Friday, September 28, 2007

Southwestern Style in Southeast D.C.

Wow, there have been some pretty major changes at the Drake's restaurant building. Scaffolding is off, some new windows are in, and the stucco has been painted. Not sure how I feel about the color choice, as they aren't the most cheerful, but the positives definitely outweigh any color issues.

A little comparison:

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Also, the sidewalk in front of Anacostia Gateway is almost ready!

photos by DG-rad

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Cultural Tourism Anacostia

This week there are a number of activities and meetings sponsored by Cultural Tourism DC, an organization whose purpose is to celebrate all that DC has to offer, with a special focus on its neighborhoods.

First, there is a meeting tonight about the creation of an Anacostia Heritage Trail, an initiative to add our wonderful and history-filled neighborhood to their list of regular walking tours and formal guides. If you are interested in contributing to this initiative (or just learning about it), here is the info:

Anacostia Professional Buildings, lower level (2041 MLK Jr. Ave. SE)
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Also, this Saturday there are a ton of walking and biking tours throughout DC, with a few in Anacostia.

Here are the details: WalkingTown DC

photo of Cedar Hill for graphic by christaki

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Before Pictures

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood. -Daniel Burnham
A couple weeks ago I went on a boat tour of the Anacostia for those interested in what is going on near the new ballpark and in the future development of Poplar Point. Completely eye-opening, it was a fresh perspective on our side of the river and the views afforded of The Yards and ballpark district just on the other side.

photos and graphic by DG-rad

Monday, September 24, 2007

Overheard... a rooftop party in Capitol Hill this weekend. Anacostia was the (attempted) topic of conversation, until this gem from a Georgetown grad student:
"Oh, I didn't know there was another river in DC."
Pretty sad, but not surprising. I wonder what percentage of the regional population would have had the same response.

Friday, September 21, 2007

On Top of the World

Please Click on pictures to enlarge

The two townhouse developments I have written about so far have been given the name 'estates'. Interesting considering that the definition of estate is "a landed property, usually of considerable size." I suppose usually is the keyword there.

Then again, maybe 'estate' is the perfect word to describe this development, Grandview Estates. Despite their postage-stamp size front and back greenspaces, the roofdecks provide views of the entire city and beyond, and gave me the impression that if I were to own one of these units I would also own all of Washington, DC.

this will be awesome in the fall

Located at the crest of the Anacostia hill on Talbert Street SE, the development is made up of 46 one-over-one duplex townhouse units. The first-floor units have a backyard, the upper units (2 floors) have Cash Money roof decks. I went on a tour of this project last Saturday, and while I knew that their location at the top of one of the highest hills in DC would afford some great views, I was Astounded at what I saw. These are million dollar views in well-designed units (same architect as Butterfield House on Capitol Hill and Ecco Park in Takoma Park), and are selling between $350-750,000. If I remember correctly, all of the units are in the 2-3 bedroom range.

Those windows on the left have the DC views, yet are miniscule!

A few criticisms: oddly-small windows when considering the views from these homes. Seems like a lost opportunity. Also, these are along a gated, private street (accessed from Talbert), giving the impression of exclusivity and separation from the existing neighbors.

pictures by DG-rad

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Bad News:
If you haven't already seen the flyers or read the news, a kitten that was found last week at the Anacostia Farmers' Market tested positive for rabies. If you came in contact with a blackish brown kitten, call 202-576-6664.
The Good News:
"The [Health] department also has initiated a trapping plan to capture any remaining stray cats in the area."
-from the Washington Post's article.

My Blog

As much as I would like to ignore this issue and hope it goes away, I think it is best to address it so that my regular readers know what is going on in the comments sections recently. Last week I was photographed by Bisnow while on the DC-sponsored boat tour of the Anacostia River for people and companies interested in the RFEI at Poplar Point. The tour was open to the public, but you had to sign up ahead of time. (Knowing that my interest was personal, I offered to take part of a vacation day to attend.) The photo made its way to a daily email blast, which also linked to this blog and gave away my work information. At the time I considered it to be a good thing: new readers--especially from the development sector, who might read the blog and look at Anacostia in a new way.

