Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Few Quick Items: On the Ground Floor in SW, Buzzard Point, Circulator Changes, DC CAS Tests, SW Duck Pond

- UrbanTurf writes about the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood's potential to become "the next hot neighborhood" in DC. The article includes a couple quotes from me, so go check it out!

- JDLand reports that the Florida Rock concrete plant across from Nationals Park on Potomac Avenue, SE will be razed, but it will be moved a few blocks away to another Florida Rock Properties-owned site guessed it, Buzzard Point, located at S Street and the Anacostia River.

- DDOT announced that there will be some changes made to DC Circulator routes starting on April 1.  The National Mall loop will be discontinued.  Also, the SW Waterfront-Convention Center route will be changed slightly in Southwest.  The route will run along Maine Avenue instead of Water Street to accommodate construction of the new Kastles Stadium at The Wharf, which should be complete by early July.  However, it is recommended in a new Transit Development Plan for the Circulator to suspend the SW Waterfront-Convention Center route until development at The Wharf and O Street Market in Shaw are further along.  This route is one of the most subsidized out of the six Circulator routes because of low ridership. Another recommendation is to create a new route, from Dupont Circle down to the Mall area, running along Maine Avenue to the Navy Yard.  This new route would most likely be introduced within the next couple of years.  DDOT will host a meeting tomorrow at the Capital Hilton, located at 16th & K Street, NW from 6-9pm where the public can comment about the proposed changes to Circulator routes.  Comments can also be made online.

- Volunteers are needed next week to help monitor students at Jefferson Middle School as they take their DC CAS tests.  Monitors will sit in the classrooms with teachers.  The tests will take place from 9am - 11am Tuesday - Friday.  If anyone is interested to volunteer for any of those days, contact Ms. Nedra Jones at Jefferson Middle School at 729-3270, or

- Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells introduced legislation yesterday to change the name of the park at the corner of 6th & I Street to the "Southwest Duck Pond."  Monthly clean-ups have been done by the Neighbors of Southwest Duck Pond group at the park since last year and they have made great progress towards rehabbing the neglected park.  There will be a press event on Saturday at 12:30pm to activate the fountains for the season at the park, announce the Volunteer of the Year for 2010, as well as an announcement about the future of the park.  Council member Wells is expected to attend.

Waterfront Station Construction Photos

I took the above photo of the patio area in front of the Waterfront Station Safeway yesterday, which looks to be just about complete, except for tables and chairs that may be installed.  Landscaping is in place and doors have been added from the elevator bank inside Safeway to the patio area. The EPA tower lurks in the background, which is supposed to be re-skinned and repurposed as a residential building, along with its sister building on the other side of Waterfront Station.  I've been hearing chatter recently about this building getting underway relatively soon since the multifamily market is heating up in DC.

Here is a photo of construction back in early February. The patio area has been under construction for a few months since work on the parking garage below it was completed earlier this year. The old Safeway next door was demolished last summer, just a few months after the new store opened. Last spring while I was on a sneak peek tour of the new Safeway, Craig Muckle told me the patio area would open about a year from then, so it looks like he was on target with that date.

The SE parcel fronting M Street will one day become an office building, but for now, it will be a grassy area, similar to the ones on the NE & NW parcels closer to I Street. The SW parcel will remain a blacktop surface for now since Bank of America will be staying in their trailer until their lease ends in December 2012.  While the NE & NW parcels have not been used for regular interim uses thus far, that may change soon (at least on the District-owned NE parcel).

Station 4 and Z-Burger build-outs continue on the west side of 4th Street.  I was told a couple weeks ago by Med Lahlou that Station 4 is now aiming for a mid-April opening and the last I heard about Z-Burger was it's planning on opening in May. Brown paper has covered up most of the windows at Station 4, which seems to be further along than Z-Burger.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Prepping for Saturday's Festival

As the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival fast approaches, preparations are underway along the waterfront to entertain the thousands of people that are expected on Saturday.  As mentioned previously, the festival will last from 1pm to 8:30pm with a full schedule of events, followed by the fireworks show. Over at the Gangplank Marina, E dock is being converted to a commercial dock so cruise boats like DC Harbor Cruises can take tourists along the Potomac River (above photo). 

