Saturday, February 20, 2016

Massive Development Planned Near Rhode Island Ave Metro

As one of the largest redevelopment projects in Washington, D.C., developer MRP Realty is planning on razing a retail center near the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station to construct 1.56 million-square-feet of residential, 245,000-square-feet of retail, and 1,992 parking spaces. The retail center, known as Rhode Island Center, will be razed to construct seven buildings with ground-floor retail, covering roughly six blocks of space.

The development plan calls for 1,555 residential units with eight percent set aside for affordable housing. The units will range from studios to three-bedrooms.

The first of the six-phase project will redevelop two buildings along Rhode Island Avenue NE into 345 residential units. Construction is expected to begin in 2016.

MRP, with B&R Associates LP and Sandrock LP, proposes to transform 13 acres encompassing the Rhode Island Center — anchored by Save-A-Lot, Big Lots and Foreman Mills — a self-storage warehouse and 13 single-story retailers into a mixed-use, transit-oriented community that promises to “ultimately establish this locale as a destination in and of itself.”

The project will replace a shopping center that was the “product of the times in which it was built: it is auto-centric, set back from the street and does not interact with the greater community; it does not facilitate connections within the community but rather isolates itself, creating a barrier between the Metropolitan Branch Trail and the pedestrian path to the Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood Metrorail Station.”

The development proposal calls for six new blocks along an extended street grid, all consisting of residential over ground-floor retail and 1,992 parking spaces.

The development site is bounded by Fourth Street NE to the west, Rhode Island Avenue to the south, the Metrorail tracks and the Metropolitan Branch Trail to the east and the Edgewood Terrace apartments to the north.

The number of units: 1,555, in a mix of studio to three-bedroom. Eight percent of the gross floor area, or 124,612 square feet, will be set aside as affordable.

There will be seven buildings. The first phase will feature two buildings on the two blocks closest to the Metro, to Rhode Island Row and the Brentwood Shopping Center.

The design of the first two buildings, totaling 345 units, “will pay homage to the industrial area that helped shape this neighborhood while generating an architectural vocabulary unique to this project.

Northeast D.C., -- from Rhode Island Ave to Union Market, to NoMa Brookland to H Street, to New York Avenue -- is the epicenter of D.C.'s booming redevelopment pipeline.

Only last month, the JBG Cos. and the Boundary Companies proposed building 691 residential units over retail for the New York Avenue-Florida Avenue intersection.

Edens will break ground soon on multiple projects at Union Market, while LCOR recently picked up $30 million loan to build the 187-unit Edison at 340 Florida Ave. NE, and Level 2 Development has earned Zoning Commission approval for the 315-unit Highline at Union Market, 320 Florida Ave. NE.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

NC Dept of Labor Issues Fine for Electrician's Death

North Carolina Department of Labor has issued a $5,600 fine to another state agency in connection with a worker death in April. The Labor Department fined the Department of Administration for the death of electrician Hal Rue. State officials said Rue was setting up an aerial lift outside the State Archives building when the lift toppled on him on April 13.

“When I saw the amount, I thought that was a low amount,” said Rue’s widow, Marlene. The two would have celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary in July. “I think the real grief has come later on, realizing I’m not going to see him again, not on this Earth.”

An Oct. 14 letter from the Labor Department said its position had not changed after the two departments couldn’t reach a settlement. The Department of Administration has 15 working days from receipt of that letter to pay the penalty or appeal it to an independent board.

The fine was issued under the general duty clause, which requires employers to provide workplaces free from recognized hazards. The maximum penalty was $7,000.

“Safety measures that weren’t in place, they need to put them in place. Take it very seriously because it can happen. They’ve seen it,” said Marlene Rue.

A spokesman for the Department of Labor said the Department of Administration paid the fine Thursday. However, a spokesman for the Department of Administration also noted attorneys for his agency are still trying to determine if they’ll take any additional action.

“All of Mr. Rue’s work family was saddened by this tragic accident. At the end of the day we want to see all of our employees go home safely. We would like to thank the Department of Labor for their help and advice, and have already implemented additional safety measures across all of our divisions,” said Chris Mears, spokesman for the Department of Administration. 


Electricians Seriously Burned at Charlotte Hotel

Two electricians suffered serious injuries after being burned at a hotel in southwest Charlotte Thursday afternoon, according to officials.

Firefighters said the workers, who were electrical contractors, were burned while working on an electrical panel at a Ramada Inn. They said a flash fire sparked up during the incident.

"We don’t know exactly.  They were working on a panel, it’s a main large electrical panel that’s 480 volts and whatever happened something in there went wrong and it flashed and like I said electricity and a flash fire," said Battalion Chief Paula McDaniel.

Both workers were taken by ambulance to an area hospital. Their names and conditions have not been released.

Fire crews say there was not a fire when they arrived, but that firefighters reported seeing a small amount of smoke. A guest at the hotel said that he saw smoke on the first floor of the hotel.  Kenny Smith says he left his room when he heard the fire alarm.

"So three of us ran downstairs to the outside door downstairs to the bottom door we open up the first door all we saw was full of smoke so then after that the three of us cut out the side door and back and ran around the corner.  But they still haven’t come out and said anything to us," Smith said.

Duke Energy cut power to the hotel, they said, as a precaution.

Guests were allowed back into the hotel later in the evening.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

$98M FBI Central Records Center Complex

After nearly a decade, Congress has approved construction of a FBI records management complex in Frederick County, Virginia. Funding includes $97,853,000 for the General Services Administration that’s specifically identified to be spent on the FBI’s Central Records Complex. 

Frederick County was selected in a comprehensive site search based on its merits largely because of its location.

It is far enough from Washington to be reasonably safe if the capital were attacked, but close enough to enable government officials to visit quickly whenever necessary.

The GSA is presently considering three different parcels near Winchester on which to construct the new FBI records facility.

Frederick County fit its criteria for site selection, including its proximity to Washington, D.C., reliable transportation and communication networks, an educated work force and an absence of potential terrorist targets.

Once the GSA completes the supplemental environmental impact study, the agency plans to buy the land in early 2016. The GSA will proceed with the facility’s design and begin construction in the early 2017.

When completed, the $98 million state-of-the-art facility will serve as the central repository for all FBI records and facilitate quick access to vital records and information.

It is projected that the new complex will employ approximately 1,200 people — including new positions and transfers from other FBI facilities.

These initiatives will significantly improve search and record-retrieval capabilities by increasing search accuracy; by decreasing search time; and by reducing lost files, missing serials, and the manual movement of files.

When complete, the overall impact will be to reduce even further the FBI’s pending Freedom of Information/Privacy Act numbers and processing times.

“This is good for national security, it’s good for the FBI, it’s good for the country and I think it’s good for Frederick County, too,” Rep. Frank Wolf, R-10th, said. “The FBI employs some of the finest people in the world, and you have a lot of people who work for the FBI already living out there.”

The bureau’s records center has been on the area’s list of the Ten Most Wanted economic development projects for years.

Presently, the bureau operates a records management center in leased space at 170 Marcel Drive — off Tasker Road just northwest of the Walmart Supercenter on Front Royal Pike. More than 500 people work at that site. The FBI’s 10-year lease expires in August 2016.

That GSA is recommending a 256,500 square foot facility — more than double the 106,296-square-feet it’s leasing— and 430-space parking lot. The complex would support the FBI’s current and future critical record management space needs.

Heery International has been awarded the contract to manage construction for the FBI's Central Records Complex, and assist the GSA in selection of the design/build contractor.