Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Few Quick Items: Development Map, Arena Stage Scales Back Institute, BoA Checking Out SE, Civilian BRAC Could Involve Deptartment of Energy, Constitution Center in Search of a Tenant

- I've created a new page on the blog with a development map showing projects that are either under construction or planned in Southwest. It's not complete, so other projects will be added in the coming days. Soon, I'll add a map showing projects that have recently been completed.

- Arena Stage is scaling back its American Voices New Play Institute according to The Washington Post.  From the article:
Underlining the challenges it faces in realizing its aspirations to be a national center for research, Arena Stage announced Wednesday that major components of its 2½-year-old American Voices New Play Institute are relocating to Emerson College in Boston.
The transfer will mean a loss of some key personnel who have been deeply involved in the molding of Arena’s widely talked-about play development programs. Most notably, David Dower — Arena’s associate artistic director and one of the chief architects of Arena’s transition to its refurbished complex in Southwest Washington — will be leaving in April for a new job at Emerson. Departing, too, is the institute’s director, Polly Carl, who joined Arena only last July from Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre and will be working with Dower in Boston.
More from the article:
What will leave with Dower and Carl are the institute’s online projects, run for the industry as a whole: the New Play Map, the live-streamed New Play TV and Howlround, a journal of provocative essays on American theater edited by Carl that has become a lively and popular digital forum.
In addition, Dower and Carl will run out of Emerson the industry “convenings” that had been based at Arena, on topics such as diversity, black playwrights and developing new work, though the company will continue to be an occasional site for the symposium.
The actual institute will remain at Arena, as well as Theater 101, which allows spectators to view a production as it evolves during the rehearsal process.

- JDLand reports that Bank of America is in negotiations with Monument Realty to move from their trailer at Waterfront Station to 55 M Street, SE. The current lease at Waterfront Station ends in December 2012, but the bank may leave sooner than that.

- The Washington Business Journal (subscribers only) reported a couple weeks ago that the disposition of federal property called for in a House bill dubbed "Civilian BRAC" would save the Federal government $565M over the next five years according to the Congressional Budget Office.  The bill includes the sale of the Department of Energy headquarters (the Forrestal Building straddles 10th Street near L'Enfant Plaza) as well as the move of the Federal Trade Commission to Constitution Center. The redevelopment of the DOE campus would go a long way towards jump-starting the Southwest Ecodistrict Initiative.

- Also in the WBJ (subscribers only), there's an article about Constitution Center and the search for a tenant to replace the SEC, who backed out of their lease a few months after taking 900K SF in the summer of 2010.  Since then, the SEC has worked with the GSA to find replacement tenants. The Federal Housing Financing Agency will start moving there in January and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency should move into their space by the end of next year. About 358K SF of space is still left to lease. Besides the pending legislation in Congress to move the Federal Trade Commission to Constitution Center (see above), the SEC and GSA are close to a deal with an undisclosed federal agency.

Waterside Metro Lofts


The transformation of the former EPA towers at Waterfront Station to residential is scheduled to get underway over the next month or so and will take about 22 months to complete. The West Tower (1051 4th Street) will have 252 units and the East Tower (1050 4th Street) will have 265 units for a total of 517 apartments. About 104 units, or 20%, will be set aside for households earning up to 50% of Area Median Income (AMI), which is approximately $51,750.  Back in March, Urban-Atlantic purchased the two empty buildings from Waterfront Associates for $20M. Now, JBG is involved in the venture (the WBJ reported a couple weeks ago that JBG recently closed on a $753M fund to acquire real estate in the Washington area). Wiencek & Associates has designed the towers, which altered the old design slightly from Shalom Baranes Associates (older rendering is above). According to a letter sent by the DCRA in October 2010, the developer plans to put roof terraces, a green roof, and a rooftop pool in both buildings.

Rendering courtesy of Waterfront Associates

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Maryland Avenue Small Area Plan Draft Released

The DC Office of Planning released its draft report on the Maryland Avenue SW Plan earlier this month after working on it for several months. This report is a component of the Southwest Ecodistrict Initiative that the National Capital Planning Commission is studying for the area. In the Maryland Avenue SW draft report, there are recommendations on how the avenue can be reconstructed, diversify land uses, and serve as a connector through the Southwest Rectangle (the area between the National Mall and Interstate 395). Currently, the Maryland Avenue corridor is disjointed – a small section of the avenue was rebuilt above railroad tracks west of 12th Street as a part of The Portals complex with a landscaped median and on its eastern end, it will bisect a future memorial for President Eisenhower. However, Maryland Avenue doesn’t exist between 12th Street and 7th Street. Along this stretch, railroad tracks for freight and VRE are in the avenue’s right-of-way. East of Reservation 113 (the green space at 7th & C Streets), Maryland Avenue reemerges before intersecting with Independence Avenue across from the National Air & Space Museum.  

Four components that the draft report addresses include land use, transit, connections, and public realm:


Land use
The draft report encourages a diversification of land uses for the corridor, which is currently dominated by office space. To that end, there are four Federally-owned parcels along Maryland Avenue that the GSA is considering for conveyance out of the Federal inventory. These parcels could then be redeveloped as mixed use sites, potentially with residential included in the mix. Zoning in the area can be changed to encourage residential development with Housing Credits, similar to the bonus density incentives used to increase housing downtown over the past 15 years. Other parcels along the Maryland Avenue corridor could also be redeveloped, including the GSA Regional Office Building at 7th & D Street, the Reporters Building (where Pizza Autentica is located), and two sites at The Portals (perhaps one could be luxury condos affiliated with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel next door with sweeping views of the Tidal Basin?). The draft report indicates at least 1,000 residential/hotel units need to be created in the area to justify the creation of more retail amenities.


