A proposed five-story, 44-unit, residential building at 1412 Chapin Street received Zoning Commission approval Monday evening. The project joins two other planned developments, Nehemiah Center and 14 W (the latter two sitting idle, for now), in the Meridian Hill neighborhood, equidistant from the Columbia Heights and U Street Metro stations. Buwa Binite of Dantes Partners first submitted the PGN Architects-designed plan to the Zoning Commission in November 2009. Despite the approval, Binite is staying mum on any details about construction timelines.
The proposed building would replace a vacant lot that once held the Berkshire, a residential building larger than the proposed structure that burned down in 1996. The ground floor, which will include a community room, will occupy 100% of the available lot space, with the above-grade floors taking on a "U-shape" to occupy only 80% of the footprint. Most units will have a balcony and all residents will have access to a rooftop deck.
According to Jeff Goin a Partner at PGN Architects, the design for the building was a challenge, "it's a lot of competition for a project like this to keep it affordable, to kind of match the Solea, the Union - the PN Hoffman [project]. Other projects you see are high-end and quite articulate." In a neighborhood full of new luxury buildings, "the challenge is to meet some of the other newer designs and be competitive and also meet the constraints of affordable housing," explained Goin. The design uses banding of brick, masonry and metal panels, adding three large bays of metal panels to address the planned developments along the Eastern alley of the building. Along the hill on Chapin Street, the structure continues the masonry and metal closer to the planned Nehemiah building, but switches to brick facade "to have a contextual relationship" with the existing traditional structures more typical of Meridian Hill.
The proposed project will offer all rental units as affordable and the developer has agreed to provide a $50 SmartTrip card and subsidize membership fees for either a SmartBike or Zip Car membership for each unit upon move-in. Because of the site's proximity to the metro, below-grade parking will provide precisely 34 bicycle spaces (don't even try getting a 35th bike in there) and 17 car spaces, according to the zoning application.
The developer could file for construction permits over the course of the summer for work to begin in the fall, if Binite's comments at a community meeting last summer hold true.
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