City Paper Widget

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

2724 11th Street: "We're Very Divided on This"

The committee vote was three in favor, two opposed, and two absentions. The person who eventually cast the deciding vote at first responded: "I don't know".

2724 11th Street in August
However, the Design Review Committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 1B/U Street will recommend to the full ANC to support zoning variance which would allow the owners to renovate and enlarge a blighted rent-controlled building at 2724 11th Street NW, at the corner of Girard Street. The full ANC will probably take up this matter at its next scheduled meeting on Thursday, October 2, 7pm, at the Reeves Center (14th and U Streets).

This was the second time attorney Martin Sullivan of Sullivan & Barros presented to the Design Review Committee. There had been some changes, made at the suggestion of the committee, since Sullivan's last appearance before the committee -- see SALM blog post of June 23. For example, the proposed curb cut on the side of the building facing Girard Street was eliminated due to neighborhood opposition over the loss of on-street parking.

Another change was the number of units the building will have after the proposed renovation. It currently has 25 rent-controlled units. The original proposal would have added 11 more units, for a total of 36. Under the revised proposal, there will be nine new units, but one existing rent-controlled unit will be eliminated to create space for trash collection.

Yet another proposed changed is that ground-floor units would open on to small individual gardens -- four facing 11th Street, two facing Girard Street.

"The architect is making the building more street-friendly and neighborhood-friendly," Sullivan said.

The entire building will remain rent-controlled. However, the new units will enter the market at a much higher rent.

The building has been the focus of an organized action by tenants and community activists to improve the conditions of the residents and, if possible, to force the current owners to sell the building to someone who would take better care of it -- see SALM blog post of August 4. The two groups have formed "Save 2724 11th Street", which has a web site, a Facebook page, a Twitter feed, and online petition.

However, there seemed to be no representatives of the group at the Design Review Committee meeting.

After a chilly initial reception at the meeting, Sullivan said he thought the committee wished to "punish the owner", a wealthy family that had allowed the building to fall into a state of neglect during half a century of ownership.

"That's the impression I got the last time I was here," Sullivan said.

"The default is a property owner owns a property," Sullivan also said. "But we're in the District of Columbia, so that's not the case."

Sullivan said the owners had made $8,000, net, on the property last year. They proposed to invest $3 million on the renovation.

The first motion was to deny endorsement of the zoning requests, because there were "not significant community benefits".  This motion went down to defeat -- two in favor, three against, two abstentions.

Design Review Committee Chair Lela Winston then made a motion in favor of recommending to the full ANC endorsement the zoning variances, if the applicants provided drawings for a further revised design which incorporated changes made by the committee at the meeting. These changes would increase the number of two bedroom units and decrease the number of one bedroom and studio apartments. This is the motion that was eventually approved by a 3-2-2 vote.

"We're very divided on this," a committee member said.

Sullivan said that the zoning variances at scheduled for a hearing at DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) on October 21.

ANC1B, in addition to U Street, includes all or part of the following neighborhoods: Columbia Heights, LeDroit Park, Pleasant Plains, Shaw, University Heights, and lower Georgia Avenue.

No comments:

Post a Comment