Transit
Connections between the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station and the L’Enfant commuter rail station should be improved.  According to the draft report, about 20,000 riders use the Metro station each weekday and over 15,000 VRE riders use the commuter rail station. Future ridership estimates anticipate an increase over the next few years and the commuter rail station may need to expand to accommodate a possible extension of MARC train service to L’Enfant as well as the electrification of the rail line. After looking at three options to expand the commuter rail station, the report recommends the best option would be to build an extended platform in the vicinity of the current platform to accommodate four tracks and bi-level trains.  The Reporters Building would eventually become an intermodal hub where VRE, MARC, Metro, Metrobus, and streetcar service would intersect.


Connections
Three alternatives were considered for decking over Maryland Avenue: one creates a boulevard with a landscaped median along its length and a newly constructed 9th Street would connect Independence Avenue, Maryland Avenue, and D Street; a second would create a center roadway section from 12th to 10th Street with a ramp connection to D Street, while the area between 10th Street and Reservation 113 would become a linear park; option three would create a center roadway from 12th Street to Reservation 113 and create a square around it by shifting the railroad corridor to the south. The report prefers a center roadway section to a median because of its consistency along the centerline of Maryland Avenue, but also allows flexibility along the edges depending on what structure abuts the right-of-way. The approximate cost to re-establish Maryland Avenue would be $429M, including streetscape, railroad enclosure, commuter rail station improvements, connections to the street grid, and four-track railroad enhancements.


Public Realm
Reservation 113 has the potential – if designed properly, to be a center piece for the neighborhood. Views to the Capitol should be maintained and Maryland Avenue’s significance as a L’Enfant diagonal street should be considered in its design; however, pedestrian-scale elements need to be considered as well. The tree canopy of the area needs to be enhanced and sidewalks designed for heavy pedestrian use. New buildings along the corridor should be oriented towards Maryland Avenue and Reservation 113 with the building facades meeting the edge of the right-of-way to create a defined street wall effect. Retail nodes should be created at 7th and 10th Streets with ceiling heights along the ground floor at these locations at a minimum of 14’. Sustainable infrastructure elements should be maintained throughout the corridor, including storm water filtration and collection, and piezoelectric generation along the rail corridor.

Development along the Maryland Avenue corridor can begin in the eastern end between 6th & 7th Streets, where the avenue already exists and improvements would take less time (and money) to implement. The Switzer Building modernization and greening, along with Federal Building 8, is breathing new life to the area. GSA Parcel 4 is located between 6th & 7th Streets and if conveyed, the parcel could be redeveloped into a use other than office to help change the perception of the area as an “office-only” destination. In addition, some improvements can be made to Reservation 113 to make the area more inviting. As the Southwest Waterfront redevelopment gets going and the future of the Department of Energy campus is determined, that will help spur activity on the western side of the Maryland Avenue corridor.

The full report can be accessed from OP’s website and the 30-day comment period is now open until February 3. 

Renderings courtesy of DC Office of Planning

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

SW Duck Pond News


It's been a big December so far for the Neighbors of the Southwest Duck Pond. First, the group won Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells' Livable, Walkable Community Organization Award, also known as a "Brickie" for their effort to help rehabilitate the Southwest Duck Pond, located at 6th and I Streets. Then, the group learned that they will receive a contribution from the Graduate School USA of up to $1,000. The Graduate School USA owns the former SEU campus across the street from the park and has offered their landscaping team to help with park clean-ups in the past. The Neighbors group is in the process of filing for 501c3 status to become a non-profit organization so it can raise funds to refurbish the park.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Few Quick Items from Monday's ANC 6D Meeting

- The boundaries of Police Service Areas (PSAs) in MPD's First District will change next year. The PSA that falls in Southwest will change from PSA 104 to PSA 105. The PSA meets every third Thursday of the month, usually in the community room of one of the residential buildings in the neighborhood.

- As mentioned previously, the SW post office at Half & L Street will close once its lease expires at the end of 2012. The USPS is looking for a new location for the post office in the neighborhood. If one can't be found in Southwest, a temporary one may be set up in Near SE until an appropriate space can be found in Southwest.

- The Urban Forestry Administration will clean up Town Center East Park (adjacent to the SW Library at I Street and Wesley Place), do some general pruning of trees, and remove dead tree stumps (pending an environmental assessment since the site of the park was once a funeral home).  Jack Chapman, an arborist from the Urban Forestry Administration, said he would inspect the park soon and see which trees may need to be removed. He mentioned that the street trees bordering the park might be removed since they are impeding the growth of the trees in the park and would be replaced with understory street trees.

- The ANC unanimously approved the designation of a group called "Friends of Lansburg Park", which would allow the organization to join the Parks Partners program under DPR and use SWNA's 501c3 status to do fundraising to make improvements to the park. The underused park, located along Delaware Avenue behind First District headquarters and across the street from Greenleaf Gardens, has been thought of as a place for a community garden, dog park, skate park, and playground, among other ideas. The "Friends" would organize a charrette with the community to help plan its future. However, individuals have not identified yet who would run the "Friends" group.

- Joseph Dorsey from DDOT gave an update on the reconstruction of Maine Avenue from the 14th Street ramp to 12th Street. The project was originally supposed to last about three to four months, but close to six months later, construction has not been completed yet due to weather delays. Substantial completion of the project is near, though. About 97% of concrete has been poured, granite curbs are installed, lighting is in place, and the road has been paved. The road has been narrowed from two lanes to one and the sidewalk has been expanded to allow improved access between the Tidal Basin and the Southwest Waterfront. Parking will be restricted in this area. A bike lane will eventually be installed on the road and should serve as a traffic calming measure. New trees will be installed next spring since it is so late in the season. The project cost about $2 million and despite the delays, is still on budget.

