Thursday, February 18, 2010

Randall School Site Sold To Neighbors Down the Street

It appears that the Corcoran Gallery of Art's general counsel was correct when he stated at last month's ANC 6D meeting that a Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA) was close at hand for the Randall School site, because according to yesterday's press release from the Corcoran, a PSA worth $6.5 million was signed between the Corcoran and a partnership between Telesis Corporation (a DC-based developer) and CACB Holdings LLC (owned by the Rubell family that owns the Capitol Skyline Hotel across the street from Randall). Back in 2006, the Corcoran purchased the school site for $6.2 million with plans to turn the school building into a branch campus of their College of Art + Design and in partnership with Monument Realty build an apartment complex behind the historic school. However, after Monument's financial partner Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in 2008, the developer backed out and the Corcoran has been looking for a new partner ever since. The new plan for the Randall School site will be about the same size as the old Monument Realty proposal, but the elements of the plan will be different - there will be a mixed-use project with a contemporary art museum, hotel, and a residential building. The museum will be 20,000 square feet in size and will house the Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation, which will serve as a satellite location for the Rubell Foundation's main museum in Miami, Florida. The hotel and residential building will be approximately 480,000 square feet. These changes to the plan will mean the Telesis/CACB team may have to apply for a new Planned Unit Development (PUD) - the ANC approved the extension of the old PUD last month, but still has to be approved by the Zoning Commission.

Absent from the plan is the Corcoran College of Art + Design, which was going to move to Randall School under the prior proposal. While the Corcoran will no longer move their College of Art + Design to Randall, they are actively looking in DC to expand their college (psst, there's an empty Southeastern University campus building just down I Street from Randall). In addition, the Corcoran will collaborate with the Rubell Foundation and others on exhibits and educational programming in Southwest.

I'm gathering more information about this breaking news and will pass along what I find out!

Update: Marilyn Melkonian, President of Telesis Corporation, gave Southwest...TLQTC some additional details about their plans. Melkonian says that the museum will be located in the Randall School building and at least part of the hotel will also be in the school building. As with the previous plan, the historic portions of the building will be preserved, but the additions made later on will be replaced with new construction. The number of residential units and hotel keys have not been determined yet, but the Telesis/CACB team will work within the approved FAR envelope of 480,000 square feet. There is the potential that the residential units could be hotel-affiliated, which means some hotel services could be available to residents. Construction is scheduled to start in 18-24 months, however, an architect has not been selected yet.

Update #2: And it looks like the Corcoran isn't considering Southwest as a location for its College of Art + Design, according to the WBJ.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

ANC Meeting Rescheduled Again

ANC 6D has announced that their monthly business meeting has been rescheduled to Thursday, February 25th at 7pm at St. Augustine's Church. The agenda can be found here, which includes an update from Waterfront Associates on their Waterfront Station project. Ok, now back to vacation mode...

Friday, February 12, 2010


I'm leaving today for a two-week vacation - part of which will be out of the country, so postings for the rest of the month will pretty much be non-existent. Curious about where I'm going? Here are a couple hints about the places I'm visiting...(1) Laissez les bon temps rouler and (2) La tierra de Dios. Figured it out yet?

While I'm away, feel free to send emails to if you have any Southwest-related tips or story ideas. Hopefully all the snow will be melted by the time I return to the Little Quadrant that Could and 4th Street will be about ready to open!

Jackson Square in New Orleans, LA.

Amatique Bay Resort in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

King Memorial Sculpture Prepped for Shipping

In today's Washington Post, there's an article describing the process of how the MLK Memorial will be erected along the Tidal Basin. As early as March or April, the granite components of the memorial will be shipped on barges from China to Baltimore, then transported to Washington, where it will be assembled with cranes and be ready for the grand opening by the summer of 2011. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a construction permit in October 2009 and site work began in late December. Below is a description of the memorial, from the Post article:
The King memorial, located not far from the Lincoln Memorial where King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963, is to be built on a crescent-shaped, four-acre site amid the city's famed cherry trees. The three main elements resemble a simulated stone mountain from which the center has been carved out and placed by itself in the foreground. The centerpiece -- named the Stone of Hope for a line from the 1963 speech -- is 30 feet 8 inches tall and bears the image of King in a business suit with his arms folded...The two background pieces -- together called the Mountain of Despair from the same line in the speech -- are of similar size and frame a walkway through which visitors may pass to get to the King sculpture.
Included in the article is a graphic showing how large the King sculpture will be compared to other statues in DC. The Stone of Hope will be about ten feet taller than the statue of Thomas Jefferson at the Jefferson Memorial, Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial, and the Statue of Freedom atop the Capitol dome. The memorial was designed by Roma Design Group of San Francisco and the sculpture designed by Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin. Above is a rendering of a portion of the memorial, from the MLK Memorial website.

Casualties of the Blizzard?

