Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Few Quick NYE Items: DC United, SoCap, Fiddler Breaks Record, Topping Off

In one of his final acts before leaving office on January 2, Mayor Gray signed soccer stadium legislation into law yesterday, paving the way for a new stadium for DC United on Buzzard Point. The 20,000-seat stadium will be located at 2nd and R streets, next door to Fort McNair and about three blocks southwest of Nationals Park.

The Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) for the South Capitol Street Project is now available and public comments can be submitted until February 2. A copy of the SDEIS is also available at the SW Branch Library. Check out JDLand for more details on the recent revisions proposed for the South Capitol Street corridor upgrade, including the reduction in size of the traffic oval planned on the west side of the Anacostia, changing the location of the replacement Frederick Douglass Bridge, and more. There will be a public hearing on January 22 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm at Mathews Memorial Baptist Church, Fellowship Hall located at 2616 Martin Luther King Jr, Avenue, SE.

Arena Stage announced this week that Fiddler on the Roof has broken box office records for the SW-based theater. Previously, the record was held by the production of Oklahoma!, which was originally run in 2010 during Arena’s inaugural season back in Southwest and returned for a summer run in 2011. Fiddler’s run has been extended and will now end on January 11, 2015. 

Before the Christmas holiday, a topping off celebration was held at the Hyatt Place/Engine 13 firehouse under construction at 400 E Street. Construction began on the long-awaited project last December and was the subject of my very first post on this blog back in 2008. Delivery of the hotel/firehouse is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2015. In attendance was Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser, who also announced that she has appointed outgoing Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells as Director of the District Department of the Environment.

A 2014 Year in Review will soon be posted. Happy New Year!

Renderings courtesy of DC United and DDOT; Photo taken by Margot Schulman, courtesy of Arena Stage; webcam image courtesy of Oxblue 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

1001 4th Street Has Permits in Hand

A little more than a month after representatives from Waterfront Associates gave an update on their planned residential building at Waterfront Station, the Washington Business Journal reports that a sheeting and shoring permit has been granted for 1001 4th Street. Construction fencing has not gone up yet, but with permits now in hand, fencing should be up soon; however, it is doubtful that actual construction will begin before the New Year since it's now only 10 days before the end of the year. 1001 4th Street was designed by Perkins Eastman and is planned as an 11-story, 365-unit rental apartment building with 5,000 square feet of ground floor retail along with multi-story residential units facing the private drive at the north end of the site and Makemie Place. It will take about 22 months to build the project, which means that the building should be complete around the fourth quarter of 2016. After this building, there is one more residential parcel planned at Waterfront Station, which is the District-owned parcel across the street. Sky House East began leasing early this year and the finishing touches are being placed on Sky House West. The two vacant parcels on the south side of Waterfront Station are slated to be office buildings, but there is no timetable on when those will be built.

 Rendering courtesy of Perkins Eastman

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Demolition Underway for 500 L'Enfant Plaza

Demolition is underway along Frontage Road at L’Enfant Plaza to make way for 500 L’Enfant Plaza, a new, 220,000 square-foot trophy office building developed by The JBG Companies and designed by SmithGroup JJR. 500 L’Enfant Plaza has been designed for LEED-Gold certification and will include a green roof, triple-height lobby, and fitness center. It will also have direct access to the revamped retail center and the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station. 

500 L’Enfant Plaza is the latest component to L’Enfant Plaza, which has seen significant investment in recent years. A $12 million renovation to the common areas in the 955 L’Enfant Plaza office building was recently completed; the second phase of retail opened in stages this summer (the first retail phase opened in 2011); and the common areas of the 470/490 L’Enfant Plaza office building were renovated in 2012. Murals were painted by artists James Reka, SatOne, and Nawer on exterior walls along the L’Enfant Plaza Metro terrace and loading dock, as well as in the dining area. These murals are part of the JBG Mural Project designed to transform urban walls into public art and was curated by ArtWhino. There’s also the possibility that the International Spy Museum may relocate to the mixed-use complex, bringing more weekend activity to the retailers. However, it appears that the Homewood Suites extended-stay hotel that was planned for D Street has been scrapped for now. Another office building may eventually be built in the plaza itself. In addition, the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel was purchased by an affiliate of Sanford Hotels Group and is undergoing a complete renovation. 

Renderings courtesy of SmithGroup JJR

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Council Approves Stadium Bill, Awaits Mayor's Signature

The DC Council unanimously approved the District of Columbia Soccer Stadium Act of 2014 on second reading earlier today, which sets things in motion toward building a new stadium for DC United at 2nd and R streets on Buzzard Point. If things go as planned, the stadium will begin construction before the end of 2015 and will open in time for the 2017 MLS season. The city will use a combination of borrowing and a land swap to pay for its portion of the stadium, which covers land acquisition, environmental remediation and infrastructure improvements. One obstacle that is still left is how the city will acquire a two-acre parcel in the stadium footprint owned by Akridge. Since the land swap for the Reeves Center has been removed from the legislation, the city will need to purchase the parcel, by eminent domain if necessary. 

