The companies presented preliminary plans to the Historic Preservation Review Board Thursday for input on the overall concept and support for moving a historic building and an alley way on the site to make way for two new buildings on the mostly empty lots.
While the board was mostly receptive to the idea for development including moving a historic building, members encouraged developers to make the building relate to the neighborhood. The property falls into the Uptown Destination District Plan, dubbed "DUKE," aimed at creating an arts and entertainment hub in the area of U and 7th streets. The plan identifies the vacant lots as a "gap" in the neighborhood.
“You, the architect and developer, have a responsibility to knit this neighborhood back together,” said board member Graham Davidson who expressed his interest in the project while reminding the developers of the expectation to create more than an iconic building. “There's a big hole in the neighborhood here."
Below: Brian Court of Miller Hull Partnership LLC presents plans for development at Florida Ave. and 8th St.
In an effort to both increase density and blend with the neighborhood, Brian Court, an associate with Miller Hull, explained that the buildings would decrease in height along 8th Street to transition into the mostly residential part of the neighborhood. The building is intended to have a modern feel while reflecting the overlaying arts district and the established urban community.
The HPRB wasn’t entirely convinced. Board members agreed that the project needed more consideration. Concerns included using building materials that fit well with surrounding buildings, reducing the size of the building as it approaches the smaller residential structures on adjacent properties, and generally making the project fit the community.
Steve Callcott, deputy preservation officer for the Historic Preservation Office who has been working with JBG on the project, said he wasn’t surprised by the board’s reactions to the proposal. Board reviews of projects like this one, he said, open the door for "back-and-forth" discussion and offers a developer some "general guidance and direction."
This development is not the first planned for the lots at Florida Avenue and 8th Street. Banneker Ventures previously planned to develop the site, but controversy surrounding the company's selection for several DC projects ultimately derailed those plans.
Washington D.C. real estate development news