Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The View at Waterfront on the Market

The View at Waterfront apartments at 6th and M streets is on the market and the tenants are vetting proposals from developers to partner with and buy the buildings under TOPA rules. In addition to the two IM Pei-designed apartment buildings next to Waterfront Station, the sale would include the opportunity for the developer to build on the two parking lots that face the buildings – one on M Street and the other on K Street. The Pei buildings were renovated in 2008 when Fairfield Residential owned them and a Planned Unit Development (PUD) was filed to develop the two parking lots. The original PUD called for two new towers that were designed by Esocoff and Associates. At the time, the planned M Street building would have ground floor retail. However, the project was shelved during the housing crisis and Fairfield lost the complex in a foreclosure sale. Part of the PUD called for the renovation of the large courtyard and pool area between the existing buildings, which was the only portion that was completed. In addition, the PUD called for repairs to the Southwest Duck Pond once the first building was complete, which is located across K Street from the north parking lot (pictured below).

SW Duck Pond.

The View at Waterfront is the sister development to Town Center East, which is going through the PUD process to develop on its parking lots and ran into issues last year when the residents of Waterfront Tower and the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly applied for historic status for the existing buildings and landscaping. As a result, the PUD was revised to remove one planned building along 3rd Street and the other two planned buildings were redesigned. 

Previous plan for new M Street residential building at The View.

Several residential buildings have been trading hands recently in the neighborhood. Those include Channel Square and Capitol Park Tower. The new owners of both complexes are planning to renovate, but a new six-story addition is planned at Capitol Park Tower.

Rendering courtesy of Esocoff & Associates

Monday, February 24, 2014

Masala Art Interior Build-Out Underway

Interior build-out of the new Waterfront Station Indian restaurant Masala Art on 4th Street will begin this week according to the proprietor Atul Bloha. Exterior work has been underway since November. It will take between 10 and 12 weeks to finish the interior, which puts the opening of the restaurant sometime in mid- to late-May, perhaps by Memorial Day weekend. If this schedule holds out, it would be the shortest amount of time to open a restaurant at Waterfront Station (with the exception perhaps of Subway). Both Station 4 and Z-Burger experienced significant delays before their restaurants opened. While the menu for the Waterfront Station Masala Art is still being worked out, there will be dishes that differ from the Tenleytown location. 

The Waterfront Station Masala Art will be much larger than the Tenleytown one – there will be seating for 130 people, including seats at the bar and lounge area. For comparison purposes, Station 4 has seating for 210 people including outdoor seating. Masala Art will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, along with bar fare. More details will likely be forthcoming when the restaurateur goes before the ABC commission to get a liquor license. Job positions that will be available include waiters, bartenders, kitchen helpers, food runners, and bar backs. Waiters will need at least two years of experience in fine dining with a customer-first approach to their job. Resumes and references should be sent to masalaartsw@gmail.com.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Couple Friday Afternoon Quick Items: Wharf Financing, Stadium Land Swap Roadblock

It was reported in the Washington Business Journal today that the developers of The Wharf have a private equity partner that will contribute $270.3 million towards the first phase of construction, which totals $775.7 million. According to the article, these details were revealed in legislation submitted by Mayor Gray to the DC Council to amend the Land Disposition Agreement (LDA) between the city and Hoffman-Madison Waterfront. One of the requirements of the LDA was that Hoffman-Madison Waterfront needed to have a minimum of $200 million in private equity invested in the project’s first phase. Things are finally coming into place for The Wharf in the past month. A lawsuit was dismissed by the Court of Appeals, then the developers announced last week at the monthly ANC meeting that they intend to break ground on phase one sometime in late March and a construction fence would be coming to the waterfront in the coming weeks. In addition, according to Pastor Martha Clark of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, they will vacate their church at 6th Street and Maine Avenue in June to make way for demolition. They will worship at the fellowship hall of Christ United Methodist Church while their new home is built by Hoffman-Madison Waterfront. 

Rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

On the soccer stadium front, Capital Business reports that Ward 4 Council member and mayoral candidate Muriel Bowser has stated she does not support swapping the Reeves Center at 14th and U streets, NW in exchange for land in Buzzard Point to use for building a new DC United stadium. Bowser chairs the council’s Economic Development Committee and has the power to not bring a stadium deal up for a vote in her committee. The article states that Bowser prefers to use funds that would be spent on land acquisition/infrastructure at the stadium site for improving the city’s middle schools and doesn’t see the stadium as her first priority. Bowser is quoted saying “I get concerned about the land swap idea, especially for the Reeves Center with the numbers that I have heard being bounced around about what people think it’s worth.” It’ll be interesting to hear what she and the other candidates have to say about the issue at tomorrow’s mayoral forum at Arena Stage, starting at 10am. I will be live-tweeting from the forum.