The road leading to this vote was a long one. Chatter about DC United’s interest in Buzzard Point first surfaced during the Great Recession in 2009, after plans to build a stadium at Poplar Point fell apart. DC United has been looking for a new home; the team currently plays at RFK Stadium, an aging multipurpose venue that lacks the intimacy or upgrades that are found in modern soccer-specific stadiums. Akridge’s 100 V Street parcel was eyed as a potential stadium location. At the time, Akridge was marketing the nine-acre site as a secure office complex for a federal tenant, but there was little interest from office tenants. Then in 2011, a land swap was proposed with Akridge, but not for a soccer stadium – it was to swap land in Hill East that houses the DC Jail for the 100 V Street parcel to build a new jail; however, this proposal never moved beyond the discussion phase. 

Several sites around the city were considered by DC United for the stadium, but ultimately Buzzard Point won out. Mayor Gray and DC United team owner Jason Levien signed a term sheet in July of 2013 to locate a new, 20,000-seat stadium on a portion of the 100 V Street parcel on Buzzard Point. Other landowners in the stadium footprint include Pepco, Super Salvage, and Washington Kastles owner Mark Ein. In the agreement, the city would contribute about $150 million for land acquisition and infrastructure improvements while the team would pay $150 million to build the stadium. In addition to the stadium, the team plans to eventually build a hotel and some retail space within the stadium footprint. Legislation was introduced to the Council last spring and a series of hearings were held over the summer and early fall. Some components of the deal announced last year have changed, including the Reeves Center land swap and some of the tax incentives offered to the team, but most of the deal’s original terms have remained intact. A Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) was added to the Council legislation at the behest of the CBCC and other local organizations, which includes restoration of Circulator service with an extension to Buzzard Point; funding for improvements to Randall Recreation Center; and a workforce intermediary to connect ANC 6D residents with stadium-related jobs. A separate CBA will be signed with DC United. 

This largely industrial section of Southwest will likely be transformed as a result of the stadium. An Urban Design Framework draft for Buzzard Point released by the Office of Planning over the summer will inform and guide public and private development decisions in the area for the next 10 years. The new stadium’s location, less than three blocks southwest of Nationals Park, will facilitate the creation of a stadium district in the area, since Potomac Avenue will link the stadia. There is the potential for over 10 million square feet of development on Buzzard Point, including up to 4,000 residential units, a maritime museum, marinas, and an esplanade along the Anacostia River. 

Next up: DC United will need to go before the Zoning Commission in 2015 to get approval for the stadium’s design.  Vamos United!

Renderings courtesy of DC United and DC Office of Planning

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

'Fiddler on the Roof' Extends Run

“I think Arena has a hit on their hands!” exclaimed the person sitting next to me at the conclusion of the Opening Night performance of Fiddler on the Roof last month. I think she was right. The popular musical is celebrating its 50th anniversary and Arena’s production was directed by Artistic Director Molly Smith. Fiddler on the Roof takes place in a small Russian village called Anatevka back in 1905 on the eve of the Russian Revolution. It tells the story of a Jewish father struggling to maintain tradition in his family while his daughters are embracing modernity; the story is told in the backdrop of racial and cultural hatred in Russian society against Jews. 

Fiddler stars Jonathan Hadary as patriarch Teyve, who does a superb job of portraying the character’s complexity. The musical numbers are memorable, from ‘Tradition’ to ‘Sunrise, Sunset’, but the one that sticks out in my mind the most is the ‘Wedding Dance’, which is performed near the end of the first act. Spending an evening (or afternoon) to see Fiddler on the Roof is definitely worth your time and its run at Arena Stage has been extended to January 11 at the Fichlander Stage. Tickets start at $50 for select performances and more information is available here

Photo taken by Margot Schulman, courtesy of Arena Stage

Friday, December 12, 2014

SW Neighborhood Plan Released

After more than a year in the making, the Office of Planning released the draft Southwest Neighborhood Plan last month. The plan creates an urban design, land use, and neighborhood preservation framework to enhance Southwest assets for the next 5 to 10 years. A summary of recommendations was released back in June, but three major changes have been made since then: 
  • The Plan makes no land use change recommendations for the townhomes adjacent to Waterside Towers along Maine Avenue.
  • The SW branch library should remain in its current site, but in a new facility. There was a proposal by DMPED and DCPL over the summer to move the library to a site owned by the District at Waterfront Station as a mixed-use development. That proposal will not be moving forward. 
  • A zoning change is not recommended for the Southeastern University campus site at 6th and I streets. However, Shakespeare Theatre Company will need a zoning change in order to move forward with its plans for the site. It can pursue a land use change through the Comprehensive Plan Amendment process that will be underway in 2015. 
The full plan can be found here. Seven key concepts from the SW Neighborhood Plan and goals for each are listed below: 

