Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Artist Loft Project Near U Street Under the Knife Again

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


Anonymous said...

Thank goodness--that project is absolutely hideous. Although not certain what makes it stand out any more than the other assorted crap that's gone up in that area over the last few years.

Anonymous said...

I am disgusted by this decision. This city is ridiculous with regard to historic preservation. You would think there was something in this city worth preserving. I would think D.C., of all places, would want to change the conversation from the past to the present/future...

Anonymous said...

I don't exactly love this project, but this is just ridiculous. A four-story tall building is TOO TALL? I understand the preservation folks want to keep DC looking/feeling like a slightly bigger Richmond. But come on, even height obsessed cities like Boston, SF, Paris would laugh at the notion of 4-stories being to tall for a commerical street in the supposedly dense core of the city. The whole "KEEP DC BORING" crowd really get annoying after a while.

Anonymous said...

There is NO logic or consistency to the Historic Preservation board, or else So just didn't pay a high enough bribe. They veto this on a block that is already ruined, while allowing a hideous, cheap over scale residential infill at 917 T. That building is over height, gives a side streetscape view of concrete block towering over the block, cheap windows, and exceeds the percentage of the lot that can be built upon.

Who are these people?!?!

Anonymous said...

I think I have to agree. This is a little comical. This place is less than a block from U Street, and 9th is a major street. Can the city really not handle 4 stories? From that street, you can see the Howard dorms and the Howard broadcasting antennae! Let the guy build something.

Anonymous said...

9th Street is not truly a commercial corridor. Half of the 1900 block is zoned residential. The massing is completely out of whack with the other buildings on this block. This building would be visible from 9th, U and 9.5 Streets. Similar projects have required setbacks.

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