Monday, August 31, 2009

Sidewalk at Patriots Plaza Reopens

Construction is wrapping up at phases II & III of Patriots Plaza, the massive office building complex being built by Trammell Crow. Last week, crews were installing curbs and the sidewalk in front of the new buildings. Today, the sidewalk along the north side of the 3oo block of D Street was reopened to pedestrians. While the entire sidewalk isn't complete yet, enough of it has been put in place that pedestrians can now walk by safely. While no tenants have been lined up yet at phases II & III of Patriots Plaza, I saw moving vans over the weekend at nearby Capitol View, the office building at the corner of 3rd & D Street, presumably for the Association of American Railroads (AAR), which is scheduled to move into the space in September, as Southwest...TLQTC posted back in March. Above is a photo of the entrance plaza to the phase II & III buildings, taken from D Street. The entrance to the phase I building is at far left, behind the tree.

Update: Below are some more updated photos of Patriots Plaza.

(Left) Here is a photo of the phase II building. Follow this link to a post from December to see what the site looked like as the building rose from the ground. The phase II building has frontage on D Street and is across the street from NASA headquarters.

(Right) Here is a view of the reopened sidewalk along D Street, looking east from Patriots Plaza to the Marriott Residence Inn next door.

(Left) Most of the phase III building fronts 4th Street. The sidewalk in front of the phase III building remains closed as construction appears to be less further along on this side than on D Street. When Trammell Crow was in the running for building the new Engine 13, a representative from the developer stated at the community meeting in February that there was a possibility that portions of phase II & III of Patriots Plaza could have ground floor retail space. It depended on the needs of the tenant. However, to me, the design of the buildings don't look like ground level retail could be accommodated, at least publicly accessible retail.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Saturday Night Movies at Lansburg Park

Screen on the Green on the National Mall is over, but tomorrow, Ward 6 Council Member Tommy Wells and the DC Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) will host the inaugural of Saturday Night Movies at Lansburg Park, located at Delaware Avenue & L Street. This week's film is "Dreamgirls." Free popcorn and snow cones will be available, but moviegoers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets. The weather forecast for tomorrow calls for a 30% chance of rain, so plan accordingly. Lansburg Park, at five acres, is an underutilized asset in our community, so it's good that DPR is starting to activate the space a little more. Back in March of 2008, CapitalSpace (a consortium of NCPC, NPS, the Office of Planning, and DPR) made a presentation to SWNA with recommendations to improve Lansburg Park, which included, among other things, showing films on the lawn. A summary of the recommendations from that meeting can be found here. SWDC Blog also has a post about the condition of the park.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Potomac Place Tower Back on Track

Renovations and sales at Potomac Place Tower (PPT) condos, located at 800 4th Street, will now continue since local developer Monument Realty has been able to find a new lender to finance the project, according to a press release on Monday. Swedbank, AB, a Swedish-based bank, is the new lender on the project. Back in December, Southwest...TLQTC first reported on the work stoppage at the condo conversion project, due to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, and the subsequent liens placed on the property. The news of PPT restarting sales comes just a couple weeks after Waterfront Tower, a new condo conversion project nearby, began marketing. Perhaps the thought of having a competing condo project in the market helped negotiations move along for the developer and the lender. Natasha Stancill, Director of Marketing at Monument Realty, tells Southwest...TLQTC that the renovations at PPT should be complete by the first quarter of 2010. Approximately 15 units in the North Tower and 100 units in the South Tower are available for occupancy within the next 30-45 days. Another 100 units in the South Tower will be available for occupancy by year end. The final 35 units in the North Tower will be available in the first quarter of 2010. Prices range from approximately $180,000 for a studio to approximately $330,000 for a two bedroom. Below are a couple of photos of unit interiors in a model unit at PPT, courtesy of Monument Realty. To the left is a photo of the kitchen and on the right is a view of the living room with a balcony.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Safeway Town Hall Meeting Set

ANC 6D will hold a town hall meeting to discuss the liquor license application that Safeway is seeking for its new store at Waterfront Station on Thursday, September 10th from 7-9PM at Westminster Presbyterian Church, located at 400 I Street. Back in July, Southwest...TLQTC posted a story on Safeway's request for a liquor license from ARBA, and the ANC's decision to unanimously protest the request. The liquor license would allow Safeway to sell wine and beer, similar to their CityVista store in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood in Northwest. If you want a say in how the ANC should deal with Safeway regarding the liquor license request, attend the meeting!

