Saturday, February 28, 2009

Southwest...The Cherry Blossom Capital of Washington, DC

The National Cherry Blossom Festival begins one month from today and at this week's SWNA meeting, Southwest was designated the "Cherry Blossom Capital of Washington, DC." About 90% of the cherry blossoms in DC are located in Southwest, including the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park, according to Lida Churchville, who has been working on the SW Call Box project for the past two years. Members from the Earth Conservation Corps were responsible for painting the call boxes, and as Southwest...TLQTC mentioned last week, they have been painted blue and pink, with the blue representing our neighborhood's proximity to water and the pink representing the color of the cherry blossoms that bloom each spring. The Call Box committee has also partnered with the National Cherry Blossom Festival to provide cherry blossom-inspired artwork on 14 out of the 32 call boxes in SW. Those designs will be unveiled during the cherry blossom festival on April 11. Check out the NCBF website for a list of other events during the two-week long festival. Churchville gave us a bit of a history lesson about the cherry trees as well at the SWNA meeting. The 100th anniversary of the gifting of the cherry trees by the people of Japan will be in 2012, but it turns out that the city of Washington was supposed to receive the trees back in 1909. However, once the trees reached Washington state from their trans-Pacific voyage, it was determined that the trees were infested and had to be burned, so Washington, DC didn't receive its cherry trees until the year 1912. So, SWNA has three years to plan for the big 100th anniversary celebration!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lane Closures on I-395

DDOT issued a traffic advisory that lanes will be closed on I-395 (SE-SW Freeway) during off-peak hours starting next week until the end of April, related to the reconstruction of the 9th Street Bridge. Read the traffic advisory for more details.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Engine 13 Presentations Held Tonight

Earlier this evening, DMPED held a forum where the three development teams vying for Squares 494 and 495 had the opportunity to present their project proposals to the community. DMPED will post the slide show presentations from the three teams on their website tomorrow, and then I'll have a more in-depth post about the proposals. Meanwhile, I thought I'd whet your appetite with a rendering of one of the proposals for the new Engine 13, courtesy of E Street Development. The above rendering is a view of a new two-story firehouse, with an office building on top, at the corner of 4th & E Street (the vacant parcel alongside the SE-SW Freeway).

Update #1: The presentations have been uploaded to the DMPED website. You can see the presentations for E Street Development, 494 Partners, and Trammell/CSG/MVH. I'll give more details on each proposal by this weekend.

Update #2: Following is a description of each of the proposals, along with some renderings. For reference purposes, parcel A is the site of the current Engine 13, which is located at the corner of 6th & E Street. Parcel B is the parking lot at the corner of 4th & E Street. All three proposals plan to move Engine 13 to Parcel B into a 22,000 SF space and all include some office space and ground-level retail. The similarities end there...

Proposal 1 (E Street Development)
E Street Development is a combination of Potomac Investment Properties, CityPartners, and Adams Investment Group. Their architect is Beyer, Blinder, Belle. E Street Development has partnered with the D.C. Central Kitchen and Kid Power Inc. to provide community-oriented space in their development. Both parcels will be designated LEED Silver and will have green roofs. In this proposal, parcel A would become a 307,000 SF nine-story office building with ground floor retail space along E Street. The D.C. Central Kitchen wants to create a retail outlet on the first floor of the building, in the form of a restaurant where their trained cooking staff can prepare affordable nutritious meals. Retailers that the development team will target include a coffee shop and daycare center. Parcel B will be a 191,000 SF, 10-story office building, with a new Engine 13 firehouse on the ground floor. The firehouse will be facing 4th Street, while the office building's lobby will be oriented towards E Street. There will be 3,000 SF of community space on the second floor of the building, where Kid Power Inc. will have space to implement their programs. Locally, Kid Power Inc. works with 50 kids at Amidon-Bowen Elementary and Jefferson Middle School, but currently don't have enough space to do after school programs. (The above rendering is parcel A, viewed from the corner of 6th & E Street, from the DMPED website)

