There was some recent buzz at PQLiving of a possible late spring opening of Ledo Pizza at 433 Mass Ave. A few Triangle residents had serious doubts regarding this heresay. Ledo Pizza has no posted permits or signs of construction activity.
I’ve dug around a little deeper to learn details about the building’s condition. The Mass Ave fronting facade appears to be in reasonable condition (for a vacant) to passers-by. However the rear exterior of the building is missing entire walls leaving the structure open to the elements and basically little more than a shell. Any future build out would not simply be to customize the interior to suit the business use. Substantial construction work is also needed to make the structure complete and the building inhabitable. Difficult to accomplish when financing has dried up.
With the amount of equity and effort that would need to be invested to turn this shell into a Ledo Pizza it is easy to wonder why the owner did not sell. Also questionable is the choice of business. Pizza franchises need delivery service to be viable. Where would Ledo’s delivery drivers park? Restaurants produce lots of waste however the rear of the building is only accessible by a roughly 3 foot wide walk way. The plan seems doomed to failure. Unfortunately demolition by neglect may be a more likely outcome than the signature Ledo square pizza pies…
Last night a meeting to discuss improvements to DPR Park 1089 at the confluence of 2nd, Mass and H Street was held. Attendees included residents from the Sonata and Madrigal Lofts, two officers of the Mount Vernon Square Neighborhood Association, MVT CID executive director Bill McLeod, Daniel Conner from Tommy Wells office, several organizers from Casey Trees, and a representative the Department of Park and Recreations (DPR).
The focus of the meeting was to unveil the new DPR design for the park and details for the Casey Trees sponsored community planting on Friday, March 27th (sign up).
Click to enlarge; rendering from Dept of Park & Recs (DPR)
The most significant change from the July 2008 Design was the change in tree species. The plan no longer calls for transplanting the River Birches from the Art Walk as those trees would require irrigation. The new landscaping plan focuses on “weed trees” like Ginkgos and Chinese Elms.
Phase I – Spring 2009
- Casey Trees will plant 34 new trees with volunteers from community and Price Waterhouse Coopers
- Two existing Japanese pines and one Golden Rain tree will remain
- Forsythia surrounding the Golden Rain tree will be removed.
- Seasonal flower bed will be planted (May?)
Phase II – Fall 2009
- Pavement will be repaired
- Benches, bike racks and trash cans will be relocated from Art Walk
- Art Walk lighting planned to be relocated, but needs to be cut down from towering 25″ parking lot scale to a pedestrian scale.
Phase III – TBD
- Louis Dreyfus Property Group, the I-395 Air Rights developer, has expressed interest in contributing funds to enhance focal point of park (fountain, statue, etc…)
Please consider volunteering for the Casey Trees community planting on March 27th.
This Thursday a meeting to reveal DPR’s updated design for the 2nd and Mass park and for Casey Trees to share logistics of the March 27th tree planting.
From MVT CID executive director Bill McLeod:
Interested in Mount Vernon Triangle’s largest park — the Triangle Park (DPR Park 1089)? Come to a community meeting to learn about the new design for the park, as designed by the Department of Parks & Recreation.
The meeting will be held at Second Baptist Church (816 3rd Street NW) — on February 26 at 6:00 p.m until 7:00 p.m. The tree planting is scheduled for March 27 starting at 8:00 a.m.
The below rendering was presented by DPR’s Sarah Moulton at the July 2008 meeting for this park.
Rendering from Dept of Park & Recs (DPR)
Casey Trees is still accepting registrations for the tree planting on Friday March 27th.
Click image to visit Casey Trees calendar entry
Earlier this month I highlighted the news that commercial real estate firm Edens and Avant (E&A) purchased all the retail at City Vista. Reviewing their portfolio of work did not inspire confidence as all their completed projects were suburban strip malls.
Development Associate Brady Pate reached out to me to discuss E&A’s plans to round out the remaining City Vista space with tenants. Pate lives in the community, regularly shops at the Safeway and uses his Results Gym membership. He is also expected to join the MVT CID Board of directors this June.
