Friday, October 31, 2014

Playground Ribbon-Cutting Tomorrow

The next meet and greet park clean-up at the new 3rd & I Street Park will be tomorrow, starting at 11am. Following the clean-up at noon, a ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at the playground, where volunteers and donors will be honored. The new playground at 3rd & I Street Park, adjacent to the Southwest branch library is more than four years in the making and the first phase was completed in August.  The Southwest Playground Project, a project of the CBCC, overcame financial and bureaucratic obstacles to get the playground built. The second phase will include storm water retention; more retaining walls; and repaving and scoring of the sidewalks.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Guest Appearance at "Our War" Opening Night

Our War, directed by Anita Maynard-Losh, is a series of monologues written by 25 award-winning American playwrights themed on the U.S. Civil War at Arena Stage. The show is part of the multi-year, multi-city National Civil War project. The monologues are broken into two series: “Stars” and “Stripes” with 18 monologues included in each series. There are a total of 25 monologues, so there is some overlap between the two series. An ensemble of actors read the monologues – Kelly Renee Armstrong, Ricardo Frederick Evans, John Lescault, Tuyet Pham, Lynette Rathnam, and Sara Waisanen. Guest performers include over 30 notable leaders from the District community. 

On Opening Night last Friday, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the special guest performer and read “That Boy”, which was one of my favorite monologues. Of the 18 monologues performed on Opening Night, I enjoyed “That Boy”, “Context”, “Fourteen Freight Trains”, and “The Grey Rooster” the most. Although some monologues were better than others, overall I thought the idea was well executed. I saw the “Stars” series, but would be interested in seeing “Stripes” as well. 

Our War runs from October 21 until November 9 at the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle. Tickets are available here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial is Open

 The newest memorial in the District opened earlier this month at 2nd Street and Washington Avenue – the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial. President Obama and other dignitaries attended the dedication ceremony on October 5. Below are some photos of the memorial:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Riverside Baptist Proposes Mixed-Use Redevelopment with PN Hoffman

Over the past seven years, Riverside Baptist Church and Wharf developer PN Hoffman have been in discussions about redeveloping Riverside, located along 7th Street from I Street to Maine Avenue. Riverside has been in Southwest since 1857 and in its current building since 1968. Its current congregation has about 125 members with about a third of them being Southwesters. The current building has about 12,000 square feet of space on two levels, including the basement, with a large setback from Maine Avenue and its main entrance faces a parking lot. It is an aging property where maintenance costs now outweigh costs for ministry services, so the church began exploring their options back in 2007. The redevelopment of the church property will allow Riverside to remain in Southwest, but in a new building and with an endowment. This arrangement is not new in the neighborhood. In addition to Riverside, other houses of worship have partnered with developers, include St. Augustine’s, St. Matthew’s, and Westminster Church is starting the process now. 

Riverside and PN Hoffman took their seven–year relationship to the next level this evening and began the public engagement process, starting with a meeting in the basement of Town Square Towers with residents of the condo building. Town Square Towers is located across I Street from Riverside and will be impacted by the redevelopment of its neighbor. Present at the meeting were representatives from PN Hoffman, Riverside, and architects from Geier Brown Renfrow (GBR) Architects and Studios Architecture. Currently on the table is a mixed-use development with a new Riverside Baptist Church designed by GBR on the southern portion of the site closer to Maine Avenue and a 150-175-unit rental apartment building on the rest of the site, designed by Studios Architecture.

The new Riverside has been designed with two levels – the first floor will have a fellowship hall and office space while the second floor will contain the worship center for a total of about 11,400 square feet. At the corner of Maine Avenue and 7th Street, the main entrance will be transparent so passersby will be able to see some of the activity occurring inside of the church. This area serves as a threshold between the street, the parking garage, and the church. Materials used in the construction of the current church building, including stone, stucco, slate shingles, and stained glass will be carried over to the design of the new facility. There will be 40 garage parking spaces available for the church on Sundays and five spaces on other days. 

Meanwhile, the apartment building has been designed as “elegant and simple” to not take the focus away from the church building, which has been positioned on the prominent corner of Maine Avenue and 7th Street. The apartment building will step back in height from nine stories to seven stories closer to I Street and will serve as a "gateway" to the waterfront. Units will be designed to attract families, so no micro units are planned; however, unit sizes will be only slightly larger than what is currently being built in DC. More one bedroom with den and two bedroom units will be built. In addition, an affordable component is planned as mandated by Inclusionary Zoning. On the ground floor there will be space for a daycare center or other community-oriented use, but PN Hoffman feels that traditional retail would not be appropriate at that location. At the corner of 7th and I streets, the building will be pulled back further from the street to create space for a public plaza with a water feature, trees, and benches. The intersection will also be simplified by removing the island that separates traffic making a right turn onto I Street from 7th Street. 

A change of zoning will be required in order for the project to move forward as designed. A Planned Unit Development (PUD) application will be submitted in the next few months once the Small Area Plan has been completed by the Office of Planning, which has recommended up-zoning the church parcel. After going through the PUD process, it is expected that construction may begin sometime in 2016.