Proposal 2 (494 Partners)
494 Partners is made up of a partnership between JLH Partners, Chapman Development, and CDC Companies. Their architect is Compu.tecture, and as in proposal 1, both parcels will have green roofs. This proposal would put a 208-key extended-stay hotel on parcel A. The hotel would be 9-stories tall, shaped like an L, and the main lobby would face E Street. In the hollow area of the "L", there would be an 11,000 SF all-weather atrium, which would be open to the public 365 days a year. The atrium would be oriented towards historic St. Dominic Church and contain green space. There would be 6,000 SF of ground-level retail space, targeting a restaurant, coffee shop, and drug store. During the presentation, the development team mentioned that they have spoken with the proprietors of La Tomate (a restaurant along Connecticut Avenue, NW in Dupont Circle) about opening a second restaurant at their site. Parcel B will have a 103,000 SF eight-story office building with a firehouse on the first two floors, and 3,450 SF of retail space on floors 1-2. Compu.tecture designed the upper floors of the office building to curve along 4th Street. The firehouse entrance would be on 4th Street and the office building lobby would be on E Street. (The first rendering is parcel A, viewed from the corner of 6th & E Street; the second rendering is parcel B, viewed from the corner of 4th & E Street, from the DMPED website)

Proposal 3 (Trammell/CSG/MVH)
The third team is made up of Trammell Crow, CSG Urban Partners, and Michele Hagans. Their architect is Gensler, the same designer who did Trammell Crow's Patriots Plaza development catty corner to parcel B, which is currently under construction. This proposal has the most office space planned out of the three development teams, while both buildings would have either green or white roofs and would be LEED Silver. Parcel A would have a 306,000 SF 11-story office building with nearly 14,000 SF of ground level retail along E Street, 6th Street, and School Street. About 2,200 SF of community space would be provided on School Street, however, a community partner has not been identified yet. The main lobby would be on E Street. Parcel B would be a 190,000 SF 11-story office building with Engine 13 on the first two floors. The firehouse entrance would be on 4th Street and the main lobby for the office building would be at the corner of 4th & E Street. Currently, there are four levels of below-grade parking planned, but since Trammell Crow has Patriots Plaza nearby, they may share parking to try and reduce construction costs. (The first rendering is parcel A, viewed from the corner of 6th & E Street; the second rendering is parcel B, viewed from the corner of 4th & E Street, from the DMPED website)

After the presentations, there was a question/answer session, where members of the community were able to ask the development teams questions about their proposals. Not many community members attended the forum, so most of the questions came from ANC 6D commissioners. I asked the development teams whether the large amount of vacant office space in SW would require them to secure a major tenant before starting construction on the office portions of their proposals. All three teams committed to start construction on parcel B first with or without a lead tenant, since opening a new firehouse is a priority. It wasn't clear from their answers whether there would be any delays in building on parcel A. Even if you weren't able to make it to the forum, DMPED wants your input, so questions and commentary about the proposals can be submitted to until Tuesday, March 3rd. The questions and the developer teams' responses will be posted on DMPED's website by the end of next week. In addition, please vote on which proposal you like best by participating in our poll (see the left sidebar). While the Deputy Mayor's office will make the final decision on which team will win the bid, I will forward the results of the poll to the project director at DMPED. The poll will be open until Friday, March 6th.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Reporters Building to Get Pizzeria

A Pizza Autentica restaurant will take the place of Irene's Deli on the ground floor of the Reporters Building, which was built in 1964 (see photo). The Reporters Building is located at 300 7th Street, across from the new Constitution Center, and is leased to the Department of Agriculture. The WBJ reported earlier this month that another Pizza Autentica will open downtown at 1331 L Street, NW. According to the article, the L Street, NW location will serve Italian gelato, espresso, and pizza. The Pizza Autentica chain was formed by Hakan Ilhan, who founded the Cafe Cantina franchise in DC. I'm looking forward to having a pizzeria in the neighborhood, but my guess is it'll probably only be open Monday-Friday for the lunch crowd.

