Saturday, January 31, 2009

Fireboat Damaged in Channel

The Washington Post reports that DCFD's main fireboat the John Glenn was damaged in a collision with The Spirit of Washington cruise boat in the Washington Channel. From the article:

The Spirit of Washington cruise boat struck the District's main fireboat today while the latter vessel was docked, gashing a 15-foot-hole in the fireboat and disabling it for the foreseeable future, fire officials said. There were no passengers aboard the 600-person cruise boat, and no one was injured in the 2 p.m. incident, along Pier 4 at 6th and Water streets SW, authorities said. The collision occurred as the four-person crew of the Spirit of Washington performed a routine maneuver to reposition the ship alongside the pier, said Sal Naso, vice president and general manager of the Spirit Cruises. "They were just turning it around," Naso said. "It's done a thousand times a year. We're obviously going to take care of the fire department." Naso said damage to the cruise boat was minimal. The company substituted another boat, the Spirit of Mount Vernon, for its scheduled dinner cruise. Alan Etter, spokesman for the District's Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department said the damage to the 70-foot John Glenn was "considerable." The gash was on the starboard side, above the water line, and will have to be fixed before it can be returned to service, he said.
The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating the accident. Below is a photo of the John Glenn, one week after the accident. I couldn't get any closer in order to see the gash on the boat.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Southwest Projects May Benefit from Stimulus

The WBJ reports that under the $800+ billion stimulus package approved by the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday, about $900 million will be allocated to the District, which includes money for infrastructure improvements and public school renovations. From the article:
D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty wrote [DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes] Norton Jan. 7 with a list of priorities for stimulus spending that included school modernization, construction of a new police forensics lab, Medicaid matching funds, reconstruction of the Eleventh Street and South Capitol Street bridges, and [other] environmental and housing needs.
Speaking of the South Capitol Street bridge, there will be an ANC 6D presentation meeting on Monday, February 2nd at 7pm, where DDOT will give a briefing on the new bridge design (and hopefully a timetable). The meeting will take place at 1501 Half Street.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Douglass Bridge to Close

DDOT has released a traffic advisory that the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge (AKA South Capitol Street Bridge) will be closed on Sunday morning in order to test the swing span from 5am to 10am. This photo of the Douglass Bridge was taken in December 2008.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration Photos

During the past few days, parts of Southwest were taken over by masses of people due to all the events related to the Inauguration of President Barack Obama. I attended some of the events, namely the We Are One concert at the Lincoln Memorial and the swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol. Here are some photos I took during these events.

The MSNBC studio on the National Mall started broadcasting on Saturday, January 17th from 7th Street & Jefferson Drive. The studio has a window so passersby can see the broadcasters and guests, and it offers great views of the Capitol building from inside.

The We Are One concert, which officially kicked off inaugural activities, was held at the Lincoln Memorial on Sunday. There were estimates by CNN that 750,000 people attended the free concert. I was standing east of 17th Street, which was outside of the security zone. Jumbotrons were installed so the large crowd could see the concert.

Several streets north of the SE-SW freeway were closed to vehicles on Inauguration Day. This photo was taken along D Street, in front of L'Enfant Plaza, where tour buses were parked and a crowd of people were trying to find their way to the Washington Monument around 10:30 AM, since by then the security zone at the National Mall was already closed. The WBJ reports that the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station was one of the more heavily used stations since it was one of the closest open stations to the Mall. According to a WMATA press release, January 20th broke the record for the amount of people who used Metrorail...1.12 million riders.

This photo was taken after the President gave his inaugural address and the crowd near the Washington Monument were leaving the National Mall. The Washington Post reports that an estimated 1.8 million people were gathered at the National Mall for the swearing-in ceremony, the largest crowd ever on the Mall.

