April 2011

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April 13, 2011, 7:00 pm

Heritage Foundation


Present: Commissioners Crews, Dixon, Hamilton, Phelps, Richardson, Silver, Wilsey, Wirt.

  1. Agenda

Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Wilsey seconded a motion to accept the agenda as presented. The motion passed without objection.

  1. Minutes

Motion:  Ms. Wirt moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to approve the minutes with the caveat that commissioners have one week to submit any changes before the minutes are posted on the 6C web site.  The motion passed without objection,

  1. Treasurer’s Report

Mr. Richardson presented the Treasurer’s Report for March 2011.  The opening balance was $94,172.97and there was an interest payment of $.73. There was a disbursement of $360 to Roberta Weiner for transcription of the January minutes (check #1198); $250 to Roberta Weiner for transcription of the February minutes (Check #1201), leaving a balance of $93,563.77. Motion: Mr. Crews moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to accept the March 2011 Treasurer’s Report as presented. The motion passed without objection.

Motion:  Mr. Richardson moved/ Ms. Wirt seconded motion to allocate $216 for funds for the transcription of the March minutes. The motion passed without objection.  Motion: Mr. Richardson moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to approve a payment of $1,974 to Fagon Publications for a 1/8 page monthly ad in the Hill Rag to announce 6C committee meetings and encourage community participation.  The motion passed without objection. Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Silver seconded a motion to allocate $325 for the production and printing of flyers for an Emancipation Day event for Mr. Silver.  The motion passed without objection.

  1. Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee 

Because of the number of people present to speak on the 601-645 H Street NE issue issue, Ms. Wirt moved the committee report to this place in the agenda.


601-645 H Street NE

This is a request for a two-year extension for a variety of special exceptions and variances to allow an addition that increases the gross floor area of an existing building by more than 50% on a lot that has 6,000 sq. ft. or more of land area in the H Street Neighborhood Commercial Overlay District in the HS/C-2-C Districts at 601-645 H Street NE.

Committee Chairman Rob Amos presented the report of what had transpired at the committee meeting.  Chip Glasgow of Holland & Knight, representing the developer, Mr. Camalier, the owner of the property, told the committee they were requesting the delay because of their inability to obtain financing for the project.  He said that under the criteria stated in the law, the applicant has met the conditions for the delay:  an extension request dated March 29, 2011 was served on the ANC.  He said there are no changes in the facts on which the Board based its original decision, and there are no changes to the development, approved in April 2007.

He said that the request for the extension must be filed one month before the expiration date of the last extension, which is August 21, 2011. This is actually the second request for an extension, which was filed and approved before a change in the regulations that says only one extension may be requested.  The first extension was approved without the “one extension” language, and the second one is being requested with the “one extension” stipulation in the regulations.   Briefly, they are allowed one extension under the old rules, and one under the new.

According to Mr. Amos, while the committee understood that the applicant met the criteria for the extension, there were committee members and community members who felt that the neighborhood should be able to weigh in on the project and an extension should not be granted until the residents have an opportunity to voice their opposition.

Mr. Crews pointed out that the first approval was in April 2007, and Monte Edwards further said that the vote on the merits of the project was in 2006, five years ago.  He pointed out that the BZA had changed the rules and things do change over time and he asked whether the Commission had looked at the impact of the project on the light and air of adjacent projects developed since then.

Hillary Axum, whose house abuts the property and was very involved in 2006, asked the ANC to consider whether there has been significant change in the neighborhood, which is a reason for limiting the extension. She said a lot has changed, and there has to be an examination of those changed circumstances.  Additionally, new residents of the neighborhood had not been given adequate notice about the extension request.

Donna Jean Ward, who lives at 731 6th Street NE, asked about changes in the plan, and it was reiterated that there were none.

Randy Kenna said that the neighborhood is just coming together on this, because they had not heard about it last week.  He said the discussion should go to the design and its suitability, not to the underlying reasons.

Curt Groeninger  said there are two potential outcomes: win-lose and win-win, the former in which the development will continue and it’ll be okay, and the latter, with a time delay that will give consideration to the community.

