Monday, January 30, 2012

A Few Quick Items: MD Ave Comment Period Deadline Approaches, Gehry's Design for Eisenhower Memorial Defended, Stairway Collapse, Arena's RED Gets Rave Reviews

- This is the last week for public comment on the Draft Maryland Avenue SW Plan by the DC Office of Planning. I wrote a summary of the draft plan back in December if you'd prefer to read that instead of the full plan. In addition, there will be a mayoral hearing on February 1st at 6:30pm at 1100 4th Street (2nd floor meeting room) to receive testimony on the plan. 

- The Capital Comment Blog at Washingtonian Magazine interviewed Daniel J. Feil, executive architect of the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, who defended the Gehry design of the planned memorial to President Eisenhower in response to a recent interview by the same blog of Eisenhower's granddaughter (Susan Eisenhower), who was critical of the design.  The proposed memorial will be located across the street from the National Air & Space Museum, bounded by Independence Avenue to the north, 4th Street to the east, the Department of Education headquarters to the south, and 6th Street to the west.  The memorial commission will go before the National Capital Planning Commission on March 1 to get preliminary design approval and hopes to have construction underway by the end of the year.

- NBC4 reports that there was a stairwell collapse this evening at an apartment building on the 4300 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Bellevue. According to the news story, a delivery person was carrying a large piece of furniture when the stairway gave way. The delivery person sustained serious injuries and was taken to Howard University hospital.

Arena Stage's RED receives 3 1/2 out of 4 stars from the After Hours Blog at Washingtonian Magazine.  From the review:
It’s a testament to the skills of director Robert Falls that he achieves the seemingly impossible in, currently playing at Arena Stage—he makes spellbinding theater out of watching paint dry. ...To say that art, and one man’s tricky, impenetrable understanding of it, is at the heart of which is co-presented by Arena Stage and Chicago’s Goodman Theatre and arrives here after a well-received Chicago run is an understatement. John Logan’s Tony-winning 2009 play is a fascinating look at the dogmatic, unyielding vision of Rothko, whose paintings (presumably to his chagrin) adorn the walls of endless college dorm rooms and major art galleries alike...For such a short (100 minutes) and focused play, Red manages to cover a surprising number of bases. Rothko’s relationship with Ken, a fictional character invented by Logan to explore the artist’s character, is initially one-sided, but as the play shifts towards its inevitable, almost Oedipal conclusion, Ken’s character takes on a new grittiness, reflecting his mentor. At the play’s start, Andrews is all two-dimensional Richie Cunningham earnestness and Converse sneakers, but as Ken’s tragic past unfolds, the character takes on a new steeliness, with Andrews resisting the temptation to make Ken just a foil for Rothko’s grim self-absorption.
RED will run at Arena Stage until March 11.

Photo courtesy of Arena Stage (by Liz Lauren)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Real Estate Market Recap

Below is a summary of pricing and average days on the market for condos and rowhomes in the 20024 zip code in 2011, courtesy of Slate Properties.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Catching Up on Old News: SW Library Receives Mini-Makeover

The Southwest Branch library closed for a few weeks back in September for a mini-makeover of the first floor.  New carpets and book shelves were installed, walls were painted, and new Macs were provided for the teen space area.  Above is a photo of the new carpets and shelving. Over the next few years, the library will receive an $8.8 million renovation to become a LEED-Silver rated facility. The ANC recently approved a resolution requesting that DDOT install a ramp in front of the library to better connect the building with the walkway that leads to the Southwest Duck Pond. The ramp installation would result in the loss of a couple of metered parking spaces on Wesley Place.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Late Night Burgers Coming Soon and Preliminary Work Underway at Waterside Metro Lofts

The "Help Wanted" sign has been removed from the window, speakers installed outside, and today, the menu was hung over the register. Barring any more delays with the build-out, Z-Burger is now scheduled to open next week. An exact date still can't be pinned down, but I hope to get more information (and interior photos) in a couple of days. The hours of operation on the restaurant will be:
Sunday - Thursday: 10am - 10pm
Friday - Saturday: 10am - 12am
Although the color scheme may resemble a certain global burger chain, Z-Burger is no golden arches. According to Z-Burger's website: 
Z-Burger offers you food made fresh daily from ingredients of the highest quality. Our burgers are hand-formed...our potatoes are fresh cut...always fresh, never frozen.
Z-Burger serves burgers (veggie and turkey ones too), hot dogs, cheesesteaks, fries, onion rings, and 75 flavors of shakes & malts. You can find their full menu here.  

