Tuesday, September 11, 2012

D.C. Zoning Commission Votes on Hine Redevelopment, Final Decision Still to Come

Anyone who thought last night’s Zoning Commission hearing would be the final word on the Hine School redevelopment project’s longstanding PUD and map amendment efforts was surely disappointed.

Representatives from Stanton-EastBanc, the development team for the Capitol Hill mixed-use project, as well as from the architecture firm behind the project, Esocoff & Associates, gathered in front of the Zoning Commission, joining a range of neighbors largely opposed to the project in its current form. But the commission failed to vote on the project, opting instead to gather more information from the developers and reconvene on October 15th for a final decision.

The meeting, which was closed to comments, came on the heels of some fifteen hours of Zoning Commission hearings that occurred in June and July. During those meetings, civic groups and concerned citizens presented their concerns about the future of the Eastern Market flea market and worries that the project included too little open space for the community. Questions about the project’s north building, which is slated to include only subsidized housing, also arose.

In mid-August, the development team submitted an 81-page final PUD order that responded to many of those complaints. New elements include better design of the north building; description of a compromise that has been reached with Eastern Market’s flea market managers, allowing vendors to use an additional street for the weekend market; and details about a 46-point memorandum of agreement between the developers and the area’s ANC commissioners which, among other things, would limit the project’s retail elements to specifically commercial streets.

During last night’s hearing, the commissioners leafed through the document. “There are a lot of improvements,” said Commissioner Turnbull. “I think the pluses outweigh the negatives.” Still, he had concerns about waste removal and the project’s loading docks, while Chairman Hood questioned whether the project might eventually cause debilitating traffic problems in the area.

In the end, the commissioners voted unanimously to ask the development team for more information on a handful of points, including details on how 55-foot-long trucks will serve the project’s south building, how garbage pickup will occur in the alley north of C Street, and a revised floor area ratio calculation that doesn’t include C Street. The developers have until September 24th to respond.

While the development team was largely satisfied with the hearing, many neighbors left unhappy. “I thought [the commissioners] would do more,” said Ivan Frishberg, the 6B02 ANC commissioner. “I thought they’d ask for more in terms of the structure and design of the building.”

Washington, D.C., real estate development news


IMGoph on Sep 11, 2012, 11:03:00 AM said...

An open note to Anthony Hood - this is not Woodridge. Everyone doesn't need to drive to get everywhere.

(Seriously, why is the head of the zoning commission someone who thinks urban areas should be made as suburban in design and function as possible?)

Mr. Other Upper NW on Sep 11, 2012, 12:22:00 PM said...

Yes, yes, we get it. Every project brings "debilitating traffic". Every project threatens a neighborhood's peace and tranquility. Every project will turn whatever neighborhood it is in into Adams Morgan.

Nothing that hacking off a few floors of the building couldn't solve, of course!

Anonymous said...

All of the neighbor's objections are in opposition to the city's and Mayor Gray's goals of attracting residents and increasing density along transit corridors. Does reducing a couple of levels in height do anything to the views or skyline? Does denying a percentage of potential residents the opportunity to live in a desirable neighborhood have any effects on livability for all? Do any of the objections that the opposition has have any positive effects for the city as a whole?

Anonymous said...

We live in a CITY. Get used to it, people, and get on board. Density works.

Anonymous said...

If we let traffic get as bad as NYC, then people would simply adapt and learn to walk more. Sounds good to me!

Anonymous said...

First, I certainly agree with the comments about the urban nature of the site. This project absolutely SHOULD be quite densely developed -- as dense as possible, I'd say. The second point, though, is that the architecture sure looks bland. This is a really prominent site -- why couldn't the building be more interesting? Looks like it's trying WAY too hard to blend in.

Nathaniel Martin said...

The design appears to be distressingly banal. I would prefer to see something more innovative on this highly visible site.

Anonymous said...

The architecture is bland so that it doesn't become a discussion point added to the ones already on the table. When you have board members who are already anti-everything, you don't want those same individuals discussing design elements. It would be just another item they would use to grandstand and hold up projects for their own personal preferences as opposed to real city development.

And to IMGoph, have you tried to drive in Woodbridge lately? Prince William County is developing so much land for residential use the traffic is a disaster in that area.

IMGoph on Sep 14, 2012, 12:57:00 PM said...

Anonymous: Your reading comprehension could use a little work. You'll note I said Woodridge, not Woodbridge. Woodridge is a neighborhood in NE DC - I assume you're unfamiliar with it or that part of the city.

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