Reduced Height, Open Space, Child Care, Dominate Hine Subcommittee Meeting

Reduced Height, Open Space, Child Care, Dominate Hine Subcommittee Meeting

by Barbara Riehle

About sixty neighbors met last night at Brent Elementary School with ANC6B’s Hine Subcommittee to hash out what constitutes “benefits and amenities” when it comes to the redevelopment project proposed for the Hine School site. 

After hearing suggestions from Subcommittee members and residents alike, Subcommittee Chairman Ivan Frishberg asked for a show of hands, asking, “If the Commission is able to get the best package of benefits we can which includes everyone’s ideas but the height stays the same, would you support the PUD proposal?”  Four of the sixty people assembled raised their hands.  Most of the remaining fifty plus made clear that the proposed heights are unacceptable no matter how many of the neighbors’ requests wind up in the final benefits and amenities package.  A handful abstained.

Frishberg opened the meeting by calling on Commissioner Dave Garrison to define “benefits and amenities” as well as “mitigation” according to the city zoning regulation. Garrison quoted Section 2403 of the regulations (Title 11, Chapter 24) for these definitions and suggested that reading recent PUD filings could be instructive.  He noted, however, that “these things are all idiosyncratic” and added that in recent decisions public meeting space appears to have become an additional benefit.  (ANC6D may have received office and meeting space through a PUD.)  Click on “View Text” near the bottom of the screen to see the regulations Garrison quoted.

Garrison reminded the audience that Stanton-Eastbanc, the city-selected developers for the Hine School site, has claimed reopening C Street, affordable housing, LEED certification, value to the city tax base, flea market space, and support for the comprehensive zoning plan as the benefits and amenities package it is providing to the neighborhood. 

Beginning last Friday, January 27, the Subcommittee made available an online tool for giving input.  So far, the survey garnered 300 responses from about 100 people for Question #1 about benefits and amenities. There seemed to be general agreement among the commissioners that all of the responses will be posted on the subcommittee’s website at a future date. 

The survey remains open until at least February 10, leaving readers about a week to ten days to have their opinions included in the survey.  Click on the following link to enter your opinions:

Bill Pate, a subcommittee member representing the Hine School North Neighbors (HSNN), did the hard work of capturing and alphabetizing by topic the 19-page list of benefits and amenities suggested so far.  

Then Subcommittee members were asked to enumerate the benefits they seek.

The Stanton Park Neighborhood Association’s voice on EMCAC, Monte Edwards, requested outdoor community meeting space.

At-large subcommittee member Ken Jarboe repeated his call for underground access to Metro from the North side of Pennsylvania Avenue.

EMMCA’s subcommittee rep, Roger Tauss, repeated EMMCA’s long-standing desire to see services to children at that site. “Perhaps,” he said, “a child care center, which is sorely needed in this neighborhood filled with young children, should be included.”

A community meeting room as well as office space for community organizations were Garrison’s suggestions.

Commissioner Brian Pate recited a thorough list including: child-care, improved design at 8th and D, enough outdoor space for the existing weekend Flea Markets and other issues. 

Steve Sweeney, who represents Eyes on Hine, raised the idea of a mini-museum and electric car charging station. 

Planning and Zoning Committee Chairperson Francis Campbell repeated his long-held call for 24-hour child care and a City Services Center. 

Frishberg weighed in for child care, open community gathering space, 60 percent local retail, an internet hot spot, improved design for 8th and D, use of geothermal and solar energy.

Finally the floor was opened up to comments from the neighbors.  The first speaker set the tone for what was to come, asking for more open space and decrying the “gated courtyard” proposed for the development.  Person after person repeated support for open space and child care.  Other suggestions included more use of universal access in apartments, including elevators in two-story units.

Repeatedly, neighbors decried the shortcomings of the design to date in terms of aesthetics, compatibility and charm.


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12 responses to “Reduced Height, Open Space, Child Care, Dominate Hine Subcommittee Meeting

  1. Steve Sweeney

    Good summary, Barbara. Realizing I was trying to get across my points in two minutes, I wanted to clarify about “mini-museum and electric car charging station.” Those were examples of things that I think would fit into the type of benefit more flexibly described. What I was thinking was:

    1. An “educational component” that is community-accessible and not associated with a retail fee. This could be something like an “interpretive center” or mini-museum. Possible themes could be something like Capitol Hill itself (or early Washington generally, like the communities of Old Town, Georgetown, and Jenkins Hill … I don’t think there is a single such museum in DC, tho the Building Museum has DC-focused exhibits) or a mini-museum/interpretive center dedicated to the history/health effects/importance of WALKING. Other ideas could meet the proposal too.

