Last week, the Historic Preservation Review Board denied approval for a proposed residential and retail project featuring live-work artist lofts at 1932 9th Street NW and requested a significant "modification to the massing" of the 4-story building; a reduction-in-density request that threatens the project's viability.
Regardless, owner/developer Paul So remains committed to the project, and will continue to work with HPRB through project architect Greg Kearley of Inscape Studio to come up with a suitable design that will be deemed compatible with its surroundings in the Historic U Street District locale.
As one Board member pointed out, however, the inability of the project to blend in comes from both its size, given its location on a double-wide (36') lot in the midst of singles, and its style, which is distinctly modern.
The project was first denied by the HPRB in 2009, and subsequently shelved for economic reasons. The current, revised design, in addition to being one story shorter and with compressed floor heights, includes several other changes in appearance from two years ago: recessed balconies, the addition of a cornice, a modified storefront, a change in color of cladding tiles, a pulled back roof deck on 9-1/2 Street (the back, alley side of the lot) the relocation of a stairway, and submerged mechanical functions.
Though Kearley said "the changes [made] were very specific to the concerns raised by the Board in December of 2009," the Board still felt that the height, two stories higher than immediate neighbors, was not appropriate, and that the design was not quite right.
One option available to the developer in order to save his investment, which is currently being considered, is to "get a zoning variance on the occupancy ratio as to extend the back end of the building on top of the originally proposed parking spaces [to] potentially gain back more marketable square footage lost from the height restriction."
So purchased the property in July of 2008 for $1.4 million, and in 2009 a few doubts were raised over the project's economic feasibility, considering a large component of the building would be artist lofts asking low rents. While there will be artist live-work lofts clustered toward 9-1/2 Street, there will also be market-rate apartments included in the project, and ground-floor retail.
Washington D.C. real estate development news