E&A plans to keep with the restaurant row vision along K Street. The retail frontage along K, with it’s large windows, 22 foot ceilings and plaza sidewalks is suited well for restaurants. Due to the shallower than ideal depth (65 ft) and numerous concrete columns that inhabit the space the probable outcome is several establishments with wide frontage rather than a series of narrow businesses. Pate suggested 2 to 3 restaurants of sizes ranging from 2500 to 4000 s.f. could fill the available space on K Street.
While well capitalized tenants are sought out there is a pool of local restaurants interested in expanding to the Triangle much the way current City Vista anchors Busboys & Poets and Fifth Street Hardware have done. Negotiations are underway with several prospects. A lease could be signed this spring with an opening targeted in Q4. By the summer of 2010 several new tenants could arrive creating the truly engaging streetscape along K street we all hope to see. The available space on Fifth Street will continue to focus on service oriented retail.
The Chinatown Revitalization Council (CRC) is hosting the second annual Mayor’s “State of the Chinatown Address” tonight.
From Alex Chi, CRC Chair:
We are very pleased to inform you that the Chinatown Revitalization Council (CRC) is hosting the second annual Mayor’s “State of the Chinatown Address” and community dialogue with the aim to communicate the District government’s progress, challenges and action plans for stimulating cultural economic development and overall betterment in and around the DC Chinatown areas. This 2nd Annual Mayor’s “State of the Chinatown Address” will be held at Wah-Luk House (800 6th Street NW) on Monday, February 23, 2009 at 7:00-9:00PM. Refreshment will be provided during networking hours from 9:00 9:30PM.
The objectives of this meeting are as follows:
- Provide an update on cultural-economic development and key community concerns raised in the last Address (Feb. 25, 2008)
- Identify gaps and opportunities in City services and programs in the Chinatown area
- Determine collaboration/partnership opportunities among the City with civic organizations, residents and businesses
- Build consensus on the future directions of the Chinatown in the year of 2009 (Ox)
We take great pleasure in inviting you or a representative from your organization to participate in the Mayor’s annual address and join open dialogue with Mayor Fenty, DC Council Chairman Gray, At-Large Councilmember K. Brown, Ward 2 Councilmember Evans, Ward 6 Councilmember Wells and many top officials, civic and business leaders.
Screen capture of agenda (click to enlarge):
Louis Dreyfus Property Group presented an update on their I-395 air rights project at both the ANC6C Planning, Zoning and Environment (PZ&E) committee meeting and the full commission meeting this February.
Si Kailian attended the PZ&E meeting and provided a recap on the MVSNA blog.
(Dreyfus) submitted the PUD application for the first phase of development at the end of the year and will now be going through the process of scheduling the official ANC and Zoning hearings as well as working with the Federal Highway Authority on the project. It’s an exciting development, planned to be LEED Platinum certified and will add commercial, retail, residential, and green space to what is now the I-395 cavern.
From Si’s recap:
(Dreyfus is) proposing to construct an approximately 2.2 million square foot mixed-use development, which consists of approximately 2 million square feet of commercial use (which includes approximately 75,000 square feet of retail) and 180,000 square feet of residential. One Committee member did remark how the conceptual design of the north elevation was reminiscent of Tech World, its has a similar element of 2 big buildings with a 3 story connection element – but with green space below instead of an expanse of concrete.
I did not attend the PZ&E meeting, but did see the presentation at the full ANC6C commission meeting. Below is what I sketched translated to a Google satellite image. This is an approximation not exact – PLEASE DON’T TAKE IT TOO SERIOUSLY.
Click to enlarge; Blue=commercial, Red=Residential, Dark Green=relocated buildings
Some points I picked up during the presentation:
- Decking will cost ~$210 million; Office component must be maximized to cover capitalization costs
- Area is zoned for medium density office or high density residential/hotel. Requesting zoning relief to allow high density office.
- All parking and loading docks are below ground between 3rd Street NW and I-395.
- The P1 parking level showed substantial bike parking
- Residential building will have 150 units; 50 affordable with a mix of 30 and 60 AMI
- Jewish Historical building will need to be relocated
- At the moment neither F or G Streets will be fully restored to vehicle traffic from 3rd to 1st Street. The Holy Rosary Church and Georgetown Law each want sections to remain pedestrian only.
