ANC6B Releases DRAFT Resolution on Hine Development

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(The draft below is a discussion draft that has not been endorsed by either the whole ANC6b or any individual commissioner.  Further modification may take place before the formal resolution is considered at the April 26th Special Call Meeting.  The intention of this draft is to stimulate feedback and allow the community to focus comments at that meeting on the recommendations of the ANC.

It is EMMCA’s hope and understanding that commissioners will receive comments throught email as well as by reading and participating in the comments section of this blog.  ANC commissioners may be reached through emal addresses listed at: http.//www.anc6b.org/ )

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B Resolution on Proposed Conceptual Design for Hine School site redevelopment

 Tuesday, April 26, 2011

WHEREAS the city has decided to demolish the existing Hine Jr. High School building and to redevelop the entire block bordered by 7th, Pennsylvania Avenue, D Street, 8th Street, and both sides of a to-be-reopened block of C Street; and,

WHEREAS as noted in an The Commission resolution dated June 30, 2009, “the development of this key location, sitting as it does in the heart of Capitol Hill, adjacent to major activity centers such as the Eastern Market, the Eastern Market Metro Plaza, and 8th Street Barracks Row, is of the highest importance to the future success of the community”; and,

WHEREAS the city conducted a competition to choose a development group to take on 21 this project and selected the Stanton-East Banc team; and,

WHEREAS The Commission held three Special Call meetings (February 2, March 15, and April 26) to consider the Stanton-East Banc team’s conceptual design, and also considered the proposal at a March 1 Planning and Zoning Committee meeting and took community comments at a March 8 Commission meeting; and,

WHEREAS The Commission has received numerous communications from community members expressing views on the proposed design, and individual Commissioners have participated in various discussions of the project with many Capitol Hill residents; and,

WHEREAS ANC6B understands that the initial conceptual review by the HPRB on April 28, 2011 will be followed by subsequent reviews by the Board, possibly one or more times before the PUD process begins and then after a PUD is approved and the project returns to the Board for further review. ANC 6B expects to participate in all substantive reviews of the project by the Board and requests that the Board insure that ANC 6B has an opportunity to participate at each review stage; and,

WHEREAS ANC6B understands that some issues noted in this resolution will be taken up during the zoning (Planned Unit Development) review of the project about to begin.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6B (ANC 6B) commends the Stanton-East Banc proposal for its:

1. Overall density;

2. Inclusion of mixed uses (residential, office, retail, parking);

3.  Commitment to use materials that respect the 1 materials used on nearby properties;

4. Division of the project among several distinct structures;

 5. Emphasis on supporting new and existing local retail;

6. Provision of affordable housing units, empty nester units and units that are of an appropriate size for families with small children;,

 7. Reopening of the 700 block of C Street;

8. Size and location of the public piazza at the 7 th and C Street corner;

9. Proposed accommodations for the use of the piazza and C Street on weekends  for the flea market;

10. Use of green building techniques;

11. Commitment to have this critical development provide additional revenue to the city; and,

 BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that ANC 6B supports the setback, orientation and proportion of the proposed design as defined in the DC Historic Preservation Guidelines for New Construction in Historic Districts; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that ANC 6B recommends that the Historic Preservation Review Board approve the proposed conceptual design once the following concerns and recommendations are addressed:

Eighth Street Apartment/Condo Building

Height

The heights of the building at the corner of 8th and D St SE (greater than 60 feet from 29 curb to ceiling) and at the 8 th St entrance (greater than 40 feet from curb to parapet) are in 30 excess of the historically appropriate height for this area, and, in the context of this 31 residential block, violate the Board’s Guidelines for New Construction in an Historic District. The Commission recommends reducing the height at the corner of 8th and D St. SE and at the 8th St entrance.

Rhythm and Setback

Option A: Recent changes in the plans respond to Commission and community  comments about the uniformity of the property line and have significantly improved this building. Its design, massing, and siting are fundamentally sound. We urge continued efforts to “soften” the façade, expressed through the design of lintels, cornices and the like.