Monday, February 23, 2009

L'Enfant Plaza Expansion Planned

In the Spring 2009 issue of OnSite Magazine (subscribers only) from the Washington Business Journal, there's an article about eyesore buildings around the city, including the FBI headquarters and the new convention center. Inevitably, L'Enfant Plaza was profiled, a 1960's-era concrete mixed-use complex that sits on top of the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station. Currently, L'Enfant Plaza consists of three office buildings, the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel and an underground retail promenade. JBG, one of the largest developers in the region, owns two of the office buildings totaling 631,000 SF, the 370-key hotel, and the retail promenade totaling 179,000 SF. (Above is a photo of the central courtyard and the north & west buildings taken in December 2008 - JBG owns the north building). JBG has plans to expand L'Enfant Plaza with two office buildings, an extended-stay hotel on the north end of the property, and a 202-unit apartment building on the south end of the site. In the article, JBG publicist Julie Chase mentioned the following about the goal of the expansion:
“The goal is to make [L’Enfant Plaza] far more pedestrian-friendly and bridge the up-and-coming vitality of the Southwest waterfront,” Chase says.
The article also states that Chase predicts that L'Enfant Plaza will emerge as a "second ring" to the clubs and restaurants along the Southwest Waterfront and will act as a buffer between the National Mall and the Maine Avenue corridor. The folks over at JBG were kind enough to send Southwest...TLQTC some renderings of the new office and hotel components (see below). SmithGroup has designed the new buildings and has also designed Constitution Center.

Here's a rendering of the southern facade of one of the new office buildings, which will be located in the central courtyard and will have ground-floor retail.

Here is a view of the two new office buildings as seen from across 10th Street, which will total about 500,000 SF. The retail component will contain about 25,000 SF.

On the northeast corner of the complex, a new 234-key extended-stay hotel will be built along D Street.

Ms. Chase at JBG said in the OnSite Magazine article that construction would begin next year and will deliver in phases in 2011 & 2015.

Saturday, February 21, 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.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Updated Waterfront Station Photos

I've been meaning to post these photos I took at Waterfront Station a couple Sundays ago, but I haven't had a chance to do it until now. See my post from December to see progress photos from October and December.

The first photo is of the West Tower, which has reached its full height of eight stories. This tower is supposed to be complete by March 2010.

The East Tower, where the new Safeway will be located, is a little behind and has reached only the 7th floor. The projected completion of the east tower is May 2010.

The 4th Street right-of-way is much more defined now with two towers flanking either side of the soon-to-be reopened road, which should happen sometime before the West Tower is completed.

Here is a close-up of where the entrance will be to the new Safeway in the East Tower.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

SW Call Box Update at Next SWNA Meeting

From March's The Southwester, there will be a SWNA meeting this coming Monday at 7:30pm at St. Augustine's, located at 6th Street & Maine Avenue. Special guest will be D.C. Council Chair Vincent Gray. Agenda items include an update on the SW Call Box project and announcements about upcoming SWNA elections. If you've noticed, the call boxes around Southwest are painted blue and pink, with the blue representing our proximity to the river & channel, while the pink symbolizes the cherry blossoms that bloom each spring around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park. The artwork that has yet to be installed in the call boxes will depict scenes related to cherry blossoms. However, according to an article in Black College View, one of the 32 call boxes will be dedicated to Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court justice and former SW resident.

(The above photo is of a painted call box located on M Street across from the View at Waterfront).

March Issue of The Southwester is Available

Here's a link to March's issue of The Southwester, which is still in existence, three months after it was announced at the November SWNA meeting that the local paper may have to cease printing, due to a lack of advertiser revenue and the pending retirement of the Editor-in-Chief.