Model Community 
  • Support the responsible redevelopment of the Greenleaf complex to benefit existing residents and realize a well-designed development and mixed-income community.
  • Maintain a mix of affordable and market-rate residential units that better serve community needs. 
  • Update public realm and transit infrastructure to enhance accessibility for all. 
  • Promote healthy living and food access for the entire community. 
Modernist Gem 
  • Celebrate the distinctive character of Southwest and promote preservation of its outstanding Modernist architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design. 
  • Retain and enhance the character of the L’Enfant Plan in Southwest including associated vistas and reservations. 
  • Ensure that future development is compatible with the existing design of the community. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Randall Park Renovations Finally Getting Underway

Construction fencing and equipment have appeared this week around Randall Park adjacent to Randall Recreation Center on I Street, which means the start of long-awaited improvements to the park should be imminent. Randall Park is one of the playgrounds slated for improvements as a part of the PlayDC initiative. The project has been delayed for over a year, first due to a proposal to build a charter high school on the site, then funding issues. Eventually, over $1 million was secured to fund the renovations.

Originally, the scope of improvements was to be more comprehensive, including: new playground equipment for all ages, renovation of the existing basketball/tennis courts, removal of asphalt and brick walls and installation of a new splash park and seating areas in the plaza area fronting I Street, a skate park, walking path, adult exercise equipment, drinking fountains, picnic & game tables, security lighting, fencing, landscaping and gates. There was an objection by the developers of the adjacent Randall School project to the placement of the skate park, which would have been located next to the eastern portion of their site. Subsequently, the Department of General Services determined that there was not enough funding to do all of the renovations in one phase, so the skate and splash parks, walking path, and adult exercise equipment will not be completed during this phase. The asphalt plaza fronting I Street will still be removed, but for now it will become a grassy area.

In addition to the park improvements, $250,000 has been set aside in the FY 2015 budget to renovate the historic recreation center building, due to the Community Benefits Agreement included in the DC United soccer stadium legislation passed by the DC Council last week. Programming will also be extended for Randall, which was set to lose funding at the end of FY 2015. Park improvements should be completed by next spring.

Rendering courtesy of DPR

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

SWBID is Almost Ready

The process of creating a Business Improvement District (BID) for Southwest has been a long one, but one of the final steps will be taken today. A public hearing is scheduled with the Department of Small & Local Business Development (DSLBD) at the Wilson Building downtown. If the DSLBD determines that the SWBID should be created, it will make a recommendation to the Office of the Mayor, who will register the BID. The DC Council approved legislation over the summer to amend the BID Act to create SWBID and DSLBD approval is the other component needed for the BID to be formed. A representative from ANC 6D will testify at the hearing to express the commissioners’ unanimous support for the creation of SWBID. 

SWBID covers a wide area of Southwest, from south of the National Mall to M Street and from 15th Street to South Capitol Street. Excluded from the SWBID is the Portals complex, which resisted joining since several of the functions of a BID are already done by the property owners. There are three main areas of Southwest included in the BID and each has distinct needs. Along 4th Street near the Waterfront Metro, the BID will work to promote the street as the ‘Main Street’ of Southwest and attract retailers to vacant spaces along the corridor. In addition, the underpasses beneath I-395 will receive more attention and the BID will identify how to implement components of the SW Neighborhood Plan. Meanwhile, the BID will work on branding of The Wharf and improve transportation access to the area. Along 10th Street in Federal Triangle South, activation of the street is needed. At 7th Street and Maryland Avenue near L’Enfant Plaza, the BID will bring in playful street furniture to activate the area for office workers during lunch hour when food trucks visit. 

A taskforce comprised of PN Hoffman, Clark Enterprises, City Partners, and Forest City helped bring the BID to fruition. Other advisory members include GSA, SWNA, and ANC 6D, among others. A Board of Directors will be elected next year with somewhere between 10 and 15 members. While GSA cannot formally become a member of SWBID, the Federal agency has 13 buildings within the BID boundaries and will contract services for those properties. This arrangement is similar to what has been done in the Downtown DC BID. 

