Thursday, August 30, 2012

2nd Annual Home Boat Tour

Owners at the Gangplank Marina will host the second annual Home Boat Tour on October 20 where houseboats, housebarges, sailboats, trawlers, office barges, and more will be opened to the public from 10am to 4pm. Tickets cost $20, but residents of the 20024 ZIP code receive a $5 discount. Also on the same day, DC Harbor Cruises will offer discounted 60-minute cruises for $15. Like last year, Cantina Marina will offer a 10% discount to tour-goers. A portion of proceeds from the event will go towards local charities in Southwest.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Amidon-Bowen Opens New Doors

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

While children were enjoying their summer break, crews worked seven days a week to complete a $5 million renovation at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School, the only elementary school in Southwest. Gone are the red walls and window air conditioning units. In their place is a more modern-looking school for a neighborhood that is rapidly changing. Mayor Gray and DC Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson were on hand today to celebrate the completion of renovations and the first day of school.

New lobby area.
 Renovations at Amidon-Bowen include a new ADA-compliant entrance, a new administrative office suite, a new walk-through from the front to the play area, a new air conditioning system, and re-sized classrooms with technology upgrades and moveable walls. Additional improvements such as a water feature near the front entrance were not included as a cost savings measure. Despite the removal of the water feature from the plans, a maritime theme now permeates throughout the school, where creatures found in the Chesapeake Bay such as barracudas and turtles serve as “mascots” for each grade level pairing along with a new color scheme including blue, green, purple, and orange
The basketball court will be replaced with a soccer/football field and running lanes.
Shortly after the completion of interior renovations, work on some exterior sections will begin. Funding is already in place for the play areas, which will cost $500,000; however, the $1 million needed for installing new windows has yet to be secured. Improvements to the play areas will include two playgrounds, a turf football/soccer field, and a couple of running lanes. The fence near the front of the property will be pushed closer to I Street to make room for a playground for older children. A second playground for younger children will be placed in the back of the property and will be separated from Amidon Field by a controlled-access fence. Currently, there is a playground located closer to the school building, but the positions of the new playgrounds will help reduce noise into the classrooms. The site of the current playground will be replaced by a grassy area. PTA President Marty Welles would like to incorporate the “mascots” and color scheme inside the school to the new playgrounds to help tie the spaces together. The football/soccer field will replace the basketball court that is currently on site – the court will be rebuilt this fall at Lansburgh Park where a neglected tennis court now stands. Next to the turf field will be two running lanes. All of these areas will be open to the public outside of normal school hours. In addition to play areas, a greenhouse is planned for an area next to the playground reserved for younger children. A greenhouse will be able to grow herbs and flowers in the winter time whereas the majority of the growing season for the raised garden beds currently in place occurs when school is not in session.  

Amidon's recently renovated library.
Other recent improvements to Amidon-Bowen include an upgrade to the school’s library last year, courtesy of a grant from Target with new books, technology updates, new furniture, carpet, and shelves. Also, volunteers from Joel Osteen’s group made some landscape improvements outside of the school last spring when the televangelist held a spiritual event nearby at Nationals Park. Future unfunded phases of renovations, in addition to new windows, include improvements to the gymnasium and all-purpose room, as well as improvements to interior systems, such as the installation of an elevator.

Update: There will be an open house on Saturday, September 8 at the school from 10am - 12pm.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Little Farm Stand Taking a Test Drive at SW Duck Pond Tomorrow

On Saturday starting at 11am, The Little Farm Stand will be stationed at the Southwest Duck Pond for the day. The farm stand sells locally grown fruits and vegetables.  If the farm stand is successful, it may return for the season in 2013. Prior to the farm stand opening, the Neighbors of SW Duck Pond will have their monthly clean-up from 9am to 10:30am.  Last month, Kate Baldwin, star of Arena Stage's recent production The Music Man, stopped by the SW Duck Pond to show her support.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

SW Playground Project Moves Forward

Much progress has been made in the design of the new playground planned for the park next to the Southwest Library at 3rd & I Street.  Above is a draft schematic plan rendering done by DC-based landscape architect LAB, which shows a fan-shaped play area in the upper part of the park for children ages 5-12 and a fenced off oval area adjacent to the side of the library for children ages 2-5. Both play areas will have rubber surfacing. The lower area of the park where all of the concrete walkways intersect will have a brick surface. In addition, brick seat walls will be incorporated along a part of the walkways. A ramp will be created in the upper play area to make that area ADA compliant (a second ramp may also be built on the east side of the park). A water fountain may also be added.

Portion of proposed play area for children ages 5-12.
 The Southwest Playground Project (SWPP), which is a project of the Near SE/SW Community Benefits Coordinating Council, was able to raise over $100,000 for the playground and secured an additional $250,000 in the District’s FY 2013 budget. There will be a community meeting held on Saturday, August 18 at 11am at Westminster Church (400 I Street) to gather feedback on the proposed design.  What do you think of the plan?

Schematic Plan Rendering courtesy of LAB

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Few Quick Items: DC United Stadium Buzz, Bible Museum Coming to SW, Constitution Center Sale Pending, Equity Stake at L’Enfant Plaza for Sale, Veterans Memorial Financed

 - There was an article last week in Sporting News that gave an update on the prospects for DC United’s push for a new stadium.  The new ownership group is starting to have conversations with the city to get them on board with funding infrastructure improvements and assembling land for a soccer stadium. Buzzard Point remains the likely site in the District for the new stadium, although DC United is also in talks with Baltimore officials to possibly relocate to that city. The Buzzard Point site is only a few blocks southwest of Nationals Park and the two facilities would be linked together by Potomac Avenue.

- Vornado is selling two office buildings it owns near the Federal Center SW Metro and one of them – The Washington Design Center at 300 D Street – will most likely be the new home of a bible museum, according to the Washington Business Journal (subscribers only).  From the article:
An affiliate of The Museum of the Bible, a nonprofit organization, has a contract to buy the design center to display its multimillion-dollar collection of sacred texts, artifacts and other items known as the Green Collection, according to sources familiar with the deal…It could take four or five years to open the museum because a large portion of the items to be displayed are now part of a traveling exhibition and will not be available for display immediately.

- Constitution Center, the massive 1.4 million SF office building on top of the L’Enfant Plaza Metro that went up for sale last year is close to finding a buyer. According to citybizlist, MetLife is nearing a deal to purchase the building for somewhere in the vicinity of $750 million.

- According to an article in Capital Business, an equity stake in L’Enfant Plaza is up for sale by JBG, the owner of most of the complex. The equity stake for sale is only for the existing office buildings, not the improvements underway and planned. Those improvements include a new Homewood Suites extended-stay hotel planned for the southeast corner of 9th & D Street, an expansion of the existing retail center, as well as an office building planned on the southeast side of the complex. Eventually, another office building is planned for the plaza area.

- The proposed American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial has received over $6 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Public Lands Highway Discretionary Program according to the BeyondDC blog. The 2.4-acre memorial is planned for the triangle formed by Washington Avenue, 2nd Street, and C Street. Back in 2010, the National Capital Planning Commission approved the design of the memorial, but infrastructure funding was still needed. With funding now in place, construction will begin next year with dedication planned in early 2014.

Rendering courtesy of the National Capital Planning Commission

Upcoming SW Movie Nights at Lansburgh Park

Prior to the August 13 movie night, the KanKouran West African Dance Company will do a performance at 7pm.