City Paper Widget

Monday, November 4, 2013

Funeral Home Parking Lot to Rowhouse

Developer Thomas Swarm told the Design Review Committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street he wishes to put up a rowhouse on a 1,262-square-foot lot at 1801 4th Street in LeDroit Park. The site was formerly the parking lot for the adjoining property, Frazier's Funeral Home. Frazier's went out of business in 2008, and the former funeral home is being developed into a 4 - 5 unit residential building.
1801 4th Street is now a vacant lot (center)

Before the building was a parking lot, there was a rowhouse on the site. The new rowhouse attempts to duplicate the footprint of the long-demolished rowhouse. Its height will be the same as the neighboring rowhouse.

According to documents presented at the meeting, the new rowhouse will have two apartments. One will be a two-bedroom, two-bathroom, 844-square-foot basement apartment. The other will be a two-story, three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bathroom, 1,688-square-foot apartment. There will be one enclosed parking space in the rear.

Swarm told the Design Review Committee on October 28 he wished to get support for his request to D.C.'s Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) for zoning variances. However, Design Review Committee chair Tony Norman told Swarm the committee would not consider his request until Swarm officially filed for zoning variances with the BZA, because only then would the committee know for certain the number and nature of the zoning variances Swarm required.

Norman is also chair of ANC1B as a whole and Commissioner for district 10.

Swarm told the committee he would need a zoning variance for the side yard next to the proposed building. Zoning requires side yards to be at least 10 feet wide. Due to the unusual shape of the lot, the side yard would have to be only three feet wide in order to replicate the original building's footprint.

In addition, Swarm said, the rear yard would require a zoning variance for setback.

Documents presented at the meeting show that the proposed lot occupancy will be 61.9%. Since lot occupancy allowed is 60%, Swarm may have to seek BZA approval for this as well. 

The property is located in the LeDroit Park Historic District, so Swarm had to appear before D.C.'s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). The HPRB advised Swarm to make his new construction match the neighboring white building (see photo) as much as possible, he said at the meeting.

The 2012 HPRB application, made by architect Michael Vallen of Vallen Design Studio on Swarm's behalf, is a .pdf document available here.

According to a 2012 article in the Washington Post, Frazier's Funeral Home operated in the LeDroit Park location from 1929 until its closing. Swarm bought the property in 2011 for $850,000, the Post said. A separate report indicates that the September 2011 sale included both 5,500-square-foot parcel which held Frazier's funeral home plus the parking lot.

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