In order to fund the BID, there will be four classes of membership, each with their own set of fees: commercial property, industrial or unimproved land, hotels, and residential. The residential class includes rental apartment buildings with 10 units or more and the BID fee will be sent to the owners of the buildings. Condominiums, co-ops, town homes, public housing, and apartment buildings with less than 10 units are exempt, but will have the opportunity to opt-in if they want. It is anticipated that SWBID will send out the first bills in early 2015 and operations will begin in the spring; the BID is already looking for office space in the area. SWBID will be fully operational by next fall. 

Map courtesy of SWBID

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

St. Matthew's PUD Extension Sought


The redevelopment of the St. Matthew’s lot at M Street and Delaware Avenue has taken another turn as the developers have a scheduled hearing with the Zoning Commission next month to extend the PUD for two years. Originally approved two years ago, the PUD became effective on November 30, 2012 when the Zoning Commission’s final order was published in the DC Register. The plan calls for a new St. Matthew’s Church at the corner of M Street and Delaware Avenue and a 220-unit rental apartment building planned by Trammell Crow. 

It is likely that Trammell Crow will not use the full two years to apply for building permits, since the latest estimate for the start of construction is the second quarter of 2015 according to St. Matthew’s. However, the developer was not present at Monday’s ANC 6D meeting when the commission was to vote on the extension request. As a result, the commissioners have requested that the Zoning Commission delay their planned January 12 hearing until the ANC can hear from the developer. The Zoning Commission hearing is also scheduled the same day as the January ANC meeting, so none of the commissioners would be able to attend the hearing if it were held on that date. If the hearing isn't rescheduled, the commissioners will not support the request to extend the PUD.

Renderings courtesy of Shalom Baranes Associates

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Parade of Lights This Saturday!

The annual Parade of Lights will return to the Southwest Waterfront this Saturday. This year, the event will be held at Water Street Park/Gangplank Park (600 Water Street) starting at 6pm. The annual event includes the lighting of the Southwest Christmas Tree, photos with Santa, a bonfire, s’mores making, and live jazz. Houseboats and other vessels will be decorated for the holidays and will parade along the Washington Channel between Old Town Alexandria and Southwest starting around 7pm with the winners announced at 7:45pm.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Council Approves Amended DC United Stadium Deal

At yesterday’s legislative meeting, the DC Council unanimously approved the DC United stadium deal, although a second reading of the bill is scheduled in two weeks for final passage. If the bill receives final passage and is signed by the Mayor (the latter is uncertain due to issues with the funding scheme devised by the Council), it will allow the city to move forward with purchasing land to build a $300 million, 20,000-seat stadium at 2nd and R streets on Buzzard Point. The city’s contribution would be capped at $150 million. The stadium could open in time for the 2017 MLS season if all goes well, but there are still several hurdles left before we see fans walking down Potomac Avenue. 

Included in the legislation is a method to pay for the stadium, which Council Chair Phil Mendelson stated from the dais that Mayor Gray had not provided when he submitted the legislation back in May. After the Council removed the Reeves Center land swap from the deal, a roughly $62 million funding gap emerged since proceeds from the swap would have contributed to land assembly costs. Now, the city will need to purchase a two-acre parcel on Buzzard Point from Akridge either outright or by eminent domain, in addition to the land purchases already agreed to for other parcels in the stadium footprint (a land swap with Pepco will still proceed). 

Also included in the bill are community benefits specific to the area near the proposed stadium, negotiated between the Council and the CBCC, a member of the Winning Goal Coalition. For instance, $4.9 million in operating dollars from the FY 2015 budget will be provided to restore the Convention Center – Southwest Waterfront Circulator route (earlier than the FY 2020 estimate in DDOT’s DC Circulator Transit Development Plan), but the route will be extended south into Buzzard Point. Funding was already in place to extend the Navy Yard – Union Station route into Southwest in FY 2015. Although streetcar routes are planned to eventually serve Buzzard Point, the Circulator will bring transit to the area sooner and funding for expanding the streetcar network are in limbo. The city will also provide $121,000 for a workforce intermediary to connect residents of ANC 6D with employment opportunities during construction of the stadium and for the first two years of operations. In addition, $250,000 will be provided to renovate the Randall Recreation Center building and provide programming beyond 2015 since funding was set to run out for programming on September 30, 2015. Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells also expressed his commitment to preserve the mix of affordable housing in the area near the stadium and if any redevelopment of those communities were to proceed, a "one-to-one" replacement of the affordable units should be achieved. Additional community benefits are still being negotiated separately with DC United which may include summer jobs for local youth, United Soccer Club programming at local schools, scholarships for soccer day camps, free tickets for local youth, meeting space and use of the stadium for community events, among other things. 