Bellevue Small Area Plan Meeting Tonight

Here's a link to And Now, Anacostia's post about a meeting tonight for Bellevue's Small Area Plan from 6:30pm - 8:30pm at the PR Harris Education Center on 4600 Livingston Road, SE.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Coming Soon to a Corner Near You...a Parking Lot

Last week I noticed there were parts of the old Bernstein's Reliable Liquor site that was gutted, with fencing around the site (see photo). Now, as demolition has started at the site, which also includes the cab company around the corner, Southwest...TLQTC has learned from Vornado that the demolished buildings will be replaced temporarily with a surface parking lot, in time for Opening Day at Nationals Park. However, the 7-Eleven will remain open for the time being. There are no concrete plans yet for the site, located at the NW corner of SoCap and M Street, but most likely it will become a mixed-use project. By demolishing the buildings and creating a parking lot, Vornado won't have to pay a higher tax on vacant property, which was recently increased to about ten times the rate for occupied property, while they put together plans for the site and wait out the current state of the economy.

Meeting Set for Firehouse Bidders Presentations

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) tells Southwest...TLQTC that presentations by the three bidding developer groups for the DCFD Engine 13 parcels will be on Wednesday, February 25th from 6:30 - 9pm at Hogate's (800 Water Street). See my post from October for a list of the developer teams and a general description of the proposals for the sites.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Valentine's Day Community Peace Walk

Click on the flyer below for information regarding this Saturday's Valentine's Day Community Peace Walk sponsored by the Southwest Neighborhood Safety Walkers.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Economic Benefits for Neighborhood Theaters

In this week's WBJ (subscribers only), there's an article which explores the theory that theaters help boost business in their surrounding neighborhoods, including the increased patronage at restaurants with Arena Stage's temporary presence in Crystal City. However, in these tough economic times, the article states that theater companies are trying to adapt in different ways. Here's a snippet from the article which deals with Arena Stage:
When Arena Stage noticed its sales slipping, the theater unveiled a new $25 ticket strategy and sold [$20,000] worth of discounted tickets in 24 hours. It will keep some seats at that price permanently this year...Arena Stage’s new $125 million three-theater campus is set to open in 2010. Artistic Director Molly Smith said she does not have concerns about opening a facility in a sluggish economy, partly because the new space does not include more seats to fill. Arena’s former capacity is redistributed over the three new theaters.
Below are updated photos of the new Arena Stage under construction taken this past Sunday from 6th Street (left) and Maine Avenue (right). Check out a prior post to see progress photos from October and November.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

National Marathon Route to Change

The 4th Annual SunTrust National Marathon is scheduled for March 21st, where up to 3,000 marathon runners will traverse all four quadrants of the District on a 26.2 mile course. The route map has been set (click map below to see a larger version - from the national marathon website).

There's just one problem...the 9th Street Bridge is closed for a year due to reconstruction, so the event organizers at the Greater Washington Sports Alliance need to find an alternative route into Southwest. Representatives from the sports alliance were supposed to go before ANC 6D last night in order to get approval for street closures along 9th Street, Maine Avenue, P Street, and South Capitol Street, but now they need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a new route. Time is not on their side, since the ANC doesn't meet again until March 9th and the race is supposed to be held 12 days after that meeting. The ANC's approval carries weight with the Mayor's Special Events Task Group, which has jurisdiction over special events held in the city, including the marathon. According to the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency's (HSEMA) website, event planners are supposed to meet with the Mayor's Special Events Task Group at least 90 days before an event. It's not clear if a change in the marathon route would mean the sports alliance would need to meet again with the task group. In addition, the event organizers need to get the route approved with the Traffic Control Plan from DDOT and complete an application within 15 business days of the event with MPD. The marathon will most likely still happen, but the course map will definitely have to change.

Update: Lou Holder from the Greater Washington Sports Alliance tells Southwest...TLQTC the following:

Our technical team is currently assessing the 9th St construction project and is devising several alternatives. We don’t anticipate any delays in our permit process as we are working closely with public safety officials to find a solution that works for everyone. Our goal has always been strong jurisdictional support, community engagement, and effective communication to ensure a safe and enjoyable event.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Beware the Ides of March...