Over at 7th Street Landing, DC Harbor Cruises has taken over District Doghouse's old kiosk, which won't be coming back this season.  Eventually, the cruise operator will move to another kiosk under construction on the other side of 7th Street Landing to serve the E dock. The new food provider that will be moving to District Doghouse's kiosk will be the BBQ operation that is currently on the grounds of St. Augustine's. Last week I tweeted about the mural of The Wharf being installed in front of the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront team's construction trailer next to 7th Street Landing.  In addition, this year's Cherry Blast will take place at the former Zanzibar on the Waterfront building from 8pm-12am. According to the Going Out Gurus:
This year, the party is down on the Southwest waterfront - at the old Zanzibar - where the entertainment includes performance art, burlesque and graffiti, plus music from quirky, hook-filled Brooklyn indie band Bear Hands, the Beach Boys-influenced synth-pop group ANR and a number of DJs. Check out murals while snacking at food trucks. And Zanzibar’s deck offers a perfect spot to watch the official Cherry Blossom Festival fireworks. The $10 admission includes one free drink, but no tickets will be sold at the door, so get yours in advance.
Volunteers from the Southwest Library Playground Project (SWLPP) will be set up at the Gangplank Marina park pavilion to do face painting and sell water, which has been donated by Deer Park.  The face painting will be free, but donations will be accepted to go towards the construction of a new playground next to the Southwest Library. Half of the proceeds from water sales at several stations throughout the festival will go towards relief efforts in Japan and the other half will go towards the SWLPP.

As Barbara Ehrlich, one of the organizers of the festival from the Washington Waterfront Association, told me this afternoon, this year's Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival will be the biggest event staged by the group (in collaboration with the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront team) and will serve as a dry run for next year. That is when the National Cherry Blossom Festival will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the gifting of the cherry trees along the Tidal Basin from the people of Japan to DC. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Few Quick Items: Clark Honored, Constitution Center Lease-Up

 - Clark Construction Group, LLC won a national construction award for their work at Arena Stage, according to a press release by the company.  The Associated General Contractors of America presented the Aon Build America Award to Clark on March 23 in the category of Building Renovation at the group's annual convention.

- The Washington Business Journal reports that the SEC will delay its move of 740 employees from offices in Virginia to Constitution Center. Part of the reason for the delay is the federal government has been operating under continuing resolutions, or CRs since the beginning of the fiscal year in October.  From the article:
“Due to uncertainties regarding our long-term funding and the current cash-flow crunch that makes it impossible to fund build out and moves, we are staying at the Ops Center for a short time while the budget situation is clarified,” said John Nester, spokesman for the agency, in a statement to the Washington Business Journal. The SEC signed a lease for 900,000 square feet — the largest federal lease in a decade — in August with David Nassif Associates at 400 Seventh St. SW, but just four months later reported 600,000 square feet of excess space under a federal policy that mandates agencies report their extra real estate.  The landlord has said the agency will end up with one quadrant of the building, or about 340,000 square feet.
- Also from the WBJ (subscribers only) and related to the SEC lease at Constitution Center, the paper interviewed Tim Jaroch from David Nassif Associates about how they have leased up the largest privately-owned office building in the District.  From the article:
Jaroch maintains that the SEC’s lease was carefully thought out and a good strategic move for the agency, which handles its own leasing and does not work with the General Services Administration as most other federal agencies do. He did not anticipate the SEC walking away from the majority of its space.
After the SEC did just that, the landlord had to find new tenants and leased the majority of the building to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Housing Financing Agency. Now Constitution Center will be home to three finance-related agencies and the next step will be to build out the space for these tenants. 
“We have to build out tenant and amenity space equal to about five typical good-sized Washington office buildings in 18 months,” he said. “This is just the start.”

