A new 11-story, 245 micro-room hotel with ground floor retail proposed for 627-631 H St. NW in Chinatown was granted a variance by the Board of Zoning adjustment (BZA) to provide no vehicle parking on site even though 64 spaces would normally be required. The developers aim to market the hotel to millennials whom they believe will arrive at the hotel via public transit by way of intercity bus, rail, or air.
The project team asked for relief from the parking requirements because of the very small size and width of the lot and the resulting difficult turning radius and ramping that would be needed to build a below-grade garage. The new hotel will be wedged between two commercial buildings, currently home to Vapiano to the east and Panera Bread to the west.
A nearby Colonial Parking garage has agreed to provide up to 20 spaces to address parking demand and the project team notes in BZA documents that there are a total of 9 nearby parking garages that could serve hotel guests, including at City Center and Gallery Place. Not to mention the 9 walkable bike share stations, 12 nearby bus lines and the direct proximity to the Chinatown/Gallery Place Metro Station.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) agreed to the parking variance request because the developers agreed to several transportation demand management conditions:
- To provide free Capital Bikeshare bulk membership daily passes for guests upon request in perpetuity with a maximum value of $5,000 per year;
- To provide a Capital Bikeshare or car-sharing memberships for each new employee for the first 3 years of their employment;
- To provide a minimum of two short-term bicycle racks (4 space) parking spaces at locations to be determined by DDOT.
The building will also include 4,600 square feet of retail, most likely a restaurant serving hotel guests.
During the hearing Tuesday, BZA Chair Lloyd Jordan asked whether any parking would be reserved in nearby lots for staff. A member of the project team said they believe the proximity to transit is a “bigger incentive” for workers than parking. They expect approximately 30 hotel staff members will be working during any given shift; they anticipate most will not drive.
The BZA approved the following:
- a variance from the parking requirements of Section 2101.1;
- a variance from the loading requirements of Section 2201.1;
- a variance from the court requirements of Section 776;
- a special exception from the roof structure requirements of Sections 770.6 and 411;
- and a special exception from the rear yard requirements of Section 774.