Fresh on the heels of the Mayor's announcement that the Hill East redevelopment will soon get underway, Douglas Development is hatching its own project on Pennsylvania Avenue. Douglas, owner of the old Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) site on the corner of 15th and Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, has plans for a two-story office and retail project. But while the Mayor seems willing to take on neighborhood anti-development forces around the corner, Douglas plans only two stories in a low-density nod to local tastes. Zoning of the site allows the company to build up to four stories, but the developer’s feasibility study suggests a two-story structure that blends into the neighborhood in a curb to curb structure that eliminates the parking lot. Douglas will demolish the fast food restaurant and parking lot.
The catch? The maximum g.s.f. for the site is 10,915 s.f., and the developer is required to provide 28 parking spaces. The proposed building, designed by Bethesda-based GTM Architects, is, according to the developer's study, 13,499 s.f., with no parking. So it seems that Douglas needs the neighbors on its side in order to get past the ANC and the Board of Zoning.
According to Bert Randolph of ANC 6B, Douglas may not need to go through the Planned Unit Development (PUD) process; when the developer goes before the ANC, the Commission will review the proposal and make recommendations to oppose or approve the project. It will then go to the zoning board, at which time Randolph said neighborhood support becomes very important if the project is to grow wings.
As of now, the proposal outlines 6,413 s.f. retail space on the ground floor and 7,085 s.f. office space on the second floor; rising to only about 28 feet in height - not ruffling the feathers of the community. The developer will have to write a Memorandum of Understanding with the neighbors in order to dodge the parking and s.f. zoning requirements. Although the Penn Corridorians are in a position to bargain, the neighbors can’t become too bossy as the developer could easily increase the height or return the site to another KFC or other venue for fried fare. Douglas' game of chicken seems to be working, so far the neighborhood chatter has been mostly positive about the developer's intentions.
The next step is for the developer to go before the ANC on June 3rd. The KFC, part of the Yum! brand of restaurants, is one of 32,500 locations in the world. Soon to be 32,499, it seems.