    2. Car rental. My proposal was not simply a car charging station for electric cars, but actually a car rental agency with exclusive electric cars. Nearby car rentals are only really available at the Airport and Union Station. My proposal was for an ELECTRIC car rental company. Quieter, less polluting, sustainable via solar battery arrays, AND would discourage residential tenants from OWNING cars (i.e., in house Zip cars). The target market would be the residents and “around town” tourists.

    3. Below grade, community-focused, retail. This one didn’t rise to people’s attention apparently, but examples of this would be a small bowling alley or 60-80 seat movie screen. A place where people gather. Rentable. PLUS, in order to PUSH DOWN the heights on Pennsylvania Avenue, the idea of below grade is to anticipate the Developer bemoaning the loss of square footage for and revenues form retail. The Shakespeare proposal would have been internal to the building and expressly required NO exterior light. There are other things like that (movie theaters, bowling alleys, museums, etc.) that DO NOT NEED to be at or above grade. The idea is to kill a few birds with one stone … community use, get people into the space, have a “draw” AND push the thing down.



  2. anon

    I’m glad to hear others agree with the idea of community gathering space (in whatever form). I hate the idea of this thing being a fortress, which it looks like from most of the renderings.

    I’m curious to hear more about “24 hour child care” Most daycare centers operate on tight daytime schedules. I’ve never heard of any place offering afterhours childcare. It sounds like an expensive logistical nightmare . . . actually sounds more like a pet hotel.

  3. Kathleen

    I like Ken Jarboe’s idea of underground access to the Metro. I also put in my survey that the developer consider planting shrubs or some other “friendly obstruction” in the median on PA ave. And I wrote that as someone who cuts across it all the time.

    I am also a fan of Steve Sweeney’s non-fee-based child component, and I think Francis Campbell is dead-on when calls for a city-services amenity. I’d love to see meeting/organizational space for Capitol Hill community service groups; too often in these discussions, services do not get placed on the top of anyone’s list, so they are neglected relative to other concerns.

    I’m not going to comment on height and aesthetics, because it is pretty clear to me that, although the community cares most about these issues, they will not be meaningfully resolved via the PUD.

  4. Anon

    1) Daycare as an amenity may be unnecessary because soon DC public schools will offer universal pre-K (3 and 4 year olds). Also, Mayor Gray has stated publicly that he is considering ways to fund universal child care (infants – 2 year olds).

    2) The Hill Center, restored at a cost of $12 million ($6 million of District public funds) has ample meeting space for community groups. It is centrally located 1.5 blocks from the Eastern Market Metro station and the Hine redevelopment site.

    3) a Metro station entrance from the Hine site would be extremely expensive to construct because of the need to excavate below the tracks. It is doubtful that there is sufficient clearance above the tracks and below the roadbed to construct it otherwise.

    4) Regarding the comment: “Pushing the [proposed] height down by building underground” — Again, this represents an extremely expensive proposition. It would be questionnable whether the developers’ profit margin would support this added project cost.

    • As editor of emmcablog, I have made it a practice to avoid responding to comments posted in response to a story, but the posting by anon requires one.

      The comment from anon seems to be written from the viewpoint of someone associated with Stanton-Eastbanc. The poster is far more knowledgeable about District government policies and the costs of developing neighborhood projects than even the ANC commissioners working on the Hine PUD process. . .

      Who else would know a detail regarding construction of a new Metro entrance like, “it would be extremely expensive to construct because of the need to excavate below the tracks. It is doubtful that there is sufficient clearance above the tracks and below the roadbed to construct it otherwise.”

      And, regarding underground construction; “Again, this represents an extremely expensive proposition. It would be questionnable (sic) whether the developers’ profit margin would support this added project cost.”

      Why is the poster be so concerned about the profit margin for poor Stanton-Eastbanc?

      In addition, the poster seems woefully uninformed about the lack of resources of community organizations as well as the cost of renting meeting space in Hill Center.

      In short, anon, don’t expect to see more of your comments allowed on emmcablog until you have the courage to post your name along with it.

      (This wouldn’t by you AG, would it?)

      • David C

        Actually, the detail about the Metro entrance was discussed at an earlier meeting about Hine and it’s pretty well known that building up is cheaper than building down. Regardless, what is your point? Even if anon is Satan himself, the relevant question is still this: are his claims true and what does it mean if they are? It appears that they are true as even you don’t refute them. As to what it means if they are let me answer one of your other questions “Why is the poster be so concerned about the profit margin for poor Stanton-Eastbanc?” Because if there is no profit margin, or an inadequate one, than Stanton-Eastbanc won’t build anything, which means no reopened C Street, no affordable housing and a continued dead spot in the center of the hill.

