Editorial: Yard Sign Campaign to Downsize Hine Begins Today

Sign campaign calls on Councilmember Tommy Wells to downsize Hine Project. Photo credit: Maggie Hall

Editorial:  Yard Sign Campaign to Downsize Hine Begins Today

by Larry Janezich

Yard signs encouraging Councilmember Tommy Wells to use his influence to downsize the Hine project to a height more in keeping with the Capitol Hill neighborhood have gone up on properties near the site of the future development.

The signs, part of EMMCA’s political messaging campaign on Hine, read “Tommy: Right Size Hine,” and list a website for interested parties to view (http://rightsizehine.org/).  The decision to move forward with the signs, and to direct them toward Tommy Wells, was made once the Office of Planning (OP) recommended proceeding with the zoning change for the site without taking issue with the height of the proposed Hine Development put forward by Stanton/Eastbanc.

The OP’s failure to name height as a prominent concern seemed to limit what could be achieved through the normal operations involved in changing the zoning of the site through the Planned Unit Development (PUD) process.  Previously, Wells steered neighbors to the PUD process to resolve such concerns, and that led to the decision to address Tommy Wells by name on the sign.  The Councilmember is the only realistic political option left for neighbors who wish to see meaningful changes to the Hine Development proposal.

The signs are being distributed by Barbara Riehle (barbara@erols.com).

67 Comments

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67 responses to “Editorial: Yard Sign Campaign to Downsize Hine Begins Today

  1. This is an absurd protest. The Hine project should be as tall and as dense as possible.

    • Gerry Connolly

      Why not take a walk over to the Hill Center (9th and Penn SE) and take a look at the proposed model. Easy to find. Just go into the office on the ground floor. See if you can find the Eastern Market on the grand plan.

      • C

        Gerry, give it a rest. I think it’s safe to say most of us who follow this blog are aware of the Hill Center model and have already gone to see it. You don’t need to respond to every person whose comments you disagree with to inform us of the model’s existence.

        Incidentally, I don’t think the model supports your argument at all! When you look at it the proposed building fits in with the rest of the neighborhood even better than it appears to when you look at the drawings or read the statistics.

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  3. ProProgress

    Tommy: MAKE HINE FINE

    Tommy; PUSH HINE HIGH

  4. Karen Kimball

    The Hine project should be right sized and in keeping with the nature of a historic neighborhhood. There are no seven story buildings in this neighborhood. Retail needs a buffer with residential housing. It’s a historic district. It has charm and character and attracts many because of that.

    Development- yes… development that fits existing character.

  5. caroline

    I agree with Max. It would be irresponsible to NOT have density directly across the street from a Metro station.

  6. Whoa_now

    This is absurd. I may start a sign campaign too…Keep Hines High…and pass them out to everyone not directly around the Hines. They seem to be the only one protesting…newsflash, just because you bought land right beside a defunct eyesore of a jr high, does not give you absolute power over what replaces that ugly jr high. If I lived beside Hines, I would be graeful and excited for the density and the retail it will bring. They only thing I would argue for is that the flea mkt stays. I’ve said in the past, you could have made the right argument about design…instead you argued over something stupid like height. They will not build this project small..So if the few win this argument, it will actually keep the building as is-ugly, unsightly, no utility, drain on tax revenue-They will not waste time building a 3 story condo building on this spot.

    • Fake Handle

      110% agree, this project has jumped through all the hoop and now it is time to get on with it.

      • Gerry Connolly

        Sorry Fake. But it really hasn’t jumped through all the hoop(sic) yet.

        No body is talking about keeping the ‘ugly’ building that is there now, but a 9+ story building at the corner of 7th and Pa may be a bit much for even you, Fake.

        Most sensible people want development on the site, but sensible development can make winners of us all. Office building, condos, apartments, more restaurants, and some etc can be appropriate.

