Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Few Quick Items: New South Capitol Street Bridge, Constitution Center Sale, Randall Rec. Center, Federal Triangle South

- DDOT is prepping for the replacement of the Frederick Douglass Bridge with a Request for Qualifications from contractors for design-build construction of the first two segments of the South Capitol Street corridor project.  Segment one involves the replacement of the bridge with an arched bascule bridge, along with approaches to the bridge, including a new traffic oval at South Capitol Street & Potomac Avenue and a traffic circle at South Capitol Street and Suitland Parkway. Segment two will reconstruct the Suitland Parkway and Interstate 295 interchange.  Future segments will include the reconstruction of the South Capitol Street corridor from M Street to Independence Avenue, part of which is making the South Capitol Street and M Street intersection at-grade. Funding for the first two segments is still pending so the start date of construction hasn't been determined.

Rendering courtesy of DDOT

- It was reported last week in the Washington Business Journal that Constitution Center sold for $734 million by MetLife, making it one of the most expensive commercial buildings ever in the District.  It was easier to sell the building once the building was fully leased.

- A concept plan was released for the exterior of the Randall Recreation Center based on feedback from a community meeting held last month. The plan includes a playground for children ages 2-12 and swings.  The dreary plaza area that fronts I Street would be replaced with freshened up landscaping, picnic tables, a spray plaza, game tables, sculptures, and a skate spot.  The revamped park space is supposed to be completed in 2013 and has already been funded by the city.

- The GSA has released a Request for Information (or RFI) for several parcels it owns in an area they have dubbed "Federal Triangle South." The RFI follows up on their Notice of Intent to release a RFI within the next 90 days back in September. The redevelopment of these parcels would result in the need for new office space for 5,300 Department of Energy employees, roughly 5,400 Federal Aviation Administration employees, and nearly 2,500 Department of Homeland Security employees.

According to the RFI, the vision of Federal Triangle South is the following:
Redeveloping FTS has the potential to transform an uninviting federal office precinct into an area that: 
  • Provides right-sized, efficiently designed Federal facilities; 
  • Includes sustainable land and smart buildings; 
  • Successfully merges commercial, residential, civic, institutional, and green space; 
  • Maintains a significant Federal presence along Independence Avenue; 
  • Reintroduces portions of the L’Enfant Plan street grid.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Review of Pullman Porter Blues

Pullman Porter Blues was written by Cheryl L. West, directed by Lisa Peterson, and is a co-production with Seattle Repertory Theatre. The production makes its way to Arena Stage after opening at the Seattle Repertory Theatre. This has got to be my favorite production so far this season at Arena Stage. The set was done creatively and the acting was superb, with a mix of comedy and drama. Pullman Porter Blues takes place in June 1937 on the Panama Limited, a sleeper train operated by the Pullman Palace Car Company that ran from Chicago to New Orleans. It profiles the lives of the Sykes family, three generations of African American porters who are working on the same train. Porters were one of the first professional positions available for African Americans and eventually a porter union was formed called the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, whose formation is featured in the production.  However, E. Faye Butler, an Arena Stage favorite, steals the show as Sister Juba, a boisterous lounge performer on the train who also has a drinking problem and is the former love interest of one of the Sykes porters. This show will make you laugh, but it will also make you think, especially about what porters had to go through every day in order to do their jobs.

Pullman Porter Blues runs from November 23 to January 6 in the Kreeger Theater. Southwest Night will be on December 26 at 12pm where ticket prices are discounted at $35 for those who live or work in Southwest (normal prices range from $64 - $109).

Photo courtesy of Arena Stage, taken by Chris Bennion

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Randall Neighbor Day at the Corcoran

Today is the annual Randall Neighbor Day at the Corcoran Gallery of Art where residents of Southwest and Near Southeast get free admission to the art museum with an ID. As a part of the original PUD agreement for the Randall School project, one of the community benefits was free admission for residents at the museum one day a year, hence Randall Neighbor Day.  The normal cost of admission is $10.  Current exhibitions include Taryn Simon: A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters I-XVIII, Enoc Perez: Utopia, and Ivan Sigal: White Road. Check here for more information about the exhibits on display.

The Corcoran Gallery of Art is located at 500 17th Street, NW and will be open today from 10am - 5pm.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bake Sale at SW Duck Pond Tomorrow

The SW Community Gardeners is having a bake sale tomorrow at the SW Duck Pond from 11am to 5pm, located at 6th and I Street.  The group is raising funds to help build a community garden at Lansburgh Park.  A dog park is also planned for the park, which is being organized by the PAWS of SW.  Their application with DPR was approved earlier this year and the group is in the fundraising stage.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Couple Quick Items: Photos from the Parade of Lighted Boats, St. Matthew's Christmas Tree Sale

A large crowd gathered for the 20th annual Parade of Lighted Boats at 7th Street Landing last Saturday.  There were several family-friendly activities, including photos with Santa, gingerbread cookie decorating, and the tree lighting with artificial snow. Below are a few photos of the boats from the event.