Larry Gallo, 728 6th Street, and has lived there for 38 years, said there are changed circumstances, and the neighbors know how the neighborhood has changed—there have been extraordinary changes, including the trolley car.  The first time it was developed as a condominium project, which is great for bringing home owners to the neighborhood, and it’s been changed to a rental, and that needs full discussion.  The neighborhood should be allowed to comment.

Cory Petree, 518 G Street, said that the trolley is changed circumstances, as are the traffic lights and the surge in registration at Ludlow-Taylor School.

Roosevelt Taylor, 717 6th Street, raised the issue that the construction management agreement had not been signed.  He also mentioned that he had only found out about this five days ago, and that he and his Aunt Goldie don’t know anything about the changes.

Quincy Rivers, 704 7th Street said he’s only been in the neighborhood for three years, and would love the opportunity to find out about the project.

Georgina Ardelan said that she too has only been here for three years, and there are new commissioners as well.  She said she’s not against the building, only against a bad building.  She said there has been no transparency, and she’s never seen any drawings or plans.

Mr. Glasgow pointed out that Mr. Camalier had allowed the parking lot to be used as the Farmers’ Market free of charge, and the property is in much better condition since he has owned it.  He said that a good part of the problem is that the District won’t let them know whether they will retain their lease on the office space, and it’s hard to get financing without some knowledge of whether the rent will be paid, and it’s a real problem.  He also said he would look into the construction agreement, because if it’s in place they can look at the houses and assess the pre-construction conditions.  He remembers that a sticking point was that the neighbors were asking for a $20 million repair account.

Mr. Crews asked about any changes in the building and Mr. Glasgow re-iterated that there were none, and that he was adamant that the residential units were going to be condominiums and would not be rental units.

Mr. Crews said he would support asking the BZA to not support the extension.

Mr. Hamilton pointed out that when the project was initially planned, Ludlow-Taylor School was on its last legs and was close to shutting down, but in the past five years with the changes in the community, the school now has more potential students than it can handle, and with that there is a substantial increase in traffic with drop-offs and pick-ups, and a large number of small children using the streets during the day.

Mr. Wilsey said that he completely supports Mr. Hamilton on Ludlow-Taylor and the project should be reconsidered taking the school into account.  Ms. Phelps asked what is different than seven years ago, and now just because registration is up the entire project has to be reconsidered?  Mr. Dixon asked whether the developer would listen to the ideas the community had for changes while the extension is in effect.  Mr. Glasgow said that of course they would listen, but originally there had been substantial redesign, a change in the FAR and many other things to accommodate community concerns, and it was very expensive.

Ms. Phelps said that the ANC had dealt with a number of extensions over the past three years, since the financial situation had changed. All the ANC has asked is whether the developer has been a good neighbor and has been keeping up the property.  If the ANC follows the same track with this case, an extension would be approved without any problem.  She said she was concerned about opening a box that took considerable effort to get to its final shape.  There were seven or eight groups working on the project, and it was a major success for everyone.

Motion:  Mr. Crews moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion that the ANC advise the BZA to not grant an extension because there have been substantial changes in the neighborhood since the project was originally approved.

Monte Edwards, of the Stanton Park Neighborhood Association said that if Mr. Glasgow asked to withdraw the request and it was resubmitted, that would take care of it. Mr. Glasgow strongly responded that he would “not have this case go down the tubes” and would make sure the extension was approved without the ANC’s support.

Ms. Phelps said the ANC should find a way to make everyone feel heard.  The BZA hearing is May 17th, and ANC comments have to be filed ten days before that on May 7th.  The ANC could call a special meeting the first week in May, if there is a commitment of at least five commissioners to attend.

Mr. Crews said that he wanted to encourage the spirit of the motion and not granting an extension might encourage the developers to meet with the neighbors prior to the hearing date. The motion failed 2-5-1, with Commissioners Crews and Hamilton in favor and Commissioner Wilsey not voting.

Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to hold a special ANC meeting before May 6th to further discuss the project at 600-645 H Street NE.  The motion passed 7-0-1 with Commissioner Wilseynot voting.

450 K Street NW

This is a request for support of a BZA application for three variances and a special exception for a thirteen story residential building at 450 K Street NW.  The ANC had previously given its support to the concept design for the building.  Paul Millstein of Douglas Developers represents the developers.  This is a residential development with ground floor retail.

