Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Streetcar Investment May Spur Development in Buzzard Point

Last week, DDOT began holding meetings in each of the eight wards to explain their plans for the return of streetcars to DC. The proposed 37-mile streetcar network will include eight lines and will be built in three phases during the next 7-10 years. One of the lines is already under construction in Anacostia (the blue line on the map, from DDOT's website), and will terminate on 1st Street in Buzzard Point. Once all three phases are built, there will be two lines that run through Southwest and terminate in Buzzard Point. The second streetcar line (the orange line on the map) will run along M Street and go north on 7th Street towards downtown. Currently, Buzzard Point is a no-man's land of sorts, with industrial operations, a few office buildings, including the current headquarters of the U.S. Coast Guard (although they are moving to the East Campus of St. Elizabeth's), a couple marinas, and Fort McNair. Buzzard Point is a part of the Capitol Riverfront BID, which also covers most of Near Southeast. While there has been substantial development on the Southeast side of the BID, nothing has happened yet in Buzzard Point. Akridge has plans to develop a secure office campus at 100 V Street (the same site was rumored a few months ago as a possible site for D.C. United), but no tenants have been found yet. A few years ago during the height of the housing market bubble, Walnut Street Development had plans to build a condominium project in the area, but those plans were scuttled. With an investment as substantial as a streetcar network coming to Buzzard Point, the Southwest part of the Capitol Riverfront BID may soon start to see some development activity, or it may just be a convenient place to build a maintenance facility. DDOT officials tout the amount of private investment that Portland's streetcar system brought to neighborhoods along its route, so they are banking on a similar effect here in the District. We shall see...

Monday, October 26, 2009

MLK Memorial About Ready to Start Construction

According to an article in The Washington Post, the planned MLK Memorial near the Tidal Basin has received all necessary approvals from the National Capital Planning Commission in a special meeting held on Monday night. With these approvals in hand, the National Park Service should issue building permits by early November so construction can begin on this long-awaited memorial. The Post article describes the memorial as follows:
The memorial is planned for a four-acre crescent-shaped site amid the cherry blossoms on the northwest shore of the Tidal Basin. The centerpiece is to be a 2 1/2 -story granite sculpture of the slain civil rights leader. Called the Stone of Hope, it depicts King standing with his arms folded as if emerging from the stone. At 28 feet, it will be eight feet taller than the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the memorial to the 16th president and will rest on pilings driven as far as 50 feet down to bedrock.
Construction should be complete in late summer of 2011. Above is a rendering of the planned memorial, from the MLK Memorial website.

Update: The WBJ reports that Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed a construction permit on Thursday at a ceremony on the National Mall, which means the memorial can now be built!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Weekend Events

Marine Corps Marathon: The Marine Corps Marathon will be held on Sunday morning and as a result, several streets will be closed between 4am to 1:30pm according to DDOT, including the following:

  • Francis Scott Key Bridge
  • Canal Road, NW from M Street to Reservoir Road
  • Reservoir Road, NW from MacArthur Blvd. to Canal Road
  • MacArthur Blvd., NW from Foxhall Road to Reservoir Road
  • Foxhall Road, NW from Canal Road to MacArthur Blvd.
  • M Street, NW from Canal Road to Wisconsin Avenue
  • Wisconsin Ave, NW from M Street to K Street
  • K Street, NW from Wisconsin Avenue to Rock Creek and Potomac Pkwy.
  • Rock Creek and Potomac Pkwy., NW from K Street to Independence Ave.
  • Memorial Bridge
  • West Potomac Park
  • East Potomac Park (Access to Golf Course and Tennis Courts will be Available)
  • Maine Avenue, SW from East Basin Drive to Independence Avenue
  • Independence Avenue, SW from Maine Avenue to Ohio Drive
  • Ohio Drive, SW between Independence Avenue and Lincoln Circle
  • Lincoln Circle from Ohio Drive, SW to Henry Bacon Drive, NW
  • 23rd Street, NW from Lincoln Circle to Constitution Avenue
  • Constitution Avenue, NW from Henry Bacon Drive to 15th Street
  • 15th Street from Constitution Avenue, NW to Independence Avenue, SW
  • 17th Street from Constitution Avenue, NW to Independence Avenue, SW
  • Madison Drive, NW from 15th Street to 3rd Street
  • 3rd Street, NW from Pennsylvania Ave, NW to Maryland Ave., SW
  • Pennsylvania Avenue, NW from 3rd Street to E. Capitol Circle
  • 1st Street from Pennsylvania Ave., NW to Maryland Ave., SW
  • Maryland Avenue, SW from S. Capitol Circle to 3rd Street
  • Jefferson Drive, SW from 3rd Street to 15th Street
  • 14th Street, SW from Jefferson Drive to northbound HOV lanes
  • HOV lanes from 14th Street, SW to HOV ramp at S. Eads Street
Citywide Candlelight Vigil: Also on Sunday, Mothers of Unsolved Murders (MUM) is planning a candlelight vigil at the site of planned Consolidated Forensic Lab at 415 4th Street from 7-9pm. Construction of the lab was supposed to start this past spring, but it has been delayed due to an improper awarding of a contract to Whiting Turner by the mayor. Above is a photo of the sign at the site of the new forensics lab. The old First District headquarters building is next door to this sign and is still standing several months after it was supposed to be demolished.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Scenes from Southwest: Starbucks

