gannett-headquarters-in-autumn-by-wfyurasko

Gannett thinking of selling Tysons headquarters again

Gannett exploring sale of Tysons headquartersThe Post
My former employer of many years, Gannett Co. Inc. and publisher of USA Today is thinking of selling its Tysons (McLean mailing address) headquarters again. This seems to come up at least once a year, but now it’s official from the CEO’s mouth. They simply do not need all the office space with a very different business model than when the building was designed in the 1990s. The company splitting in two – broadcast/digital and newspapers (with none of the company debt) as well.

The building location could be a bit of a disadvantage — while Tysons is seeing a lot of new construction, most of it is right along the Silver Line and 7950 Jones Branch Drive isn’t within a half-mile of a station. The World Bank was rumored to be interested at one point, but that fizzled. ExxonMobil and SAIC is also looking to unload their Fairfax County campuses. I’m not sure the amenities like a walking path around a large stormwater retention pond are that big of a selling point. I do miss “walk time” with my former colleagues though.

As for a new location, the opportunity to move back to Arlington is there since that office market is depressed right now. For about 19 years, USA Today was headquartered at 1000 Wilson Blvd. in Rosslyn and Gannett spent 15 years next door in the twin tower at 1100. The tallest building in that skyline is vacant (Wash. Biz Journal) and probably wouldn’t mind a big brand name tenant. The current Corporate Executive Board building will also be vacated when that organization moves into a new tower at the site of the old Orleans House.

It seemed like half my colleagues lived in Ashburn so they might have a retention problem with a move like that, though the Silver Line might be finished out that way by then. Of course, selling the current Gannett/USA Today building and then leasing space could be an option. I’m just a spectator on this one, but had I still been with Gannett I’d have been hoping for move.

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Sheetz replacing the old Big Easy space in downtown State College

Subtitled: When your favorite bar from college is turned into a convenience store

Beer without gas: Sheetz to open store in downtown State CollegeCDT

Five things:

  • When I was at Penn State, my favorite bar was Tony’s Big Easy. It was an attractive space that served the best cocktails (but they were…SIX DOLLARS) in State College and played swing, salsa, jazz. It was the bar in Happy Valley with the most little black dresses. I loved it.
  • After graduation though, the music got more generic and it started to sound like every other bar in town. It wasn’t Jock Jams bad, but the product differentiation was lost.
  • Years later, there was a fatal stabbing outside of it. It eventually lost it’s liquor license.
  • Now, it’s becoming a 24-hour convenience store. It’s going to be a huge success.
  • That headline
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washington-coliseum

Wizards should investigate Washington Coliseum for their new practice facility

Welp: REI is moving there (Urban Turf) which seems like a pretty good use of the space, particularly for the spelunking crowd.

The Washington Wizards seek a new practice facility. They have been using Verizon Center auxiliary courts since the arena opened, but team owner Ted Leonsis wants a separate building. The model for this is his Capitals, who moved to what is now called Kettler Capitals Iceplex, a two-rink facility built on top of an Arlington County parking garage adjacent to Ballston Common Mall. The project was financed by the county and the Capitals rent and operate it. The modern amenities, convenient location to the core of the Caps fanbase and new rinks have been a positive for the team and the community. It’s not surprising that he wants to see if that can be reproduced for his basketball team.

The other morning as I was getting off the Red Line at NoMa, which should be called Swampoodle, (Ghosts of DC) station I looked over at the old Washington Coliseum and had a thought — could that be re-purposed into a new Wizards practice facility? Opened in 1941 as Uline Arena, Miguel Uline built it for his Washington Lions hockey team. The Lions uniforms inspired the Caps’ winter classic kit.

In the late 1940s it was the home of D.C.’s original basketball team, the Capitols, led by head coach and D.C. native Red Auerbach and the NBA’s first African-American player, Earl Lloyd. Oh and it also hosted the Beatles in their first public American concert in 1964. The ABA’s Caps played there for one season too and the album Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits’ cover photo was shot there. It’s been in developmental limbo for many years and currently acts as a parking garage.

The Coliseum has more practical advantages beyond history of course. Located a block from Metro (and only three stops from Gallery Place-Chinatown station which Verizon Center is on top of) is located in an upcoming neighborhood, visibility (thousands of commuters pass it daily) and is an existing footprint. A Clinton Yates column expressed concerns about permanent neighborhood disruption when Shaw was proposed (The Post) as a site.

Turning the Coliseum into a 21st century practice facility isn’t a silver bullet by any means. The building is owned by Douglas Realty would undoubtedly need significant renovations whether it is sold or leased. There would almost certainly need to be a parking garage, weight rooms, plumbing and probably food service built there as well. It’s not my money to spend and I suspect Leonsis would rather the District finance it rather than him. Whether it is economically feasible, desirable or even available, it is worth looking into, because this could be a real opportunity for the franchise as well as the District.