At the February MVSNA meeting there was a brief discussion on the corner of 4th and L. This area of course is along the primary trouble spot for prostitution in our area. The district owns vacant land to the east of the intersection that could be used to transform this seedy pocket and create more eyes on the street.
How to best transform this city land is not a straight forward proposition. Long term DDOT goals are to reconnect L Street NW and 3rd Street NW over I-395 (rendering). Another long term possibility is the truncation of I-395 at Mass Ave which is being studied. I don’t personally anticipate much movement on either of these items in the next 8-10 years.
I do think that preserving an unobstructed L Street right of way so that these future DDOT plans are not undermined is extremely important. However this limits the development potential of the city’s L parcel.
Click to enlarge; Yellow=District parcel, Blue=Future L St segment, Red=Future 3rd St segment
Leaving the parcel vacant for 5-10 years should not be an option. A temporary use of the land seems to be what the doctor ordered. The two primary options would be a dog park or community garden. While I am not a dog owner I would lean towards a well lit enclosed dog park. The year round and around the clock use would be greater. I also wonder if the hookers wouldn’t just raid a community garden for food or vandalize it when no one is around.
Would the opportunity to unleash their beloved canines be a strong enough draw to pull dog owners from Mass Ave hi-rises or from north of N.Y. Ave to this currently seedy spot? Would area dog owners show enough commitment to go through the lengthy petition process? Would they have enough critical mass to create a dog owner coalition, similar to Shawdogs.org, to maintain the grounds? I hope the answers are YES as this may be our best option to clean up this stretch of Fourth street.
UPDATE [2/19/09 @ 11am] This older satellite image from Microsoft’s Local Live shows the homeless trailers that Si Kailian mentioned were at this location not too long ago.
At Tuesday night’s membership meeting I learned that DDOT’s response to the MVSNA’s request for improved pedestrian safety along NY Ave. Below in the content from the meeting handout:
Increase walk time of signal across N.Y. Avenue at 5th Street NW from 20 to 45 seconds.
At this particular time, DDOT does not recommend this change for two primary reasons.
DDOT is concerned that changing the walk time at this intersection may negatively impact pedestrian safety at this intersection further, in addition to negatively affecting traffic flow. We would like to share these two impacts with you.
Signal and pedestrian timing at this intersection is set as a standardized actuated signal, which is in agreement with the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Further this standard is consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The MUTCD is the national standard for traffic signals and other infrastructure matters. In following these standards, the signal is designed to display visible countdown time only during the “do not walk” flashing time. Therefore the viewable walk time on this signal is only 20 seconds. The total time for pedestrians to cross however is 30 seconds. The breakdown for the signal’s walk time is as follows:
5 seconds of walk time as background time (not seen)
3 seconds of yellow as background time (not seen)
2 seconds of red signal as background time (not seen)
20 seconds of visible walk time (viewable)
Although ten seconds are unseen, 20 seconds are still present for pedestrians to cross. Thirty full seconds are documented as walk time in this signal.
If the signal is changed, even in a small increment, the total cycle of signal length of the entire intersection will be altered and the allowable green time for traffic will be reduced. This could result in additional traffic delays further along New York Avenue. An overflow of traffic may adversely affect pedestrian safety as gridlocked traffic could occur through the intersections and crosswalks.
For the remainder of DDOT’s responses to MVSNA recommendations please visit Cary Silverman’s MVSNA posting.
The February MVSNA meeting takes place this Tuesday February 17th at 7:30pm. The meeting will be held in the 12th floor community room at the City Vista K (475 K St NW).
From Cary Silverman:
The agenda includes an update on MVSNA’s pedestrian safety efforts, election of officers for 2009-10, approval of a voluntary agreement for B&M, and presentation of the Hero of Mount Vernon Square Award. Councilmember Jack Evans will address the Association. Light refreshments will be served. We hope to see you there.
In early January several local blogs picked up Rob Goodspeed’s posting on how brick sidewalks are more slippery when wet than concrete pavers. I’ve also noticed that many of our area red brick sidewalks have lasting salt stains since the snow on January 27th.
Are these discolored bricks an issue of property management companies using a type of salt not suited for brick? Or is it just a lack of realization that the bricks must be cleaned after a salting?