Rendering courtesy of PN Hoffman

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Couple Quick Wednesday Night Items: For the Dogs

There will be a Grand Opening celebration on Saturday Sunday from 12-3pm for the new dog park at Lansburgh Park, located at Delaware Avenue and K Street. The PAWS of SW Dog Park Group has been working to get this dog park built for several years and it finally opened last month. In addition to a dog park, other recent improvements to Lansburgh Park include a community garden and new basketball courts. A leash-cutting ceremony will be held for the dog park at 12:30pm. Invited VIP guests include Sam the Bloodhound, Bo and Sunny Obama, and Corporal Chesty XIV.

Over at Sky House East apartments, local rescue dogs from Homeward Trails were invited to use the Grroom pet grooming station located in the building’s basement. A promotional video of the pet space is below:

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The View at Waterfront Sold

The View at Waterfront apartments at 6th and M streets has sold to Mill Creek Residential Trust in a deal that closed earlier this week. According to Bisnow, The View sold for $67 million. The property has been on the market for several months and with its sale, the development of the two parking lots facing K & M streets can finally move forward. A PUD was approved for the parking lots at The View by a previous owner in 2005 with a plan to build two 9-story towers on the parking lots with ground floor retail in the M Street building. In addition, the plan called for renovating the existing I.M. Pei buildings as well as improvements to the open space between them. The existing I.M. Pei buildings were renovated in 2008 and the open space was improved, but the new towers were never built and the property was sold at auction during the Great Recession. 

The new owner will need to resubmit a PUD since the existing one has expired; plans for the buildings have likely changed from the original plan from nine years ago. The Bisnow article states that Mill Creek hopes to start construction on the new buildings in about 18 months.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Some Movement on Buzzard Point Hostel?

A raze permit was filed on September 26 for 129 Q Street, which is a taxi repair garage one block north of the proposed DC United soccer stadium site in Buzzard Point. It’s also across the street from the soon-to-be-built Pepco Waterfront Substation. Back in 2010, the Zoning Commission approved an application for the C Hostel & Hotel, a 109-key property with 489 beds that would have both hotel-style and hostel-style rooms in the same facility. According to the zoning application, half of the hostel/hotel will be comprised of rooms with single and double beds and in-room bathrooms. The other half of the hostel/hotel will be comprised of dormitory styled rooms and shared female and male showers on each floor. Shared guest amenities will include: a hip lifestyle lounge, game areas for children and adults, a bean bag movie theatre, self-service kitchen, guest laundry, lounge lockers, a cyber lounge, complimentary breakfast and a shuttle bus service to the Waterfront Metro station. At the time, Tiber Creek LLC (Carr Hospitality) was planning this project, but the company’s owner passed away shortly after approval and the development was tied up in probate until recently. The economy was also not favorable for development, so the project was delayed. 

In the Office of Planning’s letter of support for the project back in 2010, it stated, “the current uses on the property are projected to remain until all approvals and financing for the proposed use have been secured.” Since a raze permit has been filed, does that mean financing has been secured and development is imminent? We should know soon enough because in 2012, the Zoning Commission gave a two-year extension to the approval of the project and that expiration occurs on November 12, 2014. By next month, the developer will need to file for a building permit or reapply for approval. As of today, there is no indication that the developer will go before the ANC to seek an extension, so it’s likely this project will finally be moving forward. I’ve reached out to the owner for more details and will share what I find out. 

 Rendering courtesy of JP2 Architects

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Latest on Buzzard Point Soccer Stadium Proposal

At Tuesday night’s soccer stadium Open House, representatives from the District government, DC United, and developer Akridge had a series of information stations covering different aspects of the proposal, such as transportation and planning. This Open House follows the forum hosted by SWNA back on September 15. Over the summer, a series of plans and studies have been conducted for the stadium proposal and surrounding Buzzard Point neighborhood, including a Special Events Study, a Transportation Management Plan, and the Buzzard Point Urban Design Framework. Here’s what we now know about the proposal: 

The Stadium 
The District and DC United propose a $300 million, 20,000-seat soccer stadium at 2nd and R streets in Buzzard Point, about two blocks southwest of Nationals Park. There is a chance that in the final design, the number of seats at the stadium could decrease to 18,000. The District will contribute up to $150 million in a series of land swaps with Akridge and Pepco, as well as infrastructure improvements needed for the stadium site; a tax abatement will be provided to the team over a period of 20 years. The land swaps will allow the District to provide a subsidy for the stadium without breaching the debt limit cap placed on the city. DC United will contribute the remaining $150 million to build the stadium.

Major League Soccer’s season lasts from March to November and most of DC United’s home matches occur on weekend nights. Once the stadium opens in the Spring of 2017, there will be an average of 23 home matches per season with an average attendance of 19,200; five sold-out international soccer matches; three sold out concerts; five community events with an average attendance of 4,000 people; and 10 other events with an average attendance of 6,000 people for a total of 46 events a year.

Buzzard Point 
The Urban Design Framework developed for Buzzard Point will inform and guide public and private development decisions for the next 10 years. A summary of the draft can be found here, but some interesting details were mentioned at the forum and Open House. Development in Buzzard Point will be focused toward the rest of the Capitol Riverfront BID area along Potomac Avenue in order to protect the existing housing north of the stadium site. A riverfront esplanade will connect to Yards Park and a more naturalized shoreline is envisioned. A Maritime Museum is planned for a site that lines up with the axis of the Capitol and the soccer stadium south of the proposed traffic oval on South Capitol Street. The addition of residential units in Buzzard Point will come from new construction on empty lots, but will also come from the repurposing of existing buildings in the area, including the Transpoint Building, 1900 Half Street, and the Buzzard Point Power Plant.