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First Dupont Underground Installation Set for April 2016

Re-Ball for the Dupont Underground is now live. Image courtesy of Dupont Underground.

Re-Ball for the Dupont Underground is now underway. Image courtesy of Dupont Underground.

The design competition, Re-Ball, and resulting installation of 650,000, 3-inch plastic balls in the Dupont Underground will mark the (albeit temporary) opening of the revitalized former streetcar station beneath Dupont Circle when it opens April 30.

The Dupont Underground is hosting an open design competition for a site-specific installation using the plastic balls, salvaged from the successful BEACH installation at the National Building Museum this summer.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for the Dupont Underground to make its cultural mission evident from the beginning, and to do something unexpected, unprecedented, and large-scale,” said Braulio Agnese, the nonprofit’s managing director, in a press release. “We were thrilled when the National Building Museum agreed to let us take the BEACH balls for a new installation, and we’re eager to see what people envision for the material, and our space.”

The installation will take over a portion of the east platform, a curving, 14,000-square-foot venue in the former tunnels.

The competition runs through March 4 and the winning design will be open for public viewing from April 30 through June 1.

The Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground (ACDU) signed a five- year lease with the District government in late 2014 for the approximately 75,000 square feet of abandoned streetcar tunnels and platforms beneath Dupont Circle.

Interested in submitting? Here are the details:

• Competition Launch: January 4, 2016

• Early Registration Deadline: February 4, 2016

• Close of Entries: March 4, 2016 Page 2

• Winner Announcement: March 21, 2016

• Competition Jury: architect Julian Hunt, Dupont Underground founder and co-principal at Hunt Laudi Studio; Chase W. Rynd, executive director, the National Building Museum; Vesela Sretenović, senior curator of modern and contemporary art at The Phillips Collection; architect Michael Kubo, Collective– LOK founding partner; D.C. artist, entrepreneur, and community organizer Tendani Mpulubusi El; and architects Yasmin Vobis and Aaron Forrest, principals at Ultramoderne (which will have one vote)

• First-Place Prize: $3,500

• Construction Budget: $10,000

• Installation Opens: April 29, 2016

• Installation Closes: June 1, 2016

• Website: re-ball.org

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Downtown Bike Parking Nearly Doubles in 3 Years

U-shaped bike rack installation. Image courtesy of Downtown BID.

U-shaped bike rack installation. Image courtesy of Downtown BID.

There are now nearly 1,000 bike racks in downtown DC’s 138-block area after a three-year effort by the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) and the District Department of Transportation.

The overall number of bike racks increased from 531 to 964 between 2012 and 2015.

“Bike parking availability not only encourages biking as a sustainable means of transportation that reduces congestion, but parking racks help maintain order in pedestrian areas and in-street parking spaces, ” said DowntownDC BID Executive Director Neil O. Albert in a prepared statement.

The bike rack increase is part of the BID’s effort to increase the number of non-car trips into downtown in alignment with the 2032 Sustainable DC Goals. In 2013 the total mode share of commute in DC by bike was 5% and walking was 14%, by 2032 the District wants those totals to reach 25%.

Another tool to reach those goals is Capital Bikeshare, which has its own docking stations not counted in the bike rack numbers. The BID piloted the city’s first bike share system in 2008 and in 2014 16% of all Bikeshare trips ended in the downtown BID.

“All Downtown residents, workers and guests benefit from an increase in bike parking in the BID,” added Albert.

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NoMa Secures Second Public Park Parcel for $14 million

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 5.02.09 PMThanks to the recent $14 million acquisition of a two-acre parcel from Pepco, the NoMa Parks Foundation adds a second public park space to the dense urban neighborhood. The parcel is located on a lot bounded by Harry Thomas Way NE, the Metropolitan Branch Trail and New York Avenue NE.

Already the park foundation is referring to the site as the neighborhood’s backyard and giving it the working name of “NoMa Green.”

“With more than 36,000 people living in greater NoMa today and more than 7,000 new homes in the near-term pipeline, a diverse collection of parks and open space is essential,” said Robin-Eve Jasper, president of the NoMa Parks Foundation, in a prepared statement.

The NoMa Green parcel announcement comes on the heels of the October acquisition of an 8,000 square-foot lot at 3rd and L streets, NE. The two new spaces were secured with funds dedicated in the NoMa Parks Grant Authorization Act in 2013, which set aside $50 million in DC Government budget for new public parks and civic spaces in NoMa.

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Advisory Board Reportedly Signs Lease for Mt. Vernon Project

655 new york ave nw douglas

The Advisory Board Company has reportedly signed a lease to move from the West End to a brand new Mt. Vernon Triangle building in a mixed-use project by Douglas Development at 655 New York Ave. NW, according to the Washington Business Journal.

The 655 New York Ave. project is slated to bring a total of  756,000 square feet of development (678,000 square feet office; 79,000 square feet retail) to an amalgamation of 12 buildings on a triangular block.

WBJ reports:

“The health care research and consulting company (NASDAQ: ABCO) signed a lease Tuesday evening with new landlord Douglas Development Corp. andBrookfield Property Partners for roughly 530,000 square feet at 655 New York Ave. NW, according to sources familiar with the deal but not authorized to speak publicly about it. “

The project architect is Shalom Baranes Associates.

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DC Gets Top Marks For Uber-Friendly Policies

A red DC taxicab. Image from Beyond DC on Flickr.

A red DC taxicab. Image from Beyond DC on Flickr.

DC, the top-rated city in 2014, again came out on top with a seven-way tie for “friendliness to vehicle-for-hire transportation” among 50 of the largest U.S. cities, according to a study released by the R Street Institute.