        But the possibility of a hundred cars pulling in and out of the one entrance to the parking lot at 8th and the continuation of C St during rush hour could be a potential safety hazard to all those folks who use 8th Street to get to the Metro.

        Have you noticed all the traffic that uses 8th Street now. With the federal government shutting down most of the north/south through traffic and the increase of traffic due to the new office buildings on M Street has really put a lot of vehicles on 8th Street.

        I am not sure where you live Fake, but maybe you could volunteer your block to pick up some of this traffic. Do me a favor and head over to the Hill Center and take a look at the model there. And do me another favor, be a bit more reflective in your thinking. Thank you.

    • Progress4Ward6

      200% agree. Anything other than this size project directly across from a Metro station would be a drain on private and public resources.

      • Gerry Connolly

        Dear Progress4
        Do you really know the size of the project you are talking about? Have you been to see the model? Take a look, it’s at the Hill Center. There are very few folks in Ward who are against progress. We are all for progress, But don’t call me anti progress just because I don’t want the hill to look like the ‘burbs,

    • Gerry Connolly

      Whoa
      Whoa is right! What a absurd premise you set up. If Stanton Development and our neighbor Kitty Kaup can’t build a mega building, do you really think she and Amy and her partners would build schlock next to the Easter Market? Why do you think Right Size means a 3 story condo? Sure their investment necessitates a fairly dense use of the space, but I know they can make it a better fit if they try.

      Kitty, Amy, and Ken have already adressed many of the comments of the neighbors in their redesign. If you had lived on the Hill for any length of time, you would working hard to make sure whatever is built there fits into the character of Capitol Hill

  7. Fake Handle

    What’s historic about an abandoned school and empty asphalt parking lot?

    • Gerry Connolly

      Fake
      You are corrct. There is nothing historic about an abandoned school and empty parking lot. The school building design did not fit into the Hill in the first place. But maybe we can make what replaces it fit carefully into the historic entity that is Capitol Hill. My friend, try to think outside of your box.

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  9. Kathleen

    No one is holding this project up… unless you count the developer.

    NO ONE IS HOLDING THIS PROJECT UP.

    If you don’t like the project, don’t get a sign. Start your own blog. But when you inveigh against neighbors who are motivated and doing the write thing for their neighborhood on a blog, I personally don’t find that persuasive or incredibly balanced behavior.

    Tommy: RIGHT SIZE HINE.

  10. Bobbi Krengel

    All those who employ the fallacy of the false alternative of an empty school building betray their short term view of the neighborhood. NOBODY is in favor of a vacant unappealing building.
    The concern is for what is best for the integrity of the neighborhood as a whole, and resisting black and white thinking. Just because a site has proximity to transit does not demand development to maximum density; otherwise there could be no transit in moderate or low density neighborhoods.
    There is a finite quantity of rowhouse neighborhoods, and they must be protected, as well as their corresponding infrastructure, such as small-scale retail. Even when they are so fortunate as to be well-served by mass transit. To develop every transit-oriented site to the max would be to eliminate transit-oriented rowhouse neighborhoods, which could actually be considered the gold-standard for quality of life.
    Right-sizing this project benefits the neighborhood as a whole.
    Otherwise, what is the point of zoning? Put those big boxes where they belong–with the sprawl.
    Furthermore, just because the new model 3D rather than 2D doesn’t make it any more adherent to truthful standards. A decade ago we were presented with a grossly inaccurate 3D model for the Holladay project at the former MedLink.
    If we’re not careful we’re going to end up with something only marginally better than the City Market at O Street:
    http://roadsidedevelopment.com/admin/Editor/f1l3s/CityMarket%20at%20O%20Project%20Book.%2002.03.11.pdf
    Move over, Mrs. Calomiris, and make way for Dean and Deluca.
    If the market is to be wrapped around with oversized modern large development it will soon become a relic, ripe for repurposing, not the beating heart, soul, and anchor of its thriving neighborhood that it constitutes now. Once its gone, it will never come back.
    Bobbi Krengel