General contractor Hamel Builders is on site at what will become Waterside Metro Lofts - the former EPA office buildings that are the last vestiges of the old Waterside Mall complex. Once renovations are complete in late 2013, there will be more than 500 residential units at Waterfront Station, with more housing planned at the northeast parcel (and potentially the northwest parcel). Representatives from Urban Atlantic are supposed to be at February's ANC 6D meeting to discuss their plans for the buildings.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Construction Reaches Street Level at Camden South Capitol

Construction activity at the Camden South Capitol apartment building has reached street level.  The last photo update from October showed a deep hole in the ground to make way for the foundation and parking garage. 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 at 1435 South Captiol Street. 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 for households up to 80% of Area Median Income (AMI). As a part of the approved PUD application, residents of the townhomes along the unit block of O Street will have the opportunity to lease a parking space in the apartment building at 50% of the market rate for a 20-year period. After the building has reached stabilization (defined as 94% occupied), the remaining parking spaces will be available for lease by the rest of the community at market rate.  In addition, residents of ANC 6D are supposed to be given preference when Camden reviews tenant applications. Leasing should begin around the middle of 2013. 

The back of 1345 South Capitol will have a series of courtyards to help step back the building towards the townhomes to the west.
Rendering courtesy of Camden Property Trust

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Five Bikeshare Stations Proposed for the Southwest Portion of the National Mall

The National Park Service has proposed to place five Capital Bikeshare stations on the National Mall. Check the above map for the locations of each proposed station, which are all located in the Southwest portion of the Mall. These locations are near popular attractions including the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. When the citywide bikeshare program debuted in 2010, NPS was against installing stations on the Mall, but they changed their mind last fall. The proposed stations are scheduled to be installed this spring, perhaps in time for the month-long National Cherry Blossom Festival. These new stations will double the number of Capital Bikeshare locations in Southwest to 10.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Street Closures for the State of the Union Address

The following streets will be closed by the Capitol tomorrow evening at 7pm for the State of the Union address:

• D Street, NE between 2nd Street, NE and Louisiana Avenue, NW
• C Street, NE between 2nd Street, NE and Louisiana Avenue, NW
• Constitution Avenue between 2nd Street, NE and Louisiana Avenue, NW
• Delaware Avenue between Columbus Circle and Constitution Avenue, NE
• New Jersey Avenue, NE between Louisiana Avenue, and D Street, NE
• Pennsylvania Avenue between 1st Street, and 3rd Street, NW
• East Capitol Street between 2nd Street, and 1st Street, NE/SE
• 1st Street between Columbus Circle, NE and C Street, SE
• 1st Street between Louisiana Avenue, NW and Washington Avenue, SW
• Maryland Avenue, SW between 1st Street, and 3rd Street, SW
• Independence Avenue between 2nd Street, SE and Washington Avenue, SW 
• C Street between 1st Street, SE and Washington Avenue, SW
• Delaware Avenue between Washington Avenue, SW and C Street, SW
• New Jersey Avenue between Independence Avenue, and D Street, SE
• South Capitol Street between Independence Avenue and D Street, SE/SW

The streets will reopen at the conclusion of the event.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Couple Quick Items: Scandal in the Way of United Stadium Negotiations, Wharf Presentation Next Month

- Potomac Soccer Wire reported yesterday that MLS Commissioner Don Garber blames the political climate in DC for the lack of progress in finding a permanent solution to DC United's stadium problem.  From the article:
"[United president] Kevin Payne is working hard to try to find a solution there. It is very frustrating,” said the commissioner. “I think he’s beginning to make some progress with the city council and with the mayor. If you guys follow local politics there, there’s been all sorts of challenges with local politicians who no longer will be free men, and that just makes the dynamic of negotiating that much more difficult."   
United saw tentative, but publically announced, stadium agreements with both D.C. and nearby Prince George’s County, Md. fall apart in past years and subsequently took their stadium hunt deep undercover, with little in the way of public updates.
The 100 V Street site in Buzzard Point appears to be the top contender for a new stadium, where it was leaked a couple months ago that DC Velodrome is in negotiations with Akridge to temporarily locate a velodrome on part of the site. An announcement was supposed to be made around the holidays about the velodrome, but nothing yet.

