City Paper Widget

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Popup Endorsed for Historic U Street District Home

The Design Review Committee of Advisory Neighborhood Committee (ANC) 1B/U Street voted unanimously to endorse a planned renovation to 1837 12th Street NW. The vote took place at the committee's meeting of October 28.

1837 12th Street NW
1837 12th Street is a two-story single-family home less than two blocks from U Street. Significant renovations changing the exterior of house must be approved by D.C.'s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) because the house is in the Greater U Street Historic District.

The renovation will include the addition of a third floor popup to the rear of the property, the renovation of the exterior (including refurbishing of windows and of dentil molding as well as replacing a stairway), and basement excavation.

The third floor addition will be two feet nine inches higher than the highest point of the existing roof and will be set back 16 feet from the front. There is no plan for a roof deck.

Normally, it is required that roof addition not be visible from the street. To test this, applicants seeking HPRB approval often construct rooftop mockups of the planned height of the final construction, and take photos to show that it will not be visible from the street.

In this case, however, a neighbor testified before the committee that the mockup was visible from across the street. The neighbor produced a photograph taken from the parking lot across the street from the house, in which the top of the mockup could clearly be seen.

The committee determined that, even if the third story addition would be visible from the parking lot, it would actually be considered not visible from across the street, according to the standard method of determining visibility. Rooftop additions are considered not visible if they cannot be seen from the farthest point on the sidewalk across the street from the house. The picture taken from behind a fence separating the sidewalk from the parking lot, that is, farther away than the normal definition of "across the street". Therefore, the proposed addition was compliant, even if the mockup could be seen in the neighbor's photograph.

The neighbor was also concerned about the flow of water off the roof of 1837 12th Street after the proposed renovation was finished. The roof of 1837 12th Street slopes to the rear. The fear was that the addition of a popup would cause rainwater to pool in mid-roof, with no place to drain except the roofs of adjoining properties.

The project contractor told the committee the water would drain via a downspout through the house. It would then be dumped into a gutter in the back.

It was also reported that a structural engineer was working on the project to make sure the planned excavation of the basement did not have any unforeseen consequences.

The project will proceed with committee endorsement to the full ANC for final approval. The next scheduled meeting of ANC1B is on November 7, at 7pm, at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets).

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