Friday, March 29, 2013

A Couple Quick Items: Differing Views on KIPP Proposal, Fatal Shooting

- A couple of editorials in The Washington Post have been written recently on KIPP DC's proposal to build a new charter high school on the site of Randall Recreation Center at South Capitol and I streets. First up is one called District Officials Oddly Unwelcoming to a KIPP Charter High School, authored by the Post's editorial board (disclosure: the Chairman & Chief Executive of the WaPo is on the board of trustees of KIPP DC). The other editorial called No Need to Rush Decision on Randall Park was written by Felicia Couts, President of Capitol Park IV Condominium Association board, which is located next door to Randall.

- In what appears to be the result of a domestic dispute, there was a fatal shooting in a residential building at the 1200 block of 4th Street, one block south of the Waterfront metro according to The Washington Post.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Federal Triangle South Meeting

There was a meeting yesterday put together by the Urban Land Institute on the newly dubbed Federal Triangle South, a swath of Southwest south of the National Mall where federal government tenants have dominance and over 12,000 employees now work in office buildings that average in age between 48 and 80 years old. The boundaries of Federal Triangle South are Independence Avenue to the north, 12th Street to the west, Maryland Avenue and D Street to the south, and 6th Street to the east. The GSA owns five properties in Federal Triangle South with the largest of those being the department of Energy’s Forrestal complex at 10th Street and Independence Avenue. Back in December, the GSA issued a Request for Information (RFI) to see what interest there was in the development community for possibly redeveloping their parcels in Federal Triangle South. It was reported earlier this month that 10 development firms responded to the RFI. The GSA is exploring different disposition scenarios for the parcels, including maintaining federal ownership, a ground lease, acquisition exchange, exchange for services, or a leaseback. Federal Triangle South is part of the Southwest Ecodistrict Initiative, a long-term vision for most of the office district between the National Mall and the Southwest Freeway spearheaded by NCPC. In addition, the DC Office of Planning conducted a Small Area Plan for Maryland Avenue, which falls within the SW Ecodistrict. Here are a few tidbits I learned at the meeting:
  • A Request for Proposals (RFP) will be released this summer for Federal Triangle South and a winner for phase one will be awarded by the spring of 2014.
  • The Department of Energy wants to remain on Independence Avenue, but it could be located elsewhere along the street within Federal Triangle South besides its current location.
  • There are approximately 4 million square feet of office space within Federal Triangle South and an additional 2 million square feet of space can be built under current zoning. More could be accommodated with PUDs.
  • Republic Properties, who developed The Portals complex at 12th Street and Maryland Avenue, is considering residential for a future phase at the project instead of office. The site was zoned industrial so residential couldn’t be done there, but with the rewrite of the Comprehensive Plan that the Office of Planning is conducting, the entire Southwest Ecodistrict area will be rezoned similar to downtown, which will be high density commercial, residential, and governmental.
  • Some components of the Maryland Avenue plan could take up to 30 years to complete.
  • NCPC will conduct a community meeting in May (perhaps May 21) to discuss plans for 10th Street.
Image courtesy of GSA

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Southwest Library Playground Gets Closer to Reality

The Southwest Playground Project (SWPP) received support from ANC 6D at this month’s meeting for the Urban Forestry Administration to work on pruning and removing unhealthy/dead trees from the site of the new playground proposed for the park next door to the Southwest library at 3rd and I streets. The ANC also commented favorably on LAB Architects’ design of the playground, which has changed and will now take up less space on the site. Play equipment will be placed on the central berm with a rubber play surface installed beneath for safety purposes. GameTime play equipment will have a nature theme, which will include a butterfly net for climbing; a log crawl thru; stepping stones in the shape of mushrooms; and spinning leaf seats. There will also be a swing set with an ADA-compliant swing included in the design. Most of the equipment is suitable for children ages 2-12, except for the butterfly net, which is recommended for children aged 5-12.

Some of the proposed play equipment.

Ornamental fencing will be installed along I Street and at the corners where 3rd Street and Wesley Place both meet I Street to keep children from running onto the street. The fencing will be the same that DPR uses at its other playgrounds and will be 18" tall. Seat walls will be placed on the south side of the play area to further enclose the space and provide seating for parents and children alike. Benches will also be placed in the play area. Trench drains will allow water to naturally drain below and should reduce the risk of mosquitoes. A less impervious surface will be used at the base of the park adjacent to the library which should also help with drainage.

Site of SW Library park.

Once the final designs are complete, the project will undergo the bid and contract award process, followed by permitting. At this pace, the project should be complete before the end of the year, if not sooner. The SWPP is affiliated with the Near SE/SW Community Benefits Coordinating Council, a local non-profit.

