Sunday, November 30, 2008

Guardian Angels Descend on Southwest

On Saturday evening, the Guardian Angels held its second neighborhood patrol of Southwest. The first neighborhood patrol was on Saturday, November 22nd. Police Service Area (PSA) 104 requested the assistance of the Guardian Angels after recent assaults in SW, including the death of local resident Mark Blank back in October. Both neighborhood patrols met at Potomac Place Tower at 800 4th Street. Community members are welcomed to join the Guardian Angels during the neighborhood patrols - about 40 community members showed up at the November 22nd patrol. The Guardian Angels volunteer their time to help walk the streets and point out safety concerns during their neighborhood patrols. Other areas of the city where the Guardian Angels have been active lately include Trinidad, Columbia Heights, Capitol Hill East, and Brightwood.

On a related note, at last week's SWNA meeting, Sgt. Brad Wagner from MPD stated that robberies have decreased by almost 50% in the past 30 days compared to a year ago, while burglaries have slightly increased during the same time period. Comments from local community list-servs express frustration with the growing crime problem in Southwest and PSA 104 has brought these concerns to light. In response, besides inviting the Guardian Angels on patrols, developers have increased lighting at neighborhood construction sites, MPD has increased foot patrols in problem areas, and a Juvenile Response Unit has been created, since most of these crimes are done by juveniles. We'll see if these measures will help decrease crime in the area.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Shuttle Bug is Coming!

The SW Action Team, a volunteer problem-solving team trained in 2006 by MPD's Policing for Prevention Division, reports that a Shuttle Bug service for residents living above I Street will be up and running by the week of December 8th. The Shuttle Bug is a temporary bus service that will allow residents to safely get around the construction zone at Waterfront Station since pedestrian access was blocked to the site back in November 2007. Once 4th Street is reopened by March 2010, the shuttle will discontinue service. There will be stops near the entrance to Safeway and the CVS/Bank of America trailer, however, there are Jersey barriers currently blocking the Safeway stop. Negotiations are underway to have those barriers removed in time for the debut of the shuttle service. Once the schedule, map, and routes are available, I'll post the information here, but I would imagine the bus will make a loop from M Street to 6th Street, to I Street, to 3rd Street, and back to M Street. The Shuttle Bug is financed by the DC Government, Waterfront Associates (the developers of Waterfront Station), and Fairfield Residential (developers of The View at Waterfront).

Progress at Waterfront Station

Gordon Fraley, the project manager of Waterfront Station, gave a progress report at Monday's SWNA meeting. Currently, the 3rd floor is being poured at the site and the two office buildings should be topped off by February/March of 2009. By next August, the facades will be up at the Shalom Baranes-designed buildings. Both of the buildings will have a terracotta facade, similar to Monument Realty's office building under construction at Half Street - another Shalom Baranes-designed project near Nationals Park. Since the transfer of the 4th & I Street park to the DC Government from NPS occurred a couple weeks ago, the development team can reconnect 4th Street from I Street to M Street. The reconstructed portion of 4th Street will reopen before March 1, 2010, since the street must be reopened before DCRA and the DC Office of Tax & Revenue move into their new office space at Waterfront Station. By May 2010, the new Safeway should be open.

This is a rendering of the new SW Safeway, courtesy of Vornado.

Here's the exterior of the MVT Safeway.

The new SW Safeway may include a Starbucks and a dry cleaners, similar to the MVT Safeway. The SW Safeway Starbucks would be the 5th Starbucks to open in Southwest during the past few years. The other four Starbucks stores are at Capital Gallery (600 Maryland Avenue), The Portals (1201 Maryland Avenue), the Holiday Inn (550 C Street), and the Small Business Administration building at Federal Center SW (409 3rd Street). It would be the first SW store to locate south of the SE-SW Freeway.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Old SoCap Photos

DDOT has started compiling old photos of streets and buildings in the District. I found a couple of photos of South Capitol Street from the 1950s. The first photo of SoCap is a northbound perspective towards the Capitol Building at the intersection of South Capitol and what is currently Washington Avenue. This photo was taken in 1950.

