City Paper Widget

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

928 O Street: "Extinguish Your Torches and Put Away the Pitchforks"

"I think you need community feedback," said Walt Cain, representative for district 02 on Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle.

928 O Street last week
The draft agenda for the June 25 meeting of ANC2F's Community Development Committee (CDC) showed a late addition. The architects and developers of a new property to be built at 928 O Street NW, backing on to Naylor Court, wished the CDC to recommend endorsement of a modern-looking three-story grey box of a structure in a historic district, so the plan could go ahead to DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). Neighbors, quite unhappy, had come to oppose the project.

Cain, who is also chair of the CDC, started off the segment of the meeting pertaining to this project with the request (see headline) about torches and pitchforks. He told the meeting that, contrary to the posted agenda, the petitioners, Brook Rose Development and McGraw Bagnoli Architects, had come to make a preliminary presentation only. No HPRB request was imminent.

"The building is non-contributing," added Commissioner Greg Melcher (district 06), in whose district the building is located. When a building is "non-contributing", it means that, although it is located in a historic district, it is not deemed to have particular architectural merit.

Architect David Lee Bagnoli presented. He told the committee that the property abuts a two-story house on the east, and a vacant lot on the west.

Melcher said the neighbor to the west considered the "vacant lot" to be his side yard.

The developers are limited to a building of three stories, forty feet high. Their proposal is for a three-unit building. One unit would have two levels, a second three, and the third unit would be in the basement.

"It looks really massive," Melcher said. "Nothing else on the street looks like that."

The initial concept is a grey box with a glass bay on the front.

"We thought a light grey would be an appropriate color," the presenter said. "We're open to discussion on the color."

The property also backs onto Naylor Court. The proposal had a wall with a roll-up door facing the alley.

"A roll-up door won't fly," a committee member said. There were two roll-up doors on the alley already. Committee members advocated some type of structure facing onto the alley, but the presenters noted that the total footprint of two buildings would likely put the project over the maximum lot occupancy allowed under zoning regulations. The committee continued to urge a structure on the alley.

There wasn't much the committee liked about the project.

"I don't think you're heading in the right direction on this," a committee member said.

"Yours looks like a pop-up," another said.

After the committee was done, the floor was open to members of the community, who were equally unenthusiastic about the project, objecting especially to its scale.

Further discussion of the project was on and was then taken off the agenda of the next meeting of ANC2F, scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, July 9, at the Washington Plaza Hotel (10 Thomas Circle)

The project requires HPRB approval because it is located in the Blagden Alley/Naylor Court Historic District.

See a summary of the entire June 25 CDC meeting prepared by ANC2F here.

See coverage of this same presentation by real estate blog Urban Turf, with pictures of the proposed designs, here.

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