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Alumnus Asher Corson and senior Jackson Carnes, ANC commissioners, are sending a letter to the D.C. Council demanding the University pay for its alley reconfiguration. Emily Benn | Hatchet Photographer

Jackson Carnes, left, and Asher Corson, center, want the D.C. Council to demand the University pay for altering an alley. Emily Benn | Hatchet Photographer

This post was written by Hatchet Staff Writer Rachael Gerendasy.

Two leaders of Foggy Bottom’s top advocacy group claim the neighborhood would lose half a million dollars in public land if the University alters an alley to construct a new office building.

Advisory Neighborhood commissioners Asher Corson and Jackson Carnes said at a special meeting Tuesday they will lobby the D.C. Council to prevent the University from reconfiguring the alley, which is one step in GW’s construction project on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Corson, an alumnus, and Carnes, a senior at GW, want the University to compensate the neighborhood for the $520,500 value of the alley.

Corson said when the alley proposal first came before the ANC, a surveyor had not completed a property value report.

“We think the city should be gaining something concrete and something that is representative of the value of the land that is being given away,” Corson said. “These are taxpayer resources, and they should not just be given away.”

The alley will shift closer to I Street as part of the construction project, an adjustment that creates more property value, Carnes said.

The University has yet to pick a developer for the project, which will tear down several townhouses and local businesses to build an 11-story office building. As part of the plan, the University agreed to pay $4 million in neighbor perks, including affordable housing on F Street and a real-time Metro transit information board.

The ANC supported the alley change last fall, and the ANC as a whole, which weighs in on neighborhood issues like zoning, business licenses and construction plans, did not overturn its decision at Tuesday’s meeting.

Patrick Kennedy, a senior at GW who was recently elected chairman of the group, said he didn’t think his colleagues’ argument was credible because GW purchased the land that includes the alley.

“If the District or federal government owned the land, it would be a different matter. Because they didn’t do that, asking GW to pay for the differential in land value is like asking them to pay twice,” Kennedy said. “If the alley was needed at all, I would support holding this up.”

GW closed another alley in August to construct the new residence hall known colloquially as the “superdorm.” Carnes’ complaints about that arrangement spurred a preliminary ethics investigation into Foggy Bottom’s Council member Jack Evans after Carnes said Evans gave away the alley in exchange for GW’s support of his mayoral bid. The investigation never turned up evidence of Carnes’ claims.

“What Jackson is alleging never happened. It’s honestly absurd,” Evans said then.

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Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 12:58 p.m.

Silver Line construction faces more delays

by admin

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Rachael Gerendasy.

The opening of the Silver Line was pushed back again this week because of more snags with the ambitious project’s construction.

The project, which would extend the Metro rail system an additional 23 miles and eventually connect to Dulles Airport, has already faced substantial delays. The first phase of the project, which would extend the Orange Line to Reston, Va., was initially slated to open last year.

Metro

Construction on the Silver Line has been delayed again. Hatchet File Photo

Dulles Transit Partners, project’s contractor, has failed to meet seven of 12 criteria set by the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority, including safety features, according to a Washington Post report.

“Today it is our determination that [Dulles Transit Partners] failed to achieve substantial completion based on the documents we’ve reviewed,” Pat Nowakowski, executive director of the rail project, told the Post.

Trains will not start taking passengers on the line until the summer, though the added delays should not bump up the cost of the $5.6 billion project.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority will meet with Dulles Transit Partners Tuesday to discuss the remaining issues, which include automatic train control system, elevator and escalator problems, water leaks, and incomplete paperwork.

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Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 6:02 p.m.

Lights on Washington Monument will soon go out

The 488 lights that have illuminated the Washington Monument since July will be turned off this Sunday. Photo used under the Creative Commons license.

The 488 lights that have illuminated the Washington Monument since July will be turned off this Sunday. Photo used under the Creative Commons license.

The nearly 500 lights that have illuminated the Washington Monument since July will go out on Sunday.

Scaffolding will start to come down Nov. 11 and crews will finish the removal in about three months. The monument will reopen in the spring – just in time for Commencement.

The monument was damaged in an August 2011 earthquake and has been closed for repairs since. The National Park Service said in a release that external work is about 80 percent complete, and interior fixes are about 30 percent done. The restoration will cost a total of about $15 million.

Lights will soon appear a few blocks down the National Mall when workers begin repairs on the Capitol building in November. The dome will be illuminated while work is underway. The upgrades should take about two years to complete and will cost $60 million.