Change in Comments Policy

I have hinted previously that I may change the comments policy due to the excessive amount of "Anonymous" comments on the blog.  As an interim measure while I research ways to possibly upgrade the blog, I've changed the settings for making comments, so only registered users can make comments (using Google, OpenID, LiveJournal, WordPress, TypePad, or AOL). I encourage you all to continue to make comments on any posts - there have been some lively debates lately on a variety of topics.  My goal with this new policy is not to censor comments.  Open discussion posts will also be introduced soon and used from time to time (especially when I get bogged down with other tasks that keep me from doing new posts on a regular basis).  However, I think the discussion will be more productive if the comments are not anonymous.  Thanks for your cooperation.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

SWNA Elections This Saturday

The Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA) will be holding its elections on Saturday from 10am - 3pm in front of the Waterfront Station Safeway.  All residents of Southwest in ZIP code 20024 who are 18 years of age or over are eligible to vote.  There's no absentee ballots, early voting, or advanced registration to vote. Positions on the ballot include President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Treasurer, and District Councils (1-4).  You can vote for up to two candidates for the District Council positions depending on where you live. District Council boundaries are as follows:
  • District 1: North of M Street, West of 4th Street
  • District 2: North of M Street, East of 4th Street
  • District 3: South of M Street, West of Delaware Avenue
  • District 4: South of M Street, East of Delaware Avenue
For a list of candidates and bios, check out the SWNA website.  All candidates serve a term of two years.

Update: Below are the results from Saturday's election.  Winnners are written in bold.

President: Kael Anderson (251), write-in candidates (9)

Vice President: Jodi McCarthy (205), Grace E. Daughtridge (102), write-in candidates (2)

Treasurer: Jo Chang (172), Ellen Winship (108)

Secretary: Laura Shin (251)

District 1 Representative: Gita Morris (42), Zev Feder (39), Mike Flick (28), write-ins (2)

District 2 Representative: Saadia Athias (21), Ben Curran (19), Monique Stuart (10), Shannon Vaughn (10)

District 3 Representative: David Campbell (87), Kenneth Prater (67), Zach Dobelbower (40), Matthew Johnson (36), write-ins (1)

District 4 Representative: Robert Smith (8), Ken LaCruise (5)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

SW Ecodistrict Public Comment Forum Created

There was a meeting last month held by the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) to discuss the Southwest Ecodistrict Initiative, an area roughly comprised of the Southwest Federal Center west of 4th Street to 12th Street (including L'Enfant Plaza) and south to Banneker Overlook. The two main corridors that will be analyzed in this district is 10th Street (connecting the National Mall to the Southwest Waterfront) and Maryland Avenue (connecting the Capitol and the Jefferson Memorial). The DC Office of Planning will conduct a study of the Maryland Avenue corridor this summer and the NCPC is exploring the feasibility of decking part of the Southeast-Southwest Freeway from just west of 10th Street over to 9th Street. To follow up with the meeting, a lot of information has been posted on the SW Ecodistrict website, including a public comment forum. If you want to comment about the Ecodistrict plan, sign-up to use the forum - the public comment period will end on April 15th.

Rendering courtesy of the National Capital Planning Commission.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

SW Waterfront Fireworks Festival Schedule

The following is the schedule of events for the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival on Saturday, April 2nd, co-produced by the Washington Waterfront Association and the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront team as an official event of the 2011 National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Gangplank Marina Stage

1:00pm: US Navy Band and Ceremonial Color Guard
3:00pm: The "Old Guard" Fife and Drum Corps
6:00pm: US Army Band "Pershing's Own" Downrange

7th Street Landing Stage

1:00pm: Collector's Edition with Kristine Key
3:00pm: The Clarence Turner Blues Band
4:30pm: The Jacques "Saxman" Johnson Band

9th Street Plaza Stage

1:00pm: The VIP's
3:00pm: Nen Daiko Japanese Taiko Drummers
4:30pm: High Jinx

Special Events throughout the Southwest Waterfront

  • Childrens’ Activities and Waterfront Demonstrations
  • Community Displays and Information
  • Costumed Characters and Strolling Musical Entertainment
  • Face Painting and Balloon Artists
  • Food and Beverage Vendors
  • Festival Merchandise
  • National Cherry Blossom Goodwill Ambassadors
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is Washington, DC’s and the Nation’s greatest springtime celebration. The 2011 Festival is March 26 through April 10 and features signature events, daily cultural performance, art exhibits, sport competitions and more. The National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the 99th anniversary of the gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the citizens of the United States and Japan. For schedules and information call the Festival hotline at 877-44-BLOOM or visit

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

SW Library Playground Project Well Underway!

