Saturday, April 30, 2011

More Details About 7th Street Landing's Schedule


7th Street Landing will be activated again each week this summer with activities from Thursday to Sunday. In this month's The Southwester, there are some details about what the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront team has planned for the waterfront park. As mentioned previously, there will be a mobile farmers market on Thursday evenings from 4:30pm-7:30 pm starting on June 2. The Mobile Market is a retrofitted school bus that runs on bio diesel from the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture. The mobile market will feature organic produce, beer and wine sales from Churchkey, baked goods from Buzz Bakery, and meats from Red Apron Butchery.

In addition to the mobile market, there will be jazz performances on Thursday evenings hosted by Westminster Presbyterian Church. Friday evenings will bring music performances from local artists to the park from 5:30pm - 7:30pm as well as BBQ from King Rib (that was previously on the property of St. Augustine's Church) and other food trucks. Saturday morning yoga will return to 7th Street Landing at 10am, as well as breakfast items from King Rib. BBQ will also be served for lunch on Saturday & Sunday from 12pm-5pm. The weekly events at the park will last this year until September 25. Interim programming at 7th Street Landing will take place over the next couple of years as the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront team goes through the PUD process and gets ready for development of The Wharf by the end of 2012.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Redistricting

It has been known for quite a while that the DC Council would be deciding this spring how the eight wards would be redistributed once Census 2010 numbers were released for the District.  Those numbers were released last month and showed the population of the District increased to 601,723 residents - the first time in decades the city's population has increased. By District law, the population of each of the eight wards must be split evenly (in this case 75,215) with a 5% variance in either direction. According to the 2010 Census, Ward 2 has too many residents and Wards 7 & 8 each have too few residents. As a result, Council members are lobbying to add neighborhoods to their wards, including CM Marion Barry, who wants the Southwest Waterfront added to Ward 8.  Moving the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood to Ward 8 would pad the statistics for that Ward, which currently has one of the highest unemployment and crime rates in the city.  However, Ward 6 CM Tommy Wells has stated he will fight to keep Ward 6 intact.

The DC Council has been holding hearings this week regarding ward redistricting. The Greater Greater Washington blog developed a Redistricting Game where readers could redraw the ward boundaries and the results will be presented at today's Council hearing. The results of that survey shows the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood staying in Ward 6.  The next Council hearing will take place today from 10am-2pm at the Wilson Building downtown.

What are your thoughts on redistricting?  Vote in this month's poll on the top left corner of the blog and/or leave a comment. Stay tuned for more on the 2010 Census and how Southwest has changed during the past 10 years.

Update: The Ward 6 Democrats will hold a public hearing on May 5 from 7pm-8:30pm where residents can express their opinions about ward redistricting.  The three co-chairs of the Council's Special Committee, as well as Council member Wells will attend.  The meeting will be held at Friendship Public Charter School/Chamberlain Elementary (gymnasium) at 1345 Potomac Avenue, SE (across from Harris Teeter).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Few Quick Items: South Capitol EIS Meeting, Streetcar Expansion, Constitution Center Sale, Humphrey's Former Home

  
- DDOT recently released its final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the South Capitol Street corridor. Among some of the highlights of the EIS, there are plans to boulevardize South Capitol Street with a median north of N Street, remove the tunnel under M Street, build a new Frederick Douglas Bridge, and create signalized intersections at K & L Street. A public meeting is scheduled this evening at Amidon-Bowen Elementary at 6:30pm to discuss the EIS.

- In Mayor Gray's proposed 2012 budget, The Examiner reports about $100 million is set aside for streetcars over the next six years. As a result, DDOT will start planning this summer for streetcar extensions, including along M Street SE/SW. Streetcars are proposed to run along the M Street corridor, Buzzard Point, Maine Avenue, and the soon-to-be created Wharf Street on the Southwest Waterfront.

- Since Constitution Center has been completed, is now nearly fully leased, and tenant build-out is underway, the owners have decided to put the 1.4 million square foot building on the market according to the Washington Business Journal (subscribers only).  As the largest privately-owned office building in the District, it is expected that Constitution Center will sell for a record-breaking amount.  The city has assessed the building at $648 million

- UrbanTurf reports that former Vice President Hubert Humphrey's former home at Harbour Square has been for sale since February and the price was recently cut by 7% to $925,000. The 2,332 square foot three bedroom, three bath co-op was originally priced at $995,000. Other political figures who have lived in the complex include former Supreme Court Justices David Souter and Lewis Powell and Admiral William Radford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the Eisenhower administration   

