Jury Duty

As residents of the District of Columbia we are eligible for Jury Duty every 24 months. And DC certainly takes advantage of this…

I got called to report to Jury Duty in August, after previously serving as recently as June 2007.

DC has a rule: one day or one trial. The last time I was called I only had to serve one day–I actually sat in the jury waiting room starting at 8am until they released us at about 4. My juror number was never called and I wound up thinking of it as not much of a hassle. But this time my juror number was called in for a panel around 11 am.

I was 12th on the list of about 80 or so candidates. We were escorted to the courtroom and the first 14 of us were seated in the juror box with the rest of the group. The basic circumstances of the case were shared (a man was being tried for possession with intent to distribute over 1/2 pound of marijuana in SE DC) and the voir dire process began. By the end of the day I knew I was chosen to sit on the trial.

The H. Carl Moultrie I Courthouse, seen from 6th & C NW by flickr user M.V. Jantzen

No need to go into all the details of the trial, but I actually found it to be a great learning experience, and I truly felt proud to be serving my civic duty. Of course the trial only lasted a day and a half, and deliberation was about another full day, so fortunately I didn’t have to miss too much work. And while it’s not ideal to be sitting in a room without windows for several days in a row, I learned about my fellow jurors’ unique backgrounds during all the downtime we had–we were 9 women and 3 men, including the proprietor of some local restaurants, a former National Geographic editor, a student at UDC (who missed her first day of classes due to the trial!), a hill staffer, an attorney, and a nurse. I was impressed with the caliber of people who were chosen for the jury.

The most interesting part of the experience was post-trial, when both the prosecutor and public defender debriefed us. They told us some details they weren’t permitted to share during the trial for one reason or another, and also wanted feedback on their work–almost as if we were critiquing a performance! While I say it was an interesting experience, I’m certainly content waiting another 2 years before participating again.

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New Weekly Farmers Market at Mount Vernon Square

A new farmers market has been started on the grounds of Mount Vernon Square. The market will run weekly on Tuesdays from 2:30 to 6:30 pm.

Diverse Markets Management (DMM) is behind this new addition to the DC marketplace. DMM is best known for running the Sunday Flea Market at Eastern Market and the Downtown Holiday Market each December.

There were 6 vendors and one musician this Tuesday (9/29) — a small start, but sustainable for the amount of foot traffic presently on Mount Vernon Square.

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Downtown Park and Open Space User Survey

The DC Office of Planning has a new online survey (link) regarding Downtown Parks and Open Spaces:

The DC Office of Planning is beginning a study to examine access, availability, and programming for park and open spaces in DC’s Downtown and the emerging high density neighborhoods north of Massachusetts Avenue. The study will focus on what improvements are needed to better serve Downtown’s workers and growing residential population. As part of this examination, we will look at both how we can better use existing parks such as Franklin Square and the many triangle parks, such as Gompers Park, but also plan for new parks and open spaces in areas where they are needed.

By completing this survey you will help us better understand how to plan for these parks to better serve area residents and workers. If you would like more information on this effort, please contact Thor Nelson at (202) 741-5241 or by email at or Emily Yates at (202) 442-7704 or by email at

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Making Mount Vernon Square a People Magnet

The Mount Vernon Square District Project, which will have a Public Open House on Thursday October 1st, has a central theme among its goals to transform the square into a people magnet.

Below I’ve included a few slides from the June 16th presentation the Office of Planning delivered to key stakeholders that aim to aid this goal for the Square.

The DC Convention Center could be doing more to interact with Mount Vernon Square. Adding retail uses to the edges may be the best opportunity.

To learn more about the concepts being discussed for Mount Vernon Square and provide feedback to Office of Planning attend the open house forum on October 1st.

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Mount Vernon Square District Project

The DC Office of Planning is hosting an open forum on the Mount Vernon Square District Project this Thursday October 1st.

Office of Planning shares the following information on the project:

This project is designed to generate implementation‐driven solutions for specific transportation, public realm and real estate challenges and opportunities in the blocks, streets, and reservations surrounding Mount Vernon Square.

Project Goals

  • Create a distinctive and sustainable place.
  • Solve traffic and circulation issues to create a multi-modal hub and appealing pedestrian environment.
  • Maintain a deep sense of history and local meaning.
  • Create clear links in all directions to other key destinations.
  • Maximize the draw of this area as a local destination.
  • Improve and activate open spaces.

The Office of Planning (OP) and District Department of Transportation (DDOT) are working with an urban design, planning, real estate, and transportation team to provide consultant services that include technical analysis and the development of designs, solutions and concepts for the mix of uses, programming and identity, transportation and traffic, sustainability and public realm solutions for the Mount Vernon Square District. The team will also calculate the financial benefit associated with making public and private investment in this area considering the District budget, total area of corridor retail and commercial property, property values and tax revenue, estimated sales tax revenues, number of residential units, and benefits from tourism.

The project was initiated in May, 2009 and will include a 28 week long planning process. It will build on ongoing projects like the K Street Transit Way and previous studies like the Mount Vernon Square Design Workbook, Mount Vernon Triangle Action Agenda and Center City Action Agenda, including the Convention Center Area Strategic Development Plan. In the Center City Action Agenda, the project was recommended as a way to coordinate public and private investment in order to support Mount Vernon Square as a great destination in the city. To date, the project team has conducted one‐on‐one interviews, reviewed past planning and transportation studies, compiled critical information, and conducted preliminary analysis. Once complete, the project will be used to guide District agencies, property owners, developers, and other stakeholders in creating synergies among proposed developments and land uses, in making public and private investments and undertaking implementation, and in design, programming, and promotional activities.

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Renderings for 400 K Street NW

The new Mount Vernon Place Master Plan outlines more specific details on the proposed office buildings along K Street.

Rendering of 400 K Street; Click to enlarge.

The specifications for 400 K Street conform closely with those of 300 K Street. The building will have 11’6″ ceiling heights slab to slab with floor to ceiling glass.

First floor plate for 400 K Street; Click to enlarge.

A notable difference is that the building is dual core and can be built in two phases of approximately 210,839 rentable SF each. Separate lobby entrances and service facilities will exist for each section. Spanning the entire project, approximately 23,165 rentable SF ground floor will be available for retail space.

Renderings courtesy of

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