Akridge on Tap To Win Garage Site

By Jacqueline Dupree
Thursday, September 27, 2007

Ballpark and Beyond is from Jacqueline Dupree's blog on development in Near Southeast Washington, an area between Capitol Hill and the Anacostia River that is being transformed by the construction of the Nationals baseball stadium.

Documents attached to the online agenda for today's Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority board meeting reveal that the John Akridge Development Co. has been picked (pending today's vote) to purchase the Southeastern Bus Garage site at Half and M streets SE having bid $69.25 million for the 97,000-square-foot site.

Akridge's bid was determined to be "the most advantageous to the authority" not only because of the purchase price but also the terms of the "leaseback" rental, which would be required until the buses currently at the garage can be relocated to other sites. It would be funded by the proceeds from the sale above the $60 million needed to pay for the construction of a garage at D.C. Village. Settlement on the sale would not happen until the WMATA board officially approves the Southeastern Bus Garage replacement project and the D.C. Village site has been acquired from the city.

If this sale goes through, Akridge would control much of the western side of Half between M and N streets, which is the route that stadium-goers will walk to get to the new Nationals ballpark from the Navy Yard Metro station's west entrance. Monument Realty, which had its eye on the bus garage site for a long time, owns the rest of the land on the west side of Half, as well as much of the rest of the block, and also has 750,000 square feet of office, residential, hotel and retail space under construction on the east side of Half.

It will be interesting to see how the shared development of this block, smack in the middle of the Ballpark district, proceeds. Unknown at this point is how quickly Metro will vacate the property, given that they must first find a temporary home for the buses, the cost of which generated some inter-jurisdictional squabbling at a Sept. 10 meeting.

DOT Payments to Fund Four Waterfront Parks

On Sept. 20 the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development announced the finalization of a $111.5 million bond financing package that will use payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) by the developer of the new U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters on M Street SE to "significantly" fund four parks along the Anacostia River.

Two of the parks are in Near Southeast: the 5.5-acre waterfront park at the old Southeast Federal Center, scheduled to open in 2010; and Diamond Teague Park, at the foot of First Street across from the ballpark. Elsewhere in the city, Kingman Island and Marvin Gaye Park are on the list, and the news release notes that this funding could also be used "to finance parks and infrastructure at Poplar Point, the Southwest Waterfront, the Southwest Waterfront Fish Market, along South Capitol Street and a pedestrian bridge connecting the Parkside neighborhood to the Minnesota Avenue Metrorail Station."

The announcement made sure to mention how the city never received any sort of tax income from the old DOT headquarters in Southwest, because the federal government doesn't pay taxes on land it controls in D.C.

Garfield Park-Canal Park Connector Path Planned

A project is underway to design and create a connector path between Garfield Park just north of the Southeast Freeway and the to-be-constructed Canal Park one block south of the freeway. The main task will be to improve a foreboding concrete passage beneath the freeway at Second Street SE to create what the planners describe as "a functional and attractive route between Capitol Hill and Near Southeast."

The District Department of Transportation Policy and Planning Administration is leading the effort, working with the Office of Planning and the Department of Parks and Recreation.

More information is available at http://www.tooledesign.com/projects/garfieldpark, and there will be a design workshop Oct. 23 for those interested in participating in the process. It will be at St. Peter's Catholic Church, 128 Second St. SE, from 6 to 9 p.m. But don't look for the upgrades right away: The project schedule says advertising for construction bids won't occur until next fall.

Jacqueline Dupree, a Post staff member and Ward 6 resident, has been tracking changes in the area since 2003. For updates and links to documents and sites mentioned here, go tohttp://www.jdland.com/dc.

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