Editorial: HPRB Advances Hine Project – With Reservations

HPRB Votes To Advance the Hine Project 5-3

Photo credit:  Maggie Hall

Editorial*:  HPRB Advances Hine Project – With Reservations

by Larry Janezich

Yesterday, the Historic Preservation Review Board voted 5 – 3 to advance the Hine Project, but not without some board members expressing serious reservations about the design of the southern façade of the Pennsylvania Avenue Office Building, the design of the north façade of the North Residential Building, the plaza’s water feature, and the connection between the residential and office buildings facing Pennsylvania Avenue.  One board member recommended taking “at least one floor” off of the 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue Office Building.

Though the Board felt Eastern Market fell outside of their purview, Chair Catherine Buell nevertheless urged HPO staff, Councilmember Wells’ office, the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development’s office, and the developer to provide a greater accommodation for the weekend flea market.

Five community organizations, including ANC6B, the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, Eastern Market Metro Community Association, Eyes on Hine, and the Hine Site North Neighbors all sent representatives to express serious concerns about the project.  A common concern of all was the height and mass of the development.  The most critical of the organizations was the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, which, in addition to calling on HPRB to reconsider its prior approval of the height and massing of certain components of the Hine Project also submitted a lengthy report criticizes design elements in great detail.

Michael Berman, owner of Diverse Markets Management which manages the Flea Market, also appeared before the HPRB to testify on the inadequacy of the developer’s plan to site the weekend on the to be reopened C Street and the associated plaza.

ANC 6B Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg testified in support of the Hine Project and urged Board approval.  Her testimony included support for the “unique design” of the south façade of the 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue Building, its “commanding presence,” and opposed any reduction in height of the building, saying “reducing the height would be a step backward.”

The vote of the board was as follows:

To approve the motion to approve the staff report:  Chair Catherine Buell and Board Members Rauzia Ally, Andrew Aurbach, Maria Casarella, Joseph Taylor.

Opposing the motion to approve:  Board Members Robert Sonderman, Gretchen Pfaehler, Graham Davidson.

Board Member Nancy Metzger, former Chair of the Capitol Hill Restoration Society’s Historic Preservation Committee, has recused herself from consideration in this matter.

* The author of this posting presented testimony on behalf of EMMCA at yesterday’s hearing.


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10 responses to “Editorial: HPRB Advances Hine Project – With Reservations

  1. KC

    What a disaster….. I can’t imagine what these people would think if the height of the buildings across the street from their house doubled, causing you to lose most of your sunlight and view of the sky.

    • Ha!

      Agreed. That proposed building on 7th and penn is a good 3 floors too high. As a 30 year resident I agree with all of the cOncerns stated and think Kirsten Oldenburg is out of touch with the community.

  2. Maggie Hall

    I was at the hearing, and came away with a feeling that a tipping point is upon us. All this to say: that if – as many intend – we keep plugging away at all the concerns, the height particularly and a better and fairer deal for the flea-market, bit by bit we could get there.

  3. DC Spur

    Bravo to Kirsten Oldenburg for standing up against all this nimbyism and for standing up for greater density. This project will be a huge boon to the area.

  4. Pingback: Commissioner Norman Metzger : HPRB and Hine, Take 3

  5. anon

    The “density” gained here is nominal in relation to the overall number of residents on the Hill, especially the residential portion. The office space is more valuable from the density perspective, and for comparison sake the overall density added by this site is relatvely small compared to any number of blocks developed or under development in SW Waterfront.

    To may mind, the relatively small additional density is a reluctant argument in favor. I have reservations about some of the design elements and I suspect the “retail” will continue the established one note trend of more dining-centric development. I also get a strong sense from the GGW set that this project is more symbolic than anything in chipping away at historic district protections.

  6. Sue McDermott

    It will be refreshing if the supporters of this project in its current iteration could make a point, or defend one, without being insulting.
    But then, I guess it’s a great cheat sheet for someone ignorant of the issues to use in navigating the discussion. Ad hominem attacks being such a sign of weakness…

  7. Fake Handle

    I fully support this project. It has been through countless iterations and as currently proposed is a compelling compromise to meet the needs of the neighborhood, the developer, and the city moving forward.

  8. loose lips

    This is great news for the long term health of our area- and a blow to the auto-oriented CHRS and ***** people. The ****** and CHRS all want PARKING PARKING PARKING and no new retail, no density or transit-oriented development- only AUTO-oriented development. CHRS and the ******* seek to create scarcity thru a lack of density and we will have nothing but a real estate price escalation. Density at metro stations all throughout DC and the suburbs will help alleviate high housing and retail costs and help to bring some of our businesses lost to the suburbs. Building a huge – and ultimately unused – parking facility and a low density complex will exacerbate problems in the area. DC has been through this already with the disastrous DC-USA unused parking facility. People who own more than one car should be charged a hefty fee- and should NEVER be allowed to own or buy real estate near a dense metro area w/o paying extra. Too many people in the neighborhood are fearful of new residents and the positive changes they bring. Let’s hear it for the voices of reason and brave ANC lady Kristin Oldenburg who stood up to these forces of ******** and auto-oriented development.

  9. DC Resident

    @KC – you realize that HPRB has no jurisdiction over “light and air”. That is a zoning issue. All HPRB could look at is compatibility. The Board had long since “approved” the density of the sight. It looks like this meeting focused on design and how it fits in to the Capitol Hill Historic District.