- The organizers behind the inaugural SW ArtsFest this past September have filed for 501c3 non-profit status and are looking for a Treasurer. They plan to do another SW ArtsFest next fall and will coordinate with the other Ward 6 festivals that occur around September and October so their event doesn't overlap with other festivals.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

More Retailers Open at L'Enfant Plaza


This evening was L'Enfant Plaza Community Night for residents of ANC 6D hosted by JBG where an update was given to the community about what is planned for the massive mixed use complex. Each attendee was given $15 to use at any of the restaurants or retail shops, which have continued to open over the past few months at the refurbished retail center designed by SmithGroup. Now Open: Roti Mediterranean Grill, Potbelly Sandwich Works, Moe's Southwest Grill, Au Bon Pain, Starbucks, Frozen Yogurt Indulgence, Gourmet Too, Gateway Newstands, Mina, Nash's Mens Wear, 4-U, Hallmark, and a post office.  In addition, Jay's Jewelers appears to be just about ready to open. Three LED panels have been installed on pillars to give some visual interest and change periodically - as seen above, the panels were projecting snowflakes at the time the photo was taken. 

Britt Snyder, VP of Development at JBG, gave some details about what is planned for the complex over the near and medium-term. Tenant build-out continues for some of the restaurants and retailers yet to open in the first phase, but construction of phase two has begun, which will bring double the amount of space that is already complete by 2013. To complement the LED panels in the food court, a video wall displaying art will soon be installed near the Metro entrance and TV screens will be placed in the second phase food court along with soft seating areas. They are hoping to bring a fitness center and child care facility to the second phase, but talks with grocers to open a small store were not successful. Some sit-down restaurants are envisioned for the second food court and they hope to "push the envelope" with having some of the stores stay open later and on weekends. A large atrium will replace the pyramid skylight and provide a grand entry to the retail center from the plaza.

Construction of a Homewood Suites extended stay hotel at 9th and D Street has been pushed back to the summer or fall of 2012. Entrances to the new hotel will be created along D Street and from the plaza. The hotel will be built to be LEED-Certified (either Silver or Gold).

In the medium term, a 200,000 SF office building is planned for the southeast corner of the complex along Frontage Road. Residential was considered for this parcel, but it was not feasible to build since rents in the area are currently not high enough to justify the expense. The lack of a grocery store in the area was also an impediment (although Safeway isn't THAT far away - it's closer than for residents of Near SE). Pedestrian connections from the south to L'Enfant Plaza are being looked at to be improved. Eventually, the developer would like to construct an office building in the plaza.

Below are some additional photos of the new retail center:

Frozen Yogurt Indulgence has a distinctly modern design, with several TV screens displayed throughout.

Seating is available for patrons to use.

Nash's Mens Wear is one of the newer retailers to open.

Monday, December 12, 2011

SW Post Office to Close


At tonight's ANC 6D meeting, the commissioners confirmed that the Southwest Post Office, located on Half and L Street, will close at the end of 2012 when its lease expires. The main reason for the post office closure is because of the lease expiration, not cutbacks by the Postal Service, so the search for a replacement space is under way. There is no indication of what will replace the current post office building, but the Ruben Companies owns the post office site (along with several other parcels on both sides of South Capitol Street) and has plans for office and possibly residential development on their other sites. USPS is looking to sign a 10-year lease in the area that can accommodate retail sales, post office boxes, and distribution, similar to the current facility. If distribution cannot be done on site, then it will be done at the main Brentwood facility, but packages would be picked up at the new local post office. Commissioner McBee mentioned that a 4,000 SF space is available at the 1101 4th Street building at Waterfront Station. A centrally located post office on 4th Street is preferable to the Commissioners, but if that space doesn't work out, they will be in talks with other area developers in Near SE to locate a temporary post office there until a site in Southwest becomes available. A temporary Near SE post office would still serve the 20024 ZIP code even though Near SE is located in a different ZIP code.

On a related note, according to the Washington Business Journal, the Ford post office that was originally slated to close will now remain open, thanks to the efforts by Congresswoman Norton.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Velodrome for Buzzard Point?



DCist reported today that DC Velodrome, a 501c3 organization, is in negotiations to lease space to build a temporary velodrome near Nationals Park. The proposed site, thanks to the investigative skills of JDLand appears to be the southern-most block of Akridge's 100 V Street in Buzzard Point. Here is a description of the proposed velodrome from DC Velodrome's website:
Preliminary (3-to-5 year) plans call for the assembly of a portable cycling track which will be leased from Major League Cycling, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Basic facilities, including a perimeter fence for security, small grandstands, public address/sound system, lights, portable toilets, and a snack bar/storage building of a temporary nature will be installed on site. There will be parking for approximately 50 cars.
According to the DCist article, the non-profit plans to raise $300,000 to operate the velodrome for the first year, with costs to decline in subsequent years. News of the velodrome negotiations come on the same day that Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells introduced a resolution in the DC Council that would encourage the city to keep DC United in the District. While the resolution doesn't spell out how the city should proceed with building a soccer stadium, the leading site for the team as reported in the media is 100 V Street. Mayor Gray attended a SWNA meeting last week where he stated that he met with DC United officials the prior week and stated his support for keeping the team in the District. However, he also stated that the city doesn't have the money to build the team a new stadium. Rendering of 100 V Street courtesy of Akridge.