National Guard troops were stationed in several spots to help with crowd control. This Humvee was parked along Maine Avenue near the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

This photo was taken at the intersection of 7th Street and G Street looking north on 7th, as spectators from the swearing-in ceremony were making their way back to buses or other modes of transit. Visible in the background of this photo is the new facade of Constitution Center.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Additional Inaugural Activities in Southwest

Back in December, Southwest...TLQTC posted about the International Inaugural Ball being held at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel on the 17th. Here are a few other events taking place in the neighborhood:

  • On Saturday, January 17th, from 9 am - 4 pm, St. Augustine's Episcopal Church will be hosting an Americorps service project, which will include chili lunch (11 am) with 50-75 service volunteers from all over the country plus the DC clients that they serve. A keynote speaker, group discussion and a non-violent canvass through the Southwest DC neighborhood with the mayor’s office, a safety patrol, and Guardian Angels will follow this. This event is a direct response to Obama’s call for a National Day of Service. RSVP to 202-554-3222. St Augustine's is located at 600 M Street.
  • Also on Saturday, there will be a Young & Powerful Group Launch Event at the Holiday Inn Capitol, which is located at 550 C Street, from 7-11pm. Tickets are $50 and more information about the event can be found on their website.
  • On Sunday, January 18th, two events will take place at Zanzibar, located at 700 Water Street. The first is an event called All for Africa & Africare: A Celebration of Unity Inaugural Event. The event will be from 9pm-2am and ticket prices range from $75 - $500. See the website for more information. The other event is called the Mambo for Obama Ball, from 8pm - 5am. Ticket prices range from $75 - $250. Here's a link to the event's website.
  • Also on Sunday, the Air & Space Museum on Independence Avenue will be the location of The California Bash. However, this event is already sold out.
  • The Oklahoma State Society will host a reception at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian on Independence Avenue from 7-9pm. This event is FREE, but a RSVP is required.
  • There's a Champagne Reception at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art at 950 Independence Avenue from 7-11pm. Tickets are $175 and here's a phone number for more information: 877-CHN-0844.
  • The Land of Enchantment Inaugural Ball will be held at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian from 7-10pm. Unfortunately, this event is sold out.
  • The Mandarin Oriental Hotel, located at 1330 Maryland Avenue, will be the venue for the Pearl Gala from 7pm-12am. This event, however, is sold out. (To the right is a photo of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel taken in October 2008)
  • The South Carolina Presidential Inaugural Ball will be held at the Air & Space Museum starting at 8pm. This event is sold out.
  • The Young & Powerful Black Tie Gala and Awards Ceremony will take place at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel starting at 8pm. Tickets cost $125.
  • On January 20th (Inauguration Day), there will be a service of Morning Prayer from 8:30- 9am at St. Augustine's.
  • The Hawai'i State Society is having their Inaugural Ball at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. If you're looking for a ticket for President-Elect Obama's home state ball, sorry, this event is already sold out.
  • The Living the Dream Inaugural Ball will be held on January 20th at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel on 480 L'Enfant Plaza. Tickets are $250. (To the right is a photo of the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel taken in December 2008)
  • The 2009 Florida Inaugural Celebration will take place at the National Museum of the American Indian, starting at 7pm. Tickets cost $200, and call (703) 905-9838 for more information.
  • On Saturday, January 24th, from 3 – 5pm, St. Augustine’s will end Inauguration week by hosting a community event, “MLK and Our Century”, a multifaceted tribute to the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. featuring actor-filmmaker Michael Mack and a diverse panel of well-known artists, activists, politicians and educators. The event will begin with "The Drum Major,” a 20-minute live documentary written, directed by and featuring Mack as “The Voice of Dr. King” and followed by a panel discussion of this historic presidency and current events with Dr. King’s values in mind.

Patriots Plaza Tops Off

Thanks to reader Curtis for the tip that Biznow recently had a feature on the topping off ceremony at Patriots Plaza that occurred last Friday. Back in December, Southwest...TLQTC had a post showing updated photos at phase II and phase III of Patriots Plaza. In the Biznow article, it describes some of the security features Trammell Crow implemented at the two buildings:
30' setbacks, shatter-resistant windows, and a lobby designed to blow air pressure outward during a blast. Trammell can lease each building as an individual facility or combine Phases II and III into one, which is what they proposed to DoJ before it landed in NoMa.
Phase II & III are scheduled to deliver in September and no tenants have been lined up yet, however, they are targeting the GSA as a potential tenant. The article also mentions other developments in the area, including Constitution Center, the CFL, and the two parcels the DC government is offering up to developers, all of which has been written about in this blog. (The above photo shows phase II of Patriots Plaza back in December 2008)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Alternative Transit Options on Inauguration Day

