Tuesday, May 01, 2012

AdMo Hotel Gets New Look, Pushes Forward


Plans for the hotel addition to the Adams Morgan Historic Hotel have a new look, a new design team - and no shortage of comments on both - at yet another Historic Preservation Review Board meeting.

The Board again will hear community testimony at its May meeting before making a decision about the plans to develop at the First Church of Christ Scientist building on Euclid Street. Dozens of residents attended the March and April meetings for their chance to speak, but two meetings was simply not enough time to hear them all. Another 45 minutes will be designated for the project in May when the Board might finally get its chance to ask some questions and cast a vote.

Barbara Mullenex, principal at OPX Global, presented its latest plans in March showing a more subdued, red brick masonry building with light steel windows behind the century-old church that itself is under consideration for historic landmark status. The new building is 90 feet tall on Euclid Street but steps back as the land slopes down 13 feet toward Champlain Street. A 3-floor, mostly glass, 28-foot hyphen joins the two buildings.
Click here for more renderings

Friedman Capital Advisors and national hotel developer Beztak Companies first introduced plans for a 180,000 s.f. "boutique hotel" four years ago. Marriott signed on to manage the hotel as part of the Edition line of boutique hotels created in conjunction with Ian Schrager's hyper-sophisticated brand. But Kevin Montano, head of development for Edition, said the developers terminated the Ian Schrager agreement several months ago.

The Adams Morgan Historic Hotel website still lists Marriott as the hotel management. Brian Friedman did not return calls or emails requesting information about the project.

New construction behind the (not yet designated) historic church will provide space for guest rooms, parking and other more private facilities. The church will be refurbished and repurposed for a restaurant, ballrooms and community room open to the public.

The Board provided concept review for the project in July and November of 2008 when Handel Architects presented a mostly glass building with colored panels. According to the latest Historic Preservation Office staff report:
"In its two concept reviews in June and November 2008, the Review Board offered a range of comments to improve the compatibility of the project. Those comments focused on: 1) increasing the distance and visual separation between the church and the addition; 2) ensuring the connection was light-weight in feeling and lower in height than the church’s cornice line; 3) redesigning the porte-cochere and vehicular access to the addition to ensure it did not extend over to the side yard of the church; 4) shifting the mass of the addition away from the church to the greatest extent possible (moving it further down Champlain Street and/or concentrated at the rear/west side were specifically suggested); and 5) articulating the building’s all-glass elevations so that they didn’t appear flat, monolithic and looming behind the church building. It has been based on this guidance that the HPO has worked with the applicants over the past 18 months to ensure that these points of concern have been addressed."
The building is more clearly separated from the church, the glass connector is much shorter and transparent, vehicle traffic moved to a redesigned porte-cochere that fits better with Champlain Street, massing shifted away from the church, and masonry replaced most of the glass.

The Historic Preservation Office staff report "recommends that the Board find the revised concept to be compatible with the proposed landmark and consistent with the purpose of the preservation act..." If the Board follows that recommendation, it is fairly certain members will offer tips for improvement as plans develop. The real problems could occur with zoning.

Residents who dislike the plan seem to focus on two big factors – height and community impact.

This fall, the Office of Planning sent a report to the Zoning Commission including concerns about the building’s height. The Zoning Commission agreed in November to set down the proposal for a hearing but also expressed its own height concerns.

Designs changed since November based on recommendations from the Zoning Commission such as colors and massing. But the overall height dropped only two feet to fit within current zoning limits, leaving even more uncertainty about whether a high-end hotel can be a good-enough addition to AdMo - the District's preeminent late night bar scene. 

Washington, D.C., real estate development news

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't get it? Why not construct a glass and limestone building to go with the church in front?

Anonymous said...

Can we *please, please please* get on with this project?

Clearly the NIMBYs are trying to drag this thing out so that the developers just give up.

Adding this hotel to the Adams Morgan mix will do a lot to dilute the overwhelming bar scene there. I would much rather have out-of-town yuppies staying in the neighborhood than MD/VA 20-somethings stumbling around and puking in the bushes.

Anonymous said...

I agree - the hotel would vastly improve the crowd on 18th street and, perhaps, provide establishments that cater to a non-college crowd with an incentive to move to the neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

its time to move this project forward the developers have been pushing for 8 years, this church needs to be saved, the hotel needs to get built so the church is saved before the church falls down already, the hotel is an awesome use and will do wonderful things for the neighborhood and employment of youths

Anonymous said...

BUILD IT ALREADY!

Anonymous said...

Another neighbor here who would love to see this hotel built.

Adam L on May 2, 2012, 9:16:00 AM said...

Agreed. Get it done.

Anonymous said...

Gotta say, the new rendering makes the addititon look as inobstrusive as it can be. Time for the ooposition to declare victory and move it forward.

kob on May 2, 2012, 11:45:00 AM said...

This hotel will be a great uplift for the neighborhood. The vast majority of residents support it. There are, understandably, some immediate neighbors with concerns about it.

If the hotel fails, my guess is that the owners of the church propery will give up and sell it to the first condo developer who comes along or maybe a Burger King.

The neighborhood, consequently, will loose a facility that would have strengthened the local economy and acted as a draw for higher-end businesses, and would have raised the property values of the people who are now complaining about it.

