Wednesday, June 27, 2012

House Passes Waterfront Legislation, First Wharf Hearing Tomorrow

According to Roll Call, the House of Representatives passed the bill yesterday which will allow the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront team to redevelop the Southwest Waterfront into The Wharf as currently planned, with piers that will extend into the Washington Channel (such as District Pier, a rendering of which is above).  The bill also allows the sale of fruits, vegetables, and other items at the Maine Avenue Fish Market.  This is the second time the House has approved the bill, since the Senate made a slight change to the bill when they passed the measure back in March.  With the passage of this legislation, another roadblock has been removed and brings the project one step closer to groundbreaking in 2013. 

Before that can happen though, they need to get approval from the Zoning Commission. Get some popcorn, because the first Zoning Commission hearing on the Stage Two PUD for Phase One of The Wharf will be held tomorrow evening at 6:30pm, where the following aspects of the development will be discussed: General comments, Parcel 2A, and 2B, Co-Gen Plant, Parcel 1 temporary uses, and Transit Pier.  A live broadcast of the hearing will be available, as well as On Demand starting on Friday.  ANC 6D voted earlier this month not to support the PUD due to some issues that need to be resolved, especially whether the existing liveaboard community at Gangplank Marina will be preserved. The commissioners and the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront team are working to iron out any differences before the next ANC meeting on July 9, where another vote on the PUD may take place.

Rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Monday, June 25, 2012

Waterfront Station BoA Branch to Close in July

The days are numbered for the trailer at Waterfront Station housing Bank of America - signs have been posted in front of the trailer stating the branch will close on Friday, July 20 at 2pm. The following Monday, the bank will reopen at its new location a few blocks away at 55 M Street, SE.  Some landscaping has already been installed over the past couple of weeks on the lot where the trailer is located with some ornamental grasses and a small lawn area.  Once the trailer is removed, the rest of the lot will be landscaped as well.  This lot, along with the other lot across 4th Street, will someday become office buildings.

Some ornamental grass has recently been planted near the BoA trailer &
in the background, framing is now going up on Sky House I.
As for the rest of the retail at Waterfront Station, there is no news yet of tenants singing leases for those spaces, although the property manager has indicated recently that some national retailers have expressed interest. They are in the process of preparing the spaces for tenant use, since there are issues with the location of the main electrical and mechanical panel from when the buildings were constructed and these  additional costs need to be negotiated with any potential tenants.

The concrete skin of Sky House II is starting to come off & some
grass has been planted on the back side of the BoA lot.
On the residential front, both phases of Sky House are now under construction with phase one scheduled for completion by early 2014.  The next residential building planned for Waterfront Station is a rental apartment building on the northwest parcel with 6,000 SF of ground floor retail.  Waterfront Associates will most likely go before ANC 6D sometime this fall with plans for that building.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Refurbished Tennis Courts

I wasn't able to make this event since my family was in town last weekend. Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells joined Southwest residents and representatives from the Washington Kastles and the US Tennis Association (USTA) in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for three refurbished Jefferson Field tennis courts at 9th & G Street on Saturday, June 16th.  The tennis courts were restored to usage by a grant from the USTA and American Express.    

The Kastles begin their second season on the Southwest Waterfront next month.  Their first home match will be on Thursday, July 12th against the New York Sportimes. The last home match will be on July 24th, which was supposed to be headlined by Venus Williams, but her match was rescheduled to July 16th since she will most likely be participating in the Olympics.  Check here for the full schedule.

Friday, June 22, 2012

St. Dominic's Sale Tomorrow

St. Dominic Church & Priory will be having a TAG SALE in the Priory Basement on Saturday, June 23rd from 9:00am to 1:00pm. Some items for sale will be:

Jewelry (mostly costume)
Men's clothing (designer suits, shirts, trousers, shorts, etc.)
Framed prints (pictures)
Collectibles (Waterford crystal/Porcelain)
Name brand comforters and bedding (new)
Household goods and many other items

St. Dominic's is located at 6th & E Street, near the L'Enfant Plaza Metro.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tiber Island on its Way to Historic Status

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

Tiber Island Co-ops and Condominiums is the latest residential complex in Southwest to seek historic designation. The Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA) submitted an application last fall at the request of the Boards of the Co-Op and Condominium communities to be nominated to the District and National historic registers. Designed by the architecture firm Keyes, Lethbridge & Condon and built between 1963-65, Tiber Island comprises 8.4 acres and is situated south of M Street between 6th Street  and 4th Street, north of N Street. Tiber Island was originally designed as rental apartments and townhomes, but over time became two entities – a co-op containing four high-rise towers and townhomes near the center of the development, with the remaining townhomes primarily along the perimeter under condominium ownership. The four towers form a pinwheel around a central plaza and the townhomes are placed in a manner that creates a series of courtyards and passageways throughout the community. On the west side of the complex is a Great Lawn and adjacent to it is the Thomas Law House, which was built in 1794 and now serves as a community center (it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973). 