While it appears that Akridge got the raw end of the deal by not getting the Reeves Center in the land swap, most of the news yesterday was good for the developer, which might help the city get the Buzzard Point land without the need for eminent domain. Akridge will likely get more money for the Buzzard Point land than it would have received in the land swap, since the price per square foot that Pepco and Super Salvage have agreed to receive for their parcels is higher than the previously agreed amount between the city and Akridge during the land swap negotiations. After Akridge sells its two-acre parcel for the stadium, it will still have seven acres just to the south of the new stadium. At one point, the 100 V Street parcel was planned as a 2.7 million SF secure office enclave to entice a federal agency; however, with a soccer stadium adjacent, those plans have likely changed (and if they haven’t they should!). There have been rumors that at least multifamily and hotel uses are being planned for the site, but Akridge has not made their intentions public yet. 

Also included in the financing package for the stadium, funding for the “Hopscotch Bridge” on H Street, NE has been moved up to the FY 2015 budget so the new bridge will be completed by 2018. The lifespan of the current bridge is near its end and a new bridge will allow several planned projects to move forward: 
  • The H Street streetcar line can extend west past Union Station and go all the way to Georgetown. 
  • Amtrak can increase rail service (whose trains run below the bridge) and expand Union Station. The placement of the columns on the current bridge is preventing Amtrak from moving forward with its expansion. 
  • A multi-block air-rights development behind Union Station called Burnham Place can move forward, which is being developed by Akridge. 
On the same day that the soccer stadium deal was approved, a separate deal was approved by the Council for Akridge to renovate the historic Stevens School in the West End for a special needs school and will allow the developer to build an office building on adjacent land. 

With the Reeves Center swap out, the proposed Anacostia Reeves Center complex is also on hold. As Council Chair Mendelson put it, the city may choose at some point to sell the Reeves Center on the open market and use the proceeds to build a new municipal complex in Anacostia; however, it will not be included in the DC United stadium deal. The second vote on the stadium deal will be on December 16, the last legislative session of 2014 for the Council.

Rendering courtesy of DC United

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Soccer Stadium Vote Today, Buzzard Point Panel Tonight

The DC Council will be taking their first vote today on legislation to approve construction of a new stadium for DC United at First and R streets on Buzzard Point, also known as the District of Columbia Soccer Stadium Development Act of 2014. The proposed legislation has changed from the Mayor’s proposal such as the removal of the Reeves Center land swap. In order to make up for the proceeds that would have been gained from the land swap with Akridge, the city will need to borrow about $62 million out of $150 million to pay for land acquisition. The legislation will also permit the use of eminent domain if necessary to purchase the Buzzard Point land. The WaPo also states that a proposed sales tax abatement of $7 million for the team has also been scrapped. Meanwhile, the CBCC continues to work on including a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) for those living closest to the stadium site in the legislation, although the final asks will likely be scaled back from their draft CBA. The group has been meeting with representatives from DC United and Council members to work on which components of the CBA can be included. Today’s Committee of the Whole meeting will be held today at 10am at the Wilson Building and the legislation meeting will be at 11am. Watch the meetings live.

On a related note, the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly will host a panel discussion this evening on Buzzard Point development and preservation. Moderating the panel will be former ANC 6D commissioner David Garber. According to Hill Now, panelists will include ANC 6D commissioner Rhonda Hamilton, founder of Dupont Underground Julian Hunt, director of the Anacostia Watershed Society Jim Foster and historian Hayden Wetzel. The meeting will be held at MPD’s First District headquarters at 101 M Street, starting at 6:30pm. 

Rendering courtesy of DC United

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Tree Lot to Return to St. Matthew's

The St. Matthew’s lot at Delaware Avenue and M Street will become a Christmas tree lot again this year, but with a twist. In anticipation of finally starting construction sometime during the second quarter of 2015 on a new sanctuary and a 200-unit apartment building and as a thank you to the community for its patience over the years, St. Matthew’s will be giving away trees on Saturday, December 13. From 10am to 1pm, trees will be given to previous customers. In order to receive a tree, customers need to send an email to by noon on December 11 to receive a verification email with an identifying number. After 1pm, the remaining trees will be given to the community at-large. Those who have not purchased a tree in the past and would like one of the remaining trees in the giveaway will need to pick up a reservation number sometime between 10am and 1pm on the 13th. Free food and beverages will be provided during the giveaway, as well as a free Christmas CD while supplies last. 

