Monday, November 29, 2010

Southwest Will Get New Children's Playground

It looks like the effort to bring a centrally-located children's playground to SW has paid off and one is now planned for the park space adjacent to the Southwest Branch Library at 3rd & I Streets. If you recall back in April, I caught some flack from commenters after expressing my opinion (which I rarely do on this blog) about one of the proposed locations for a playground - the District-owned northeast parcel of Waterfront Station. I'm glad the selected location for the park is not on this parcel, which will cause less angst (and unnecessary expense) when the District eventually decides to allow developers to build housing and ground-floor retail on the site, and a new location for the playground would need to be found. Below is an excerpt from an email sent today by ANC 6D Chair Ron McBee describing the new park effort:

The Community Benefits Coordinating Council (CBCC) is working with parents and friends to establish a small person play park in the DPR/DCPL property adjacent to the SW Library Branch. This has been a long time coming and I am very glad to see us seeking a partnership with KaBOOM to make this vision a reality in our community. I, for one, see the need for more playgrounds in our area and hopefully this will be the first to come. Many people have been working separately, in small groups, and finally together to make this happen, including Tommy Wells' Office and the Friends of the SW Library, who have volunteered to help maintain the park. I will be pushing to make this a reality for our young members of the community. I hope you will join "the team" of 100 volunteer members needed to build the park.

If you have questions, please feel free to email me or call our ANC 6D office at 202-554-1795 to reach me but better yet call Rev. Ruth Hamilton at 202-641-8221 or email her at rwh@westminsterdc.org. Ruth is the Chair of the CBCC and is working directly with KaBOOM and the community to implement the grant application.

According to the project website, there are currently 14 volunteer members (myself included) and $5,000 has been donated so far, which is 10% of the $50,000 needed to build the park. The goal is to build the park by this time next year - November 29, 2011.

Update: If you want to make a donation specifically to this project, contact Rev. Ruth Hamilton (her contact info is above). Don't try to make a donation through KaBOOM's website - I found out they currently don't have the ability to carve out online donations to specific projects.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Phase One of L'Enfant Promenade Almost Complete

About a year ago, renovations began at L'Enfant Promenade, the retail area at L'Enfant Plaza. The first phase of renovations include a new food court near the Metro entrance. As a result of the renovation project, the 9th & D Street Metro entrance temporarily closed yesterday and will remain closed through December 8th. The closure will allow the installation of new windows facing the HUD building that will add more natural light to the promenade. Phase one will open January 2011 and then phase two will begin, which includes the remainder of the promenade and the installation of a large glass atrium to replace the pyramid currently used as a skylight. Nationally-recognized retail will open in the second phase - no restaurants have been announced yet for the first phase. The second phase won't open until fall/winter 2012.

Earlier this week, JBG released an updated rendering of a 650,000 SF office building planned for the plaza itself, which is much bolder than the earlier design for the building. The atrium will be located between the two sides of the office building. It is designed by SmithGroup and will aim for LEED-Platinum certification. The developer will look for a federal tenant for the space, since Southwest is considered to be the "Connecticut and K" for the GSA.

Update: There was an article in the Washington City Paper about whether I.M. Pei would get a say in how L'Enfant Plaza gets redeveloped, or if new buildings are proposed for the complex, since he designed most of the buildings. An example used in the article was a proposed campus tower at NYU among a complex of towers designed by Pei that was nixed by planners after Pei expressed his displeasure with the design.

Renderings courtesy of JBG

St. Matthew's Gets New Architect

At this past Monday's SWNA meeting, Reverend Huber from St. Matthew's Evangelical Lutheran Church, along with architect Shalom Baranes from Shalom Baranes Associates Architects presented their latest plans for their mixed use project at Delaware Avenue and M Street, which are still in the concept phase, so no renderings are available. Also present were representatives from Trammell Crow, the developer of the project. Some changes have occurred with the new plans, including the siting of the new sanctuary and community center relative to the planned apartment building. In the new plan, the development is in the shape of an "L" - the apartment building will be situated along M Street & extend south along the western border with 240 M Street and the church will be located at the corner of Delaware Avenue & M, in order to preserve what is left of the view shed along Delaware Avenue north to the Capitol dome. Baranes explained that over the years, Delaware Avenue south of M Street was reduced in width and the center line of the street shifted to the east, which altered the view towards the Capitol. In addition, the new design will maintain the courtyard-design aesthetic of Southwest, with buildings interspersed with open space.

There will be a shared open space along Delaware Avenue with a seating area and a shallow pool that will be connected to the fellowship hall of the church. A landscaped buffer will be installed along Delaware Avenue to shield the outdoor space and provide some security. Existing trees will be maintained on three sides - Delaware Avenue, the western border with 240 M Street, and on the south. New landscaping will be planted on M Street.