The special exception requested is from the roof structure requirements.  In order to maximize roof-top amenities for the tenants and to maximize the light and air to the apartments, it is difficult to meet the roof structure requirements, and, as a result, some of the roof structure setbacks are less than the minimum requirements.

The zoning variances requested include two variances from the rear yard requirements, reducing the required space.  There is also a request for a variance from the loading requirements because there is not a sufficient amount of turning space in alleys leading to the two loading docks.

Mr. Amos reported that the committee was pleased with changes that have been made with the design of the building based on HPRB feedback. Motion: Mr. Silver moved/Mr. Wilsey seconded a motion to support the committee’s recommendation that the ANC support the applicant’s request before the BZA for the special exception and three variances as requested.  The motion passed without objection.

705 6th Street NW

This is a request for support of a BZA application for a variance for relief from the rear yard, off-street parking, and minimum residential floor area requirements to allow the construction of a new three-story commercial building for restaurant use at 705 6th Street NW.

This is currently a vacant lot and will be a Thai restaurant.

Zoning variances sought are:

  1. Relief from rear yard requirement – in order to meet rear yard requirement of 15’, the rear walls would need to be moved which would change the location of the trash room and rear stairway, reducing the amount of usable commercial space for the building. Moving the trash room to outside the rear wall would have an adverse impact to neighboring properties.
  2. Off-street parking requirements of two parking spaces. Adding parking to the project would diminish the amount of usable commercial space impacting the economic feasibility of the project and design. The location is 700 feet from the Gallery Place and 800 feet from the Judiciary Square Metro stops and there are sufficient surface level parking spaces in the area.
  3. Residential floor area requirement of 4.5 FAR (9,562.5 square feet). This would require underground parking, five stories, an elevator, mechanical core and two exits. Small lot size and narrow width would create unusable residential units.

Motion: Mr. Wilsey moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s recommendation to support the BZA application for variances for rear yard, off-street parking and residential floor area requirements for a building at 705 6th Street NW.  The motion passed 7-1 with Commissioner Crews in opposition.

301 Massachusetts Avenue NE

This is a request for support for a Historic Preservation concept application for a seating area enclosure at 301 Massachusetts Ave. NE.

Joe Reger, the new owner of the building which houses the White Tiger restaurant, is seeking to improve the property at 301 Massachusetts Avenue NE by making interior changes as well as exterior changes. The applicant plans to move the kitchen to the first floor (from the second floor) and make changes to the trash storage area. Changes to the trash storage area should address some of the ongoing concerns with trash along 3rd Street.

Exterior changes include adding a covered seating area along Massachusetts Avenue and two new enclosed seating areas along 3rd Street.  Existing exterior decking and planters would be removed, new metal fencing would be installed to separate seating area from Massachusetts Avenue as well as new planting areas and a retractable awning over the new seating area.

The new enclosure would be 11’ wide and would have new plantings along 3rd Street. Trash receptacles would be hidden behind a wooden fence and would not be in plain sight. A trash storage area would be downstairs to maintain the trash between pickups.

A petition of support and messages of non-support have been received by the Commission and Committee.  The issue is still to be heard by the ANC 6C Transportation and Public Space Committee.  CHRS in their April 2011 meeting minutes expressed concerns with the concept and proposed enclosures. These were in line with some of the comments made by the PZE Committee members. The PZE Committee was split on the reasons why the concept should not be approved as presented:

  1. Planned alterations and enclosure were inconsistent with the character of the neighborhood and historic district.
  2. There is insufficient information on whether the move of the kitchen to the first floor would require additional venting which may impact neighboring residents.
  3. The fence on roof covering venting appeared to be simple wood roof; the committee felt other materials of design elements could be used to remove the look of it being just a fence covering the venting.
  4. Allowing the sliding glass doors at the rear section of the 3rdStreet enclosure would increase noise for neighboring residents.  The committee asked for that area to be glass enclosed and not have doors that can be opened.

Jan Lambertz, who lives behind the building, is opposed to the structure, which is over two feet higher than the current fence.  She said that Mr. Reger has not addressed concerns about noise, and there are no guarantees that the glass door will remain closed,

Drury Tallant said that the current plan is a distinct improvement, but the plan should be kicked back to the committee so the neighbors can be heard from.