At tonight's ANC 6D's monthly business meeting, Sean McCarthy from the Office of Property Management (OPM) stated that MPD will start moving into their new District 1 HQ at the former Bowen Elementary School on March 15th, with tours of the facility available for the community in April. McCarthy and Commander David Kamperin from MPD were at the ANC meeting to get approval for a public space permit before going to a zoning hearing next month. They need approval for 17 parking spaces inside MPD's property along Delaware Avenue that already exist, but since the original construction of the spaces was done without getting proper approvals years ago when Bowen was still a school, OPM needs to go through the proper channels to get the spaces approved, which sounds like a technicality to me. There will be a total of 182 parking spaces available to police personnel at the new HQ, compared to 75 spaces at the current HQ, which should have less of an impact on street parking surrounding the new HQ. There will also be four spaces on Delaware Avenue for use by visitors, which won't be metered like the spaces in front of the old HQ building. Instead of meters, these spaces will have a 15-minute to 30-minute time limit, depending on the type of business a visitor needs to do at the HQ. Along with the parking spaces, a seven-foot iron fence will be installed along the Delaware Avenue elevation and part of the M Street elevation, with three gates along Delaware Avenue. It was unclear if there would be fencing on the other elevations as well. The metal fence, while offering security, will give the new HQ building a more open feel than the 10-foot brick wall that is at the current HQ on 4th Street. Lighting will be installed in the parking lot using down lighting, which shouldn't cause light pollution to the neighboring residential buildings. After a little discussion, the ANC approved the public space permit items in a 6-1 vote, with Commissioner Sobelsohn abstaining.

Here's a photo taken yesterday of the entrance to the new District 1 headquarters building at 101 M Street, which is still under renovation.

A second vote related to the community space agreement between MPD and the ANC was approved unanimously. The community room at the new HQ was described to be slightly larger than the sanctuary at St. Augustine's where tonight's ANC meeting was held, and will have items including a 20' x 20' A/V screen, ports for Internet connectivity, and three microphones. Some of the activities that MPD wants to organize, especially for neighborhood kids, include a summer camp, summer school, and movie screenings, among other things.

What Bloggers Are Saying About Southwest

- DCMud: DCMud did an interview with Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects, the master planner of the new Southwest Waterfront. Here's an excerpt from the interview conducted with principals Sean O'Donnell and Matthew Bell:
[DCMud] What can we expect from the Southwest Waterfront? The only other true counterpart it has at present is the Georgetown Waterfront. What will the comparisons be once it’s completed?

SO: Well, one thing we learned from Stan [Eckstut] about waterfronts is how important the water actually is. You need to have a plan for the water too, and not just focus on the land side of things.

MB: What happens on the water totally influences the rest of the project. I think the general feeling is DC doesn’t have, outside of the Washington Harbor, a place where the city comes right to the water. If you think about [it], most of Georgetown pulls back and places like the Navy Yard never really went right to the water and, for years, were industrial. And, of course, the Anacostia is silted up and never became a great port. If you go back and look at the L’Enfant plan for the city, people were originally going to come by water and then travel by canals, so it was going to be a waterfront city. It never really happened that way and the idea is to finally bring the city to the water with people living there, working there, hotels, retail, restaurants and all different kinds of activity.

[DCMud] How do you go about integrating those original L’Enfant designs into your plans for a modern development?

