December 2009

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Heritage FoundationMinutes

Present:Commissioners Brown,Dixon, Docter,Hamilton, Silver,Richardson, Velasco, and Wirt


The meeting opened at7:00 pm

  1. Agenda

Motion:Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Dixon seconded a motion to approve the agenda as presented.The agenda was approved without objection.

  1. Minutes

Motion:Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to approve the October minutes. They were approved without objection.

Treasurer’s Report

Mr. Richardson submitted the September Treasurers Report.There was an opening balance of $ 77,311.98. There was an interest payment of $0.64.There was a payment o f $20.01 to Charlie Docter for office supplies (Check #1158), leaving a balance of $77,292.54.Motion:Ms. Richardson moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to accept the Treasurer’s Report as presented.The motion passed without objection.


Motion:Mr. Hamilton moved/Mr. Velasco seconded a motion to approve the ANC budget for FY 10. It was noted that the allotment for grants has been raised to $112,000.The motion passed without objection.

Business Cards

Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to approve the expenditure of $195 for business cards for business cards for Commissioners Brown, Dixon and Phelps. The motion passed without objection. Expenses for Acoustical EngineerThis is a discussion of a bill submitted by Geoff Turner, an acoustic engineer hired at the request of Mr. Docter to assess the sound levels at Level, a proposed club. The ANC authorized the expenditure of up to $2400 for Mr. Turner’s services. However, he submitted a bill for $3450. Mr. Docter said that estimates from other sound engineers had been in the $10,000 range, and he was lucky to find one engineer at a reasonable price to help prepare for an expected ABC hearing.Mr. Docter said that while the estimate was around $2400, as he got deeper into his analysis it turned out to be a lot more work, e.g. there were four levels in the building, and three apartment buildings nearby, and he had to understand how the acoustics would interact among all the spaces. He said there wasn’t time to come running back to the ANC for additional authorization. Mr. Dixon pointed out that authorization is needed for additional expenditures. Mr. Docter said that it couldn’t be left hanging and many people were depending on the outcome. He said there were deadlines and had to move forward. He said it turned out that there was no hearing as he decided not to open the club, but they had to be ready if he was.Mr. Dixon said that the money can’t be spent if a cap has been put on it. Mr. Velasco agreed, as did Ms. Brown, who said it was made clear that there was a cap. Mr. Docter said there was no room for delay. Mr. Richardson said that the cap of $2400 was clear, and asked whether there was q written estimate. Mr. Docter responded that there was a letter. He said that the study had to be done because there was a danger to the community. Mr. Dixon said he didn’t understand why the ANC is spending money for something that ABRA does. Ms. Wirt said that the Auditor’s counsel said it’s a legitimate expense. Mr. Silver asked whether Mr. Turner shouldn’t have absorbed the additional expenses. Mr. Docter reiterated that they had to prove to ABRA that he could harm the neighborhood, and they had to move quickly. He said he would like to find a way to get the additional funds for Mr. Turner. Motion: Mr. Hamilton moved/Ms. Brown seconded a motion to deny funding over $2400 to Mr. Turner. The motion passed 4-1-3, with Mr. Docter in opposition, and Mr. Richardson, Mr. Velasco and Ms. Wirt not voting.

