Last June the condominiums at 555 Mass were sent five years worth of bills by the Office of Tax and Revenue (OTR) for Vault space rent. These bills totaled over $150,000 and 555 Mass was afforded only 10 days to provide payment. Bewildered by these enormous bills arising from seemingly nowhere the condominium’s UOA was forced to raid their operating capital to comply with payment. The building’s leadership has since spent time researching how these taxes were calculated and questioning how the developer (JBG) was allowed to leave them holding the bag.
Underground parking; 555 Mass was charged > $1500/parking space/year for their 23 vault parking spots
What is a vault?
A vault is an underground storage area which extends beyond the building owner’s property and into a public area, such as a sidewalk or roadway. Vaults are commonly used to extend underground parking garages and to house electrical transformers and other utility related uses.
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The Google Earth tool has a feature that displays historical satellite images from selected points in time. I thought it would be interesting to review images from last decade that pre-date all the new construction development we see today.
Not surprisingly much of what existed in 1999 was surface parking lots. But there are structures visible on many of these sites. Where these vacant buildings or did they host residences or businesses. Feel free to share the 411 in the comments.
Yale Lofts Condominiums:
555 Mass and Hampton Inn:
Click on any of the images to enlarge.
Today we’ll kickstart our Pets of Mount Vernon Triangle feature with a cat and a dog from the 5th and Mass area of the ‘hood.
Winston is a four-year-old rescue cat living in the Meridian. He loves salmon, cheese, bonito flakes, tuna water, leaky faucets, Alex Ovechkin, and sitting on stuff. He dislikes vacuum cleaners and drinking out of a bowl like a normal cat.
Above is Lola May from 555 Mass. She was quite content to sit in in the pannier bag on Brock’s fiancee’s bicycle as he snapped this adorable photo.
The 555 Mass Condominium is having a Community Garage Sale this Saturday from 9AM-2PM. See image of flyer below:
Tuesday morning I noticed (presumably) DDOT laying out faintly spray painted lines for new wider cross walks and a more substantial pedestrian island at the NW corner of the 5th and Mass intersection. These marking appear to outline plans for more permanent improvements in the near future.
I found the change to the pedestrian island the most interesting. The little tiny stub of Eye Street in front of 555 Mass would be reduced to a one way slip. This will allow pedestrians less distance to cross and a more substantial area to stand while waiting to cross. Will these changes to the island only be paint stripings? Or will the changes be paint first with an eventual upgrade to a landscaped or bricked island?
The red triangle in the second picture above is my best attempt to represent the size of the island.
The photos below show the wake of destruction from WASA inflicted on the custom tree guards outside of 555 Mass during their late night jackhammering a couple weeks back.
Click images to enlarge.
Wednesday night residents of 555 Mass were treated to the thundering sounds of jack hammers by the DC Water and Sewer Authority (WASA). The utility company erected lights and pounded the streets with heavy machinery from 10PM to 7AM.
Reading through the email chain what I gathered was:
- DDOT only issues work permits from 7AM to 7PM.
- DCRA handles night permits but will only issue them in commercial zones
- Utility companies can obtain emergency permits that trump some of standard regulations. Emergency permits should only be issued in cases of “vital loss of service”
The area in question did not have a water main break or other vital service disruption. When the WASA workers were questioned by 555 residents even they did not claim the work was an emergency.
The community flooded the email inboxes of Tommy Wells office and the MVT CID on Thursday. The late night work should cease for now. I know some tired neighbors who appreciate the assistance in mitigating the issue but wish more process were in place to prevent these circumstances.
555 Mass residents have begun to receive Zone 6 Residential Parking Permits this year after being denied in the past for “not being in the system“. However the permits themselves aren’t useful without the appropriate signage along the curbs.
Using a downloadable KMZ file from the DC GIS Data website I have acquired the data to map Residential Permit Parking Blocks. The dataset was sourced by DDOT and contains “polylines” and the metadata states the last update was 2/5/2008. I imported the KMZ file into Google Earth, made the polylines thicker and red, then saved the JPG image you see below.
There is a disconnect between what residents have emailed me regarding blocks they believe to be intended for parking and what this map represents. For instance I’ve been told the 200 thru 500 blocks of K Street should be RPP blocks.
