Friday, May 28, 2010

Design Team Selected for Randall School

According to DCist, a trio of architecture firms has been selected to work on the Randall School redevelopment project on I Street. The article states that Bing Thom Architects (the same firm that designed Arena Stage) will be the principal firm, along with landscape architects Oehme van Sweden and DC-based architectural history and historic preservation firm EHT Traceries, Inc. Oehme van Sweden has worked on other projects in Southwest, including the World War II Memorial and the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial.

If you recall back in February, a partnership between Telesis Corporation (a DC-based developer) and CACB Holdings LLC (owned by the Rubell family that owns the Capitol Skyline Hotel across the street from Randall) signed a purchase and sale agreement for Randall School from the Corcoran. Plans include a contemporary art museum, 225-key hotel, and a residential building. The museum will be 20,000 square feet in size and will house the Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation, which will serve as a satellite location for the Rubell Foundation's main museum in Miami, Florida. The hotel and residential building will be approximately 480,000 square feet. The sale has to be approved by the DC Council, since the original sale by the city to the Corcoran has a covenant that stipulated that the intended use of the building would be a college, which won't be the case under the new development plan.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Waterfront Station Presser Planned

Mayor Fenty will hold a press conference at Waterfront Station with the development team on Wednesday, June 2nd at 10:30am to officially reopen 4th Street. Perhaps there will be an announcement about retail...

Patriots Plaza Gets HHS Lease

The GSA, on behalf of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response – a part of the Department of Health & Human Services, has signed a 58,143 SF lease at Patriots Plaza II, according to the Washington Business Journal. With this signing, the building will be about 74% leased. The other tenant at Phase II is the FBI, which signed a lease in March. Both Phase II and III buildings were recently awarded LEED-Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Screen on the Green to Return this Summer

The Washington Post reports that Comcast has agreed to be a sponsor with HBO of Screen on the Green, so the popular free summertime National Mall activity will be back, showing movies on Monday evenings during four weeks in July and August. Below is the movie schedule:
  • July 12: "Goldfinger"
  • July 19: "The Goodbye Girl"
  • July 26: "12 Angry Men"
  • August 2: "Bonnie and Clyde"
Screen on the Green films will be displayed on a 20' x 40' screen and seating will be available from 4th Street to 7th Street.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Constitution Center Under Consideration for Massive DHS Lease

In Monday's Capital Business section of The Washington Post, there's an article about the need for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to move into more than 1 million square feet of space, even though the agency is moving its headquarters to St. Elizabeths over in Congress Heights. This follows a story that DCMud did a couple months ago about the topic. From the WaPo article:

P. Brian Connolly, senior vice president at Akridge, said his firm had hoped to pitch a proposed 2.7 million-square-foot development it plans at 100 V St. SW, but the GSA ruled the property ineligible because it is slightly more than the required half-mile from a Metro entrance.

Connolly said that when he read the solicitation, he thought the specifications seemed to match those for Constitution Center, the renovated former headquarters for the Transportation Department in Southwest D.C.

"If it didn't say it, it hinted around all four corners of that," he said.

That building, owned by David Nassif Associates, has 1.4 million square feet to rent, is highly secure, energy efficient and only three Metro stops from the future DHS headquarters, at the site of the former St. Elizabeths Hospital.

Constitution Center, located at 400 7th Street and directly above the L'Enfant Plaza Metro, delivered in late 2009. There have been rumors that the owners of Constitution Center wanted the FBI to move their headquarters from Pennsylvania Avenue, NW to the secure complex, but no tenants have been announced. In the past month or so, additional finishing touches have been done around the buildng, including several park benches. Here is a look at a hard hat tour I took of the building last summer.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

South Capitol Shopping Center Redo Closer to Reality

The Washington City Paper's Housing Complex Blog reported last week that the South Capitol Shopping Center in Bellevue will be one step closer to being redeveloped after the D.C. Council approves a bill to close a public alley in Square 6172, located within the project's blueprint. Back in December 2008, CityInterests LLC, the developers of the planned revamped shopping center complex, received tax increment financing (TIF) worth $8.8 million to build what is described as:
A 530,000-square-foot $108 million project to replace South Capitol Shopping Center, a strip of stores in the 4000 block near the District’s southern tip that currently includes Domino’s Pizza, Mai’s Nails, a liquor store and Jackson Hewitt tax service. It would include 220 residential units, 85,000 square feet of office space, 500 parking spaces and 47,000 square feet of retail.

