Monday, September 26, 2011

New Design for Engine 13

I guess the original firehouse-red design for the new Engine 13 firehouse/office building was too risque for conservative Washington because the design has been dramatically changed. Last week, a sign was erected at the site, located at the corner of 4th & E Street, advertising 165,000 SF of office space for delivery in the 4th quarter of 2013 and the above rendering was on the billboard. Gone are the red accents and jagged-tooth corner design by Beyer, Blinder, Belle and in its place is a new design by WDG Architecture

The Beyer, Blinder, Belle design for Engine 13 has been scrapped.
While the old design has been replaced, some components have been kept, including a green roof, LEED certification (the project will now seek LEED-Gold instead of LEED-Silver) and the partnership with Kid Power and DC Central Kitchen. The firehouse entrance and bays will be located on 4th Street while access to the lobby of the office building will be on E Street. CB Richard Ellis is handling leasing at 400 E Street for E Street Development Group LLC and a website has been created for the project with additional information and building renderings. The development team was selected by the District in 2009 with plans for the firehouse building to start construction in 2010.  Last year, there was an effort to lure the headquarters of Northrop Grumman to the building, but ultimately the company chose to relocate to Fairfax County. According to a representative from E Street Development Group LLC, there has been a lot of interest in the building, so they don't anticipate having to build the project on spec.

Renderings courtesy of E Street Development Group, LLC

Friday, September 23, 2011

St. Augustine's to Get a New Home

Oftentimes when large scale redevelopment occurs, existing structures and institutions are eradicated with promises (in the form of project renderings) of shiny new buildings and bucolic surroundings that usually don’t quite live up to the drawings. In the case of the Southwest Waterfront, while some businesses and institutions will not return once The Wharf is built out, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church will get a new home and endowment, but remain at the prominent corner of 6th Street and Maine Avenue across from Arena Stage. Next to the church will be between 90 and 100 condo units built by PN Hoffman to complement the design of the townhouse residences across 6th Street at Tiber Island (Bethesda-based SK&I Architectural Design Group will design the condo building for PN Hoffman).

Prior to the current church building’s construction around 1965, parishioners would meet in each other’s homes to worship. They may need to do that again while the new church is being built, but according to Kwasi Holman, Junior Warden at St. Augustine’s, they are still figuring out an interim location. Holman told SW…TLQTC that the physical plant of the current building could not hold up for much longer, so the church has been working for the past five years to find a way to build a new home. While St. Augustine’s has come to an agreement with PN Hoffman that insures the church will be able to build a new church on its land, it is still a long way from cutting the ribbon on their new home.

St. Augustine’s is looking to build a new sanctuary for 120 parishioners, as well as continue their community outreach, including Bread for Life - a program that feeds the homeless every Sunday, youth outreach programs, Grounds for Discussion Forum, and other events. They have chosen Arlington, VA-based MTFA Architecture, Inc. to design the new church. It looks like concept drawings of the new St. Augustine’s appear on MTFA’s website. The architects describe the project on their website as follows:

This mixed-use project will be a cornerstone of the new southwest waterfront development in Washington, D.C. The program includes worship, community services and residential services such as affordable housing and homeless shelter.
Design drivers for the project heighten the church's presence, sustainability and connections. The resulting master plan envisions a two-story, 20,000-square-foot, phased building. MTFA is working with the developer and city review officials through the "planned-unit development" (PUD) process.
The project embraces the developing community surrounding St. Augustine's Episcopal Church to partner with others to heighten the church's role, image and presence as a visible beacon of God's love. The sanctuary is elevated off of the ground floor and encompassed in glass so that it becomes the beacon within the community. It is projected beyond the facades of the main building so that it is visible from surrounding streets. The steel cross rooted in the ground pierces the second floor and reaches high above the building toward the sky similar to a boat mast or a shepherd's crook.
St Augustine’s is scheduled to start construction during phase one of development of The Wharf, which is supposed to get underway by the end of 2012. However, the church portion of phase one probably won’t start until 2013-14. Detailed drawings of the new church will be available when the Second Stage PUD is filed for The Wharf in the second half of 2012.

