Menu »« Close Menu

MRP’s H Street Project Needs Better Design, More Benefits Says ANC

Renderings of 315 H St, NE. Image by HCM architects.

Renderings of 315 H St, NE. Image by HCM architects.

MRP Residential’s proposal to bring 125 new residential units and 6,000 square feet of retail to 315 H St. NE still needs work says the nearby community. The site is currently a vacant lot located directly across the street from the H Street Giant supermarket.

The project is going through the planned unit development process (PUD), which allows for variations from the zoning requirements like greater height, increased density or less parking in exchange for superior architecture and community benefits.

MRP is seeking a PUD to maximize the floor area ratio, to build to 90 feet in height and to receive relief from the parking requirements to offer 29 parking spaces when 4 retail spaces and 42 residential spaces would typically be required.

John Begert, a vice president at MRP, and Brandon Robinson, an architect at Hord Coplan Macht architects, were back before the Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 6C) planning, zoning and economic development committee Wednesday with plans they had tweaked slightly since first presenting plans earlier this year.

“We had some rather pointed comments about the design and I can’t see that there’s been any significant change in the design,” said Commissioner Mark Eckenwiler.

Robinson acknowledged that there had not been any “drastic” changes to the design in response to earlier remarks from the ANC committee. The modern design is purposeful because the building is farther from the more historic architectural area of H street, he said.

“Our site is also far enough west on H Street that we’re getting closer and closer to NoMa,” added Robinson.

Still, the committee members were not convinced.

“One of the requirements of a PUD is exemplary design and I’m frankly not seeing it,” said committee member Dru Tallant. 

Tallant took particular issue with the burnt orange bay which projects about four feet over H Street.

Commissioners also continued to raise concerns about the bike parking area, which is located in the basement rather than at street level, and the creation of an alley area that could be prone to illegal activity.

Community members from nearby streets noted concerns about the height and its impact on nearby townhouses, particularly those just added to the expanded Capitol Hill Historic District. The alley access and use was another point of contention for residents who worried about increased traffic on neighborhood streets and the safety of children who play in the alley.

The committee voted unanimously to oppose the project as designed citing both the “insufficiency of the benefits/amenities in relation to the requested additional FAR/height” and the “unimpressive” architecture.

The full ANC does not meet in August, so any vote to support an updated project would most likely not occur until September. Without ANC support, the project team may delay its scheduled September 10 hearing date at the Zoning Commission.

315 H St. NE viewed from the northeast.  Rendering by HCM architects.

315 H St. NE viewed from the northeast. Rendering by HCM architects.


Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Featured Properties by Compass

110-Unit Building Proposed Next to U Street’s Howard Theater

110-Unit Building Proposed Next to U Street’s Howard Theater

A small block of Ethiopian businesses along Florida Avenue and a warehouse next to the former Wonder Bread Factory could soon become the latest stretch of the U Street corridor to give way to new development.

A new 110-unit residential building with 8,000 square feet of ground floor retail is being proposed for the corner of Wiltberger and T Streets, NW directly adjacent to the Howard Theater, District Source has learned.

The property is currently occupied by several one- and two-story retail buildings on T Street and a surface parking lot and warehouse on Wiltberger Street, NW. The warehouse is next to the recently renovated Wonder Bread Factory, which threads together the changing face of Shaw with that of U Street.

Designs by PGN Architects show a six-story, 70-foot building that incorporates the facades of the existing structures on the site. Initial plans include 47 parking spaces (more than required).

The ground floor retail would be divided into two sections, one with about 5,000 square feet, the other with 3,000 square feet, both fronting on T Street and separated by the primary residential entrance.

The plans obtained by District Source call for retaining the facades of the warehouse to create seven duplex units along the Western side of the project.

West elevation rendering featuring duplex units. Image by PGN Architects.

West elevation rendering featuring duplex units. Image by PGN Architects.

The plans are not currently slated for a hearing before the zoning commission or the board of zoning adjustment, though may be at a later date.

The project documents are dated June 15, which is the most recent deadline for plans being submitted to the Historic Preservation Review Board.

Property records did not point to one owner for all of the impacted properties; it is possible the plans are being vetted through District agencies prior to a sale.

A request for additional information from the architects was not immediately returned.

Featured image is a massing of the proposed development. Image designed by PGN Architects.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Dupont Microcondos Nixed for 50-Room Hotel, Restaurant

1337 Connecticut Ave. NW. Image from zoning documents.

1337 Connecticut Ave. NW. Image from zoning documents.

Are micro condos already passé? A project recently approved to convert a commercial building in Dupont into a micro condo will instead go forward as a 50-room extended stay hotel.

In May we reported on that the  five-story building with ground floor retail tenants like The Gryphon would soon house as many as 21 micro condos. At the time the project had just received approval from the Historic Preservation Review Board. But Tuesday the Board of Zoning Adjustment approved a new plan to bring a hotel and restaurant use to 1337 Connecticut Avenue.