MB: We base all of our work on what works in other places, so we spend a lot of time looking at precedents. We feel very strongly that great places are made by looking at other places, taking those ideas and using them as a basis for new ideas. I don’t think necessarily we’re trying to reinvent; rather, we’re taking the best of what you have at other waterfronts across the world and trying to make something that’s unique for DC. The L’Enfant plan is one aspect of that, but there are other ideas and other places as well. There’s an idea to connect to the Mall along [10]th Street, there’s an idea to make Maine Avenue a vibrant place with active waterfront uses that ties in the existing fish market in a creative way.
The Hoffman-Struever development team is now in the planning stage, since the SW Waterfront land transfer agreement was reached with the city late last year and initial infrastructure funding was approved last summer by the D.C. Council. However, in this week's WBJ (subscribers only) there was an article primarily focused on the collapse of the development deal at Poplar Point, but mentioned that Struever Brothers Eccles & Rouse has defaulted in nearly $6 million in construction loans unrelated to the SW Waterfront and PN Hoffman president Steve Earle said the following:

“Most real estate development companies are facing difficulties in this economic climate,” said Steve Earle, president of PN Hoffman Inc., Southwest’s lead developer. “[Struever Brothers is] a viable partner and we’re working with them.”
Construction is slated to begin in 2012. (Above is a rendering of the new Southwest Waterfront, from the SW Waterfront website)

- JDLand: Our blogger neighbor to the east has decided since Southwest...TLQTC and another blogger are now up and running in Southwest, she will no longer cover projects on the west side of South Capitol Street, which is technically not in Near Southeast. However, South Capitol Street itself and the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge fall under both neighborhoods, so here is a link to JD's observations from last week's ANC 6D's presentation meeting regarding the South Capitol Street EIS and bridge replacement, as well as my post about the subject last month. JD mentions that construction could begin as early as 2011 with completion in 2015, but funding hasn't been secured yet for the project, which will cost $700 million. As Southwest...TLQTC mentioned in a post last month, the new bridge could possibly be partially funded by the stimulus package currently going through Congress. Also, JD reports that the city is in the process of acquiring the red brick warehouse at the northwest corner of South Capitol Street and Potomac Avenue in order to create the traffic oval that will lead to the new Douglass Bridge. (Above is a rendering of the traffic oval and new Douglass Bridge, from the EIS website)

- Washington City Paper: The Housing Complex Blog did a post on the current state of the Southwest Waterfront and the new restaurant that will soon open at the former H2O site. Here's the intro to the post:

In the coming years, the Southwest waterfront will transform into a glittering $1.5 billion development with three new hotels, condos, and a bustling promenade overlooking Hains Point. But until then, locals can take in the old scenery: the garish Maine Avenue Fish Market, boring anchor sculptures, empty wooden benches, and a strip of boxy seafood restaurants and clubs, including the now-closed D.C. hotspot and drama magnet, H20.
Proprietor Kristina Noell, who used to work at H2O, has plans to open a new restaurant at the old H2O space called Hogate's, but it won't be a night club. Noell has negotiated a two-year lease with DMPED and after a contentious meeting with ANC 6D, she received approval to open the restaurant and obtain a liquor license last month. Here's another excerpt from the post:

Noell plans to call her addition to the waterfront Hogate’s after the seafood restaurant that operated in Southwest [at the H2O site] for three decades and was a pillar of the neighborhood..."There will be things that will be reminiscent of the old restaurant-they [had] the rum buns that everyone still loves,” she says about the old place’s famous sticky buns. “We’ll also have our own rum buns, but there will be a twist.”
The new restaurant plans to open this spring and is located at 800 Water Street. By the way, those wooden benches aren't always empty...below is a photo I took on a beautiful Sunday afternoon (it was 67 degrees yesterday!) with those wooden benches along the waterfront promenade getting some use.

Fire Trucks Kept Busy This Weekend

First, WUSA (from DCist) reports that there was a fire at 1200 Delaware Avenue on early Sunday morning. From the article:
A 66-year-old man was taken to the hospital in critical condition after being rescued from a fire that broke out in his apartment. The man was brought down a ladder from his fifth floor unit 1200 Delaware Avenue SW around 4:00 Sunday morning. He suffered from severe smoke inhalation.
The early Sunday morning fire is believed to be accidental, but an investigation is underway. I walked right by that apartment building yesterday afternoon and noticed some broken glass on the sidewalk and a window screen dangling from the fence, but I didn't realize the debris was due to a fire. Then, last evening, I noticed quite a few fire trucks on the 200 block of G Street. However, I didn't investigate to see which building might have been on fire, since I was running late for dinner. Does anyone know if there was a fire last evening around the 200 block of G Street?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Next ANC 6D Meeting & 7-Eleven Closing?