  1. Community Comment

Brain Tumor Race for HopeNicola Beddowe, of Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure (ABCC) asked for support for their annual race which will take place on May 2, 2010. The race will begin at Freedom Plaza and will go up to the Capitol, loop around 1st Street and come back to Freedom Plaza. The race will begin a 9 a.m., there will be staggered street closings, and it will be completed by 10:30 a.m. She is seeking support of the ANC. Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Velasco seconded a motion to send a letter to Emergency Management Task Force in support of the race. The motion passed without objection.D.C. Charter School ExpoAriana Quinones, of the DC Charter School Board, announced a DC Charter School Expo at the DC Convention Center, with all charter schools having booths. There will be teacher recruitment as well as student recruitment. She also announced that there is now a Charter School newsletter on line each Wednesday with information with information on school activities and events. They are also working on a DC School Chooser, which will have listings of all public and charter schools.2 M Street NWSteve Green of the William C. Smith Company, presented information on a new community initiative they are proposing for the corner of M and Patterson Streets NW. The project will have 93 affordable apartments, and 220 market rate units. The building will be fully “amenitized,” with a green roof, LEED silver rating and a roof deck with a pool. There will be a club room, a kids’ rec center, a full gym, and a business and conference center on the 2nd floor. There will be ten town houses on the M Street side of the building and retail on North Capitol Street. It’s a matter-of-right project. They will close in December 2010 and are looking at occupancy in January 2013. The majority of the units will be one bedroom, but there will be ten three-bedroom apartments in the building, and the townhouses will be three bedrooms. There will be 60 one bedroom units. Mr. Docter asked whether a resolution of support was needed, and Mr. Velasco said that it was too early and more information is needed before ANC action.Historic Preservation Office Data BaseCommissioner Hamilton announced that the Historic Preservation Office is developing a data base of historic building permits which will enable anyone to research permits. He said he took the training, but learned that Microsoft Access is needed to access the program, so it’s a work in progress.Walker Jones LibrarySteve Lilienthal, head librarian qt the new Walker-Jones library in NW One, presented information on the new library. He began by saying that Commissioner Dixon had played a big role in getting the library at its new location. He said it is much larger, much nice, and has a much larger collection, and that there is a computer lab with 24 computers. (He said the computers have Microsoft Access on them). The hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday: 9:30 am -5: 30 p.m., Tuesday, Thursday: 1 pm – 9 pm. He said that story time for kids will start in December, and that there would be an open house for seniors the following Wednesday, as well as other activities throughout the month.

  1. Old Business

Grants Committee

Commissioner Brown reported that Southern Baptist Church has requested an extension of time for submitting a report on the grant for educational programs given to them by the ANC.The director of the program says that it runs until May and they are constantly soliciting new students.Ms. Wirt said the Auditor said the report was due by the end of February.Mr. Richardson said that there is a quarterly report due in May that will be incomplete without the report.Mr. Dixon said they can submit a progress report.Motion:Mr. Dixon moved/Ms. Brown seconded a motion to extend the reporting requirement for the Southern Baptist Church grant toMay 31, 2010, with the program submitting a status report by the original reporting deadline.The motion passed without objection.

Youth and Education Committee

Mr. Hamilton reported that the Youth and Education Committee would meet on December 23, at7:00 theSpecialtyHospital, and will feature a discussion of the new DCPS guidelines for teacher education.

Liquor License Committee

Ethiopic Restaurant –401 H Street NE

Meseret Bekele, owner of Ethiopic Restaurant, which will open at401 H Street NE, presented information about the establishment, which will be a high-end Ethiopian restaurant.Two-thirds of the street building will be the restaurant, with the rest of the building being an office.It will have outdoor seating, and there will be music indoors.They are still working with their architects to see how many seats they will have.

Greg Stackpole, a neighbor of the restaurant, says he supports it.He said, however, that there is a bad history with that location and he is concerned about the hours.Ms. Bekele said they will be for now the application will say10 a.m. to 1 a.m., but for now the hours will be seven days a week,5 pm to 10 pmSunday through Thursday andnoonto12 a.m.Friday and Saturday, with outdoor seating until11 pm.Hard liquor will be served.Mr. Stackpole said he is in support of a CR license, but they shouldn’t be surprised if the neighbors have something to say.Motion:Mr. Richardson moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to protest the license application of Ethiopic Restaurant, in order to work out a voluntary agreement after which the protest will be dropped.The motion passed without objection.

Taylor Gourmet –485 K Street NW

This is new branch of the Italian deli at1116 H Street NE, featuring Italian sandwiches, and selling beer and wine. This new store is next door to Busboys and Poets and across the street from the new Safeway.It is open 11 a, to9 p.m.Monday through Saturday, and11:30 am to 8 pmon Sundays.Mr. Silver welcomed the establishment to the neighborhood.Motion:Mr. Silver moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to approve the application of Taylor Gourmet.The motion passed without objection.

Transportation Committee

Joe McCann, committee co-chair presented the committee report.

Toscana –601 2ndStreet NE

This is a request for a public space permit for an enclosed year-round sidewalk café at Toscana, an Italian restaurant at601 2ndStreet NE..