The second photo is a southbound perspective of SoCap taken back in 1957. It looks like the photo was taken near the intersection with N Street. In the distance is the old viaduct that led to the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.

Back in the summer of 2007, the viaduct was removed during the "extreme makeover" of SoCap and the bridge undertaken by DDOT. Take a look at JDLand for details on the transformation of the South Capitol Street corridor (or possibly Taxation Without Representation Street) that took place in the lead-up to the opening of Nationals Park this spring.

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Tree "Grows" in Southwest

The empty lot at 222 M Street where St. Matthew's Lutheran Church is planning to build a new sanctuary and apartments (see prior post) will soon become a Christmas tree lot this holiday season. Starting on Monday, December 1st, Christmas trees will be on sale 7 days a week, so us Southwesters will have a local spot to get our trees this year! Here's the schedule:

Monday - Friday: 3:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Saturday: 12:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Sunday: 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Prices range from $48 for 5-6 ft trees to $67 for 7-8 ft trees. If you're interested in pre-ordering a tree, contact St. Matthew's at 202-484-3189, or send an email to Seniors living in the neighborhood get free delivery!

Will The Southwester Cease to Exist?

After more than 40 years of providing news about the Southwest community, it was announced at tonight's SWNA meeting that The Southwester may no longer exist in its current print newspaper format due to financing issues. Marge Maceda, President of SWNA, said at tonight's monthly meeting that advertising revenue has dropped to a point that the newspaper is now operating in the red. The Southwester has a current circulation of about 12,000 and monthly printing costs average $2,500. Local businesses are the main source of advertising for the paper, but since several businesses have relocated as redevelopment comes to the community, advertising revenue has dropped. Also, the long-time Editor-in-Chief of The Southwester is retiring, so a new editor is needed to keep the newspaper going. Maceda stated that the options for The Southwester are the following: keep the paper as it is; make the newspaper an online publication until advertising revenue increases; or end The Southwester and negotiate with the Hill Rag to dedicate a certain amount of space each month to cover Southwest issues. A few audience members volunteered to help keep the newspaper afloat - including an interim editor-in-chief, ad solicitor, and assistance with creating a business plan for the paper. I will post throughout the week on other topics from the meeting, but most of the topics have recently been covered in this blog, including the Southwest zoning study, the closure of the 9th Street bridge, and an update on Waterfront Station.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Southwest News

- In today's Real Estate Biznow, there is a snippet about the mayor's press conference last Friday at Nationals Park, where he touted the progress at development projects along the Anacostia River and the Washington Channel over the past year, including securing public financing for infrastructure improvements at the Southwest Waterfront, demolishing the old Waterside Mall to make way for Waterfront Station, and continued work on the environmental impact analysis for the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.

- DCMud reports that PN Hoffman, one of the development partners responsible for the redevelopment of the SW Waterfront, may bring a Yes! Organic Market to the waterfront. A Yes! Organic Market recently opened at Union Row, another PN Hoffman project located just north of 14th & U Street, NW. The scale model pictured above is the central portion of the new SW Waterfront, which is the first section of the waterfront that will be redeveloped. The tree-lined street on the left side of the photo is 7th Street. See my prior post from September which explains each phase of the redevelopment.

December Issue of The Southwester is Available

Here's a link to December's issue of The Southwester, a monthly newspaper dealing with local SW issues and events published by SWNA. Thank you, SWNA, for adding a link to SWTLQTC (OK, so that acronym doesn't sound that great, I'm still working on an abbreviation) to your site!

