Monday, September 12, 2011

Plan Revived for Live-Work Artist Lofts Near U Street

A plan to build funky artist loft space on a vacant lot at 1932 9th Street, NW in the U Street neighborhood, was shelved two years ago (rendering at left is from 2009). Now, a slightly slimmed down version of the plan has been revived, and will be taken to the Historic Preservation Review Board next week.

The property owner and developer, Paul So, purchased the property in July of 2008 for $1.4 million, and commissioned Greg Kearley of Inscape Studio to design an eco-friendly building with several aspects - passive solar design, green roof, and rainwater capturing system - ensuring that the project would achieve or exceed LEED Platinum standards. So is co-director for the Center for Neural Dynamics at George Mason University, and founder of the Hamiltonian Gallery.

Kearley didn't want to say much in advance of the HPRB meeting, but said that although the retail and residential project was put on hold, it was never deserted.

Before the plan was tucked away in 2009, a few doubts were raised over the project's economic feasibility, considering a large component of the 5- and 3-story building would be artist lofts asking characteristically low rents. Also, the concept in 2009 was already a slightly scaled back version of the initial 6-story design (5-story with a penthouse).

The new plan being brought before the HPRB next week is for a 4-story building with ground-floor retail; details are few as the staff report by senior preservation planner Steve Callcott will be completed this Friday, the 16th.

The HPO report in October of 2009 was also done by Callcott who then recommended, "that the Review Board approve the design direction of the building on 9-1/2 Street, and direct the applicant to restudy the direction of the building on 9th Street to improve its compatibility with the surrounding context."

At that time, in a 9-0 vote, the HPRB "approved the scale and mass of the building on 9-1/2 Street, and directed the applicant to restudy the fenestration, ensure that the occupied portion of the roof deck is pulled back from the street, and further work on the design to improve its visual interest... [and] directed the applicant to restudy the design direction of the building on 9th Street to improve its compatibility with the surrounding context, particularly with regard to its height and scale."

Washington D.C. real estate development news


Anonymous said...

I think this design is perfect for the space and provides such a great service providing much needed affordable housing for creative individuals. I am so tired of the ANCs and HPRBs thwarting DC's growth into a vibrant, dynamic, truly "world-class" urban atmosphere. There needs to be another voice in the process.

Anonymous said...


i mean how much more simmered-down can you get, anyway. im sure itll end up being LAME thanks to the ANC and HPRB..

Anonymous said...

What makes a neighborhood is the culture, not the buildings. If it where the buildings, then the tenament riddled Grenwich Village would never have become the Bohemian enclave it once was.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure tenements are why the "Bohemians" were there, but they have been replaced with BoBo's in new shiny buildings.

brian said...

as a commercial artist that's been in the U St neighborhood since the late 80s, i can say the rendering looks very cool. but as with every fancy new "urban artist loft space", the big question is: will any artists actually be there? or be able to afford to work or live there? Gold Leaf artspace near chinatown held out as long as they could, but will finally succumb this year.

Anonymous said...

I think it would be a nice addition to the neighborhood. Adds some variety.

Anonymous said...

The height is ridiculous and will loom darkly over the rest of the block. Someone is getting paid off if this design goes through. The block is trashed already because too many restaurants are crammed into residential rowhouses. There's a reason why DC was designed with commercial blocks near residential. It works.


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