Tuesday, November 27, 2007

W Street Project

current view

Local development company Four Points, LLC has finally won approval from the DC Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) to move forward with their major project at W and 13th Streets, SE. It is incredibly exciting to see residential infill development finally come to Anacostia, a neighborhood that we all know has limitless potential for regeneration and growth.

future greatness

what it looks like now

I attended one of the HPRB meetings a couple months ago when Four Points was presenting, and at the time was glad to see that the board was being very strict about the design of this project. Because it is in the Anacostia Historic District, there are many guidelines that have to be followed to uphold and strengthen the current aesthetic.

The project will have a total of 24 buildings with 40 housing units. There will be 16 buildings with 32 condo units, a rebuilt single-family home that is a replica of the structure that currently sits on-site (see photo below), and 7 townhouses.

abandoned house to be rebuilt as single-family

Four Points will not be applying for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification, and none of the buildings will have roof-decks, despite the potential for really awesome views.

view of interior alley dwellings

site plan

Monday, November 26, 2007

New 14th Street Park

Check out the sign at the current "park" for a better look. More news as I hear it.

PS - Did you VOTE today?

photo by DG-rad

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

if only...

...the new 11th Street Bridges could be as simple as it used to be.

(click to enlarge)

Skyland Meeting Tonight

Tonight, Tuesday, November 20, 2007 from 6:15-8:00pm
Hillcrest Recreation Center (click for map)
Tonight's meeting should be pretty exciting, as I assume they will be revealing the latest design plans made after our last meeting full of suggestions. If you can make it, I strongly recommend going. Skyland is going to significantly change the perception of communities east of the river, and now is the time to say what needs to be said to make it awesome.
Click to Enlarge:

PS - Did you VOTE today?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Vote for Anacostia on HGTV.com!


From the HGTV website:
"Change the World: Start at Home is a new community revitalization and environmental cause effort launched by HGTV in partnership with Rebuilding Together, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The campaign focuses on revitalizing communities across the country and helping consumers make smart choices for the environment within their homes and daily lives.

...One project in each community will focus on environmentally-friendly improvements while another will focus on a historic place that helps preserve the fabric of the community."

Description of proposed work in Anacostia:
...this community revitalization effort would help clean up and maintain Anacostia Park and River, repair elderly housing in the neighborhood and improve a community education center that serves at risk children.
Click Here for more pictures and details

You can vote once each day until December 21, 2007. The winner will be announced on January 1 during the Rose Parade.

Just think, if everyone who reads this post votes every single day, we will make a huge difference and hopefully win!


image courtesy of HTGV

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Notes on the Bridge Oversight Hearing

I spent a couple of hours at the oversight meeting yesterday regarding bridge projects in Washington, DC. Most of the discussion was on controversy surrounding the 11th Street Bridges replacement project. As of now, the plan is to totally replace both spans, making one of them a local bridge between Anacostia and Capitol Hill, and the other between the freeways on either side of the river.

Various people testified, including DDOT Director Emeka Moneme, and DDOT Chief Engineer (as of yesterday) Kathleen Penney.

(Interesting sidenote: I sat next to Director Moneme at last week's ANC 8A meeting--knowing he worked for DC, but not knowing that he was the Director of DDOT! Fortunately I like to make my opinions known at public meetings, and was talking with him about what I thought needed done with the project.)

Their testimony focused on the elements of the preferred alternative, and it took a while for the councilmembers to understand what all was involved.

For the record, Ward 8 Councilman Marion Barry was NOT in attendence at this Very Important meeting that will significantly affect his ward. Pretty disapointing, actually.

After their testimony, members of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society testified along with someone they hired from Smart Mibility, a land use and traffic modeling firm based out of New Hampshire. Their argument was that the replacement project will be a detriment to neighborhoods west and north of the Anacostia River, siphoning more traffic onto local roads. My own personal suspicion is that they are worried the new local bridge will make it easier for Anacostia residents to venture into their neighborhood. I hope it does.

Further testimony came from the Sierra Club and Smart Growth America, who jointly raised the concern that the bridges are not taking into account the need for alternative transportation such as street cars, light rail, bicycles, and pedestrians. They make a very good point, and it is my understanding that it is also DDOT's goal to incorporate the structure for that.

Testimony from neighborood organizations and condo communities focused mainly on the plan to remove the 13th street direct access to 395. The new plan forces drivers to cross the local bridge before accessing 395 from an onramp in Capitol Hill. While it is true that one of the reasons I chose Anacostia as a neighborhood to personally invest in and live in, I have not decided for myself if that is an issue I feel strong about defending. My main concern is that Everything about this project takes the beauty of the waterfront into consideration. We do Not want a mixing bowl on our waterfront. We want it to be more accessible and attractive, not less.

This issue is far from decided, but yesterday's meeting made clear that there are residents and organizations that will not let this move forward without a fight to make it a good project. Let's hope DC is listening.

Check out:
November 13, 2007 presentation on Project (very helpful)

Market No More

Sad, sad news.

The Anacostia Farmers' Market is closed. For good. Apparently it was not turning a profit, despite its nine-year effort.