As the Mount Vernon Triangle transforms from a sea of surface parking lots to a residential community more RPP designated blocks may be in order. While I haven’t studied the issue in great depth my initial gut feeling is that K Street is not the right street for RPP expansion. With the retail on K Street you need short term parking not residential permit parking. Thoughts?
Last night ANC 6C held a special meeting to further discuss the 5th and I development proposals. Attendees included the full set of 6C commissioners, Clint Jackson from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (ODMPED), community residents and some members of the development team also attended merely to silently take in feedback.
Upon entry to the meeting each attendee was provided printed documents of the commission’s analysis and recommendation. The commissioners briefly explained what the documents represented, why they decided to have this special meeting two weeks after initially discussing the topic, and how the meeting would proceed.
Clint Jackson from ODMPED was then given the floor to explain how the recommendation from ANC 6C would be used in his departments decision. Basically the commission and community members are given most of the details of these proposals but not every detail is public. Jackson explained that companies would not compete in this manner if items like detailed financials of bids were publicly disclosed. Therefore ODMPED will give great weight to the feedback of the ANC but will use all the information at their disposal, including that which is not publicly shared, to select a proposal.
The commission then opened the floor to residents to share their points of view. While I lost count of the number of residents who took the microphone it was in the double digits and about 80% 555 Mass residents. I was pleasantly surprised that every resident who spoke agreed that the The Arts at 5th and Eye (Donohoe/Holland) was the best fit for the community. I had expected that some would prefer I5/Potomac due to the lure of a Tryst-like cafe, artist studios and to avoid having any kind of club in the neighborhood. However residents were lockstep in feeling the # 1 priority was to make 5th Street a vibrant and safe place. People were very vocal that they wanted to feel safe near their building and safe during walks to the Safeway and other future amenities at City Vista. Consensus was that, while I5/Potomac is an acceptable proposal, the Donohoe/Holland vision to expand the project up to K Street would have the greatest potential positive impact.
The ANC 6C commissioners reclaimed the floor and presented their recommendation. They unanimously agreed with the community to endorse the Donohoe/Holland proposal.
It is clear from comparative review of the RFP criteria and the additional community criteria that only two of the final four development teams submitted proposals that clearly address community concerns and identified neighborhood needs. Donohoe/Holland and i5 both focus on local retail, local amenities, and improvements that take into account the unique needs and resources of this community. ANC 6C believes that the Donohoe/Holland proposal (aka Arts on 5th) best meets the majority of the above criteria, particularly with regard to the development of 5th St NW, long-term job creation using the First Source standards, pedestrian safety issues beyond construction, and written agreements with the community and the ANC. ANC 6C recommends the Donohoe/Holland proposal as the best fit for the community and the future of 5th and Eye. The Commission notes that i5 is a strong proposal and our second choice.
Feels good to be at a meeting where everyone is on the same page. Hopefully the ODMPED follows suit. We’ll know in mid June. =)
There was a discussion over at the MVSNA Blog earlier this week about the shenanigans at the last ANC 2C meeting. The events, at least as portrayed there, made me mad: how could the people who make up my political community be so trivial and unproductive! I felt embarrassed to be represented by ANC 2C.
But then I remembered, I’m not in ANC 2C! The Madrigal Lofts, Sonata, Dumont, and (I believe) both City Vista and 555 Mass Ave, are in ANC 6C. That’s right, many of the new Mount Vernon Triangle residences are in a separate political area than Mount Vernon Square, even though the MVSNA does cover the entire Triangle. In fact, ANC 6C is the same ANC as most of the Penn Quarter condos are in (though the PQ condos further to the west are in ANC 2C).
I don’t say this to diminish the MVSNA (not in the least!). I’m sure that they would gladly cover relevant parts of the ANC 6C meetings, for instance, if someone attended and sent a write-up to them. But! That requires someone knowing that we need to be going to the ANC 6C meetings! Given the great work that MVSNA does, it is easy to forget that we span two ANCs.
As I look at the map of ANC 6C, the Triangle’s new condos are all in ANC 6C01. The PQ condos are in ANC 6C09. And the Triangle area of ANC 6C01 is a bit of an appendage, unlike the PQ condos, which fall in the dead center and make up the bulk of ANC 6C09. While I expect that Kieth Silver, the commissioner of ANC 6C01, knows that these new buildings are here (has anyone from 555 Mass or the Sonata interacted with him), as these buildings start to fill up it will be incumbent upon us to make sure we are not treated as an appendage.