City Paper Widget

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

911-913 L Street Raze Endorsed by Logan Circle ANC Committee

At its regular monthly meeting September 24, a committee of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle endorsed an application by Square 369 Hotel Associates, LLC, to raze two adjoining buildings at 911 and 913 L Street NW.

ANC2F's Community Development Committee (CDC) voted 6-0, with three
The property in 2007 (from Flickr, licensed for reuse)
abstentions, to support the raze on the condition that the buildings be carefully deconstructed and the materials be reused as much as possible.

The buildings, which have been vacant for many years, are protected because they are located in the Shaw Historic District.

911 L Street was built before 1860 and is "among the oldest buildings remaining in the district," according to a document from DC's Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB). A June 26 HPRB staff report says that the demolition of 911 and 913 L Street would be "inconsistent with the purposes" of DC's historic preservation law.

911 L Street is also alleged to have been the place where a "Polish revolutionary, translator, and journalist" named Henry Korwin Kalusowski died in December 1894 at age 88. A report on Kalusowski's funeral from the New York Times (available behind the Times' pay wall here) says that Kalusowski's father was Chamberlain to the last king of Poland. Kalusowski himself was a General in the army of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania at 24, fought on the side of Louis Napolean against the Russian army, was Minister of Finance in an unsuccessful Polish revolutionary government in the 1830's, emigrated to the US, fought in the US Civil War with the Thirty-First New York Regiment, and worked for the Treasury Department. While working at Treasury, he "translated all the documents from the Russian language relating to the purchase of Alaska". In 1891, he founded the Polish Library and Museum in Chicago by giving 3,000 volumes from his personal library.

913 L Street was built in 1892.

Now, developers want to put two hotels (a Courtyard by Marriott and a Residence Inn by Marriot, according to the Office of Zoning web site) on this block, as well as a condominium. The proposed buildings are large, and developers have assembled many adjoining properties on the same block to make it happen. There are now nine historically protected buildings on the proposed future site of the hotels and condos. The developers told ANC2F that these two buildings had to go but the seven others would be "retained in full or part".

Attorney Carolyn Brown of Holland and Knight led a team in a long and wide-ranging conversation with the members of the committee and the public over various aspects of the project, including the overall look of the proposed construction, the traffic pattern, the height, the alleyways, the possibility of physically moving the buildings, the possibility of some design features attracting homeless people, the proposed Planned Unit Development (PUD) for the project, and historical preservation aspects not only of the buildings planned for demolition, but the buildings to be renovated and reused as well. Eventually, the discussion returned to the demolition of the buildings, and the committee voted to support.

The demolition of any property in a historic district must be approved by the Mayor's Agent at the Historic Preservation Office. It was reported that a hearing by the Mayor's Agent had been postponed and was now scheduled for December 12. An Office of Zoning hearing on the PUD for this development scheduled for 6:30pm, January 29, 2015, at their offices at Judiciary Square (441 4th Street NW).

This very complex development project is generating a lot of neighborhood opposition. It is very likely to be back before ANC2F for further debate. To see some of the documents in the case, including drawings of the proposed constructions and letters of outlining objection from neighboring condominiums, go to the DC government's Interactive Zoning Information System and enter case number 14-09 in the search bar.

See a more recent photo of 911-913 L Street, plus some research, from a May 7, 2014, blog post of the DC Vacant Properties blog.

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