By foot: The Inauguration Day 2009 website created by the District government states the following pedestrian routes are available to get to the swearing-in ceremony:
The following access points have been identified as pedestrian-only routes to the National Mall:
  • E Street, NE from Massachusetts Avenue, NE to 3rd Street, NW
  • 7th Street, SW from D Street, SW to Independence Avenue, SW
  • 19th Street, NW from K Street, NW to DuPont Circle, NW
  • 3rd Street Tunnel (I-395) from New York Avenue, NW to SE/SW Freeway
  • Arlington Memorial Bridge from Virginia, around Lincoln Circle to Independence Avenue, SW
  • East Capitol Street, NE to North Carolina, SE to New Jersey Avenue, SE to I Street, SE [continue until 7th Street, SW to Independence Avenue, SW
By sea (ok, river): For those of you coming into DC from Northern Virginia, I heard on NBC4 this morning that there will be water taxi service from Old Town Alexandria to the Southwest Waterfront. From the NBC4 website:

The U.S. Coast Guard says it has approved water taxi service from Virginia to D.C. on Inauguration Day. The Inaugural Water Taxi will be provided by the Potomac Riverboat Co., for $90 roundtrip or $50 one way. The taxi will depart from the Alexandria City Marina at Union and Cameron streets in Old Town Alexandria and arrive at the Southwest Waterfront's Pier 4, at 600 Water St. in D.C.
600 Water Street is where Cantina Marina is located and the Odyssey is docked. Tickets go on sale today and can be purchased on the Potomac Riverboat Company's website. (The above photo is of Cantina Marina and the Odyssey dock, taken in July 2007)

By bicycle: A press release today from DDOT states that there will be two free bike valet parking stations available - one will be on the south side of the Jefferson Memorial and the other will be on 16th Street, NW between I & K Streets. From the press release:

Both sites are within walking distance of the Inaugural festivities and will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. A limited number of commemorative valet claim checks and spoke cards will be offered to cyclists who use the valets. WABA says the service will operate like a car valet. “You simply ride up to the valet, a volunteer will attach one half of a claim ticket to your bike and hand you the other half,” said Henry Mesias, the project manager at WABA. “The volunteer will then park the bike in a safe enclosure while you head off to enjoy the Inauguration. When you want to leave, you show us your half of the claim check and we get you your bike and you ride off. It’s quite simple.” The sidewalks on all bridges over the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers will be open to bicyclists and pedestrians, and the Memorial Bridge will be dedicated to bicyclists and pedestrians. Cyclists coming from Arlington, Alexandria, Southeast and Southwest DC can use the valet station at the Jefferson Memorial, while riders from the north can use the station at 16th and K Streets, NW.

Here's a link to WABA's website describing the bike valet service.

By Metro: According to the WMATA website, Metrorail will be running rush hour service on Inauguration Day from 4am to 9pm and commemorative passes & SmarTrip cards are available for purchase. The Smithsonian Metro station will be closed, so the closest Southwest stations to the National Mall will be L'Enfant Plaza and Federal Center SW. Those stations serve all rail lines, except for the Red Line. (The above map shows the Metro stations and bus routes near the National Mall, from the WMATA website)

Could SEU Become UDC?

The WBJ reports that the University of the District of Columbia could possibly take over Southeastern University. From the WBJ article:
Southeastern University, which has dealt with financial and enrollment troubles for years, is close to picking the school that would absorb it. The University of the District of Columbia recently voiced its interest in taking over the university. “We are entertaining proposals from interested parties for a possible merger in order to strengthen our ability to meet our mission efforts,” said J.R. Clark, board chairman of Southeastern, which offers a two-year associate’s degree. “UDC is one of the many institutions that has provided us with a proposal.” Allen Sessoms, who was named president of UDC in August 2008, has said that early stages of his tenure would include creating a community college within the university. Southeastern’s merger committee has been collecting proposals that the board will have the opportunity to weigh in on and review Wednesday at its board of directors meeting.
Southeastern University is located at 501 I Street, and according to its website, the University is in the midst of renovations, called The Campaign For Southeastern. The first phase of renovation, which includes three classrooms, faculty offices, and study areas was completed in 2008. The website doesn't say what the next phases will cover, but I hope the building's exterior is a part of the renovation.
Update: The WBJ reports that UDC's board approved the creation of a two-year community college, which could pave the way for a merger of UDC and Southeastern University by the fall semester.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Finalists Chosen for Eisenhower Memorial

