City Paper Widget

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Carlyle Suites Roof Terrace: Thin End of the Wedge?

Carlyle Suites Hotel (1731 New Hampshire Avenue NW) management tells Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle there is no rooftop bar or restaurant in the works. But neighbors are skeptical.

The proposed deck (credit below)
At the October 1 meeting of the ANC2B's Zoning, Preservation and Development (ZPD) Committee, Carlyle Suites Manager Scott Dawson said the planned roof deck will be primarily for yoga, sunbathing, and the occasional special event.

"There are no plans for bars or nightclubs," Dawson said.

"But you're paving the way," a neighbor replied.

The hotel today (credit below)
The supporting presentation on behalf of the Carlyle Suites was made by Dawson and Michael Lee Beidler of Trout Design Studio. Beidler is also a member of the ZPD Committee. 

How aware are the neighbors?

Beginning their talk, the presenters made an assertion that there were no objections from abutting properties. One attendee spoke up to claim this was not accurate.

Later, another local resident said most of the people in the area were unaware of the intended construction.

"Some of these folks are going to be really surprised," he said. "The neighbors need some time to figure it out."

Proposal details

The proposal will create deck space on the rear of the Carlyle Suites property, away from New Hampshire Avenue. The proposed addition would not be visible from New Hampshire Avenue, but it would be visible from 17th Street and Riggs Place. Beidler said the view from 17th Street would only be in winter -- trees would cover it the rest of the year.

The deck will be set back ten feet from the roof edge, but will still be larger than the roof decks of neighboring buildings. There will be no setbacks at certain interior parts of the building, which might cause noise problems.

"It's going to be echo alley," one neighbor said.

While repeating that there were no plans for a bar, restaurant, or nightclub, Dawson refused repeatedly to categorically state the hotel would never seek to have one there in the future. Dawson also refused to rule out the possibility of outside seating on the roof deck. Similarly, the presenters could not say exactly what the capacity of the deck would be.

Dawson said nothing could prevent people from consuming food and drink on the roof deck. But the roof deck space was not shaped and sized correctly for on-site food preparation, he said. Everyone agreed it would be possible to set up a bar on the deck.

Dawson said the security arrangements necessary to get non-guests through the hotel lobby and up to the roof was an issue. This was a reason why the hotel was not considering regular food or drink service on the roof deck at this time.

Still, the neighbors were suspicious.

"Couldn't it easily be converted?" one asked.

"No, there isn't the infrastructure, there isn't the space," Dawson said.

The paperwork

The planned roof deck expansion requires approval from DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) because it lies within the boundaries of the Dupont Circle Historic District. The Carlyle Suites Hotel is seeking ANC2B endorsement on its petition to the HPRB.

It does not require a zoning variance or any other type of approval at this time. In addition, if the hotel decided to serve food and/or drink on the roof deck, it would require one or more new rounds of public space permits and liquor license amendments, all of which would normally be subject to citizen comment through the ANC before a decision was taken by the DC government. There are no such permit requests pending at this time.

Members of the committee pronounced themselves comfortable with the historic preservation aspects of the renovation, but urged the Carlyle Suites Hotel management to further consult residents of nearby apartment buildings before moving forward on the project.

"Continue to reach out to the neighboring properties," said ANC2B Commissioner Leo Dwyer (district 07). Dwyer is chair of the ZPD committee.

(Photo credit: from documents prepared by Trout Design Studio and presented to the ZPD committee)

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