Such a large open space can be made because the apartment building will be 10-11 stories tall and use 4.3-4.4 of FAR, allowing more open space. The apartment building will be 2-3 stories taller than other buildings on M Street, but Baranes explained that it's good to have structures of varied heights and the building will be brought closer to the street to give the corridor a more urban feel. Other developments along M Street, including future phases of Waterfront Station will have buildings closer to the street as well. The apartment building will be designed as a simple box, similar to other residential buildings in Southwest, with a variety of building materials, playing off of what currently exists in the neighborhood. The main entrance for the apartment building will be located on M Street. Ten percent of the housing is mandated to be affordable housing by inclusionary zoning, but St. Matthew's would like for it to be designated workforce housing (for teachers, police officers, firefighters, etc.) since the neighborhood already has plenty of public housing.

St. Matthew's has partnered with Arena Stage to design the sanctuary as a performance space. When the old church was in existence, the fellowship hall was used almost daily and Reverend Huber referred it to the "town center" for Southwest -the redesigned fellowship hall will aim to serve that purpose once again. A grand entryway for the church will be designed on M Street. In addition, a community center will be located between the church and the apartment building with a separate entrance on M Street. A 501(c) non-profit organization called Transforming Southwest Community Development Corporation will manage the community center. Within the community center will be a coffee shop called Sacred Grounds Cafe: "Coffee with a Purpose." Some features and planned activities for the community center include: free Wi-Fi access, Internet terminals, seniors morning, book club, live performances, community forums, a gallery to support local artists, movie night, preschool program, thrift shop, and a multimedia classroom. Other ideas floated by Pastor Huber is to offer "Dinner at Your Door" for residents of the apartment building, a community outreach center with a social worker, and a Southwest youth & children's choir.

The PUD will be submitted in either January or February 2011. By that time, more details about the design will be fleshed out. Construction is scheduled to begin by the first or second quarter of 2012. The Lutheran Church helped finance the PUD process and most likely will be involved with financing the project. Until construction begins, temporary uses will be encouraged for the vacant site. Previously, the lot has been transformed into a Christmas tree lot during the holidays and last summer, 20 plots were created for gardeners. The Christmas tree lot will return on December 2nd - details about prices to come soon. Other temporary uses are being contemplated for the site, such as a community yard sale, partnering with Arena Stage and the Corcoran for an outdoor arts festival, and a wine festival. St. Matthew's is looking for other ideas for temporary uses for the space. If you have any ideas, feel free to contact Reverend Huber - his email address is: pchuber@hughes.net.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Oklahoma!" Breaks Box Office Records, Gets Rave Reviews

According to a press release from Arena Stage, the first production since the debut of the Mead Center for American Theater - Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!", directed by Artistic Director Molly Smith, has broken several box office records. As a result, the show has been extended until December 30th, adding six performances to the schedule. Records broken by "Oklahoma!" so far include:

  • Highest single ticket sales for a single production by opening night.
  • Highest single ticket sales for a single production in a 24-hour period.
  • Highest grossing, non-extension production in Arena Stage history.
  • Highest single ticket sales for a single production in one week.
Since its debut, "Oklahoma!" has received rave reviews from several publications, including The Washington Post, Bloomberg News, DC Theatre Scene, Washington Life Magazine, The Baltimore Sun, Washingtonian, and DCist. There is also talks of it possibly making it to Broadway. I saw the musical a couple weeks ago and was impressed (my mom enjoyed it as well). This was the first time I saw "Oklahoma!", but I did take note of a few things that stood out for me. The cast was multiracial - the main characters including Aunt Eller, Laurey and Curly were played by two African Americans and a Latino, respectively. The dance numbers were done very well, especially Kansas City and the Dream Ballet. I thought the peddler and Annie were the funniest characters IMHO, although the actor who portrayed Annie still needs to develop her voice a bit (she's only in high school, so I'll give her a pass). Coincidentally, an old version of "Oklahoma!" was showing on cable last weekend (TMC I think) and I watched some of it - I enjoyed the Arena Stage version more.

There was a petting zoo outside of Arena Stage along 6th Street when I went to the Saturday show. The petting zoo will be set up for the next two Saturdays before the matinee performance between 12:45pm and 1:45pm. To buy tickets for "Oklahoma!", visit Arena's website or call 202-488-3300. Have any of you seen it yet? What did you think?

Photos courtesy of Arena Stage

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Couple Quick Items

- Ground was broken yesterday on a new levee along 17th Street, NW according to The Washington Post, which will protect downtown and parts of Southwest from flooding. As mentioned previously, a new floodplain map was recently done that shows parts of Southwest and downtown now fall under the flood plain, which prompted the city to get the levee built. Properties that fall in the new flood plain are required to get flood insurance, but this insurance will be temporary, since the levee will cause the flood plain map to change once the construction project is complete in 2011.

