Saturday, October 18, 2008

Low Density, Low-Income for U Street Lot


The ever-changing U Street corridor is likely to receive another housing project - this time courtesy of the Public Welfare Foundation (PWF) and the Metamorphosis Development Group (MDG). The development team is planning on constructing 10 new, affordable houses on Temperance Court, NW - an alley between 13th and 12th Streets containing a surprisingly large (13,000 s.f.) vacant lot just steps from U Street and next to the Metro station.
Designed by Amy Gardner of Gardner Mohr Architects LLC, the single-family town homes envisioned for the site will be available to those making less than 60% of the Area Median Income and will include a mix of one and two bedroom floorplans.

Given Temperance Court's designation as a historically protected site, the development team has filed paperwork with Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) and expects notes on their plan in December. They’ll also be meeting with the local ANC board next week - the commissioner of which, coincidentally, lives adjacent to the alley. If everything goes according to plan, Metamorphosis expects to file for a Planned Unit Development (PUD) in December of next year, and to begin construction in late 2010.

The Temperance Court development marks the PWF’s first foray into affordable housing. According to their website, they typically provide grants for “scholarships and occupational training, medical equipment, [and] clinics.” But, according to Christopher Donald, Managing Partner of MDG, the project isn’t entirely out of their purview. “The project is kind of an anomaly, but because of the historic nature of the project, they wanted to return it to its former use to serve some of the same families that they would serve in other ways,” he said.
It should also be noted the PWF is headquartered at 1200 U Street, NW (AKA the “True Reformer Building”), a stone’s throw from Temperance Court. Not a bad commute to the job site.

Washington DC real estate development news

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am not sure if this might be the same alley-bound lot that Manna was trying to develop a few years ago, but was stopped because Zoning did not provide needed variance(s) for the project -- the alleys were not the minimum width of 30 feet.

I am hoping that someone can clarify.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, what a waste of land! 10 homes on 13,000 square feet in one of the most prime locations in the city? They could fit many more affordable homes in higher-density, mixed income design.

Jack said...

Agree with Anon 2. Huge space there, and to let it go for a few houses in a high-density, mixed income neighborhood that has been pushing for redevelopment - shame on the city if they approve such a waste of land.

IMGoph on Oct 20, 2008, 10:34:00 AM said...

i'm confused by your description of "detached" and "townhomes". isn't townhomes something that a lot of people use to describe "rowhouses"? so how the heck are they "detached" then?

in the end, there ought to be as many "rowhouses" as they can fit back there. more eyes on the "street" as it were...

JuxtaExposed.com on Oct 20, 2008, 12:47:00 PM said...

Ahh, the sweet smell of low density low income housing. Have we not all learned from the failed housing projects that abound this city? Up the density, mix the uses, mix the income, create a nice building that addresses the street and, as imgoph says, increases the eyes on the street. C'mon Professor Gardner, get creative with this high demand site.

Anonymous said...

Anon1 - Yes it is the same alley-bound lot that Manna got denied on previously. I'm all for new housing, but living inside a block with narrow alleys does not sound like fun or sound very safe.

IMGoph on Oct 20, 2008, 2:08:00 PM said...

just because you don't think it sounds fun, anon, doesn't mean others feel the same way as you. i've been to a few different alley dwellings in DC, and they're quite interesting, and i would go so far as to use "fun" in some instances.

as far as safety, what makes it unsafe? are you worried that this will be a draw for criminals? how would it be any different that any other short one-block road in the district?

Hunter on Oct 20, 2008, 4:52:00 PM said...

Here's a source I thought would be of interest. It's from the book, "Alley Life in Washington: Family, Community, Religion, and Folklife in the City, 1850-1970 (Blacks in the New World" by James Borchert (the full text is available on Amazon).

From page 190: "Others reported that Temperance Court was 'a center of drug traffic, prostitution and other types of crime. Home owners in the adjacent area report many petty thefts which they attribute to the court inhabitants."

Apparently, everything in the court was demolished in 1953.

Anonymous said...

I am confused. Manna's zoning variance request to construct housing in the alley was denied. Has the new development team obtained a zoning variance to build alley housing?

A Neighbor said...

It is the same property that Manna was unsuccessful in getting a zoning variance for. The neighbors (including me) were opposed to it for a variety of reasons. What should happen is that the owner of the property, Public Welfare Foundation, should move their parking lot from fronting on 12th to the inner Temperance alley property, thereby freeing the 12th St. frontage for about 6-8 townhouses which could house two condo's each or more with a variance I believe the neighbors would support. Putting housing on the STREET not the ALLEY is what should be done, but for some unknown reason, PW doesn't want to move their parking lot. They should be asked to provide good reasons before anyone thinks of granting them an variance.

Anonymous said...

It is quite a shame that this group would be allowed to build single family townhouses so close to a Metro station. A ten story building with ground floor commercial is much more appropriate for the District. Oil won't be $68 a barrel for long.

Anonymous said...

At grade parking lots on U Street in this vicinity are another huge waste. When will the District get it? If the new parking regs. are adopted by the Zoning Board hopefully they won't need to build any parking on a site adjacent to a subway station.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for everyone's responses regarding the zoning of the site. But there is still the unanswered question -- does this project have the necessary zoning variances that Manna did not obtain a few years ago when it tried to do the same thing -- construct rowhouses in the alley. Hunter --- perhaps you could do some homework and advise. Without the needed zoning variance(s), this project isn't going to happen.

Anonymous said...

It looks like the question about obtaining zoning variance(s) for this alley housing project will be remain unanswered, at least here.

 

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