The Washington Business Journal (subscribers only) reports that four finalists have been chosen by the Eisenhower Memorial Commission and the GSA to design the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Memorial, to be located just south of the Air & Space Museum between 4th Street & 6th Street. Independence Avenue forms the northern boundary of the memorial site. The four finalists are the following: Gehry Partners from LA, Peter Walker & Partners Landscape Architecture from Berkeley, CA, Rogers Marvel Architects from New York, and Krueck + Sexton from Chicago. A finalist will be chosen in March to design the memorial, which will span four acres and is called Eisenhower Square. Construction of Eisenhower Square will require the closure of Maryland Avenue, which bisects the site, but the view shed towards the Capitol Building will need to be maintained. It will cost anywhere from $90 million to $110 million to build the memorial and it should be complete by 2014. The site of the memorial seems appropriate, since President Eisenhower was responsible for the creation of NASA, the FAA, the Department of Education, and the Department of Health & Human Services, whose headquarters buildings are located either adjacent to the memorial site or in close proximity.

(The rendering of the memorial site is from the Eisenhower Memorial Commission website)

ANC 6D Business Meeting

Here's a reminder that tomorrow 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. The only SW-related item on the agenda is the reconsideration of the stipulated license for Hogate's by Kristina, a new restaurant and catering company that wants to open at the site of the former H2O nightclub.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

SoCap Extreme Makeover - Phase II

JDLand got the scoop on which build alternative will be used to reconstruct South Capitol Street and which bridge design will be used to replace the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge. In my "What Bloggers Are Saying About Southwest" post earlier this week I had a link to JDLand's post about a spring 2009 decision on the bridge design, but apparently the design has already been determined. There was an Anacostia Waterfront Inter-Agency Coordination Briefing on Wednesday and the preferred designs were released. There were two build alternatives on the table as well as a no-build option for SoCap, but the more comprehensive build alternative #2 was chosen. The most notable changes coming to SoCap under build alternative #2 will be a reconfigured ramp entrance to I-395, a new at-grade intersection at South Capitol & M Street, a large traffic oval at South Capitol & Potomac Avenue, and a traffic circle at South Capitol & Suitland Parkway.

Here is what the southern section of the South Capitol Street corridor looked like as of December 2008, which was the result of the "Extreme Makeover" that DDOT did to the street back in 2007-08 in anticipation of the opening of Nationals Park. The area north of Nationals Park will get similar treatment in Phase II, including a grassy median, wide sidewalks, and street furniture. As for the new Douglass bridge, my preferred design of the stayed bascule bridge was not chosen. Instead, we will be getting an arched bascule bridge, similar to Arlington Memorial Bridge, which connects Arlington Cemetery and the Lincoln Memorial. The new Douglass bridge will be six lanes, contain a draw span, and will be located slightly downriver from the current bridge. It will be connected on the north with a traffic oval and a traffic circle on the south.

Here is a rendering of the traffic oval planned at the intersection of South Capitol & Potomac Avenue and the approach to the new arched bascule-designed bridge, from the 1/7/09 Anacostia Waterfront Inter-Agency Coordination Briefing slide show. The Environmental Impact Statement should be complete by the spring, but a construction start date hasn't been announced yet. There will probably be a presentation to ANC 6D in February, so we should find out then when construction is supposed to begin.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What Bloggers Are Saying About Southwest

- JDLand, our prolific blogger neighbor to the east, has a couple recent posts relevant to Southwest. The first is about the new Frederick Douglass Bridge and news that a decision on the design will be released this spring (my personal favorite is the stayed bascule design). The second post shows a map of streets that will either be closed or will have parking restrictions during the inauguration, including the Southeast-Southwest Freeway, I Street, Maine Avenue/M Street, and Water Street.

