Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Few Thursday Morning Quick Items: Channel Inn Closing, Job Fair, Tiber Island

The Channel Inn, along with Pier 7 restaurant will be closing for good on March 31 to become the temporary headquarters of the construction team of The Wharf and the temporary home of the Capital Yacht Club.  Ahead of the closing date, Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells will host a Legacy Celebration this Saturday from 7-9pm.  After the Channel Inn and Pier 7 closes, everything will be sold at auction on April 21. 

The DC Job Fair will be held tomorrow at Arena Stage, in partnership with Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells' office. This will be the third job fair held at Arena since the first was held in conjunction with its production of Good People in early 2013. Recruiting companies onsite March 28 will include Athena Consulting, Big Bus Tours, Clark Construction, CLP Resources, Forest City Washington, Keany Produce, Safeway, Specialty Hospital of Washington, Trusted Solutions, United States Secret Service, U.S. Army and U.S. Postal Service. Non-profit employment organization Jobs Have Priority (JHP) will also be onsite to assist attendees with the employment search and application process.A full list of recruiting companies can be found here.

A power struggle is underway at Tiber Island, as chronicled in The Washington Post. It stems from the renovations that have occurred in the property and disagreements with how the community should be run, which is located adjacent to The Wharf.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Wharf Breaks Ground

Representatives from the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront team, political leaders, and neighborhood residents gathered in a large tent at the site of the former Kastles Stadium this morning for a groundbreaking ceremony to start construction on The Wharf project along the Southwest Waterfront. This day has been a long time coming…more than eight years have gone by since Hoffman-Madison Waterfront first began the process, which included countless community meetings, seven DC Council votes, three acts of Congress, and one Great Recession, but groundbreaking is here at last. By next year, eight cranes will become a fixture along the waterfront to join the 57 other tower cranes across the city.

A choir from Amidon-Bowen Elementary School started off the program with two songs, followed by an invocation from Reverend Martha Clark of St. Augustine’s Church. Then, Monty Hoffman from PN Hoffman took to the stage and introduced the partners in the project, while describing the long process that culminated with this morning’s ceremony. In describing his interactions with Ward 6 Council Member Tommy Wells for instance, Hoffman noted that Wells had four main themes that he wanted addressed with the project: 
  1. Sustainability – The Wharf will be LEED-Gold certified and will have a cistern system that will be able to handle up to two inches of rainwater, along with a co-generation plant that will provide electricity to the parking garages. 
  2. Inclusiveness – Over 200 units will be set aside as affordable housing for a variety of income levels, starting as low as 30% of AMI. 
  3. The Lower 30 Feet – The designers took great care in the pedestrian experience by designing the lower levels on a human scale. 
  4. Keep Bufus! – King Ribs was the first vendor to appear on the waterfront and will remain once the project is complete – Bufus’ barbecue was available for all to enjoy after the groundbreaking ceremony, along with food from other waterfront establishments, including Cantina Marina, Jenny’s Asian Fusion, and Captain White’s Seafood. 

Next up was David Brainerd from Madison Marquette who provided some specifics about The Wharf:
  • 1,350 residential units 
  • 700 hotel keys 
  • 900,000 square feet of office space 
  • Ground floor retail 
  • Wharf Hall that will bring “top music acts from around the world” 
  • A series of mews and alleys leading to Jazz Alley, which will include a movie house 
  • Market Square adjacent to the Maine Avenue Fish Market that will be “the hub of food activity for the whole Mid-Atlantic” 
  • 10+ acres of public space 
  • 500 boat slips 
  • Four piers, including a recreation pier, transit pier, District Pier, and the existing Pier 4 
  • A mile-long cobblestone-like waterfront promenade  

Following Brainerd were speeches from politicians, including DC Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Congressman Darrell Issa, Mayor Gray, Wells, Ward 2 Council Member Jack Evans (who used to represent SW back in the 90s), Ward 4 Council Member Muriel Bowser, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor Hoskins, and ANC 6D Vice Chair Andy Litsky, whose single-member district includes the liveaboard community at the Gangplank Marina. Litsky had a few memorable lines (one of them referenced the name of this blog), but the one that probably elicited the most applause was his description of creating a first class waterfront where “we won’t need a casino to keep it afloat.” (For those who don’t know, a MGM Grand casino hotel is coming to National Harbor downriver in Prince George’s County.)

After the speeches, the VIPs went outside in the rain and ceremoniously turned some dirt that was set up for the event. The waterfront setting allowed for the John Glenn water boat from the fire department to spray water along the Washington Channel following the photo-op. The program ended with a catered lunch and live music from a jazz band. Despite the rain, it was a well-attended event, which several of the speakers noted, including Gray and Bowser. After all, this is a $2 billion development in the Little Quadrant That Could (Can).

 Rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

Friday, March 14, 2014

Here Comes the Fence...


