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