Restoration Board and Committee of 100 Persuade Zoning Commission to Reconsider Union Station North Plan
by Larry Janezich
At the January 18 Board meeting of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, member Monte Edwards reported on the DC Zoning Commission‘s January 6 hearing on the proposed Union Station North (USN) development. The Capitol Hill Restoration Society Board and the Committee of 100 presented new elevations demonstrating the mass and scale of the proposed Union Station North (USN) development. The organizations hired an architect to provide the additional elevations correcting what some considered misleading elevations reflecting the height and scale of the project submitted by the developer.
At issue is where measuring the proposed building’s height should start. The 1910 Height Act, limits building height to 130 feet. Developers of USN want to measure from the H Street Overpass, some 30 feet above ground level. This would be in accordance with a Tommy Wells’-sponsored amendment which passed the City Council, but as Committee of 100 testimony notes:
“In September 2010, C100 presented testimony to the Council of the District of Columbia on proposed (Wells’) amendment CH-2-1-7 and stated that the amendment amounted to an end run around the Height Act. Council listened and acted appropriately by specifically noting in the amended Policy CH-2-1-7 that no building should exceed the 130 ft. height limit imposed by the Height Act. But Council turned a blind eye to the fact that the ground, or platform, upon which the development would be built would be 30 ft. above the rail yards.”
The National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) weighed in, endorsing the ground level measuring point and recommending against any change.
Committee of 100 testimony concluded testimony with:
“C100 is in total agreement with, and supports the recommendation of NCPC. The graphics submitted on behalf of the Committee of 100 on the Federal City and the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, and sponsored by Drury Tallant, demonstrate the deleterious effect the permitted artificial elevation will have on the views of Union Station. The graphics clearly illustrate the out-of -scale presence the proposed Union Station North development will have relative to Union Station and the US Capitol. The iconic view of Union Station will become shrouded by the height of the USN buildings regardless of their setbacks. If approved, this unwelcome encroachment will be lasting.”
Subsequently, the Zoning Commission required the developer to resubmit elevations in February showing what the building would look like from natural grade.
Committee of 100 testimony and the elevations can be viewed at the Committee of 100 website: http://www.committeeof100.net