The following post was written by Felicia Couts - project manager of the SWLPP:

The Southwest Library Playground Project (SWLPP) is a volunteer-led initiative to build a playground for SW DC children. The playground will be located in the park next to the SW Library at 900 Wesley Place, SW. Design plans include play equipment for children ages 2-12 and preservation of the trees and foliage. The SWLPP is an initiative of the Community Benefits Coordinating Council, a 501(c)(3) organization committed to helping SW and Near SE DC residents.

Community support is vital and several local companies and individuals have made fundraising pledges. Frager’s Hardware, restaurants along the waterfront, including Captain White's Seafood, and local SW residents are all supporting SWLPP.

Councilmember Tommy Wells, ANC members, and the Department of Parks and Recreation are working with SWLPP volunteers to bring the park to life for SW DC children.

Amidon Elementary School students participated in the Draw Your Playground contest to show the SWLPP volunteers what they want in a playground. First place went to Edugwu Agada, second place to Jostin Garcia and third to Vanquisha Smith. A pizza party will be held in March for Eduguu’s class and all three will receive certificates of recognition. Winners were chosen from thirteen finalists and their drawings show the children want playground features like swings, slides, a bike rack and water fountain. All of the drawings are planned for display at the Southwest Arts Festival later this year.

The “Community Build Day” is in late September 2011. The whole community -- children and adults -- is invited to help build the playground. Although there will be professional assistance, volunteers of all skill levels will be valuable to this effort!

We still need your help! Make a secure PayPal donation or send a check at our website. Email us to inquire about volunteering.

Help us bring the children a safe, fun, playground!

Felicia Couts
Project Manager
Facebook: SW Library Playground Project
Twitter: SWLPlayground

Oh Safeway.

Also on the agenda at Monday's ANC 6D meeting was Safeway and its new "Quality Assurance Program" (i.e. greeters who check receipts as customers leave the store). This part of the meeting became somewhat of a heated debate as some ANC commissioners and audience members accused Safeway of targeting the Waterfront Station Safeway store for its new policy, not to increase customer service, but because of shoplifting and subjecting all shoppers to this new receipt check was degrading. A couple of Safeway representatives countered that all stores in the District have experienced shrink (when the actual inventory is less than what is thought to be on the shelves) and the increase occurred after the bag tax was instituted in the city. Another potential cause of shrink is the design of the store, which has a food court area in the front of the store that customers who didn't use the parking garage have to walk through in order to leave the store. The Southwest Safeway was chosen as a test case because of four main reasons:
  • The SW Safeway has 35,000 customer counts per week - more than any other Safeway in the city.
  • The clientele is diverse (including residents, office workers, tourists, and baseball fans) which serves as a microcosm of the District's population.
  • They have faith in the store's management team to implement the test.
  • There has been an increase in shrink.
The test will last up to 26 weeks and after the test period, Safeway will evaluate whether to implement the receipt check in other stores in the District. Not satisfied with Safeway's explanation, which didn't mention anything about customer service, but focused on "shrink," the ANC voted 5-0-1 to send a letter to Safeway's regional management team expressing their dismay with the new policy and requests that the store implement the receipt check at a non-urban store (Georgetown's new Social Safeway comes to mind).

Has anyone experienced issues with the new receipt checking procedure?

Update: Here is The Washington City Paper's take on my post.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

More Changes Coming to 4th & M

At last night's ANC 6D meeting, the commissioners voted on a proposal led by the ANC for DDOT to make some improvements to the intersection of 4th & M Street. The intersection was built by Waterfront Associates (the developers of Waterfront Station) and since 4th Street was reopened to traffic last spring, the intersection has been the scene of several collisions and hit-and-run incidents. At the beginning of the month, DDOT made some changes to the intersection, but these changes have not eased traffic problems and have confused drivers & pedestrians. As a result, the ANC has requested that DDOT make the following changes to the intersection.
  • Restore left-turn traffic signals on east & westbound M Street to turn on 4th Street.
  • Allow drivers to make left turns on two lanes of northbound 4th Street towards M Street so employees at Fort McNair can get out of the neighborhood faster (the left lane would be left turn only and the next lane will allow cars to either turn left, go straight, or turn right).
  • The Metrobus stop will return to the northeast corner of the intersection.
  • U-turns will be illegal again on M Street.
  • Restrict drivers from turning left from southbound 4th Street onto M Street (drivers leaving Safeway can use I Street as an alternative to go towards Near SE).