Joe Spinelli, representing the restaurant, returned to the ANC with revised plans for the enclosed tent they plan to construct for the restaurant.It will have 40 seats, and the windows have been enlarged and the color has been changed to the same ocher color as the building.Mr. McCann reported that the committee unanimously approved the revised design.He said the restaurant has the support of the community.They have the consent of the owners of adjacent buildings on2ndStreet, and of the tenant on theG Streetside, as the owner is unavailable.Motion:Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to support the public space application for an enclosed café at Toscana.The motion passed without objection.

Planning, Zoning and Environment Committee

Fifth and I Street NW Development

Mr. Silver, in whose SMD the 5thand Eye project is located, began the discussion with a brief history of the project:

Paraphrased from the original RFP for the project:The 5thand I project is located in Square 0516,Lot0059, at the address of 463 I Street NW.It is unimproved property, fenced around the perimeter.It is relatively level, grassy soil at street grade and comprises 20,641 square feet in the Mount Vernon Triangle near theWalterE.WashingtonConvention Center.The District, through the ANC Commission, seeks a development team with a proven tack record to transform the now-empty site into a mixed use project that includes housing, retail and affordable housing.

The property is located on the northwest corner of Fifth and Eye streets.The current zoning allows for office development, residential, hotel and entertainment uses.New buildings on the site can be between 90 and 130 feet tall.The property is a part of the Mount Vernon Triangle, a 30-qacre, 15-block section of the center of the city, which is in the midst of a radical transformation.

The desires of the community stakeholders are of critical importance to the District and this ANC.There were three or four community meetings attended by several key stakeholder including ANC 6C along with the MOUNT Vernon Neighborhood Association, the Chinatown Revitalization Council and the residents of 555 Massachusetts Ave NW, residents of Madrigal Lofts, City Vista Condo Association and Museum Square.

On September 19th, there was an announcement that the government had selected one o9f four development teams-Donahoe/Holland/Spectrum—to build a 2360 room luxury hotel, 166 apartments, a jazz club, affordable housing and retail at the vacant city owned parcel at 5thandEye Street NW.As I vividly recall, at the press conference, the Mayor stated “this project is the perfect gateway between our own bustlingChinatownand emerging Mr. Vernon Triangle neighborhood.He concluded “It is also a great example of a development team working with community leaders to put together the best project for the neighborhood.”

Mr. Silver introduced Ty Simpson of Spectrum Development Joe Donohoe, and, Robert Holland and saying that the ANC had heard nothing recently about the project, asked for an update.Mr. Donohoe said they are moving as fast as possible, but they were caught in the Lehman Brothers collapse and the crash of the financial markets.. He said they are working with the District to move as quickly as possible.He said that5thStreetis a problem, and they have heard about that from the community.He said they are still wedded to improving5thStreet, but one property owner is not seller.They said they are hoping to move the beginning of Phase 1o September 2012 if the financing is available.They are looking f or City Council approval of the project in March or April.

He said he has talked to George Seals (?), the Rogue’s owner, and he is getting rid of the club.They are going to bring the jazz club into t hat location, a series of town houses.They have negotiated the terms, and the approvals should be easier.They are also working with Carol Holder, who owns another of the properties, to get a project into that space.There are also the small parking lots, which are owned by Segalis,

Mr. Silver asked how long it would be before the jazz club will open?He was told that it won’t be new construction, and once Mr. Segalis agrees to the terms it will be 18 months.Mr. Silver asked about the noise levels, and was told that in remodeling the buildings there will be new soundproofing and windows.He was also told there will be outdoor seating, which will be ideal because it’s across the street from Taylor Gourmet and Busboys and Poets.

Mr. Silver said that5thStreetis the gateway betweenChinatownand the high rent district and asked if they had contracts on the parcels on5thStreet.He was told that yes, they had contracted on all of them, but they have put out requests for extensions with the property owners.He said they are technically out of contracts, but they have extensions waiting to be returned—the strip club, Fun fair—the “low-hanging fruit”.The City has told them to get that corner done as quickly as possible.Mr. Silver reiterated that it is critical that those parcels are purchased and said that if they do Phase 1 where is the guarantee that Phase 2 will happen, and was told that the Deputy Mayor says they’ll be fined, and they are working with the City to see that doesn’t happen.