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kastles Schedule Released



The Washington Kastles will open their season on Tuesday, July 5 at Kastles Stadium at The Wharf against the Kansas City Explorers and the match will feature Venus Williams. Below is the full home schedule:
  • 7/05 - Kansas City Explorers (Venus Williams)
  • 7/07 - Boston Lobsters (Serena Williams)
  • 7/12 - New York Sportimes (John McEnroe)
  • 7/14 - Springfield Lasers (Sam Querrey)
  • 7/15 - St. Louis Aces (Anna Kournikova)
  • 7/18 - Sacramento Capitals
  • 7/21 - Philadelphia Freedoms
It appears that foundation work is underway at Kastles Stadium, which will be located at 9th & Water Street. There will be other events that will take place at 9th Street Park besides Kastles matches.  Some examples of events that could take place include beach volleyball, concerts, and arts festivals. The above photo of the stadium site was taken yesterday afternoon.  Since then, jersey barriers have been installed along Water Street. If you would like to get presale tickets for the Kastles, use this link.

Above rendering courtesy of the Washington Kastles.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

PAT's Final Report Released on Buzzard Point


A Planning Assistance Team (PAT) from the American Planning Association studied Buzzard Point in November 2009 at the request of Ward 6 Council member Tommy Wells and the Capitol Riverfront BID, whose boundaries include the isolated waterfront neighborhood.  The final report was finally released and includes a vision for how the area should be developed over the next 20-25 years.  Since Fort McNair isn't going anywhere, the report focuses on the mixed-use part of the neighborhood south of the existing residential neighborhood and east of the military installation. The report admits there are constraints on this part of the neighborhood, including the PEPCO plant and the Coast Guard Headquarters building and another office building, both of which block access to the waterfront.  The PAT recommends the neighborhood should be "a center for low-intensity recreational uses by area residents, visitors to the area and residents of other parts of the District, as well as an important link along the Anacostia River chain."  Major points include the following:
  • Increase the quality and accessibility of the Buzzard Point waterfront, while recognizing its distinctive character.
  • Improve pedestrian and bicycle linkages through the area and to the water along P Street and 2nd Street.
  • Preserve and upgrade existing affordable housing in area.
  • Make the South Capitol Street oval a major gateway to the District, creating an iconic building on the adjacent Steuart site.
  • Strengthen Potomac Avenue as the link between the area and the Southeast waterfront.
  • Ensure that development of the Akridge site maximizes connectivity and economic benefits to the Buzzard Point community.
  • Change the proposed streetcar alignment to better serve the Buzzard Point area.
  • Develop a long-range strategy for the PEPCO property, including ultimate reuse of the historic power plant building for cultural or educational use.
Buzzard Point has been making news lately, including plans for a condo building adjacent to the Buzzard Point Marina and rumors that DC United is looking at the 100 V Street parcel as a potential stadium site.

Rendering of Buzzard Point neighborhood courtesy of Akridge.

Farmers Market Coming to 7th Street Landing


Starting in June, the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture will be bringing a mobile food market on Thursdays to 7th Street Landing at The Wharf.  The Mobile Market is a retrofitted school bus that runs on bio diesel. Here's a description of the Mobile Market according to the Arcadia Center's website:
Our Mobile Market will retail local produce and artisan foods to urban dwellers both in central, downtown areas, as well as neighborhoods that typically don't have access to fresh food.  The mobile market will offer recipes, cooking demos, and fun food education to encourage better eating and home cooking, and will happily accept SNAP and WIC.
The Arcadia Center is a non-profit organization launched last year by National Restaurant Group's Michael Babin, who operates restaurants in the metro area including Rustico, Tallula, and Birch & Barley.  Back in December, The Washington Post did a story on Babin's new venture at Woodlawn Plantation near Mount Vernon, where over 100 acres have been set aside to establish the Arcadia Center. From the article: 
Last month, the 42-year-old restaurateur broke ground on the site that will become the Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food & Agriculture, a nonprofit venture aimed at training young growers, educating kids about farming and, perhaps most significant, scaling up the regional food economy by coordinating sales and delivery of the area's sustainably raised foods to restaurants, schools, groceries, institutional clients and consumers.
The Hoffman-Madison Waterfront team, the developers of The Wharf at the Southwest Waterfront, will soon be rolling out their full programming schedule for 7th Street Landing and 9th Street park, where a tennis stadium will be built for the Washington Kastles later this spring. Last fall, 7th Street Landing hosted jazz nights, yoga, food truck corrals, lawn games, and other events.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Few Quick Items: Wharf Hotel, Earth Day Clean-Up, Another Pizza Autentica Opens, Centennial Cherry Blossom Festival


- PR Newswire brings news that the Hoffman-Madison Waterfront team has selected Humboldt Hospitality to advise them on the sale or joint venture of their hotel site for phase one of The Wharf. The hotel is planned as a luxury, full service, four-star/diamond facility and will face the Washington Channel, adjacent to the future home of The Graduate School USA at 9th Street and Maine Avenue.

