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