(The above photo is of the current Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge taken in December 2008)

- DCmud describes the progress, or lack thereof, of development in DC during 2008 and what's in the pipeline in 2009. One of the few large-scale projects that gained momentum in 2008 was the Southwest Waterfront and bids were submitted for two parcels at Fire Engine 13 and the vacant lot at 4th & E Street. Senthil Sankaran from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development told Southwest...TLQTC back in December that there would be a community meeting this month where the three submitted proposals would be presented. I'll let you know as soon as I find out more details.

(The Google Earth map shows the two parcels that DMPED is offering to developers)

- DC Metrocentric reports that the U.S. Coast Guard will remain at their headquarters building in Buzzard Point for the time being, since they just renewed their lease for a 10-year period with Monday Properties. Here is the link for the Washington Business Journal article describing the lease renewal.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Does the Southwest Waterfront Area Need a BID?

According to reSTORE DC, a business improvement district (BID) is organized and established by property and business owners to enhance the economic vitality of a downtown or neighborhood commercial area. The cost of BID services is financed by a self-imposed tax on the businesses within the community. There are currently eight BIDs in the District, but only one of them covers parts of Southwest. The Capitol Riverfront BID is one of the newest BIDs in the city and its borders include most of Near Southeast and Buzzard Point. (See above map for the BID's borders, from the Capitol Riverfront BID website) I recently interviewed Michael Stevens, Executive Director of the Capitol Riverfront BID, to find out some more about what's going on in the area and whether the BID will expand to other areas of Southwest. See the interview below the photo.

Here is a photo of the South Capitol Street corridor taken in December 2008, which is a part of the Capitol Riverfront BID.

Southwest...TLQTC: How long has the Capitol Riverfront BID been in existence and how did the BID get started?
Stevens: The Capitol Riverfront BID was approved by the District Council in July 2007 and by Executive Order of the Mayor on July 8, 2007. We have been officially in existence and issuing the BID tax for one year and six months. The BID began as a planning process with property owners and stakeholders that started in June 2006 after I approached area stakeholders about the possibility of and the need for creating a BID for this area. I was hired by property owners as a consultant to lead the planning process that involved numerous public meetings that focused on issues confronting the area, the proposed boundaries, the type of BID tax, the necessary budget, etc. I worked with property owners and other stakeholders over an 11 month period before submitting the full application to become a BID to the city in May 2007.

Southwest...TLQTC: What kinds of services does the BID provide?
Stevens: The Capitol Riverfront BID provides the following services:
• Clean Teams that maintain the public realm and keep it trash free
• Hospitality/Safety Ambassadors that provide assistance, directions and answer questions from employees, visitors and residents
• Marketing, PR and branding initiatives for the entire 500 acre BID and its development dynamic
• Economic development activities that include business attraction efforts for office, retail and residential uses; infrastructure and access planning; small area plans; and planning for streetscape/landscape systems
• Special events and community building activities including a weekly, seasonal farmers market with DOT; summertime concerts; summertime outdoor movies; and a Holiday Market in December
• Advocacy and educational outreach to DC decision makers on behalf of our property owners, tenants and residents
• Information and database development and research services
• The maintenance and programming of two new parks – the 5 acre Riverfront Park and the 2 acre Canal Park – once they are opened in 2010