Rendering courtesy of Akridge

- Hoffman - Madison Waterfront will be giving a presentation to the community on Monday, February 27 on their plans for Phase One of The Wharf as they get ready to submit their Stage Two PUD application.  The meeting will take place during SWNA's monthly meeting, to be held at Arena Stage from 6-9pm. ANC 6D 01 Commissioner Craycraft gave a preview of what is planned on his Facebook page:
Good stuff! Lots of wood, exposed steel, native stone...salvaged, mature trees from elsewhere in the city...huge cisterns to reclaim rain water for non-potable needs. Not "blocky" and squat like Navy Yard but similar color palette.
Phase I is supposed to get underway by the end of this year or early next year and construction will last three years. I'm looking forward to this meeting!

Preliminary rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Friday, January 13, 2012

Open Discussion

What's on your mind, Southwest?  Any neighborhood or citywide issues you want to discuss? This is an open discussion where you can leave comments about anything you want (within reason, of course). Enjoy the long holiday weekend!

They Got a Pepper Bar!!!

Quiznos looks like it is almost ready to open on the ground floor of the Washington Office Center on top of the Federal Center SW Metro. It replaces another sandwich shop, which apparently was evicted by the landlord. Other retailers on the ground floor of the office building at 3rd & D Street include a florist, credit union, cafe, Potbelly Sandwich Works (yes, another sandwich shop), Starbucks, FedEx Office, and Gold's Gym. The restaurant's hours of operation will be the following:
Monday - Friday: 10am - 7pm
Saturday: 11am - 4pm
Sunday: Closed 
Quiznos is supposed to open next week and will be less than three blocks from another Quiznos on C Street. Sandwich shops don't worry too much about cannibalization. Subway, for instance, has several sandwich shops in close proximity to each other.

- In other restaurant news, Z-Burger has a Now Hiring sign in front of the restaurant. They are looking for all positions (send resumes to Peter at At Monday's ANC meeting, it was announced that the restaurant would open in two weeks, but my best guess is it will take a little longer since applications need to be screened, interviews done, workers hired, and then trained on new equipment.  It seems overly ambitious to do in two weeks...

Station 4 is now offering a coffee happy hour daily from 3-5pm. Coffee and desserts are half off and there is free WiFi available.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

M Street Transportation Study Kick-Off Meeting

DDOT held the first of three community meetings this evening to kick-off the M Street SE/SW Transportation Study, which has been a LONG time coming. The study area boundary includes the Southeast-Southwest Freeway to the north, 14th Street, SW and the Washington Channel to the west, the Anacostia River to the south, and 12th Street, SE to the east. During the nine-month study period, DDOT will work with CH2MHILL to identify current and future transportation issues and mitigation strategies along the M Street SE/SW Corridor and the Southwest/Southeast Waterfronts. A great deal of development is coming to the area and a comprehensive study is needed. DDOT will look at more than 30 other studies that have been done previously by others, including individual developers and the Complete Streets study that Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells and the Capitol Riverfront BID commissioned a couple years ago. Tonight's meeting allowed residents to gather around maps of three areas of focus (the Southwest Waterfront, the Ballpark District, and the SE Federal Center) and provide input on issues or challenges in those areas. On the Southwest Waterfront map, some of the issues mentioned by residents include the 4th & M Street intersection, lack of connectivity between Southwest and Near SE, commuters using P Street as a cut-through to avoid M Street, sidewalks, and parking, among other things. The next public meeting will be held in the spring and a third meeting will be in June. A stakeholder survey is available on the project website and is due on January 31 at 5pm. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Wharf Waterfront Park Design Evolves

A third meeting of the Waterfront Park charrette occurred last week, where the landscape architects presented their updated plans for the park (above is a rendering of a fountain and semicircular pergola). The park will be located at the southern end of The Wharf development, which is now dominated by a parking lot for the cruise ship operators. If you recall, there were two other charrette sessions late last year where a select group of community members (me included) were invited to help plan the 4.2-acre site. As a result of the prior sessions, the landscape architects from Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects and Lee and Associates Inc. presented their plan for the park, as seen below.

