City Paper Widget

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Former Home of Washington Afro-American to be Renovated

The Design Review Committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street soon will consider a renovation of a property that was the long-time home of the Washington Afro-American newspaper. Developers of the property came before the Design Review Committee at its regular monthly meeting on Monday, August 19, at the Thurgood Marshall Center (1816 12th Street NW).

Detail from plaque at the property
The property is actually two adjacent lots: 1101 S Street and 1800 11th Street, on the northwest corner of 11th and S at Vermont Street. It was the location of the Washington Afro-American's offices from 1937 until the late 1970's, according to information on a plaque on the side of the building and on the website of Cultural Tourism DC.

The property today
A scheduling mix-up resulted in the hearing on the property being postponed. On ANC1B's website prior to the meeting, it was announced that the committee would hear a petition about a property at 1501 11th Street, which is not located within the boundaries of ANC1B. This address turned out to be that of offices of the CAS Riegler, a property developer who is overseeing the project. When the nature of the confusion became clear, Design Review Committee Chair Tony Norman told the petitioners that they had to come back next month. The ANC needed to advertise the hearing properly, Norman said, so neighbors could attend the meeting if they wished.

Norman is also the ANC Commissioner from district 09 and the chair of ANC1B as a whole.

The property falls within the boundaries of the U Street Historic District. External renovations to houses in historic districts nearly always require approval from DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) prior to starting work. Petitioners often seek ANC endorsement before approaching the HPRB.

Documents submitted to the Design Review Committee say the project will include a full renovation of both buildings. The proposal also says that the structural integrity of 1101 S Street will be improved, and the existing facade with be removed down to the original brick facade. There will be no additions to the existing buildings.

In addition, a presenter for the developer said that a large exterior staircase, which emerges from the property into public space on the sidewalk of 11th Street, will be removed.

1101 S Street is a residential unit.

A current occupant of the other building is the Upco Lock and Safe Service. This company has been in business since 1967.

The next meeting of the Design Review Committee is scheduled for Monday, September 23, at 6:30pm at the Thurgood Marshall Center.

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