Peace and love.

Happy Hanukkah!

One of the house barges docked at the Gangplank Marina.

A view of some of the boats docked at the Gangplank Marina.

While the Planned Unit Development (PUD) was approved for the new St. Matthew's Lutheran Church and apartments at M Street and Delaware Avenue earlier this year, construction won't begin at least until 2013 so the church will use its lot again this year as a Christmas tree lot.  The St. Matthew's lot is the only Christmas tree lot in the neighborhood. Trees and wreaths are available for purchase on Thursdays & Fridays from 5pm - 8:30pm and Saturdays & Sundays from 1pm - 5pm.  Scotch Pines and Frazier Furs are available.  Click on the flyer for more information.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

More Progress in DC United Stadium Talks

According to an article in Capital Business, Pepco is in preliminary talks with the city to allow construction of a new stadium for DC United on property partially owned by the utility company in Buzzard Point. This is progress since Pepco was previously not interested in having its land used for a stadium. From the article:
“Pepco has been in preliminary discussions with representatives from the District and DC United regarding the potential siting of a new soccer stadium near the Buzzard Point Facility,” said Pepco spokesman Marcus Beal in an e-mail.

Beal did not say whether Pepco would consider selling or transferring the land to the District. But he said the company wanted to be supportive of the city’s economic development efforts in determining whether the site could accommodate a stadium.

“At this stage, we are only discussing the feasibility and impacts that building the stadium in the area might have on the existing underground electric infrastructure that serves this corridor of the city,” he said. “Pepco is supportive of efforts to bring new economic development opportunities to the District while providing safe and reliable electric service to our customers.”
The proposed stadium site is located just a few blocks southwest of Nationals Park at Potomac Avenue and 1st Street. If a deal goes through between the city and DC United, the team would pay to build the stadium and the city would be responsible for land acquisition and infrastructure improvements.  Besides Pepco, other landowners include the District, Akridge, and Washington Kastles owner Mark Ein.

Rendering courtesy of Akridge

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Performance Parking Revenue Brings New Amenities

A new community-oriented Public Information Display System (PIDS) will soon make its way to the entrance of the Waterfront Station Safeway. The PIDS will be a community information kiosk giving real-time information such as when the next train or bus will arrive, number of Capital Bikeshare bikes available in the area, the performance schedule for Arena Stage, and other important information. DDOT is funding this project through its Ward 6 Performance Parking Zone program, which adjusts the cost of parking depending on demand, but is the brainchild of SW resident Cecille Chen, who heads up SWNA’s Southwest DC Heritage Project. The SW PIDS will be the first in a citywide rollout of this technology and will also be accessible to residents via DC’s free WiFi network. Total cost for the project will be $75,000 and is scheduled to be up and running by January 2013.

Other improvements potentially coming to the neighborhood thanks to Performance Parking revenue include some public art. The Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW) will receive $35,000 to install a statue or sign representing all of the lettered streets in the Southeast (and potentially Southwest) parts of the city. The program is designed to help children learn the alphabet.

Update: As Commissioner Craycraft mentioned in the comments section, Damon Harvey from DDOT also committed to funding the restoration of the underwater lighting at the SW Duck Pond during last week's ANC meeting, which was supposed to be done earlier in 2012.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Planning for a Complete Street on M Street

(This post is an abbreviated version of the South by West article that will appear in December's Hill Rag).

Over the past several months, DDOT has been working on a transportation planning study of the M Street, SE/SW corridor.  The study area includes most of ANC 6D, which includes everything south of the Southeast/Southwest Freeway to the Washington Channel and Anacostia River. The study began in early 2012 and after three community meetings and months of study by DDOT and their consultant CH2MHILL, three alternatives were developed for the corridor and surrounding streets. Each of the alternatives are distinct, although some aspects of each alternative are common.

The first alternative would remake M Street as a “Main Street” which would accommodate more transit service. Under this alternative, there would be a median of variable width, including a center turn lane on the Southwest portion of M Street, two travel lanes on each side of the street, and the outer lanes would be an exclusive transit lane for streetcars, Metrobus, and commuter buses. Street parking that currently exists on M Street would be removed under this scenario since the parking lane would be taken up by the transit lane. Right turns would be restricted to certain intersections throughout the corridor so the transit vehicles are able to travel more quickly on the street. In order to compensate for the removal of a traffic lane on M Street, a second travel lane would be added to each side of I Street by removing on-street parking. The bike lane configuration currently on I Street would change to include a mixed travel and bike lane in each direction. In addition, P Street would be widened from one travel lane to two travel lanes between 4th Street and South Capitol Street during peak hours. One-way traffic on some streets would be converted to two-way streets.  