Bike Share Expansion Announced

The District Government announced on Friday during Bike to Work Day (and has been widely reported in the press) that DC will be teaming up with Arlington County to create an expanded bike share program between the two jurisdictions, which will become the largest bike share program in the U.S. It is likely that the expanded bike share program, which will contain 1,100 bikes at 114 stations, will include portions of Southwest (my guess is one will be located at the Waterfront-SEU Metro station). The current bike share program in DC only has ten stations - all located in Northwest. DC's burgeoning bike lane network includes 4th Street. Bike lanes were installed on the recently reopened portion of 4th Street and will connect to the bike lanes that run on Pennsylvania Avenue, NW later this year, as WashCycle reported last week.

Above is a bike share station used by the National Park Service, located in West Potomac Park at NPS Headquarters.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Cannon Shots Tomorrow at Fort McNair

It's been a busy day of posting! Here's a notice to pass along from MPD's District One Lieutenant Nicholas Gallucci:
During ceremonies at Ft McNair tomorrow there will be a total of 34 cannon shots to honor the changing of the Commodore & Vice-Commodore of the USCG. The event spans from 10:00am - 1:00pm. It may sound like “explosions”.

Poolside this Summer at the Capitol Skyline Hotel

- Nocturnal Vibe passes along word that the Capitol Skyline Hotel will be hosting pool parties again this season on Saturdays. Below is the press release:
WASHINGTON (May 24, 2010)—Nocturnal Vibe, DC’s premier nightlife events planning and multimedia organization announces an exclusive partnership with the popular Capitol Skyline Hotel to produce Saturday afternoon pool parties. The parties, sponsored by Vida Fitness, have been named Liquid Lounge and will feature some of the best house music DJs from Washington, DC and beyond. The hotel and Nocturnal Vibe will host their inaugural event on Saturday, June 5th from 2 p.m. – 9 p.m., poolside at the architecturally iconic DC destination. The event will feature DJ Mr. Greene, RGF, Eric D. and Billy Quest as well as live percussion and saxophone along with other performers and guests.

The Liquid Lounge parties cost $15 at the door and will include $8 drink specials and $5 beers all day long, including an exclusive Liquid Lounge cocktail for $5. Guests will also be able to buy food from the hotel and chill in the swanky hotel lounge if they wish to take a break from the sun. But if you’re a sunseeker wishing to soak up the rays, you’ll have one of the largest poolside decks in DC to enjoy the entertainment. Liquid Lounge features a capacity of 1300 people including 17,000 sq ft of VIP space. Large umbrellas and seating areas are available for rent for larger groups and guests receive special room rates if they wish to spend the night and party poolside again the next day. In other words, DC has never seen a poolside party quite like this.

Nocturnal Vibe is made up of four professionals dedicated to doing something different with the DC nightlife scene. Their passion comes from their love of house music, which is the driving force behind the Nocturnal Vibe brand. Their parties consist of blending local talent with powerhouse names in the house music world to introduce DC to a new style of pool party more commonly found in South Beach during the Winter Music Conference and the famed Nikki Beach. Nocturnal Vibe also wants to use the opportunity to introduce guests to various artists and performers to provide an ultimate user experience by the pool.