- According to the SW Library Playground Project blog, the group will be holding a spring clean-up of the proposed site for a new playground on Earth Day, April 23rd from 11am-1pm.  Everyone is welcome to come and help with the clean-up.  Items that are needed include work gloves and rakes, however, bags will be provided. The playground site is located at 3rd & I Street, next to the Southwest Library, which itself will be renovated over the next few years.

- Last Thursday, the second Pizza Autentica in Southwest opened on the ground floor of Capitol View, an office building at 425 3rd Street.  The new restaurant is open seven days a week (Monday - Friday from 7am-10pm and weekends from 11am-10pm). In addition to pizza, stromboli, salads and paninis, the restaurant serves breakfast on weekdays and also has gelato.

- Get ready for an extended cherry blossom festival...the National Cherry Blossom Festival organizers have announced that the centennial celebration of the gifting of cherry trees to DC by Japan will take place next year and the normal two-week festival will last five weeks. Next year's festival will run from March 20 - April 27, 2012.

Above rendering courtesy of Hoffman-Madison Waterfront.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Regular Water Taxi Service Begins


After receiving final approval from the U.S. Coast Guard at the end of March, American River Taxi (ART) has finally begun regular water taxi service, with the first regularly scheduled commuter run made by the "Dolley Madison" at 8am this morning.  According to Anne Tabligan, VP Marketing and Sales for ART, all of the boats in the fleet will be named for First Ladies that have been advocates for the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers.  So far, there is just the Dolley Madison, but more vessels will come in the next few years. Fares are currently being offered at a discount of $8 per ride (normally priced at $9) until membership cards become available.  Seniors and children under 12 receive discounted fares (members of the military will also receive discounts soon).  Discounted fares will also be available when purchasing multiple trips.  Tickets can be purchased on board or at a kiosk (either at Cantina Marina or Tony & Joe's in Georgetown). 

There are currently three stops on the route (The Gangplank Marina at The Wharf, Washington Harbor along the Georgetown waterfront, and Diamond Teague Park across from Nationals Park). Plans are in the works to add stops in Alexandria and National Harbor.  Eventually, there will be other stops at Poplar Point and Reagan National Airport. Regular service will run from 10am - 6pm Monday - Friday (with an 8am commuter run) and Saturday from 11am - 9pm.  There's no service currently on Sunday, but this schedule is just for April - May as the water taxi service gets underway and may expand hours in the summer.  ART will shut down for about eight weeks in the winter (December - February) while captains get additional training and the vessels undergo regular maintenance. Washingtonians (and Southwesters in particular) now have another option to get around the city.

Late-Night Shoppers, Rejoice! Safeway Resumes Regular Schedule


After Daylight Savings Time was implemented a few weeks ago, the Waterfront Station Safeway resumed its normal hours of operation, from 6am - 11pm, 7 days a week.  Back in November, the store closed at 10pm and at the time, it was explained by Craig Muckle, Safeway's Manager of Public Affairs and Government Relations, that the change would be temporary:
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.
Some other things I've noticed during recent visits - the side door next to Starbucks has been fixed and is usable again.  Signs are up near that entrance alerting customers to have their receipts ready for checking by the store greeters. Fountains at the metro plaza have been turned back on. Also, the fence around the new patio area of the store has been removed and people are free to walk on the roadway leading to a new garage entrance. (See above photo). However, fences are still up on the SE parcel fronting M Street that will eventually become an office building.

SW Library to Get Renovated


In Mayor Gray's 2012 budget, there are plans to renovate the Southwest Neighborhood Library, located at 900 Wesley Place.  The $8.8 million renovation project will happen in phases and will be complete by 2017.  Here is a snippet from the budget describing the project:
This project involves a substantial renovation of the building to create a new 21st century state-of-art LEED Silver Rated facility. The scope of work entails providing architectural and engineering services which comprises pre-design, design, preparation of contract documents, commissioning, and planning services to substantially renovate the structure to fully or substantially comply with ADA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (September 2002) to include vertical transportation, interior circulation, signage, entrances and exits, walkways, restrooms, alarms, etc. The renovated Southwest Neighborhood Library will reflect the program and goals of the Library and the needs of the District of Columbia residents who use the library. The building will incorporate forward-thinking approaches to urban design, architecture, engineering, and environmental technologies in the public realm. The renovated Southwest Library will be a destination that will attract and support hundreds of users a day, and promote a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood and active street environment.
The SW Library was originally built in the mid 1960s adjacent to Town Center East Park (which hopes to become a new playground this fall).  Once renovations are complete, the library is expected to last for an additional 30 years. In addition to the planned renovation of the SW Library, a new Adjaye-designed Washington Highlands Library is under construction in Bellevue that will be complete later this year.

