City Paper Widget

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

15 Dupont Circle Sets the Bar Higher for Car-free Buildings

"This is fantastic," said Noah Smith, representing district 09 on Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2B/Dupont Circle. "This is an overwhelming amount of accommodation."

The developers of 15 Dupont Circle NW (also known as the Patterson Mansion) have set a new standard for assisting with car-free living. They presented a list of benefits they will give to their future car-free tenants as a part of their presentation to ANC2B at its last monthly meeting on March 12. The developers, led by Mary Katherine Lanzillotta of Hartman-Cox Architects, received ANC2B endorsement for a handful of zoning variances necessary to convert the historic mansion into 92 small apartments.

Among the variances requested will be relief from the obligation to have parking spaces, which in this case might mean the developers would have to find space for 23 parking spaces or more. As is often the case, the developers promised to remove the property from D.C.'s list of those eligible for on-street resident parking and provide "convenient and covered secure bike parking facilities".

More unusual are the promises to do the following:
  • designate a transportation management coordinator
  • provide a screen in a public area showing transit options
  • have a bicycle repair facility
  • provide free Capital Bikeshare memberships for non-bike-owners "for the initial term of the lease for the first five years the building is open"
  • have a minimum of 10 bicycle helmets on hand for resident use
  • give free membership to car-share services "for the initial term of the lease for the first five years the building is open".
Commissioner Abigail Nichols (district 05) asked about the legality of excluding residents from the residential permit parking program. A parking consultant with the team assured her that doing so is legal.

If this building goes through as planned, it will create more demand for Capital Bikeshare in the Dupont Circle area. Commissioner Noah Smith thought a nearby area on New Hampshire Avenue near Books-a-Million would be a good spot for a new station. He requested the presenters lobby for an additional Bikeshare station. However, the ANC's endorsement of the zoning variance was unconditional. The developers are not obligated to get a new Bikeshare station.

Other zoning variances concern the mechanical penthouse structures on top of the building. They are in part taller (13 feet in one area vs. 8 feet allowed) and insufficiently set back (5 feet vs. 8 feet required) according to the provisions of D.C. zoning ordinances. A representative of the Dupont Circle Conservancy said the Conservancy would recommend to D.C.'s Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) that the mechanical penthouses be reduced.

The vote was 7-0 in favor of endorsing all zoning variance request. Two Commissioners, although present at the meeting, were not in the room at the time of the vote.

Read a report about the same vote in the blog Urban Turf here.

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