Rendering courtesy of Shalom Baranes Associates

Thursday, November 27, 2014

A Compilation of Stadium Articles

As efforts to get the DC United stadium deal passed by the DC Council before the end of the year intensify following the release of the consultant report on November 5, several developments have occurred that have been summarized below:
  • Akridge has conceded to build a portion of the Reeves Center site without residential uses according to The Washington Post.
  • Housing Complex writes about the "inevitability" of Buzzard Point.
  • An article in Housing Complex states that DC United doesn't need a tax abatement in order to build the soccer stadium according to testimony by the CFO. 
  • Capital Business reports that the Reeves Center swap may be removed from the deal. In addition, a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) for the area near the proposed Buzzard Point stadium site may still be on the table. The consultant report acknowledges in the potential risks section that the District usually provides a significant CBA in these kinds of deals and will need to be factored in the $150 million cap on expenses. Ward 8 Council member Marion Barry is quoted in the Capital Business article as saying: "no stadium deal will be done without a Community Benefits Agreement."
  • Mayor-Elect Bowser has stated she will remove the Reeves Center swap from the stadium deal in remarks to the Federal City Council according to reporting by The Washington Post.
  • The DC Fiscal Policy Institute has some ideas on how to improve the stadium deal.
  • Two DC Council committees will vote on the stadium legislation on November 25 according to Capital Business sans Reeves Center swap.
  • Both committees in the DC Council approved legislstion to buikd a soccer stadium for DC United according to The Washington Post.
Rendering courtesy of DC United

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Coming Soon to The Wharf: Norton Plaza

Within the past week or so, demolition was completed at St. Augustine's Church located at 6th Street and Maine Avenue, which will be replaced with a new sanctuary and 108 mixed-income condos. A sheeting and shoring permit has been obtained and excavation is scheduled to begin by mid-December. Waterfront Park will begin construction next May and will be completed the following April, around the same time the adjacent church and condo building will be finished. 

Meanwhile, office leasing has begun for the two office buildings planned in the first phase of development at The Wharf totaling 485,000 square feet on parcels 1 and 3a. 800 Maine Avenue (parcel 3a) will be 220,000 square and 1000 Maine Avenue (parcel 1) will be 265,000 square feet. An added amenity for tenants of 800 Maine Avenue will be access to the Wharf Club, containing a 7,000 SF fitness center, meeting space, an infinity pool, and a one-acre park above the planned Wharf Center concert venue, overlooking the Washington Channel. Both builings will be completed in the third quarter of 2017 and are anticipated to achieve LEED-Gold certification. 

The Wharf was featured in an article in the New York Times. Some news-worthy items from the article:
  • One of the public plazas at The Wharf will be named after DC Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, who was responsible for coming up with the name "The Wharf" and whose great-grandfather escaped slavery in Virginia and came to Southwest in the 1850s.
  • 20 restaurants will open in the first phase of development.  
  • Among the planned businesses to open will be a rum distillery.
  • Letters of intent have been signed for two-thirds of the planned retail space in phase one.
  • The Maine Avenue Fish Market will be enhanced with the addition of pincic tables,  transient docks for day-trippers, and fruit & vegetable vendors. 
Renderings courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

International Spy Museum to L'Enfant Plaza?

The International Spy Museum is eyeing L'Enfant Plaza for its new home according to an article in Capital Business.  After plans to move to the Carnegie Library site were scuttled,  the museum has been on the hunt for space. In a Washington Business Journal article from last month, L'Enfant Plaza was not on the radar of suggested places for the museum, but The Wharf was on the list. From the Capital Business article on L'Enfant Plaza as a potential home:
The Malrite Co., owner of the museum, has signed a lease yet but is focused on trying to work out a deal there, according to company spokesman Jason Werden.
Between 600,000 and 700,000 people visit the Spy Museum annually, which would bring additional traffic to L'Enfant Plaza and help to transform the complex away from a primarily 9 to 5 office environment. Earlier this year, the JBG Companies completed the second phase of renovations to the retail portion of the complex, while the east office building was recently renovated and the north office building's revamp will soon be complete. In addition, the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel (owned by an affiliate of Sanford Hotel Group) is cuurently under renovation and will reopen in 2016.

This is not the first museum to consider moving to the office-heavy mixed-use complex. Before being lured away to National Harbor, the National Children's Museum was moving to L'Enfant Plaza in a new building that would be constructed in the middle of the plaza. Ironically, the Children's Museum is now also looking for new space in the District after being open at National Harbor for only two years per the WBJ.

It was not revealed in the Capital Business article where in the complex the Spy Museum would be located, but perhaps JBG is dusting off their plans for the National Children's Museum...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pepco Community Meeting Tonight

Pepco will be holding a community meeting this evening to discuss the proposed Waterfront subststion the utility wants to build on Buzzard Point. It wants to replace the existing substation at First and T streets with a new facility at First and R streets to accommodate growth in the Capitol Riverfront and Southwest Waterfront neighborhoods. The meeting will be held from 6-8pm at King-Greenleaf Recreation Center (201 N St).