A Few Quick Items: SW Waterfront Legislation Passes, Volunteers Needed to Fill Vacancies, DC United Resolution, Lockridge Library in Bellevue


- The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2297 today, a bill introduced by Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton that clarifies the legal status of the Southwest Waterfront, which will help the developers of The Wharf redevelop the waterfront. A provision in the bill allows the Maine Lobsterman memorial to be moved, but it must remain along the Southwest Waterfront near Maine Avenue with a clear, unimpeded pedestrian pathway between the memorial and the waterfront. The bill now goes to the Senate for approval where, according to a press release from Norton, it does not face any obstacles for passage. Rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront.


- The Southwest Duck Pond is seeking 501c3 non-profit status, but in order to do so, officers must be elected. Secretary and Treasurer positions are still vacant and need to be filled so the application can be completed. The organization wants the non-profit status so it can do fundraising to restore the park at 6th and I Streets. If you're interested, contact the group by email: swdctowncenterwestpark@gmail.com. 

In addition, the editors of The Southwester recently resigned suddenly, so a volunteer is needed to run the newspaper. If you're interested, contact The Southwester by email: thesouthwester@gmail.com.


- Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells introduced a resolution today in the DC Council called the "Sense of the Council Support for D.C. United Soccer Remaining in the District of Columbia Resolution of 2011". The resolution doesn't say how the city should go about keeping the team, however. Rendering courtesy of Akridge.


- According to The Washington Post, the DC Council approved legislation today to rename the new Bellevue library under construction on the corner of Atlantic Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue after the late Ward 8 activist and school board member William O. Lockridge. The library will be named the "William O'Neal Lockridge Library at Bellevue" as a compromise since the community wanted the name Bellevue to be in the name of the library because the old Washington Highlands library was mislabeled. Rendering courtesy of DC Public Library.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Few Quick Items: Sunday Jazz Brunch at Station 4, Neighborhood Watch Created, L'Enfant Plaza Community Night, Marina Charrette Recap

- Station 4 is now offering a Jazz Brunch on Sundays. Defractions Jazz Band will perform each Sunday from 12pm-3pm. Brunch is served at the restaurant on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am - 3pm.

- A Neighborhood Watch program is being organized for ANC 6D 01 (bounded by 4th Street to the east, 9th Street to the west, Maine Avenue/M Street to the south and the Southwest freeway to the north) by resident Candice Graham in response to the recent spike in crime in the neighborhood. To learn more about the Neighborhood Watch, there will be a happy hour this Friday at Station 4 at 7pm. 

- On Tuesday, December 13 from 6pm - 8pm, JBG will host L'Enfant Plaza Community Night, where any resident of ANC 6D can get a chance to sample some of the new restaurants that have opened recently at the L'Enfant Plaza food court. There will be free food (JBG will provide $15 gift cards good at any of their restaurants or retailers, including Potbelly, Au Bon Pain, Roti Mediterranean Grill, Starbucks, Moe's Southwest Grill, Frozen Yogurt Indulgence, Hallmark, and Gateway Newstands). Parking will also be free (JBG will provide parking validation).

- The Gangplank Slipholders' Association gives a recap of a charrette that occurred on November 15 to help design the new marina at The Wharf that was convened by Hoffman Madison Waterfront. Over 50 slipholders attended the 2.5-hour meeting at the Harbor Patrol.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tiber Island Plaza Extreme Makeover


As Tiber Island Condos and Co-ops seek historic designation, the community is gearing up for a $2 million upgrade to its central plaza, which currently is a stark, windswept area with a large water feature. In addition to the plaza, the lobby, hallway corridors, and signage will be updated. Tiber Island has brought in SmithGroup/JJR to redesign the plaza and other common areas in a way that respects the period in which the community was built.


The SmithGroup/JJR design calls for the plaza to be shaped as an ellipse, with an elliptical fountain, structural pergola and vegetation. The new fountain will be smaller than the existing one and will serve as a focal point – an infinity fountain with adjustable bubblers that will be table height so it is accessible and touchable. Movable seating will be provided around the fountain and pergola, which will be a sculptural art piece with plants and vegetation. There will be three rings of vegetation behind the pergola, with groundcover, perennial plantings, and grasses of varying height. Direct walking paths will be created from each tower to the plaza and the pergola will be designed to be open both physically and visually. New ADA-compliant ramps will be installed to ease access from the towers to the plaza.

The plaza is still in the planning stage, so the finished product may look different than the above rendering.

Rendering courtesy of SmithGroup

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Few Quick Items: L'Enfant Plaza Renovation Continues, Safeway Seeks Subsidy, South Capitol Acquisitions Funded

- In this week's Washington Business Journal (subscribers only), there's an update about the renovations underway at L'Enfant Plaza. There was a bit of new information in the article, including the addition of Crumbs Bake Shop to the retailers slated to open in the food court. This would be the 4th Crumbs to open in DC (although their website doesn't show the L'Enfant Plaza location yet on their "Coming Soon" page). It and Five Guys are now scheduled to open in January. A 234-key Homewood Suites extended-stay hotel planned for the corner of 9th and D Street may now get underway by the second quarter of 2012.

JBG is planning a meeting on December 13th from 6-8pm to give the community an update on their plans for the mixed use complex. Location TBA.

- The Housing Complex Blog at the Washington City Paper reported last week that Safeway is seeking tax relief for personal and real property taxes for its store at Waterfront Station and has been assisted by Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells. According to the article, the Supermarket Tax Credit was passed in 2000 to provide tax relief to grocery stores that opened in underserved areas of the city. Since then, the exemption boundaries have changed and as a result, the SW Safeway location has been outside of the exemption zone since 2004.

