Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tiber Island Plaza Extreme Makeover

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

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

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

Rendering courtesy of SmithGroup

Monday, November 21, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Armed Robberies in Southwest

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

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

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

Thursday, November 10, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    ARTLAB+ Opens at Hirshhorn

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

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Wharf Waterfront Park Planning Moves Forward

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

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

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

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

    Thursday, November 3, 2011

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

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

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

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