New Food Options Coming Soon!

- Over the next month, two new restaurants will be opening in the neighborhood. On Friday at 11AM, there will be a soft opening at Hogate's Cafe, which is located on 800 Water Street at the former H2O nightclub (and before that Hogate's). Kristina Noell, a former employee at H2O, will be opening the new restaurant (See a post from February for some background on the project). In this month's The Southwester newspaper, there's a neighborhood dining guide, which includes a description of the type of cuisine planned at Hogate's Cafe. The Grand Opening will be on Wednesday, September 9th at 10AM. Below are the hours of operation, starting on September 10th:
Monday - Friday: 6AM - 10PM
Saturday - Sunday: 9AM - 10PM
- Later in September, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, according to DCist, will open a restaurant in the old Cafe MoZU space called Sou'wester. Back in March, Southwest...TLQTC posted about the new concept, which was tentatively called South by Southwest, but apparently, that name caused problems, since there's an annual festival in Austin, Texas with the same name. While we in DC are more accustomed to Nor'easters, the meaning behind the name Sou'wester is similar - it refers to a storm, or strong wind originating from the southwest.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Couple Quick Items

- In yesterday's Real Estate Bisnow, there were two stories about Southwest. The first was an office building sale - 500 12th Street, which is located across from The Portals complex, was sold to a pension fund by Prudential Real Estate. 500 12th Street is fully leased to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The second story was about the increase in contracting by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), whose headquarters is located along Independence Avenue. The increase in government contracts (over $1 billion worth) has caused an increase in demand for office space near the FAA by contractors, such as Apptis, who will occupy nearly 15,000 SF of space at 370 L'Enfant Promenade.

- JDLand found out which boat operators will be permitted to use the new public pier at Diamond Teague Park, located near Nationals Park at the Capitol Riverfront. Most of the operators are currently based at the Gangplank Marina along the Southwest Waterfront. They include: Entertainment Cruises, which runs the Seadog speedboat (pictured above), the Miss Ann, the U.S.S. Sequoia (former presidential yacht), and Capital Yacht Charters. Water taxi service to the ballpark most likely won't start until next year, but these boat operators can offer charter service to the new pier. Do any of you plan on using any of these charters for an outing to a Nats game?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What's Next for SEU's Campus?

With Southeastern University set to lose its accreditation with the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools at the end of this month, it’s more than likely that the University will close or merge with the GS Graduate School. If SEU moves out of its current home at 501 I Street, what will happen to its campus? Would a charter school move in, or would DCPS expand Amidon-Bowen, which is next door? Perhaps UDC would open up a satellite community college campus as a part of their reorganization effort? Since some of the facilities at SEU have recently been upgraded as a part of The Campaign for Southeastern, all of these scenarios are somewhat plausible. Why wouldn’t a school or college want to move into recently remodeled classroom space, despite the unaesthetic “historic” exterior of the building IMHO? The campus is nestled in a residential neighborhood with row homes on one side, an elementary school on another side, across the street from Town Center Park, and is within walking distance of the Waterfront-SEU Metro, so a variety of uses could potentially work well at the site. If the future owner of the SEU campus decides to tear down the building for a non-educational use, what should be built in its place? (Above is a photo of SEU, taken today)

Coming Soon to a Metro Station Near You...

Mark October 16th on your calendars…starting on that date, 20 of the busiest underground Metro stations will be getting expanded cell phone service and three of them are located in Southwest. According to the WMATA press release, Smithsonian, L’Enfant Plaza, and Federal Center SW will be part of the first wave of Metro stations to receive service from Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel, AT&T, and T-Mobile. From the press release:

This is the first phase of Metro’s effort to bring expanded cell phone carrier service to the entire Metrorail system by 2012,” said Suzanne Peck, Metro’s Chief Information Officer. “After we complete the first 20 stations this fall, the carriers will install service at the remaining 27 underground stations by the fall of 2010. Customers will be able to use these carrier-provided wireless services in tunnels between stations by October 2012.”