Schematic courtesy of LAB

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lansburgh Park to Get New Additions This Summer

Progress is being made to bring new amenities to Lansburgh Park, the largest park in Southwest (if you don't count the National Mall), located along Delaware Avenue roughly from K Street to L Street and backs up to the DMV. Two organizations have been busy raising funds and garnering support to build a dog park and a community garden. The PAWS of Southwest have received approval from the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to build a 10,000 square-foot dog park to the east of the tennis courts. There will be two areas - a 2,000 square-foot area for small dogs and 8,000 square feet for large dogs. The project is fully funded and plans are to break ground this summer. The District will contribute towards the basics and PAWS will fund the rest. A new blog was created to help the SW Waterfront community with tips for handling and training your dog in an urban environment called Waterfront Woof League.

Meanwhile, the SW Community Gardens group has plans of their own for a garden to be located to the northeast of the tennis courts in a 6,500 square-foot space. DPR has also been working with the garden group, which is affiliated with the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly. The group was recently the recipient of a $50,000 grant in a nationwide competition from Fiskars called the 2013 Project Orange Thumb Garden Makeover. According to the press release:
Their proposed “Lansburgh Park Community Garden” was envisioned as a place for meditative gardening and community programming for veterans, youth and seniors. The new [6,500] square-foot garden will provide educational opportunities and give community members a place to reap the rewards of growing their own fresh food. Plans are underway for a one-day Fiskars Project Orange Thumb garden makeover in partnership with The Home Depot Foundation in July 2013.
Volunteers from the community will be needed to help put the garden together.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Harbour Square Designated Historic


It was reported in April's The Southwester that Harbour Square, located at 500 N Street, received historic designation last month by the District's Historic Preservation Office for its mid-century modern design. From the article:
The Historic Preservation Office report found that Harbour Square is characterized by its plantings and hardscape, designed by the acclaimed landscape architect Dan Kiley, who had previously collaborated with [Cholethiel Woodard] Smith on Capitol Park. Kiley's ambitious landscape plan was divided by the buildings themselves into multiple themed gardens, the most impressive being the one-acre “Aquatic Garden,” which contains a pool with its own willow tree on a square island. The pool is the main element of a central courtyard onto which most apartments look, and is also seen through the glassy ground floor of the surrounding buildings. This inter-penetrability of interior and exterior spaces and the integration of nature into the urban fabric are hallmarks of modernism. In fact, the Historic Preservation Review Board found that Harbour Square's green spaces were of "extreme importance" and that "the work of Smith and Kiley together is not separable as part of the overall concept." The complex was praised as "a benchmark for good design" and "a model for new urban renewal." 
Harbour Square joins Potomac Place Tower, Syphax Village Condos, and Tiber Island as historic residential buildings in Southwest.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sneak Peek Inside Camden South Capitol

I recently took a tour of Camden South Capitol, which is rapidly coming together on South Capitol & O streets. There will be a total of 276 rental apartment units (12 of the units are set aside as affordable dwelling units, or ADUs, for households earning up to 80% of Area Median Income). The grand opening is set for April 11 and prospective tenants of both the market-rate and ADUs can start submitting applications on Camden's website two weeks prior to the grand opening. The leasing staff says that they have a list of over 300 people who have already expressed interest in leasing in the building - several people who work around the Navy Yard as well as residents of Southwest. Units on the first through fourth floors will be available first, then the upper floors will be released in phases through May as the rest of the building is completed.

The front of the building will be illuminated at night with lights that can change colors.

All apartments will have the same features, including oversized energy efficient double-paned windows with solar shades, wood-style plank flooring in kitchen and living areas, Blanco Norte Silestone countertops with ceramic tile backsplash, stainless steel appliances, double sink vanities, Moen extra-wide kitchen sinks with spray faucet extensions, ARIA built-in surround sound speakers with docking station, USB-enabled wall outlets, and full-size washer & dryers. Ground level units have the option of installing security systems. Rents for market-rate units will range from $1,300 for studios up to $4,000 for 2BR units per month. Below are a couple photos of the typical kitchen and bathroom in a 1BR unit:

The units on the ground level have 10' ceilings while the other floors have 9' ceilings.


Project amenities include 24-hour concierge service, underground parking, Verizon Fios (cable and Internet), rooftop pool deck with barbecue grills & fire pit, cyber café, fitness center with cardio & free weights, pet grooming room, online rent payment & service request, and a smoke-free environment. Below are photos of some of the public areas:

Some units on the ground level have terraces with views toward the courtyard.

The club room has several TVs set up for viewing and one available for gaming (ignore the ladder).