Monday, November 17, 2008

9th Street Bridge to Close for a Year

For those of you who use the 9th Street tunnel as a short cut to the Southwest Waterfront, DDOT released a traffic advisory that the 9th Street bridge over I-395 will be closed starting today for the next 360 days. From the traffic advisory: "The project will make the bridges safer and more aesthetically pleasing. The concrete bridge deck on the 9th Street Bridge will be replaced, including a new walkway and staircase to Frontage Road at L’Enfant Plaza. The work will also include the replacement of the bridge bearings, structural repairs to the 10th Street Bridge beams, new roadway lighting, milling and resurfacing of the approach pavement and re-painting the exterior girders on the bridges. DDOT will also repair the roof slab of a DC Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) pumping station that is beneath 9th Street." While the 9th Street bridge will be closed, the 10th Street bridge will remain open for most of the construction period. The above photo (courtesy of DDOT) shows the SE-SW Freeway around the year 1970. The white road in the left-center portion of the photo is 10th Street, which was still under construction at the time. Above 10th Street is 9th Street and its ramps to the freeway.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

MVT Safeway Photos

Last weekend I took a trip to the MVT Safeway and snapped some photos. The new urban lifestyle Safeway, located at CityVista on the corner of 5th Street & L Street, NW, is a model of what our SW Safeway may look like once it opens in 2010. The new SW Safeway will be 55,000 SF on the ground floor of the east office building under construction at Waterfront Station. The MVT Safeway is the same size and includes a Starbucks and a dry cleaners. As you can see from the following photos, the ceilings are much higher than the current SW Safeway, which makes the store feel more spacious.

This photo shows a fruit display near the main entrance to the store, including organic fruits.

The MVT Safeway has a bakery on-site and offers a variety of baked goods for sale.

They also sell beer and wine at the MVT Safeway, which the current SW Safeway doesn't offer.

The MVT Safeway also has a large meat section, a nut bar, and a cafe, but my favorite feature is self check out!

2010 can't come soon enough if this is what we will get at the new SW Safeway. In the meantime, the MVT Safeway is open and just a short drive away.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Monument Realty Pulls Out of Randall School Project

From today's Washington Business Journal (available for subscribers only): "In other news, Monument has pulled out of an agreement with the Corcoran Gallery of Art to redevelop D.C.’s Randall School in Southwest into apartments and 80,000 square feet of studio, exhibition and classroom space. 'The financial backing no longer existed,' but 'the partnership dissolved in an amenable manner and only ended due to an unfortunate set of circumstances,' Jocelyn File Adamoli, the Corcoran’s director of special projects, said in a statement. The contract does expose Monument to some liability for pulling out, but Adamoli declined to release any details. The gallery did say, however, that it does not plan to sue Monument. With its city approvals already complete, the Corcoran is meeting with other prospective developers and hopes to have a new development partner named by the first quarter of next year, Adamoli said." Before the Corcoran purchased the Randall School, it served as the Millennium Arts Center and a homeless shelter. Currently, the building's windows are boarded up and a security guard patrols the school complex. Hopefully the Corcoran will be able to find another development partner, but since financing is hard to come by these days for most developers, this site may stay vacant for a while. Rendering is courtesy of Monument Realty.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Constitution Center Update

In Tuesday's Biznow, there was an article about the progress being made at Constitution Center, located at 7th & D Street. David Nassif Associates is in the process of a $275 million renovation after the US DOT moved out in 2007. Construction is being led by Davis Construction and SmithGroup architects. The building has been stripped to its frame and is being rebuilt, with renovations scheduled to be complete by early 2010. As you can see from the above photo I took back in mid-October, most of the curtain wall has been installed along 7th Street. An entrance to L'Enfant Plaza Metro is located at the site and reopened on July 1st of this year - one year after renovations began. The article describes the superlatives involved with this construction project: "Largest privately owned office building in DC - by about 200%. 1.4M SF above ground, 690k below. Largest privately owned parking garage in DC. Largest private office building renovation in the US to be LEED Gold (pending). Most energy efficient office building in the District." A private one-acre courtyard will be built as well. Constitution Center is currently available for lease, but since it's being built as a Level IV security-rated facility, it will most likely attract federal tenants. Too bad no ground-floor retail is planned at this massive office complex, but mixing commoners and secure tenants wouldn't fly at a Level IV facility.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's Election Day!

I got back from England in time to vote, which I did this morning. If you haven't done so yet, PLEASE VOTE! I'll start posting again about SW by tomorrow.