As more tangible signs (both literal and figurative) begin to appear along the Southwest Waterfront confirming that construction is imminent on phase one of the billion dollar Wharf development, whose groundbreaking is scheduled for March 19 at 11am, let’s take a brief look back one last time at the portion of the Southwest Waterfront that soon will be history. 

A large Coming in 2017 sign will likely be installed here at 9th St & Maine Ave.

Phillips Flagship occupies roughly where Parcel 2 will be built. An entertainment venue called Wharf Hall with capacity for up to 6,500 patrons, along with a co-generation plant and two mixed income apartment buildings (several with micro units), will replace Phillips Flagship. A Transit Pier will be built nearby to serve water taxis and can accommodate several roles, such as an ice skating rink in the winter and (with the addition of barges along its sides for seating) a stadium for the Washington Kastles, if they choose to return. The building which houses the Capital Yacht Club and Jenny’s Asian Fusion will make way for a temporary parking lot (or an office building if an anchor tenant can be found – at one point The Wharf was a contender for the new Washington Post headquarters, although it is unclear if that is still the case). 



Transit Pier in foreground and Parcel 2 located to the left.

The plaza where 9th Street dead-ends at Water Street will be transformed into District Pier, a 650-foot pier that will start at Maine Avenue and extend out into the Washington Channel. District Pier will be where tall ships dock and the Dockmaster building will be located at the channel end of the pier. On the land side, District Pier will serve as the area where visitors will emerge from the parking garage and begin to interact with The Wharf with retail shops and cafes. 

Future site of District Pier.
View from Washington Channel.

District Pier and Intercontinental Hotel from the Washington Channel.

H2O Nightclub/Hogates was torn down nearly four years ago and was replaced temporarily by Kastles Stadium. The stadium was in place for three years and during that time, the Washington Kastles won three Mylan WTT championships and lost only once at home during that stretch. Kastles Stadium has been dismantled and will be replaced by Parcel 3, an office building and an Intercontinental Hotel. The office building will face Maine Avenue and the hotel will be on Wharf Street, a woonerf (a Dutch term for a street where pedestrians and cyclists have priority over vehicles) that will run along the length of the waterfront, with areas for outdoor café seating, a promenade, and limited vehicular traffic. A new Capital Yacht Club will be built adjacent to the hotel on the Wharf Street side. Next door is Parcel 4 which will be a mixed income apartment building facing Maine Avenue and a luxury condo building facing Wharf Street. 

Hogates was demolished in 2010.
Kastles Stadium opened in 2011.

Parcel 3 office building along Maine Avenue.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

SW Branch Library Site Up in the Air

The future of the Southwest branch library site is one of the issues that have come up during the Southwest Neighborhood Plan process, which has been underway since last summer. Over $8 million in funding was in the 2012 budget to make substantial renovations to the existing building through 2018, which was built in the 1960s.  A mini-makeover was done to the space in 2011.

The Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the Office of Planning are pushing for a plan to include a new Southwest library as a component of a mixed use building on a 4th Street parcel the city owns at Waterfront Station. The city has been building several new or substantially renovated libraries recently – mostly as standalone buildings; however, a library in a mixed-use building is planned in the West End and there are plans to potentially put a non-library addition in the flagship MLK library downtown. Theoretically, the current library site would be sold to a developer and a high-rise residential building placed on the site. Moving the library to 4th Street would give it a more prominent location in the neighborhood, but if located on the first floor, it could replace precious retail space planned along 4th. 

Locations of existing and proposed library sites.

Meanwhile, community leaders are calling for a standalone library at its current site, located at Wesley Place and K Street. For instance, in an open letter to the mayor in January, the CBCC called for a standalone library. During the Mayoral and Ward 6 Council forums, most of the candidates stated their preference for a standalone library when asked by the moderator. Some of the new, standalone libraries built in recent years include those in Bellevue, Anacostia, and Deanwood, while others that are architecturally significant have been substantially renovated, such as those in Petworth, Georgetown, and Northeast. A playground is planned (and mostly funded) at the park next door to the current library and would create synergy between the two spaces. 

Do you prefer a standalone SW branch library in its current location or one in a mixed use building on 4th Street? Vote in the poll on the left sidebar of the blog and/or leave a comment.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Wharf Groundbreaking Set for March 19

Following yesterday's front page coverage in the WBJ about The Wharf, this week's Capital Business reveals additional details about the project, including the date that most Southwesters have been waiting to hear - groundbreaking is set for March 19. Here are some new details from the article about what is coming to The Wharf:
  • In addition to Wharf Hall, a movie house may be coming, although Hoffman-Madison Waterfront states that at this point it is still a concept.
  • Other retailers include a jazz club, along with a piano bar, country-western bar, and an Irish pub. Local restaurant groups are coming to the development, although no specific ones have been announced yet.
  • The Francis Case Memorial Bridge will be adorned with LED lighting (pending approval). I suggested something like that in a post back in 2008.
  • Private financing is coming from French Canadian firm PSP Investments.
The Capital Business article is accompanied by a photo tour of the area and Q & A with PN Hoffman's Monty Hoffman.

