The Park on 9th & RI Ave

Those in the hood may have seen the growth around Rhode Island and 9th Street. The “Le Slum Historique” building has been repainted and now has a house and a future hair salon, the Carter Woodson home and adjoining townhouses are being renovated. The place on the west corner of 9th has fought off the Park Service to keep their home (so far) and down the street CityMarket@O with its adjacent buildings are on schedule to deliver.

Now that little triangle park to the west of 9th is scheduled for renovation. It’s good news although I am not sure what you can actually do with the space. If they can add a nice statue and a bench, it’ll be a nice place to watch the world go by….


How I spent my Saturday . . . at St. Elizabeths

(I know it sounds like a 3rd grade essay but it did feel a bit like a school tour.)

Last Saturday, I was fortunate enough to join a tour of St Elizabeths eastern campus sponsored by the DC Preservation League and guided by a GSA employee. No I was not checking in as some may think. GSA, as a public service, gives tours of the facility as part of their mission to preserve our national heritage.

For those who don’t know, St. Elizabeths (Note: Due to a congressional typo no apostrophe was included in the name.)was a beautiful 300 acre farm purchased by the federal government in 1852 to serve as a national facility for the mentally ill. It was thanks to 19th century crusader Dorothy Dix, who guilted congress into buying and and the owner of the property into selling.  Many might know one of the current residents of the western campus which is DC run, John Hinkley Jr.

In 2000 the Feds turned over the Western Campus to DC along with the remaining patients. It kept the Eastern Campus but was unsure what to do. Fast forward to 2003, the new Department of Homeland Security, made up of 22 agencies and bureaus,needed a modern safe campus to consolidate operations. St Elizabeths was approved as the perfect place for building 6.5 million square feet of office space. The Coast Guard headquarters will be the first residents this fall when they moved into their LEED certified building which deceptively melds into the hillside and is camouflaged by a green roof.

So are they going to start building the rest of the 5.5 million SF? No actually, they are going to be using the amazing buildings of the original hospital. The original, rather gloomy, building housed the hospital administrator and his former suite will hold the new DHS Secretary. The original building has staggered wings thanks to a period philosophy that insisted patients needed fresh air and views.

To the front of the original building is one of the most amazing views of Washington. From Alexandria to Takoma Park the whole city unfolds in front of you. It is truly amazing that this view was ignored for so long. The ‘point’ about 200 yards from the front of the hospital sits all by itself like a huge field where you can sit all by yourself.

Behind the main building are many of the 80 buildings that went after it, It has cafeterias, gyms, theaters and an incredible quad with turn of the century belle arts structures that frame it. This is the most amazing sight of the campus, a man made space dedicated to space between the many facilities needed to support the 7000 patients and more staff that the hospital held at its peak in the 1950s. It would make the most incredible university campus if anyone every could steal it away from the feds but I fear repairing all the buildings is beyond the budget of any school.

Thankfully, the Feds do have the budget. They are spending BILLIONS to restore the original structures equipped for the modern office worker. Thanks to the security needs of the agencies in DHS, the windows are being restored with blast proof glass, the walls are being reinforced against car bombing and all the buildings will need to be 100 feet from any road. My only comment would be that this amazing new facility will be behind barbed wire and tours will only be allowed if pre-approved. Security needs means that the public will not be let on the campus unless they signup and get approval. The amazing view and incredible buildings will be for the enjoyment for DHS employees only. I suggest that we all get to know a DHS employee and offer to buy lunch if they invite you on campus.

If you get the chance, you should sign up!


What if DC extended to the Beltway?

What if we extended the city to the beltway. It would only be about 1.7 Million people which is still smaller than NYC. LA and Chicago but most interestingly, the density would be much lower. there are more suburban type neighborhoods within the beltway which means the population is lower (about 50% of LA’s density).

They are still coming up with great ideas for the McMillian Site by the Washington Hospital Center. I just can’t wait for them to start!

What happens to closed schools? Since I face one closing next year I am concerned. I can only hope that the city holds on to it and hopefully re-purposes it. According to the article, that has been a successful route for the city. I hope that is what they choose to do with Shaw Garnett-Patterson.

Though it does gall me, I must give Marian Barry credit when he deserves it. He went to Annapolis last week to lobby the MD Black Caucus to pass a bag tax. I criticize enough so I must compliment when I can. Good job Marian!