- JDLand reports that $68 million has been provided by the federal government towards the purchase of land for the right-of-way of the new Frederick Douglass Bridge. The $68 million is just a drop in the bucket compared to the approximately $800 million needed for the new bridge, improvements to South Capitol Street, and interchange improvements at I-295 and I-395.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Armed Robberies in Southwest


Over the past two weeks, four armed robberies have been committed in the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood according to The Washington Post. The latest incident occurred on Sunday night at 4th & M Street. All four armed robberies appear to be related - each occurred in the evening with 3-5 suspects against one victim. A map showing the location of each robbery is above. MPD made an arrest after the Sunday incident when one of the suspects, a juvenile, was apprehended when the police gave chase to the youth as he tried to run away on M towards South Capitol Street (which passes by First District HQ). In this case, the victim's items were recovered. The other suspects are still at large.

Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the police at (202) 727-9099 or 1-888-919-CRIME (1-888-919-2746). The Metropolitan Police Department currently offers a reward of up to $10,000 to anyone that provides information which leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons wanted for any armed robbery committed in the District of Columbia. Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to DC CRIME SOLVERS at 1-866-411-TIPS and to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411. If the information provided by the caller to the Crime Solvers Unit leads to an arrest and indictment, that caller will be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

Update: A fifth armed robbery occurred on Thursday night.  The map has been updated with information from that incident.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A Few Quick Items: Trojans Go for the Gold, MLS Commish not Pleased with DCU Situation, Job Openings at Phillips

- The Jefferson Middle School Trojans football team will play in the DCIAA Middle School Championship Game this Saturday against Kramer Middle School. Game time is at 11am at Cardozo High School (1200 Clifton Street, NW). Good luck to the Trojans!

- The Soccer Insider at The Washington Post reports that MLS Commissioner Don Garber is concerned about the stalemate over DC United's lease negotiations at RFK Stadium and the search for a new home for the soccer club. There appears to be a lack of support from the mayor's office to help finance a new stadium. From the article:
United has sought a partnership with the city, with the club covering most of the costs. Last week, however, Mayor Vincent M. Gray wrote on his Twitter account that “we value DC United & hope they stay in DC. But District is in a challenging fiscal environment now & publicly funded stadium not possible.”
A fan group has emerged called Keep D.C. United that wants the club to stay in DC and build a stadium at Buzzard Point. The group has created an online petition for supporters to sign. Reasons the group states a stadium should be built in Buzzard Point are the following:

  • Jobs and economic growth through construction, retail, and services for a part of town that has too often been forgotten.


  • More than just soccer. A stadium would not only host D.C. United and international soccer matches, it could also host high school and college sporting events and community/cultural festivals.


  • Economic development done right. Developers would seek community involvement through out process and D.C. United has an unwavering commitment to the community through its many outreach programs such as United Builds, United Read, United Drives and United Soccer Club.

  • - Phillips Flagship is now hiring experienced line cooks for their restaurant along the Southwest Waterfront at 900 Water Street. Check out the Craigslist ad for responsibilities and qualifications. Benefits include medical, dental, vision and 401(k) with company match.

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    ARTLAB+ Opens at Hirshhorn

    Over the summer, renovations at the Sculpture Garden of the Hirshhorn Museum resulted in the creation of ARTLAB+, a free after school and weekend community center for teens. Below is an explanation of what ARTLAB+ does, from their website:
    What is the ArtLab?
    • A community center outfitted with digital media tools located in the Sculpture Garden of the Hirshhorn Museum
    • A drop-in zone for DC area teens to come after school and on the weekend
    • A place to experiment with visual and audio technology
    • An online space to communicate with other ARTLAB+ teens through a social network
    • A resource to meet and work with artist mentors
    • A network of interest-based clubs where teens can plan social events
    • A studio where teens form production teams and create media projects
    • A classroom hosting short and long-term workshops for teens and school groups
    What do teens in ARTLAB+ programs do?
    • Hang out with other like-minded peers
    • Form clubs with teens who share similar interests
    • Create production teams and take on their own projects
    • Learn the media skills they want to learn from mentors and experts
    • Design and compose videos, animations, websites, games, podcasts, and more
    • Visit the Hirshhorn and other Smithsonian museums for research and inspiration
    • Make unique products for use by Hirshhorn Museum visitors
    • Give back to local communities by voicing their opinions on important district and regional issues
    ARTLAB+ programs include advance registration workshops (a new one called Art Breakers is starting on November 15 and registration is now open) and club meetings that unite teens who share common interests in gaming, radio broadcasting, photography, or music. Also, teens can simply drop in and explore, hang out, work with mentors on digital projects, etc. during open hours: Mon.-Fri. from 3 to 7 pm, and Sat. from noon to 5 pm. The Hirshhorn is located at 7th Street and Independence Avenue.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    A Few Quick Items: SW Waterfront House Legislation Advances, Fish Market is Location of the Month, SEU to be Removed from Metro Name, Maine Ave Road Work Delayed


    - Last week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee passed DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton's bill to allow the development of the Southwest Waterfront as currently planned to proceed. H.R. 2297 clears up some legal issues regarding the transfer of the Southwest Waterfront that occurred between the Federal government and the District back in the 1960s which will allow the construction of piers that extend out to the Washington Channel. The bill will also ensure the Maine Lobsterman statue and Titanic Memorial will be maintained, although the Lobsterman statue may be moved to another area of The Wharf. An affirmative vote in the full House and Senate will allow the development to proceed. Rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront


    - DC's Office of Motion Picture and Television Development has designated the Maine Avenue Fish Market as the One City Location of the Month for the month of November. Back in March, the MPTD began the monthly designation to help bring attention to sights in the city that can be used as filming locations. The fish market was most recently featured in the film "State of Play". Arena Stage was designated back in April.