    • Whoa_now

      Bobbi, I think you have some good points and true it is not a all or nothing…however I think it will always be a bigger building than “Right Size Hines” would want. If the current Hines project doesn’t work, Hines Jr. High and parking lot will be there for atleast another 5-10 years. And while agree with your comment about waiting for the right projecto to come along…I really wish we had ahad the argument over style vs height. If this project fails to come about, do you think a new developer is going to share “right Size Hines” opinion about size? I doubt it. The land is just too expensive to build a 3 story condo building.
      No row houses are being destroyed. The character of the neighborhood is not being changed. One ugly eyesore is being removed for a larger eyesore-but I think the larger eyesore will bring things to the neighborhood, capitol hill, city that will overall be an a benefit. If I had my wishes it would look more like http://www.flickr.com/photos/geoff-inoz/5449550434/

      which follows the Italiante archtecture style of the actual market. build it out of the same brick, make it look like a number of different buildings with different heights (between 5-7 stories) and have the corner building be the largest and make it spectacular looking from the metro.

      Also just a general question to the group when is the current proposed date for completion?

      • Bobbi Krengel

        Thank you, Whoa.
        I agree that design is also critical, as failure of either size or design can doom, but its also a false alternative–its also not either/or, but both.
        And we did have the discussion about size AND design–during the year-long series of charrettes [charades?] during the RFP process.
        I don’t want to delay either, as I went to every single one of those visioning meetings. I am not going to ask how many posters can say the same, but those who advocate for more responsibility are not necessarily in favor of inertia.
        I don’t want to wait for the right project to come along–I want the one that was stipulated in the terms of the RFP–not the one that was bait-and-switched after the prize was handed over, and who then insisted on changing the rules, awarding the north parcel in a fee simple sale, and the privatization of the re-created formerly public C street. And reneging on the promise of space for the flea market.
        Yes I know that no row houses are being demolished. But ddemolition is the not the only way to destroy row houses–they also die a slow and decrepit death from suffocation by large-scale big boxes towering over them. Just look at what happened near Station Place, if you have lived here long enough to have witnessed that. Crap creeps gains momentum when wrapped in trend–you’ll know it when you see it.
        I just don’t think swapping a newer, shinier eyesore for an older, dated eyesore counts as a solution. Love the building you linked to in NZ. If I had my wishes, the new project would incorporate references to the original building on the site, the old Wallach School, amazingly also designed by the architect of Eastern Market, Adolph Cluss:
        http://www.thehillishome.com/2011/02/lost-capitol-hill-the-wallach-school/
        Bobbi Krengel

      • SEC

        Hi,
        Could either Joe or Whoa_now or anybody else who knows, please share with all of us two things:
        What is the current height of Hines?
        What is the highest point of the proposed new construction?
        Are we discussing inches or feet or yards?
        I asked this question recently at a community meeting and have also researched the development web site to no avail. (I apologize if this is listed already, if so please advise where. I just studied the shade map just to be sure)

        Also why are we arguing about “progress”, I cannot find anybody who thinks Hines currently looks good, the issue should be finding a balance between an economically feasible project and an appealing building appropriate for Capitol Hill. The more recent drawings presented by Amy Weinstein were imhu so much more appealing than the first set, perhaps more input could lead to more improvements.

        My concern with this project is PARKING as it is already impossible to find a space on Seward Sq, where I live, on a Saturday or Sunday. The project needs to incorporate more parking spaces in the underground garage, otherwise all of us will be driving around like the Flying Dutchman looking for a parking space … And if there is not enough parking incorporated in the project we will all suffer, whenever we decide to sell our houses regardless of how much we like or dislike “progress” or the esthetics of this project.

        Thanks,
        Suzanne

      • Gerry Connolly

        Hi Suzanne

        Just take a walk over to the Hill Center. Stanton Development has put their model of the site on display there. You can get a pretty good idea of the size of the project just by looking at it. It’s big. Some of us think it’s too big. But just take a look and let me know what you think.

