at any time. Condos in the Bay Colony Club feature large eat-in kitchens with stainless steel appliances, balconies that overlook the Intracostal Waterway, large French doors and stylish ceramic tile floors. The Club is conveniently located minutes away from the beautiful beaches of Fort Lauderdale. You can enjoy some of the finest shopping and dining the area has to offer a few minutes down the road. Many people come year round to enjoy the comfort of Bay Colony Club and its surrounding area." Now let's compare this description to Southwest. We are not a gated community, although the Southwest Freeway does act like a barrier to isolate us from the rest of DC. SW isn't an island, but we do have condos and co-ops that look over the Washington Channel. Whenever I go to Cantina Marina, I do feel like I'm on vacation, with the fake palm trees and all. We do have some nice tree-lined streets - G Street comes to mind. We have three swimming pools - Randall Recreation Center, Waterside Fitness Center, and East Potomac Park. Lots of apartment and condo communities also have pools. We have marinas and a live-aboard community, the only one I know of in the District. We can accommodate tall ships and yachts, like the Sequoia, the former presidential yacht.

We can enjoy some of the finest dining and shopping that DC has to offer just down the road - like Georgetown or Capitol Hill, but it's too bad we can't currently do the same in our own neighborhood. We have people who come year round to enjoy our quadrant of the city, especially in the spring during the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Here are some other neighborhoods in major U.S. cities that are supposedly most like Southwest:

New York (Manhattan) - Midtown

New York (Brooklyn) - Carroll Gardens

LA - Westwood

San Francisco - North Beach

Boston - South End

Chicago - O'Hare

Denver - Golden Triangle

Miami - North Coconut Grove

Baltimore - Canton

What do you think about these neighborhood comparisons?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Updated Photos of Arena Stage

Over the weekend I took some photos of development projects around the neighborhood. First up is Arena Stage, which began construction back in January of this year. The expanded Arena Stage Mead Center for American Theater, designed by Bing Thom Architects, is scheduled to open in time for the 2010-11 season. This first photo is of construction along 6th Street. In the foreground is the existing Fichlander Stage and in the background is the Cradle, a "black box" theater.

This is a close-up photo of the Cradle, which is beginning to take shape.

Here is a photo of construction along Maine Avenue.

Here's a link to my original post about Arena Stage.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bids Come in for Firehouse Site

Yesterday, according to this press release from the DC Government, three teams responded to the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) office's solicitation for a partner to redevelop two sites in SW, including the fire station at the corner of 6th Street & School Street and a second site at the corner of 4th Street & E Street. See the Google Earth map above for the location of the two sites. The three teams are: a partnership between JLH Partners, Chapman Development, and CDC Companies; the team of Trammell Crow, CSG Urban Partners, and Michele Hagans; and E Street Development Partners (a combination of Potomac Investment Properties, CityPartners, and Adams Investment Group). At least two of the development teams have members that are currently involved in other projects in SW. Trammell Crow is building Patriots Plaza, a three-building office development cattycorner to the 4th Street site. They are also redeveloping St. Matthew's with CSG Urban Partners at 222 M Street. CityPartners is on the development team of the Southwest Waterfront. From the press release: "The responses call for rebuilding Engine 13 and building between 102,000 – 465,000 square feet of office space and a potential hotel with between 130-208 rooms. All offers proposed neighborhood-serving ground floor retail. Two of the [offers] proposed community space and one proposed an 11,000 square foot atrium-covered public indoor park." As a part of the deal, the DC government will get a new firehouse for free. It's also good that all of the proposals include ground floor retail, as I made a plea for retail in my first post on this topic back in June. The city hopes to choose a winner by the end of the year and construction could begin by the summer of 2010.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Ward 6 Bans Single Sales

According to this press release from Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells, the DC Council approved the ban of sales of single containers of alcohol, including beer, malt liquor, and ale, as well as spirits in bottles of half pint or smaller in Ward 6.

Rash of Assaults in SW

According to this news report from NBC, there have been at least six assaults in SW in the past week, with the most recent attack occurring on Monday evening on the 1000 block of 6th Street. From the news story: "Mark Blank, a 52-year-old government attorney was walking in the 1000 block of Sixth Street Southwest near his home when he was jumped by as many as four people at about 9 p.m. Monday. He was hospitalized in extremely critical condition with swelling in his brain and remained in intensive care Wednesday night. Police said they believe the attack on Blank was one of four committed by the same group within a few hours in a neighborhood near Waterside Mall on Monday night. 'Some were simply just vicious attacks, such as the one on Sixth Street,' Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes said. 'However, some did involve a robbery'...Officials said extra police patrols have been added to the area. Some officers are patrolling the neighborhood on mountain bikes." Teenagers are suspected of perpetrating these assaults.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What Bloggers are Saying About Southwest

- DCMetrocentric reports that construction at Waterfront Station has reached ground level. I'll actually be in town this weekend and the weather is supposed to be perfect, so I'll finally have a chance to go around the neighborhood and take some updated photos, including Waterfront Station.

