ANC6b Approves Conceptual Drawing for Lower 8th Street Beer Garden – Modern/Industrial Design Revealed

Preliminary Plan for the Bavarian Beer Garden on Lower 8th Street

ANC6b Approves Conceptual Drawing for Lower 8th Street Beer Garden

Modern/Industrial Design Revealed

by Larry Janezich

ANC6b overrode concerns of some commissioners regarding the proposed building design for the Bavarian Beer Garden at 8th and L Streets, SE, and approved the concept on a 7-3 vote.  Last month, the ANC approved the establishment’s liquor license.  Owner Mark Broody and architect Matt Battin are shepherding the plan through the Historical Review Process, required because the building site is in the Capitol Hill Historic District.

The vote came on a motion by Commissioner Brian Pate to approve the plan but include a letter to the Historic Preservation Review Board listing concerns identified by commissioners, including safety, inconsistency of the design with the Historic District, and issues of window/door proportionality.

Those voting to approve:  Chair Glick, Commissioners Campbell, Critchfield, Flahaven, Frishberg, Green, and Pate.

Those opposed:  Commissioners Garrison, Metzger, and Oldenburg.

The proposal envisions a one story building holding up to 100 people inside and 200 outside with the roof deck and summer garden.  There will be a four and a half foot retaining wall on top of the building, wood privacy fencing, and rain screening on the sides overlooking 8th and L Streets.

On February 1, Brody and Battin brought the design before the ANC’s Planning and Zoning Committee.  The Committee heard their presentation, but voted to take no position and to refer the matter to the full ANC.  Concerns had been raised at the hearing regarding the design aspects relating to the proposed materials, the open deck, lack of letters of support, the building’s “unfinished appearance,” and lack of views showing how the building related to existing structures in the affected area.

At Tuesday night’s meeting Brody and Battin presented revised plans and drawings, letters of support, and aerial views of the neighborhood.

An early motion by Commissiuoner Oldenburg to object to the proposal to allow the owner time to refine the design in accordance with the issues raised tonight was defeated on 3 – 7 vote.

The delay was strongly opposed by Planning and Zoning Chair Francis Campbell, who said it was “unconscionable” to have had the owner come back with design modifications and letters of approval and then raise objections to the design.  Commissioners Green and Frishberg joined in opposing the motion, the first on grounds that the objections to the design issue were subjective, and the second because the reasons for sending the owner down a path requiring further revisions were not clear.

Those voting to approve the motion to object: Commissioners Garrison, Metzger, and Oldenburg.

Those opposed:  Chair Glick, Commissioners Campbell, Critchfield, Flahaven, Frishberg, Green, and Pate.

The Oldenburg motion was followed by a subsequent motion by Commissioner Norm Metzger, providing that the ANC take no position on the proposal.

That motion was strongly opposed by Commissioner Brian Pate who said he felt it was time to move forward on the issues and that he wanted to see something built south of the freeway which extends our community.

The Metzger motion was defeated on a 4 – 5 – 1 vote.

Those voting to take no position: Commissioners Campbell, Garrison, Metzger, and Oldenburg.

Those opposed:  Commissioners Critchfield, Flahaven, Frishberg, Green, and Pate.

Abstaining:  Chair Glick

The discussion was divided between those favoring a more cautious approach – which opponents implied was delay for the sake of delay – vs. a “let’s get something done and fix it as we go along.”

Those favoring a cautious approach warned that the ANC was voting on what might be a permanent structure in the Historic District – one whose design “isn’t ready for prime time.”  That view was offset by those who pointed out that the owner would be back before the ANC for an amendment to the liquor license to permit serving alcohol on the roof deck, providing an incentive to address the concerns raised at tonight’s meeting.


Filed under Uncategorized

5 responses to “ANC6b Approves Conceptual Drawing for Lower 8th Street Beer Garden – Modern/Industrial Design Revealed

  1. Wendy Blair

    In my opinion, the building is ugly. It makes no effort to fit into any Capitol Hill historic aesthetic. It establishes a much lower bar of building attractiveness. The key word is “establishes”. The expressed need to hurry and “fix as we go” betrays two things: ignorance of how structures, once they exist, cannot be changed; and a predisposition toward “development for the sake of development” among those who voted in favor of it.

  2. Jo Ann Watts

    Too often people are willing to write something off without offering any constructive criticism and that doesn’t help progress. As someone who attended this meeting, the commissioners opposed to the project were opposed to the very concept of the business from the outset. Their subjective opinions about design — by the way some of the commissioners liked it, some didn’t — are irrelevant at this juncture. The historic board will be the ones to guide the project and I’m sure that it will end up being a fantastic and beautiful addition to the neighborhood, one that will bring interest and life to an area that has been abandoned for too long. From what I understand too, this is not a temporary building but one that will grow in time. The proposed building design actually does reference an industrial look that is prevalent in that area and I think does so in an interesting way. Rehashing a historic design without reinterpreting it for today’s world doesn’t seem like added value.

  3. Thom

    I agree with Jo Ann. I think the owner and architect initially expressed a plan to knock down the mess of broken down old garages and weeds at that location, and put in a temporary structure servicing a beer garden for now, make some money, and when the neighborhood picked up, as it inevitably will (fingers crossed), they’d build a cool building. They learned from the Historic Preservation Review Board that temporary buildings like what they had planned are not allowed in the Capitol Hill Historic District.

    So they went back to the drawing board (or, as critics might say, went to the drawing board in a serious way for the first time) and came up with a plan to build a fine first story now, with some seating on a roof deck in addition to the beer garden. Again, I think their plan is to spend a reasonable amount now for an establishment in an area that does not have very much else going on, then build on top of that first floor foundation to make a really nice, 2-story completed building when the market would support that.

    I think you have to squint at the conceptual drawing with that in mind. The first floor looks, to me, like a very nice pedestal for an innovative, attractive bar. I’m all for it. I hope they make a bundle of money and complete this project down the road with something that is even more attractive.

    I wish the ANC would have asked for the owner and architect’s vision for what *might* follow if they realize their plan to complete the building with a second story. That might (or might not) have answered the critics who don’t like the looks of this 1.5 story building. I hope HPRB works with the owner and the architect to tease out what they have in mind, not just now with this first floor but also down the road with 2-story finished product.

    I thought Commissioners Campbell and Green made very strong statements about treating these guys fairly at the ANC and leaving it to HPRB staff to work out the details.

  4. David Healy

    It fits right in with the immediate neighborhood.,+Washington,+dC&aq=&sll=38.877829,-76.993239&sspn=0.003942,0.009645&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=720+L+St+SE,+Washington+D.C.,+District+of+Columbia,+20003&ll=38.877637,-76.995331&spn=0.003942,0.009645&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=38.877525,-76.994936&panoid=UJXorcajDZo-O1t-aAyKxg&cbp=12,307.84,,0,5

  5. Clint Wright

    As somewhat “abstract” neighbors of this proposed venture, we north of Penn on D Street SE, might take a “who cares?” optic. If it can channel the Navy and Marines into an after-hours drinking bin, I guess it’s ok. It’s certainly better for the overall neighborhood than what’s been there for the past several decades. As I walk down Barracks Row, I do have to wonder who, coming from places other than the Naval Station and the Marine barracks and offices, would want to ventue “down there,” across the visual and psychological barrier of 295. For me, that’s the real problem: all success to the biergarten, but how to set up the rest of that area for a wider commercial appeal is the real challenge. Hats off from me to anyone who can offer a realistic option. In that context, quibbling with the architechure of the beer garden is an absurd waste of everyone’s time.