  11. Scott

    Tommy: Please do what is best for all of DC. Pushing housing density along transit routes is the right thing for all. More residents can live in the inner city and use our public transit systems. The city gets more tax revenue, more residents will create a demand for better and more retail options and more ridership on our transit systems will increase revenue for upgrades and expansions. Please do not allow the voices of a few to cloud your thoughts on what is best for the neighborhood and the city as a whole.

    • Kathleen

      Actually, it is office space that is driving most of the height. And actually, as my good friend Alex Block already (inadvertently) pointed out to me, historical Capitol Hill is cited as an ideal, high-density residential neighborhood by at least one authority on the subject.
      So let’s not dress up corporate boosterism in some pretty smart growth clothes. We on Capitol Hill have already managed to develop a great neighborhood without your help! But thanks all the same…

      • Hi Kathleen.

        Capitol Hill is indeed nice. I like living here. That doesn’t mean this project won’t be a tremendous addition to the area.

        Cities are dynamic places, they are constantly changing and evolving. This will be a positive addition in that regard.

      • Kathleen

        That’s great. That means a flight or two off of its most egregious aspects won’t make a difference. It will just bring it in line with what’s already great! Pop the champagne.

  12. Joe

    Tommy, please listen to all the geniuses like Scott and Whoa and Fake, who inform us that the more density the better, no matter what. It’s a shame that DC, and particularly the Capitol Hill Historic District, didn’t understand this earlier, because by now we might have 12 story buildings all over the Hill, and be just like the vibrant, charming neighborhood being built near the Nationals stadium. Heck, if only we were as smart as Scott and Whoa and Fake, we might even build up in a way that makes us just like Houston, TX. Actually, Tommy, I hope you’re proud of youself because these are the folks you’ve aligned yourself with, rather than working for a development that is appropriate in the context of this location.

  13. Whoa_now

    Joe,

    please don’t do that. It cheapens your argument. If you have a point. make it, but don’t say its going to turn Capitol Hill into Houston, TX. Don’t put down the people who disagree with you. Make a case. My case is that the neighbors made the wrong argument. It should have been about design, not height. No developer is going to put up a three story condo building here because the cost doesn’t project a good margin. The land is so expensive that it doesn’t make feasible economic sense to build such a small building. Using density in areas like this is smart. It is across the street from a metro, on major roads and in the middle of a city that has a huge issue with rent prices. You may disagree, but tell us why? Don’t say it will turn in to Houston-that doesn’t help your side. It’s hyperbole and useless in an argument. Ask yourself some questions: Why am I against this? What will it do to my property, my properties value, what will it do for my neighborhood, what will it do for the city of DC? What will it bring to my neighborhood? what will it take away from my neighborhood.

    • Gerry Connolly

      Whoa

      Let’s face it. You kinda push folks to be a bit smart-alecky in their responses to you. Right size is not just about height. It’s about the mix of properties in the complex. It’s about parking. It’s about a lot less merchant space on the plaza. It’s about traffic. It’s about being overwhelming for the neighborhood. And, I am worried that it’s also about the failure of the developers to be true to the plans that they initially agreed to when the district issued its Request for Proposals. And because it’s such a small project as the District goes, it may just be slipping under the District’s radar.

      I also agree with Joe’s comments. He is not as far off base as you charge him with. In fact he is rather Swiftian in his comments.

  14. Whoa_now

    Also, Nobody is saying “Density-no matter what”…this isn’t a “no matter what situation” we’ve look at the situation and our opinion is that in this particular situation-more density is good for the neighborhood and city. If you can’t fight fair, you’ve already lost the high ground. Argue with what we’re saying, not what you want us to say.

  15. Dave

    Where can we get signs encouraging density and smart use of incredibly-valuable and accessible land? It would be a huge mistake to underbuild this parcel and would only further the skyrocketing housing prices on Hill. No reason for anyone to think that the signs’ view is the only view on the subject.