Mr. Docter asked whether the City was helping with the financing.He said they have talking with the City and there is one source that they think will finance the hotel, for which they have a preliminary design.

Mr. Holland said he just got back fromNew York, and financing doesn’t exist.He said he has “gone across the pond”, bothAtlanticand Pacific.Potential financers want to see a design, and we can’t finalize the design with the City.It’s a complicated issue.When the project started it was worth $125 per FAR foot, and today it’s worth $50 per FAR foot.

Mr. Silver asked how we can make the street attractive for the neighborhood, and was told again that the jazz club is being moved to the corner.Mr. Dixon asked about lighting up the block.In response to a question about the process with the City Council, Mr. Silver was told that they will work on specifics with the Deputy Mayor’s office on the ground lease, which is complicated.

226 N Street NW

This is a request for support of a HPRB application for a concept design for a three-story row house in the Mt. Vernon Square Historic District.

The property under discussion is currently an open hole in the ground that has served as a dumpling area for the past four or five years.The previous construction was stopped after illegal foundation work and damage to the adjacent property.The owner later defaulted on the property.The new owner purchased the property four months a go and after discussions with HPRB they decided t o go with the previous, HPRB-approved (but not ANC) design.There will be two three bedroom flats, and will be for sale or rental.The owner has reached out to the community, and has cleaned out the debris from the construction hole.The committee recommended supporting t he concept design.Motion:Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Docter seconded the committee’s recommendation to support the HPRB application for a concept design for a house at 226 N Street NW.The motion passed without objection.

Union Station Air Rights Development

This is a discussion item for an Office of Planning proposal for a new text and map amendments to promote development over the railroad tracks north of Union Station.It creates special, new zoning (USN that provides the Zoning Commission the right to design, and review zoning restrictions and approve any develo0pment over the air rights.OP does not want to use a zoning overlay because it would add to the complexity of reviewing and administering development.

The air rights were purchased by Akridge Development in 2002 GSA auction, and approached OP with preliminary designs for space in 2009.The project would create a platform over the railroad tracks to support the buildings above.The development would connect to Union Station and include a mixed use development.For the purpose of the development the area north ofH Streetis considered one virtual building and the area south ofH Streetwill be considered another virtual building, although each segment will consist of several physical buildings.

The new USN zoning allows for: applicable only to Union Station air rights development; a maximum height of 130’ measured from the elevation of the H Street Bridge sidewalk (allowing buildings to be higher than surrounding development); connections to Union Station, H Street, K Street, and side streets; a mixed use development (no residential development.

The committee raised the following concerns: the maximum height allowed, and the point of measurement; no connections toK Street(connections have been added); no residential component (percentage to be added as part of amendment to Setdown Report).Another issue raised is that there’s no bicycle parking included.

Ms. Wirt said that a meeting with OP will be scheduled right after the first of the year, and she’s working on a date.Mr. Richardson suggested that Councilmember Wells be involved in the discussions.Ms. Wirt expressed her dismay that the buildings are so tall they cast shadows on residential housing.Mr. Docter said that Akridge should be included in the discussions, since it will apply to all the zoning for the area.

200 K Street NE– Cohen Project

Ms. Wirt said that she had a walk-through of the development at 200 kStreetNE.She said there were three modifications to the resolution the ANC passed last month:There is a change in the rent schedule, lowering it to 30% of AMI from 38%, and requiring two years average income as a requirement to apply, in order to encourage artists, who may have fluctuating income, to applyMotion:Ms. Wirt moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to support the modifications in the request for modificati0ons in the PUD for 2300 K Street NE.The motion passed without objection.

555 Massachusetts Avenue NWCondominium Association

The president of the555 Massachusetts Avenue NWCondominium Association raised an issue of fees that are being demanded of them for the rental of the underground vaults in which their parking places are built.Apparently not only did they not know there was a fee, but they are being charged a cumulative fee for several years.The matter was referred to the PZE Committee.

Resolution in Support of Miles Grove

The ANC unanimously passed a resolution honoring the work and contribution to the community of Miles Grove, president of the Downtown Neighborhood Association, and community activist.Mr. Grove is battling cancer.

The meeting was adjourned at7:05 p.m.