The Capitol Skyline Hotel is located just a few blocks from the Navy Yard Metro station at 10 I Street SW. For more information about the event, visit http://www.nocturnalvibe.com/. To schedule DJ interviews or inquire about press access, please contact Douglas Van Sant at 202-579-6055 or nocturnalvibe@gmail.com
Last summer, the pool deck at the I Street hotel made its debut on the DC scene, hosting poolside events throughout the week, including Pool Boy Parties on Thursdays, Young Professional mixers on Fridays, DJ parties on Saturdays, and Spike'd Sundays (where Real World DC cast members were spotted on several occasions).

- In addition, I forgot to pass along this tidbit from reader Drina via urbandaddy.com about the 2010 Water Polo season underway at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. The Capitol Skyline Conference started play on May 4th and will last for 7 weeks on Tuesday evenings, with playoffs on Saturday, July 10. See the Arlington Athletic & Social League's website for details on the schedule in case you want to see the players in action. The next game is scheduled for June 1.

Potomac Place Tower Delayed Again

The general contractor at Potomac Place Tower, the condo conversion project at 800 4th Street, has filed for bankruptcy. This is is an excerpt from an email sent to the owners of Potomac Place Tower last Wednesday by the management company describing what happened:

The general contractor, Dietze Construction Group, filed Chapter 11 today. Apparently, Dietze had not been paying its subcontractors, despite being paid by the Declarant [Monument Realty], and the pattern of non-payment wasn't confined to this project. The developer is working expeditiously with the subcontractors to resolve the matter, which is expected to take between 14-21 days. In the interim, there will be no settlements or significant progress in the Phase III renovation schedule. We will forward an update when new dates are set for the items remaining, including the presently vacant Phase III units, canopy roof repair and community room upgrade. Due to the fluidity of the matter, there is very little information available at this time. However, we will do our best to update you on the matter on a weekly basis until the project resumes normal pace.

The news was confirmed in an article in Friday's Washington Business Journal. Since Monument Realty isn't able to demonstrate a clean title to the condo units due to the liens placed by subcontractors on Dietze, about 25 settlements have been affected. This is the second time that renovations have been delayed at Potomac Place Tower - back in late 2008, construction was halted at the condo conversion when Dietze placed a lien on the building, because Monument lost the financial backing of Lehman Brothers.

Update: A representative from Monument Realty states that sales are still occuring at Potomac Place Tower, but some settlements have been postponed due to the bankruptcy of Dietze.

Hoffman-Struever to Become Hoffman-Marquette

According to The Washington Post, there is a new partnership to redevelop the Southwest Waterfront. PN Hoffman is replacing Baltimore-based developer Struever Brothers, Eccles & Rouse, which reduced its stake in the project back in June, with Madison Marquette, a DC-based retail and mixed-use developer. Locally, Madison Marquette also owns 770 M Street, SE in the Capitol Riverfront, also known as "The Blue Castle" building, as well as the Cityline at Tenley development in Tenleytown. From the article:
The two D.C. companies are still going through due diligence before the deal, signed this month, can be finalized. The partnership would allow construction to begin in 2012, [PN Hoffman CEO Monty] Hoffman said. "We'll be staying on schedule, basically," he said. "This summer we'll be working on our master plan." He said he will seek zoning changes this fall "so we'll be staying on track with what we were planning a year or two ago."
PN Hoffman will retain majority interest and managing control of the project, which encompasses 26 acres along Maine Avenue SW facing Washington Channel. The plan calls for three hotels, 800 residential units, 250,000 to 300,000 square feet of retail, offices, a marina, underground parking, and parks and promenades along the waterfront nearly a mile long.
The Southwest Waterfront will be connected to the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall via 10th Street, which is in the initial planning stages of redevelopment. L'Enfant Plaza is also located on 10th Street and will be redeveloped - the promenade is currently undergoing a $40 million renovation and I've been told some new restaurant tenants will be announced soon.

Above is a rendering of the redeveloped SW Waterfront, from the Southwest Waterfront website.