For a complete list of stations that will receive expanded cell phone coverage in October, check out the press release. As an AT&T customer, I’ll be very happy to soon have the ability to send text messages while waiting on the metro platform, since I’m a texting addict!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Real World Makes a Splash at Spike'd Cinema

Yesterday, I finally got a chance to check out a pool party at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. Sunday was the first Spike'd Cinema event (see my post from Thursday). I got there a little after 2PM and the place was packed! There were people of all ages - most of them appeared to be in their 20's or 30's, but there were also a few children and older people at the pool too. The lines were long all day at the bars, but the wait staff came around to take drink orders and delivered "complementary" burgers to guests. Specialty drinks, such as the Skyline Blue Margarita, are $5 and beer cost $4, which is pretty reasonable, compared to most trendy bars in the city. There was a DJ keeping the party going with a good mix of music. Coincidentally, it was the same day that cast members from MTV's The Real World and their camera crew showed up at the pool. They ended up setting shop right next to where my friends and I were sitting. Below are some photos of the pool area and hotel lobby.

Here is a view of the crowded pool at around 2:30 in the afternoon. One side of the pool had a pretty intense game of "pass the beach ball" while the other side was more tranquil with a few floaters.

Spike Mendelsohn (in the purple and black swimming trunks) from Top Chef and proprietor of Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill, was chatting it up with some of the Real World cast members poolside. The ever present camera crew was there to get every last word.
Later on, some of the cast members got in the pool and started chicken fighting. Once The Real World DC goes on the air, be on the lookout for the episode when they venture to the Capitol Skyline Hotel in Southwest!

The hotel lobby was also redone during the renovation. The lighting in the room was wrecking havoc on my camera, but I did manage to get a decent shot of this corner area. The lobby and pool area look if they only power washed the concrete exterior and did something about those worn blue panels by the windows (see photo at the top of this post).

The movie screen was set up at the far end of the pool. I didn't stay long enough for "Anchorman," so I don't know how many people ended up staying for the film, but there were still a good amount left when I went home a little before 8PM.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Arena Stage Progress Photos

Last Friday, I took some photos around the neighborhood, including the new Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater. I'm just getting around to posting some of them now. The photo at the top of this post is a view of Arena Stage from Maine Avenue. On the left side of the image, the first glass panels have been installed, which will eventually wrap around most of the building. Even at this stage of construction, Arena Stage definitely has more of a presence now on the street scape than it did before the expansion began. The theater is scheduled to open in time for the 2010-11 season. Below are a couple more progress photos.

(Left) Here is a 6th Street view of the theater. All of the wood columns have now been installed, but the lattice work that will hold the glass panels have not gone up on this side yet.

(Right) Here is a close-up view of the glass panels being installed on the Maine Avenue side of the theater. The glass panels will allow the original Fichandler Stage to be visible to passersby, as well as eliminate street noise for theater patrons.

Elinor Bacon Interviewed by WBJ

Elinor Bacon, one of the development partners over at the Southwest Waterfront, was interviewed in this week's Washington Business Journal (subscribers only). Here are some excerpts from the article that deal with the Southwest Waterfront:
(WBJ) The Southwest waterfront was one of the NCRC’s projects, and now you’re part of the development team. What made you stick with it? (Bacon) When I was at HUD, we’d go down to the waterfront for celebrations and parties, and I was always shocked at how beautiful it was and how it wasn’t capturing its potential. It seemed like a hugely missed opportunity. NCRC worked with the Office of Planning to make a development plan that was approved by council, and at the time there were all of these 99-year leases. The Redevelopment Land Agency owned the underlying land, but not the buildings. So while I was at NCRC, we bought the Gangplank, which gave us a stake in the waterfront, which was absolutely fundamental to what’s happening now. When I heard the city was putting out a proposal to redevelop it, I jumped on it immediately. I called PN Hoffman and Struever Bros., and we put together a great team and won the project against 17 other teams.

(WBJ) How is the project going? (Bacon) We have been working with the city since 2006 to work out all of the details of the land-disposition agreement. We are also working with leaseholders like Phillips Seafood, Zanzibar and the Capital Yacht Club to work out agreements, which are in the final stages of completion. We had approval from the DC Council $198 million in public financing for infrastructure. We are confident in our ability to raise equity.

