Springfield Town Center – on Video!

Vornado has posted a new video showing their intended Town Center features.SprTownCtrQM

You can find it here.

You may be confused by the map which opens the presentation. This is because the map is oriented to the SOUTH instead of the NORTH – so it appears that Springfield is northeast of DC, and to the east of the Potomac River. I was really weirded out, until I looked a second time.

 

Final Chance for 2013 Big Johnson Hoops!

BigJohnsonThe brackets have been set by the NCAA and the Big Johnson is revving up! Might be the most wide-open tournaments in years.

If you don’t get in by Thursday morning (Eastern) at noon, you miss your chance at the Men’s tournament. Women’s tournament start time is Saturday at 11 AM eastern.

Remember, enter BOTH the Men’s and Women’s tournaments if you want a shot at the big prize – which, may I remind you, is a new Apple iPad Mini – and for the winner of EACH tournament, it’s a personalized 2GB iPod Shuffle (your choice of color). And as usual, anyone who gets more points than The Man will win something.. The Group Name on ESPN is “Big Johnson” for each tournament, and the group password is: kimsentme. That’s right, “kimsentme,” one word.

You can get there through the following URLs:

** Men’s Challenge: http://games.espn.go.com/tcmen/frontpage

** Women’s Challenge: http://games.espn.go.com/tcwomen/frontpage

I know some of you like to fake out ESPN with an alias and throwaway email, but please be sure I can identify you from your name or the name of your entry. Or send me a note after the contest. After you create your entry, be sure to join the Big Johnson group in each tournament!

Want An iPad Mini? Enter The Big Johnson!

BigJohnsonIt’s once again that time when people all over the country stop doing what they are doing and feverishly consider their picks for the NCAA Basketball Tournaments so they can enter the ELEVENTH Annual Big Johnson COED College Basketball Tournament Classic, sponsored by yours truly, on ESPN. Yes, it’s 100% FREE!

ipad_miniHere’s your chance to Stick It To The Man – yet again! A new Apple iPad Mini (yes, I am absolutely insane) awaits the talented owner of the highest COMBINED score of the Men’s and Women’s Big Johnsons! (YOUR gender is irrelevant. I am referring to the separate basketball tournaments.)

ipod_shuffleFor the winner of EACH tournament, it’s a personalized 2GB iPod Shuffle (your choice of color). And as usual, anyone who gets more points than The Man will win something. I am hoping to make it something other than chocolate this time. (No, not booze, this is a teen-friendly activity.)

How difficult can this contest really be? Well, there might be upsets. Or not. And gee, there are only – uh, lessee, 64 teams in each tournament – okay, 126 total games. (Not counting the four men’s play-in games, which we don’t.) According to sports pundits, this year is so wide-open, you might as well pick your teams based on the cheerleader pom-pom colors. Fits right into my wheelhouse because I haven’t watched a single game so far. If you don’t do as well as me, there’s something wrong.

Remember, enter BOTH the Men’s and Women’s tournaments if you want a shot at the big prize.

basketball

The brackets are being set by the NCAA (Men’s Sunday March 17; Women’s Monday March 18). Themen’s first round games that count start on Thursday March 21, and the women’s first games are on Saturday March 23 – and the brackets are locked shortly before the first game of each tournament. That doesn’t leave you much time, so GET GOING!

The Group Name on ESPN is “Big Johnson” for each tournament, and the group password is:  kimsentme. That’s right, “kimsentme,” one word.
You can get to the contest through the following URLs:

** Men’s Challenge:   http://games.espn.go.com/tcmen/frontpage

** Women’s Challenge:   http://games.espn.go.com/tcwomen/frontpage

I know some of you like to fake out ESPN with an alias and throwaway email, but please be sure I can identify you from your name or the name of your entry. Or send me a note after the contest.

After you create your entry, be sure to join the Big Johnson group in each tournament! ONLY ONE ENTRY PER PERSON MAY BE IN MY GROUPS. And, if you create your entries before the brackets are set, be sure to return in time to choose your winners before they lock. Most people will wait until a day or two before the tournaments start, but don’t forget! You will be humiliated as your entries with zero points sink inexorably to the bottom of the group . . .

ESPN tracks your points as the tournaments progress. I will weigh in every now and then with a Big Johnson update note.

FRIENDS ARE WELCOME, so please invite them. Don’t forget your Significant Other. Just be sure they identify themselves to me in their entry!

Three Home Improvements To Tackle Now

Here’s the gist of a great post from LifeHacker on important improvements for your home.

If you own a home, chances are you’ve got a long list of renovations and upgrades you’d like to do on it. (From painting to refinishing floors, it never ends!) When it comes to saving money and preserving the value of your home, however, some home improvements are more urgent than others. Here are three high-priority improvements you should consider doing as soon as possible.

First, understand that these projects aren’t sexy. They are, however, improvements that will save you the most money in the long run, just in terms of resale value and keeping your home from falling apart. Once you’ve tackled these basic improvements, you can focus on the more fun kinds of upgrades like redoing the kitchen or adding on a bathroom.

energygovProject 1: Get Rid of Drafts

Usually experts recommend insulating your home and sealing windows and doors as preparation for winter, but no matter when you take on these tasks, they’ll always pay off. By getting a good seal on your windows and doors (or replacing them with more insulated ones) and adding insulation in key areas like your attic, you’ll not only keep heat in when it’s cold out, but also keep your house cool during the other seasons. You’ll want to seal all the air leaks, both obvious and less obvious (like outlets and switches) for both a money-saving and a comfort upgrade.

If you change the entry door and replace windows, you’ll not only likely see energy improvements, you’ll also improve the look of your home and recoup much of the cost when it comes time to sell the house. Remodeling Magazine’s 2013 report says that changing the entry door has an 86% return on investment and replacing vinyl windows has a 71% return on investment.

Keep in mind also many utilities will offer a free energy audit to help you identify where you can save money, and Energy Star also offers personalized energy-saving recommendations. You can even get tax credits for upgrading your insulation, windows and doors, air conditioning, and more.

energystarProject 2: Update Your High-Energy Appliances

In a similar vein, you’ll get the most bang for your home improvement buck if you upgrade inefficient appliances in your home. The top energy suckers in the home are heating systems, air conditioning, hot water heaters, dehumidifiers, and refrigerators, according to Energy.gov.

There are easy ways to adjust the energy usage of these appliances, such as installing a programmable thermostat and running appliances at night. At some point, though, you’ll have to decide between repairing your home appliance or replacing it. Here’s LifeHacker’s guide on which appliances are worth upgrading and when.

clogged-gutterProject 3: Clean Your Gutters and Look for Structural Problems

Water is often the cause of the most expensive home repairs, so while the snow is melting and the rainy season is approaching, it’s time to stop the leaks and control the water around your home.

A few leaves and twigs in your gutter don’t sound that dangerous, but gutters are the first line of defense against water problems in your basement, cracked foundations, rotten wood fascia, leaking roofs, wood-destroying insects, and other serious problems. So, first, clear the gutters or have a handyperson do it for you, and install gutter guards to prevent future water damage. Now’s the time to also take a walk around your home and look for any foundation cracks, mold or mildew in the basement or other areas, loose shingles or other roof issues, any other signs of water damage, and pest issues.

Water-based problems are often costly to repair, but maintenance/prevention can be do-it-yourself cheap. DIY gutter cleaning, for example, costs only your time and comfort getting on a ladder.

If you’d like reminders for these essential tasks (and others), LifeHacker has a home maintenance calendar you can import to your own Google Calendar.

 

Competition For FBI Heats Up

Capitol Business has a great article on developer competition for the FBI HQ in Springfield. From the article:

Some of the most established, savvy and deep-pocketed developers in the Washington area have land holdings in the center of Springfield, and they all have experience with major projects in downtown D.C., where the J. Edgar Hoover Building site is considered one of the best development sites to become available in decades. The GSA has proposed trading the Hoover site for a new FBI headquarters.

Here is a map of possible sites:

fbispringfield

Boston Properties is a titan of Washington real estate development, having built projects for Bechtel Corp., National Public Radio and top law firms. In all, it owns 47 projects in the area totaling more than 10 million square feet — including the planned Springfield Metro Center office complex, totaling about 500,00 square feet in two buildings next to the warehouses.

Given that proximity, Boston Properties could propose combining some of its land with a nearby 57-acre warehouse site owned by the federal government as a site for the FBI to relocate. Fairfax County Supervisor Jeff C. McKay (D), whose district includes the Springfield properties, said he’s discussed the idea with company officials and that it could give Boston Properties a leg up.

Boston Properties is not the only developer lining up plans for office development that could fit the FBI’s needs for 40 acres, or that could benefit from the FBI relocating to Springfield.

Across Franconia-Springfield Parkway from the warehouses, work is under way on a town center being built to replace the former Springfield Mall by another giant in Washington real estate, Vornado/Charles E. Smith, owner of 73 commercial properties in the Washington area totaling 19.1 million square feet. The town center would likely be a major beneficiary of having 11,000 FBI employees relocated across the street. A Vornado spokeswoman declined to comment on the FBI’s search.

Two other companies own properties to the east of the Metro station that could accommodate the FBI. Clarion Partners owns Metro Park, a 37-acre office plaza off of Beulah Street. Tenants at the existing buildings include Science Applications International Corp. and DCS Corp.

Immediately south of Metro Park, Monument Realty plans Liberty View at Springfield Metro, which could accommodate 750,000 square feet in four buildings.

GSA has a March 4 deadline for proposals.

Springfield Town Center – Site Plan

Vornado has published – sort of, it’s hidden on the Springfield Town Center contacts tab – a preliminary site plan for the mall part of the Town Center. I have reproduced it below.

They only show the existing JCPenney, Macy’s and Target, plus the location of the new movie theater, but there are several outward facing store locations on the plan.

STCsiteplan