The new proposal will still build a one-story addition, bringing the total stories to six, but now the first two floors will remain a restaurant, floors three through five will be guest rooms and the sixth floor will be both guest rooms and a restaurant.

The hotel rooms, each featuring a kitchen, are geared toward extended-stay business travelers who typically stay in town for 45-55 days, according to the project proposal.

The BZA previously approved the project when it was planned as eight large luxury condos for the same space. Tuesday the board once again approved the plan, including the request to provide seven parking spaces when 13 would normally be required.

Valor Development is partnered on the project with property owner Endeka Enterprises. Bridge Street will manage the hotel. The architect for the project is Aline Architecture.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Douglas Development H Street Mixed-Use Project Approved at Zoning

Douglas Development H Street Mixed-Use Project Approved at Zoning

A new residential and retail project is coming to the corner of 5th and H Streets NE, just one block west from the Whole Foods-anchored Apollo project currently under construction.

Douglas Development received approval for a new mixed-use project at 501 H St. NE, which will include three levels each of residential and retail on the site most recently occupied by the H Street Community Development Corporation.

The D.C. Zoning Commission approved a planned unit development for the site Monday, clearing the way for a new six-story building to replace the existing one-story structure. The project will include 28 residential unit (plus or minus 3 units) and approximately 15,411 square feet of retail gross floor area.

Douglas will provide just 5 parking spaces when 28 would normally have been required. Four of the spaces will be for compact vehicles and one of those four will be set aside for a car-share. The fifth space will be dedicated for handicapped use.

Residents will be restricted from securing residential parking permits under the terms of their leases and the building will provide real time transit information to encourage public transit use.

Future residents will access the building through the main entrance on the east side of the building along H Street. The retail tenants will have entrances on H Street and at the corner of the building at the intersection of H and 5th Streets, NE.

Three units or 8% of the building’s residential gross floor area will be set aside for affordable dwelling units for households earning up to 50% of the area medium income (“AMI”). A project in this zone and of this size would normally be required to set aside units for households earning up to 80% AMI, but as part of the project offering the developers are instead increasing the subsidy for the three units. There will be one studio, one one-bedroom and one two-bedroom units set aside as affordable.

As part of a benefit provided in exchange for the approved zoning relief and other changes to the site, the developers will donate $30,000 to Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School for new playground equipment and an additional $75,000 to be used as determined by the school’s principal. A proposal from Ludlow-Taylor would see that $75,000 put towards improving the school’s performing arts space and to upgrades to the cafeteria.

Last year, Douglas applied for a raze permit to demolish the old CDC building and received approval June 15 of this year. A request for the construction timeline for the project was not immediately returned. We will update this article as information becomes available.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Two D.C. Projects Among Finalists for ULI Development Awards

City Market at O incorporated an historic structure into the new development. Image courtesy of City Market at O.

City Market at O incorporated an historic structure into the new development. Image courtesy of City Market at O.

City Market at O and Monroe Street Market are among 22 finalists selected from developments worldwide for the 2015 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Global Awards for Excellence.

The two D.C. developments were chosen alongside six in Asia, five in Europe, and nine others in North America as finalists, recognized for their design, construction, economics, planning, and management.

“This diverse group of projects illustrates how the intersection of financial feasibility, design, and a vision for comprehensive development define essential qualities of life in the neighborhoods and areas they serve,” said jury chair Michael Covarrubias, chairman and chief executive officer of TMG Partners in San Francisco, in a press release.

City Market at O, developed by Roadside Development and designed by Shalom Baranes Associates et al., incorporated an historic 19th century market structure into the new 1 million-square-foot, mixed-use redevelopment project in Shaw. The project was recognized for its reuse of the historic structure in addition to its senior housing, affordable housing and its programming of all deliveries below grade, among other factors. 

Monroe Street Market, by developer Bozzuto Development Company and designers Torti Gallas and Maurice Walters, transformed the area around Catholic University of America with a new mixed-use development. Monroe Street Market includes 720 residences, 45 townhouses, 83,000 square feet (7,700 sq m) of street-level retail space, 15,000 square feet (1,400 sq m) of artists’ studio space, a 3,000-square-foot (280 sq m) community arts center, and 850 parking spaces. The project is recognized for the vitality it brought to the Brookline neighborhood and its focus on the arts. 

Winners will be announced in October.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Hill East to Get Denser

Hill East to Get Denser

This article originally appears in The Hill Rag’s July issue, available at newsstands now.  

Area near the SE Safeway to see several large residential and mixed-use projects.

Capitol Hill and Hill East’s signature rowhomes have long been part of the District’s hot real estate market, but now the area has captured the attention of real estate developers who combined plan to add nearly 500 units of new residential development to the neighborhood.

