Monday, July 30, 2012

ANC Reconsiders Vote, Decides to Support Wharf

ANC 6D held a special meeting this evening to reconsider their opposition to the Stage 2 PUD for Phase 1  of development at The Wharf. Representatives from Hoffman-Madison Waterfront gave a presentation that explained some changes that were made to the PUD in response to comments from the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. Some changes include the simplification of design and increased use of wood in construction of the District Pier and Transit Pier building. Roof structures on some buildings and light pole coverings will be made of fabric or a similar material. Vines and other climbing plants will be incorporated on walls and other surfaces where there is sufficient light exposure. On District Pier, poles that will be used to house infrastructure will be 40 feet tall and less ornate than originally planned. Masonry construction will be used on the buildings planned for Parcel 2. Small balconies have been added to approximately one third of the rental apartment units in Parcel 2. In Parcel 3B, the clock tower has been removed from the Intercontinental Hotel, the height of the building has been reduced, and the large lettering originally planned for near the top of the hotel has been removed. On the Parcel 11B condo building, the dark colored brick that was going to be used has been changed to a lighter colored brick that will make the building blend in better with Tiber Island across the street. Changes have also been made to Waterfront Park, which are detailed here.
At the end of a meeting that was at times contentious, the Commissioners voted 4-3 to support the PUD after the developers answered concerns listed in the ANC's previous resolution in opposition.  I'll provide a link to the 7/30 resolution once it is posted on the ANC's website. Commissioners Litsky, Garber, Craycraft, and Shockley voted in support while Commissioners McBee, Moffatt, and Hamilton voted against. One of the major outstanding issues that caused the ANC to vote against the PUD back in June was the status of the liveaboard community at the Gangplank Marina during the transition period and management of the community after completion of the development. GPSA President Jason Kopp spoke before tonight's vote expressing his support for the project "in good faith" since negotiations between the slipholders and Hoffman-Madison Waterfront were going well and a resolution to their major concerns was near.

Tomorrow evening, the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront team will meet with the Zoning Commission for the fifth time where the ANC's approval is given "great weight" toward whether the Commission gives its approval.  A decision on whether to approve the PUD will likely be made in the fall. The developers are investing $53 million of their own funds, but they are looking for additional capital investment. If all goes as planned, the land transfer between the District and Hoffman-Madison Waterfront would occur by the end of this year. Construction would begin on the project around the end of the first quarter of 2013 with demolition of Zanzibar and other structures along the waterfront and the relocation of utilities from Water Street to Maine Avenue. Completion of Phase 1 would be in 2016. 

Rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Update: Here are some new renderings of components of The Wharf that have changed.

District Pier

Aerial View of District Pier

Transit Pier

Wharf Hall

Thursday, July 26, 2012

New Visitor Parking Passes

New visitor parking passes arrived in the mail this week for residents of ANC 6D.  The new pass is purple and has sparkles whereas the old pass is red.  Each pass has a unique ID on the bottom (the ID numbers were removed from the ones above). DDOT created the passes when Nationals Park opened so people who came to visit local residents during baseball games wouldn't be towed. The passes are only valid within ANC 6D. These new passes will expire on September 30, 2013. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Photos from Washington Kastles Charity Classic 2012

On Tuesday evening, local pols, Congressmen, media personalities, sports legends, and Kastles players took to the court at Kastles Stadium for the inaugural Washington Kastles Charity Classic.   All proceeds will go to Share Our Strength, DC Public Education Fund, and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which helps care for the families of fallen heroes. Below are some photos from the event.

Former Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers is introduced.

Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans and Deputy Mayor Paul Quander
of Team Stripes warm up before their match. 

Ward 7 Council member Yvette Alexander and Senator Evan Bayh of
Team Stars.  Brett Haber of NBC Sports served as MC of the event.

Former Redskins player Darrell Green and Kastles star (and London 2012
Olympics-bound) Leander Paes of Team Stripes.

Former Mayor Tony Williams surveys the court prepping for his role on the line.

Kastles closer (and birthday boy) Bobby Reynolds
and former Redskins player Rocky McIntosh of Team Stars. 

