Dupont Micro-Units a ‘Rabbit Warren’ Says Tenant Advocacy Group

Patterson apartments with proposed rear new addition.

Patterson apartments with proposed rear new addition.

The proposal to convert the historic Patterson Mansion in Dupont Circle into a 92-unit micro-apartment building prompted the D.C. Tenants Advocacy Coalition (TENAC) to call the project an act of architectural “vandalism” creating a “rabbit warren” it its small, high-priced units.

Developer SB-Urban’s plans for the historic mansion at 15 Dupont Circle include a new seven-story addition designed by Hartman-Cox Architects.

The main stair and rooms of the historic building such as the ballroom, dining room and library will remain intact and be converted into common amenities with food and beverage options and a gym. The upper levels and ground floor of the Patterson Mansion will become 19 residential units though the new addition will have the bulk of the residential space.

The letter begins:

“The Patterson House Mansion, a magnificent white marble palace on Dupont Circle is the latest architectural loss in D.C., and nobody out there cares!  Converting it into a 90+ unit rabbit warren is a disgrace and a farce.”

The mansion was designed by architect Stanford White and constructed in 1902-03.

The historic preservation review board recently can the project concept approval. And the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) recently approved a special exception request to allow the project to provide no parking when 23 parking spaces are normally required.

The monthly rent for a furnished unit will be somewhere around $2,500 to $3,000 a month. The target income level for future residents is between $100,000 and $125,000 a year. There will be the 8 units of affordable  housing set aside as required by law.

TENAC, which advocates for affordable housing in the District, argues projects like this continue the trend of “unaffordability” in the city.

Read the full letter, which was submitted as testimony during the BZA hearing, below:

“OOPS! 
THERE GOES ANOTHER HISTORIC BUILDING IN DC- – KERPLUNK!

The Patterson House Mansion, a magnificent white marble palace on Dupont Circle is the latest architectural loss in D.C., and nobody out there cares!  Converting it into a 90+ unit rabbit warren is a disgrace and a farce.  Imagine rents starting at $2,500-$3,000 on up for 250 square feet of space.  It’s the latest gimmick in rental housing charging a lot more for a lot less.  It reminds one of the post-war Hershey Bar, a mere shadow of it former self for twenty times the price.  More important, it continues the  unaffordability stalking this city and the demise of historic architectural treasures.

 The architectural demolitions and desecrations, exterior and interior, go on and on – The Old Post Office Building given to “human wrecking ball,” Donald Trump, the Christian Heurich House, the Franklin School, and the Columbia Hospital for Women.  The developers who take over these properties are neo-Philistines, who commit architectural vandalism on a grand scale.  When they started with the Columbia Hospital, they had the Venus de Milo; when they finished all that was left was her belly-button.

 Developers and big money want to convert the whole city into an instant Georgetown, or Boca Raton, or Palm Springs, or East Hampton, or Martha’s Vineyard – with welcome signs for the rich and exit signs for the poor.  “Market Rate” is their mantra, except that the “market” has become a casino, and the landlords are breaking the Bank at Monte Carlo.  Housing is not a commodity.  We are not talking oil futures, gold bullion, or pork bellies, we are talking about the roof over people’s heads.

Still nary a voice was raised against the Patterson Mansion conversion.  All the authorities must have been suffering from acute “comatoza.”   It makes one wonder:  Is nothing architecturally-sacred in this National Capital?  What’s next?  The Octagon House, Dumbarton Oaks? The National Cathedral?

D.C. TENANTS’ ADVOCACY COALITION (TENAC)
P.O. BOX 7237, DC 20044  (202) 628-3688
www.tenac.org- tenacdc@yahoo.com

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