The hotel will also include new public spaces that may easily turn this facility into a neighborhood gathering place.

Anonymous said...

Thanks NIMBYs....we could have had a chic Edition brand hotel. Scratch that off the list now.

Anonymous said...

I realize the train has left the station but this project should be killed. There are plenty of competent developers and hotel operators that could do a fine job on this site without getting a $46million handout from DC taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Mr. or Mrs. Anonymous: there is no handout from DC taxpayers. The property tax abatement goes into effect after the hotel receives its certificate of occupancy. Compare the $95,000 the District receives in property taxes from the site today to the millions of dollars in hotel-related taxes the District will receive once the project opens. Get your facts right. This isn't a handout like the convention center hotel or the baseball stadium. This is good economic policy AND it creates lots of jobs for District residents.

Anonymous said...

Not to get in the middle of this but how is the district telling a developer that they don't have to pay property taxes for 20 years not a subsidy or "handout". It is certainly seems like a handout. I would certainly like a 20 year tax abatement to fix up my house! But that aside is the 42M the right number? I thought it was less than that.

Anonymous said...

The tax abatement is a handout. My company created jobs in DC, and will continue to create more jobs, but I don't get a handout. I guess you're saying that I should tell the DC government that I need a tax break before I agree to hire more people. How is this NOT a handout? I agree. Kill the 9 story hotel. They can have 5 stories like the other adjacent buildings and do without the tax abatement.

Anonymous said...

Tax abatements are a handy tool if you are a council member. It works kind of like this:

To get the votes to stay in office you pander to your constituency with populist jargon, talk of subsidized housing, job training etc. But while your constituency is good for providing votes they are not a great source of the campaign contributions that are required to fend off your occasional challenger. So you provide pay-to-play developers (and other businesses) with earmarks, tax abatements, etc. in return for multiple campaign contributions channeled through a web of LLCs set up to circumvent contribution limits. While this is horribly inefficient, given that you’re handing out millions of tax payer dollars for a few thousand in campaign contributions, you know it’s necessary to build that campaign war chest to win the next election and keep your job. And while it does harm to the DC budget and contributes to other people losing their jobs and cuts in programs that serve your constituents you can distract them with lots of bluster about taxing the rich to fix the budget. The great part is that you don’t have to worry about all that tax talk alienating your corporate patrons since you’ve given them more than enough in handouts to offset some small tax increase and most of them aren’t DC taxpayers anyway. It works great.

Anonymous said...

When someone writes and blames NIMBYs for halting the process, I have to think they are a shill for some developer. Clearly, people most closely affected by the project have a right to express their concerns, and a better design usually results form the effort. The developers will never give up and go away, they have tons more money than the affected citizens.

Anonymous said...

Actually-NIMBYism is quite an insidious force, particularly in this case and in this city. Community input hardly ever results in a better design, just a more anodine one. Also, these people hold up important development that's going to happen with or without their support eventually, they just delay it so that there's a back up in the development pipeline and the market can not respond to the needs of the city. I, frankly, do not find that anything good comes out of having the community involved in dictating how people use their own private property (and I'm not a developer or a right wing Republican!) Sometimes there is such a thing as too much democracy.

Anonymous said...

The previous writer described the problem 100% accurately. Observing self-important nobodies putting demands on architects or developers – the very people who create the roof over our heads – may make one’s blood boil. Unfortunately, the writer’s conclusion is wrong. When mediocrity imposes its will upon people who create this world, it is not “too much democracy”. It is fascism.
I am not a developer either or a registered Republican. But I do not see the need to explain or apologize. We create, not loot. No country ever prospered when it was based on robbing its citizens of their property and their freedoms. This one will not be an exception.

Anonymous said...

The Adams Morgan community, despite a vocal few who never want anything to change (and even opposed Harris Teeter opening in our neighborhood), is strongly behind this project. Let's get the hotel built.

Anonymous said...

As nearly a 10 year resident of Adams Morgan and a neighbor that lives 2 blocks from the proposed hotel site, I am STRONGLY in favor of this hotel. It will help stem the tide of the neighborhood from becoming an increasingly dangerous bridge and tunnel binge drinking destination for Adams Morgan, and provide valuable amenities for the neighborhood, Amenities that are currently fleeing to Logan Circe/14th Streetle, Columbia Heights, and U Street. We were disappointed that the plans for the hotel had to changed (the red brick is less appealing), and we really would like to see the Ian Shrager connection restored. The neighborhood is for this development, and all neighborhoods change and evolve over time. Let's make that evolution move towards less pizza boxes, and greater diversity of bars and stores.

Isayaah Parker on May 10, 2012, 5:15:00 PM said...

The hotel will never be built and the Nimbys have won again. Enjoy the empty church. The young drunks will continue to stumble. No 5 star hotel for you. People can stay at the Hilton down the street. The only change Adams Morgan will see is the size of the sidewalks.

Anonymous said...

Actually thanks to all wonderful supporters in Adams Morgan, the hotel will be built. Build it already!

Adams Morgan Resident on May 15, 2013, 11:54:00 PM said...

I've lived in Adams Morgan for 20 years and don't want the hotel built. It will increase traffic and gentrify the neighborhood.

 

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