City Paper Widget

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

1450 V Street (Portner Place): "We Don't Want to Be near Partygoers"

The entire board of the tenants' association of Portner Place (1450 V Street NW) turned out at the March 25 meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street. They were there to tell the ANC the design of the proposed development was OK with them.

"We want to be on V Street," the President of the Portner Place tenants' association said. "We don't want to be near partygoers."

An image from the February meeting
Portner Place is now a group of garden apartments next to the Reeves Center (14th and U Street), on a piece of land that stretches from U to V Street. The proposal is to raze the garden apartments, and in its place build two separate high-rise buildings. Facing V Street would be 96 units of affordable housing. Facing U Street would be 270 units of "market rate" (i.e., much more expensive) housing. The buildings would share a common back wall but not a common entrance.

This design led a member of ANC1B's Design Review Committee to say the project "implied segregation" -- see SALM blog post of March 3.

But this is what the residents want

"Stop telling us what we are," a Portner Place tenants' association Board member said. "Let us tell you."

The five women of the tenants' association board made very clear that separate buildings was the design they wanted.

"We're happy with the amenities and support the massing," one said.

Board members said it was now very difficult to maintain security on Portner Place, and they looked forward to living in a building that was more secure.

"Portner Place is the building we deserve," a Board member said. "We've waited such a long time."

Presenting again

A team from Somerset Development Company, led by Principal Nancy L. Hooff, made an abbreviated presentation to the ANC. It was the second time this month Hooff and the team presented. The first presentation was at ANC1B's meeting of March 6, but the ANC could not vote on the matter because not enough Commissioners were present to establish a quorum -- see SALM blog post of March 10. ANC Chair James Turner (Commissioner for district 09) asked for an abbreviated presentation for the benefit of commissioners who had not attended the earlier meeting.

Commissioner Juan Lopez (district 07) asked where the residents will go during the construction of the high-rise.

"We own a lot of properties," Hooff said. "The idea is to find one or two buildings. We will master lease 47 units somewhere."

They need an endorsement now

Somerset Development was asking for ANC1B's endorsement before they pitched the project to D.C.'s Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). The hearing at HPRB was scheduled for less than 48 hours after the ANC meeting. This meant the ANC would have to produce a document of support at faster-than-normal speed.

"We'd really appreciate something by tomorrow," Hooff said.

The ANC voted unanimously to endorse the concept and massing of the project.

"I hope we allayed your fears," Hooff said.

The blog District Source has reported on Somerset Development's subsequent appearance before the HPRB. The reception was generally favorable.

See the HPRB staff report on Portner Place here.

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