City Paper Widget

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Carriage Houses to Return Behind 1617-1619 19th Street

The owners of 1617 and 1619 19th Street NW took another step forward on an ambitious plan to renovate the rears of their properties. A committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle heard Dennis Lee of Capital Design Group outline the planned renovation for the house, which will include restoration of long-demolished carriage houses on the rear of the property.

1617 and 1619 19th Street
ANC2B's Zoning, Preservation and Development Committee heard the presentation at its meeting on October 1. The presentation was necessary because the planned renovation will require five zoning variances from DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment. The renovation will require variances because (among other reasons) it will cause at least one of the completed houses to exceed the lot occupancy limit of 70 percent, and because it will create at least one interior courtyard smaller than the 350 square feet minimum.

The owners are a married couple who live in one of the buildings and rent out three units in the other.  They have appeared before ANC2B before, when they were seeking an endorsement for their petition before DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) to move forward on this same renovation. HPRB granted the go-ahead to the plan on July 25, 2013 (see .pdf document here).

At one time, the entire alley behind the houses were lined with carriage houses, stables, and garages. With the exception of 1617, 1619, and 1621 19th Streets, all of the structures are still in place today. The proposed new construction would restore the demolished carriage houses on the two properties and return it to its original footprint. The plan is to design and build the carriage houses so they blend in as much as possible with the nearby original rear structures.

The carriage houses will be used for parking and will have "green roofs". The upstairs may be used for storage or a "mother-in-law apartment".

The presenter said they had had good community support and no objections from the neighbors.

"We've got pretty much everybody involved there," he said.

A concern was that the increased lot occupany would set a precedent for similar requests by the neighbors. However, a study of lot occupancy in the surrounding area showed that most neighbors' lot occupancy was already higher than 77 percent. Seventy-seven percent is expected to be the lot occupancy on these properties when the renovation is finished.

Although no vote was taken, sentiment on the committee seemed to be favorable toward the renovation.

Commissioner Kevin O'Connor (district 02) said any letter of support from the ANC should articulate why it supports the renovation, considering that there is a need for five variances.

Commissioner Leo Dwyer (district 07) said he would try to develop the language for the letter and email it to members of the committee prior to the full ANC's next meeting.

Dwyer is the chair of ANC2B's Zoning, Preservation and Development Committee.

The matter will probably appear on the agenda of the next meeting of ANC2B, which is scheduled for Wednesday, October 9, at 7pm, at the Brookings Institution (1775 Massachusetts Avenue).

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