City Paper Widget

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

1608 14th Street: Let's Talk Again When Everybody Is Back from Vacation

On July 30, the owner of 1608 14th Street NW was out of the country, and the architect was in Florida. Instead, they sent a tenant of the building -- Sak Pollert, co-owner of Rice Restaurant -- to the meeting of a committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle.

Proposed addition to go here
1608 14th Street is located in the Fourteenth Street Historic District, so any exterior modification must get the approval of DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). The owner and architect propose to put a second story on the rear of the building. The proposed addition would not be visible from 14th Street but would be visible from Q Street.

The petitions hoped to get ANC endorsement of their request, but Pollert did not have enough information to adequately answer the questions the questions of ANC2F Community Development Committee (CDC).

"Your explanation has me more confused," a committee member said at one point.

Pollert emailed drawings of the project to the committee before the meeting, and brought hard copies to the meeting. Committee members said the drawings were not detailed enough and difficult to read. The committee could not tell how the new construction might look from the street or rear alley. So, CDC Chair Walt Cain (Commissioner for district 02) said the CDC would take no action until they could hear from more knowledgeable parties. No one on the committee objected to Cain's decision.

1608 14th Street from the front
Pollert was vague about the date of the HPRB hearing on the matter. An HPRB document shows the matter was on the agenda for one of the Board's July meetings. One of these meetings was scheduled for July 24 (a week before the CDC meeting), the other was scheduled for July 31 (the day after the CDC meeting).

The committee asked about outreach to the community. Pollert said the building's owner had met with the president of a neighboring condo and also with the management of the abutting Ghibellina Restaurant (1610 14th Street). But Pollert didn't have any information on the content of the meetings.

"We have not gone through the community," he said.

Pollert reported that the purpose of the proposed addition was residential. A roof deck on the second floor was also part of the plan.

The tone was amicable. Everyone seemed to agree that Pollert was just the messenger and not responsible for the inadequacy of the presentation. Committee members seemed to think the project was likely not to be controversial and could have a favorable reception if properly presented.

Pollert was advised to tell the owner and architect to reach out to the community and come back with improved drawings.

"We need to have a back-and-forth," one committee member said.

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