    • anon

      That’s a specious argument. Adding housing doesn’t address housing costs in high demand close-in neighborhoods and will do absolutely nothing to increase affordability. The few hundred residents will include a very small subsection of single young single professionals who will qualify for the ‘low income’ set aside based on their <$75K salary. It's a negligible amount of additional housing in relation to the ~20K residents of the extended Hill neighborhoods

      • Every little bit matters. Supply has not kept up with demand, and that’s a recipe for prices to skyrocket and become unaffordable. We need more housing in DC in general, and this project helps work towards fulfilling that goal.

        No, this project alone won’t solve those affordability issues, but that’s a completely unfair comparison. This project won’t cure cancer, either – but that’s not a reason to oppose it.

      • anon

        Who said anything about opposing it? I can not like certain elements (design more than overall plan), or even think the scale could be more appropriate for the same sq ft of space.

        There’s plenty of close-in land that can be developed near mass transit (look no further than a mile east on Penn). A few hundred units will not address the high cost of housing in this neighborhood, especially considering new contstruction commands a price premium. The more likely outcome will be a continuing run up in prices in surrounding neighborhods as nearby amenities improve. But as others have commented, the commercial space will have greater impact than the residential.

  16. Joe

    Whoa, I, like most who live on the Hill and use metro daily and rarely use a car, believe “density is good.” The folks who are pointing out that this Hine project is too high also believe “density is good,” and recognize this is across from a metro station. You say my Houston analogy has no merit, yet I don’t see you offering ANY restriction on your pro-density position. I think it is a simple, objective fact that a commercial office building that is twice as high as the next tallest building on the Hill is too tall. I especially believe that to be the case when the jewel of the Hill — Eastern Market — is essentially across the street and going to be dwarfed by and in the shadow of this buidling. I don’t have as big a problem with the residential building on 8th Street, though it is at least one story taller than it should be. You and I certainly agree on one thing: design matters. Sadly, these buildings are ugly. As currently proposed, this project’s negatives outweigh it’s benefits.

    • Whoa_now

      Joe, we can argue in circles…you oppose this because its too big in your opinion. I think the height is fine. Would I want a 15- 20 story building here. no. I think the current hight is perfect, not too large, not too small. Adds a good amount a density. “objective fact that a commericial offince building that is twice as high as the next tallest building on the hill is too tall”…where is that being proposed? This proposed Hines building is not twice as high as any other building on the Hill. That is an outright lie. Discredits you. Eastern Mkt is not drawfed by the current building and therefore won’t be drawfed by a building one story higher.

      It will not be built to you or anyone on “Right Hight on Hines” specifications. It will always be “one story taller” than you want. Please answer me this: How high is too high for you? how much density do you want added (how many condo/apt)?

      • Joe

        You think it’s “an outright lie” that the 7th and Pennsylvania building is twice as high? I wish that were a “lie.” I invite you to look at it carefully and compare it to the building across 7th Street, which is already a tall building for the Hill. It is, I submit to you, twice as high:
        http://emmcablog.org/2012/04/03/3-d-model-of-hine-project-photos-part-ii/
        I accept that it will be taller than the other buildings on Pennsylvania Ave, but it goes too high and is too far out of scale. The developers have been purposely deceptive about supplying building heights, so if I’m a few feet off, I do apologize and welcome the actual facts if you can find those.

      • goldfish

        It is at least one story taller than any other recent building on the hill.
        Harris Teeter – 5 stories
        6th & Pennsylvania Post office — 6 stories
        7th & Pennsylvania — 5 stories
        National Capitol Bank — 6 stores

      • Whoa_now

        so was it an outright lie to say the Hines (at the highest- 7 stories) will be twice as high as any other building on the hill-(6×2=12 stories)?