Clockwise (from upper left): (1) Ground level of the U.S. Small Business Administration building at the corner of 3rd & D Street. (2) Inside the Capital Gallery building on the 600 block of Maryland Avenue. (3) Ground level of the Phase III building at the Portals on Maryland Avenue. (4) Ground level of the Holiday Inn at the corner of 6th & C Street. A fifth Starbucks will open next year inside Safeway at Waterfront Station.

Museum Momentum

A representative from the National Women's History Museum tells Southwest...TLQTC that on October 14th, the House of Representatives passed bill HR 1700, which will allow the GSA to sell a parcel at 12th Street & Independence Avenue to the musuem's organizers. The vacant parcel can accommodate up to 300,000 square feet of space. Now, the bill goes to the Senate. The bill was passed thanks to the efforts of the Right Here. Right Now. campaign that organizers have implemented to get the public engaged in the quest to get legislation approved. Once Congress allows the sale to occur, the museum will need to raise $250 - $300 million in order to build the complex. Above is a map of the location of the proposed museum, from the National Women's History Museum website.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Couple Quick Items

- I wrote about this in the Real Estate Notes article in October's Southwester, but I haven't mentioned it here yet that the Mary E. Switzer Building at 330 C Street is undergoing a second round of renovations. Grunley Construction is doing the renovation work, which includes the modernization of 311,000 square feet of space and the construction of an 18,000 square foot addition, which will add office space to the 6th & 7th floors. Tenants include the U.S. Department of Education, Department of Health & Human Services, and the GSA. HTNB designed the renovated space. Grunley also worked on phase one of renovations, which were completed in 2008. Work began on phase two over the summer and parking spaces have been blocked on 4th Street & D Street. Construction is supposed to be complete by July 2011 and the project will aim for LEED-Silver certification. The D Street spaces have been blocked since August and are scheduled to be available again by mid-December. Above is a photo of the back of the Switzer Building, at the corner of 4th & D Street.

- The sidewalk along 4th Street near the Phase III building at Patriots Plaza reopened a couple weeks ago. Back in August, the closed sidewalk on E Street was reopened to pedestrians. Now, the plaza in front of all three buildings is mostly done. No tenants have been signed yet for the Phase II & III buildings. Above is a photo of the Phase III building, which is just about complete.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Exterior of Arena Stage Two Weeks From Completion

With a year left until the opening of the new Arena Stage, the Washington Business Journal reports today (subscribers only) that Clark Construction Group, the project's general contractor, is about two weeks away from completing the exterior of the building. Once exterior work is completed, construction activity will be focused on the interior. The new theater complex will be 200,000 square feet, which will make it the largest regional theater in the city. Above is a photo of the Maine Avenue side of Arena Stage, taken last month, and below is a YouTube video tour of the theater filmed earlier this month, from Arena Stage's website.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

9th Street Bridge Reopens

As of this morning, traffic can now pass over the 9th Street Bridge from the 9th Street Tunnel about a year after the span was closed by DDOT for a major overhaul. Back in November of 2008, DDOT stated the following would be done to the bridge:

The project will make the bridge safer and more aesthetically pleasing. The concrete bridge deck on the 9th Street Bridge will be replaced, including a new walkway and staircase to Frontage Road at L’Enfant Plaza. The work will also include the replacement of the bridge bearings…new roadway lighting, milling and resurfacing of the approach pavement and re-painting the exterior girders on the bridges. DDOT will also repair the roof slab of a DC Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) pumping station that is beneath 9th Street.

I’m sure Southwesters will be happy that one of the major entryways to the neighborhood has reopened, and our cars will be happy that the road surface is no longer so bumpy! Above is a photo of the recently reopened bridge. The sidewalk on the bridge is still closed to pedestrians.

Update: The ramp off the 9th Street Tunnel towards northbound I-395 is closed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Madison Courts Restauranteurs

Jennifer Price, a broker with Madison Retail Group, tells Southwest...TLQTC that they are looking to bring a sushi restaurant to the ground floor of the Capitol View office building and a Cactus Cantina or matchbox-like establishment to The Portals. I think any of these restaurants would be a welcome addition to the food scene here, since an overwhelming majority of readers voted in our September survey that what they liked least about Southwest was the lack of retail/restaurants. What types of restaurants would you like to see in Southwest? Feel free to opine in the comments section and/or participate in the survey on the sidebar.