Mark Eckenweiler said he seconds Mr. Tallant’s view.  He said there is a misimpression being left about the location of the trash room and it is being used as a bargaining chip.  It isn’t, it’s an obligation to make the space look clean.  He said he was not asking that there be no dumpsters, but that they’re properly hidden.

Drew Poncher, 400 Massachusetts Avenue NE.  said he’s been in the neighborhood for six years, and believes that 8th Street has become a little Disneyland, but this design supports the needs of the neighbors. He said it looks good and he supports the project.

Elizabeth Gardner said she is favor of the sanitation and the aesthetic of the project, but not size. The landlord avoided the neighbors who are closest.  She said she was unaware until that day, and moving any restaurant enlargement on Third St. forward 16 feet would create a problem.

Bobbi Krengel added that the shape of the project makes certain rights of the owner trump the rights of the constituents.

Mr. Reger said that the lease with White Tiger has five years to go, and there are no plans to change the restaurant any way, but he wants to make the changes sooner rather than later.  Motion: Mr. Crews moved/Mr. Silver seconded a motion to advise HPRB that the ANC approves the additions to the site at 300 Massachusetts Avenue NE.

Ms. Phelps asked why the covered additions were on 3rd Street.  Mr. Reger responded that HPRB will not approve them on Massachussetts Avenue because it is considered a main thoroughfare in the historic district and must be uncluttered.  There is a concern about how far into public space it goes.  Ms. Phelps said it seems that it would be more appropriate if Massachusetts Ave. was covered. Mr. Crews said that HPRB won’t approve the concept because it doesn’t fit in with the historic character of the neighborhood.

The vote failed 3-3-2, with Commissioners Crews, Hamilton and Silver in favor of the motion, Commissioners Phelps, Hamilton and Wilsey opposed, and Dixon and Richardson not voting.

Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Crews seconded a motion to request that HPRB delay consideration of the project so that it can be sent back to the committee for further consideration.  The motion passed without objection.

SeVerna Phase 2 (1st and K Streets NW)

This is a request for a map amendment for Square 621 SeVerna and Golden Rule Apartments to enable the area designated for the high-rise phase to be rezoned from C-2-A to C-2-C.  This is the project that is being developed by Mission First along with Golden Rule Apartments, Inc. (Bible Way Church).

Phase 1 is currently under construction with 60 units, and the zoning change will enable Phase II to be up to 90 feet (from 50 feet) with an increase in FAR from 2.5 to 6.

Motion: Mr. Silver moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to support the committee’s recommendation to support the applicant’s request for a map amendment for Square 621. The motion passed 8-0-0.

  1. Community Announcements

Festival of Building Arts – September 17

Ellen Jackman of the National Building Museum presented information on the annual Festival of the Building Arts to take place at the National Building Museum on September 17th.  They are requesting support for street closings in the 400 block of F Street NW for demonstrations of building crafts.  Motion: Mr. Wilsey moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to support the request for the closing of F Street on September 17th. The motion passed without objection.

  1. Community Outreach

Sankofa International Baptist Church Grant

Mr. Crews reported that he did not yet have an answer from the Auditor’s office as to whether the $307 grant request for trophies for various teams participating in a cheerleading competition was acceptable.  It was suggested that the grant be approved contingent on approval by the Auditor’s Office.  Ms. Phelps reiterated her view that the ANC too often does that.  Motion: Mr. Dixon moved/Mr. Silver seconded a motion to approve a grant of $307 to Sankofa Baptist Church for trophies, contingent on the approval of the Office of the DC Auditor. The motion passed 7-0-1, with Ms. Phelps not voting.

  1. Education

Mr. Hamilton reported that he had a walk-through of the Logan School, between 2nd and 3rd Streets, which will be re-opening in August as a Montessori school. He said there will be nine classrooms, a cafeteria, break room, teachers lounge, etc.  The school will have 211 students, but much of the facility will remain not renovated.  They are being a good neighbor, working with DDOT on parking.  He said it’s a continuation of the positive thrust at DCPS, and commented that the parents are getting more involved.  He said that a good school is not a matter of money, but of parental resolve.