The new Washington Highlands Library is under construction along Atlantic Street in Bellevue.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Photos from the 2011 Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival

This way to the festival!

Clouds (along with rain and hail) earlier in the day.

The U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps perform at the Gangplank Marina pocket park.

A miniature ship was on display.

Nen Daiko performs at the 9th Street stage.

Topspin, the mascot of the Washington Kastles, made an appearance.

DC Harbor Cruises pulls into E Dock at the Gangplank Marina after another tour.

Pirates..aargh!

Children learned how to make model boats and sailed them in the man-made pond set-up in a parking lot.
 
Cherry blossoms were in bloom along the waterfront promenade.

Volunteers from the SW Library Playground Project did face painting - this child wanted a Metro map.

Three blocks of Water Street were used during the festival.

Roving street performers pose with attendees at 7th Street Landing.

Crowds arrived early for the fireworks show.

Pink lanterns at the SW Duck Pond were a nice touch to the ceremony earlier in the day to turn on the fountains for the season.

Pink lights illuminated the waterfront before the fireworks show to celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Councilmember Biddle to Tour Amidon-Bowen

Tomorrow morning, DC Councilmember Biddle will take a tour of Amidon-Bowen Elementary.  Below is the press release announcing the upcoming visit:
Amidon-Bowen Elementary School (401 I Street SW) is hosting At-Large Councilmember Sekou Biddle for a tour of the complex on Monday, April 4 at 9:30 am. Councilmember Biddle promised at a Southwest community meeting that he would visit Amidon-Bowen to learn about its potential to once again become a world-class school.

Located in Southwest DC, Amidon-Bowen offers grades PK through 5th. 100% of the student body has Free and Reduced Meal (FARM) status. One in four students is performing on grade level. The waterfront area surrounding the school is slated for massive investment and families in Southwest DC want to have the choice to send their children to a neighborhood school.
“Strong community support will help Amidon-Bowen provide high quality education to all neighborhood children” said Eve Brooks, Convener of Near SE/SW Parents and Neighbors for Education Excellence Now!, SW resident, and children’s policy advocate. “Councilmember Biddle’s visit demonstrates the increasing interest in making radical upgrades to the school program.”
“I am impressed with Principal Knight and her vision for the school,” said Martin Welles, an attorney, SW resident and father of three pre-school children. Mr. Welles will send his twins to Amidon-Bowen this fall. “The facility is surprisingly large and has great potential. I am looking forward to creating a rigorous program that builds a foundation for advanced learning.” \

“The ripple effect of improvements at Amidon-Bowen will be immense – better life chances for an at-risk population, a strengthened Jefferson Middle School, and more. Amidon-Bowen is surrounded by world-class resources and massive redevelopment that uniquely position it to emerge as a great school,” said Daniel Holt, SW resident, Brent Elementary School PTA President, and father of three children.
The Near SE/SW Parents and Neighbors for Education Excellence Now! is a group of parents, advocates and community leaders seeking to improve educational opportunities for families.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Water Taxi Service May Start by Next Week


The following was posted on American River Taxi's Facebook page yesterday evening:
‎8am Commuter runs may start as early as next Wed April 6. The regular commuter run schedules will be in place shortly. When looking to commute, tweet @Amer_RiverTaxi, Facebook us or txt us @ 240-547-9493. Estimated Pickup time is 5:15-5:30pm.
American River Taxi will be at the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival tomorrow, where they expect to have tickets and membership cards.  Online ticketing will also be available soon.  According to their website, the water taxi service will have stops initially at Georgetown - Washington Harbor Landing, The Wharf - Main Landing at Gangplank Marina, and The Yards - Nationals Stadium Landing (Diamond Teague Terminal). Eventually, more stops will be added, including Old Town Alexandria, National Harbor, Poplar Point, and Reagan National Airport.  Travel time between stops are anticipated to be between 20-35 minutes since much of the waterway north of the 14th Street Bridge is in a no-wake zone and boat speed is restricted in that area.

By the way, this is not an April Fools Day joke :-)