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The GW Hillel building will be demolished this summer. The new space will feature a ground-floor entrance, instead of steps, which Rabbi Yoni Kaiser-Blueth hopes will be more inviting to students. Hatchet File Photo.

A 145-year-old church on 23rd Street could be crowded out by the GW Hillel’s multi-million dollar construction, a Foggy Bottom neighbor warned Wednesday.

Sara Maddux, a longtime resident, raised concerns that the Hillel’s redevelopment could block the “air and light” surrounding St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, located at the corner of 23rd and H streets.

She added that the construction site is just blocks away from the Science and Engineering Hall site, which has clogged up traffic.

“Poor St. Mary’s has already faced damages because of GW [construction],” Maddux said.

Rabbi Yoni Kaiser-Blueth, Hillel’s executive director, outlined plans for the new space, which will be about 25,000 square feet, at the meeting.

The building would have four floors above ground, two of which GW would rent.

Director of Campus Planning Susie Cora said construction on Hillel could possibly interfere with existing construction on the Science and Engineering Hall, but that GW would arrange so that sidewalk closures would not overlap.

The renovations would make Hillel the “hub and home” for their 3,000 undergraduate members, Kaiser-Bluth said.

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The forensic sciences department will move into newly renovated classrooms in a Mount Vernon Campus residence hall this fall, giving the department more breathing room to hire more faculty.

An interior design studio in Somers Hall will be converted into office space and a new laboratory for the department. It will also house advanced technology that measures masses of atoms and molecules, known as mass spectrometry.

Graduate students and faculty will use the equipment for forensic chemistry, trace evidence, forensic DNA studies and forensic toxicology studies. The 1,000-square foot space will also accommodate new faculty hires, part of an expansion that began in 2012.

GW’s forensic sciences department is one of the largest in the nation, said Victor Weedn, the department’s head.

“We are very proud and excited to bring our students into this new universe of mass spectrometry. We recognize that mass spectrometry is a really key technology for the future of forensic sciences,”  Weedn said. “The department needed to grow to achieve its next level of excellence.”

The Acheson Science Center on the Vern is also awaiting an expansion. It will soon house more classroom space for the departments of biology and forensic sciences.

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The $275 million Science and Engineering Hall is slated to open in 2015. Construction moved past grade in June. Hatchet File Photo.

Updated Sept. 3 at 11:46 a.m.

The University will bring one small vendor to the ground level of the Science Engineering Hall once it opens in 2015.

The decision comes after officials originally said multiple vendors could move into the space, creating a street full of retail on both sides with Whole Foods, Sweetgreen, Roti and Circa across from the future science research hall. (Update: A spokesman said in an email Tuesday that GW always planned for enough space for one vender, and administrators who said otherwise misspoke.)

The University is also planning to add vendors to the ground level of the massive residence hall, dubbed the “superdorm,” which will open in 2016.

Senior Associate Vice President for Operations Alicia Knight said the office had been contacted by at least a dozen retail establishments, mainly food venues, since construction of the engineering building started. She said GW had not contacted any vendors yet.

“We’ll look at what students are interested in, what the community’s interested in and what the market’s interested in. What we have found on our campus is that the greatest demand is for the food and the types of things that fall into people’s day-to-day lives,” Knight said.

Construction on the Science and Engineering Hall moved past ground level in June, and utility work on the building will begin next month.

What eatery do you hope will come into the space? Comment below. 

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The University will demolish the interior of The Schenley, as well as Crawford Hall and The West End, to make way for the “superdorm.” Delaney Walsh | Photo Editor

GW is cleared to demolish three residence halls to make way for the $130 million “superdorm,” a D.C. agency decided last week.

The D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs issued permits last week authorizing the University to raze in the interiors of  Crawford Hall, The Schenley and The West End, retaining nothing but the buildings’ historical facades.

The residence hall, which will house about 900 sophomores and juniors starting in 2016, will allow GW to expand its campus footprint by mandating on-campus housing for juniors starting with the Class of 2018. The “superdorm” will also include open study space, as well as shops and restaurants.

The University secured the permits for the demolition after overcoming a political hurdle this month. Foggy Bottom neighbors and local officials had tussled with GW over the closure of the public alleyway that sits in between the historical residence halls – a $2.8 million piece of land that University officials said they already acquired from the 2007 campus plan.

The D.C. Council unanimously approved the University’s application to close the public alleyway on July 10, but only after neighborhood leaders unsuccessfully petitioned the governing body to deny the University’s request.

