ANC6C Defers Action on Medlink Building Capitol Hill Apartment Project – Community Meeting Planned with IBG Partners
by Larry Janezich
Wednesday night, ANC6C voted 6-2 to table until February IBG Partners’ request to forward their concept for a 140 unit apartment complex on Capitol Hill to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) for historic preservation review. The complex is planned as part of the Capitol Hill Specialty Hospital , located at 700 Constitution Avenue, NE, which is currently divided into a nursing facility and office space. IBG has a 75 year lease on the office half, and the plan is to continue the hospital operation while IBG converts the office space into one bedroom (and smaller) residential units. The plan seems much like the layout found in many assisted living or rehabilitation facilities.
The vote came on a motion by Bill Crews, Commissioner for ANC6C07, in opposition to the ANC’s Planning and Zoning Committee recommendation that the ANC fully support forwarding the design to HPRB. Departing Commissioner Rob Amos, former Chair of the Committee, explained that IBG will restore the 1928 portion of the building, renovate the 1950’s portion, and strip the metal wrapping from the 1970’s portion.
Crews, along with veteran Commissioner Mark Dixon, 6C02, and newcomer Scott Price, 6C06, cited a long history of contention between the community and the building’s owner with respect to development of the site and the need for an opportunity for a community meeting to hear neighbor’s concerns. The three commissioners all opposed “rushing to judgment” since the HPRB hearing was not until February 23.
Commissioner Tony Goodman, 6C04, strongly supported the committee recommendation, saying delaying the process for reasons unrelated to historic preservation was “an abuse of our role” – that the issue was strictly related to historic preservation and no substantial issues had been raised against that standard. That point was emphasized by historical architect Andi Adams, representing the developer.
When a representative of St. James’ Church, across the alley from the development rose to say the church was totally unaware of the impact of the construction on their operation until last week and the they could not take the issue to the Vestry until January 19, the ANC needed no more convincing to delay. A community meeting is planned for January 25th.