Restricting drivers from turning left onto eastbound M Street from 4th Street will allow pedestrians more time to cross the intersection on all sides since traffic signals in the District operate on a 100-second cycle. DDOT will have MPD enforce the new traffic rules. The commissioners voted 5-1-1 to approve these changes, which will take place once DDOT gives 30 days notice to residents.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Graduate School to Anchor The Wharf

It's been a big week for The Wharf, the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront by Hoffman-Madison Waterfront. Besides launching a slightly redesigned website with a new color scheme similar to the Baltimore Orioles, there was a press conference on Monday announcing the Washington Kastles would relocate to the development in a new stadium at the former Hogates site. Now, ahead of Mayor Gray's planned press conference tomorrow at the Southwest Waterfront, the Washington Business Journal broke the news that the Mayor will announce that the Graduate School will be moving to The Wharf. From the article:
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is expected to announce Thursday that the Graduate School, currently headquartered at 600 Maryland Ave. SW, will build upward of 200,000 square feet at the Wharf, what Hoffman-Madison Waterfront is now calling its waterfront project. A press conference is scheduled for noon at 700 Water St. SW. "The Graduate School will be a significant anchor for The Wharf development on the Southwest DC waterfront," Linda Wharton Boyd, Gray's spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. "In keeping with the Gray administration agenda for education reform, fiscal stability and job creation, this development hits all three priorities. We are excited that they decided to expand their mission right here in this landmark waterfront development."
The Graduate School currently owns Southeastern University's campus building at 6th & I Street (pictured here), which shuttered in 2009 after losing its accreditation with the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. At one point, it was thought that the Graduate School would renovate or tear down the SEU building to relocate its school there, but now is in the process of trying to sell the campus building. One of the organizations looking to bid on the building is AppleTree Early Learning Public Charter School, which came before ANC 6D in December to express their interest in expanding their presence in Southwest. At that meeting, the ANC voted 5-0-1 to support AppleTree's bid.

Phase one of development at The Wharf (from 7th to 9th Street) will get underway next year and should be ready by 2015.

Update: The Washington Post also has a story on the Graduate School, including a rendering of the building, which will be located at the corner of Maine Avenue & 9th Street. The Post also describes how the school will function. From the article:
[Graduate School President and Chief Executive Jerry] Ice said Graduate School USA will begin tailoring new programs to meet the needs of city government. "We have not been that kind of provider . . . and we think we are in a good position in a number of key issue areas to provide that locally," he said. The school also plans to open the doors of its new educational center to other colleges, universities and nonprofit groups offering programs that would help D.C. residents acquire skills needed to compete for local jobs.
Update #2: Here is a link to the press release from the Graduate School USA.

Update #3: The WBJ has another article about the Graduate School USA, stating that the school will take up all of the office component of phase one of development. Back in September, the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront team mentioned at their community presentation at Arena Stage that they were in talks with an office tenant for phase one, so I'm assuming that potential tenant was the Graduate School USA. The article also quotes a representative from the Graduate School USA speaking about the fate of the SEU campus building it owns: "All options are on the table for the property, including a sale."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Station 4 to be "White Tablecloth Without the White Tablecloths"

New ANC 6D commissioner Bob Craycraft is providing his single-member district constituents (6D01) a monthly electronic newsletter highlighting activity in that part of the ANC. One of the items in the newsletter includes some intel about what is planned at Station 4, the new bistro coming to Waterfront Station on 4th Street. Above is an older photo of the build-out from late January. Craycraft describes the interior plan as follows:

Rather than the traditional wood-paneled pub/sports bar design, Station 4 looks to be very contemporary and uses plenty of wood, metal, glass, and even stone to echo the modernist architecture of Southwest.
Also, the menu appears to be more upscale than other restaurants owned by the operators (like Tunnicliffs and Stoney's). Station 4 is looking for an early April opening and Z-Burger is supposed to open by May, or sooner. A fourth food establishment is supposedly close to a lease agreement with the landlord and ANC Chair Ron McBee mentioned to me at the CBCC summit on Saturday that an AT&T Wireless store is supposed to open. My guess is the AT&T Wireless store will open in the vacant retail space in the 1100 4th Street building (the one with the green door). I'll post about other items from Craycraft's e-newsletter throughout the week.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Kastles Stadium at The Wharf