The gaming TV is located to the left of this photo on the black wall.

Hallway leading to the mail room and elevators.

 Panoramic views of the city are available from the rooftop, a sampling of which is below:

The Southwest skyline with Sky House apartments under construction and the Washington Monument in the distance.

The Capitol dome is also visible from the rooftop.

A view toward Fort McNair and Buzzard Point, which could one day have a new stadium for DC United.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

SW Waterfront Fireworks Festival Set for April 6

Spring is finally here and with it comes the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. This year’s SW Waterfront Fireworks Festival will take place on Saturday, April 6 from 1pm – 9pm, which will be produced by the Washington Waterfront Association and Hoffman-Madison Waterfront.  There will be four main stages set up along the waterfront during the festival. The opening ceremony will take place at Kastles Stadium at The Wharf with musical entertainment throughout the day from military and reggae bands. In addition, there will be a food truck rally, a beach with games, a beer garden, along with the Very Cherry Marketplace with fine art and crafts.

Lifeguard chair set up in the "beach" area at last year's festival.

Over at the Washington Channel Stage, the John Glenn fireboat will parade along the channel with its spray jets, as well as paddle boat & dragon boat excursions, and DC Sail sailing activities. In the evening, the channel will be illuminated with pink lights from the houseboats at Gangplank Marina, the grand lantern will be illuminated, along with lighted Koi in the water, welcomed by the Nen Daiko Japanese Drummers who will be on a barge in the channel. Gangplank Marina Park will have more musical acts, face painters, model boat-making, strolling costumed characters, and Japanese-inspired balloon art. 7th Street Landing will also have jazz performances, windsock-making, and Japanese lantern crafting & origami. The fireworks show will begin at 8:30 and last until 9pm. This year’s peak bloom is forecast to take place during the fireworks festival!

Crowds at last year's festival.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Rock & Roll Marathon Road Closures Tomorrow

The Southwest community will see 4,500 full marathon runners between 8:45am – 11:45am coming out of the 9th Street tunnel onto Maine Avenue, down 6th Street, onto Water Street, into the Anacostia Trail out onto P Street, down 2nd Street, left onto V Street, north on 1st Street, right on Potomac Avenue, and a turnaround on South Capitol Street (Southbound lanes only) and outbound over the Frederick Douglass Bridge.  For all additional details on the event and street closures, please visit the website:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Couple Quick Items: KIPP DC Proposal, Tall Ship Visit

- The Washington Post picked up on the KIPP DC proposal to build a new charter high school at the site of the Randall Recreation Center at South Capitol and I streets, which is owned by the District government. I wrote a post about the issues surrounding Randall last month and there was also an article about it in The Southwester.

Rendering courtesy of Studios Architecture

- A tall ship from the Swedish navy will be dropping anchor at the Gangplank Marina today for a three-day visit.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A Couple Quick Items: Interest in Federal Triangle South, Blarney Bash

- It was reported in Capital Business yesterday that 10 developers responded to GSA's Notice of Intent for proposals to redevelop Federal Triangle South - a collection of five buildings owned by the federal government south of the National Mall. One of those buildings includes the Forrestal Complex, which is the headquarters of the Department of Energy at Independence Avenue and 10th Street. According to the article, the GSA has not released the names of the firms that responded to their NOI. This is the first concrete step made in response to the final SW Ecodistrict plan that was approved earlier this year that calls for adding more uses besides federal office space to the area south of the Mall including L'Enfant Plaza. From the article:
The Federal Triangle South responses indicated that an exchange was a viable transaction, but that infrastructure “will be a significant challenge and will require the coordination of many stakeholders,”according to the GSA. To move forward, the agency would likely issue a more targeted request for a development partner.

- George and Mason Inn are hosting Blarney Bash on Saturday, March 16 at Kastles Stadium at The Wharf. Blarney Bash is a 5-hour open bar event and will feature live music, bocce, corn hole, food trucks, and more from 3:30 - 9pm.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Camden South Capitol Coming Soon

Pre-leasing and move-ins will begin next month on the first four floors at Camden South Capitol, the first new apartment building to open in Southwest in several decades, located across the street from Nationals Park at South Capitol and O streets.  I will be getting a hard hat tour later this month and will take some photos. In the meantime, take a look at their recently created Twitter account for some interior photos. Their website has been updated with floor plans and a more extensive list of in-unit features and project amenities. 

Entrance to parking garage on O Street.

The 276-unit building will have 12 units 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. There is space carved out at the corner of South Capitol and O streets for ground floor retail - fencing has been installed to allow outdoor seating, perhaps for a restaurant; however, no lease has been signed yet.