June 2011

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6C

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Heritage Foundation

214 Massachusetts Avenue NE

Present: Commissioners Dixon, Hamilton, Phelps, Richardson, Silver, Wilsey and Wirt

Absent: Commissioner Crews

The meeting was convened at 7:00 p.m.

  1. Agenda

Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/ Mr. Hamilton 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 accept the minutes as presented.  The motion passed without objection.

  1. Treasurer’s Report

Mr. Richardson delivered the Treasurer’s Report.  It showed an opening balance of $95,728.88.  There was an interest payment of $0.81.  Checks were written for $280 to Roberta Weiner for taking and transcribing minutes for the April meetings (Check #1208); and $162 to DC Access for annual web hosting payment (Check #1207), leaving a balance in the checking account of $95,237.69. Mr. Richardson also presented requests for allocations of $252 to Roberta Weiner for transcription of the May minutes and $357 for cheerleading trophies for Mr. Airy Church, which had been approved by the DC Auditor.  Motion:Ms. Phelps moved/Ms. Wirt seconded a motion to approve the Treasurer’s Report as presented. The motion passed without objection.

  1. Community Announcements

Light the Night Walk – October 16

Julie Hanson, representing the Light the Night Walk for Leukemia on October 16th, presented information on the event, which will be held from 5 pm to midnight. The event had been reviewed and approved by Mr. Wilsey, in whose SMD the event will be located  Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to send a letter of support for the event to the Emergency Management  Agency. The motion passed 6-0-1, with Mr. Silver abstaining.

  1. Alcoholic Beverage Committee

The Kitchen on K Street

This is a request for support for a liquor license for the Kitchen on K Street, a new restaurant located at 250 K Street NE, and operated by chef Gillian Clark.  Ms. Phelps, in whose SMD the establishment is located, previously reviewed and approved the application.  Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to accept the committee’s recommendation and support the license application for the Kitchen on K Street.  The motion passed without objection.

  1. Youth and Education Committee

Mr. Hamilton presented the Mission statement the committee had prepared.  Ms. Phelps commended Mr. Hamilton for taking the lead in writing a mission statement and encouraged the other committees to do the same.  Motion:  Mr. Hamilton moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to approve the mission statement of the Education and Youth Committee.  It passed without objection.

Mission Statement of Youth and Education Committee

It is the mission of the Youth and Education Committee to work within the construct of the ANC to provide subject matter expertise on youth and education issues as it relates to the neighborhood by working within and communicating back to the community at large.  We plan to accomplish this mission by:

  • Formulating an executing strategiesfor community involvement and coordination with the DC Public School System, DC Charter School Board, local parent organizations, and any other groups that serve the youth of ANC 6C.
  • Raising public awareness in the ANC 6C area of the needs of early education, public play space, and needs of community youth.
  • Encouraging community members to submit applications for innovative neighborhood projects to receive grant funding.  Priority may be given to those projects that focus specifically on those subjects identified in the mission statement.
  • Drafting resolutions regarding youth and education for ANC 6C’s consideration and policy vote.
  1. Transportation and Public Space Committee

Mandu – 453 K Street NW

Committee chair Joe McCann reported that this is a request for a public space permit for an outdoor patio for Mandu, a Korean restaurant at 453 K Street NW.  Jesse Selvagn, a principal of the establishment, was present.  They are requesting six tables and 24 chairs for the outdoor space.  They will serve until 11 p.m., and they stop serving inside at midnight.

Mr. Silver expressed his concern that Taylor Gourmet is also serving alcohol with sidewalk on both sides of their patio.  Ms. Wirt pointed out that the Commission had already approved a permit for Kushi on the east side of Mandu.  He also expressed concern that people have to navigate these patios to get to their front door.  Mr. Selvagn pointed out that the front door of the building is 40’ from the restaurant, and that Busboys and Poets is larger, noisier and closer to the building.  Mr. Silver also asked whether Mandu will be doing financial transactions outdoors and was told they would. Mr. Dixon contended that the ANC did not weigh in on Taylor Gourmet and better lighting is needed on the block.

Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr.

Hamilton seconded a motion to accept the Committee’s report and support the request for an outdoor seating area at Mandu.  The motion passed 6-0-1, with Mr. Dixon abstaining.

District Department of the Environment – 1201 1st Street NW 

This was a brief presentation by Justin Thorne of Eco-Solutions, who talked about the new Department of the Environment building at 1201 1st Street NW and the steps the agency is taking to create an environmentally forward-looking building.  They will be collecting rainwater, and the build-out will be for a 100-year storm,  There will be no trees, but a series of vegetation zone and infiltration.  Ms. Phelps asked about the timeline on the building.  Mr. Thorne said the submission for permits will be at the end of June.  He also said that this is a model building and has never been done before. Ms. Phelps said it was exciting to see an agency “put its money where its mouth is.”