    - WMATA decided in a meeting last week to make some changes to Metro station names ahead of a reworking of the Metrorail map needed to reflect service changes as well as the introduction of the Silver Line. In Southwest, the Waterfront-SEU station will revert back to its original name - Waterfront. Since Southeastern University is no longer in existence, that appendage has been dropped. A bid to add Arena Stage to the station name, which was supported by ANC 6D, was rejected by the Metro board. Also, a proposal to add National Mall to the Smithsonian Metro station name was rejected. The Navy Yard station in Near SE will become Navy Yard-Ballpark. These changes will be implemented in the fall of 2012.

    - ANC 6D 01 Commissioner Bob Craycraft reports on his Facebook page that DDOT has pushed back the completion date of the road work on Maine Avenue near the fish market to the end of November. The road work was originally scheduled to be complete back in mid-October. Below is a description from DDOT about what is being done to the road:
    The project will replace the existing 4-foot-wide sidewalk with a new 14-foot-wide trail, accommodating both bicyclists and pedestrians, and replace the existing road surface. Installation of new storm water drainage elements, bio-retention areas, trees, lighting, signs, curb, gutter and fencing is also included in the project. To accommodate these amenities, on-street parking in this area will be eliminated. The number of vehicular lanes will be reduced from two to one and some driveway entrances to businesses will be realigned. 

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Wharf Waterfront Park Planning Moves Forward


    The landscape architects charged with designing the planned waterfront park at The Wharf came to  the October 24 SWNA meeting and presented their initial concept. Warren Byrd from Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects gave the presentation. The initial concept design was the result of the charrette process held over the past couple of months with community members that was convened by Hoffman-Madison Waterfront, and attended by representatives from Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, as well as Lee and Associates Inc., the other landscape architectural firm involved with the park.  At the second charrette in early October, the participants walked through the site, then went over two alternatives for the park based on the discussion from the first charrette - one with an oval shape and the other shaped like a fan. 

    The 4.2-acre park will replace the parking lot for the cruise ships on the south end of the Southwest waterfront by the police and fire pier. As seen in the above rendering, the design is similar in shape to a fan. An informal lawn area will cover the northeastern corner of the park with a pergola wrapping along the edge and an interactive water feature. This area will be raised higher in order to afford a better view down towards the Washington Channel and Potomac River beyond. Gardens will be planted near the 50-year old willow oaks that frame the northern and eastern border of the park. Play mounds will be provided near the informal lawn and curving paths created throughout the park. One of the "necessary" portions of the park is a pavilion, where some food and beverage service, as well as storage for park-related furnishings will be located. The pavilion will be designed to be less intrusive on the landscape, with the possibility of the pavilion being embedded in the hillside since the access road (another necessary portion of the park) will be at a lower grade than the informal lawn. Rain gardens will be interspersed throughout to help retain rainwater runoff before entering the channel. Tree plantings at the park will offer a variety of color as the seasons change. A total of 26 parking spaces have to be maintained for guests of the townhouses proposed at Pier 4 and the police and fire pier as well as a traffic circle that can be used for emergencies. Most of the land to the south of the traffic circle is owned by the National Park Service, but Hoffman-Madison Waterfront wants to work with NPS to rehabilitate the area leading down to the Titanic Memorial with lawn terraces and a rain garden. 

    The charrette members will meet again as the design process continues so the final result of the park will not be a surprise to the community. What do you think of the design draft?

    Rendering courtesy of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects and Lee and Associates, Inc.

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

    A Few Quick Items: New Website Launched for The Southwester, Station 4 Leads SW Revival, United Eyes Baltimore, Bellevue Library Controversy

    - A new website was recently launched for The Southwester, which allows readers to view articles from the latest issue of the paper without having to download a PDF (although that option is still available). Readers are allowed to leave comments as well. Although a few kinks still need to be worked out on the new website (i.e. article formatting), it is moving the paper in the right direction.

    - The Hill writes a review on Station 4, which opened over four months ago at Waterfront Station. According to the article, the most popular item on the menu is the crab cake. The article mentions that recent events at the restaurant include Neighborhood Appreciation Night, prix fixe lunch ($18) & dinner ($29)specials. Also, there were "True Blood" themed nights leading up to Halloween.

    - According to The Washington Post and The Examiner, MLS has sent out surveys to Baltimore area residents gauging their interest in the possibility of DC United moving to the Westport area of Baltimore City. From the Post article:
    United has spent all 16 MLS seasons in Washington but club officials have said playing at 50-year-old RFK is not economically viable. Talks with D.C. officials have shown no signs of progress. Buzzard Point in Southwest D.C., near Nationals Park, has been the club’s primary focus. Previous negotiations, involving Poplar Point in Anacostia and then Prince George’s County in Maryland, collapsed. 
    - The Washington Post reports on the controversy over the naming of the new David Adjaye-designed library rising along Atlantic Street in Bellevue.  The DC Public Library Board recommended earlier this year that the library should be named Bellevue, after the neighborhood in which it's located (the previous library was called Washington Highlands, which was named after a neighborhood in SE). However, Mayor Gray supports the proposal to name it after William Lockridge, a Ward 8 activist and member of the State Education Board who died earlier this year. The DC Council held a hearing last month to discuss the naming of the library, but according to the article, Ward 8 Council member Barry has agreed to delay the renaming bill for two weeks in order to hear what the community has to say before making a decision.