- According to the Washington Examiner, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood visited Amidon-Bowen Elementary School on I Street today to read the book "The Little Engine That Could" as a part of Everyone Wins! DC’s “Power Lunch” series. From the article:
LaHood, a former junior high school teacher, is a founding member of Everyone Wins! DC, the largest children’s literacy organization in the metro area. This year, nearly 4,000 students in 31 Title 1 public elementary schools will “lunch” with professionals through the group, which partners with 115 congressional offices, committee, and subcommittees, as well as 110 companies including 20 federal agencies.

Homicide at Greenleaf Gardens

According to a news release from MPD, 28-year old Gregory Joyner was killed at the 200 block of K Street last night around 9:15pm due to multiple gun shot wounds. From the news release:
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call the police at (202) 727-9099 or 1-888-919-CRIME (1-888-919-2746). The Metropolitan Police Department currently offers a reward of up to $25,000 to anyone that provides information which leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons wanted for any homicide committed in the District of Columbia. Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to D.C. CRIME SOLVERS at 1-866-411-TIPS and to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411. If the information provided by the caller to the Crime Solvers Unit leads to an arrest and indictment, that caller will be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.
The scene of the shooting was located about two blocks away from MPD's First District headquarters, which relocated from 4th & E Streets last year.

In other crime news, an arrest was made last Friday in the fatal hit-and-run accident that occurred on South Capitol Street in Bellevue on November 8th. The suspect, from Fort Washington, Maryland, is charged with Negligent Homicide in the death of 71-year old Duffie Claridy.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Safeway Reducing Hours

The Waterfront Station Safeway has made some changes to its operating hours. Starting on Sunday, the store will close an hour early - now, the store will be open from 6am - 10pm, seven days a week. Other changes that recently were made include the restriction of youth from being in the store without an adult until 4pm daily. In addition, the side door near Starbucks has been locked - probably due to shoplifting. Will your shopping patterns be affected by the change in hours of operation (I found out about the change in hours when I was in the store at 10:45pm, so I will be affected)?

Update: I asked Craig Muckle, Safeway's Manager of Public Affairs and Government Relations about the change in hours and this was his response:
We’re simply going to a winter schedule to give us some extra time to re-stock the store during the overnight period. The hours will be extended again during the spring.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

4th & M

There was a lengthy discussion at Monday's ANC 6D meeting about the intersection of 4th & M Streets, which has been the scene of three car accidents involving pedestrians in the past year. Some of the ANC commissioners met with DDOT officials to discuss pedestrian safety and as a result, some changes are on the way. Here is an excerpt from an email DDOT Director Gabe Klein sent to a local list-serv today on the issue:
We are still pursuing the “complete street” plan on M Street and would like to move beyond concept and to design. There has been back and forth on whether to have shared bus/bike lanes and other questions. I am asking Jamie Henson for a complete run down. After the accidents, I talked to US DOT Secretary Ray LaHood personally about the concept, and he wholeheartedly supports it. In addition, we made safety improvements in the area including eliminating right turns on red at key intersections.
The "complete street" plan Klein is referring to is a plan spearheaded by Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells and the Capitol Riverfront BID, which was presented to the community in March. In the interim, two resolutions passed unanimously by the ANC related to the intersection - one would direct DDOT to remove five parking spaces on the south side of M Street between the entrance to Tiber Island (430 M Street) and the intersection of 4th & M. The reason for removing the parking spaces was motorists can't see the "Right Turn Only" sign when approaching 4th Street and will give them time to get in the right lane before making a right onto 4th Street off of M Street. The second resolution would direct MPD to have officers patrol the intersection for two hours a day every day for a week to observe traffic violations. In addition, it was revealed by Naomi Mitchell from Wells' office that the council member will help the ANC get their desired traffic study of the M Street corridor, which the ANC has been requesting for years since a lot of development has been occurring (or are in the planning books) for the corridor without a comprehensive plan for dealing with traffic on M Street (from the 14th Street Bridge to the 11th Street Bridge).

Lost Dog

The following message is from Andrew Lightman, editor of the Hill Rag:
I just found a small female Yorkie wandering at the corner of G & 9th Sts. SW. She is in good health. I have kept her safe. Could her parents please call me at 202.550.5591 or email me (andrew@hillrag.com)?
- Andrew
photo courtesy of Andrew Lightman

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Zanzibar Closed?

