Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What a DC United Stadium *Could* Mean for Buzzard Point Development

Over the past week (which happens from time to time), there have been several reports about DC United looking for sites to build a soccer stadium in the District. This time around, one of the leading sites under consideration is in Buzzard Point, specifically Akridge’s 100 V Street. Currently, 100 V Street is planned as a secure federal campus, but there have been no tenants lined up so far. Due to the size of the sites under consideration, the Greater Greater Washington blog contends that a stadium would be “urban” with few surface parking spaces and would fit within the current street grid (except for the possible closure of T Street between 1st and 2nd Streets).

This site is located three blocks southwest of Nationals Park and if the soccer stadium is located there, the area would become a stadium district of sorts, akin to the Meadowlands (before the Nets and Devils left Izod Arena) or Philadelphia. Linking the stadiums would be Potomac Avenue, which currently is lined mostly with industrial operations west of South Capitol Street. With a soccer stadium on one end and a ballpark on the other, Potomac Avenue could become an entertainment district with retail stores, bars and restaurants to cater to fans, as well as for neighborhood residents and employees at Fort McNair. The DC streetcar is planned to have a couple lines come down to Buzzard Point and possibly run along Potomac Avenue, which is a wide boulevard that would have room for a streetcar. Perhaps ferry service can be introduced on game days via James Creek Marina, located just to the southwest of the stadium site.

While there are differing opinions over the effect that stadiums have on development nearby, a DC United Stadium in Buzzard Point may cause other projects to get underway that otherwise would take several years or decades to get built, including development on Potomac Avenue. The introduction of retail to the neighborhood, coupled with a streetcar line could help spur residential development in the area, like Marina Place, a planned condo project catty corner to the stadium footprint at 1st & V Street. Just to the east of the stadium footprint is the Buzzard Point Power Plant, which Pepco plans to decommission by May 2012. The power plant itself will most likely be landmarked, but perhaps can be repurposed as a cultural amenity like a museum or art gallery space. With the planned departure of the U.S. Coast Guard from its headquarters at 2nd & V Street to St. Elizabeth's in SE by 2015, perhaps that site can be redeveloped as a mixed use project that embraces its location next to the river and provide public access to the waterfront. Some of these ideas for Buzzard Point stem from a neighborhood study done in 2009 by the American Planning Association’s Planning Assistance Team (PAT). For now, talk about DC United moving to Buzzard Point is just Who knows whether they will choose Buzzard Point over other areas under consideration and if they can obtain financing to build a stadium. However, it's fun to talk about what possibilities exist for Buzzard Point, with or without a soccer stadium in the neighborhood.

Renderings courtesy of Akridge and Buzzards Point LLC.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Where's the Water Taxi?

It's been several months since the announced opening date of June 2010 came and went for American River Taxi (or ART for short), a water taxi service that would serve waterfront destinations in the District, including the Gangplank Marina at the Southwest Waterfront, Washington Marina along the Georgetown Waterfront, and Diamond Teague Park in Near SE. This service has not gotten underway yet, but according to the company's website, online ticketing and ticket kiosks will be available this Spring. Travel times between stops will be between 20 and 35 minutes and taxis will depart at least every 35 minutes.

Photo: An ART water taxi was spotted on the Southwest Waterfront during Arena Stage's Homecoming celebration in October 2010.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

DMPED Solicits Bids for Water Street Temporary Stadium

Now that the Hogate's building on the Southwest Waterfront has been demolished and the site cleared, on January 18th, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development issued a procurement solicitation for what is being called the "Southwest Waterfront Interim Use Project" at 800 Water Street. The solicitation is described below:

The Government of the District of Columbia, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (the "District") is seeking a contractor to provide construction services for the provision of erecting an interim use structure for a variety of uses that will include large format limited run events and many smaller seasonal events.

It was revealed in December that the Hogate's building would be demolished and replaced with a temporary structure by March 2011. One of the uses anticipated for the site is a tennis stadium for the Washington Kastles World Team Tennis organization, which plays their month-long season in July. Besides bleachers and a court, a tent will be set up closer to Zanzibar for use by the Kastles during their season from July 5-24, but can be removed to allow space for programming, as well as a stage near 9th Street for concerts. According to the solicitation, the structure must be ready for use by March 22. The March date has been set so the site can be used for festivities related to the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Additional work will be done on the site after that date, but not while events are taking place at the structure. Final work must be complete by May 1, 2011.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