What I did not know at the time was the possibility that the company I work for (a 24,000+ person commercial real estate firm, which, fyi, is not a development company) might have some involvement with the Poplar Point RFEI. Unfortunately this was interpreted by readers of a DC United online forum to mean that I am using my And Now, Anacostia platform as a way to infiltrate the Anacostia community and use it as a means of swaying the population against DC United's plans for Poplar Point.

I didn't want to dignify the misrepresentation and abuse (about 7 pages and counting...) I was personally receiving on that online forum, or from those who ventured onto this site and commented--some crudely--about the purpose of this blog and my "special interests" herein. However, it has reached a point where I don't want my regular readers, you all, to be confused about why someone might have called this blog "B___ Sh___" in the comments (since deleted-- this is a family friendly site).

Of course, it really comes down to whether or not you trust my intentions here--I hope you do. But I can't force that. All I can do is reiterate my purpose for this blog: to show a face of Anacostia that people outside of the neighborhood aren't used to seeing. To show that this is a place with a ton of potential, history, personality, and beauty. To say that there are galleries here that are completely worth checking out. To remind you of events and public meetings that help define what the neighborhood is and what it will become. My hope is that it will also be a place where residents visit to engage with their neighbors.

I may work for a company that is involved in real estate, but my interest here is as a resident and as a student of the concept and reality of place: that the wheres of the world are critically important, and that there are so many ways that we can improve our lives by improving the streets we walk on, the porches we sit on, and the rails we ride on. That is my special interest.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Skyland in East of the River

...and an And Now, Anacostia shout out, too!

There is an article about the redevelopment of Skyland in this month's East of the River.

Fortunately, (and as we already knew) the city is completely dedicated to this:
District of Columbia Council’s Economic Development Committee Chairman and Ward 7 resident Kwame Brown declared that he was near his breaking point. “I’m almost ready to say that if Skyland doesn’t move, nothing else in the city moves.”
Don't forget to check out East of the River every month for community news and interesting articles all relating to our part of the city.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Skyland Meeting Recap 9-12-07

For those of you who were unable to make it to the latest meeting on Skyland Town Center, the meeting held this past Wednesday focused on the architectural and urban design of the project. Further refinements had been made by Torti Gallas, giving Skyland more of an organically grown look and feel. Included is more façade articulation, less straight lines, and a a bigger emphasis on greening the roofs of the interior parking garages.

Check out the latest plans: Click to enlarge

At the meeting, Gary Rappaport and members of the Torti Gallas design team asked the audience what we wanted Skyland to look like architecturally: modern? Traditional?

Interestingly, most people agreed (what? at a public meeting?!) that we wanted something that was built solidly-- with brick, stone, and cast cement-- rather than with materials like vinyl and stucco which aren't as lasting. We want a design that is unique to Skyland, but that respects the past and is influenced by the architecture and streetscape of places such as Barracks Row, Shirlington, Annapolis, and Bethesda Row. Eclectic, yet elegant!

This development incredibly exciting, and all involved seem totally dedicated to getting it done as quickly as humanly possible.

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Also, just before the meeting I was able to make it over to the Farmers' Market for the Chili Bowl Bonanza. I had to leave before the winner was announced- does anyone know who won 1st prize?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Development Potential: Part 1

(scroll down for maps and images)

Anacostia is home to the highest percentage of vacant and underutilized land in the District. It is literally seconds from everything via very accessible highways and Metro, and boasts some of the best views around.

The sensitive scale of development on 14th Street in and around Logan Circle is a fitting model for the kind of reinvestment many in the neighborhood would love to see here, as is the infill that has gone in all around Capitol Hill over the years. While it is not up to me to decide what should fill these lots and façades, a mix of multifamily and retail seems pretty ideal at this point. (And by retail I don't mean check-cashing shops.) This survey is not official, but is a reflection of many residents' feelings of "this could be so much more".