  1. Planning, Zoning and the Environment Committee

Committee chair Rob Amos gave the following report:

1232-1238 New Jersey Avenue NW

This is a request for support of a raze permit for three residential buildings at 1232-1238 New Jersey Avenue NW.  They are the property of the 3rd Street Church of God. The Church is asking to raze the three row houses in the Mount Vernon Square Historic district to add additional parking to their sanctuary and planned addition.

The addition to the existing sanctuary and accessory building came before HPRB and the ANC in July 2009, and was supported by both groups, although the plans that were approved by the ANC in July 2009 did not have the building located forward in the lot and a new curb cut. These changes were approved in the September 2009 HPRB Staff Report.

The church has owned these three vacant houses for over 20 years. They have been empty and not maintained. Pastor Cheryl Sanders, who was present, stated that maintaining the three properties has not been a priority for the Church – they have been placing their efforts on other development plans over the years.

The current parking lot for the church is not in compliance; it is a gravel lot, with no landscaping, and it encroaches on public space. With the construction of the addition, the existing parking lot must be brought into compliance and will result in a total of 17 parking spaces. [Currently they have 32 spaces – 8 of which are not in compliance.]  The church states that they were not aware until recently that they were not in compliance with the parking lot,

Letters opposing the razing of the buildings have been received and are included in this report. One neighbor, Si Kailian, owns property on 4th Street behind the buildings in question.

The committee recommended that the full ANC not support the raze permit,  The reasons included: 1) These three buildings have been neglected by the church for over 20 years and now they want to remove them so that they can add to a surface parking lot (Demolition by neglect).  2) These homes should have been renovated or sold years ago to provide housing in the area. 3) The church cannot now claim that they need additional parking spaces when two years ago when the addition project was first approved, it was for fewer parking spaces than the new plans for the addition provides – no requirement for additional parking was made at that time.

Rev. Sanders said they had an engineer assess the buildings, and they were unsafe even to be inspected.  Mr. Amos said he has spoken with HPRB and they are in favor of saving the building facades and rebuilding the structures.   Rev. Sanders said they have come to the ANC at the request of HPRB.

Mr. Amos said that the Mt Vernon Square community does not want the buildings razed.  Ms Phelps suggested that razing the buildings may not even be allowed by the Zoning Commission.

Mr. Dixon said they should be allowed to build their parking lot  Ms. Phelps said she supported the Committee’s recommendation. Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Mr. Hamilton seconded a motion to support the Committee’s recommendation and not support the request by the 3rd Street Church of God for a raze permit for the three residential structures at 1232-1236 New Jersey Avenue NW.

Ms. Phelps called to Mr. Silver’s attention his frustration at the number of parking lots being built over the past few years while the neighborhood was supposedly being revitalized.  Ms. Wirt said MPD is very good about letting people double park around churches on Sunday.

Rev Sanders and the Director of Church Operations said that they’ve been trying to work with the City and the neighbors for fourteen years.  Ms. Wirt said they should go to Zoning first to find out if they can do what they would like with that square of land or if they need a special exception.  Rev. Sanders said she had letter from DCRA saying they could raze the building.  Ms. Phelps said that the church has to go to BZA and apply for a special exception before anything else happens.

Ms. Phelps withdrew her motion.

Motion:  Mr. Dixon moved/Mr. Silver seconded a motion to approve a raze permit for 1232-1236 New Jersey Avenue NW.  The motion failed 3-3-1, with Commissioners Dixon, Silver and Richardson in favor, and Mr. Richardson abstaining.

Ms. Wirt said that the action is up to the church, and they should check with BZA to find out what the status is.  Mr. Richardson said that things are at a stalemate now, and when things are clarified the ANC can proceed.

704 3rd Street NW

This is a request for support for an HPRB concept design for a mixed-use hotel/residential project consistent with the height, bulk, and massing of the office project approved in concept at 704 3rd Street NW by HPRB in 2008.  Representing the developer were Andi Adams, Goulston and Storrs; Sacha Rosen, an architect; and Stuart Zuckerberg, the building’s owner.

The project includes restoration of the G and 3rd Street and alley facades of the Harrison and new construction on the adjacent vacant lot; the design is preliminary but still consistent with the previously approved design concept.  The property has been vacant for over eight years and gone through several owners and years of neglect.  The current owner has had the property for less than a year and wishes to restore the landmark building. The applicant explained that the existing interior structure and west wall of the Harrison are so severely deteriorated and compromised that they must be replaced, and that the new structural system will maintain the existing floor locations and not be visible from the exterior. The main entrance to the hotel will be in the new construction on G Street. The existing at-grade entrance on 3rd Street will serve as an entrance to a restaurant/bar, a hotel-related amenity.  The committee asked if there would be a vehicular drop-off at the hotel entrance and the applicant explained that the sidewalk is not wide enough for a drop-off and that drop off will occur at the existing curb line; the committee then noted that because G Street is not planned as a vehicular thoroughfare across the I-395 Air Rights project such a drop off would not cause undue traffic at this location.