Option B: While recent changes in the plans respond to concerns about the uniformity of the property line, the uniformity of the 8th st façade, specifically the homogeneity of the roof line, continues to concern the Commission. ANC 6B believes this building would benefit greatly from additional diversity in the height and style of the roofline.

Interior Courtyard

The Commission strongly supports retention of the interior courtyard as a public space.  Current plans present the courtyard as a gated, private area. Should this approach be maintained, we recommend that the developers either reduce the size of the interior open space or elevate the courtyard (in a manner similar to Jenkins Row) to accommodate greater amenities that may relieve height and massing concerns elsewhere in the project.

North Residential Building

Height, Scale and Design

This building, in particular its western portion, should serve as a complement to the Eastern Market – in scale, height (especially the middle portion) and design. The Commission recognizes that this building presents some design challenges in its narrowness and in the requirements set by the terms of the DC Government for provision of 33 affordable housing units in this building. Loosening these terms to allow for more flexibility in the plans for this building should be discussed during the upcoming PUD process.

Rhythm and Façade Design

Variation in the monotone glass façade of the C St side of the building would create a more dynamic rhythm to the building and would reduce its institutional tone.

Pedestrian level streetscape

As designed, this building fails to connect to the historic character of the neighborhood.  C Street will be a new block with no facing historic structure. What is needed is a building design that reflects the character of the neighborhood. The current design does not meet this need.

D Street Building

Design, scale, ornamentation and height

This building does not reflect the character of the neighborhood. It is uniform in almost every aspect and has a “blocky” look that is not part of historic Capitol Hill. Nor does it present a design appropriate to a large and open setting in a historic neighborhood. In concert with the height of the building immediately to its west, as well as its own flat qualities, the building presents itself as too tall and featureless to be an asset to this historic square. The attenuated windows and brick panels make it seem taller than it is. It has an unrelenting quality that relies more on pattern making than architecture. This building seems more akin to buildings in Southwest DC (which may be entirely appropriate in that setting)and is not in harmony with other buildings 1 on historic Capitol Hill.

This building and the one immediately to the West will, by their location and size, be an ensemble landmark, announcing to visitors that this is Capitol Hill. That means the building needs to be distinctive, evocative of the history of the Hill, and welcoming. The two buildings, taken as a unit, do not meet those criteria. The scale, height and façade of these buildings require reconsideration.

Office building at 7th and PA Ave

Design and Scale

The rotated colonnades of the building add playfulness to what otherwise appears as a predominantly traditional office building. Further, the inclusion of brick and high Victorian windows is consistent with architectural features found in the historic district.  The overall design, however, does not fully meet the demands of such a prominent location that sits in the sight lines of Eastern Market, the U.S. Capitol, the Jefferson building of the Library of Congress, and the original and historic Carnegie construction of the SE Library. This building should be a landmark announcing Capitol Hill. The Commission believes that the current design does not meet this objective.

Height

At 85 feet using the standard measures (distance from the curb to ceiling of highest floor) , this is by far the highest point of the development with the penthouses level reaching a height of 106 feet. While recognizing that this building will face a large open area (Pennsylvania Avenue and Metro Plaza), this height is still too great for the area, A lower building overall than the proposed design is needed, one that reduces its feel of massiveness.

7th Street

Design and pedestrian engagement

Design of this building poses both an opportunity and a challenge. The opportunity is to join a street of lively, varied, and attractive commerce on its west side. The challenge is to create a design that does that. While the design under review approaches that goal, more work is needed to meet it, especially in its façade design. The Commission is mindful that the parking access for commercial traffic poses challenges and that it is difficult to design retail fronts absent retailers. With further design work, the Commission believes that this building can be quite successful, and partner with the west side of the street in offering a vibrant and attractive experience for residents, visitors, and retailers.

 Height

The design on the East side should complement the building heights on the West side of this block of 7th Street. In its 2009 resolution, the Commission recommended a height of no more than 50 feet (curb to ceiling of top story) for this component of the development.  The Commission recommends that the height of the new 7th Street building as it approaches the Pennsylvania Avenue building be stepped down to more closely approximate the height of the West side of 7th Street.