SWer Wins Tix to Tonight's Wizards Game

The DC Lottery recently held a contest to see who can do the "Dougie" (the dance John Wall did during his first home game as a Wizard at the Verizon Center) in order to win tickets to tonight's Wizards/Celtics game. The winner was Southwest resident Katina Rayford, a teacher at Bennett Career Institute. Her winning "Dougie" video is posted on Facebook and below is her interview with the DC Lottery.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Constitution Center Signs Another Lease

The Washington Business Journal reports that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) will lease between 600,000 -650,000 SF of space at Constitution Center, the vacant 1.4 million SF office building located on top of the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station at 400 7th Street. By the fall of 2012, about 1,000 employees will be moving to Constitution Center, some from another location in Southwest at 250 E Street. Meanwhile, the WBJ also reported the inspector general of the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) is opening a formal investigation into the lease signed by the SEC last year for 900,000 SF in the same building, but then reported that 600,000 SF was excess space after it realized it didn't need as much space as originally planned. Also under investigation by the inspector general is the planned move of 740 SEC employees to Constitution Center this summer from other offices.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

St. Augustine's Reaches Land Deal with PN Hoffman

In this month's The Southwester, it was reported that St. Augustine's Episcopal Church has reached a deal with PN Hoffman to permit the developer to build about 100 residential units on the church's property, located at 6th Street & Maine Avenue. The residential units will be designed by SK&I Architectural Design Group, who has designed several PN Hoffman condo buildings, including Metro, Desoto, Carlyle Square, and Chase Point. In addition, the church will build a new sanctuary on site, designed by MFTA Architecture that will face Arena Stage. It was mentioned at October's ANC 6D meeting that PN Hoffman was in negotiations with St. Augustine's to build 92 units on their land and the deal would allow the church to build a new sanctuary. I spoke with Matt Steenhoek from PN Hoffman to get more details on their plans. According to Steenhoek, the residential units will be condominiums four-stories high with below-grade parking. The design will resemble the nearby townhouse vernacular of Tiber Island and will incorporate an enhanced streetscape that is pedestrian friendly. The Southwester article describes the parking & traffic flow plan for the project:

Traffic flow on Sixth Street is proposed to be limited to one way toward M Street, and off-street parking will be provided for the development. An underground parking garage will have its entrance on the northwest side of the site, facing away from the established neighborhood. Sixth Street will retain residential parking on both sides.
The deal between St. Augustine's and PN Hoffman isn't unprecedented in the neighborhood. Just a few blocks east on M Street, St. Matthew's Lutheran Church came to an agreement with Trammell Crow Company a few years ago to do a similar arrangement. That project is supposed to start the PUD process this year and start construction in 2012. The St. Augustine's project, however, probably won't get underway until 2016 or so, in order to coincide with the third phase of development of the Southwest Waterfront.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

D.C. United Focuses on Buzzard Point as a Potential Stadium Site

In this week's Capital Business, there's an article about DC United's renewed push to get a new soccer stadium built in the District. According to the article, a leading contender is the 100 V Street site in Buzzard Point. From the article:

Last fall, Akridge President Matt Klein and D.C. Council Member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) discussed the site, which is largely used for parking now. Wells said last week that he isn't sure how a stadium would be financed, particularly with the city facing an expected $400 million-plus budget shortfall next year, but that a stadium on Buzzards Point would enliven the neighborhood. The Akridge property is between First and Second and R and V streets SW, a neighborhood that has seen little new development. "It's an area that really could be a great place for soccer, but also a great place to have more commerce and retail on the west side of South Capitol," Wells said.

There was talk a year and a half ago about that site potentially becoming a stadium for United. Also in the running is a site at the Capital City Market in NE, and in recent months, Baltimore has expressed interest in having the team move to that city. The 100 V Street site is a 9-acre site three blocks long and one block wide. It seems a bit narrow to build a soccer stadium, but I'm not an architect. A couple of streetcar routes are planned to run to Buzzard Point, which could help with accessibility to the proposed stadium if one gets built in the neighborhood.

Update: NBC 4 also has a story about the stadium, as well as DCist, the Examiner, and Greater Greater Washington.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Local Chain Cafe Phillips to Open Deli at Capitol View

According to an article in Capital Business, a Cafe Phillips deli will be opening at the ground floor of the Capitol View office building. The deli will join Pizza Autentica at the 425 E Street building, whose planned opening was announced in July. Cafe Phillips serves breakfast and lunch during the work week and the Capitol View location would be the chain's eighth location in DC. From the article:
Locating in densely populated office corridors may mean more business, but it also means more competition. Most of [owner Phillip] Yun's delis are a stone's throw away from a Cosi or Subway. But he gladly plays David to the Goliaths, betting customers will like the quality of his product, he said. His piled-high subs have gained him a pretty loyal following.
Breakfast menu items include bagels, muffins, scones, breakfast sandwiches and oatmeal. For lunch, there are sandwiches, soups, salads, and chili. A full menu is available on their website. Cafe Phillips is scheduled to open in May.

