CAS Riegler Files Plans for St. Thomas Development

CAS Riegler Files Plans for St. Thomas Development

CAS Riegler filed plans for a new church and 56-unit condo building and addition to the historic St. Thomas Church in Dupont, 1772 Church St. NW. Riegler has spent the better part of the last 21 months creating and revising a plan that meets the requirements for a profitable development and the needs of the Episcopal parish while passing muster with the surrounding community.

The church selected CAS Riegler to purchase the property for redevelopment in late 2013. The developer will purchase a portion of the church lot and the church will use the funds to construct a new building to meet the needs of its growing parish. Currently the parish operates out of a former church hall; what was to have been a temporary solution when the historic church was burned by an arson in the 1970s.

The project has been through many rounds of revisions based on feedback from the surrounding community; many neighbors objected to the design because of the height and density it would bring to Church Street. After several hearings, the Historic Preservation Review Board approved the project at its July meeting.

The proposal filed Tuesday calls for a building with a maximum height of 70 feet and the new development will provide one level of below-grade parking with 36 parking spaces. The residential and church building are being presented as one structure through the zoning process. The project architect is Hickok Cole.

The developers are seeking relief from the Board of Zoning Adjustment because the church portion of the project will exceed the lot occupancy allowed on the site. The project will have a lot occupancy of 86.7%; the permitted residential lot occupancy is 80%.

The development team argues that the historic structure and the church’s financial limitations create a “practical difficulty” that necessitates the development scheme as proposed:

“The practical difficulty arises out of the presence of the Parish Hall in its location on the Property and the necessity of providing both the church and the residential building on the site. This is not a “self-imposed” hardship because the Church must maintain its historic presence on the Property, and the Parish Hall cannot be removed. As explained above, the Parish Hall is no longer an appropriate building for the Church, but the Church should not be expected to relocate because of construction challenges on the Property. Also, as described above, the Church does not have the funds necessary to construct a new building without leveraging the value of its land, which necessitates the construction of a residential building since that is the highest and best use of the Property, based on its zoning and location. ”

No hearing date is set.

Featured image is a rendering of the proposed development as submitted to the BZA.

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