The new developments–concentrated largely between 11th and 14th Streets along E Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE–include both townhouse and apartment units.

Kirsten Oldenburg, commissioner for Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B, said she is amazed by the surge in developer interest.

“Six months ago did we know about any of these? No,” said Oldenburg. “They’ve just popped up all of a sudden.”

How we get to 500

In the mix are two projects from Insight Property Group.

The first will bring 81 units split between townhouses and condo units on the site of the former Buchanan School at between D and E Streets SE on 13th Street SE. The townhouses will have one parking space each and the condos will have between 14 and 16 parking spaces. Insight will need to go before the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) for a few minor zoning changes, but by and large the Buchanan school plans fall within the matter of right for the site’s zoning.

Recently, Insight confirmed to the Advisory Neighborhood Commission that they were under contract on a neighboring site, home to Bowie’s trash (1337 E St. SE) and Signature Collision (1355 E St. SE), where they propose to build 160 units. The multi-family project will require zoning relief including a change in use to allow residential development on a site zoned for commercial and light manufacturing uses.

The Buchanan project will be for-sale units and the newer project will likely be rental units.

OPaL Builders has filed plans with the Zoning Commission for a development it calls Watkins Alley, which will include 45 residences at 1309-1323 (rear) E St. SE and 516(rear) 13th Street SE. The mixture of apartments and townhouses bounded by courtyards and other open spaces will provide 45 parking spaces. Watkins Alley will combine residentially-zoned lots with commercial lots (home to an automobile repair shop, a parking lot and a warehouse) into one project.

Rendering of 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, a development proposed by CAS Riegler.

Rendering of 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, a development proposed by CAS Riegler.

Nearby CAS Riegler proposes 180 apartment units and 22,500 square feet of ground floor retail to 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, the current site of New York Pizza. The project includes below-grade parking with 56 spaces, a ratio of one per three units.

“I was here for all of the waves of renovation and remodeling, but I’ve never seen anything this concentrated for larger developments” said John Weintraub, owner of Frager’s Hardware.

And there could be more development in store: Weintraub is currently working with developers on potential reuse for the long-time Frager’s location 1101-1117 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, which was gutted by a fire in June 2013. A previous plan which would have brought residential development above a new hardware store fell through, but the store is close to a new deal, according to Weintraub.

Several of the proposals will require zoning relief through the planned unit development (PUD) process, which triggers additional community input. OPaL and CAS Riegler have already filed their PUD applications with the Zoning Commission. Insight may choose to file a PUD for its 160-unit proposal as well.

Significance for the community

“I think it’s good for the neighborhood. It will be good for business and it will be good for Fragers too,” Weintraub said in reflecting on the slew of new residences and retail envisioned for the neighborhood.

Fragers was long on the “fringe” of the change that has swept over Capitol Hill in the last decade, but now stands to be at the center of it all.

“I’m quite amazed at what is happening and I think it is a lot for us all to absorb,” said Oldenburg.

Commissioner Nick Burger, who represents the area where most of the new projects are planned, said the general response he has gotten from his neighbors is one of cautious optimism.

“More neighbors, more people on the street, is a good thing,” said Burger.

And the retail opportunities created by the larger mixed-use projects will bring amenities like restaurants closer than the offerings on Barracks Row.

Competing or Complementary?
Oldenburg wondered if there is enough demand to justify the planned influx of housing in such a short time frame.

“I guess that is just a risk developers take,” she said.

Burger said the developers are not operating in a vacuum and are more than aware of the other nearby proposals.

“They seem to view the projects as complementary in many cases,” said Burger.

A Role for the Community

The next several months will be filled with meetings with developers to discuss everything from the height of proposed buildings to the community benefits packages the projects will provide in exchange for zoning relief. ANC 6B recently convened its Subcommittee on Public Unit Developments (PUDs) to begin strategizing how and what to pursue from the various developers. Meetings are open to the public and advertised in advance on the ANC 6B website:

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

9-Story Building to Cozy Up to the Whitman in Shaw

9-Story Building to Cozy Up to the Whitman in Shaw

Oak Tree Development wants to wrap a new 9-story mixed-use building around a historic building on 9th Street and The Whitman condominium on M Street in Shaw.

The new 29-unit condo building with ground floor office space would extend behind the 9th Street building and wrap around to create a new mass on the vacant lot next to The Whitman, according to plans presented to the local advisory neighborhood commission (ANC 2F) this week. Permits for construction of the existing two-story structure dates to 1923 when it was a store, office and a four-room apartment, according to Peter Stuart, a partner at Oak Tree.

The project is currently going through the historic preservation process. The property sits in the Shaw historic district and the existing building at 1126 9th St. NW will be retained in part and incorporated into the new development. The office space will occupy the first floor of the 9th Street structure and the lot on M Street will be part of the residential component.