A public hearing was held on May 24 by the Historic Preservation Review Board to consider the Tiber Island application. Ultimately, the Board was unanimous in its support of the application, with some members urging the Historic Preservation Office and community to consider creating a Southwest Historic District. Members thought a piecemeal approach to historic designation was not the best route and that creating a historic district would be a better option. For instance, Potomac Place Tower at 800 4th Street SW was designated by the HPRB as historic in 2003, while Harbour Square Cooperatives has an application pending for historic designation. River Park is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary and other residential buildings in Southwest are approaching the half century mark, which makes it easier to apply for historic designation. Whether there is enough community support to create a historic district in Southwest is uncertain – the Historic Preservation Office staff members do not feel that there is sufficient support yet since there is still some debate whether the wholesale removal of a community in the guise of urban renewal should be commemorated with a historic district.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

ANC Votes to Not Endorse Wharf

A large crowd gathered last night at the ANC 6D meeting, including a large contingent from the Gangplank Slipholders Association, to hear the presentation given by Hoffman-Madison Waterfront about Phase One of The Wharf and voice their support for the liveaboards - the only people who currently live along the waterfront.   Phase One will be roughly 1.5 million square feet of space and takes up about 2/3 of the development.  Some newer renderings were shown (I hope to get a copy of the presentation). During the presentation, it was learned that the townhomes that were planned for Pier 4 in a future phase of development will no longer be built due to some opposition (including the Army Corps of Engineers). The pier will remain as a commercial pier with a two-story structure - the party boats will still leave from their current location, which has an impact on the proposed Waterfront Park that is planned adjacent to Pier 4 (I will attend a park charrette on Thursday where I will learn more about any changes that will be made to the park because of the change in use for Pier 4).

There was also an explanation of what kinds of events will take place at the Wharf Center, which will be able to hold between 3,500 people (seated) and 5,500 people (standing) depending on the configuration. The Wharf Center will be a marquee venue that can hold corporate events (like at a conference facility at a hotel), cultural programming (similar to what would be presented at the Synagogue at 6th & I and Busboys & Poets), and concerts (like at the Birchmere) with activity between 150 and 180 nights a year. One thing it will not be is a night club, according to Monty Hoffman from PN Hoffman. Some examples of events that could be held at the Wharf Center include: Artomatic, a fashion show, concert, or a film festival/movie premiere.

After the presentation, the ANC explained while they are generally supportive of The Wharf development and have had a good working relationship with the development team, there are a number of issues that need to be resolved before they can endorse the project, such as a tour bus management plan, pedestrian access study, and a traffic study (Here is a link to the motion that lists them all), but paramount among the issues is the transition plan for the liveaboards at Gangplank and how they will be integrated with the development. The management of Gangplank Marina would change with the transfer from the feds/District to Hoffman-Madison Waterfront and the proposed terms of the management agreement would not be economically viable for the liveaboards.  The ANC voted 6-0-1 (Commissioner Craycraft abstained) to not endorse the PUD. They will work with the developers over the next few weeks to come to a resolution on the outstanding issues and may vote again at their July meeting. After the vote, Jason Kopp, President of the Gangplank Slipholders Association stated: 
"We are grateful for the ANC and the community's support of the liveaboards as we try to resolve pending issues with the transition and future well-being of Gangplank Marina.  Our hope is that we can work with the city and developers to come up with a solution that is mutually beneficial because ultimately we would like this development to be successful."       
Rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Monday, June 11, 2012

ANC to Vote on Stage 2 Wharf PUD

ANC 6D will vote tonight at their monthly meeting on the Stage 2 PUD application for phase one of The Wharf, the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront.  Phase One includes the area roughly from 7th Street to the Capital Yacht Club, as well as St. Augustine's Church and the cruise ship parking lot.  Highlights include three mixed income rental apartment buildings, one condo building, The 3,000-seat Wharf Center multipurpose cultural space, a co-generation plant, an office building for The Graduate School USA, an InterContinental Hotel, ground floor retail in all buildings and public spaces such as the Wharf promenade, District Pier, Transit Pier, 7th Street Park, Waterfront Park, and a series of Mews and Alleys.  Tonight's meeting will be held at 1100 4th Street, Second Floor, starting at 7pm. After the ANC vote, the Zoning Commission will hold four meetings to discuss various portions of the development:
  • June 28 - General comments, Parcel 2A, and 2B, Co-Gen Plant, Parcel 1 temporary uses, Transit Pier
  • July 2 - Parcels 3A, 3B, District Pier, Pier and Avenue Mews
  • July 12 - Parcels 4A, 4B, Capital Yacht Club, CYC Plaza, Piazza Mews, Jazz Alley, 7th Street Park
  • July 23 - Parcels 11A, 11B, Waterfront Park
If the PUD receives approval, construction on infrastructure will commence in the first half of 2013 with delivery in 2016.

Rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Southwest For Sale!

According to an article in last week's Real Estate Bisnow, Channel Square Apartments is currently being marketed by commercial real estate brokerage firm CBRE. Channel Square is a collection of 75 garden-style apartments and townhouses and a 203-unit high-rise located along 4th Street between O & P Streets. This would be the fourth apartment building in the quadrant put up for sale over the past few months. The brokers are also working on Capitol Park Towers, while the Capitol Park Associates ownership group wants to sell the remaining 5% interest it holds at Capitol Park Twin Towers and Capitol Park Plaza.