During the presentation, the committee made several requests:

  1. Asked that a bike room be included in the project, and the applicant agreed to provide one.
  2. Suggested the use of masonry detailing compatible with the historic building.
  3. Requested that the top of the new building be given further study, perhaps to add architectural detailing that reinforces a base-middle-top ordering of the façade.

Mr. Amos reported that the committee supported the proposed hotel/residential use and found it preferable to office use, and  supported the height, bulk, and massing of the design concept, including the previously approved zoning variances necessary to achieve that design.

Additionally the applicant volunteered to return to the committee and the ANC should HPRB request significant design revisions; and to return to the committee and the ANC prior to its BZA hearing to more fully present the nature of the variances being sought.

 Motion: Mr. Wilsey moved/Ms. Phelps seconded  a motion to support the committee’s recommendation to support the concept plan at HPRB for 704 3rd Street NW. The motion passed 7-0.

901 New Jersey Avenue NW

Mr Amos stated that this was a non-voting item, as Mr. Silver objected to any official consideration of this property, which is the site of a proposed Ward 6 Walmart when there is “no opportunity for debate, approval or disapproval” of the project as a totality, and the meeting was officially adjourned.

There was, however, an informal presentation by the developer for those committee members and residents who remained.

Highlights included:

  1. Development Scope
  • 300 residential units
  • 85,000SF of retail including 40,000SF of grocery/pharmacy use and 10,000SF of neighborhood- serving, street level retail on H Street
  • A Capital Bikesharelocation near 1st and H Street intersection – which received kudos from PZE Committee members
  • Reintroduce 1st Street, NW from H Street to I (Eye) Street
  1. H St retail bays are planned for small neighborhood serving retail (this will be a live/work/shop/play model)
  2. Construction is planned to start in January 2012 and be completed by December 2013
  3. The building will have a classic look – a contextual design that fits into the neighborhood. The Brick façade takes design cues from the GPO building and the Hartman-Cox building at 800 North Capitol (also developed by the Bennett Group).
  4. The developer has been working with Gonzaga to the North on shared plans for the culde sac that will lead to the larger truck loading bays. Smaller trucks have separate loading bays off First Street.
  5. Two stories of parking will be available below ground for both retail and residential usage; parking will be split between the two uses (one floor for tenants and one floor for retail)
  6. Those in attendance had concerns regarding the “blank walls” along the newly introduced First Street NW. Because of the substantial slope upward from H Street, this creates dead block space with high walls.  The committee suggested adding more windows and/or public art work to enliven the block.
  7. There will be some affordable set asides. Green standards will be adhered to but no LEED certification; but they are looking into storm water retention facilities.

Mr. Silver said that this is a polarizing situation—trying to reach a conclusion on under what conditions Walmart would be acceptable.  He said he was taking a pro-active approach and will have a timeline before the next ANC meeting.  He said this is not an anti-Walmart group, but one that will make certain demands.  “We’re not going to roll over and play dead,” he said.  Mr. Richardson gave kudos to Mr. Silver for all his efforts.

Ms. Phelps said she appreciated the discussion of the building, and it is important to be looking at the site because, while the tenant may change, the building will remain, so getting the best design matters.  She said she appreciated the committee’s trying to do that.

  1. Raze Permit Applications

406 K Street NE

Ms. Phelps said that there is a raze permit application pending for the property at 406 K Street NE.  The building is owned by Greenbaum and Rose, who also own two adjacent buildings. They have not done nothing to maintain the building in the past, a true case of demolition by neglect, and they should not be rewarded for being really bad neighbors. Motion: Ms. Phelps moved/Ms./ Wirt seconded a motion to oppose the granting of raze permit for 406 K Street NE.  The motion passed without objection.

426 3rd Street NE

Ms. Wirt said that this is an old run-down church with structural problems that is about to fall down.  It is a nonhistoric brick building with inexpensive stained glass.  Motion:  Ms. Wirt moved//Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to support the request for a raze permit for 426 3rd Street NE.  The motion passed 6-0-1, with Mr. Dixon abstaining.

  1. Bylaws Changes.

Ms. Wirt said that new language for the operation of committees has been needed, because the existing bylaw is inadequate.

Under this change each committee will adopt its own rules. Ms.  Phelps said that each committee will write a mission statement that will be ratified by the full Commission.  It will be reviewed once a year.  Mr. Wilsey asked about the balance of members.  Ms. Phelps said there will be an attempt to have balanced representation from each SMD. But that each SMD will have only one vote, and multiple members will have to reach a consensus on which one person from the SMD will vote.

She also mentioned that new language has been included to govern decorum at meetings.  Motion: Ms. Wirt moved/Ms. Phelps seconded a motion to accept the modified bylaws and their language including committee structure and meeting decorum. The motion passed without objection.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:55 p.m.