Friday, May 21, 2010

WalkingTown Tours This Weekend

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, consider WalkingTown DC/BikingTown DC, brought to you by Cultural Tourism DC. There will be over 100 walking & biking tours throughout the city on Saturday and Sunday, including several in Southwest. Some of the SW tours offered include: Southwest Gateway Art Installation Bike Tour, The United States Capitol Grounds - Olmsted Landscape Tour, Anacostia: The Ridge and the River, Tour the National Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden, Beyond The Lost Symbol – Considering the Mall’s Symbols, and Southwest DC: Renewing Urban Renewal. Check out the website for details on times and reservation requirements.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Free Pet Vaccinations Offered by DC Government

The DC Department of Health (DOH) is hosting its annual free pet vaccination clinics in all eight wards and the Ward 6 location will be held at King-Greenleaf Recreation Center this Saturday from 1pm – 4pm. According to the DOH's website, pet vaccination clinics are open to the pets of District residents, and will feature free vaccinations for both cats and dogs, as well as the sale of dog licenses. King-Greenleaf Recreation Center is located at 201 N Street.

Oscar Mayer Wienermoblie & Curbside Cupcakes Spotting!


The Wienermobile is stationed outside of the Waterfront Station Safeway today to promote Oscar Mayer products.


Curbside Cupcakes
also was spotted on 4th Street. The traveling truck serves Southwest, Capitol Hill, Capitol Riverfront, NoMa, Downtown, Shaw, and Dupont/Logan Circle. Keep track of where the truck is located here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

4th & I Street Signal Timing Fixed?

I got an email from DDOT saying it has been fixed, but I won't know until I get home tonight. If any of you notice this afternoon whether the intersection timing has been fixed, let us know!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Wells to Hold Campaign Event on Sunday

Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells will start his re-election campaign this weekend with a Southwest Campaign Kick-Off Cookout at Waterfront Station on Sunday from 1pm - 3pm. There will be hot dogs, hamburgers, and entertainment for the family.

Speaking of Waterfront Station, more street furniture has been installed recently - four tables were placed in front of Safeway a couple weeks ago and at least one of them already has graffiti on it. Also, several benches were installed in the Metro plaza last week (photos to come). Straw has been put down on both vacant parcels to the north of the office buildings (ANC 6D unanimously passed a resolution last week to urge the DC government and the developers of Waterfront Station to allow community uses on those parcels).

Update: Below are some updated photos of Waterfront Station.


Here are three of the four tables installed in front of Safeway.

Benches have been installed around several of the trees planted in the Metro plaza.

Straw has been placed in the northwest parcel owned by Waterfront Associates, eventually slated for either a residential tower or an office building.

Marquee signage is being installed in three retail spots under construction at 1101 4th Street.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Upcoming Events in Southwest

- Tomorrow, Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells will be holding his monthly Southwest community office hours from 8am - 9:30am at the Channel Inn, located at 650 Water Street.

Related to Council member Wells, but not necessarily to Southwest specifically, Wells was interviewed on the Kojo Nnamdi Show's Politics Hour last Friday about juvenile justice.

- On Friday, May 21, two new SW Call Boxes will be dedicated - one honoring Dr. Dorothy Height and another honoring four civil rights & women's rights leaders (Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman, Representative Patsy Mink, National Association of Women (NOW) President Molly Yard, and Representative Barbara Jordan. The event will take place at Jefferson Middle School, located at 801 7th Street, just across from the actual call boxes in front of the 700 7th Street condo building from 2pm - 3pm, followed by a reception.

Please RSVP by Friday, May 14th, as seating in the Jefferson Middle School auditorium with the students is limited. It's preferable to RSVP by email to pk@ieee.org but you can also call (202) 554-5674 and record your name and e-mail address, or fax a note to (202) 479-4396. The school will be furnished with a guest list and they will ask you to show an ID.

Last April, 14 call boxes were revealed with cherry blossom art during the National Cherry Blossom Festival and a call box honoring Thurgood Marshall was unveiled the following month.

- There will be a meeting on Tuesday, May 25th from 6pm - 8pm to discuss the 14th Street Bridge Corridor Environmental Impact Statement, which is in the process of being completed for when the span and its approaches are eventually replaced.