I wasn't able to make it this morning to the press conference announcing the Washington Kastles' move to the Southwest Waterfront (AKA The Wharf), but below is the press release and some images/renderings courtesy of the Kastles:
WASHINGTON – March 7, 2011 – Today, the Washington Kastles announced that they will play the 2011 and 2012 seasons in a new stadium that will be specially constructed for them in Southwest Washington, D.C. The new Kastles Stadium at The Wharf will be located at 800 Water Street, S.W. Fans at the new stadium will watch some of the world’s best known and most iconic players against a backdrop of the Washington Monument, Jefferson Memorial and the Potomac River. The Kastles, led by Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Sam Querrey, will inaugurate their new home during the 2011 World TeamTennis (WTT) season, which runs from July 4-24. “As a native Washingtonian, I am committed to investing in our community and, through the Kastles, hope to create lifelong memories for people throughout our region,” said team owner Mark Ein. “We are excited to bring the Kastles and lots of other entertaining events to our spectacular new home in Southwest Washington and are thrilled to be part of the rebirth of that part of town. We know our fans will be treated to great summer nights in one of the most unique venues anywhere.” “It has been impressive to see how the Kastles have brought the city together for the past three summers and I am thrilled to welcome them to their new home,” said D.C. Councilman Tommy Wells. “I would like to offer my thanks to Mark for bringing the Kastles to Southwest Washington and the wharf area. I can think of no better way to commemorate the new Kastles Stadium than with another title.” "We are on track to begin our outward process of creating a world class waterfront and we are thrilled that the Kastles will be part of our year-round programming plans for The Wharf, attracting lots of new people to this spectacular part of the city," said Monty Hoffman, CEO of PN Hoffman. "Kastles Stadium at The Wharf will be a great addition to the neighborhood and we look forward to working with Mark and the Kastles to bring world class tennis and community events to the site." Kastles Stadium at The Wharf, located on the site formerly occupied by Hogates Restaurant, will be easily accessible by Metro via the Waterfront-SEU and L’Enfant Plaza stations, both within three blocks of the stadium. In addition, the stadium will feature an underground parking lot and several surface lots adjacent to the site. The stadium will also host other programming throughout the year. Kastles Stadium at The Wharf will host John McEnroe and Anna Kournikova as they return to Washington during the 2011 season, as members of the New York Sportimes and the St. Louis Aces, respectively. The full 2011 Kastles roster will be determined during the March 15 WTT Roster Draft. A core principal of the Kastles franchise and its mission is to give back to those less fortunate in the Washington region and, since inception, the team has donated more than 6,000 match tickets, 3,000 tennis rackets and cash grants and other donations totaling more than $500,000 to local charities, youth groups and armed forces organizations. For the past three seasons, the Kastles and other visiting WTT players – including Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Martina Hingis and Anna Kournikova – have hosted more than 800 local children at tennis clinics. Tickets for all seven home matches go on sale to the general public on Friday, April 15 through the website or Ticketmaster. Season tickets are now available and can be purchased by contacting or calling 202-4TENNIS (483-6647). For exclusive Kastles news, ticket information and player updates, follow the Kastles on Facebook and on Twitter.
When the Kastles stadium was located in a parking lot downtown, it would be dismantled at the end of each season. However, the stadium at The Wharf will remain standing throughout the year and will be used for other events, such as concerts, cook-offs, arts festivals, beach volleyball games, and possibly an ice skating rink in the winter. A member of Ward 6 Council Member Tommy Wells' staff tweeted during the press conference that the Kastles announced a partnership with Jefferson Middle School to help bring tennis to students. I imagine this would include refurbishing the tennis courts at Jefferson, which are currently in disrepair.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Washington Kastles Moving to the Southwest Waterfront

There's an article in The Washington Post announcing that the Washington Kastles World Team Tennis organization has made the decision to move to the Southwest Waterfront, and it sounds like the move will be permanent. Back in December, the developers of the Southwest Waterfront mentioned at the ANC 6D meeting that they were in negotiations with the Kastles to move their stadium to the site of the former Hogates building, which was torn down in January by the city. From the article:
Construction is expected to start in coming weeks on a temporary facility, which is expected to cost about $10 million to build and operate for two years, [Kastles owner Mark] Ein said. Like the Kastles' former stadium, the new venue will have grandstands on all four sides, with openings at each corner. The openings will offer views of the waterfront and skyline. The seating capacity will remain roughly the same, 2,700 to 3,000, with a range of ticket prices. The stadium will be available to host other events after the Kastles' season, which runs July 4-24 this year. As existing structures are demolished along the waterfront in coming years, the Kastles could move to a stadium erected a bit farther east, or they might play indoors at a 4,000-seat music hall that Hoffman plans to build...Fans in premium seats will be able to have food and drinks delivered at courtside, and the venue will be ringed with
concession stands. In keeping with the WTT's fan-friendly ethos, the area around the stadium will have family-oriented activities, such as "QuickStart" tennis, in which children play on smaller courts and hit oversized balls; face-painting; a moon bounce; and an autograph zone where fans can collect players' signatures after matches.
Some of the other events planned for the stadium that's mentioned in the article include food cook-offs, arts festivals, beach volleyball games, and concerts.

Get ready for some celebrity sightings along the waterfront this summer, including the Williams sisters, John McEnroe, and Anna Kournikova.

Update: There will be a press conference announcing the move at the former Hogates site on Monday morning at 11am.

CBCC Summit Debrief

This morning, I attended the Near SE-SW Community Summit: Taking Charge of our Future, which was hosted by the Community Benefits Coordinating Council (CBCC) and facilitated by America Speaks. The summit was well attended and contained a diverse audience of community members, local pols, and some developers (I spotted Elinor Bacon from the PN Hoffman-Madison Marquette Waterfront team). A few ANC 6D commissioners were present, including Andy Litsky, Ron McBee, and Roger Moffatt, as well as former commissioners Jane Jorgensen, David Sobelsohn, and Mary Williams. There may have been others, but those were the ones I noticed. Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells also came in the afternoon. My guesstimate based on the number of tables and the fact that the room was pretty full is there were between 100 and 125 attendees.

The five main issues for discussion at the summit were as follows:

  1. Workforce Development/Jobs/Community Centers
  2. Neighborhood Oriented Retail and Services
  3. Housing Diversity and Affordability
  4. Youth-Education and Services
  5. Environmental Concerns

Each person got to choose which issue they wanted to focus on for the day and then the room was divided into groups of people who wanted to discuss the same issue. I sat at one of the tables discussing Neighborhood Oriented Retail and Services. Most people chose Youth Education and Services, while the other four issues were pretty evenly distributed. Each group discussed assets and challenges that their issue presented to the community, then brainstormed ideas that could be implemented over the next 1-3 years to help resolve their particular issue. Out of the large lists of ideas for each issue, everyone in the room voted on which top two ideas were most important.

Issue #1

  • Incorporate Ward 6 in the SW Waterfront development's workforce program (currently only Wards 5, 7 & 8 are targeted)
  • Identify and create a workforce clearing house

Issue #2

  • Increase of locally-owned businesses
  • Use vacant land at Waterfront Station until new development is completed

Issue #3

  • Stronger coalitions to represent all types of residents' interests to developers and policymakers
  • Make sure residential developers commit to specific housing preferences for current residences/residents

Issue #4

  • Bolster pre-K program
  • Utilize Jefferson Middle School for adult vocational education and workforce development

Issue #5

  • Develop community gardens using public land and church offered space and transitional dog parks
  • Avoid over development: keep height and density restrictions

Once the top two ideas for each issue were voted on, the groups met again to discuss how to implement those ideas. The CBCC will make the results of the brainstorming session available in about a week or so and will use these ideas to come up with suggestions for community benefits agreements between developers and the ANC.