In May, the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission sought to leverage the rights over the public alleyway to coax GW into contributing $700,000 toward constructing a second entrance to the Foggy Bottom Metro station.

While pledging to “leverage additional funds” to build a second entrance for the Metro stop, Ward 2 D.C. Council member and 2014 mayoral candidate Jack Evans thwarted the ANC’s efforts at the council’s July 10 meeting.

“I believe that this can be accomplished through a joint effort of everyone in the community, the University and other businesses,” Evans said. “That is the approach I will take.”

Construction crews began work this summer on the residence halls, which are set for demolition by late 2013.

The University will connect the three buildings into one by adding a 12-story, modern infill. The residence halls were built during the 1920s and deemed historic in 2007 when the University created its 20-year campus plan.

Colleen Murphy contributed to this report.

This post was updated July 29 at 12:14 p.m. to reflect the following:

Correction appended

Due to an editing error, The Hatchet named the cost of the “superdorm” as $130. It costs, of course, $130 million.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013 8:11 p.m.

University shuts down Corcoran Hall

Corcoran Hall was evacuated Tuesday and classes held in the building were canceled. Hatchet File Photo

This post was updated at 12:42 a.m. on June 6, 2013.

GW evacuated Corcoran Hall after officials found a crack that spanned the entire width of the aging science building Tuesday.

The University canceled classes in the building Wednesday and will bring in “outside experts” to assess the damage, according to a campus alert. Corcoran Hall is housing several chemistry and physics labs and lectures this summer.

An updated alert Wednesday said the building would remain closed through Sunday.

The crack in the concrete of the basement runs across almost the entire width of the building, chemistry department chair Michael King told faculty in an email obtained by The Hatchet. Structural engineers are on site to assess the damage and will drill into the surface tonight to collect soil samples, King wrote.

“The big concern is with the columns at the south end of the building that are supported on the slab,” he wrote, adding that the crack has a “dip of about 1/4 inch on [its] south side.”

Spokeswoman Jill Sankey said in an email that the University will send an update on the situation Wednesday after engineering consultants investigate.

Construction crews have worked this year to relocate staircase on the south side of Corcoran to make way for GW Museum’s loading dock. Workers have also drilled underground for the two below-grade floors of the museum.

The construction work has caused strain on the building, which professors believed would disrupt research just as they are gearing up to move into the $275 million Science and Engineering Hall.

Christopher Sterling, a Columbian College associate dean, said last month that there have been “some issues” with construction at Corcoran Hall this year, but declined to go into details because other top administrators and the constuction firm Tishman may still have to negotiate how to pay for further repairs.

Corcoran, Bell and Tompkins halls have been allotted about $13 million for repairs and renovations by the University through 2016.

Corcoran Hall, a D.C.-designated historical landmark, was the first building constructed for GW on the Foggy Bottom Campus in 1924. Researchers have been credited with building the first bazooka in the Corcoran basement during World War II.

Mary Ellen McIntire contributed to this report.

 

 

 

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Crews will continue late night work at Gelman Library for the third time this week as finals week creeps closer.

Students working in Gelman Library should expect to hear drilling after 10 p.m. Thursday – though the library’s website said it would be quieter than the jackhammering heard earlier this week.

The jackhammers pounded the library’s roof Monday night into Tuesday morning to replace the building’s air conditioning units, after an early heat wave overworked the system in mid-April. Work continued Tuesday night as well, though it  was not as loud as the previous night’s jackhammering, according to the library’s Twitter feed.

It is unclear if the Thursday night work is part of that cooling system upgrade, and University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard did not immediately return a request for comment.

The University opened Duques Hall overnight all three nights and offered snacks and earphones to students as they finished up classes. Reading week officially began Thursday.

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Construction sites like the Science and Engineering Hall were secured in preparation for Hurricane Sandy. Hatchet File Photo by Zach Krahmer | Senior Staff Photographer

Worried about what the winds will do to the massive construction cranes outside your residence hall window?

Mayor Vincent Gray tweeted Monday that the city’s construction cranes are designed to withstand winds up to 100 mph – just minutes after a high rise crane in New York City snapped in half at 65 feet above ground because of strong winds from Hurricane Sandy, according to The Washington Post.

Contractors for University construction sites, like those for the Science and Engineering Hall and the School of Public Health and Health Services, implemented emergency plans for the storm to ensure the cranes could sustain the wind, Darrell Darnell, senior associate vice president of the University’s Office of Safety and Security, said Saturday.

“[We’re] pretty confident we have the right plans in place,” Darnell said then.

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