I don't see this as a permanent closing, however. As more people move to the neighborhood, market organizers will surely discover that it is Ripe for a farmers' market.

News sources:
Clagett Farm

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Take Your Lunch Break at 10am on Friday

So that you can testify or at least attend the oversight meeting for the 11th Street Bridges Project. This will significantly affect our community and our commuting. Please see previous posts for details.

Today is the last day to sign up to testify. Sign up for public statements with LaDorsa Willis, (202) 724-8195, before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 14, 2007.

If you can't testify, send an email to Councilmember Jim Graham who is holding the hearing: Jim@grahamwone.com

Sunday, November 11, 2007

giant cinder-block thing salvation army update

I guess that big open space on the corner section will be windows--but does this look overly cinder-block-ish to anyone else? Still definitely looking forward to the final product. It will have some pretty amazing views of the city from the tops floors.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Bridges Update!

I recommend any and all who can make it to go to the DC Bridges Public Oversight Meeting.

Friday, November 16, 2007 at 10:00 A.M.
Council Chamber, John A. Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
From Neha Bhatt, Councilman Tommy Wells' Policy Advisor on Smart Growth and Transportation:
"This is an opportunity for anyone who is interested in connectivity and other issues to be heard. You can sign up to testify or submit written comments. If you do testify, remember to bring copies of your testimony for the council members. If you can't testify, send an email to Councilmember Jim Graham who is holding the hearing: Jim@grahamwone.com"
Key Issues:
- Further physical separation of Anacostia from rest of city and region.

- Major infrastructure on waterfront is unnatractive and does not spur economic development.

- We should use this bridge replacement as an opportunity to do something GREAT, not something normal.

- We need to suggest alternatives such as tunneling the highway at this intersection so that the waterfront is more accessible to Anacostia.

- With all the talk of tearing the Whitehurt Freeway down in Georgetown, why are we even considering building more highways in the sky?
Sign up for public statements with LaDorsa Willis (202) 724-8195 before 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 14, 2007.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The 11th Street Bridges Project

(for maps, photos and renderings, scroll down)

For a project with such major impact on Anacostia and at extreme cost to the city, the 11th Street Bridges project has been very much under the radar and hidden from the public. I attended the ANC 8A meeting last night (1st Tuesday of each month), where some concerned citizens from Capitol Hill presented on the impacts of the "Preferred Alternative" selected by DDOT for the reconstruction of the 11th street bridges.

Anacostia residents and workers currently enjoy Extremely easy access to 395, downtown DC, and Virginia from our local onramp on 13th Street and Good Hope. And while highway access isn't something I would always promote, it is one of the features of our neighborhood that attracted me. I can drive to the capitol in less than 5 minutes. I can get to Arlington and Alexandria in about 10. It's that easy.

However, the 11th Street Bridges reconstruction will probably change all that. I don't have a clearly defined position on this yet, but my first instinct is to want to protect that accessibility. Anacostia already has enough setbacks and separations from the rest of the city and region --why eliminate even more? On the other hand, the preferred alternative will turn one of the bridges into a "local bridge", essentially forcing us to cross over into Capitol Hill and then get on the highway from there. The other bridge will be strictly for highway users. (see pictures) Another benefit to this plan will be that there will be an exit to the local bridge from 295, making it much easier to access our neighborhood from points south.

Click to Enlarge

Preferred Alternative

They really should have used a real picture of Anacostia Gateway. Their fake rendering is hideous!

This is what it actually looks like

Here is the thing that annoys me the most: this is 2007. This is not 1960. In 1960 American planners slapped highways in the middle of cities, segmented neighborhoods, and did away with pedestrian connectivity and public transportation all in the name of progress. The problem? Turned out that that was a huge mistake and that everything that they eliminated was actually what made cities vibrant and attractive.

What are we doing building more highways in the sky in 2007? Why can't OUR side of the river get the same kind of redo as the Frederick Douglas Bridge got near the new baseball stadium? They wanted to make it more attractive: they reconstructed the boulevard and made everything look less highway-like. I'm not against making the highways more efficient, but let's Please do it in an attractive way that does not further segregate Anacostia.

11th Street Bridges website
Make your voices heard: public comment closes at the end of the month!

images courtesy of DDOT, photo by DG-rad

Monday, November 5, 2007

Vita's Eatery

To all of you who were looking for a way to reach Levita Mondie-Sapp, Anacostia's own "vegan soul chef", here is her email:


If I hear of more or better contact information I will be sure to pass it along. How awesome would it be if she opened up a restaurant/school/shop in Anacostia . . .

I found the email in this Washington Post online discussion

Neighborhood in the News

- Seven Developers compete for Poplar Point - two include stadium

- Is Ward 8 getting the same Mayoral attention as the rest of the city?

- St. Elizabeth's - too many buildings, not enough preservation

- More on historic preservation at St. Eliz

Friday, November 2, 2007

Our River(s)

The Washington Business Journal has a good article on the importance of dredging for economic development along DC's rivers. It could really be a boon in the Anacostia because of all the pollutants on the bottom, as long as they aren't simply stirred up and washed down to the Potomac.

For article, Click Here