Did any of you attend the summit? What did you think?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Waterfront Tower Almost Sold Out

Urban Turf reports that only seven units remain at the 123-unit Waterfront Tower, the condo conversion next to Waterfront Station at 3rd & M Street. This is the same condo building that was featured on HGTV's House Hunters last fall. Sales began in the fall of 2009. When I toured the project last summer, the sales staff told me that in a few years, the apartment building across the courtyard (1001 @ Waterfront) will likely get renovated like Waterfront Tower and convert to condo. Future phases call for two new residenital towers to be built - one on the parking lot facing M Street (which is why those spaces are leased and not sold) and the other on the parking lot on the north side of 1001 @ Waterfront.

4th & M Intersection Changes Confusing Drivers

The traffic pattern at the intersection of 4th & M Street changed on March 1. DDOT officials were directing traffic on Tuesday morning as crews made adjustments to the traffic lights. Several readers have expressed frustration with the changes over the past couple of days. Reader PostIt described the new traffic cycle in a comment on another post like this:
1. M Street traffic east/west (no left turn arrow in either direction anymore) -- pedestrians cross 4th street East/West
2. Left turn arrow only for 4th street turning left from both directions, while also a right turn arrow for M street west/east bound -- no pedestrian traffic
3. 4th street North/south bound (no left turns) -- pedestrians cross M street North/South
4. Cycle back to step 1.
A representative from DDOT came to the January ANC 6D meeting to discuss some of the changes coming to the intersection, which has been the scene of a few pedestrian collisions since 4th Street reopened last spring. Some of the proposed changes include adjusting walk times depending on the time of day (at around 9:15AM on Wednesday, the pedestrian count was just 20 seconds to cross M Street); enhanced signage; and no right turn on red. There will also be police enforcement of traffic violations. In the brief time I was waiting at the intersection to turn right onto M Street on Wednesday morning, I saw a truck make an illegal U-turn on westbound M Street - no police though at that time. Eventually, the M Street corridor will be studied as a "complete street", as mentioned by former DDOT director Gabe Klein back in November. Anyone notice whether the walk times are different depending on the time of day?

Arena Stage Nominated for 23 Helen Hayes Awards

Nominations were announced for the 2011 Helen Hayes Awards, which honors local theater. Arena Stage received a total of 23 nominations. Here's a snippet about the awards from The Washington Post:
Arena's 23 nominations were matched by the Kennedy Center, which, as usual, dominated the nonresident categories (touring shows, with multiple nods going to "Hair," "Mary Poppins," "Thurgood," "South Pacific" and "Golden Age"). Arena crowded the resident musical categories, with "Sophisticated Ladies" garnering seven noms; Maurice Hines is up for best choreography and leading actor awards, and both of his young tap dance proteges, brothers John and Leo Manzari, found themselves in the supporting actor category. Arena's "The Light in the Piazza" picked up four nominations, and Arena Artistic Director Molly Smith was named for directing that show and for "Oklahoma!," the troupe's new box-office champ. The 10 nominations for "Oklahoma!" were bested, though, by the 12 for "Candide," which came to the Shakespeare by way of Chicago's Goodman Theatre.
The awards program will be held on April 25 at the Warner Theater. Click here for a full list of nominees. Good luck to Arena!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

SW Waterfront to Transform Washington

In the spring issue of the Washington Business Journal's Onsite Magazine (subscribers only), five projects in DC and Rosslyn that will transform the region are profiled - one of which is the Southwest Waterfront. There's nothing really new here for those who have been closely watching what has been discussed about the Southwest Waterfront development, but the article mentions how the buildings will be situated to preserve views of the Washington Channel. From the article:
The master planner, Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kuhn Architects, has avoided the mistakes previously made in Southwest by conceiving an urban design at a finer grain than in other parts of the city. According to the plan, the new buildings will be narrow enough to preserve the views from Arena Stage and nearby buildings while allowing for pedestrian access to the water. Parcels within the new development will be no larger than 240 feet by 240 feet, compared with the typical 400-by-325-foot commercial blocks found along K Street NW. “By breaking our site into smaller component blocks, we are increasing the porosity of the design and allowing for significant views out to the water,” says Matthew Steenhoek, development manager of PN Hoffman.
The Hoffman-Madison Marquette Waterfront team submitted their stage one Planned Unit Development application on February 10 to the Zoning Commission and expect to start construction on phase one by the end of 2012.

Rendering courtesy of the Hoffman-Madison Marquette Waterfront team.