Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Georgia Avenue's Beacon Center Gets its Wings


Tally another mixed-use development for the Almighty, as religious groups around the District seem to have a leg up in building these days (Bethesda church, Clarendon church). Following a long and contentious Zoning review process, and following several trying meetings with the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) and the National Park Service (NPS) concerning the project's potential effects upon the neighboring Fort Stevens, the Emory United Methodist Church Beacon of Light in Brightwood received Board approval in the early Spring, and are finally ready to move forward with their Beacon Center project.

Granted a raze permit for 6120 Georgia Ave, NW late last week, neighbors can expect demolition and construction to begin shortly.
The $30 million development, designed by PGN Architects, will offer 180,000 s.f. of multipurpose housing and various congregational and community facilities. The Beacon Center will supply transitional spaces (24 units) in an effort to aid the homeless work toward permanent residency. Also in the works are 34 units for seniors citizens, 17 units reserved for veterans, and 16 affordable rentals. A college-sized indoor multi-sport gymnasium (basketball and soccer) and rec center will be available to the surrounding community. The aggressive expansion will also feature a full service banquet facility, office space for the church and for lease, senior citizens services (such as optometrist, podiatrist, etc.) and ground-floor retail. Additionally the current sanctuary (doubling as a community theater) will be renovated and expanded to 500 seats. Patrons will have access to roughly 100 underground parking spaces and several rows of bike spaces.

Sean Pichon,
a Partner at PGN Architects, said his firm has been especially challenged by the need to adjust their designs to the steep grade of the property. Other difficulties included maintaining the "view corridors" and balancing the affordability of the project with the goal of an attractive and congruous facade. Working hard to best the obstacles, designers created features like "curved green roofs" over the retail space to create and "continue the imagery of the hillside." To allow for views from Georgia Avenue his team situated the main entrance on the side road, Quackenbos; this maneuver also enabled multiple access points and preserved the historic stairs leading up to the old church.
Not all were satisfied, however, as the NPS and Civil War Preservation Trust wrote strong letters of opposition, contending that "the proposed five-story wall along Old Piney Branch Road would create a significant visual intrusion on the fort." Opponents also voiced concern that "the Beacon Center’s overall size and floor plan [read too big]...would have an adverse impact on Fort Stevens and subsequently the other remaining Circle Forts." But the representatives of the Church, including the Pastor, convinced Zoning Board members that they had made significant and genuine efforts at compromise, with the Board ultimately deciding that the overall positives of the project outweighed what little impact the building might have on its neighbors. Instead of a reduction in height and massing, NPS will have to settle for 359 square feet in the new building, reserved for their use as a welcome center/gift shop to "educate and promote the history of Fort Stevens." Reenactors and Fort Stevens staff can imagine the impending sounds of the Bozzuto-lead demolition and construction as the distant rumblings of the long ago battles.

Washington D.C. Real Estate Development News

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

They've applied for a raze permit but none has been issued by DCRA.
You can verify here:
http://pivs.dcra.dc.gov/property/search

Anonymous said...

As ho-hum as the buildings seem they can only help enliven what is an incredibly dead strech of Georgia Avenue.
Mr. Gray, build that dang trolley!

Critically Urban on Nov 3, 2010, 10:26:00 AM said...

To check permit status you have to go to the permit status site. You can see there were two permits applied for and accepted by DCRA in August.

http://cpms.dcra.dc.gov/OBPAT/idjob.aspx

Anonymous said...

PIVS
http://pivs.dcra.dc.gov/property/search
shows issued permits only--it is the place to go if you want to see issued permits. Many permits applied for are never issued.
OBPAT
http://cpms.dcra.dc.gov/OBPAT/idjob.aspx
shows status of permits under review -- old/new/abandoned.

Anonymous said...

This is hideous. Shame on Bozzuto and the district for letting something so crappy get their approval.

Anonymous said...

yeah, PGN Architects are very underwhelming, but they must be cheaper than other more talented architects in the city.

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