Team Stars won the Kastles Cup.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

SW Ecodistrict Draft Released

The National Capital Planning Commission released the SW Ecodistrict Draft Plan last week.  The plan proposes to transform a 15-block predominantly federal precinct located just south of the National Mall into a highly sustainable, walkable neighborhood that connects the Mall and the Southwest Waterfront, and becomes a showcase of sustainable urban development and the site for new nationally significant memorials, museums, and events.  The proposed SW Ecodistrict comprises almost 110-acres bounded by Independence Avenue, Maine Avenue, 12th Street, and 4th Street.  I've written about the process on several occasions, so I won't go into much detail here about what the plan contains, but following are some highlights:

The plan suggests to re-create and connect streets throughout the Ecodistrict, including Maryland Avenue, Virginia Avenue, and 9th Street.  New pedestrian connections will also be created throughout.

The draft plan proposes four focus areas that would transform the area:

  • Independence Quarter: A mixed-use community anchored by a new U.S. Department of Energy headquarters. The Forrestal Headquarters would be redeveloped with uses including residential, hotel, museums, and office.
  • Maryland Avenue: A restored urban boulevard centered on a re-imagined park and an expanded L’Enfant Station intermodal center.  The DC Department of Planning released a draft plan for the Maryland Avenue corridor that was approved by the DC Council earlier this year.
An expanded L'Enfant commuter rail station.
  • 10th Street and Banneker Park: An inviting civic corridor connecting the National Mall to the SW Waterfront, highlighted by Banneker Park—a nationally significant cultural destination. The demolition of the Forrestal complex would open views along 10th Street to the Smithsonian Castle.
Rendering of the 10th Street corridor.
A redesigned Banneker Park.
  • Southwest Freeway: A collection of private mixed-use development and solar panels built on air rights over the SW Freeway. A deck over I-395 would stretch from 12th Street to 9th Street while solar panels would be installed from 9th Street to east of 7th Street.

Aerial view of the SW Ecodistrict.

The public comment period on the draft plan will last until September 10.  If you want to learn more about the draft plan, there will be a public meeting tomorrow from 6:30pm - 8:30pm at 1100 4th Street, second floor.

Renderings courtesy of the National Capital Planning Commission

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

First Kastles Home Match This Thursday, Charity Tennis Match July 17th

The Washington Kastles, WTT Defending Champions, began their 2012 season last night with a win on the road against the Orange County Breakers 22-18.  Tomorrow, the team plays another road match against the Springfield Lasers.  Thursday will be the first home match of the season at Kastles Stadium at The Wharf against the New York Sportimes.  Gates open at 5:15pm and first serve will be at 7pm.  Prior to the start of the match, a WTT Championship Banner Ceremony will take place.  The 2012 home schedule is as follows:
  • Thursday, July 12 vs. New York Sportimes (vs. Martina Hingis)
  • Sunday, July 15 vs. Philadelphia Freedoms (USTA Family Night)
  • Monday, July 16 vs. Boston Lobsters (w/ Venus Williams)
  • Wednesday, July 18 vs. Sacramento Capitals (vs. Sam Querrey)
  • Friday, July 20 vs. Orange County Breakers (Chris Evert Fan Reception)
  • Sunday, July 22 vs. Kansas City Explorers (w/ Serena Williams)
  • Tuesday, July 24 vs. Philadelphia Freedoms

Southwest residents receive a 10% discount off ticket prices when purchasing tickets on Ticketmaster using the promo code SWDC10.

The Kastles will host an inaugural charity tennis match on Tuesday, July 17 at 7:30pm called the Washington Kastles Charity Classic. There will be two teams of 12 players, with each team featuring members of Congress from both major political parties, diplomats, members of the Obama administration, media personalities, and Kastles players.  All proceeds will go to Share Our Strength, DC Public Education Fund, and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which helps care for the families of fallen heroes. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $100 for boxes, and $500 for tables. General admission tickets are available on Ticketmaster and tickets for boxes and tables can be purchased by calling the Kastles at 202-4TENNIS. 