      • Gerry Connolly

        Whoa
        You miss the point. The North Neighbors are not “Right Hight on Hines” ; they are hoping that Kitty etal will “Right Size Hine”. How tall do you think the buildings will be. The Penna Avenue side and the 7th street side up to the new C street will be office and ‘retail’ space not living space. It will be empty at night!

        There won’t be condos or apartments there. ‘Affordable’ housing (I’m guessing $550,000) will all be in the north building (between C and the alley) with retail on the 1st floor.. The condos and the healthy senior housing will be on 8th street.

        I have no idea as to the rental or ownership costs. But just check out Joe’s scenario for the existing condos down near Capital’s Stadium. Let’s not kid ourselves, we are still talking about housing for the 5%. Don’t look at this project as a panacea to solve the housing needs of the district. And since you think height isn’t so bad’, please stop by the model in the Hill Center. And if you think that it is great, we can’t argue anymore.

  17. DC Spur

    Joe – The restriction on the “pro-density position” in this case would equate to genuine historic preservation – ie preserving historic buildings. But historic preservation is not the issue here since this isn’t replacing a historic building. Bobbi talks about unlimited density leading to the elimination of row houses. But it is presicely because of historic preservation of row houses that this building should be as dense as possible. Because we limit the density already by protecting the historic buildings, the few areas where we can add density should be as dense as possible.

    What opponents of Hine are doing are expanding the guise of “historic preservation” to mean preserving the current “feel of the neighborhood.” But that is entirely different and subjective. I think the “feel of the neighborhood” would be much more vibrant and retail (including Eastern Market vendors) would be much more profitable if more peole could live here.

  18. Whoa_now

    I also live on the hill, and probably closer to the project than you. Also your Houston anology has no merit because it is actually crazy. Have you seen Houston? I didn’t write what my “density restriction” was because I don’t have one in this case. I think it is the right size.

    • Whoa_now

      Other cases I will adjust my density restriction. I will look at each individual case and make a rational decision based on supporting knowledge.

  19. goldfish

    Its height is about the same as the buildings near the ballpark, which are too tall to fit within the fabric of CH.

    • Fake Handle

      @Goldfish – that is an exaggeration. The building down by the ball park (e.g., Capitol Hill Tower, Velocity, Axiom, Jefferson Commons) are all ~10+ stories. The Hine development will only be 6, only 3 more taller than the building directly across 7th St, which is currently getting an extra floor as we speak.

  20. Fake Handle

    @goldfish – it will be close to the same height as the Haines building at the corner of 8th and Penn. So again, plenty of exaggeration. Thank you for at least conceding that it is no where near the height of the Ball Park buildings.

    I seriously doubt “height creep” will be an issue on Capitol Hill. Especially considering all of the checks and balances the neighborhood clearly already has in place and has used with the Hines development. This is not a slippery slope situation.

    • goldfish

      I walked by this yesterday. The Haines building is about the same height as the other buildings around, but more to the point, is not close enough to the Hines site to offer a meaningful comparison — you might as well be comparing it to the Harris Teeter building — which btw, is a more relevant counterpoint because is is only a few years old and built under the current zoning environment, whereas the Haines building was built before the height restrictions were put in place.

      A better comparison are the immediately neighboring buildings — and the proposed Hines buildings are *distinctly* taller, by 2-3 floors. It is also about *3* times taller than the older houses on 8th St, C St, and D St, and *4* times taller than the old, one-story commercial buildings on Pennsylvania Ave (such as the CVS). The developer is trying to get away with something they should not.

      Height restrictions are an admittedly arbitrary line in the sand, but once established they should not be increased in ordinary circumstances — and this is indeed an ordinary circumstance. To allow them to increase is unfair to the neighboring landowner and developers that had to build under the previous ones.

