Around D.C.

D.C. to add new shuttle service
A new shuttle bus system designed to make traveling easier in downtown Washington could be hitting the streets as early as next year.
The system, dubbed the “Circulator,” would feature 86 buses running every five minutes between Union Station and Georgetown, and from the new Convention Center to the Southwest waterfront, making several stops along the way, the Washington Post reported.
“In many ways, much of this service is about marketing mobility to people,” Washington Transportation Director Dan Tangherlini told the Post. “You’ll be able to walk out there and in five minutes, there will be a very recognizable bus taking you along a recognizable route.”
City officials also said they hope that the new service will reduce traffic in downtown Washington, the Post reported.
Tangherlini said the new service would not replace the Metrobus, which features a fleet of 1,500 buses operating in the District, Maryland and Virginia. He said while the Metrobus is more for suburbanites who work in the city, the “Circulator” would cater to tourists and downtown District residents.
While funding for the project has yet to be secured, Tangherlini said he hopes the system could be introduced next year.
Plans to convert Watergate Hotel
A D.C. real estate firm planning to buy the Watergate Hotel is looking to convert the hotel’s 250 units into luxury condominiums.
The deal – a $55 million transaction – is contingent on whether city officials give Monument Realty LLC consent to turn the hotel into a residential complex, Monument officials told The Washington Post. A zoning hearing is scheduled for September.
Monument officials told The Post, the company plans to put $70 million to $75 million into renovating and refurbishing the hotel, which would reopen as a luxury condominium complex in 2005. The building would operate as a hotel until the zoning process is completed.
Blackstone Real Estate Advisors L.P. began advertising a possible change in the building’s purpose last fall after a decrease in revenue resulting from the September 11 terrorist attacks and several new luxury hotels sprouted up in downtown Washington over the past few years.
The hotel is part of the sprawling Watergate complex hugging Virginia Avenue, which already features four condominium buildings and a shopping center. The complex is synonymous with the downfall of President Richard Nixon, after a botched burglary at Democratic Party headquarters there in 1974.
Smithsonian to open evolution exhibit
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History will open an interactive exhibit on the evolution of man this fall.
Designed for families, the exhibit, scheduled to open Nov. 15, will feature 274 stuffed mammals and scores of fossils that illustrate man’s similarities with other mammals, The Washington Times reported.
The display will also show how attributes of mammals have changed over thousands of years.
Four discovery zones geared towards children will simulate various ecosystems. In the arctic zone, a blast of cold air will greet visitors as they watch a polar bear lying in wait to attack a seal.
“There will be a big ooh factor because the exhibition was designed for families,” Robert Sullivan, associate director for public programs at the museum, told The Times.
-Michael Barnett

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