City Paper Widget

Friday, January 16, 2015

2724 11th Street: Zoning Relief Rejected for Controversial Building

On January 13, DC's Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) rejected the request of Jefferson-11th Street, LLC, for zoning relief that would have allowed a controversial renovation at 2724 11th Street NW to go forward. Four members of the board voted unanimously against the request, and one member was absent.

Protest at 2724 11th Street in October 2014
The request for zoning relief has been the subject of a long battle between the building owner on one side and the tenants and neighborhood allies on the other. As a result, the request has drawn a lot more attention than normal, including coverage by WAMU, letters of opposition from City Councilmember David Grosso (I-At Large) and now-former City Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward One), and appearances last fall in support of the tenants at the building by future Ward One City Councilmember Brianne Nadeau and the Eposcopalian Bishop of the Diocese of Washington Marian Budde.

The owners argued that relief was appropriate because of undue hardship and exception financial difficulties that the strict application of zoning regulations would cause. The Board said the owners had not proven that this was the case. Specifically, the board took exception to the financial data that the owners had submitted.

"I clearly cannot find the financials submitted to this board credible," said BZA Chair Lloyd Jordan. "The financials are not in the customary form."

The Board had warned that applicants at a public hearing in November (see SALM blog post of November 25, 2014) that their "financials" were not convincing and that clarifying documentation was needed.

"The submitted documentation did not make it any more credible," Jordan said.

"I find what was submitted to us troubling and just kind of hard to swallow," said board member Anthony Hood.

Board Vice-chair S. Kathryn Allen commended the ownership for "attempting to deal with the issues of this building, and hoped the owners intended "to make good on it promises to the tenants".

"I did find the opposition in this case, which was significant, compelling. I respect very much the concerns of the folks who took the time to come and testify," Allen said.

I did not attend this meeting. I gathered the information in this report by watching a streaming video of the hearing. The video is available on the website of the DC Office of Zoning here -- click on the hearing of January 13. The segment dealing with this case starts at 34:07.

Documents pertaining to this case can be accessed by going the BZA's Interactive Zoning Information System and entering case number 18790 in the search bar.

(Photo credit: Amal Mimish, used by permission)

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