General Recommendations:

1. The Commission recommends that the developers investigate options for reducing the massing and height of the overall development by reducing the footprint of mechanical rooms, where possible placing them underground or in the interior of the building.

2. The Commission recommends the expansion of subterranean retail such as grocery stores or theatre. This will allow greater flexibility in the developers approach to the above grade massing, design and scale of the building, while maintaining the overall density of the project.

3. In order to better inform the public, the Commission requests that the developers prepare and display in the North Hall of Eastern Market a three dimensional concept model of the development

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commission, by a vote of X to Y, approved this resolution at a Special Call meeting, duly noticed, on Tuesday, April 26, 2011 and instructs the Commission Chairperson to transmit this resolution to the Historic Preservation Review Board prior to the April 28, 2011 HPRB meeting on this project; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Commission authorizes the Commission Chairperson to designate one or several Commissioners to testify at the HPRB hearing on behalf of the Commission.

Attest:

Secretary

Date

6 Comments

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6 responses to “ANC6B Releases DRAFT Resolution on Hine Development

  1. Some of these seem internally inconsistent – the resolution starts by praising the proposal for its ‘overall density,’ and then each of the subsequent critiques involves lowering building heights and reducing floor areas – i.e. reducing density.

    Perhaps those height concerns could be mitigated with large setbacks on the upper floors, but that makes maintaining a central courtyard much harder to do – particularly one that’s open to the public. Each of these design decisions involves several trade-offs, and I don’t know that this resolution really captures these trade-offs well.

    I also think ideas like below-grade retail space is, in general, a bad idea. Below grade retail is usually bad retail space, suited primarily for big boxes or stores that have very large footprints. I’d also note that the more retail you put underground, that means the parking has to go deeper, which increases the cost of the project overall.

  2. Kathleen

    I think the below grade option is a way for the commissioners to address, however unrealistically, the neighborhood’s concerns regarding the scale and density of this project. Like Alex, I don’t find it a very practical suggestion.

    I think this project is so big and has so many moving parts that it is difficult for the ANC to address all of them substantively and still have a coherent “position.” Having said that, the above document seems to have many fingerprints on it–Alex’s point regarding density is well-taken–and perhaps it would be better to actually vote on something that, even if it is not unanimous, represents a clear view. What does the Commission want HPRB to do? Perhaps that should be more explicitly stated; the recommendations at the end are all addressed to the developer.

    It is a tremendous step forward that the ANC is even putting out a draft document in advance of their resolution. All of the commissioners are to be congratulated.

  3. Karen and Alex B,

    You’re points are well taken. Let me address a couple of them:
    1. This document is a product of group work, so yes, there are probably some inconsistencies that need to (and hopefully will be) be addressed.
    2. At this stage of the game, HPRB is conducting a conceptual review. They will most likely come back to the project twice, if not three additional times. Our intent is to focus their efforts on aspects of the development that need additional work, in anticipation of future reviews.
    3. Height vs. Density — Is it a straight trade? It is definitely the most obvious trade-off, but there are other ways of achieving density that do not involve height. The most obvious example–smaller units. That comes with it’s own set of market related issues. Yes, suggesting utilization of subterrenean retail to reduce massing and height pressure above ground is a way of doing this as well.

    I’ve been thinking allot lately about why the current plans call for higher buildings (in certain locations) than the RFP, yet the overall square footage of the development is roughly the same. The courtyard appears to be the key. In the RFP, the courtyard was clearly private, but significantly smaller. Now it’s larger (apparently still private) and the 8th St and 7th and Penn buildings are higher. I could be wrong about this, and appreciate additional observations on this matter.

    Thanks for your comments. Please keep them coming.

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  5. Josh

    I agree with the majority of this resolution. The points on which I disagree are the call for decreasing the height. I believe the heights as proposed are proper.

    I work near 7th &Penn SE, so will see, pass by and likely utilize this space at least five days a week.

  6. KC

    I think the setback from the curb to the building(s) on the Seventh Street side has been drastically changed–it was about 35 feet and now it appears that is it about 20 feet.

    This severely limits outdoor seating and use and impedes pedestrian traffic.

    The ANC should address this in their recommendations.