Parcel 11 and Waterfront Park Presented at ANC Meeting

At last night's ANC 6D meeting, the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront team have a presentation on Parcel 11A & B as well as Waterfront Park at The Wharf. Jim Clark from MTFA Architecture spoke first about Parcel 11A, which will be the new St. Augustine's Episcopal Church. Clark explained that there will be views of the church from M Street, Maine Avenue, and M Street Landing since it will be located at the prominent corner of M Street and 6th Street.  There will be a soft curved edge in front of St. Augustine's to complement the curvature of Arena Stage across the street. The 2-story church will be approximately 15,000 square feet with the sanctuary located on the second floor offering views toward the Washington Monument.  Also on the second floor will be classrooms and a library. On the ground floor, the entrance will lead to a vestibule that connects to classrooms and an all purpose room, which will be available for community events, similar to how St. Augustine's is now used for meetings.  A plaza will be located near where Maine Avenue will intersect with a new Water Street that will include among other things a labyrinth. Frttted (or semi-transparent) blue glass will cover part of the church where the vestibule and sanctuary are located.  

Next up was Federico Soifer from SK&I Architecural Design Group, who discussed plans for Parcel 11B, a 109-unit condo building.  The asymmetry of the facades were designed to be similar to the Tiber Island townhouses across the street  There will be a concrete base with four stories of wood frame construction above. The penthouse level will be set back 12 feet from the lower floors and will offer private terraces. A courtyard will be created on the second floor with some green space and a fountain. In addition, there will be a green roof, but condo residents will not have access to the roof except for those with terraces on the penthouse level. Commissioner Garber and some in the audience at the meeting wanted rooftop access for all residents of the building since it will have views of the waterfront, but the developers decided during the design process not to offer this amenity. 

The planned Waterfront Park at the southeastern end of The Wharf was planned through a charrette process with community members (me included).  A few things have changed since the last iteration of the park design after some critique from the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts.  Above is the current design of the park.  Changes include the addition of more connections to neighboring properties, such as Harbor Square.  More interior pathways have been added and the bocce courts have been consolidated to one area of the park.  The access road is less intrusive now that it is curved and the circular turnaround has been changed to a rectangular plaza that could be used for special events.  In addition, more plantings will be used to frame views toward the Washington Channel.

The ANC will hold a special meeting on July 25 at 7pm to reconsider their previous vote to not endorse the Stage II PUD for The Wharf.

Renderings courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Monday, July 9, 2012

DC United Getting New Investors

The Washington Examiner reported that DC United has new investors. Jason Levien and Erick Thohir will be introduced tomorrow afternoon at 2pm at a media event at the W Hotel downtown.  From the article:
The addition of Levien and Thohir, who are also minority owners with the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, won't immediately reignite the stadium pursuit.  In the short term, the additional investment will give the team more financial strength to absorb losses that come with residing at RFK Stadium.  United has also fallen behind legacy teams like New York and Los Angeles, and newer MLS teams Seattle, in its ability to vie for high-priced players.
The proposed new stadium for DC United will be located in Buzzard Point, partially on land controlled by Akridge at 100 V Street.  There were some additional details released last month on the proposed stadium as well as an entertainment district.

Update: After the media event today, it appears that the new investors are making a new stadium for DC United a top priority.  From The Washington Post:
“We see a pathway and we also know we’re going to have to use our machete to get there,” said Levien, who practiced law for Williams & Connolly and served as a Democratic speechwriter, consultant and strategist before entering the sports industry. “We know there are going to be some hurdles along the way and we’re excited and energized to take them on.”

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Draft SW Ecodistrict Plan to be Released

On July 19, the National Capital Planning Commission will hold a meeting to discuss the Draft Southwest Ecodistrict Plan, which has been in the planning stages for the past few years. The last public meeting was held back in July 2011 where three development scenarios were discussed. The Mission Statement of the SW Ecodistrict is as follows: Establish an Ecodistrict that transforms the 10th Street and Maryland Avenue corridors into a vibrant well connected place to commemorate, visit, work, and live in a matter that creates a national showcase of sustainability through innovation, technology, and design. The July 19th meeting will be held from 6:30 - 8:30pm at 1100 4th Street, 2nd Floor Conference Room. The plan will be released online starting on July 12 and public comments will be accepted until September 10th. RSVP for the meeting here.

The Maryland Avenue Small Area Plan, which was conducted by the District Office of Planning and is a component of the SW Ecodistrict, was approved by the DC Council last month.

Rendering courtesy of NCPC