A Few Quick Items: New Metrobus Route, CBCC Survey, SW Playground Project Receives $40K Donation, Dog Park Petition

- Starting on September 25, WMATA will introduce a new bus route that will connect Southwest and Downtown. The new route will be called the "74 - Convention Center/Southwest Waterfront" and will run seven days a week from 5am to 1am. During peak periods, headways will be 18 minutes and 24 minutes during other times.  This fall, Next Bus real-time destination screens will be installed at eight bus shelters along the route. The route is shown on the above map. The dotted line portion of the route shows the extension of the line to Buzzard Point during weekday peak periods. This new route was made to replace the SW Waterfront-Convention Center Circulator route that will be discontinued at the end of this month and also replaces the 70-71 routes.

- The Near SE-SW Community Benefits Coodinating Council (CBCC) is conducting a survey of ANC 6D residents to find out what services they would use in a community center. The survey is available online and participants are entered into a drawing to win a $25 Safeway gift card. Surveys must be completed by September 30. On a CBCC-related note, there will be a reception on October 4 at the Capitol Skyline Hotel to discuss The Wharf developers' community benefit commitment to hire CBE's. for more information, check their website.

- The Mandarin Oriental Hotel was able to raise over $40,000 for the SW Playground Project last Sunday at their inaugural FANtastic March 10K walk/run. $10,000 of the funds was a corporate match from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and the rest came from race participants, nearly 220 people.  Congratulations to race winners Miles Hilder and Sara Vuong, both Southwest residents.

- The SW Dog Park group is passing around an online petition to support bringing an off leash dog park to Southwest, the only quadrant in the city without a dog park. The group has been taking their dogs to Lansburg Park, but the gate at the tennis court is broken so it makes it difficult to enclose the area for dogs to run and play. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Inaugural SW ArtsFest this Weekend!

Don’t forget the inaugural SW ArtsFest will be held this weekend! The festival will take place from Friday-Sunday at 10 venues throughout Southwest, as shown in the cool map above that appeared in this month's The Southwester. On Sunday, admission will be free for the first 100 SW residents to enter the (e)merge art fair from 3:30pm - 5pm - the cost will be $15 if you want to go any other time during the festival.  All other events at SW ArtsFest are free.   For more information on the schedule of events, check out their website or Facebook page. I will not be around on Friday or Saturday, so if you attend and take photos, please submit them to  Thanks!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Few Quick Items: Proposed ANC 6D Map, Waterfront-SEU Station Name Change, Z-Burger Getting Closer to Opening

- At last week's ANC 6D meeting, a new ANC single-member district map was adopted by the commissioners, contrary to the map approved by the Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force. In the new map, 6D01 loses its portion of The Wharf to 6D04, while 6D05 gains the block bounded by M Street, I Street, 4th Street and 3rd Street (including the eastern portion of Waterfront Station and the Southwest Library). 6D06 remains largely unchanged - it gains a block currently covered by 6D03. However, the biggest changes come to 6D03, 6D02, and 6D07. 6D03 loses the large block mentioned previously to 6D05, gains more of Capitol Park from 6D02 and crosses South Capitol Street to cover portions of Near SE. 6D02 gains Potomac Place, while 6D07 gets a single block in Southwest, which happens to be the block where former ANC 6D03 commissioner Mary Williams lives. She made a plea to be moved out of 6D03 during one of the redistricting meetings in July. The Ward 6 Redistricting Task Force will vote on the proposed change to the map tomorrow. 

- Also at last week's ANC meeting, the commissioners voted to recommend changing the name of the Waterfront-SEU Metro station to Waterfront-Arena Stage and alternatively SW Waterfront if the first name is rejected by WMATA due to the length of the name. A proposal to add Banneker Park to the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station did not come up for a vote due to the length of the proposed name. (via JDLand)

- "One month from today" is the latest news I received from the proprietor of Z-Burger on Sunday for when the restaurant would bring its burgers, shakes and malts to Waterfront Station. I saw some workers inside the restaurant earlier this week, so we'll see if it opens by mid-October next to Station 4. TD Bank has signed a lease to open a branch in the vacant space to the north of Station 4, but an opening date is unknown at this time.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Great Freeway Flood of 2011

The following photos were taken of the Southwest freeway when it flooded on September 7th by Bonny L.

The Southwest freeway became two rivers during last week's excessive rainfall as several inches piled on the roadway.

