City Paper Widget

Thursday, January 9, 2014

1528 Church Street: "They're Both Nice Designs"

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle endorsed plans to renovate a dilapidated 142-year-old house at 1528 Church Street. The vote came at the meeting of the full ANC last night, January 8. The ANC's endorsement will accompany the plans to its next stop in the D.C. bureaucracy, the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB), which must approve the design concept.

1528 Church Street (
The HPRB has a say in the design concept because 1528 Church Street is located in the 14th Street Historic District.

The plans were discussed at length at the meeting of ANC2B's Zoning,
Preservation and Development (ZPD) Committee on the previous evening, January 7. At that time, an unusual situation occurred: there were two separate designs, and the committee liked both of them.

The existing two-story single-family home is in a state of disrepair, and the new owners told the ZPD Committee that the first order of business would be to meet with a rat exterminator.

The new owners and their architect, Sacha Rosen of R2L:Architects, told the committee about the original vision for the project. It was to add a set-back third story on top of the existing structure and add a carriage house in the rear, in the style found behind many houses in the neighborhood. Rosen had presented this idea to D.C.'s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). Just hours before the ZPD Committee meeting, he received word that HPRB was "no longer supporting third story additions on top of existing structures".

This explicit and categorical rejection of additional stories seemed to be news to the members of the ZPD committee.

In any event, the owners and architect went back to the drawing board and came up with a new design. It will be a three-story structure that will abut the existing house to the rear. The ground floor will be a garage, and the structure (including the additional floor) will not be visible from Church Street.

The new owners did not seem to be very concerned that the original design had been rejected. They were more concerned about getting the house ready for long-term occupancy.

"It's all about making it livable for a family with kids," they said.

The new owners told the committee they had discussed the project with their neighbors, sending letters to all residents within 200 feet of the proposed project. The neighbors were "strongly in favor". The owners had also talked with neighbors about improved lighting and cleanliness for the parking lot which abuts the property to the east.

Although the petitioners seemed satisfied with ZPD endorsement of the new plans, members of the committee told them that "plan a" seemed just as good and the ANC could live with either alternative.

"They're both nice designs," said Commissioner Leo Dwyer (district 07). Dwyer is also chair of the ZPD committee.

According to online information, the house was bought in November 2013 for $740,000.

Sacha Rosen has been the architect on a few high-profile developments lately, including the Parcel 42 project and the Wonder Bread building, both in Shaw.

The project is on the agenda for the HPRB meeting of January 23.

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