(WBJ) At least half of the people working on the project will have to be D.C. residents. How is that going? (Bacon) One of my jobs as a partner is to do outreach in wards 5, 6, 7 and 8 so that when we actually get going, they’ll be ready for our business and job opportunities. Our team also agreed to give $1 million to the Workforce Intermediary Program that will be headed by the city. That will connect people who want jobs with training and then jobs.
This news is a bit old, but I came across an article from June in the Baltimore Business Journal (subscribers only) that says Struever Brothers, one of the development partners of the SW Waterfront, has reduced its stake in the project, which means PN Hoffman will have an even larger stake in the redevelopment of the waterfront. Due to its financial woes in wake of the economic downturn, Struever will focus more on fee-based work consulting and contracting for developers in better financial standing instead of doing development themselves.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Spike'd Cinema Starts This Sunday

The Going Out Gurus at The Washington Post report that starting this Sunday, the Capitol Skyline Hotel will start showing films poolside. Spike'd Cinema, named after former "Top Chef" contestant and restaurateur Spike Mendelsohn, will take place around dusk on Sundays. Earlier this summer, Southwest...TLQTC posted about Spike'd Sundays, one of the weekly events that takes place at the hotel pool, which was recently renovated. Spike will continue to serve up burgers during the day on Sundays - the movie screenings are an extension of the pool parties that happen every week. This week's movie is "Anchorman."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Constitution Center Progress Photos

A couple weeks ago, I took a hard hat tour of Constitution Center, the former U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters building across from HUD that's in the middle of a complete renovation. Constitution Center, at 1.4 million square feet, is the largest privately owned office building in the District of Columbia. David Nassif Associates is redeveloping the site, SmithGroup is designing it, and Vornado is in charge of leasing. While on the tour, I took some photos of some of the interior and exterior spaces of the building. The photo at the top of this post is a view of the courtyard, taken from the 4th floor of the east wing. The sculpture in the foreground pays homage to the former incarnation of the building, which had limestone columns. Benches line the central pathway leading from the sculpture to a fountain in the background. To the left, the auditorium is visible (read more about the auditorium in my post from last month).

(Left) Here is another view of the benches and limestone sculpture. The courtyard will be private, so the closest the public will get to it will be through a window as they exit the L'Enfant Plaza Metro.

(Right) Here is the 7th Street lobby area, which is 5,000 SF. Visitors will use this entrance to access the building, but tenants have separate entrances from the parking garage and an entrance near the Metro.

(Left) From the lobby, this section of the concourse leads to the south quadrant of the building. The concourse wraps around all four sides of Constitution Center connecting the quadrants.

(Right) This pathway in the courtyard leads to the concourse. The courtyard is over an acre in size. Including the courtyard and outside corners of the building, the amount of greenery will increase by 700% from the prior building.

(Left) The plantings in the courtyard vary, so they will bloom year-round. The courtyard is on top of the parking garage, which can accommodate up to 1,500 cars.

(Right) Here is a view of the south concourse. Just in case someone doesn't know which quadrant of the building they are in, the rectangle on the wall on the left of the photo will light up in a primary color to match the area of the garage their car is parked.

(Left) This is the tenant lobby area. The doors on the left lead to the Metro. The elevators at the far end of the lobby go up to the office space. Separate lobbies have elevators that go down to the parking garage.

Constitution Center is supposed to open in early 2010. However, a tenant hasn't been lined up yet. Some of the sidewalk areas have already opened. Last month, the D Street sidewalk reopened, but last week, the sidewalk was closed again so work could be done on the corner of 7th & D Street. The sidewalk area on 7th Street is scheduled to reopen in the 1st quarter of 2010, but that date might get pushed up.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Couple Quick Items

- New signs posted along I Street: During my stroll on Friday, I noticed that new signs have been posted near Amidon-Bowen Elementary School warning drivers that they can receive a $250 fine if they do not stop for pedestrians at a crosswalk in a school zone. These signs and other improvements in the area are a result of the "Safe Routes to School" program that Amidon-Bowen is participating in and Southwest...TLQTC originally reported on this last August.