Only one lane of traffic was able to get by as a front end loader tried to clear away the obstructions causing the road to flood.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Wharf Waterfront Park Charrette

Fresh off of the approval of the Stage One PUD application by the Zoning Commission on Monday night, the first of two charrette planning sessions was held last night where 33 community members from all over ANC 6D attended to discuss plans for the waterfront park at The Wharf.  The proposed park will be located at the southeastern portion of the development, which currently serves as a parking lot for the cruise boats and a traffic circle next to the Harbor Patrol. At 4.2 acres, the park is slightly smaller than the Yards Park in Near SE, which is about 5.5 acres. After taking into account an access road needed for the Harbor Patrol and 26 parking spaces split between servicing the Pier 4 town homes and Harbor Patrol, there will be somewhere between 3-4 acres available for the park. While the waterfront walkway from the park site south to the Titanic Memorial isn't a part of the planned park, the developers want to work with the NPS (who owns the reservation where the memorial is located) to refurbish the promenade in order for it to blend in with all the new development to the north and west.

Elinor Bacon from Hoffman-Madison Waterfront convened the meeting at the request of ANC 6D, which stipulated in its approval of the stage one PUD application that the park be built in the first phase of development and a public process was needed to help design the park. Warren Byrd from Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects and Jeff Lee from Lee and Associates, the two landscape architect firms charged to design the park, were the facilitators.

Besides the parking spaces and access road, another element that has to be in the park is a pavilion that will sell food and beverages. Participants were then each given twelve stickers to place on certain design elements (about 28 of them) that were placed around the room so the landscape architects could get a better idea of what was important for residents who would be using the park. The design elements most important to the participants were the following:
  • More Green than Paved
  • Quiet Areas - Garden Rooms
  • Gardens
  • Tree Preservation
The line of trees bordering the park will be maintained. Several of the tress along the water aren't in great shape though.
Other elements that were fairly popular include:
  • Innovative Children's Play Area
  • Bocce
  • Views Towards Hains Point and the Washington Channel
  • Trees - Flowering, Shade, Fall Color
  • Walking/Strolling Paths
  • Interactive Water Features
The group was then split into two in order to gather more input on design of the park.  There were some striking similarities between the two groups once reconvened. Both groups thought there should be a large grassy area that's curvilinear in shape with more intimate areas in the periphery. The view from the grassy area should be focused downriver towards the Potomac River. The grade change can be used to create an ampitheather of sorts (similar to the Georgetown Library). A minor water feature like a bubbling brook was asked for as well to create some white noise and allow for getting a little wet on a hot summer day (there will be a major water feature at neighboring M Street Landing). While dogs would be allowed to be in the park, neither group wanted to create a dog park within the park. Creating lighting was desired by both groups to make the park attractive and safe at night. There was a split among the groups whether to have a playground in the park, but child-friendly elements were desired in the park.

Hoffman-Madison Waterfront will build the park and once complete, will transfer ownership to the District.  However, the developers will be responsible for maintaining the park. They will either form an association from within the Wharf development to maintain the public spaces, or they may form a larger BID with other landowners in the area.

Another charrette will be held in early October where the landscape architects will share some concepts for the park based on the input from last night's charrette and will seek more input. What elements would you like to see in the waterfront park, so I can bring these ideas to the next charrette?   

Conceptual rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

4th Annual Cantina Cup

The following is a press release from DC Sail:
Local sailors from all over the mid-Atlantic region will converge Saturday, October 1, at Gangplank Marina on the Southwest Waterfront to race in the 4th Annual Cantina Cup Regatta. The event features a full day of sailing with over 100 participants to benefit DC Sail’s sailing education programs. Racing will begin at 10:30am and the last race will start no later than 5:00pm.

Cantina Cup is hosted by DC Sail and Cantina Marina and is sponsored by Mount Gay Rum.

Sailors will race DC Sail’s Lasers, FJs and Flying Scotts during this event. We urge sailors from other organizations to bring their boats and participate as well. DC Sail members get reduced registration fees of $50 per person while non-members fees are $75.

The event consists of a full day of sailing followed by an After Party/Awards Ceremony at Cantina Marina. Non-sailors are encouraged to spectate throughout the day from aboard DC Sail’s schooner, the American Spirit. The After Party is open to all for a $25 cover which includes four free Mount Gay Rum drinks and live music.

