Anonymous Donor Helps Fund Outreach to Create H Street NE Historic District- Effort Could Include Area Between H Street NE and East Capitol
by Larry Janezich
The Capitol Hill Restoration Society (CHRS), at the behest of ANC6A, has entered into a contract with EHT Traceries for the preparation of a National Register Nomination for H Street, N.E. This project would lay the groundwork for H Street NE to become a new historic district. ANC6A is the project initiator, and CHRS has agreed to serve as a pass thru for funding and to manage the contract. The nomination document is due March 31, 2012. The contract is for $10,000 and the work includes assistance with outreach to the community. In July, ANC6A earmarked $4,000 for the effort. The balance appears to have come from an anonymous donor.
Asked about the identity of the donor and the amount, ANC6A Chair David Holmes said, “The funds about which you inquire were from a private donor – who can release their name and the amount themselves.”
According to Holmes, ANC 6A has not authorized submission of an application to either create or expand a historic district. ANC 6A, he said, was informed of a possible donation to fund paperwork related to historic context statements for parts of 6A, in the event residents wished to create or join an historic district. Holmes asked that the donation be made to and accepted by, CHRS, rather than ANC6A. In September, CHRS met in a closed executive session to hear the proposal from Holmes. The CHRS subsequently agreed to act as a pass through agent.
Holmes expects the funds will be used for paperwork preliminary to any public outreach for consideration of a commercial historic district or if residents south of H Street to seek the protection of a historic district. ANC6A’s Planning and Zoning Committee has been assessing interest of these residents in establishing a historic district in an area bounded by H Street in the north, 15th Street to the East and East Capitol St to the South.
Earlier this year, Traceries recommended that an area in near-Northeast adjacent to the H Street commercial corridor, roughly between 2nd and 15th Streets, and from H to F Streets, NE, become part of the Capitol Hill Historic District. That project was funded by a settlement CHRS reached several years ago with the Louis Dreyfuss Property Group (some $83,000), as mitigation for the demolition of twelve historic buildings in the way of the new Dreyfuss development between H and G and 2nd and 3rd Streets, NE,.
Holmes cautioned that preliminary paperwork does not mean a submission will follow. He said ANC6A is hearing from residents south of H who are threatened by the expanding success of H Street and fear the possible loss of livability in their neighborhoods to new apartment buildings or the overgrowth of re-built structures. These residents could take advantage of the process being initiated by ANC6A . “If people want to protect themselves,” Holmes said, “the already prepared paperwork would make that option available to them.”
Regarding a historic district for H Street, Holmes noted, “… the look and funky feel of H Street are a crucial part of its business success, just as with Georgetown or the French Quarter. It’s an exciting place now, so changes that would make it look like suburban PG could hurt the business model.”
Holmes added, “In any case, no submission of any application is authorized, and that would likely come through ANC6A since they are initiating the project. But first, there would have to be outreach, hearings and discussion.”