- Fountains functional again at Town Center Park: I also noticed that the fountains at Town Center Park are bubbling once again after they were out of commission for the second time in the past couple of months. Back in June, the fountains were fixed after the park was transferred from NPS to the city. Then in July, the fountains stopped working again and there was a danger that standing water could allow West Nile Virus-borne mosquitoes to breed in the pond, since the virus was found a few blocks away near Fort McNair.

Screen on the Green's Curtain Call

Tomorrow is the last showing of the season for Screen on the Green on the National Mall between 4th & 7th Street. This week's movie is "Rebel Without a Cause." The movie will start around sunset, but the viewing area usually gets crowded, so try to get there earlier if you decide to go. I went a couple weeks ago to see "Dog Day Sunday" and the Mall was packed with people. The other movies that were showed this summer at Screen on the Green include "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "On the Waterfront."

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Waterfront Station Progress Photos

On Friday afternoon, I took a stroll around the neighborhood and snapped some photos of several construction projects in the area, including Waterfront Station. As you can see from the photo at the top of this post, the terracotta facade is now being installed on the West Tower. Below are some more photos I took of the project from different vantage points.

(Left) Here is a view of the two office towers, with the Waterfront-SEU Metro station entrance in the middle, as seen from M Street looking northwest.

(Right) The East Tower hasn't received the terracotta facade treatment yet. This is the building where the new Safeway will be located and will deliver a couple months after the West Tower.

(Left) This shows the 4th Street right-of-way looking south from I Street. Demo crews removed most of the remaining park space that connected I Street with the plaza at Waterside Mall.

(Right) You can more clearly see in this photo looking eastward how most of the park area has now been cleared away. Only part of a brick wall, guard rail, and street lights have yet to be removed.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Waterfront Tower Condos Begin Marketing

This afternoon I noticed a large banner being erected on the (formerly known as) Town Center Apartments on the corner of 3rd & M Street. Southwest now has a second condominium conversion project and it's called Waterfront even has a blog. The Bernstein Companies and Peak Development, along with the former tenants of Town Center, have converted the 1960s-era building into condos, with prices starting in the low $200s for studios up to two bedroom units starting in the low $300s. The Mayhood Company is marketing the project and Abdo Development is the general contractor. This is the last building in the four-building complex surrounding Waterfront Station to be renovated. Last year, Bernstein renovated 1001 at Waterfront as apartments and Fairfield Residential also renovated Marina View Apartments, now called The View at Waterfront, which is on the west side of Waterfront Station. According to the website, interior features include Caesarstone countertops, breakfast bars, CleenSteel appliances, Mecho Roller shades for all windows, hardwood floors and carpet. Project amenities at Waterfront Tower include a fitness center, entertainment lounge with kitchen area, a courtyard/BBQ area, security cameras, front desk attendant, bike storage, and parking. Once I get more details about the project, I'll let you know. Above is a photo of workers putting up the new sign on the building.

This sign was posted in the parking lot near the front of Waterfront Tower.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

SBA May Move from Federal Center SW

A news story published yesterday on the Washington Business Journal's website states that the GSA is looking for a little over a quarter million square feet of space for the Small Business Administration (SBA), since their lease at Federal Center SW expires in November 2010. The GSA is also looking for about 137,000 SF for the Department of Agriculture, which is headquartered in SW.

St. Matthew's Lot is Getting Cleared

Pastor Huber passes along word that the St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church site along M Street is being cleared and leveled this week. The lot is being graded with the help of the Heavy Equipment Training Academy, which teaches students how to use heavy machinery to grade an excavation site, among other things. Once the site is leveled, the lot will be covered with straw and wood chips to help prevent erosion. While plans for the new church and multifamily units (see my post from October for more details) are going through the approvals process, part of the lot will be used as planting plots for a youth gardening project that will take place next spring and summer. Also, the M Street site will be host to a Southwest Community Yard Sale, tentatively scheduled for Saturday, September 12th. Above is a rendering of the what St. Matthew's may look like, which is being designed by BBG-BBGM.

Above are floorplans showing the layout of the first floor (left) and lower-level (right).

Update: Below is a photo of the cleared lot, taken from the corner of 3rd & M Street on Friday afternoon.