Part 1 focuses on the development potential of Anacostia's lower Good Hope Road area. Because Good Hope is on a hill leading to the river, most development would boast Federal City and water views:

note: Click on images to enlarge

images and graphics by DG-rad

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

workin' away

Stucco work is progressing at Drake's--it's awesome seeing people at work on this!
(and no, the novelty does not wear off)

photos by DG-rad

Skyland Meeting Tonight

...hope to see all of you there!

Click Image to Enlarge:

flyer courtesy of Hillcrest Community Civic Association

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Also, don't forget that tonight is the Chili Bowl Bonanza at the Anacostia Farmers' Market! 5-6:30pm at Peace Park on 14th between U and V Streets.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Opening Tonight at Honfleur

A Memorial to the Lives Lost on September 11th
By Manju Shandler

From the Honfleur Gallery website:
The painting installation Gesture gives a tangible allegory to the size of this loss by grouping together one brick-sized painting for every life taken on that day.

...Gesture is a meditation on the many facets of life, death, the past, and the future that have been inextricably altered by that single day.
Tonight, September 11 at 7:30pm
Honfleur Gallery, 1241 Good Hope Rd SE
images courtesy of Honfleur Gallery

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Update: definitely check this out.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Confirmed: Drake's, Take Two

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Also, a lil' Salvation Army update. Another floor higher:

photos by DG-rad

Friday, September 7, 2007

New Website for the Point

This may be old news, but Poplar Point now has a website. Not to worry, any and all news will still (ideally) break at And Now, Anacostia first!

Pretty much the only update since they announced the RFEI last month is that they have now opened the process up to Joint Ventures rather than strictly sole-source development proposals.

Click Here for Website

composite graphic by DG-rad

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Tonight: Intersections @ Honfleur

If you haven't yet gone to one of these, definitely check it out. Very cool scene, amazing poetry, (and refreshments).

Tonight, September 5 at 7:30pm
(and every other 1st and 3rd Wednesday)
Honfleur Gallery, 1241 Good Hope Rd SE
The American Poetry Museum presents
Intersections: A Poetry Reading Series
Curated and hosted by Fred Joiner

Featuring: Alan King, Derrick Weston Brown, and youth poets (F.A.N. and DC Writers Corp)
$2 suggested donation

ANC 8A Monthly Meeting Recap

Last night's meeting was advertised as having a focus on the way Washington Post and Times writers report on happenings east of the Anacostia River. However, nobody from either paper showed up, so it was, for the most part, business as usual.

News Highlights:
- the Imagine School at the foot of 14th Street and Ridge Place SE has been approved by the charter board, but the design is still unknown, pending decisions about the historic smoke stack. (Please Save!)

- St. Elizabeth's West Campus is destined to become the home of the consolidated Dept. of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard.

- all fire hydrants have been checked, and the malfunctioning ones have been tagged for fixing/replacement.

- Plans for Anacostia Estates, the three-townhouse development on Shannon Place SE are still in development. The developer was at the meeting requesting that the ANC support an exception to a minor sideyard requirement by Pepco.

Most members spoke positively about the project, but they could not publically support until they received more official documentation of proposed changes. The townhomes are designed by local architectural firm Devrouax & Purnell. The design looks good, at least on paper, but it will depend completely on the quality of materials they use (brick, stone, roofing, windows, etc) for whether it contributes in a positive way.

Flyer handed out at the meeting:
(click to enlarge)

courtesy of developer Brenda Tobe

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

ANC 8A Meeting Tonight

Don't forget tonight's ANC 8A meeting!

1649 Good Hope Rd. SE (UPO Anacostia Community Service Center)
Discussion will include how the Washington Post and Times report on topics east of the Anacostia River.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

even more good news

This has now almost turned into live-blogging, but now I have some pretty crazy good news. First, some once-again updated pics:

The good word from the stucco workers at the building today is that it is, in fact, being transformed into a restaurant! As usual, more news as it comes...

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Also, the Salvation Army building is progressing quickly. Another floor has been added, and it is becoming much more evident how tall the finished building will actually be.

photos / graphic by DG-rad