Update: Greater Greater Washington provides eight ways how DC can get the most out of a soccer stadium deal.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Couple Quick Items: Candidate Forums, New Stadium Renderings

It's election season!  There will be a mayoral forum this Saturday, focusing on issues affecting ANC 6D. The forum will start at 10am at Arena Stage and The Southwester's Editor-in-Chief Shannon Vaughn will serve as moderator. In addition, there will be a Ward 6 Council Election Forum on Tuesday, March 4 at Westminster Presbyterian Church between the two Democratic candidates running - Charles Allen and Darrel Thompson. This forum will be from 7pm to 9pm. Andrew Lightman, Managing Editor of Capital Community News, will moderate. The Primary Election will be held on April 1. Early voting begins on March 17 (go vote right after having some Guinness) and ends on March 29. No voting will occur on Sunday, March 23. Find your polling place here.

DC United unveiled new renderings of the proposed Buzzard Point stadium at a fan event over the weekend. No news has come out lately about progress with negotiations to build a new stadium for DC United at 2nd and R streets. The DC Council has yet to vote on it although it was expected to do so months ago.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Parcel 11 Will Be First to Deliver at The Wharf

By this summer, St. Augustine's Episcopal Church in its current form will be no more. The building will be demolished and its congregation will move temporarily to the fellowship hall of Christ United Methodist Church at 4th and I streets while construction begins on their new home. The church came to terms with Hoffman-Madison Waterfront to extend The Wharf development to St. Augustine's, which is at the corner of 6th Street and Maine Avenue. In addition to a new sanctuary, St. Augustine's will get an endowment.  At the new St. Augustine’s Church on Parcel 11, there will be views of the church from M Street and Maine Avenue since it will be located at a prominent corner. 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.  

Parcel 11B will be a condo building.

In turn, Hoffman-Madison Waterfront will build a 108-unit mid-rise condo building adjacent to the new sanctuary, which will face the townhouses at Tiber Island. A portion of the units will be reserved for households earning up to 50% and 80% of Area Median Income (AMI). The asymmetry of the facade was 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. It will take about 18 months to build both, which places delivery around the beginning of 2016. Groundbreaking for phase one of The Wharf will be next month and the other parcels are scheduled to deliver by the fall of 2017.

Renderings courtesy of MTFA Architecture and SK&I Architectural Group

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More Retailers Announced for L'Enfant Plaza

On a recent trip to L'Enfant Plaza, I noticed a couple "Coming Soon" signs in the retail promenade. One of them was Brown Bag, which will replace Frozen Yogurt Indulgence. Brown  Bag serves breakfast, salads, sandwiches, noodles, and soups. A second sign was up for Shoes by Lara, located next door to Nash's Sporting Goods.  It appears that Nash's has reduced its footprint to accommodate Shoes by Lara. According to the Going Out Guide, Amsterdam Falafelshop will be opening in L'Enfant Plaza as well, aiming for an August or September opening. The above photo shows construction of the glass canopy from last month, but more progress has been made since then. A portion of the facade is now being installed.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Vacant South Capitol Lot to Become an Apartment Building

Camden South Capitol may soon get a new neighbor to its north. 1319 South Capitol Altus LLC (Altus Realty Partners) has the vacant lot and some of the adjacent buildings under contract, located across the street from Nationals Park. It was just six months ago when a permit was issued to build a parking lot on this site. Leasing at Camden South Capitol has been averaging about 20 units per month since opening last spring, which is encouraging news to Altus. They are in the initial stages of planning a rental apartment building on the site and are negotiating with the remaining property owners on the block to potentially increase the lot size. The developers came to the ANC on Monday evening to give them an update on their preliminary plans. They are currently planning a 250,000 SF building which is allowable by-right with about 260 to 270 units and some ground floor retail. There will also be an affordable component due to inclusionary zoning requirements.

The lot in question (on left) is adjacent to row homes.

The parcels in blue are currently controlled by Altus.

The developers will need to come back before the ANC once their plans are further along in order to get their support for any zoning approvals needed since the site is within the Capitol Overlay District. If some or all of the rowhomes become part of the development footprint, hopefully they can be incorporated into the design of the new building. A recent example of where this has been done is 7th Flats at Progression Place in Shaw. There are so few older rowhomes in Southwest and their reuse as retail space (a dentist office currently occupies one of the rowhomes) could help bring some unique retailers to the area as the South Capitol Street corridor gets revitalized in the coming years.

Lot map courtesy of Altus Realty Partners

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wharf Groundbreaking Next Month

It was announced at this evening's ANC 6D meeting by Hoffman-Madison Waterfront that they intend to hold a groundbreaking ceremony sometime in late March for phase one of The Wharf. Phase one includes parcels 2, 3, 4, 5, 11, and the waterfront park, which goes from west of 9th Street  to 7th Street and then skips to St. Augustine's at 6th and Maine avenues. More information about phase one can be found here. Waterfront establishments including Phillips Flagship and the Channel Inn have been given official notice that they must close by May 10th. The Channel Inn will become the construction office for the builders and the Capital Yacht Club will be moving its operations there until their new building is completed. Jenny's Asian Fusion may also reopen in a smaller space at the Channel Inn. Phillips Flagship will not be relocated to the Channel Inn, but has signed a lease in the neighborhood (presumably at L'Enfant Plaza since it was reported back in July that it was one of the restaurants that may open at phase two of the retail redevelopment). Cantina Marina and the Fish Market will remain open through construction of phase one, although the land side of the fish market will be cleaned up (above-ground utility poles will be relocated, etc.).

An eight-foot fence and signage will arrive at the waterfront over the next couple of weeks. The construction process of phase one will last approximately 42 months with completion expected in late 2017. One of the first things to happen on the site will be the construction of a 50-space parking lot for the Maine Avenue Fish Market, followed by lane closures along portions of Maine Avenue to allow the relocation of utilities from Water Street and the construction of a new northbound turn lane to the fish market. At the same time, the piers at Gangplank Marina will be dismantled. During this summer, more utility work will be done on Maine Avenue, Phillips Flagship will be demolished, and bulkhead demolition will occur. By the end of 2014, all utilities will be moved to Maine Avenue and excavation will begin on the site. Vertical construction will be done by the middle of 2016 with facade work and interiors completed by the fall of 2017.

Information about the construction schedule, including street closures, a FAQ, and other details will be posted on the project's website within the next 48 hours.

Renderings courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Friday, February 7, 2014

Review of "The Tallest Tree in the Forest"

The world premiere of Daniel Beatty’s The Tallest Tree in the Forest at Arena Stage tells the story of Paul Robeson, who in his time was the most famous African American entertainer in the United States. Robeson was an All-American football player at Rutgers and attended Columbia Law School. Made famous by his performance in the musical Showboat in London and in Othello, Robeson quickly rose to stardom. He was referred to as "The Tallest Tree in the Forest" at the height of his career. Controversy swirled around him though, when he was suspected of being a communist during the early days of the Cold War. Robeson's fame, fortune, and influence dwindled once he was blacklisted. Beatty’s one man performance was energetic and riveting - his storytelling is a mix of song and prose. I’d recommend seeing this show before this show ends on February 16. 

The Tallest Tree in the Forest runs until February 16 in the Kreeger Theater and is directed by Moisés Kaufman. Tickets are available here.

Photo by Don Ipock, courtesy of Arena Stage

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Few Quick Items: New Douglass Bridge, Wharf Update, Greenleaf Shelter, Transpoint Lease

The Washington Business Journal reports that DDOT has narrowed down the list of teams that can compete for the contract to build a new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, traffic ovals on either side of the bridge, and the reconstruction of the I-295/Suitland Parkway interchange. Funding has been secured for the $622 million project, which covers Phase One of the South Capitol Corridor project. The current bridge design concept was criticized by the Commission of Fine Arts back in September, who wanted a more contemporary design for the span.

Rendering Courtesy of DDOT

According to the Washington Business Journal, the DC Court of Appeals last month did not overrule the decision by the Zoning Commission to approve the portion of The Wharf's Stage 2 PUD dealing with Parcel 11, where St. Augustine's Episcopal Church will get a new sanctuary and Hoffman-Madison Waterfront will build a mixed income condo building. Owners of the townhomes at Tiber Island Cooperative appealed the Zoning Commission ruling claiming that the planned condo building did not respect the historic designation of the townhomes across the street. The ruling clears the way for this part of the project to move forward. While the new St. Augustine's is being built, parishioners will be worshiping elsewhere in Southwest.  Hoffman-Madison Waterfront will be at Monday's ANC meeting to give an update on The Wharf.

Rendering courtesy of MTFA Architecture

Two recreation centers in the city have been set aside as temporary shelters for newly homeless families due to the increase in the homeless population as mentioned in a Washington Post article. One of those centers is King-Greenleaf Recreation Center. Homeless families started coming to King-Greenleaf last week. The temporary shelter will be in place until the end of hypothermia season on April 1.It is estimated that anywhere from 500 to 1,000 newly homeless families will need to be housed before the end of the season. Only a few families have used the rec centers in the first couple of days. From the article:
Thursday night was the first night families were referred to a rec center. Seventeen were referred, and nine wound up staying. And by Friday, the number was down to one.

With the clock ticking on GSA's pending lease expiration on April 30, 2015 at the former Coast Guard headquarters in Buzzard Point, the Navy issued a contract for remodeling the Navy Yard building that was damaged in September as a result of the mass shooting that occurred. About 3,000 employees were moved temporarily to Transpoint since the building was empty following the departure of the Coast Guard. From the Washington Business Journal article:
Monday Properties, according to the Navy, "has stated its intention to not renew a lease with the GSA."
Perhaps the owner is weighing its options with the prospect of a new soccer stadium being built two blocks away? Maybe. Further down the article, Tim Helmig from Monday Properties stated the following:
The company "welcomes any discussion to extend," and that Transpoint is an ideal facility for federal employees to occupy. "GSA and Monday Properties have worked together and were in discussions about extending the lease, but those discussions have not taken place since December of 2013."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

M Street Yoga Receives Zoning Variance

M Street Yoga received unanimous approval for their zoning variance request today, paving the way for the studio to begin renovations next week and open for business next month on the ground floor of Carrollsburg, A Condominium, located at 300 M Street. The yoga studio website will be up and running soon, which will include a list of class offerings and the ability to schedule classes. Three remaining donation-based classes will be held this week with proceeds benefiting Wounded Warriors: 

Tonight at 6pm (all-level Vinyasa Flow) 
Wednesday at 3:30pm (Pilates class) 
Thursday at 7pm (Prana Flow class)

$25 Million Renovation Underway at Holiday Inn Capitol


Interior renovations began in November at the Holiday Inn Capitol, located at 550 C Street.  About three years ago, the exterior of the hotel was refurbished with new signage, lighting, and paneling, but now the interior is getting some attention, to the tune of $25 million.  The 552-key hotel is staying open during the renovation, which will be done floor by floor. The third floor was the first one to be completed and reopened for use by guests last week.  Each room has been stripped and given a more contemporary look, with improvements including new lighting, furniture, artwork, headboards, bedding, carpet, wallpaper, window treatments, upgraded cable, wall-mounted 42" LED HDTVs with free HD programming, a slide out desk, refrigerator, safe, and a Keurig coffee maker. Bathrooms have also been modernized with new wall tile, flooring, fixtures, wallpaper, and mirror. The only thing that remain in the bathrooms from the old rooms are the counter tops which are still in good shape. The King rooms have a chaise lounge and shower stalls.

Below are some before and after photos of the rooms and hallways.

King room before
Double room after

Double room after
Bathtub before
Bathtub after

Vanity before
Vanity after

Hallway before
Hallway after

In addition to the rooms, the two ballrooms and three breakout rooms are being modernized with new carpet, wallpaper, and lighting. The lobby will also get new carpeting and furniture in June. WiFi access is being upgraded throughout the hotel. Elevator cabs will be renovated once the rooms are complete.  The fitness center will be moved to the top floor and will offer views of the Capitol, next to the rooftop pool and deck, which will also be remodeled once the pool season ends this fall.  21st Amendment restaurant will be renovated starting in June. The rooms are scheduled to be complete in April and the rest of the hotel by next year.

There are three job openings currently available - Catering Sales Manager, Conference Center Manager/Director of Catering, and Marketing Office Assistant. A job description for each is located here. Holiday Inn Capitol is owned by Donohoe Hospitality Services and is the 5th largest Holiday Inn in the system.