  21. Tim

    Why does everyone (read: preservationists) care so much about an already large, abandoned, decrepit building, and no one says a word about the re-development of the Maples just a couple of blocks away. Talk about destroying the character of the neighborhood. The developer of the Maples is going to build a handful of brand new, multiple 2,500 to 3,000-square-foot town homes (huge for the area) along South Carolina Avenue SE between 6th and 7th. These homes will likely look the eyesore that is the Capitol Quarter. Perhaps even worse, these homes will block the views of the incredibly historic Maples building, which was once home to Francis Scott Key and which George Washington visited (not some abandoned school). The images and renderings provided by the developer are inaccurate, and yet preservationists don’t seem to care.

    • anon

      given that the Maples project has already undergone HPRB review and received inputs from CHRS, most reasonable people would consider that already vetted. Some of the old structure was added in 1936. Not to mention the site was significantly threatened due to neglect. The Maples strikes a balance between preservation and adaptive reuse.

      Hine is a blank slate, which is why there is invariably a wide range of opinions about the vision for this site. At first I welcomed the idea of opening C St, but given the current plan, I almost wish it remained closed and provided some much needed additional open space (build up and down for all I care, just use strategic setbacks)

      • john dollop

        Hine has already been approved for conceptual massing and height by HPRB in 2011 and has received inputs from CHRS. It was awarded in 2009 after a lengthy RFP. Surely not a “blank slate”.

      • Joe

        John dollop: If the project that’s being built were the same as what this developer proposed that got them the right to do this, over the other proposals, you wouldn’t see many complaints. The fact is, EastBanc did a bait and switch. This project is 15% over the maximum set out in the RFP.

      • anon

        I should clarify — Hine WAS a blank slate. Less so at this late stage

  22. Tim

    So, would most “reasonable” people consider Hines already vetted?

    And couldn’t everything you said in the first paragraph be applicable to Hines (more recent structure, neglected, etc.)?

    I guess my point is that there is a lot of inconsistency on Capitol Hill with what we should and should not protect and how things should be protected. The whole process strikes me as quite arbitrary. We’re up in arms over a massive abandoned school, and a block away we can build four or five new 3,000-square-foot row homes blocking street views of an actual historic house (even portions from 1936 are historic) with little complaint.

    • anon

      I don’t think it appies to Hine, unless we’re acknowledging MCM, which isn’t a common historic point of reference on the Hill.

      Honestly, I would have prefered an adaptive reuse to the bulldozers, but I can live with this plan, just like the Maples one. Aside from replacing one school with another, I don’t think the existing Hine site (especially surface lots) was well conceived and worth preserving.

  23. Kathleen

    Hi Tim,
    I don’t know as much as I should about what is going in on S. Carolina, but my impression in general is that the HPRB is prepared to come down like the luftwaffe on residential homeowners, but only requires an acquaintance or reasonable expectation of future profit in order to find a developer’s plans in the historic district OK. So, in other words, shouldn’t you be fighting with us instead of against?

    • Tim

      Ha. I think your first sentence is dead on the money.

      With regards to Hines, my own personal opinion is that, at this point, I just want to see something developed there. And, for me, I wasn’t particularly concerned with the plans I’ve seen. My biggest criticism is probably that, architecturally, it is like everything else in D.C. But I think that’s what HPRB prefers, right? Anything nonconforming would be out of character.

  24. Karen Kimball

    Hi SEC- The building at 7th and Penn, as currently proposed, will be 7 stories. If there is a set back on that part (I think there is- but it’s for HVAC??) it will be additional height. The area is zoned for four stories. The developers are trying to get an exemption from the zoning committee in order to go above the four story limit.

    Some posts have mentioned that near neighbors will not be happy with any size… speaking personally, I would be ok with a two story reduction with set backs for additional square footage. I am one block away from Hine.