Stuart  said the project team submitted documents to the Historic Preservation Review Board to get on the July agenda, but that they might be pushed to a later date depending on the case load.

After the HPRB process the development will seek variances and exceptions to the zoning for the lots through a planned unit development (PUD), according to Stuart.

The board of the Whitman condominium, which has been an active participant in reviews of several other nearby development projects, decided not to take a position on the project yet, according to Community Development Committee (CDC) chair Kevin Deeley. Deeley said there was significant interest in the project from the community at the meeting and that chief among their concerns were issues related to zoning, like the heigh, massing and parking planned for the site. 

The ANC 2F community development committee voted to recommend that the full ANC send a letter of preliminary support to HPRB, with the caveat that their support is subject to further consideration of the zoning requirements.

Rendering of the proposed new building at 1126 9th St. NW as seen from the corner of 9th and M Streets, NW. Image from HPRB filing.

Rendering of the proposed new building at 1126 9th St. NW as seen from the corner of 9th and M Streets, NW. Image from HPRB filing.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

District Winery Scores Liquor License for Navy Yard Location

District Winery Scores Liquor License for Navy Yard Location

The District’s very first winery is one step closer to becoming a reality now that the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board (ABC) approved a license to allow the new business to both produce and sell of wine. District Winery by the team behind Brooklyn Winery plans to call 385 Water St. SE near the Capitol Riverfront home.

District Winery requested and was approved for a license to serve spirits, wine, and beer at both an indoor space and two summer garden areas. They also received approval for entertainment and dancing endorsements and a Wine Pub Permit (authorizing production of wine on premises)

The permit approved June 24 would allow District Winery to sell and serve glasses of wine directly from its facility to customers–a right only recently approved for the District’s breweries.

A hint at the layout for District Winey sits in the license approved Thursday: there will be a “first floor restaurant serving New American cuisine and a second noor event space offering entetaimnent and dancing, hosting weddings, corporate events and other private functions not open to the general public.”

The first floor summer garden will have seats for 100. The second floor garden–a 5,000 square-foot terrace facing the Anacostia River–will be restricted to private events.

Additionally, the winery will offer tours, tastings and will sell bottle of wine on site.

Hours will beSunday to Thursday: 10 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Currently there is no building located at 385 Water St. SE so D.C. oenophiles will probably have a few more years to wait before they can enjoy the city’s very own winery.

Featured Image: A party at Brooklyn Winery. Credit: D. Robert Wolcheck, via Flickr.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

First SW Wharf Building Tops Out, Delivery Next Summer

First SW Wharf Building Tops Out, Delivery Next Summer

The first building in the massive, 25-­acre, mixed-­use SW Waterfront redevelopment known as The Wharf topped out Thursday and will deliver by summer 2016. The building 525 Water, is a five-story, 105,000 square foot, condominium that will offer 108 units ranging from studios to three bedrooms.

525 Water will front on a new 3.5-acre waterfront park. Condos will start at $400,000.

“The building is two blocks from the Waterfront Metro Station and is the southern gateway to The Wharf, with its mile-long promenade along the Potomac River as part of a vibrant waterfront lifestyle community,” said Monty Hoffman, CEO of PN Hoffman in a press release. 

The residential project is being developed through a partnership between PN Hoffman and Madison Marquette. The general contractor is Balfour Beatty. The building was designed by SK&I Architectural Group and is aiming for LEED Silver. 

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

U Street Mixed-Use Project Faces Pushback from Historic

1355-1357 U St. NW. Image from Goldstar Group.

1355-1357 U St. NW. Image from Goldstar Group.

The Goldstar Group with plans by Bonstra/Haresign Architects proposes to build a six-story rear addition that would rise four floors above two, two-story row buildings at 1355-1357 U St. NW. Goldstar purchased the property in September for $4.9 million.

But the proposal to build a new addition behind the two historic buildings to create a new mixed-use project is facing pushback from the Historic Preservation Office (HPO) in advance of its hearing before the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB).

HPO staff determined that the proposed 70-foot rear addition (plus and 18-foot mechanical penthouse) would not be compatible with the historic district.

“Although the applicants have lowered the height first from the original proposal of 100 feet to 90 feet, and then to the current 70 feet (exclusive of the penthouse) with a tiered massing, compatibility with the underlying 28-foot- tall historic buildings and with the historic district remains difficult to demonstrate,” according to the staff report.

Staff describe the existing structures as “diminutive” and call on the architects to either setback the new addition farther from the historic buildings or to reduce the scale.

In March–when the project was still planned as 100 feet in height–representatives from the project team said they were leaning toward a condo use for the building.

The project is on the July 9 agenda for the HPRB.

Email this to someoneShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn