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.