Brookland updates

Many people I’ve talked to know my fondness for Brookland which I think will explode in the next few years as families stay in the district. Case in point is the farmhouse now on the market for $574k. It is a really cute little turn of the century Victorian which you rarely find in the District.

The neighborhood is also looking forward to an expanded Turkey Thicket Park. They are adding the Brookland School which, depending on its placement, will resident next to the community center and possibly add to the center.

The neighborhood association is pretty strong and working to save the Brookland Green by the metro stop as a common for the neighborhood.

Growth also means you can call some eyesores to account. I am excited about the new Green Wall that the neighborhood has shamed Pepco into putting next to one of their service buildings.

U Street Shaw updates and sign the petition

PLEASE sign the petition which will stop the proposed moratorium banning all new bars and restaurants for 5 years.

Leasing at the East End of U Street? There are 2 options floating. The former doctors office at 8th and Florida is up for lease again. The upstairs is supposedly been leased by the Hilton Brothers and there is sporadic construction but now the ground floor is up again. The church at V & 10th Streets is up for lease as well. Not sure if they will build something for you or if you have to do it again but at some point SORG Architects will have to do something with it. Nearby the V Street tower of Pisa has gotten uglier. There is another building for lease on U between 9th and Vermont. I thought it’d be a Tabaq spinoff but looks like they are looking for a new tenant. BREAKING: The District a JBG development originally slated to be condos then converted to rentals now has been sold to JP Morgan and will be opening up a rental office soon.

Restaurants: The Fainting Goat (I am not sure what that name means) is applying for a liquor license at the old Urban Essentials  at 13th & U Street. Congrats to Shaw Tavern for their successful St Pattys day street fair. Hopefully it will become a tradition. Satellite gets its’ Borderstan review. To our east, a new 19 unit development is going in at Florida and 2nd Streets with a restaurant downstairs. The Quiznos at 13th & U will be goping away followed by a new pizza place. Progression Place announced a second restaurant for the 7th street side: Eat the Rich Oyster Bar. Sounds interesting, don’t dress up to go there i guess. There is also a new Mandalay restaurant and condo development at9th & P STreets. Le Diplomat on 14th is getting very close to delivery. It’s running late but hopefully we’ll have it by mid April. And a new cafe at 511 Florida Ave

The scary Gallery Inn at 19th and Florida is closed for renovations. Has anyone ever stayed there?

NPR just moved into a building built for them just 20 years ago and now they are moving on up to North Capitol. The new building is expected to be Gold LEED certified.

Real Estate beat

In what must be one of the hottest stretch of the city, another building has been announced for 14th & W. The north west corner is proposed for 18 condos plus ground floor retail. That building will join 14W across the street which is delivering shortly. The parking lot at 14th & Florida has started construction with 30 units but it is a bigger lot. The three existing buildings, Union Row, Vue 14, and Solara are already there. It won’t be long before that gas station and Fast Gourmet is gone.

Down the street, the Louis may start delivering before the end of the year. Around the corner, there is a 2600 sft condo on the market for $3 million with a roofdeck and amazing view so maybe they are on the right track.

As I have mentioned before, the great parcel 42 at the corner of 7th and Rhode Island is getting closer to development. It is down to 3 developers so we’ll have to wait and see how it all shakes out.

Sad news, Dupont monument, The Washington Club, has been put up for sale. The Ladies Club has only 62 members left and cannot afford to keep the $12 million clubhouse going

Also in high end condos, the power plant in Georgetown ended up going for $19.1 million from a group including the Four Seasons residences. The plan calls for 80 units but has a long way to go with approvals……

Of course you could forgo buying a house and just move into an abandoned mansion like this one in Bethesda.

Sorry to be away but an important new message

I’ve been running around with a new consulting gig and a real estate marketing seminar last week so I have not had time to update the blog. Things are calming down so I promise more this week. First an appeal to stop the moratorium:

A small group of vocal residents are attempting to stop the gentrification of our neighborhood by instituting a moratorium of all new bars in and around U Street. We do not want this effort to succeed. That’s why I created a petition to Jeremy Leffler, ANC Commissioner, which says:

“We the undersigned do not wish there to be a moratorium on bars and restaurants in the U Street area. We believe the current oversight of the ANC over new petitions is sufficient to ensure intelligent growth in the area.”

Will you sign my petition? Click here to add your name: