City Paper Widget

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Carlyle Suites Roof Deck Moves Forward

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle will likely support the request by the Carlyle Suites Hotel (1731 New Hampshire Avenue NW) to add a roof deck. At the November 5 meeting of the Zoning, Preservation and Development (ZPD) Committee, Chair Leo Dwyer (Commissioner for district 07) indicated the committee would recommend that the full ANC support the project. The other Commissioners and committee members present seemed to agree.

Carlyle Suites opened in 1939
The Carlyle Suites Hotel's request is on the recently-published agenda for the next meeting of the full ANC, scheduled for tomorrow, November 13, 7pm, at the Brookings Institution (1775 Massachusetts Avenue).

The proposed roof deck was the subject of community interest and lengthy debate at the previous month's ZPD Committee meeting -- see the October 5 SALM blog post.

Still skeptical

The people living in the neighboring apartment buildings are still skeptical of Carlyle Suites Hotel's intentions. Specifically, they believe the roof deck may someday host a noisy late-night bar/restaurant operation. Although hotel management have repeatedly assured the neighbors there are no present plans for outside eating and drinking, they have also clearly said they can not completely rule out a change in their plans.

"It's clear that the hotel doesn't want to be fettered," said one neighbor at the meeting.

Carlyle Suites manager Scott Dawson argued there were practical reasons why the hotel would not want to operate a bar on roof.

"They'll be a couple of hundred people sleeping right underneath," he said.

Much community consultation

There had been a great deal of community consultation in the last few weeks. ZPD Committee Architect Michael Lee Biedler counted four community hearings and eight or nine meetings. ANC Commissioner Stephanie Maltz (district 03) tweeted the hotel had hosted five community meetings, and said at the meeting there had been "countless emails".

The Carlyle Suites Hotel is in Maltz's ANC district.

Although the neighbors still were suspicious of the ultimate use of the roof deck, they seemed to understand there was little point forcing a confrontation at this moment. The Carlyle Suites Hotel seeks design approval only for its roof deck from D.C.'s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). HPRB's brief is preservation only and is extremely unlikely to take into consideration, or even listen to, talk about future noise or liquor consumption in the space, whether the talk comes from an ANC or individuals.

Designed to minimize noise

There had been some changes made as concessions to neighborhood concerns about noise and privacy. The edge of the roof deck had been pulled 3 - 4 feet back from the edge of the roof.

The plan had also been changed so that the deck now has an five-foot-high wall of frosted glass on its perimeter. The glass wall will reflect sound toward the inside wall of the area, which there is a sound-absorbing stucco trellis. Outside the walls, there would be greenery in planters.

Why was the greenery on the outside? someone asked.

"To keep people from throwing [stuff] into the planters," was the reply.

Since the previous ZPD meeting, HPRB had looked at the design and recommended, for aesthetic reasons, the trellis not extend all the way around the interior wall. However, the ZPD and the neighbors seemed to agree noise considerations should trump aesthetics in this case.

Commissioner Dwyer said he would recommend ANC support for the project with the trellis extended.

Commissioner Maltz said she would circulate a draft letter to Commissioners before the next meeting of the full ANC.

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