Under the second alternative, or the “Balanced Linkages” scenario, M Street would accommodate cars, transit, and bike lanes. The typical cross-section of M Street west of South Capitol Street would have an eight-foot cycle track, an eight-foot parking lane, a 12-foot shared travel lane for general purpose and transit vehicles, and an 11-foot travel/turn lane in each direction.  This scenario reduces the number of travel lanes from three currently to two lanes in each direction on M Street. Streetcar service would be placed along I Street, where the parking lane would be removed and replaced with a shared vehicle/transit lane. The streetcar line would connect to 7th Street on the western side. On-street parking on P Street would be removed as well, replaced with a shared travel/transit lane that would serve the DC Circulator (assuming service is restored to Southwest). No Southwest streets would be converted to two-way streets under the second alternative.

Alternative number three, or the “Mobility Arterial” scenario would make M Street three travel lanes in each direction with the outer lane serving as a shared travel/transit lane. Streetcars would run on this shared lane.  No parking would be provided on M Street under this scenario. However, the middle travel lane would be shared with bicycles. The current configuration of I Street would not change under this scenario. Similar to alternative number two, no Southwest streets would be converted to two-way streets under the third alternative.

The full report can be found here.  Comments will be accepted by DDOT until Friday, November 30 at 5pm. Comments should be emailed to ddot.awi@dc.gov, mailed to Colleen Hawkinson, District Department of Transportation, Suite 500, 55 M Street SE, Washington DC 20003 or faxed to her attention at 202-671-0617.

Monday, November 26, 2012

20th Annual Parade of Lighted Boats - December 1

The 20th annual parade of lighted boats will be this Saturday at 7th Street Landing with festivities beginning at 5pm.  This year’s parade will start from the Alexandria waterfront and will make its way north to the Washington Channel. Events include the lighting of The Wharf Christmas Tree at 5:30pm, pictures with Santa, music from the Earl Wilson Quintet, and the lighted boat contest. In addition, there will be s’more-making and marshmallow roasting by the bonfire and holiday cookie decorating. “Snow” will fall during the event, although the forecast temperature is supposed to be in the mid-50s during the day on Saturday.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Randall Playground Planning Meeting Tomorrow

DPR will host a meeting tomorrow on plans to renovate the playground at Randall Recreation Center on South Capitol and I Streets.  Randall is one of 32 playgrounds that the city will be renovating during this fiscal year as a part of the “Play DC” project. During the meeting, members of the community will have a chance to provide input on details such as design and amenities at the Randall playground. The meeting will be held at Randall Recreation Center from 6pm – 7:30pm.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Long Bridge Study Underway

DDOT (with cooperation with the Federal Railroad Administration) is conducting a study of the Long Bridge, a two-track railroad bridge that crosses the Potomac River and carries Amtrak, VRE, and CSX trains.  According to the project website, the purpose of this project is to complete a comprehensive study of the Long Bridge to include identification of short-term needs and long-term capacity improvements, identify and analyze alternatives that meet the short-term and long-term multi-modal needs, and identify, collect, and evaluate data in support of the recommended improvements. Multi-modal needs includes analyzing future operating requirements of high-speed and intercity passenger rail, commuter rail, transit, bike and pedestrian, and freight services.

There will be a public meeting today from 4pm - 6pm at Westminster Church. The purpose of the meeting is to introduce the project to the public and receive feedback and input on access and mobility needs.  Comments can be provided at the meeting, mailed or submitted electronically to info@longbridgeproject.com. There will be more meetings before the plan is finalized in the summer of 2013.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Catching Up on a Few Quick Items: Micro-Units, Constitution Center, DC United, Green Bike Lanes, Retail, Early Voting

- Micro-units are planned for a portion of one of the rental apartment buildings in phase one of The Wharf, according to DCmud.  The micro-units are planned for parcel 2, which also includes the Wharf Center performance space and the co-gen plant. These units will range from 330 - 380 square feet and will have space-saving features such as built-in furniture and cabinets, Murphy beds, and small appliances. Large windows will offer views of the Washington Channel and some units will have small French balconies. The theory behind having smaller units is that the lifestyle of people in cities has changed - many renters spend less time in their living space and more time at restaurants, bars and other entertainment venues, which will all be present at The Wharf.  Smaller units are also more affordable for renters (and more profitable for developers).

Rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

- Constitution Center, the massive office building on top of the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station at 400 7th Street, will be occupied by the Federal Trade Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, according to an article in the Washington Business Journal. These tenants will fill the 1.4 million square-foot complex since the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Housing Finance Agency already committed to the bulk of the space after the SEC backed out of their lease in 2010.

- Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans mentioned in an interview with The Washington Post earlier this month that he hopes a framework of a deal for DC United to build a stadium at Buzzard Point will be in place by the end of the year.  From the article:
United would cover the costs of constructing the stadium but also seek to keep a share of the tax revenue. The D.C. Council would have to approve such a request. The city would also pay for infrastructure improvements at Buzzard Point, an undeveloped area next to Fort McNair near the confluence of the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. 

- More green bikes lanes have started to pop-up – the latest has appeared at the intersection of 4th and I Streets. Earlier this month, lanes were painted green at the intersection of South Capitol and I Streets. At the 4th & I intersection, the green bike lane was painted on 4th Street southbound leading to the intersection. In addition, a green bike box was painted at the intersection, a buffer area where cars are not supposed to cross when stopped at the intersection.

- A Caseys Coffee is coming to 355 E Street, the Phase 3 building of Patriots Plaza, according to DCmud. Construction of the 2,245 SF space is supposed to begin in November. The downtown location on L Street, NW is open Monday - Friday from 6:30am - 4:30 pm, so the new SW location will probably have similar hours. They serve coffee, soups, sandwiches, and salads.

- Early voting began this week at One Judiciary Square, but starting tomorrow, each ward will have a polling place open for early voting. The Ward 6 polling station is King Greenleaf Recreation Center at 201 N Street. The polls will be open each day (except Sunday) from October 27 - November 4 from 8:30am - 7pm.

ANC Reconsiders Vote on Waterfront Station PUD

At last week's ANC 6D meeting, the developers of Waterfront Station came back before the commissioners to get their support for extending their PUD until April 2014 for the southwest and northeast parcels. At last month’s meeting, the ANC voted to not support the extension, due to several pending issues that the commissioners wanted resolved with regard to the two vacant parcels.  Since the October meeting, the developers and DMPED (who controls the northeast parcel) have addressed most of those issues.

For instance, signage along the vacant retail spaces on 4th Street now have the correct contact information listed for those who are interested in leasing space at Waterfront Station.  In addition, the southwest parcel has been resurfaced. This site will not be grassed over like the other vacant parcels because a one-level parking garage still exists under this parcel, which is a vestige of the old Waterside Mall.  The garage will not be excavated until redevelopment of the site occurs. A staircase leading to that garage has also been fenced off.  Even though the lot has been resurfaced, it will not serve as a parking lot, but instead will be animated with interim uses starting in 2013.  The developers are evaluating proposals made by different organizations, such as Diverse Markets Management and Washington Parks & People, among others, who will use the space. Most of the landscaping that was planted earlier this year has died due to the warmer & drier than average summer, so those plantings will be replaced next spring. The Waterfront Station website is in the process of being updated with more information about who owns which portions of the site (Waterfront Associates sold the office buildings and retail spaces to USAA last year and also sold the former EPA buildings, now known as Sky House, to Urban Atlantic, but they retain development rights to 3 out of 4 remaining sites). They will work with USAA to put up signage along 4th Street to promote the development as Southwest’s “town center” and jersey barriers on 4th Street will be removed.

On the District-owned northeast parcel, a paved pathway will be created over the next month to replace the sometimes muddy dirt path well-worn by people who traverse the lot.  In addition, DMPED is also exploring interim uses for their parcel and a date has been set for when the site will be solicited for development (although that date was not mentioned at the meeting).

Afterwards, the commissioner voted 5-2 to reconsider their vote from last month and supported the PUD extension (Commissioners Craycraft and Shockley opposed).

Friday, October 19, 2012

Review of 'One Night With Janis Joplin'

'One Night With Janis Joplin' was created, written and directed by Randy Johnson.  Mary Bridget Davies stars as Janis Joplin, who also tours internationally with Joplin’s original band Big Brother & the Holding Company.  As Janis, Davies tells the story of Joplin’s life, from growing up in Port Arthur, Texas to her move to San Francisco to join Big Brother & the Holding Company, to her breakout as a solo artist.  However, the life story only takes up a small portion of the show – most of it is dedicated to Joplin’s songs, as well as music from female trailblazers that inspired her, including Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and Bessie Smith. Sabrina Elayne Carten plays the blues singer that sings Frankin’s, James’ and Smith’s tunes.  Joplin tragically died of a heroin overdose in 1970 before the release of her second album 'Pearl.' While I was born after Joplin died, I have heard some of her songs, namely Piece of My Heart.  Davies is energetic and gives a strong performance of Joplin which seemed to get the audience more pumped up as the evening progressed.  An example of this is at the end of Set One when Janis and Aretha Franklin sing ‘Spirit in the Dark’ and involve the audience in the song.  If you are a Janis Joplin fan, or if you just like great music, I’d suggest seeing this show.