Southwest...TLQTC: The Capitol Riverfront BID is competing with other emerging areas of the city, including NoMa and Mt. Vernon Triangle. What competitive advantage does the Capitol Riverfront BID have compared to these other emerging areas?
1) I think that the riverfront is a major competitive advantage. We have only about six areas in the entire region where you can develop a new community with access to the river, or where a riverfront community has been developed (Alexandria & Georgetown). People are drawn to the water and we will have marinas, a 5 acre riverfront park and be a part of the 16 mile Anacostia Riverfront Trail system. We consider the river our ”front porch” and our new parks the “living rooms” of our community.
2) Proximity to the U.S. Capitol Building and the House and Senate complexes, Capitol Hill itself, Reagan National Airport and downtown DC.
3) Regional accessibility from the I-395 and I-295 highway system, the 11th Street and Frederick Douglass Bridge, Metro’s Green Line (only 4 stops from Gallery Place & Chinatown), and from the Blue/Orange Lines at Capitol South.
4) Four new parks that will provide a sense of place and community for our residents, employees and visitors – Canal Park, the Riverfront park, Diamond Teague Park, and Tingey Square – as well as a segment of the 16 mile Anacostia Riverfront Trail system.
5) An established residential neighborhood with more units coming. We have almost 2,000 residential units completed and over 1,200 residents already. At build-out we will have over 9,100 units with a population of over 18,000 residents.
6) Nationals Park is a vibrant sports destination and attraction that attracted 2.3 million visitors last year.
7) A true mix of uses – at build-out we will be home to the following: 1) Over 15 million SF of office space (over 100,000 employees); 2) over 9,100 residential units (approximately 18,000 residents); 3) approximately 1 million SF of retail, restaurant and entertainment uses, including 2 new grocery stores; 4) at least 1,200 hotel rooms; and 5) 4 new parks and a segment of the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail system.
8) We are building a brand new city on the river that embraces our past through the renovation of several historic buildings, engages and celebrates the Anacostia River, provides a sense of place and community through the development of new parks, provides neighborhood and employee serving retail and restaurants, and provides a range of residential lifestyle options (apartments, condos, townhouses, etc.).

Southwest...TLQTC: The BID’s current boundaries include Buzzard Point, which is in Southwest. What development plans are in store for Buzzard’s Point over the next 5 years?
Stevens: If some office attraction efforts are successful, you may see the development of a secure office campus for a federal agency or two. Otherwise, with the current economic downturn, we may not see development activity in that area for another 5-7 years.

Southwest...TLQTC: Speaking of Southwest…will the Capitol Riverfront BID eventually expand to include other areas of Southwest, including the Southwest Waterfront and Waterfront Station?
Stevens: I have spoken to the Hoffman team about that possibility and I think it might be best for a new BID to be created that would address the area that includes Waterfront Station, Arena Stage, the SW Waterfront project, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and perhaps some of the office in the SW Federal Center. It seems that that area will have a different development dynamic and destination qualities from our BID that would warrant the creation of a new BID.

I agree with Michael Stevens and think that the Southwest Waterfront needs a BID. The Southwest Waterfront area is experiencing a lot of development activity and will look a lot different in five years than it does now. Forming a BID would do a lot to help market the area to attract office tenants and retailers, keep the neighborhood clean, and deter crime. What do you think?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Top Southwest Stories of 2008

Although it's no longer 2008, I wanted to put together a list of top stories from the prior year. Southwest...TLQTC came into existence on June 4, 2008, and since then, several events have happened in the neighborhood - some good, some bad, and some ugly. Following is a recap of what I think are the top local stories of the year, in no particular order:

Southwest Waterfront Redevelopment Advances

The drama surrounding the land transfer of the Southwest Waterfront dominated the news in the last couple months of the year, with the D.C. Council finally approving the deal on December 16th, at their last legislative session of 2008. Back in July, the Council permitted the use of $198 million in bonds for infrastructure improvements along the waterfront. For instance, as a part of the redevelopment, Water Street will be closed, and utilities will have to be moved. The Hoffman-Struever development team plans a $1.5 billion mixed-use project along 51 acres of the Southwest Waterfront. Here's a description of what's planned from the press release announcing the land transfer approval:
  • Housing – approximately 770 residential units with 30% being affordable housing.
  • Cultural – a Maritime Center showcasing the region’s maritime history through a variety of educational, entertainment, and cultural exhibits
  • Hotel – Three new hotels
  • Office – Significant Class A commercial office space
  • Neighborhood amenities – neighborhood-serving retail such as a gourmet grocery, casual and upscale dining, cafes, jazz venues, shops and opportunities for local, small retailers
  • Parks – Acres of quality public parks, open space, and waterfront promenades throughout the project
  • Water-focused development – significant improvements to the existing marina and pier facilities, water taxis and public piers
  • Sustainable Design – the first LEED-Silver certified mixed-use project in the city and a LEED-ND Pilot Project
  • Significant Certified Business Enterprises (CBE) – participation in all aspects of the project, including ownership and development
The development will go through the design phase starting in 2009 and construction of phase one is slated to begin in 2011-12.