Vehicle-for-hire transportation includes transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft and more traditional taxicabs.

The worst performing city for its relationship with TNCs, earning an F, was Philadelphia, whose overall score was a “D-.”

DC received an “A” grade alongside Indianapolis, Louisville, Mesa, Milwaukee, Raleigh and Tucson.

“The rising tide of transportation friendliness in 2015 was driven by the spread of ridesharing legislation around the country,” said Andrew Moylan executive director of R Street and co-author of the study in a prepared statement.

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DC Back to Adding 1,000 Residents per Month

The District's baby boom continues in 2015.

The District’s baby boom continues in 2015.

The District government can go back to boasting that the city adds 1,000 new residents per month, according to new census data from July 2014 to July 2015 as reported in The Washington Post.

In July 2015 the District recorded 672,228 residents, up 1.9 percent from 658,893 in July 2014.

“We have been planning with this growth in mind,” said Eric D. Shaw, Director of the DC Office of Planning (OP), which houses the District’s State Data Center, in a press release. “And we continue to plan for not the just the overall growth, but recognize that we need to be responsive to the changing characteristics of the population, more specifically children and families.”

The growth is in part a natural increase (births minus deaths). Since 2013 District resident mothers have given birth to more than 9,400 babies each year.

Beyond the natural increase of 4,375 residents, the net new residents totaled 8,282. 

“I am encouraged by the new census numbers,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser in a press release. “More and more people are choosing to call the District of Columbia ‘home’”. 

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Church Deconstruction Makes Way for Morton Street Mews

Morton Street Mews, church under construction. Image from OPaL on Facebook.

Morton Street Mews, church under construction. Image from OPaL on Facebook.

A Columbia Heights Church will become six townhomes and two apartments in the next several months as OPaL development transforms W.S. Pittman Church (circa 1905) into the second portion of Morton Street Mews. The project is located just east of Columbia Heights near Georgia Avenue at 777 Morton St. NW.

OPaL development company Principal Sean Ruppert attended a church service to get the inside scoop on buying the site, as we previously reported.

In addition to the eight units on the church site, Morton Street Mews also includes 16 newly-constructed units in new buildings on a large parking lot at the corner of Sherman Avenue. The new construction units began earlier and are now selling.

In all the project brings 24 two and three-level homes to an area situated between the Columbia Heights and Petworth Metro stations.

 

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New FBI Building Funds Secured, New Location Still TBD

FBI Building. Photo by John Holcomb as posted on Flickr.

FBI Building. Photo by John Holcomb as posted on Flickr.

Though the future site of a new Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) complex is still up in the air, Congress approved $390 million in federal funds for the initial design, engineering and construction of a consolidated headquarters. The FBI’s existing headquarters is at the J. Edgar Hoover Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in downtown DC.

Currently the General Services Administration is considering bids from two locations in Prince George’s County (Greenbelt or Landover) and one in Springfield, Va.

The funding was set aside in the $1.1 trillion spending bill approved in Congress this week. 

The existing 1974 building is not big enough to house the FBI’s many headquarter employees and the structure itself has structural issues. The GSA proposes a swap: developers would get the 6-acre downtown parcel and exchange it for a new complex that can accommodate the FBI’s entire HQ operations in one location.

The GSA is currently in a public comment period on the three final site options.

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Streetcar Closer, But No Passenger Service in 2015

Streetcar testing on H Street, NE. Image courtesy of DDOT.

Streetcar testing on H Street, NE. Image courtesy of DDOT.

For the second time in its storied existence, the H Street Streetcar began Pre-Revenue Operations (PRO) this week, a notable step towards passenger service, but one whose timing guarantees passenger service will not happen in 2015. PRO, in which the streetcars simulate the frequency of normal service, will run for at least three weeks, counting from Dec. 16.

During the next three weeks, and possibly for several weeks thereafter, the  “full complement” of the city’s streetcars will simulate normal service from as early as 6 a.m. to as late as 2 a.m. with 15 minute headways, according to a notice from the District Department of Transportation.

The hours are:

  • Monday-Thursday: 6 a.m. – midnight
  • Friday: 6 a.m. – 2 a.m.
  • Saturday: 8 a.m. – 2 a.m.
  • Holidays: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. (No service on December 25, 2015)
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Peebles’ 5th and I Hotel Project Design Evolves

The Peebles plan for 5th and I--rendering from 2014.

The Peebles plan for 5th and I–rendering from 2014.

The  Peebles Corporation and Walker Group plans for a new  12-story hotel and residential building  at 5th and I Streets, NW in Mt. Vernon Triangle continue to evolve their architecture design following feedback from DC’s Historic Preservation Review Board.

As we previously reported, Peebles and the Walker Group won the right to redevelop the site, a former District government property, in May 2014. Last fall the developers agreed to a $28 million price tag.

During a September review the HPRB advised the design team that the following refinements were necessary before garnering support for the project:

1. Unify the hotel and residential elevations to minimize the differentiation between the two uses.

2. Create a stronger base, shaft and capitol, so that the whole building can work together.

3. Develop the public space in an engaging way.

4. Design the penthouse so that it is integrated within the design.

5. Capture the unique opportunity of having a corner building on Massachusetts Avenue and create a sense of place.

Next week the project returns with plans that reflect at least some of the requested changes.

A staff report from the Historic Preservation Office generally supports the project, but suggests more design work could improve the building:

“While the revised concept represents progress in responding to the previous direction of the Board, there is still additional opportunity to continue to develop the design to be a stronger and more prominent building.”

The hearing is scheduled for Dec. 17 at 9 a.m. and can be viewed online here.

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