    Monday, October 31, 2011

    A Couple Quick Items: Big Hole in the Ground, Randall Neighbor Day at Corcoran


    - Across the street from Nationals Park along South Capitol Street, there is a deep hole in the ground hidden behind a chain link fence. The hole will soon become a foundation for Camden South Capitol, the first new Southwest apartment building in decades. Camden Property Trust is developing the apartment building, which will have 276 units and is located at the northwest corner of South Capitol and O Streets. WDG is designing the project, with amenities including a rooftop pool and deck, as well as ground floor retail. Twelve of the units will be set aside as affordable housing. Leasing should begin around the middle of 2013.

    - This year's Randall Neighbor Day at the Corcoran Gallery of Art will take place on December 10. On that day, all ANC 6D residents (those living in ZIP codes 20024 and 20003) can visit the Corcoran for free.  The annual event came about due to the community benefits package the ANC negotiated with the Corcoran in 2007 when they planned to redevelop Randall School at Half & I Street as a college and apartment complex. When the Telesis/Rubell team took over the project in 2010, the subsidy was maintained. In addition, once the new museum planned for Randall School opens, it will be free every day for ANC 6D residents. Special exhibitions at the Corcoran include 30 Americans, which showcases works by many of the most important African American artists of the last three decades. This exhibition is from the collection of Don and Mera Rubell. Other exhibitions include Hank Willis Thomas: Strange Fruit and Gordon Parks: Photographs from the Collection. The Corcoran will be open on December 10 from 10am - 5pm.    

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Z-Burger Sneak Peek


    If you've walked by the Waterfront Station Z-Burger lately, you may have noticed a sign has been erected outside that illuminates at night. So that means opening is imminent, right? Well...not quite.  The newest opening date told to me by owner Peter Tabibian when I ran into him at the restaurant is three weeks. According to Peter, all of the furniture has been ordered and once it arrives, it will take four to five days to install it all.  In addition to indoor seating, there will be approximately 40 seats outside. There's a lot left to do besides installing furniture, so let's see if this new opening estimate is accurate. Once a more definitive opening date has been announced, I'll let you know. There will also be free food for the first few days..more details to come. Below are some renderings of the restaurant design, courtesy of Z-Burger, along with some interior photos I took earlier this week.  


    This is the view from the front door toward the "place order" area of the register. The red tile on the floor will be a "red carpet" leading to the register. On the ceiling is a design of angel wings.


    Owner Peter Tabibian shows off the tile that will be used to create the "red carpet" from the front door to the register. Peter designed the new restaurant himself.
    
    
    This is a zoomed in photo showing the path to the register. You will be able to see your food get prepared behind the register as you wait for your order.
    

    This is a view looking from the "pick-up" area of the register towards the front door.
    
    
    This rendering shows a seating area of the restaurant just to the right of the entrance.
    

    This photo is looking in the opposite direction from the above rendering. Notice the column on the right that in the rendering is covered in yellow.

    Wednesday, October 5, 2011

    A Few Quick Items: Stadium Speculation Continues, Marina Place Profiled, "Melting Pot" Museum, Cast of You, Nero Announced


    - Speculation continues on the DC United stadium front, and according to the Soccer Insider at The Washington Post, the 100 V Street site in Buzzard Point is still on top of the list. However, it's debatable how interested city leaders are about keeping the team in the District. From the article:
    D.C. government contacts tell my Post colleagues that United officials, realizing the city has no money to help finance a sports venue, suggested to the mayor’s office that they would build a stadium themselves if they received a tax abatement. Other city sources say DCU President Kevin Payne recently met with council members about the general stadium prospects and the discussion "fell flat.”
    Talk of putting a jail at the Buzzard Point site seems to have died down.

    Above rendering courtesy of Akridge


    - Also in The Washington Post, there was an article about how plans for the multifamily project planned in Buzzard Point next to the marina have evolved. The Eric Colbert-designed Marina Place was approved by the Zoning Commission over the summer and the owner is looking for a pioneering developer to partner with him on the project. Duane Deason has owned the site since 2004 and has gone through the ups and downs related to speculation about development of Buzzard Point. With the Coast Guard moving to St. Elizabeths and the possibility of DC United building a stadium nearby, Buzzard Point could look a lot different in a few years.

    Rendering courtesy of Buzzards Point LLC

    - There's a proposal to build a new museum off the National Mall at Banneker Overlook, according to an article in the Lifestyle section of The Washington Post. This proposed museum is still a long ways off though.  From the article:
    Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.) is sponsoring the legislation that would create a presidential committee to study the Museum of the American People proposal and has rounded up about 20 co-sponsors. He realizes that the museum could be a long way off, but he likes the idea of drawing a line now, “before we have any proliferation of additional ethnic museums.”
    - Arena Stage has announced the cast of You, Nero, which will run from November 25 to January 1, 2012 at the Fichlander Stage. A partial list of cast members and a description of the show from the press release follows:
    Danny Scheie returns to the role of Nero after starring in both the South Coast Repertory and Berkeley Repertory Theatre productions of You, Nero. Also reprising their roles are Susannah Schulman as Poppaea and Kasey Mahaffy as Fabiolo. Marc Vietor (Kennedy Center’s Company, Broadway’s Present Laughter directed by Martin) joins the cast as Scribonius.
    Returning Arena favorites include Helen Hayes Award winner Nancy Robinette as Agrippina (Arena’s Death of a Salesman, Shakespeare Theatre Company’s The Heir Apparent), Laurence O’Dwyer as Burrus (Arena’s Trouble in Mind, Helen Hayes Award winner for Arena’s The Fantasticks) and John C. Vennema as Seneca (Arena’s A Time to Kill). Additional casting for supplemental actors will be announced at a later date.
    As Rome collapses beneath Nero’s outrageous narcissism, a forgotten playwright tries to restore order through the art of theater in this “gloriously funny” (New York Times) farce. Amid the chaos of crime, lust and politics, convincing the world’s most famous debaucher to choose virtue over vice proves to be a Herculean task. Amy Freed’s wild romp questions whether well-crafted drama and intellect are any match for decadence and good old-fashioned bloodshed.
    Performances will take place on Sunday, Tuesday & Wednesday at 7:30 pm; Thursday, Friday & Saturday at 8:00 pm.; and Saturday & Sunday at 2:00 pm.