Michael Vick Preaches About Dog Fighting

Thanks to reader Marc for the tip about Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick's appearance at Covenant Baptist Church in Bellevue back on September 29th. According to The Washington Post, Vick was in town as a part of an arrangement he made with the Humane Society to make public appearances twice a month to speak out against dog fighting. His compliance with the request to make these appearances was one of the reasons why Vick's suspension from the NFL was ended last month. Vick previously spoke in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Atlanta.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Waterfront Station Residential on Tap

An article in this month's Hill Rag (now available online) states that the city will be "patient" with the land they own at Waterfront Station, the northeast parcel as seen circled on the map at the top of this post. The city retained a portion of the Waterfront Station site as a result of their land sale negotiations with the developers a few years ago, in order to increase the number of residential units planned at the project. Sean Madigan, communications director for the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, states the following about the timeline for residential development on their parcel in the Hill Rag article:

But with the housing market being what it is, we are probably going to be a little patient on this one and not put it out on the street for bids until conditions improve.

In the meantime, their parcel, along with the other undeveloped parcels, will be grassed over until these sites get built, as David Smith from Waterfront Associates mentioned at last month's Safeway town hall meeting. Three other residential towers will be built by the developers in later phases, including the adaptive reuse of the two old EPA buildings.

Shooting in the Neighborhood

DCist reported today that there was a shooting today around 1:15pm at the 1300 block of 1st Street. Two victims were shot and transported to area hospitals where they are in critical condition. The shooter was still at large as of this afternoon, but a weapon was recovered. Today's shooting occurred less than two blocks south of the new First District headquarters.

Update: One of the victims, an 18-year old male named Chicquelo Abeny, a resident of SW, died from his wounds, according to The Washington Post.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Engine 13 Land Deal Delayed Again by Council

According to an article in the Washington Business Journal, the D.C. Council has approved three land deals East of the River, but a fourth deal that would allow the construction of a new Engine 13 firehouse and two office buildings with ground-level retail was removed from consideration by Council member Kwame Brown, chair of the Economic Development Committee. The reason stated for holding the bill for approval was E Street Development did not have signed agreements to hire city-certified small businesses or hire District residents. Presumably, once these agreements are reached, the land deal will be brought to the full Council for approval. Back in April, the DC Government chose E Street Development to build the new firehouse and office buildings, located on the corners of 4th & E Street and 6th & E Street. Since then, the developers have been working with the city to come up with a land lease agreement. Back in July, the Council delayed voting on the agreement until after the August recess and now it has delayed voting again. Above is a rendering of the green roof planned at the new Engine 13, designed by Beyer, Blinder, Belle, from E Street Development's February 25th presentation.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Peek Inside First District Headquarters

Last night, MPD's First District held an open house to celebrate the opening of their new headquarters building, which is located at 101 M Street in the old Anthony Bowen School. Also, the First District was named best police station this year and October is National Crime Prevention Month, so there was a lot to celebrate. As a part of the festivities, there was a police horse outside of the station, presentations by Commander Kamperin and Council members Wells & Mendelson, catering by Hogate's Cafe, as well as tours of the facility. Below are some photos from the tour I took of the First District HQ. The above photo is a sign on the wall near the entrance to the police station.

(Left) This is the Roll Call room on the second floor, where officers gather to receive their orders. It still looks like a classroom.

(Right) The holding cells are located on the ground level. There are separate holding cell area for men and women.

(Left) Here is a photo of the toilet and sink in the "bullpen," a larger holding cell where groups of prisoners are kept. There were no prisoners held at the First District station during the open house.

Monday, October 5, 2009

October Issue of The Southwester is Available

The October issue of The Southwester is now available online and the paper should be distributed throughout the neighborhood this week. One of the new features of the monthly paper is a column called Real Estate Notes, which is written by me and is my debut in print journalism. Most of the real estate tidbits in the column come from this blog, while news about Near SE is adapted from fellow neighborhood blogger JDLand (with JD's permission, of course). Other new features of the paper include a column by Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells called Tommy's Beat, as well as a column written by lawyer Essita Duncan called Reality Checks, which covers law-related topics.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Signage at Constitution Center

There was a reception on September 30th to celebrate the substantial completion of Constitution Center. According to an article from Real Estate Bisnow earlier this week, Constitution Center is now about 97% complete. Signage has appeared this week at the 7th Street and D Street entrances to the office complex. Also, the light painting Transformation and Legacy sculpture were unveiled at the reception. The light painting is visible at the L'Enfant Plaza metro entrance on D Street, but the sculpture is in the private central courtyard. Below are photos of the two pieces of artwork.

(Left) Legacy sculpture by Richard Deutsch.

(Right) Part of the Transformation light painting by Stephen Knapp.

Open House at 1D HQ

There will be an open house at the new MPD District 1 Headquarters this Tuesday from 5pm - 8pm. There will be refreshments, music, interactive crime prevention presentations, raffles, door prizes, and guided tours of 1D’s station house. The new headquarters, located at the former Bowen School at 101 M Street, opened in April. The old headquarters building at 4th & E Street will be demolished and replaced by the Consolidated Forensics Laboratory.