Thanks to reader Brad for the tip about some news along the Southwest Waterfront. Apparently, a barge docked at the Gangplank Marina has sunk and a boat has flipped over. I'll go take some photos tomorrow, but does anyone know how this happened?

It appears that the weight of the snow on the roof caused this vessel to become partially submerged into the Washington Channel.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Metro Delays Due to Incident at Smithsonian Station

DCist reports that Metro passengers had to be evacuated from a train at the Smithsonian Metro station because the train made contact with a communications wire hanging from the track bed and caused smoke inside of the station. There were no injuries, but as a result, WMATA states there are delays on the Blue and Orange lines as trains will be sharing a track between Smithsonian and Federal Center SW Metro stations.

Monday, February 8, 2010

USDA Renews Lease

According to the Washington Business Journal, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture renewed their lease at Waterfront Centre, an office building located at 800 9th Street. The USDA renewed their 126,000 square foot space for an additional 10 years. This news comes on the heels of an announcement in November that the USDA will occupy most of phase III of Patriots Plaza.

On another note, ANC 6D has postponed their monthly meeting tonight until Wednesday at 7pm. However, the pending snow storm tomorrow through Wednesday may cause the meeting to be delayed once again.

Update: The ANC meeting was delayed again and will probably be rescheduled for next week.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Scenes from Southwest...The Blizzard of '10

Clockwise (from upper left): (1) Fallen branches and a stranded vehicle along the 700 block of 4th Street. (2) There were plenty of people enjoying the snow at the National Mall. Here are a few of them, with the Washington Monument barely visible due to the snowfall. (3) The 500 block of G Street looked like a winter wonderland. (4) Road conditions were treacherous, so very few cars were on the highways during the blizzard, evidenced by the lack of vehicles on the Southeast-Southwest Freeway.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Metro Plaza Work Begins

The pathway to the Waterfront-SEU Metro station entrance has been shifted to "4th Street" - I put 4th Street in quotes because the top layer of asphalt has not been laid yet on the street. The temporary shift in placement of the pathway will allow the construction of the Metro plaza located to the east of the metro entrance. A construction worker told me the DC government tenants have already started the process of moving furniture to their office space. Representatives from Waterfront Associates, the developers of Waterfront Station, will be at Monday's ANC 6D meeting (see agenda here). Hopefully, they will have a definitive date when 4th Street will reopen, whether they have been able to secure leases with retailers, and how they will dress up those unsightly EPA towers flanking their brand new development. Below is a photo of the 4th Street corridor looking north towards I Street as it curves through Waterfront Station.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Wells Supports Navy Museum Move to SW Waterfront

The WBJ's Breaking Ground Blog posted a 1/25/10 letter written by Ward 6 Councilmember Tommy Wells to Admiral Gary Roughead in support of moving the Navy Museum from the Navy Yard to the Southwest Waterfront, due to its proximity to the National Mall, millions of dollars of investment by the city in the area, and a partnership with the National Maritime Heritage Foundation. As a part of the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront by the Hoffman-Struever team, their plans call for a cultural component focused on education and maritime history....a Navy Museum would fit the bill.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Couple Quick Items About Northrop Grumman

- The Washington Business Journal reported last week that Northrop Grumman Information Technology, an entity of aerospace and defense technology company Northrop Grumman, signed a lease for 6,134 square feet at 370 L'Enfant Promenade, a Class A office building that opened in 1987 across from L'Enfant Plaza and now owned by CIM Group. That lease, along with a renewal of 187,000 square feet by the GSA for the Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, brings the building to 100% occupancy.

- An article in today's WBJ mentions that the DC Council may try to use subsidies to entice Northrop Grumman to relocate their headquarters from California to the District instead of the suburbs. An interesting quote from the article comes from Council member Jack Evans, chair of the Finance and Revenue Committee. Evans is quoted as saying, when referring to where Northrop Grumman should locate in the city:

"If I wanted something staid and traditional I would look along the K Street corridor, at the corner of 18th Street,” Evans said of the company. If Northrop “wanted to be a little more adventuresome” it could look in Southeast, future home to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or Southwest, where the city plans a massive waterfront overhaul.
The DC Council may introduce emergency legislation on Tuesday to offer Northrop financial incentives. It'll be interesting to see if the city can convince the company to relocate to the city, and if so, whether Northrop chooses to be staid or adventuresome in their office space choice...

Update: On Tuesday, according to the WBJ, the DC Council introduced legislation to offer $25 million in incentives for Northrop to move to the District, but the bill targets the Engine 13 sites as the preferred location for the company. Most likely, the planned building where the new firehouse will be built at the corner of 4th and E Street would be the headquarters, because the Council legislation gives a deadline of 3/31/12 for Northrop to move into their space and the firehouse building is the first one to open. The 4th & E site 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. Above is a rendering of the 4th & E Street building planned by E Street Development...could it be the new headquarters of Northrop Grumman?