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Cantina Cup 2011 Video

    Below is a video done by SWer Raymond Schillinger of the 4th Annual Cantina Cup Regatta, which took place on October 1 along the Washington Channel. Proceeds from the Cantina Cup benefit DC Sail's adult sailing program.

    Cantina Cup 2011 - DC Sail from media | sophe films on Vimeo.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Historic District for Southwest?


    Housing Complex wrote a piece last week about historic districts in DC and pondered whether Southwest would be next on the list of neighborhoods to seek designation. Contrary to the HC piece, there are rumblings from within the neighborhood to create a historic district. Typically, buildings need to be at least 50 years old to be considered and there are already a few older properties in Southwest that are on the National Register of Historical Places. Those located south of the Southwest Freeway include Friendship Baptist Church, Thomas Law House, National War College, Randall Jr. High School, Syphax School, James C. Dent House, and the Titanic Memorial. However, the majority of buildings in Southwest are just now turning 50.
    
    Wheat Row was built in the 18th century.
    
    The Thomas Law House was built in 1784.
    









    Capitol Park Apartments at 800 4th Street (now Potomac Place Tower), designed by Chloethiel Woodard Smith and built in 1959, was the first residential tower built as a result of urban renewal and was designated by the DC Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) as historic in 2003 in an attempt by residents to block development of its parking lots and garden into apartments (eventually condos). The HUD headquarters at 7th & E Street just north of the freeway was more recently designated by the HPRB as well as the James C. Dent House (built in 1906). ANC 6D supported the designation of Tiber Island Coops and Condos on the south side of 4th & M Streets as historic at their July meeting (the Thomas Law House, which is a part of Tiber Island, has already been deemed historic). Besides the collection of mid-century modern architecture that dominates Southwest, there are other pockets of buildings pre-dating urban renewal that haven’t been designated, such as the row houses along the 1200-block of Half Street and Carrollsburg Place.

    River Park features a high-rise apartment building and barrel vaulted townhomes made with aluminum.
    A historic district designation would bring more scrutiny to building additions or new construction within the proposed district. New buildings would most likely need to conform to the standards of structures within the district and it would be more difficult to demolish existing buildings. However, it may spur the restoration of buildings in the neighborhood that are starting to show their age and increase property values. Design adaptation is already happening, to an extent, with newer projects in the neighborhood. For example, the office buildings at Waterfront Station, designed by Shalom Baranes, use terra cotta on their fa├žades, a material that has been used for the shade screens at Capitol Park apartments. In addition, the design of the new St. Matthew’s apartment building on M Street & Delaware Avenue, also designed by Baranes, uses building and landscape design elements from nearby residential buildings. These two building designs borrow from mid-century mod, but have been brought closer to the street and incorporates a mix of uses (in the case of Waterfront Station).

    Should the Southwest Waterfront join the ranks of other DC neighborhoods, such as Capitol Hill, Dupont Circle, Shaw, and Georgetown and be designated as a historic district? Vote in the poll at the upper left corner of the page and/or leave a comment. Also, are there specific buildings in Southwest that deserve historic designation (#1 on my list would be Jefferson Middle School)?

    Note: For those who are interested in learning more about modern architecture in Southwest, the DC Preservation League will be holding a neighborhood tour on October 22, starting at 10am. Register here.

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    Four-Star Hotel Coming to The Wharf


    It was reported in this week's Capital Business that Hoffman-Madison Waterfront is in negotiations with Carr Hospitality and Intercontinental Hotels Group to build and operate a 268-key, four-star hotel at The Wharf. The new hotel will be next to the office building that will be occupied by The Graduate School USA at 9th Street & Maine Avenue (the site of the temporary Kastles Stadium at The Wharf). The hotel operators are the same ones that operate the Willard Intercontinental Hotel downtown (Carr Hospitality also has plans to build a hostel/hotel at the 100 block of Q Street). Room rates at the waterfront hotel are anticipated to run between $300 and $400 a night, similar to rates at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel (the average cost for a room next Saturday). From the article:

    Hammad Shah, president and chief operating officer of Carr Hospitality, said the company had been looking to open a second Washington hotel.
    “The thought process here is really to create a unique luxury hotel, one of its kind, and I believe the Intercontinental brand fits the mold very well because of its success in Washington with the Willard, and because it’s an international brand,” Shah said.
    Shah said the hotel would take advantage of the site’s location overlooking the Washington Channel. He said he expects the hotel to have a 5,000-square-foot rooftop lounge and two ballrooms looking out onto the water, as well as two restaurants.

    The hotel also would be near one of the waterfront’s planned piers. Shah said Carr is in negotiations to purchase boat slips from the development team, which would allow guests to arrive by boat. “Everybody gets on and off at the doorsteps of the hotel,” Shah said.
    Back in April, Hoffman-Madison Waterfront selected Humboldt Hospitality to advise them on the sale of the hotel site.  Construction on the first phase of development at The Wharf is planned for the end of 2012.

    Rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront