City Paper Widget

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Logan Circle ANC Endorses Raze of Building on "Most Endangered Places" List

At its regular monthly meeting on October 1, Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 2F/Logan Circle voted unanimously to endorse the raze of two historically-protected buildings at 911-913 L Street NW. On October 8, the DC Preservation League included this property on its annual list of "most endangered places".

The property in 2007 (from Flickr, licensed for reuse)
"911 L Street is one of the oldest buildings to survive in the Shaw Historic District," the DC Preservation League says on its website. 913 L Street "was constructed in 1892 and designed by well-known Washington architect Appleton P. Clark."

See articles about the DC Preservation League's 2014 list of most endangered historic properties from the Washington Post here and the Washington Business Journal here.

A small piece in a big puzzle

If the raze goes forward, it will be a small part of a larger plan to build two separate Marriott hotels and a 12-story residential building near the intersection of 9th and L Streets in Shaw. The planned complex would cover a large part of the city block bordered by 9th, 10th, L and M Streets, close to the Washington Convention Center. (This should not be confused with another Marriott hotel, the Marriott Marquis, which opened nearby in May.)

The construction of the hotels and residences is part of a Planned Unit Development (PUD), a planning tool which allows developers of large projects to bundle benefits to the community and concessions from the community into a single package. (See a short explanation of PUDs here and 21 pages of official PUD regulations here.)

But before the PUD process can move forward, the developers and city must deal with the historic preservation aspects of the project. There are currently nine historically-protected buildings on the site, which is in the Shaw Historic District. The developers plan to incorporate seven of the nine into the design of their hotel and residence complex. 911-913 L Street are the other two buildings on the block.

ANC2F's Community Development Committee (CDC) had, on September 24, recommended after community discussion that the full ANC support the raze application with the condition that the existing materials be preserved and reused as much as possible -- see SALM blog post of September 30.

The discussion at the full ANC meeting

At the October 1 meeting, ANC2F Commissioner Greg Melcher (district 06) started the portion of the meeting dealing with this matter by noting the building was in the downtown development district.

"Something's going to have to come down," he said. "I'm inclined to vote for it. It's not a wholesale tearing down of the building."

911-913 L Street is in Melcher's ANC district.

Sherri Kimbel, Director of Constituent Services at the Office of City Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward Two) told the ANC that Evans had spoken to "several people" about the development. The people Evans talked to were supportive of the two hotels but not the residential component, Kimbel said.

"There was a requirement to have housing," Kimbel said. "That requirement was not in place for the Marriott across the street" -- meaning, the new Marriott Marquis.

Robert Knopf, Senior Vice-President of the Quadrangel Development Company, spoke on behalf of the developers.

"We're very interested in putting in the residential component," he said. "We need the residential component to cover costs."

As it was, Knopf said, the development had to pay "retail price" for the lots where the planned hotel and residences would go, and then were compelled to shrink the size of the project due to historic preservation requirements -- from an original plan of 237 units to 200.

"We feel like we've been tricked," Knopf said. "We were told we would not have to preserve the building."

All applications to raze buildings in historic districts have a public hearing before the Mayor's Agent in the Historic Preservation Office. A hearing on this project was originally scheduled October 15. On September 19 (well before the meetings described in this article), attorneys for the developers asked for the hearing to be postponed until November, because the developers needed time to respond to comment on the project's overall design from DC historic preservation authorities.

See an article about this development's struggles with historic preservation authorities from the blog BadWolfDC here.

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