- A second TOPP (Traffic Operations and Parking Plan) meeting for Nationals Park will be held on Tuesday, May 25th (tentatively scheduled for 6:30pm) at 2nd Baptist Church, located at 1200 Canal Street. This meeting was scheduled, since several participants didn't show up at the April 27th meeting.

- The Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure will be taking place on Saturday, June 5th at the National Mall. Last year, the race raised $4.7 million for local education and community outreach programs that work tirelessly to assist vulnerable populations. Anyone can sign up for the race online.

- The 1st Annual Washington DC Triathlon will be held on Sunday, June 20th from 5:30am - 11:30am. Street closures in Southwest will involve parts of Independence Avenue, 12th Street, 15th Street, and Memorial Bridge.

Update on King Memorial

DCMud gives a good description of the history of the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, as well as what visitors will expect to see once the memorial is complete next summer. The memorial is located on the northwest corner of the Tidal Basin - about midway between the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial. This follows a WaPo article from February that describes the process of how components of the memorial will be shipped to Washington from China.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Truck Crashes into Hirshhorn

According to The Washington Post, a UPS truck traveling on Independence Avenue crashed through a concrete barrier and into the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden at approximately 8:30 pm last night. From the article:
Outside the building, according to officials' accounts, the truck ran through the low concrete structures that serve as flower pots and provide protection. Linda St. Thomas, spokeswoman for the Smithsonian Institution, of which the circular-shaped museum is part, said the truck came about one foot into the building...The museum, described as a low cylinder perched on legs, exhibits art on the two floors above the ground level. No art was affected by the crash, officials said.
Since no art was damaged in the crash, the museum is expected to reopen today.

The Hirshhorn has plans to create a temporary inflatable structure in the courtyard twice a year, starting in May 2011, and is in the process of receiving approvals.

Update: The Washington Post has another article about the crash, this time describing why the UPS truck didn't cause more damage to the building - the concrete planters in front of the museum.

Monday, May 10, 2010

ANC Votes to Urge Community Uses at Vacant Parcels at Waterfront Station

At tonight's ANC 6D meeting, the Commissioners voted unanimously in a resolution to urge the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) to allow community use of the vacant NE parcel at Waterfront Station on a temporary basis until the site is ready to be redeveloped as a mixed-use residential development with ground floor retail. In addition, the ANC urges Waterfront Associates, the developer of Waterfront Station, to allow community use of their vacant NW parcel on a temporary basis. Below is the resolution that passed:
Whereas, Waterfront Station is now open and after nearly fifty years Fourth Street, SW is again the primary commercial corridor in the dynamic urban center of our neighborhood connecting both sides of Southwest and generating renewed pedestrian, bicycle and automobile traffic to and from the site and points north toward Pennsylvania Avenue, and

Whereas, the large parcel of vacant land located on the northeastern most section of Waterfront Station is currently in the real estate portfolio of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) and is slated to be built upon with residential housing and community serving retail in the Waterfront Station Second Stage PUD, and

Whereas, the Zoning Commission has already agreed to delay the completion of the First Stage Waterfront Station PUD for another two years, and Whereas, a Second Stage Waterfront Station PUD is unlikely to be actively developed until such time as the First Stage Waterfront Station PUD is completed and until the climate for residential real estate construction significantly improves, and

Whereas, the Southwest Community, although undergoing significant revitalization with the construction of the first stage of Waterfront Station containing three District agencies, a brand new Safeway, and 35,000 sq/ft of additional retail, the architecturally significant Arena Stage project and hundreds of units of both redeveloped and new housing stock, still lacks centrally located communal open space for our residents to meet, gather and recreate,

Therefore, be it resolved that ANC-6D, on May 10, 2010 at a regularly scheduled meeting by a vote of 7-0, supported the adaptive temporary re-use of the northeastern most parcel of land at Waterfront Station by the Southwest Community until such time as DMPED is ready to build the residential housing and community serving retail upon that parcel, as has been previously approved, and do hereby encourage DMPED to engage in discussions with the ANC in conjunction with Council member Wells’ office to ensure that the parcel may be productively utilized for, among other potential uses, a children's playground, a dog park and a community garden.