1345 South Capitol to Restart Soon

The apartment building boom that occurred over the past few years in Near SE (AKA Capitol Riverfront) has now crossed South Capitol Street. After more than three years of delays due to the economic downturn, Camden Property Trust will finally start construction at 1345 South Capitol Street this quarter, according to Bisnow. This will be the first brand-new apartment building to start construction in Southwest since the 1970s, although Potomac Place Condos began construction in 2003 as apartments. The 276-unit, 8-story 10-11-story apartment building designed by WDG Architecture will be located directly across the street from Nationals Park and contain about 3,300 square feet of ground floor retail. Twelve of the residential units will be reserved as affordable housing. Since “high-rise” residential construction in DC usually takes about two years to build, look for the units to be ready for occupancy by 2013. Due to its location on South Capitol Street, Near SE blog JDLand used to track this project before The Little Quadrant That Could came into existence in 2008, so check out her 1345 South Capitol page for some additional background.

(Renderings from WDG Architecture’s website)

Update: I spoke with a representative from Camden Property Trust and got some more details about the planned apartment project. The project will cost $88 million to build and construction is scheduled to begin in March. Leasing will commence in April 2013 and construction should be complete by June 2013. Among the planned project amenties is a rooftop deck with a pool and a total of 250 parking spaces. However, the project will not be LEED-certified.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Art! Art! Art!

- Arena Stage announces it will host the #NewPlay Festival from January 19-31. From the press release:

The discourse surrounding new play development continues within the American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, as the company presents the #NewPlay Festival. The festival, which is a culmination of the National Endowment for the Arts New Play Development Program (NEA-NPDP), will feature full-length performances and readings of six plays at the Mead Center (1101 6th St., SW), concurrently with one play in full-production at The Studio Theatre (1501 14th St., NW). The Festival also includes a presentation featuring scenes from Robert Levi’s forthcoming documentary that follows the development of selected projects, which will be followed by a panel of featured artists speaking about their process.

Take a look at the Upcoming Events page for the schedule of events and the press release for a description of each of the plays. Tickets for the #NewPlay Festival start at $20, plus applicable fees, based on availability. Tickets may be purchased online, by phone at 202-488-3300 or at the Sales Office.

- Meanwhile, the Capitol Skyline Hotel will be hosting a new type of art fair in September called (e)merge. According to their website, the art fair "advances multiple platforms where artists, gallerists, curators, and collectors can discover and experience emerging art." The (e)merge art fair will take place from September 22-25. The Rubell family, which owns the Capitol Skyline Hotel, are art collectors and are also involved with plans for the Randall School site across the street, which will include a contemporary art museum, housing, hotel, and retail.

- In addition, there appears to be momentum towards creating a Southwest community arts festival this fall on the St. Matthew's lot at M Street and Delaware Avenue. The project's partners include St. Matthew's, Arena Stage, the Rubell family, ANC 6D, and St. Augustine's Church. Some of the ideas being floated for the festival include live theater, music, visual arts, food and art vendors, carnival rides, a flea market or yard sale, and a wine tasting. A planning meeting is scheduled for January 18th from 7pm - 9pm at Westminster Church. Any organization who is interested in participating in the festival should send a representative to the planning meeting.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Council Passes SW Waterfront Affordable Housing Bill

I forgot to mention this before the holidays, but the DC Council unanimously passed a bill last month that changes the rules regarding affordable housing requirements at the Southwest Waterfront development. The new law requires that 30% of the first 500 units built are to be affordable, with half of the units reserved for households earning up to 60% of Area Median Income (AMI) and the other half for households earning up to 30% of AMI. Washington's AMI is $103,500, so 75 units will be for households earning about $62,100 and another 75 units for households earning about $31,050. For any housing units built beyond the 500-unit amount, at least 20% of those units will be reserved as "workforce housing," which are for people in occupations such as teachers, nurses, police officers, and fire fighters. Currently, there are plans to build a total of 560 residential units, so 12 of those units will be reserved as workforce housing. If more units are built, then at least 20% of those units will be workforce housing.