LEARN MORE

Ghosts of Hockey, Basketball and Rock 'n' Roll – Ghosts of DC.

Before Ovechkin: The Washington Lions and Uline Arena – Ghosts of DC.

A Brief History of the Washington Coliseum/Uline Arena – Beatlemania – Curbed DC.

Photos of The Beatles first appearance in America at Uline Arena (Washington Coliseum) on Feb 11, 1964 two days after their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

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2015 Skiing preview

An overdue post about skiing this winter

Ski areas in the Mid-Atlantic have been opened since Thanksgiving weekend and we’ve had measurable snow in D.C. (5 out of the first 7 school days were two-delays), but I’m behind on getting ready with wall-sits and blogging. Over at dcski.com, the firsthand reports have started to trickle in.

Last year was my personal best year of skiing in many moons as I hit the slopes three times — Whitetail (twice) and Massanutten. I’m hoping to get out at least twice this season as well.

This year, I’ve created a Twitter list for Mid-Atlantic ski resorts which can you follow here and is embedded below:


I had high hopes for this at the beginning of the season, but it’s mostly RTs of people who are at the resorts, rather than useful information. Raise your game, snow pros…

As always, an excellent resource for resort profiles is dcski.com. Here are some other places I’ve skied in over the years:

Big Boulder
– Poconos (2007 and many times previously)
Blue Knob – Central-ish Pennsylvania (2012)
Camelback – Poconos (2009 sand several times before)
Jack Frost – Poconos (2007)
Timberline – West Virginia (2013)

All of my documented skiing is tagged with YAAAAH-HOO-HOO-HOO-HOOEY!. I wasn’t blogging when I visited Wisp, SNO (nee Montage), Roundtop, Liberty. or when I skied at Eldora in Colorado one spring break.

Register for NASTAR and receive a year of Ski Magazine

Registering for NASTAR is free and it includes a subscription to SKI Magazine.

When you register you will be assigned a permanent registration number so there is no need to register each season. And you get to go in those races you see from time to time.

Some other news

At Camelback, snow makers mix weather, water, ski weekendsPocono Record

Good news for Timberline and Caanan Valley, Corridor H (US 48) is being extended a few more miles west, bypassing the switch backs of WV 42 east of Mount Storm. It’ll still be a while before it reaches Davis though. One of my criticisms of Timberline from 2013′s trip was the conditions are not as good as the roads to ski areas in other states. For the locals there, the snow-covered roads may not be a big deal, but if they want tourism they’ll have to clear the roads more.

Inspire Yourself

But seriously, how can the climatic ski scene and ski pole duel (which needs lightsabres added to it) from Better Off Dead not on youtube?

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VDOT releases 1949 footage of Shirley Highway in Alexandria

va350_old_tinyThe Virginia Department of Transportation has released another Then & Now video, this time of Henry G. Shirley Highway in 1949, then known as Virginia primary route 350 and now Interstate 395. Last time, the video was of US 29 in Arlington. This time VDOT recreated about a 2-mile drive along Shirley Highway and combined it with the 1949 footage (IN COLOR!) of the same stretch of road, though nothing really is the same:

Shirley Highway predates the interstate highway system, having been built to provide access to the Pentagon and the Fairlington development that came out of World War II as well as a bypass of US 1 a bypass of US 1 between the Occoquan and Potomac Rivers. Technically, Shirley Highway did not go over either river, but provided a direct connection between the two of them.

In the original 1956 interstate highway plan, VA 350 was to be part of I-95. The new number may not have been posted as such until massive rebuilding in the early 1970s that included 2 reversible express lanes. The designation was short-lived though as the proposal to build I-95 between New York Ave (US 50) and the Capital Beltway near College Park was cancelled. Shirley Highway was re-designated I-395 in 1977.

The contrast between then and now is striking of course. The video begins near Edsall Road which today is just south of the terminus of the “EZ Pass Express” toll lanes that supplanted the 1971 express lanes. The two lanes in each direction with no shoulders of 1949 is unrecognizable to the 11 lanes over three separated roadways of now. The hills of the Alexandria area are quite visible too — it looks like a rural area then. Because it was.

Concrete arch bridges (similar to the Washington Blvd spans over Columbia Pike that are being replaced now) and sporadic white guide signs have been replaced by steel girders and frequent big green signs. A conspicuous NO THRU TRUCKS signal also makes an appearance.

Rolling along in 1949 Shirley Highway was through untouched country side past the current Landmark Mall (opened as a shopping center in 1956) and the new Mark Center. Van Dorn Street, which parallels Shirley Highway now wasn’t even there yet, nor was it’s residential development. That would come within a decade. The large Mark Center building would only open in the last few years.

This is a fun exercise for me, seeing what the area close to my current home looked like long before I was born. A late former neighbor grew up in Fairlington and told me about how they would ride their bicycles along the grading for an Shirley Highway when it was under construction; I wish I could show him this video.