  25. no telling - no revenge

    None of the plans for the Hines development harken back to the magnificent Wallach School that was on this site for almost 100 years and was wantonly demolished in 1949. At the very least the architects could supply us with a nice clock tower- yes- clock tower- that would break up the flat-roof monotony of so many of their bland neo – Reston Towne Centre -style plans. It is not the height or the denisty that is a problem- it is the lack of beauty in the designs. Actually- a well thought out design would be excellent- and added density will bring more population into DC – more affluent people- which means less burden on all of us- ultimately- lower taxes eventually. It is sad that so many people on Capitol Hill are total car- addicts and do not see the rationality of denisty around transit hubs. Too many folks are frightened of the new younger people moving into the city. They look at 8th street and are frightened when they see kids spending money and having fun. We have too many stodgy elderly people around our area that resist change. They are fearful of streetcars- which were the historic way of traveling in DC- and over the years most of our mom & pop retail has disappeared on CH and so we now have relentless residential block after block where people must get in their cars to reach a store- so naturally no one wants to give up precious street parking. Why can’t people get out of their selfish car-oriented view of the city? Are we going to make the same mistake that DC-USA -Target made uptown with a huge unused parking facility? Are we going to have a nasty fight and have the developers walk out on us and leave the Hines site abandoned for 30 years- just like Eastern Market- until some arsonist torches the ruins? Lawyer on top of laywer fighting the whole thing to a standstill ? My bet is that all of the selfish car -owners in the area are going to make a total wreck of this real opportunity for positive change- not just for the neighborhood- but for the city as a whole- whiich none of them care about.

    • C

      Hey, don’t paint all of us car-owners with the same brush. I own a car, but fully support dense development in our neighborhood. So what if there’s a bit more traffic on our street? Who cares if I have to park one block or even two blocks away from my house sometimes? If traffic-free roads and parking in front of my house were a big priority I wouldn’t be living here!

    • anon

      I don’t follow. So if they designed something beautiful with a grand clock tower that occupied every inch of available space maxing out at the legal height limits, would this be a satisfactory plan? And could it still be “beautiful” while completely at odds with its surroundings? There’s a tradeoff somewhere in there (I’m not sure the ‘Right Size’ crowd stands to gain much against the current proposal).

      I completely disagree about the Wallach School as a point of reference. That decision is firmly planted in history and well predates the historic district. The Hines School is also old news at this point. We should be looking forward.

      The car issue is irrelevant. Keeping a car in DC is a pain in the ass accepted by many. Anyone who puts up with the DMV, the parking enforcement hacks, and the overall nuissance of owning a car in DC kind of knows what they’re in for. This isn’t going to change anything at whatever density.

      • goldfish

        The site is currently zone R-4 residential (the same as most of the houses on Capitol Hill) — changing this is a part of the deal with the developer.

        I do think, otoh, that a refreshing and beautiful building would help a lot in convincing neighbors that this is the right way to go, and would help make up for the loss to the flea market. Lots of people make a special trip to see the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao building. But this design is not nearly good enough to attract people to make a special trip.

  26. Joe

    This is absurd and the right size folks are inflating fears of PARKING and TRAFFIC. This is across the street from METRO. Census data on Capitol Hill shows that 40% of residents take transit, 20+ % walk or bike. This same argument was foisted over the redevelopment of H Street, the old Lovejoy School, condos at 13th and D NE, the waterfront, and the Harris Teeter development on PA Ave. Same old same old argument that I can’t park in front of my house anymore, the traffic will be overwhelming…well….it the fearmongering proved to be just that…fearmongering. the facts are the residents of these development aren’t all driving and ruining Historic Capitol Hill as if they live in Loudon County. This is a city. This is a selfish and shortsighted campaign.

  27. C

    I agree with Joe. I live on 8th Street and despite all the hyperbole coming from my neighbors, the traffic and parking is currently not bad at all, and I don’t think adding more offices/retail/housing directly across the street from the Metro is going to make it that much worse.

  28. Chicken Little

    The sky’s not falling.

    If they build it, the consumers will come.

    Keep Hine high!

    How many historic preservationists does it take to change a lightbulb? 5: 1 to change the lightbulb and 4 to talk about how great the old one was.