'One Night With Janis Joplin' runs September  28 - November 4 in the Kreeger Theater at Arena Stage.  For tickets to the remaining shows, check here.  Southwest Night for this show is on Wednesday, October 31, where prices are reduced for residents and/or workers in Southwest.

Photo courtesy of Arena Stage, taken by Janet Macoska

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Some Upcoming Events

Here is a list of some upcoming events in the neighborhood:
  • Monday, October 22nd is SWNA’s monthly meeting which will be a candidates’ forum for ANC 6D commissioner seats.  Contested races include single-member districts 6D02 and 6D05. Incumbent Cara Shockley is running (as a write-in candidate) against Near SE residents Ed Kaminski and Damon Patton in SMD 6D02, whose borders changed with redistricting to include a portion of Near SE. Over in SMD 6D05, incumbent Roger Moffatt is running against Grace E. Daughtridge.  Donna Hopkins is running unopposed in Bob Craycraft's soon-to-be vacated 6D01 seat while incumbents Ron McBee, Andy Litsky, Rhonda Hamilton, and David Garber are all running unopposed in their respective SMDs.  The meeting will take place at Arena Stage starting at 7pm.
  • Saturday, October 27th is Fall Fun Day at the Southwest Duck Pond with the Neighbors of Southwest Duck Pond and Girl Scouts Troop 4298 from King-Greenleaf Recreation Center from noon – 2pm.
  • Saturday, November 17th is My Fair Doggie event at the Southwest Duck Pond, where there will be a costume contest for dogs in conjunction with Arena Stage’s run of ‘My Fair Lady’ from noon – 2pm.  Judges will include Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells and Arena Stage’s artistic director Molly Smith.  Proceeds will benefit PAWS of SW.
  • Monday, November 19th is the next ANC 6D meeting at 7pm, located at 1100 4th Street, 2nd floor.  Agenda TBA.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Friends of SW Library Used Book Sale

There will be a used book sale at the SW Library next week sponsored by the Friends of Southwest DC Public Library.  Hundreds of books will be available, including bestsellers, fiction, non-fiction, vampires, and cookbooks.  Donations are also welcome (contact by email - friendsofswlibrary@gmail.com or by phone - 202-670-7795). Most books will cost under $3 and pocket paperbacks will be sold 5 for $1. On Wednesday, October 24, there will be a Member Preview Night from 6pm - 8pm. On Saturday, October 27, the book sale will be open to all from 10am - 3pm.  All proceeds from the sale support community events and supplies for the Southwest Branch Library.

Improving Play Areas for SW Youth

Several new or renovated playgrounds will soon be available in the neighborhood. The playground at Randall Recreation Center is one of several playgrounds across the city that will be renovated during the 2013 fiscal year which began on October 1, according to the Washington Examiner.   The city will spend a total of $30 million to renovate 32 playgrounds in all 8 wards of the city.  Related to Randall, fill out this survey to gather input on programming ideas at Randall Recreation Center, which will be reopened in 2013 for programs.  Meanwhile, the city set aside an additional $250,000 to help create a playground at the SW Library park at 3rd & I Streets.  In addition, a new playground was built last month at Syphax Gardens (Half and P Streets) with the assistance of Make Kids Smile and over at Amidon-Bowen, construction is supposed to begin soon on two new playgrounds.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Southwest Playground Project on its Way to Become a Park Partner

The following post was written by Felicia Couts, Project Director of the Southwest Playground Project

The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has agreed to designate the Near SE/SW Community BenefitsCoordinating Council’s Southwest Playground Project as a Park Partner for the 3rd and I Street SW Park, located adjacent to the SW Library. 

The official name of the new Park Partner will be the “Friends of 3rd and I, SW Park”.  From there, a collaboration of meetings will occur between DPR and the Friends of the 3rd and I SW Park to map and begin the planned park improvements which will include repairing the cracked walkways, installing retaining walls, pruning and removing dead trees, and installing playground equipment for children ages 2-12.

The new Friends of 3rd and I, SW Park wishes to extend its sincere thanks to Tommy Wells, ANC6D, the Mandarin Hotel, Safeway Foundation, Mr. Lawrence Impett, Make Kids Smile, CSX Corporation, Bravery Corporation, Station 4, and our SW community of neighborhood supporters.  

The next meeting of the Southwest Playground Project will be on Saturday from 3-4:30pm at the SW Library. 

Park rendering courtesy of LAB

Fall Foods Cooking Demonstration

There will be a cooking demonstration this Saturday at the Little Farm Stand at the SW Duck Pond.  Learn how to prepare Fall foods at 12pm and 1pm. The Little Farm Stand sells fruits, vegetables, pies, and preserves from local farms every Saturday from 10am - 2pm. A couple blocks down I Street at Christ United Methodist Church there is another farmers market each Saturday from Aya Markets from 9am - 1pm.

Images from SW ArtsFest

Food vendor at Central Art Market

Central Art Market

Moon bounce at End-of-Summer Fair

Sign at End-of-Summer Fair

Sock puppets at Sock Puppet Art Studio

Stage at Jazz Preservation Festival

Stage at Central Art Market

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Federal Triangle South?

Well that was fast.  Only a couple of months after finalizing the Southwest Ecodistrict Draft Plan, the General Services Administration issued a "Notice of Intent" to issue a Request for Information over the next 90 days for five properties the agency controls in the area, including its Regional Office Building at 7th & D Street.  The other properties include the Department of Energy's Forrestal Complex, the Cotton Annex, and two buildings occupied by the FAA.  The properties roughly create a triangle shape, bounded by Independence Avenue to the north, 12th Street to the west, and Maryland Avenue, parts of 9th Street, D Street, and 7th Street to the south.  In fact, the parcels are referred to as Federal Triangle South in the Notice of Intent. The RFI seeks to do the following:
  • Gather market input on meeting Federal facility space needs
  • Identify potential redevelopment and transaction structures
  • Achieve best value to the Government, promote fair and transparent competition and discover the most beneficial technical and financial solution

This move by the GSA can potentially lead to the transformation of a large area adjacent to the National Mall into a lively, mixed-use environment.  However, with a name like Federal Triangle South, that doesn't exactly give off a "mixed use" vibe, given the way the original Federal Triangle looks right now.  Personally, I prefer the "Independence Quarter" moniker used in the SW Ecodistrict Draft Plan for the area.

Friday, September 28, 2012

CFL Ribbon-Cutting on Monday

After several years in the making, the Consolidated Forensic Laboratory will have a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday at noon. The LEED-Gold building, located at 4th & E Street contains green elements such as a solar shade louver system, a green roof, and chilled beams. The CFL will be home to MPD's Crime Lab, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and the DC Public Health Lab. A total of 300 - 350 employees will be housed at the facility. The Washington Post reported last week that the new crime lab division will be run by civilians instead of MPD officers.

The site was formally MPD's First District headquarters before it moved to Bowen Elementary School on M Street and the building was demolished in early 2010.

Another Office Building Planned Near L'Enfant Plaza

The Washington Business Journal reports that the Donohoe Building (400 6th Street) has been purchased by Trammell Crow and the AFL-CIO Building Investment for $41.9 million.  Back in March, a loan the previous owners had on the building was in danger of going into default. The 5-story building will be razed by the new owners after the District's Child and Family Services Agency vacates the building at the end of their lease in October. In its place will be a 12-story "state of the art" office building. There's no indication whether there will be ground-floor retail in this building. Construction is supposed to begin next June with completion scheduled for mid-2015.  It wasn't clear from the article whether the project will be built without a lead tenant, but that usually isn't the case with office buildings these days, so that construction start date may slip if a tenant isn't found soon.  There are a couple other office buildings planned in the vicinity - one located a block south of this site at the current site of Engine 13 and the other at 4th & E Street.  Both of these sites are planned by E Street Development, which won the rights to these sites by DMPED a few years ago. Construction was supposed to begin on the 4th Street building last year, but has been delayed. In addition, Constitution Center is across the street from this site and is still trying to fill the rest of the space that was let go by the SEC when they decided not to move into the building.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Zoning Commission Defers Vote on Waterfront Station PUD Extension

On Monday, the Zoning Commission deferred action on the request by the city and Waterfront Associates to extend the PUD on two parcels at Waterfront Station - the District-owned northeast parcel and 425 M Street (southwest parcel) owned by the development team.  The main reason for the deferment until the October 29 Zoning Commission meeting was due to the resolution by ANC 6D earlier this month opposing the extension. The District has yet to respond to concerns from the ANC about a plan for what they want to do with their parcel and creating a paved walkway in the interim to replace the muddy path made by people traversing the site.  One of the zoning commissioners wanted to deny the extension outright because they felt the Deputy Mayor's Office for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) has been dragging its feet on soliciting a RFP for a parcel that will provide affordable housing in a city that desperately needs it. The city's contention that they want to get the maximum value for the land and the need for affordable housing is counter intuitive, according to the Commissioner. Part of the reason for the delay in doing anything with the site is because the parcel was once owned by the Anacostia Waterfront Corporation (AWC), a quasi government agency that was dissolved by the Fenty administration and the parcels controlled by AWC (including the northeast parcel) were transferred to DMPED.  Since the ANC voted earlier this month, Waterfront Associates has addressed some of their concerns with the development team's parcel, including the construction of a fence to cover an exposed staircase on the M Street parcel (see above) and has updated the contact information on signage posted on the vacant retail space on 4th Street.