Here's a link to the agenda for Monday's ANC 6D meeting, which will begin at 7pm at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church. Southwest-related items on the agenda include the Randall School, 1101 South Capitol Street, the new MPD District 1 HQ, and street closures for two races. 1101 South Capitol Street is the former KFC site where Southwest...TLQTC reported back in August that the Ruben Companies had plans to construct an office building. However, 1101 South Capitol no longer appears on their website on their list of projects. On the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) website, there's a hearing on March 10th where 1101 South Capitol LLC will look for a variance and an exception in relation to a planned office building at the site. Perhaps a new developer has purchased the site? Real estate developers typically use LLCs when developing their projects, so this LLC could still be Ruben Companies, but we'll find out on Monday...

On a related note, District Chronicles reported last month that the 7-Eleven on South Capitol Street will close in a year to make way for new development. The 7-Eleven is owned by Vornado. Already, the Bernstein's Reliable Liquor store on M Street was shuttered last year and a cab company has vacated the site. Last night as I was driving along M Street, I noticed the top floors of the building where the liquor store was located was in the process of being gutted...I think. I'll go by the site again today to see if what I saw was correct (admittedly I was pretty tired when I drove by, so maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me).

(Above is a photo of the liquor store site taken in mid-December and in that photo, it wasn't yet gutted, but it was boarded up)

Update: My eyes were not playing tricks on me...below is a photo of the liquor store site today with the top two floors gutted out and surrounded by fencing.

Update #2: Ruben Companies still owns 1101 South Capitol. However, the ANC tabled discussion about Ruben Companies' requested variance and exception at Monday's meeting since they are still in negotiations with the developer regarding community benefits.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Obamas Make the Rounds in Southwest

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have been making their way around federal agencies this week. So far, they have been to at least three agencies headquartered in Southwest. According to The Caucus Blog, the First Lady is making a point to visit all of the federal agencies over the next few weeks. Her first stop on Monday was the Department of Education, which is located just south of the future Eisenhower Square memorial. On Wednesday, she visited HUD headquarters on 7th Street. Yesterday, the President was at the Department of Energy, which is located south of the Smithsonian Castle near L'Enfant Plaza.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Forensics Lab Update

According to January's issue of the Consolidated Forensics Laboratory (CFL) newsletter, construction continues at the former Bowen Elementary School, which will be transformed into the new HQ for MPD's 1st District within the next couple of months. Once the new HQ is complete, the old 1st District HQ building at 4th & E Street can be demolished, which will make way for the CFL. Construction services for the CFL gave gone to bid and a general contractor should be named soon. So far, the project is still on target for completion in Fall 2011. (The above rendering is of the CFL from the CFL website)

Click on the graphic below to see a list of green features that will be incorporated into the new CFL.

Lane Closures on I-395 This Week

DDOT has a traffic advisory stating that two lanes of the SE-SW Freeway (I-395) will be closed due to demolition work on the 9th Street bridge. From the traffic advisory:
The District of Columbia Department of Transportation (DDOT) is scheduled to demolish a 1000-foot section of the 9th Street, SW Bridge this week. That work will require temporary lane closures on Interstate 395 beginning this evening. DDOT is in the process of completely rehabilitating both the 9th and 10th Street, SW Bridges. It is a year long project that began last November. The demolition work will require closing 2 lanes on southbound I-395 each night this week. The left and center lanes under the 9th Street Bridge will be closed from 8 pm to midnight. In addition, on Thursday, February 5 and Friday February 6, there will be single lane closures on northbound I-395 under the 9th Street Bridge. The far left lane will be closed from 10 am to 3 pm on both days. Variable message signs will be in place to alert motorists and direct them around the lane closures.