Renovations were recently done on the complex, which was the scene of a bribery scandal with two DC government employees from the Department of the Environment.  The DC employees wanted $20k in bribes from the contractors who were doing renovations at the property claiming there were asbestos issues that would cost $280k - $300k in fines.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Construction Update Part II - Camden South Capitol

This week marks the point where Camden South Capitol will "top off", which means construction of the 276-unit apartment building has reached its full height a year after construction began. It took about six months to dig the foundation and reach ground level and another six months to reach its full height. In about a year, leasing will begin at Camden South Capitol, which is located across the street from Nationals Park.

Local architecture firm WDG has designed the apartment building, which will have a rooftop pool with BBQ grills and outdoor fire pit, cyber cafe, and a resident gaming lounge with kitchen. In-unit features will include: Energy Star stainless steel appliances, electric oven ranges with ceramic glass cook tops, solar shades, 42" upper cabinets, double vanities in select units, garden soaking tubs, and stand-up showers in select units.

Space for ground-floor retail will be located at the corner of South Capitol and O Streets.
 Rendering courtesy of WDG

Construction Update Part I - Sky House

The former EPA headquarters east tower at Waterfront Station has lost the concrete skin from its former use as an office building. Construction is progressing at the site and the skeletal remains by early 2014 will become Sky House I, a 265-unit apartment building developed by Urban-Atlantic and The JBG Companies.  A rendering of the building is below, designed by Wiencek & Associates.

Amenities will include a fitness center, e-lounge, club room, demonstration kitchen, rooftop swimming pool & deck, garden area with fire pit, pet washing station, and shared garage parking with the office component of Waterfront Station. 

Meanwhile, a construction trailer and demolition equipment have arrived on-site at the west tower. Completion of Sky House II will be a few months behind phase one and will bring an additional 252 units. Ten percent of the units in both phases will be affordable for households earning up to 50% of Area Median Income. The buildings will be at least LEED-certified, but will aim for Silver. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Review of "The Music Man"

Arena Stage recently held an opening night performance of Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man.  This is the second classic American musical done by Artistic Director Molly Smith since Arena reopened in 2010 – the first was the record-breaking Oklahoma!, which ran in the fall of 2010 and had a second run in the summer of 2011.  The Music Man tells the story of a smooth-talking salesman who cons the residents of a Midwestern town into thinking that he is a music professor and wants to create a boy band, but needs money from the townsfolk to buy instruments and uniforms.  However, his plan is compromised by the local librarian, who ends up winning his heart.  The show stars Burke Moses as traveling salesman (conman) Harold Hill and Tony Award-nominee Kate Baldwin as librarian Marian Paroo.

Baldwin’s voice is amazing…and she kept herself pretty busy with all the wardrobe changes she had to make throughout the performance!  Speaking of wardrobe, some liberties were taken by Artistic Director Molly Smith – one being the time period of the show. The Music Man as originally written was supposed to take place in the early part of the 20th century, but in the program, the Time and Place is described as “River City, Iowa.  Set in a vision of America’s past, with echoes of today.”  The attire worn by the cast in the first act places this production in the 1930s or 1940s, but as the show progresses, the wardrobe becomes more contemporary in nature.

There were solid performances all around, from the school board member Quartet and the child actors to the choreography of numbers such as “Marian the Librarian” and “Shipoopi”.  Overall, I enjoyed the show, but compared to Oklahoma!, I’d say Oklahoma! was more entertaining.  The Music Man runs at Arena Stage until July 22. Tickets can be found here.

Photos by Joan Marcus, courtesy of Arena Stage

More Details on DC United Stadium Proposal

According to an article in Capital Business, a study commissioned by the Greater Washington Sports Alliance concludes that a new soccer stadium at Buzzard Point for DC United would cost at least $157 million to build and generate $5.5 to $7.3 million a year in tax revenue. From the article:
The study envisions a 24,000-seat stadium — with 50 suites, 240 loge seats and 1,200 club seats — on Buzzard Point in Southwest Washington. It would hold 17 league matches a year for United as well 25 to 37 other events, including international and college soccer matches, concerts and community events.
 The stadium would be located in the vicinity of Akridge's 100 V Street site in Buzzard Point, which is only a few blocks southwest of Nationals Park.  Back in March, there were some details released about an entertainment district planned for the area along Potomac Avenue. More from the article:
According to the D.C. study, the stadium could be built as part of an $82 million mixed-use development on Buzzard Point that would include a 2,000- to 2,500-capacity music venue, 100,000 square feet of retail, 30,000 square feet of offices and 100 apartments.
Plans for a stadium have been discussed behind the scenes for the most part, but it appears the Buzzard Point proposal has some legs.  Infrastructure improvements would be funded by the city while the team would build the stadium, although there is no formal agreement in place.  The fact that a study has been commissioned to analyze the potential costs and benefits of a new soccer stadium means there may be some momentum.  Capital Business has set up a survey to see whether the city should invest in helping to build a soccer stadium built in Southwest.