City Paper Widget

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

1618 Q Street Renovation: ANC2B to Protest Tonight?

The full Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle will have its regularly-scheduled monthly meeting tonight at 7pm at the Brooklings Institution (1775 Massachusetts Avenue NW). One of the items on the agenda will be the proposed renovation and expansion of 1618 Q Street. If statements at the last meeting of ANC2B's Zoning, Preservation and Development (ZPD) Committee are any indication, the full ANC may vote to oppose the project.

1618 Q Street was built in 1880.
Single family home to seven apartments

The ZPD Committee met on November 5 to hear the presentation of Desiree Holler Pollard of Workshop T10 about the project. The proposal, if implemented, would convert the single-family home into seven apartments. It would deepen the basement and add a third floor at the rear of the property.

Workshop T10's presentation to the Dupont Circle Conservancy on this project was the subject of the October 15 SALM blog post.
The presentation to the ZPD committee was nearly identical to the Dupont Circle Conservancy presentation.

The renovation is entirely "by right", meaning, it is not necessary to get zoning variances or special exceptions from D.C.'s Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA). However, the house is in the Dupont Circle Historic District, so all significant changes to the exterior of the building must be approved by D.C.'s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). Workshop T10 seeks ANC2B support for its HPRB petition.

Neighbors object

The abutting neighbors to the west of 1618 Q Street came to voice their concerns. The new third level on the building would block their light, they said. Also, the proposed third-floor roof deck will be "a few feet" from their bedroom.

Would all the residents of 1618 have access to the roof deck? they asked.

The answer: No, only the residents of the two-story apartment on the front side of the building.

The neighbors indicated they were concerned about the roof deck's effect on their privacy, and also possible late-night noise. The committee members worried whether approving a roof deck would create a bad precedent.

Committee Chair critical

Committee Chair Leo Dwyer (ANC Commissioner for district 07) asked Pollard if she had consulted the other neighbors. Hollar Pollard said she had not. She felt it was too early, because the plans weren't finalized.

Dwyer recalled Pollard had phoned him on October 1. This was the day of the previous month's ZPD Committee meeting. Pollard had asked to be put on the agenda for that day. Dwyer was not able to do so. He said he told Pollard at that time to engage in community consultation.

"I mentioned a month ago you needed neighbor notification," he said.

Dwyer mentioned he had other concerns. For example, there was evidence some of the plans presented to the board were not accurate.

Pollard promised to get updated plans to Dwyer by Monday, November 11.

There was also discussion about the impact the third floor would have on the local skyline. It had been demonstrated that the third-floor addition will not be visible from the front of the property. However, the lot backs on to Stead Park. The addition would extend to the rear of the building and be plainly visible from the park to a great number of neighborhood residents and park users.

Other question marks were the provision of only two parking spaces for seven apartments, and whether seven apartments were appropriate for a zone designated "medium density".

"We're possibly going to not support the project," Dwyer said.

Dwyer suggested eliminating the roof deck and addressing the parking issue. He also indicated he would want to see better plans and more outreach to the neighbors before he would think about endorsing the plan.

"Lack of outreach to the neighbors was a big concern," he said.

No official vote on the project was taken at the meeting.

The HPRB hearing on the 1618 Q Street renovation is scheduled for November 21, at 9am, at 441 4th Street, NW, in room 220-South.

If it is approved, Hollar Pollard said, the project is planned to start in February or March and last about six months. 

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