The ANC will have a chance to reconsider their disapproval of the extension at their October 15 meeting once they get some answers from DMPED.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

More Momentum for Buzzard Point Soccer Stadium

An article in yesterday's Washington Examiner describes how the new ownership team of DC United is moving forward with negotiations to build a new stadium in Buzzard Point.  From the article:
"What I've sensed -- and I understand it better now than when we first took over -- is that the political leaders are behind us now," [owner Jason] Levien said. "They understand that there's a serious, strong constituency for D.C. United soccer in Washington, and they want to see it stay here."
The primary location for a new stadium continues to be Buzzard Point and the city is in the process of assembling land.  More from the article:
[Levien] said he has encountered only support from leaders in Mayor Vincent Gray's office and in the D.C. Council. All of them have focused on Buzzard Point -- not another site in Washington or relocation to another city -- as the best possible solution for a new stadium.
"Every week, we feel like we're making progress on figuring out the structure of the opportunity," Levien said.
A study done by the Greater Washington Sports Alliance envisions a 24,000-seat stadium that would cost at least $157 million to build. The stadium would be part of an entertainment district that would include a music venue, office space, retail, and housing in the vicinity of Akridge's 100 V Street site.

Rendering courtesy of Akridge.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Green Bike Lanes

DDOT has started experimenting with painting green bike lanes at intersections, which helps to better identify where bike lanes are located.  An example can be found on I Street where it intersects with South Capitol Street.  I Street on either side of South Capitol has the new paint marking.  Other cities have started using green bike lanes. Portland has taken it a step further and has introduced Bike Boxes at intersections, where bikes have a special space at intersections closer to the crosswalk where cars are not allowed to enter when stopped at a light.  The bike boxes are painted green and bike lanes leading to and away from the box are also painted green.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

'Pride of Baltimore II' Coming to Gangplank Marina

The Pride of Baltimore II clipper ship will be visiting the Gangplank Marina this weekend.  It will be docked from Saturday, September 22 until Tuesday, September 25. Free deck tours will be available on the 22nd and 23rd from 10am to 2pm. Afternoon daysails are available on both days at 3pm that lasts for 2 1/2 hours. Tickets for day sails are $45 for adults and $30 for children 12 and under. On September 24 and 25, the Pride of Baltimore II will be offering school tours.

Monday, September 17, 2012

ANC Opposes Extension of Waterfront Station PUD

At last Monday's ANC 6D meeting, representatives from Waterfront Associates came before the commissioners to request their support for a 2-year extension of their PUD for two parcels at Waterfront Station - the District-owned NE parcel next to CVS and the West M Street parcel in front of Station 4 and Z-Burger. On the NE parcel, which will one day be a multifamily building with ground floor retail, the District is not ready to issue a RFP because they say that land values are still depressed in the area and they would not get a sufficient amount of income from the sale/lease of the land to a residential developer at this time. On the West M Street parcel, which is planned as an office building with ground floor retail, the development team does not want to construct an office building without a tenant because the commercial real estate market has not rebounded yet and GSA (a major source of tenants in Southwest) has halted new requests for office space.  They continue to pursue any solicitations for office space that come on the market, but they aren't optimistic that they can land an anchor tenant before the current PUD expires early next year. 

Waterfront Associates decided not to ask for an extension on the East M Street office parcel in front of Safeway since the PUD on that site doesn't expire until April 2015. On the NW parcel next to Westminster Church, they will soon submit plans for a 300+ unit rental apartment building with 4,000-5,000 square feet of ground floor retail on 4th Street. They will come back to the ANC within the next couple of months to get approval for that building, but they weren't able to give much details on the project since they are still finalizing the design.

After hearing the presentation, the commissioners voted unanimously to oppose supporting the extension. Some of the reasons for their disapproval include the lack of care that the development team and the District have made with regard to the interim use of the vacant parcels in question. On the NE parcel, there is a muddy pathway made by people who traverse the lot. On the M Street parcel, the trailer that once housed Bank of America was removed last month, but there is a random staircase left over from when Waterside Mall was in existence and the rest of the lot has not been grassed over yet like the others. Another reason for the disapproval was due to the lack of retail (especially a bank) at Waterfront Station. There are four vacant storefronts in the existing office buildings and the phone number posted on the windows of the spaces for potential tenants to inquire about availability was incorrect (that has since been corrected).  The development team no longer owns the retail space (it was sold to USAA along with the two office buildings last year) but they are willing to act as intermediaries between the ANC and the new owners. They mentioned that USAA has some proposals for tenants that they are currently reviewing so there may be some movement on the retail front soon.