Rendering courtesy of Pepco

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Council Public Hearing on Stadium Tomorrow

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson will hold a public hearing tomorrow evening to discuss the legislation surrounding the proposed DC United stadium on Buzzard Point. The hearing will be held at the Wilson Building downtown starting at 6pm. It is likely that the Council will vote on the stadium next week soon, so at Monday's ANC 6D meeting, the Commissioners voted unanimously to urge the Council to delay their vote until the next Council session begins in early 2015 in order to fully address unresolved issues with the bill.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Waterfront Station Apartments to Begin Construction Shortly

Within the next month, construction fencing will be put up around the northwest parcel of Waterfront Station where Waterfront Associates plans a 365-unit, 11-story multifamily rental building with ground floor retail. This will be the third of four residential buildings to be developed at Waterfront Station after the two Sky House apartment buildings. The second stage PUD was approved back in September 2013. It will take about 22 months to build with construction completion estimated in September 2016. 

Over at Sky House West, the finishing touches are being put into place in the large outdoor terrace between the apartment building and 1101 4th Street, including landscaping, seating, and an indoor/outdoor fireplace. A peek inside the building reveals that the fitness center equipment is mostly installed while work continues on some of the first floor units. 


In other Waterfront Station news, the owners of the retail space on 4th Street are in discussions with a potential tenant for the vacant 1,200 SF space at 1100 4th Street – a car rental group that could potentially open in 2015. Meanwhile, the larger 4,130 SF space next to Station 4 at 1101 4th Street is being eyed as a bank or potentially a hardware store. 

Rendering courtesy of Waterfront Associates

Monday, November 10, 2014

ANC 6D Urges Council to Delay Stadium Vote

At this evening’s ANC 6D meeting, the commissioners voted unanimously to support a resolution to urge the DC Council to delay their planned first vote on the DC United stadium deal on Buzzard Point at next week’s Council meeting until the next Council session begins in 2015. The commissioners feel that the Council vote is being rushed after the election in order to get it passed before the end of Mayor Gray’s term and Mayor-elect Bowser takes office in January. After all, an independent analysis of the stadium deal was released just last week and a hearing was held the same afternoon. According to the commissioners, there are several issues surrounding the deal that have not been resolved (some of which were brought up at the Council hearing last week), including: 
  • A transportation plan for Buzzard Point 
  • Preservation of affordable housing closest to the stadium site on Buzzard Point 
  • An environmental report on the Super Salvage site, which is suspected to be the most polluted of the sites in the stadium footprint 
  • Concern over whether the city will breach its self-imposed $150 million cap on expenses toward the stadium project 
  • A Community Benefits Agreement has not been signed or negotiated yet by the city or team 
  • The Reeves Center land swap is problematic – the independent study performed by a consultant hired by the Council stated that the Buzzard Point parcels have been overvalued and the Reeves Center has been undervalued, resulting in an overpayment by the District of $25.7 million
On a related note, an article in this weekend's Washington Post brought into question whether the stadium deal needs to be reworked because of some of the unresolved issues also addressed in ANC 6D's resolution.

Rendering courtesy of DC United

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cost-Benefit Analysis Released for Stadium Proposal

The long-awaited cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the DC Council for the proposed Buzzard Point stadium was released yesterday. The Council also held a hearing yesterday to go over the results of the report. Housing Complex has a run-down of the sparring between the Administration and the Council during the hearing. Here are some takeaways from the report: 
  • The proposed stadium cost of $286.7 million (including a roughly 46/54 split between the city and DC United) would be the most expensive MLS stadium built to-date, which compares to the average stadium cost of $160 million (adjusted for inflation and location). The report states that the higher costs for the Buzzard Point stadium are driven primarily by higher land acquisition, remediation, and horizontal development costs, and quality of stadium construction. 
  • The District’s contribution could increase from $131.1 million to the $150 million cap due to environmental remediation, or other cost overruns. However, there are no cost caps on cleanup of the Pepco or Akridge parcels – for instance, the District is responsible for relocating Pepco’s turbines and high voltage power lines, which can significantly increase the cost of remediation.
  • The public/private partnership cost split is consistent with the average MLS soccer-specific stadium, although the total dollar amount contributed by each entity is one the highest among MLS-specific stadiums, due in part to the high relative cost of the stadium itself. 
  • The Buzzard Point parcels have been overvalued by $19.4 million and the Reeves Center has been undervalued by $11.2 million, resulting in an overpayment by the District of $25.7 million (after a contribution committed by DC United and Akridge). 
  • As a result of the stadium, the Net Present Value (NPV) of new direct, indirect, and induced spending created in the city is estimated to be $2.6 billion over the next 31 years, which is estimated to support 1,683 new full-time equivalent jobs, generating personal earnings of $1.3 billion over the same time period. This includes activity at the stadium, the new hotel adjacent to the stadium, the redevelopment of the Reeves Center, and a new municipal center in Anacostia. 
  • Without the stadium, no significant development on Buzzard Point is anticipated for eight to 10 years at a minimum. If the Stadium Act is approved, the report estimates that between 300,000 and 700,000 square feet of development will occur within the next five to seven years near the stadium – mostly residential with some ground floor retail. The area is not as transit-friendly as the rest of Capitol Riverfront and Southwest and will need significant infrastructure improvements in order to generate developer interest. 
  • Operating income at the stadium would begin to be profitable at year six of operations (2022). Tax abatements provided to the team equal a NVP of $50 million, with $43 million in property tax abatements and $7 million in sales tax abatements. 
  • The fiscal benefits and land proceeds from the stadium deal will have a NPV of $365.2 million, minus the total costs of $255.9 million, results in a net benefit to the District (depending on whether the city makes a $131.1 million or $150 million contribution to the stadium) of anywhere between $89 - $109.4 million. 
  • Annual paid attendance of 561,000 people for 36 events is estimated for the stadium, which compares to between 2.5 million and 3 million annual visitors to Nationals Park for 81 home games plus the playoffs and additional events. 
  • The stadium has been designed to have 24 suites with 20 seats each for a total of 480 suite seats out of 20,000 total seats. 
  • Ticket prices are anticipated to range from $20 to $28 per game, depending on the match. In addition, the average club seat and suite ticket prices are estimated to be $50 per game, excluding premiums. 
  • Construction is anticipated to begin in November 2015 and conclude in 2017. 
  • The planned $45 million, 200-key hotel adjacent to the stadium would likely not start construction until 2020. 
Rendering courtesy of DC United