The park as planned will be built in two phases. There is a section of the park footprint that is now owned by the National Park Service near the Titanic Memorial that will be built in a second phase once an agreement is made with the federal agency. The biggest change to the park from the earlier version is the reduction in size of the pavilion to about 800 square feet. It will no longer offer food service and will serve mainly as storage for equipment used in the park, such as bocce balls and other items. The storage pavilion will have a green roof and perhaps a green trellis on the side. Otherwise, the other elements of the park have remained the same. The existing willow oaks will be maintained and will frame the northern and eastern edges of the park.  A semicircular pergola on the northern end will offer some shade (with integrated solar panels in some areas to help power the lights planned in the park) while a seat wall (potentially made of natural materials like stone) and a shallow fountain will follow the shape of the pergola. The play lawn and pergola will be elevated to allow views out toward the Washington Channel and the Potomac River. Play mounds will be positioned to help screen the townhouses planned at Pier 4 and the Harbor Patrol. A garden area will be located near the willow oaks and rain gardens will be placed throughout the park to help capture runoff before it gets in the channel. Ramps and stairs will lead down from the play lawn to the roadway where access must be maintained for Pier 4 and the Harbor Patrol; however, the road won't be visible from above. Parking spaces for the Harbor Patrol and Pier 4 will be built using porous pavement and pathways throughout the park will be made with either concrete pavers or exposed oyster shell concrete. The cafe terrace shown on the rendering is where the Maine Lobsterman statue is currently located and is not officially part of the park, but is close enough for patrons to grab a refreshment or bite to eat to take to the park in lieu of a pavilion inside the park. Security will be provided by Hoffman Madison Waterfront, so the risk of homeless people sleeping in the park will be minimized.

The charrette group will reconvene once the park design is closer to being finalized. There are still elements of the park that still need to be decided, such as lighting, seating, and a name.  What name would you give the park?

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

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Few Quick Items: SBA Stays Put in SW, Receptionist Position Available, SW Z-Burger Before Columbia Heights

- The WBJ reports that the Small Business Administration will remain at the Washington Office Center at the Federal Center SW Metro for the next 10 years. This is the same office building where I recently tweeted that Quiznos is days away from opening on the ground floor.

- Hoffman Madison Waterfront, LLC seeking Receptionist/Office Assistant

Small, growing industry leader seeks to fill full-time Receptionist/Office Assistant position in SWDC. Need bright, energetic candidate to wear many hats and be the face of our organization, including answering phones; greeting visitors; stocking office supplies and equipment; setting up and maintaining filing systems; organizing; scheduling; dealing directly with customers, partners and vendors; providing admin support for a staff of 5-8 professionals; and growing along with our company. Professional office experience required with Word, Excel, and Outlook proficiency and strong organizational skills. Up to $30K with full benefits. Location has parking available and is Metro accessible. Please email a resume and cover letter to

- The Waterfront Station Z-Burger will open prior to the Columbia Heights location, according to the New Columbia Heights blog. The estimate given for the opening of the Columbia Heights restaurant is mid-February, so that would infer that our Z-Burger would open sometime this month. It looks like it's almost ready and I hope to get in there soon for some more sneak peek photos now that it's further along from when I visited in October.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Top 10 Posts of 2011

I've compiled a couple of lists of top posts from the prior year - the first is based on page views and the second is based on number of comments. The only post common to both lists has to do with the security procedures at Safeway, once the greeters/receipt checker program began back in February.

Top Posts Based on Page Views

Top Posts Based on Number of Comments

1. Safeway Security Procedures to Change 2/10/11
2. Oh Safeway. 3/16/11

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Wharf Renderings

I thought I'd start off 2012 with a post about what's to come at The Wharf, which is supposed to get started by the end of the year.  Below are a few photos/renderings from the Stage One PUD submitted last year by Hoffman-Madison Waterfront showing current and proposed views of the Southwest Waterfront from different vantage points.

Banneker Overlook

Current view towards the waterfront.

Proposed view towards the waterfront.
Maine Avenue

Current view of Maine Avenue looking northwest.

Proposed view of Maine Avenue, with outdoor cafes, separated bike lanes, and streetcar line.
View Down 9th Street

Current view down 9th Street towards the waterfront.

Proposed view down 9th Street.
 The Wharf

Current view along the waterfront promenade, looking southeast.

Proposed view along the Wharf, a 60-foot promenade with space for outdoor cafes, pedestrians, vehicles, and a streetcar. It will be designed as a woonerf, a Dutch term for a street where pedestrians and cyclists have priority over vehicles.