There is a lot more to learn about Shirley Highway and see maps and photographs and I recommend the following sites:

Adam Froehlig and Mike Roberson’s Virginia Highways Project – VA 350

Scott Kozel’s Roads to the Future – Henry G. Shirley Memorial Highway

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New DC United stadium approved for Buzzard Point


It took over a decade to happen, but D.C. United will have a new home after the D.C. Council and passed funding legislation for a stadium at Buzzards Point – D.C. Council gives final approval to soccer stadium deal (The Post):

With the vote, the team secured a deal that could get it out of the aging RFK Stadium as soon as 2017. And Mayor Vincent C. Gray, with about two weeks left in office, secured a legacy.

The final vote was matter-of-fact, with the council’s 12 members approving the deal unanimously.

A companion funding bill also passed unanimously Wednesday authorizing nearly $140 million for the project — including $33 million in shifts from other projects and $106 million in new borrowing.

DC United tried to get a stadium built on the other side of the Anacostia River at Poplar Point but, that got scuttled by then mayor Adrian Fenty. Moving the team to Prince George’s County was also proposed, but that did not proceed very far. Building Nationals Park clearly delayed the soccer stadium, but in 2017 DCU and the Nats will be neighbors, separated by a mere 4 blocks. Navy Yard Metro will be the closest station to the soccer stadium as well.

I’m really happy for the fans of United; Dan Steinberg Post columnist (weird) and DC Sports Bog-er has said for years that they are his favorite fans. It’s hard to argue with him, they have a passion for the black and red.

TIME TO COMMIT

On a personal note, I have become increasingly interested in soccer in the last five years, but have been holding back on completely embracing United because I wanted to know they weren’t going to leave the area for some place like Baltimore or Philly. In particular, I did not want my six-year old son, who has developed an interest and aptitude for soccer, to get his heart broken. Now that we know the team is here for the duration, we’ll probably start attending games regularly. I think I might have to go to the store and get him a shirt for Christmas.

WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

Like many of the teams in our nation’s capital, United has an eagle for a mascot. One of the supporters groups is called the Screaming Eagles too. While tradition is important, this outsider thinks that becoming the Screaming Buzzards on account of their new location might be something to explore.

DCU is also considering rebranding a bit with the move:

I have a feeling not much will change.

OTHER USES

There is talk of the stadium being used for other events, like high school football and concerts. The Washington Spirits of the National Women’s Soccer League would probably play there occasionally. I wonder if the vagabond Chesapeake Bayhawks Major League Lacrosse team that has played all in DC, Baltimore, George Mason University and currently the Naval Academy might be looking to move as well.

THE OBSOLESCENCE OF RFK & MAYBE SOME METRO STATION NAMES

DC United is the sole remaining tenant at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium . The will likely play there a total 21 seasons, second only to the Redskins for longevity. Overall 13 baseball seasons were spent at RFK between the Senators and Nationals in the 1960s, 1970s and 2000s. With RFK’s inevitable demise (which deserves it’s own blog post) what becomes of the Stadium-Armory Metro station name? My guess is they’ll rename it to Hill East or something and remove the Armory reference entirely. Of course the city is tilting at windmills for the 2024 Olympics and/or a new Redskins stadium, so who knows? I wonder if the Navy Yard-Ballpark station gets another new name too, since two stadia will be served.

VENDORS

DC United and DC Brau already have a beer, The Tradition, so I can only assume local craft beer will be a part of the new stadium. Ben’s Chili Bowl is in several locations, so they may show up too. Since MLS doesn’t have all the national sponsorships that other leagues do, focusing on local/regional vendors and products is an appealing part of the DCU experience.

BALTIMORE IN MLS?

To the north, efforts to entice DCU to head up there were at least considered. I’m glad that hasn’t happened, but I’d be on board with a Baltimore MLS team. They have a lower-division team called the Bohemians after the infamous National Bohemian beer and since soccer is usually sponsored, that’d be one of the better one. That’d be a good instant rivalry, along with the ones with Red Bull NY (actually Harrison, NJ) and Philly Union.

MORE COVERAGE

D.C. United stadium approval improves its playing field in MLS in many ways. – The Post

City council unanimously passes legislation to build stadium for D.C. UnitedThe Wash. Times

Letter from D.C. United Managing General Partner Jason LevienD.C. United

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber talks D.C. United StadiumD.C. United

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While it’s still up, watch Brothers in Exile about Livan and Orlando Hernandez

I finally caught “Brothers in Exile” the ESPN 30 for 30 on Livan and Orlando Hernandez. It mostly covers their defections from Cuba and first seasons in the majors which culminated in World Series championships for the Florida Marlins and New York Yankees, respectively. The rest of their careers are ignored, but ¡LIVAN! is wearing his Washington Nationals BP uniform.

Do you remember when El Duque signed with the Nats?

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William F. Yurasko's blog v.15 – Nats, Redskins, Capitals, D.C. life, transportation, not so much Penn State anymore,