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Pepco Submits Application for Waterfront Substation


Pepco submitted its application to the Board of Zoning Adjustment last month in order to build a new distribution substation across the street from the proposed DC United stadium site at 2nd and R streets on Buzzard Point. The substation is needed in order to accommodate growth in Southwest and Near SE/Navy Yard/Capitol Riverfront. According to the application, the proposed Waterfront Substation will consist of a two-story plus cellar building with approximately 57,751 square feet of gross floor area and approximately 33,022 square feet of cellar floor area. The building will have a maximum height of 59 feet and six parking spaces will be located on the western side of the site with loading facilities on Q Street. 

View of substation from the corner of 2nd and R streets.

The design of the substation by CORE Architects will include an open court on Q Street and a landscaped plaza on R Street; the building will be set back from the property line. In addition, the fa├žade will have vegetated screens with “creeping vines” and an art installation on the corner of First and R streets. Adjacent to the proposed substation is the historic Dent House at the corner of First and Q streets. Pepco also owns the house, but will not incorporate it into the substation. 

Concerns have been brought up about having a substation in close proximity to homes by neighboring residents, led by ANC 6D Commissioner Rhonda Hamilton whose single-member district includes the proposed substation location. Pepco has stated that they have several substations across the city near homes and any emissions are within safe levels.  There will be a public meeting tomorrow evening at Westminster Presbyterian Church (400 I Street) to go over the proposal starting at 6pm. If approved, construction on the substation is expected to begin in 2015 with completion by the end of 2016. 

Renderings courtesy of Pepco

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Portions of The Wharf are Ahead of Schedule


Demolition continues apace over at The Wharf development. Phillips Flagship is now gone and the only building left along the waterfront from 7th Street to the Maine Avenue Fish Market is the Capital Yacht Club/Jenny’s Asian Fusion (both establishments have been relocated to the former Channel Inn).  Utility work along Maine Avenue should last until sometime in December.

Over at 6th and M streets (also known as Parcel 11), demolition began last Thursday at St. Augustine’s Church. Prior to the demolition, the copper beech tree on site was moved to the site of the future Waterfront Park near where the Maine Lobsterman statue used to be located (it has been put in storage and will be reinstalled near the Maine Avenue Fish Market). In the demolished church’s place will be a new St. Augustine’s, as well as 108 mixed-income condo units, which should be complete in 2016.

Even more progress has been made on the water side of The Wharf development as crews are months ahead of schedule. New docks and slips have been installed for the Capital Yacht Club to the east of 7th Street and piles are being driven for the massive District Pier that will extend from Maine Avenue at 9th Street out into the Washington Channel. Work on the seawall will also soon be underway. 

Meanwhile, renovations have been made to the former Channel Inn at 7th and Water streets and will contain several offices, including Perkins Eastman DC, Clark Construction, Capital Yacht Club, Jenny’s, Madison Marquette, E.R. Bacon Development, Hoffman-Madison Waterfront, and PN Hoffman & Associates (PN Hoffman’s corporate headquarters will remain at the Wharf – either at Parcel 3A or at Pier 4). Jenny's may re-open at the Channel Inn by next moth in a cafe format serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.