- Greater Greater Washington reports that a bicyclist was killed in West Potomac Park along Maine Avenue. I ride my bike around there on occasion when I ride to work, and that area can be dangerous for bicyclists.

- Imagine, DC would like a Metrorail line or light rail line to run up the median of I-95 to I-395 and connect to L'Enfant Plaza to help reduce traffic in the area.

Update on St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church Redevelopment

If you haven't been past 222 M Street in a few months, you may not have noticed that St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church has been demolished. The old church building was razed back in May so a new church, community center, and apartments can be built. In the interim, St. Matthew's is sharing space with the congregation at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church on 6th & M Street. I recently contacted Pastor Huber of St. Matthew's to get an update on the progress at redeveloping their site. St. Matthew's is teaming up with Trammell Crow and CSG Urban Partners on redeveloping 222 M Street. Internationally recognized architecture firm BBG-BBGM will design the project - another local Southwest project the architects have recently designed is the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The redevelopment will include three components (1) a new St. Matthew's Church, (2) the Thurgood and Cecilia Marshall Southwest Community Center, and (3) an apartment building. The pastor hopes the new church will include a Fellowship Hall for community meeting space, as well as a sanctuary that could accommodate theatre and performances, in a partnership with Arena Stage. The community center hopes to include the following: a coffee shop called "Sacred Grounds", a day care center, a computer lab, thrift shop, multi-media classroom, community outreach center, and a Southwest Youth and Children's Choir. The apartment project, as planned, will include approximately 195 units - 15% of which they hope will be workforce housing. The development team still needs to get zoning approval and submit a PUD before construction can begin. Pastor Huber says they hope to have their submission to the Zoning Commission done soon. I'll be tracking further progress of this project and once renderings are available, I'll be sure to post them.

Special thanks to Pastor Huber for his assistance with reporting on this redevelopment project.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

London "Starchitect" to Design New Washington Highlands Library

According to this article from The Washington Post, David Adjaye, a prominent young architect based in London, will design two new DC Public Library branches, located in Washington Highlands (on the east side of the Anacostia River at 115 Atlantic Street, SW) and the Fort Davis neighborhood in Southeast. The other library in Southwest, located at 900 Wesley Place and built in 1965, will probably not be replaced anytime soon, since it was just renovated a few years ago.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

SW Waterfront Developers & DC Government Sign Land Disposition Agreement

Yesterday (I meant to post about this yesterday, but I didn't get a chance until tonight) according to a press release from PN Hoffman, the DC Government and Hoffman-Struever Waterfront LLC signed the Land Disposition Agreement for the Southwest Waterfront. From the press release: "As master developer, Hoffman-Struever will lead the transformation and development of over 26-acres of land and 25 acres of marina area in to a world-class mixed-use waterfront destination which will include acres of public parks, plazas and open green space. When complete, the project will reconnect the District and its citizens to the underutilized waterfront and a great natural resource. The project will also link the revitalized M Street corridor and Baseball District through the Southwest Waterfront to the Mall and to the millions of annual local, regional and international visitors. The LDA provides the framework for the master developer to entitle, design and develop the Southwest Waterfront project. The signing of the LDA follows the District Council’s unanimous approval earlier this summer of $198 million in financing for public costs associated with the project, which legislation was introduced through the offices of Chairman Vincent Gray at the request of Mayor Adrian Fenty. The public financing will pay for site infrastructure, utilities, roads, parks, promenades, public piers and other improvements for the project...In related actions, on October 6, Kwame Brown, Chairman of the Council’s Committee on Economic Development will chair a Roundtable discussion on the pending resolution now under consideration that would authorize the City to transfer the Southwest Waterfront land to Hoffman-Struever at the closing under the LDA." Construction is set to begin in 2011. At the SWNA meeting last week, Elinor Bacon from ER Bacon Development mentioned during a Q & A session that financing hasn't been obtained yet, but they have received a lot of interest, since it's a high-profile project and construction isn't expected to begin immediately.

More Demolition Coming to Waterfront Station

The development manager at the Waterfront Station project, Gordon Fraley, sent the following email today regarding the reopening of 4th Street through the Waterfront Station site: "On or about October 9, 2008, the parking area between the Waterfront/SEU Metro Station escalator and the Bank of America located at Waterfront Station will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians to make way for the demolition and construction of 4th Street, SW. The Metro station escalators and elevators will not be affected by the change. Parking for Safeway will continue to be available in the lot adjacent to the Safeway store along M Street." The map pictured above shows the two areas that will be closed for demolition. You can read my prior posts about Waterfront Station here, here, here, and here.