      • Thanks for your post.

        My point is that it seems that the developer has been using the media to comment on the project while representing itself as a member of the community not directly invested in the project. I cite, specifically, the manipulation of the appearance of community support for Stanton Eastbanc during awarding of the bid process reported elsewhere in this blog. In addition the developer has misrepresented critics while tweeting and attempted to (somewhat disingenuously in my view) become a member of emmca while unfairly characterizing emmca as not wanting to see anything built. In a related move, the developer placed a full page adv in the Hill Rag which misrepresents the physical impact the project will have on the neighborhood. The email address of anon, while not referring to the developer, appears to have been created to give the impression that it came from a group of Eastern Market neighbors. So, emmcablog is saying, if you are associated with the developer and are posting a comment on emmcablog, just say so.

  5. Steve Sweeney

    My understanding about Ken Jarboe’s proposition for underground accesss to the metro was about leaving the capacity to do so in the future, if it is infeasible now. [Personally, given the number of elevators in the system, the rise in obesity nationally, Metro could save some and reprogram costs in escalator repairs by replacing down escalators with steps … but that’s off topic.]

    On digging down, my understanding is that the project already calls for excavation two levels below grade for portion of the project and 1.5 levels for for another portion. My suggestion for below grade uses obviously is limited by cost-prohibitiveness when reaching the depth of the hard rock pan, but my understanding is that the clay levels (and fill) still allow for a deeper project. As a nearby neighbor whose property already faces a structural integrity threat depending on how the excavation work is accomplished, I am aware of the tradeoffs. The proposed structure at the corner of 7th and Pennsylvania is not simply 7 stories, but instead reaches higher and occupies more air space (more like 8.5 stories) because of the air conditioning/accessory structure for which the PUC application currently seeks relief from the limitations of C-2-B zoning.

  6. Adding extra Metro entrances is really expensive. You don’t need any specialized knowledge to realize that. Metro did an analysis for Foggy Bottom (a far busier station than Eastern Market) and had some order of magnitude cost projections: $21 million.

    Click to access 070301%20Foggy%20Bottom%20Final.pdf

    Given the relatively low level of usage of the Eastern Market station (~6,000 daily boardings compared to Foggy Bottom’s ~21,000), I don’t think station demand warrants a second entrance – nor would such an entrance be a cost-effective project.

    Likewise, it’s not hard to realize that each additional level of excavation required is a major additional cost to a development. The ballpark number for below-grade structured parking spaces is $50,000-60,000 per space.

    • Steve Sweeney

      To date, the developer has not released its financial projections (and I’m not even sure that the developer has been asked). Presumably (and probably rightfully), that might be confidential business information. The cost per space below grade is not real helpful when estimated in isolation, without reference to how many spaces per level, costs per level (and incrementally increasing costs for incrementally deeper levels), and period of return on investment for the cost of the space. Considerations about costs to the developer are irrelevant in a discussion about benefits, amenities, and features requiring mitigation, except in the financial calculations of the developer itself, who has exclusive access to its financial plan, and would be in a position to consider the relative costs of accommodating each such benefit, amenity, and mitigation. Currently, the site is zoned as R-4 and the developer proposes a change to C-2-B. There are aspects of that proposed change that would themselves require mitigation, if not some form of benefit/amenity in exchange for the up-zoning. The PUD application identifies “Smart Use” as a community benefit. My view of the developer’s interpretation of “Smart Use” (to the extent Smart Use means increased density, height, and mass) is that Smart Use itself requires mitigation.
      On the metro access itself, the project proposal itself would itself entail an increased level of usage of the Eastern Market station. The PUD application heralds and relies on promixity to the Metro. As currently configured, EVERY increased boarding at Eastern Market attributable to the project would be crossing six lanes of the urban thoroughfare, Pennsylvania Avenue between 7th and 8th. The scope of the transportation study (esp. the absence of one) is one the matters the ANC zoning subcommittee on Hine is pursuing with the developer.

  7. Max

    How about for a community benefit we actually allow this project to get built instead of having people who live right across the street to enforce endless delays and red tape. This site has been a black hole for nearly 4 years now, depriving the city of tax revenue and the eastern market area of additional residents that could support more retail. This project should be as tall as possible as it is on top of metro and it is in the center of a major international city.

    • Steve Sweeney

      How about we stop asking rhetorical questions based on false premises? How about we ask about how much of the past 4.5 years had anything to do with neighbors versus the District, the developer itself and/or the developer’s changes to the proposal over time in response to economic conditions? It is inaccurate to suggest that any part of any ‘delay’ or any extension of any milestone was requested by or to accommodate affected neighbors.