The SPNA has been reviewing the project in an effort to resolve community agitation over the density of the development straddling both the row house neighborhood on 3rd Street and the commercial H street corridor. The project, which has been conservatively valued at over $150 million by sources close to the development process, has endured two and a half years of review, suffering major architectural critiquing from neighborhood and community organizations. Designers for the Capitol Place are encircled by three distinct architectural contexts: the row house architecture adjacent to the proposed structure on G and 3rd streets, the modernist Kevin Roche-design of the SEC building on the opposite side of the road and the stonework motif used in the creation of Senate Square on H Street. The Capitol Place project team is being encouraged to incorporate all three milieux into the design of the 390,000 - s.f. edifice by the local ANC; a daunting task that Zoning is still evaluating.
The dilemma surrounding the proposal has progressed into an unprecedented zoning quandary. The square on which Capitol Place construction is to take place is comprised of four separate zones: “R-4, which is a zone for attached residences or row houses, C-2-A and C-2-B where some commercial uses are permitted and building height restraints and construction density are limited and C-3-C with much larger height and density restrictions,” explained Drew Ronneberg, the Chair of Economic Development and Zoning Committee for ANC-6A. This is the only instance Ronneberg or the Zoning Commission could recall where R-4 and C-3-C zones were in effect on the same square.
Zoning for the Capitol Place building allows the project team to build up to 110 ft. in the most northwestern corner of the square, and permits a high density of construction to take place within those 10 stories. The zoning commission, however, has required the plan to incorporate a gradual decrease in height along H street, diminishing the structure to just 55 ft. at the easternmost point. The G street façade is proposed to shrink down to a stature of just 45ft in order to avoid dwarfing the flanking row houses. The zoning contrast is quite drastic, “It’s the only place in the city where zones for two to three story row houses, are sharing the same square that permits a 10 – 12 story building,” added Mr. Ronneberg, “They’ve done as good a job as you can to put a 389,000 s. ft. building on that lot.” Many sources close to the process think the two zones are incompatible, thus it is the zoning commission's movement to allow further community input; the record is now scheduled to close on October 22.