According to the Washington City Paper, Zanzibar on the Waterfront, located at 700 Water Street has shut down. If this is true, then the entire stretch of the Southwest Waterfront from 7th Street to 9th Street will be shuttered, which will be the first phase to be redeveloped in the new Southwest Waterfront. In the summer, Hogates closed (the City Paper article incorrectly states that Hogates has been demolished - there was a ceremonial demolition ceremony in August, but the building is still standing) and a raze permit was issued in September (h/t reader JD). It is supposed to be demolished by the end of the year, but will Zanzibar also be demolished soon? Shutting down Zanzibar two years before construction is supposed to begin on the new Southwest Waterfront probably means the building will soon meet the wrecking ball. Perhaps by next spring, the temporary park at 7th Street Landing will expand all the way to 9th Street (it has been mentioned that part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival may be celebrated at the soon-to-be-demolished Hogates site next year). Once I hear more about this, I'll let you know.

General Election Unofficial Results

Southwest Waterfront Unofficial Election Results (Precincts 127, 128, 142)

Voter participation in the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood was higher than the District average, with margins of victory mostly similar to those District-wide or within Ward 6 (save for Ward 6 State Board of Education member candidate Monica Warren-Jones, who was up against Southwester Melissa Rohan).
  • Registered Voter Participation Rate: 30.1% (27.8% District-wide)
  • Delegate to U.S. House of Representatives: Eleanor Holmes Norton* with 88.3% of the vote (89.0% District-wide)
  • Mayor: Vincent Gray with 76.8% of the vote (73.9% District-wide)
  • DC Council Chair: Kwame Brown with 88.3% of the vote (87.8% District-wide)
  • DC Council At-Large members: Phil Mendelson* & David Catania* with 56.8% and 30.6% of the vote, respectively (56.3% and 30.9% District-wide, respectively)
  • DC Council Ward 6: Tommy Wells* with 88.1% of the vote (85.4% Ward-wide)
  • US Representative: Mike Panetta* with 81.6% of the vote (82.4% District-wide)
  • State Board of Education Ward 6: Monica Warren-Jones with 58.2% of the vote (66.7% Ward-wide)
  • Proposed Charter Amendment IV to elect DC’s Attorney General: Passed with 74.1% of the vote (75.6% District-wide)
  • ANC 6D 01: Bob Craycraft with 94.5% of the vote
  • ANC 6D 02: Cara Lea Shockley with 40.2% of the vote
  • ANC 6D 03: Ron McBee* with 54.5% of the vote
  • ANC 6D 04: Andy Litsky* with 95.7% of the vote
  • ANC 6D 05: Roger Moffatt* with 66.4% of the vote
  • ANC 6D 06: Rhonda Hamilton* with 70.7% of the vote

Bellevue Unofficial Election Results (Precincts 124, 126)

Voter participation in Bellevue was lower than the District as a whole, but the margins of victory for most of the candidates (save At-Large incumbent David Catania), was wider than the District totals. Some of the voters in precinct 124 live in SE, but their polling station is located in Bellevue.

  • Registered Voter Participation Rate: 21.3% (27.8% District-wide)
  • Delegate to U.S. House of Representatives: Eleanor Holmes Norton* with 96.0% of the vote (89.0% District-wide)
  • Mayor: Vincent Gray with 95.6% of the vote (73.9% District-wide)
  • DC Council Chair: Kwame Brown with 96.4% of the vote (87.8% District-wide)
  • DC Council At-Large members: Phil Mendelson* & David Catania* with 70.4% and 19.5% of the vote, respectively (56.3% and 30.9% District-wide, respectively)
  • US Representative: Mike Panetta* with 89.7% of the vote (82.4% District-wide)
  • Proposed Charter Amendment IV to elect DC’s Attorney General: Passed with 88.6% of the vote (75.6% District-wide)
  • ANC 8D 04: Thea Dyson with 92.9% of the vote
  • ANC 8D 05: Write-in with 100.0% of the vote
  • ANC 8D 06: Write-in with 100.0% of the vote
  • ANC 8D 07: Dionne Brown with 44.4% of the vote

* Incumbent

Visit the DC Board of Elections and Ethics website for more information on the general election results. Congratulations to all the winners!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Few Quick Items

-The Washington City Paper profiles the trials and tribulations behind the decades-long effort to bring a memorial for Benjamin Banneker to Banneker Overlook near L'Enfant Plaza. The latest setback was the rejection by ANC 6D last month to add "Banneker Park" to the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station name.

- Speaking of L'Enfant Plaza, the owner of one of the office buildings is suing majority owner JBG, according to the Washington Business Journal (subscribers only) over plans to build an office building in the middle of the plaza.

- According to the Washington Examiner, authorities are investigating the fatal fire earlier this week at Greenleaf Seniors building on Delaware Avenue that claimed the life of 63-year old Anita Lakari.