In other ANC news, DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton is working with USPS to negotiate with The Ruben Companies, who owns the SW post office site at L Street to keep the post office open beyond the point when the current lease expires at the end of 2012.  Also, the Gangplank Slipholders Association and the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront team have come to an agreement that will allow the slipholders to stay in the Washington Channel during the transition phase while The Wharf is under construction. In addition, the agreement will preserve the current management practice in place that will allow boats to maintain their value if they are sold to liveaboards.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

'Red Hot Patriot' Begins New Season at Arena

The third season at the new Arena Stage has begun with Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins, starring Kathleen Turner, written by Margaret Engel and Allison Engel and directed by David Esbjornson. Red Hot Patriot is a 75-minute performance filled with anecdotes from the life of Molly Ivins, a feisty liberal newspaper columnist from Texas played brilliantly by Turner. If you haven't seen the show yet, make your way down to 6th & M Street.

While Southwest Night has already passed for Red Hot Patriot, here are the dates for the other Southwest Nights during the 2012/13 season where tickets are discounted for residents and workers ($35 for musicals and $25 for non-musicals):

  • One Night with Janis Joplin October 31 at 7:30pm
  • My Fair Lady November 19 at 7:30pm
  • Pullman Porter Blues December 26 at 12:00pm
  • Good People February 3 at 7:30pm
  • Metamorphoses February 17 at 7:30pm
  • Mary T. & Lizzy K. March 20 at 7:30pm
  • The Mountaintop March 31 at 2:00pm
  • Other Desert Cities May 26 at 7:30pm

Red Hot Patriot will run through October 28 in the Kogod Cradle and tickets are available here.

Photo courtesy of Arena Stage: Mark Garvin

Wiener Dog Race at 7th Street Landing

Friday, September 14, 2012

Residential Infill Planned at Town Center

A new 3-building infill residential development just to the east of Sky House I at Town Center was revealed in this week's Washington Business Journal (subscribers only). The Bernstein Companies is moving forward with plans to build on their parking lots that currently serve Waterfront Tower condos and 1001 @ Waterfront apartments. According to the Zoning application that was submitted last month, there will be two new 11-story buildings flanking M Street and K Street and a 4-story building between the two existing towers on 3rd Street. In addition, 1001 @ Waterfront will be renovated.  Maurice Walters Architect, PC has designed the new buildings. The article states that 1001 @ Waterfront will remain as apartments after the renovation. Once completed, the proposed development at Town Center will yield 401 new multifamily units with a mix of studio, 1BR, and 2BR units, 128 renovated apartment units, 289 below-grade parking spaces, and 2,940 SF of retail on M Street and K Street. In addition, 20% of the housing will be set aside as affordable (5% to households making 50% or less than AMI, 5% to households earning 60% or less than AMI, 5% to households making 70% or less than AMI, and 5% to households earning 80% or less than AMI). Below is a breakdown of what will be built/renovated (note that the buildings shaded in green are what will be built/renovated):

Here is part of the description of the new buildings from the PUD application:
The new North and South Towers will include a two-story high base that will be enclosed but will feature large expanses of glazing that relate to the open ground floor of the Pei Towers. The main massing of the new towers will rise to a height of 90 feet (9 stories), which is approximately the same height as the Pei Towers. The remaining two stories of  the building will taper with setbacks and terraces to a height of 110 feet (11 stories).
The new North and South Towers will replace existing surface parking lots, creating a more pedestrian friendly experience on both M and K Streets. The new four-story Center Building will replace an existing brick wall along 3rd Street, adding new stoops and entry doors to 3rd Street. These doors and entries from 3rd Street, along with large expanses of fenestration above on the building, will help to activate 3rd Street.
New Middle Building on 3rd Street
All of the parking and loading will be accessed from an alley to the west of the site off of K Street and a circular drive on M Street that's being created in conjunction with Waterfront Station, with only one curb cut on K Street.  The other curb cuts that currently exist on the site (including M Street) will be removed. Town Center will aim for LEED-Silver and will have environmental enhancements such as green roofs, underground cisterns for collecting storm water runoff, and energy efficient lighting.  Some of the public benefits included in the PUD application include:
  • a capital contribution to the SW Library
  • restoration of the north Pei building
  • tree planting on both sides of 3rd Street
  • creation of angled parking on 3rd Street
New North Tower motor court
The WBJ article states that there is no construction timetable yet for the Town Center project and each building will be done separately, not concurrently.  If the consolidated PUD application is approved, it will be valid for two years, but the developers can apply for an extension if building permits have not been secured within the two-year window. 

Renderings courtesy of Maurice Walters Architect, PC