Be it further resolved that ANC-6D will request of the owners of Waterfront Station that the parcel of land that they control on the northwestern portion of that property, also slated to be developed as residential housing in the Second Stage PUD, be left as open space for picnicking and occasionally programmed for community special events until such time as it is built upon.

Submitted, Commissioner Andy Litsky, May 10, 2010

ANC 6D Meeting Tonight

The agenda for tonight's ANC 6D meeting has been posted online. There are several SW-related items, including an upcoming Near SW/SE Candidate Forum, the new FRESHFARM farmers market at the Department of Health & Human Services, the South Washington Collaborative Health Fair in August, a resolution on the District-owned northeast parcel at Waterfront Station, a triathlon, a new TOPP meeting, the pump for the pond at Town Center Park, 14th Street Bridge Environmental Impact Statement, and summer school programs at Amidon-Bowen Elementary. The meeting will be held at St. Augustine's Episcopal Church located at 600 M Street, starting at 7pm.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

DC Sail Open House

To help celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the National Maritime Heritage Foundation, DC Sail will be hosting a free open house event this evening from 5-8pm at the Gangplank Marina on the Southwest Waterfront. Some of DC Sail's programs include sailing lessons, boat rentals, schooner cruises and youth programs. The open house is next door to Cantina Marina (which was super crowded last night btw).

Monday, May 3, 2010

Northeast Parcel Flattened

Over the weekend, workers flattened the mini hill located on the northeast parcel of Waterfront Station, owned by the District government, which some would like turned into a playground and community garden. In last month's poll, most readers either wanted the parcel to be developed as originally planned as residential (including an affordable component) with ground floor retail or as a residential building with ground floor retail and a new (free) library. Above is a photo of the flattened parcel, with the Southwest library in the background.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Should an Iconic Ferry Terminal be Built on the Southwest Waterfront?

With news of a water taxi company beginning operations on the Southwest Waterfront, the question comes to mind how we as a city and region should treat water transit? In recent years, the idea of having water taxi service along the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers has been studied and regular service is now available between Alexandria and National Harbor. If more stops are added and different water taxi companies begin offering reliable service at affordable prices, could water taxi commuting catch on in DC? American River Transit is a new company that will offer water taxi service to the Southwest Waterfront, Georgetown, Diamond Teague Park, and Alexandria, with future stops at Poplar Point and National Airport. They will join Potomac Riverboat Company as those who will have regular ferry service in the region. If water taxis do catch on in DC like they have in other cities, then the most logical place for a regional water transit hub would be the Southwest Waterfront. Can you imagine a multimodal transit facility along the Washington Channel (like Hoboken Terminal), with ferry docks, light rail station, and easy access to L’Enfant Plaza – the most connected Metro station in the system – and its revitalized 10th Street corridor? Water taxis could dock at the ferry terminal, as well as cruise ships like Spirit Cruises and the Odyssey. The current terminal for Spirit Cruises is pictured at top right and the Odyssey terminal is on the left. The new ferry terminal could become an iconic structure on the waterfront, similar to Union Station, National Airport, and Dulles Airport terminals. Heck, memorialize the building and name it after a former president, or connect it to a National Naval Museum.

Construction of a new ferry terminal building could coincide with the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront, which should get underway by 2012. There’s a longer-term plan by the National Capital Planning Commission to redesign East Potomac Park and build a canal through there, which would improve boat access to the Southwest Waterfront from the Potomac River. Is a new, iconic ferry terminal building as a part of the redevelopment of the Southwest Waterfront a worthy endeavor? Vote in May’s poll at the top left corner of the blog and/or feel free to make a comment.