Update: The groundbreaking will start at 11am on March 19 and is open to the public. The event will last approximately an hour, followed by a luncheon.

"Mother Courage and Her Children" Ends on Sunday!

This weekend is your last chance to see Kathleen Turner as Mother Courage in Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children at Arena Stage, directed by Artistic Director Molly Smith. Turner gives a powerful performance as the "tough as nails" matriarch who struggles to keep her children and business alive during the 30 Years War.  Nicholas Rodriguez (from The Light at the Piazza, Oklahoma! and My Fair Lady) plays the eldest son Eilif, Nehal Josef (from Señor Discretion Himself, Oklahoma! and The Music Man) plays Swiss Cheese, and Erin Weaver (in her Arena Stage debut) portrays Kattrin.

At two hours and 30 minutes, the performance seems a bit long, but still worth the time to go see if you can. There are two performances today and two tomorrow in the Fichlander Stage. Tickets are available here.

Photo by Teresa Wood, courtesy of Arena Stage

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Few Friday Afternoon Quick Items: Wharf Front Page News, Au Revoir Channel Inn, Buzzard Point Planning, Blind Whino Reception

The Wharf development is featured on the cover of this week’s Washington Business Journal (subscribers only). A timeline showing how the project has progressed over the past 10+ years is presented, as well as a description of each of the parcels to be developed. A groundbreaking ceremony is supposed to occur sometime this month (it’s election season of course, so it has to happen soon). 

Rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront

On a related note, PoPville reports that the Channel Inn will close at the end of March, which is more than a month before the May deadline it was given by Hoffman-Madison Waterfront. As reported last month, the Channel Inn will be used as office space for the construction team and the Capitol Yacht Club will move its operations there. In addition, Jenny’s Asian Fusion may open a small restaurant in the Channel Inn space that would include breakfast. A building permit was issued recently for the conversion. 

The Office of Planning will be undertaking an Urban Design Framework for the Buzzard Point neighborhood in anticipation for the new DC United stadium planned for 2nd and R streets. An Opportunity Analysis Diagram was sent in the monthly SWNA newsletter that shows certain elements that should be taken into consideration when re-imagining the neighborhood. Most of the southern portion of the study area is industrial in nature while some public housing and private homes are in the northern portion near P Street. A public kick-off meeting will be announced soon. The last time a plan was done for the area was the Buzzard Point Planing Assistance Team (PAT) back in 2009.

Do you support the current plan between the District and DC United for a soccer stadium in Buzzard Point? Vote in the poll on the left sidebar of the blog.

Rendering courtesy of the Office of Planning

Blind Whino: SW Arts Club will be hosting a free reception on Saturday, March 22 from 8-11pm to kick start Art Without Borders 2014, which is a custom vinyl art exhibit raising awareness and funds for the Doctors Without Borders Organization. The arts club is located in the former Friendship Baptist Church at 734 1st Street. After the reception, the exhibit will be on display until April 22 at the Art Whino Gallery at National Harbor. RSVP for the reception here.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

ANC 6D’s Newest Commissioner

Southwest resident Stacy Cloyd will serve the remainder of former ANC Commissioner Ed Kaminski’s term as the representative from single member district 6D-02, which is the only single member district that spans both sides of South Capitol Street. There were two candidates that had signed petitions in order to run for the vacant seat, but Cloyd was the only one whose petitions were validated by the Board of Elections. Cloyd was sworn in yesterday by Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells at his office in the Wilson Building. She joins Sam Marrerro and Rachel Reilly Carroll who have recently joined ANC 6D representing 6D-01 and 6D-03, respectively. The next ANC 6D meeting will be on Monday, March 10 at 7pm. The agenda has not been released yet.

Photo courtesy of Linda O'Brien

Monday, March 3, 2014

A Few Monday Morning Quick Items: Stadium Supporter Website, L'Enfant Plaza Atrium, SW Waterfront is #1

DC United has created a website called Unite DC that explains the parameters of the deal between the city and the team to build a new stadium in Buzzard Point. The website also allows those who support the deal to send a form email to the DC Council.

Update: 49% support stadium deal per WCP.

Rendering courtesy of Gensler

The atrium at L'Enfant Plaza continues to take shape. Most of the glass has been installed on the atrium, which will serve as the new entrance to the revamped retail center. The area is a big construction zone, with the second phase of the retail center, northern office building, and the L'Enfant Plaza hotel closed for renovations. The second phase of the retail center is scheduled to open later this year.

The Southwest Waterfront neighborhood makes it to number one on PoPville's random list of Top 13 Revitalizing DC neighborhoods that he'd buy a house or invest in if he had extra cash.