Non-racers are invited to purchase spectator tickets aboard DC Sail’s schooner the American Spirit. The Corona-sponsored Spectator Boat will be the best view of the racing from 1pm to 4 pm. $60 tickets include free Corona and for an additional $15 attendees can also attend the Mount Gay After Party.

Last year, the event was a great success with the over 50 sailors participating, raising over $5,000 for DC Sail’s adult sailing programs.

To learn more about sponsorship, registration and general event information, please visit or contact Emily at (202) 547-1250 or

More Retailers Open Shop in L'Enfant Plaza

I took a tour of L'Enfant Plaza yesterday with some community leaders and Matt Ginivan from JBG. Over the summer, more retailers have been moving into the renovated retail center, which was designed by SmithGroup.  In the food court, Au Bon Pain has now been open for a couple of months and FYI (Frozen Yogurt Indulgence) opened within the last couple of weeks.  They join Potbelly and Roti, which opened in the spring. So far, the new retailers have been a resounding success, with double the amount of demand originally anticipated. The post office has also moved to a new location.  Coming Soon signs have been spotted for other retailers, including Starbucks, Moe's, Five Guys, Mamma Ilardo's, Gourmet Too, Gateway Newstands, Jay's Jewelers, Mina's Boutique, and Nash's Mens Wear. CVS, Hallmark, and McDonald's will be back in the new center as well.  

The second phase began earlier this year and by March of 2012, according to Ginivan, passageways will be carved out of the western portion of the existing retail center so workers can still access the food court as demolition gets underway.  Around the same time, the 20-foot tall glass atrium will start construction.  The atrium will replace the glass pyramid (which replaced a water feature) and serve as the new entrance to the retail center, bringing in more natural light. Completion of the second phase of construction is slated for September 2013 and will result in 205,000 SF of retail. Meanwhile, a new extended-stay Homewood Suites by Hilton hotel is supposed to start construction on the northeast corner of the L'Enfant Plaza complex this winter. Eventually, new office buildings are planned for the plaza area and the southeast corner of the complex.

Some of the community leaders on the tour gave suggestions on the types of retail needed at L'Enfant Plaza to draw residents, including sit-down ethnic restaurants (such as Thai, sushi, Mexican, etc), a fitness center (since the one at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel was closed to residents once it was renovated), small grocer/health food/organic, a sports bar, and a barber shop. A south entrance to L'Enfant Plaza and/or a pedestrian bridge on the south end was suggested to help connect the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood and L'Enfant Plaza. At the behest of ANC 6D Commissioner Craycraft, JBG will host a community meeting in November to go over details of the renovation and expansion of L'Enfant Plaza.  I'll let you know more details on the meeting once they are known.      

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Couple Quick Items: New Traffic Pattern at 4th & M Street, Sidewalk to Temporarily Close Next to CFL

- DDOT has finally implemented promised changes to the intersection of 4th & M Street at the end of last week.  Left turns are no longer allowed from southbound 4th Street to eastbound M Street.  In addition, No U-Turn signs have been put up along M Street.  However, the Metrobus stop remains in front of the Bank of America trailer.  Has anyone noticed whether the timing at pedestrian crossings have been altered?

- ANC Commissioner Craycraft brings word that the sidewalk on the west side of 4th Street in front of the Consolidated Forensic Laboratory under construction between E & School Streets will be closed for two months starting on September 6 to rebuild a new sidewalk. In addition, four new oak trees will be planted where the current sidewalk is located and 15 trees will be planted on E Street and School Street. New streetlights will be installed with the Washington Globe fixtures seen near Arena Stage and Waterfront Station. Several bike racks will be installed - Capital Bikeshare will be opening a new station at the corner of 4th & E Street.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

SW Playground Project Receives Safeway Foundation Grant

Safeway announced earlier this week that the Safeway Foundation distributed $130,000 in grants to community organizations. One of those organizations is the SW Playground Project, which received a $5,000 grant to build a new playground next to the Southwest Neighborhood Library on August 23. Pictured above is Rev. Ruth Hamilton (President of the Near SE/SW Community Benefits Coordinating Council), Greg TenEyck (Safeway's Public Affairs Director), Felicia Couts (Project Director of the SW Playground Project), and the child Felicia is holding is Carmen Couts.

Here is a preliminary rendering of one of the three play areas planned at the proposed playground. Courtesy of Playworld Systems.
Photo courtesy of Safeway