(The above photo is a sunset shot of the Southwest Waterfront taken from Cantina Marina in July of 2007)

Waterfront Station Comes Out of the Ground

Demolition of the old Waterside Mall started in November of 2007, but by mid-2008, the site had been cleared and foundation work was underway on the two new office buildings that are a part of phase one of Waterfront Station. In October, more demolition was done to make way for the reopening of 4th Street and construction had reached ground level. By December, the east and west office buildings reached the third and fourth floors. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and the Office of Tax & Revenue have pre-leased all 500,000 SF of the office space planned in phase one. Also included in the first phase will be a 55,000 SF urban lifestyle Safeway, which will replace the current store. In November, I visited the recently opened urban lifestyle Safeway at CityVista in NW to get an idea of what we have in "store" for us once our new Safeway opens in May 2010. The office buildings and 4th Street will open by March 2010.

(The above photo is of the 4th Street right-of-way at Waterfront Station taken in December 2008)

The New Arena Stage Begins to Take Shape

Groundbreaking of the new Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater occurred in January 2008. Since then, the new cradle theater has risen to its maximum height on the north side of the construction site. Canadian architect Bing Thom designed the new Arena Stage with a transparent exterior with three theaters connected together by a common lobby and a cantilevered roof. While Arena Stage is under construction, performances have moved to Crystal City and the Lincoln Theater. Arena Stage should be reopened in time for the 2010-11 season.

(The above photo is the 6th Street frontage of Arena Stage under construction in November 2008)

CSI: Southwest

Designs were approved for the new Consolidated Forensic Laboratory (CFL) in 2008. Currently, the District doesn't have its own forensics lab and has to use the FBI's lab in Quantico, VA. As a result, evidence takes longer to get analyzed and crimes don't get solved fast enough. The CFL will be home to MPD's Crime Lab, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and the DC Public Health Lab. A total of 300 - 350 employees will be housed at the facility. The HOK-designed CFL will be a LEED Gold-certified building at the site of the MPD 1st District headquarters building at 4th Street & School Street. The 1st District headquarters will be moved to the former Bowen Elementary School site on M Street once renovations are complete during the 1st quarter of 2009. Once the MPD headquarters is moved, the building will be demolished and the new CFL will be complete by 2011.

(The above rendering is of the new CFL, from the CFL website)

Fall Crime Spree Brings Guardian Angels

The new CFL can't come soon enough to help get crimes solved in the city, including Southwest, where during the fall, there were a rash of assaults by juveniles, including the brutal attack of Waterside Towers resident Mark Blank, who subsequently died from his injuries. As a result, in November the Guardian Angels descended on Southwest to do weekly neighborhood walks in order to highlight safety concerns and help empower residents.

Delays at Randall School

The credit crunch and bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers over the summer caused local developer Monument Realty to back out of a deal with the Corcoran Gallery of Art to redevelop the Randall School on I Street into a campus for the Corcoran and an apartment building. 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. Now, the Corcoran is looking for a new development partner and hopes to find one in 2009.

(The above rendering is of the Randall School site, courtesy of Monument Realty)

As you can see, a lot has been going on in Southwest...The Little Quadrant That Could over the past year. 2009 should be no different, despite the weakened economy.

Traffic Advisory

DDOT has released a traffic advisory regarding access to the 12th Street Tunnel. From the traffic advisory:

The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) will temporarily close the eastbound ramp to the 12th Street Tunnel as part of the ongoing rehabilitation of the 11th Street Bridge in Southwest. The ramp will be closed nightly between 7:30 pm and 4:30 am, beginning on Friday, January 9, 2009, and ending on Monday, January 12, 2009, weather permitting. Traffic coming across the Francis Case Memorial (14th Street) Bridge from Virginia will be required to take an alternate route. Motorists can go north on 14th Street to get downtown, or take the L’Enfant Plaza exit to D Street, SW. Detour signs will direct them to 7th Street.