8th Street Residents List Objections to Hine Redevelopment and Request Changes
by Larry Janezich
The neighborhood organization “Eyes on Hine” (EOH) – residents who live on 8th Street opposite the Hine site – have written to ANC6b Planning and Zoning Committee Chair Francis Campbell and Vice Chair Kirsten Oldenburg to protest that the proposed Hine Development will damage the historic character of the neighborhood and to request specific design changes.
The ANC6b Planning and Zoning Committee hears from Stanton Development on Tuesday night, regarding their Historic Preservation Application (HPA) on the Hine redevelopment, the first step in moving the plan through the ANC. ANC6b will rule on the HPA at its March 8 meeting and that judgment will go to the Historic Preservation Office and be given great weight when the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) considers Stanton’s HPA for the Hine project. As this blog has noted elsewhere, the HPRB decision is subject to appeal to the Mayor’s office.
EOH’s objections address the proposed design’s size, appearance, density, and economic impact. In summary, the objections are:
From 8th Street, SE, the Hine redevelopment would present a mammoth building filling much of the block with an unbroken façade. The developer’s justification for a height increase beyond 40 feet was flawed, since historic buildings shown for comparison did not fill an entire block and were in juxtaposition to two and three story rowhouses. The five story corner tower at 8th and D Streets, and the five story entrance to the apartment complex mid-block on 8th Street will mar the historic viewscape, block light and air, and “mock” the modest scale of the rowhouses across the street. The proposed heights are not only out of harmony with the neighborhood but also emphasize the building’s massiveness.
The proposed four story bay windows, a response to an EOH request to ensure the frontage comport with the appearance of residential housing, emphasizes rather than mitigates, the building’s monolithic appearance. And the massive size and scale of the proposed development demands deeper and more varied setbacks.
The letter notes that for the first time in history, there will be no open space accessible to the entire neighborhood on the Hine site. And that the result of waiving current R4 residential zoning limits and the attendant 40 foot height limit will degrade the quality of life of the neighborhood by encouraging and enabling vastly increased traffic.
EOH states that the economic consequences of the project include the danger that overdevelopment will threaten an historic neighborhood that, by its charm and scale, has attracted new residents and businesses. The letter notes that as taxes and rents soar, small and locally owned businesses are already being driven away from the vicinity of Eastern Market.
EOH proposes a number of changes to help make the current Hine development harmonize with the neighborhood. They include the following:
A maximum 40 foot height limit for the residential building on 8th Street, with no five story segments for the SE corner or on Pennsylvania Avenue.
A recessed 8th Street entrance to the project mid-block rather than using additional height to designate the entrance.
More variation in height of the rooflines of the buildings.
More variation in the setbacks of the buildings along 8th Street as opposed to an unbroken stretch of bay windows.
A set back from the curb for the entire building further than that proposed.
Two or three separate structures along 8th Street, rather than a single long structure.
The letter ends with a statement defining what the group sees as being at stake:
“The land of the Hine School site belongs to all of us, the citizens and taxpayers of the District of Columbia. The developers were awarded the right to propose how to develop that public land, but we believe that the current concept design is not congruent with, does not harmonize with, and potentially threatens the historic character of Capitol Hill. The massive, block-sized building plan evokes corporate standardization, anonymity and conformity, and, per the changes outlined at the beginning of this letter, we call upon the developers to create an alternative concept more responsive to the neighborhood in which it will sit for decades to come.”
The Planning and Zoning Committee will meet at 6:30pm on Tuesday, March 1, at Caesar Chavez Public Charter School, located at 714-722 11th Street, SE.
ANC6b will meet at 6:30pm on Wednesday, March 8, at the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS at 522 7th Street, SE