  1. Transportation and Public Space Committee

Kaiser Permanente Drop-Off Lane

This is a request for support from Kaiser Permanente for support for a drop-off lane outside their building on 2nd Street NE.  The building was not originally designed as a medical building, and there is currently no safe drop-off lane at the front of the building. Kaiser Permanente and the Dreyfus Company have presented three plans to DDOT:

A:  This was presented to DDOT in 2010 and they said no: There would be 60’ foot drop-off zone on the west side of the street, with no parking on that side of 2nd Street at any time.  In order to facilitate movement on the street, there would be a loss of 16 parking spaces.

B: There would be a 60’ No parking zone, with a fire hydrant and zebra stripes at the end of the block.  There would be no parking on the west side, but there would be only five parking spaces removed from the east side.

C: Similar to B, except that there would be no parking on the east side, which would remove 15 spaces, and there would be a turn lane at the garage entrance.

Jim Cheeks of DDOT said that B is a compromise solution and that DDOT has met with Kaiser and told them that they would suggest B.  He said that DDOT would not do any of the work, and that Kaiser would pay for it, but that DDOT would oversee it.  In answer to a question he said that a cost to Kaiser would be the removal of the parking spaces—there are no meters there now—they were removed during construction, but they will be returned eventually.

At the committee meeting there was discussion about the use of an H Street entrance for patients but it was rejected because the entrance was not tall enough to handle Mertro Access vans, and there was too long a walk from the entrance to the front desk to make it viable for many patients.

There was discussion about doing a traffic study of the area, and Jim Cheeks of DDOT said that normally a tenant like Kaiser does a detailed traffic plan for their building.  He said doesn’t have one for that building, and there has been no request for a traffic study as well.  Dreyfus said there had been a study done by Martin Wells prior to the block’s occupancy.  However, at that time the building was not planned to be a medical building.  There was discussion about the ANC requesting a traffic study of the future of the area.

The Committee voted to support the B option; (loss of five spaces) and to work with DDOT to seek a long-term traffic study of the area.  The motion passed unanimously.

At the start of the discussion at the ANC meeting, Kaiser said that beginning that week, its employees would begin to use the H Street entrance to alleviate the 2nd Street traffic and Dreyfus said they had commissioned a traffic study update, including the impact of the new Montessori school.  They said that the B option was ideal for its members, with its long drop-off.

Bob Bronholer of Dreyfus said that the PUD requires updates of the traffic plan so that changes get caught as they come on line.  He was asked whether the shuttle bus from the North Capitol Street building was being kept, and he said that it was not.

Mr. Richardson pointed out that security would be needed to monitor the drop off and was told that it would be there at all times.

Mr. Tallant said that this only addresses a small part of the problem, and he raised the issue of the parking lot at the end of the block.  He said he wanted to send a message loudly and clearly that this is only the beginning of what has to be done.

Mr. Bronholer said that they are in the process of applying for permits to re-do the lot, to grade it and make it more attractive.

Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Richardson seconded a motion to support Option B for a drop-off point for Kaiser Permanente members, including the removal of five parking spaces, and work to implement a traffic study of the entire area.  The motion passed without objection.

Ms. Phelps raised the issue of several houses that have been torn down, saying that it would have been possible to make them look as though they had people living in them, and said that the developers “know better than tearing things down without the knowledge of the ANC.

Kushi – 465 K Street NW

This is a request for support of outdoor seating for Kushi, a Japanese restaurant at 465 K Street NW.  Thom Flynn, representing the establishment, said they were applying to have 17 tables with 65 seats outside.  Mr. Silver said that it was a fine business and should be supported.  Motion: Mr. Silver moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to support the public space application of Kushi for outdoor seating.  The motion passed without objection.

Sidamo – 417 H Street NE

No one was present from the establishment, which has an application pending for outdoor seating, and so the Commission voted 7-0-1 to take no position on the matter.

Fiola – 678 Indiana Avenue NW

This is a request for support of valet parking at this Italian restaurant.  Its address is on Pennsylvania Avenue, but the entrance is on Indiana Avenue.  There will be a one-space staging area, and they have contracted with U Street Parking to manage the parking, which will be in a garage at 7th and F Streets NW  MotionMr. Wilsey moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to support the request for valet parking for Fiola.  The motion passed without objection.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:15 p.m.