Capitol Hill Restoration Society Endorses Hine Project, With Reservations

Capitol Hill Restoration Society Endorses Hine Project, With Reservations – Final Report Backs Away From Previous Criticism of Height and Mass

by Larry Janezich

CHRS has released testimony it will present to the Zoning Commission on Stanton-Eastbanc’s application to change the zoning on the Hine site.  The final report of the CHRS on the project states, “In the main, CHRS supports the application but still has concerns about some elements of the plans….”

The report then takes issue with the design of the 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue building, calling it “inappropriate and incompatible with the historic district.”  And, “CHRS strongly urges that this building’s design be revisited and made more compatible with historic Capitol Hill.

The report goes on to express reservations about the connecting structure between the two buildings fronting Pennsylvania Avenue, which it calls “completely incompatible with the historic character of Capitol Hill, and in particular, of Pennsylvania Avenue….”  Further, “CHRS insists that this structure be redesigned.”

While the report reiterates criticisms of the design of the 7th and Penn office building and the connecting structure which CHRS raised before HPRB in April, oddly, the report is silent on the size and massing of the project.  In testimony before HPRB last April, CHRS called the 7th  and Penn building “too big, too tall, and too massive” and asked “that the seventh floor be dropped and the sixth floor set back at least as far as the seventh is now.”  Subsequently, ANC6B negotiators were successful in reducing the height of this building by removing the mechanical penthouse and eliminating the top set-back floor – less than what CHRS called for in April.  The April testimony concluded with a request that HPRB revisit and reconsider its earlier decisions regarding the height and mass of the portion of the development between C Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

In another part of the report, CHRS states that they believe the preservation of the flea market has been adequately addressed by Councilmember Wells’ Eastern Market legislation working its way through City Council, stating flatly, “The Trust will close 7th Street to provide for the flea market.”

Finally, the report slams last week’s DDOT Transportation report which recommended a substantial reduction in the project’s underground parking, calling it flawed and a “great disappointment.”  The report goes on, “Unfortunately DDOT…has decided to wait until just a few days before this hearing to throw a hand grenade into the room.”  CHRS has long supported the substantial parking provided by the developer which was subsequently approved by the city council.  The report states, “It is astonishing that DMPED and the Ciy Council can approve the parking and then DDOT, at the eleventh hour, can veto it.”  It calls on the Zoning Commission to disregard the Transportation Report.

Gary Peterson, Chair of the CHRS Zoning Committee, will present the report to the Zoning Commission.

Tonight, the Zoning Commission holds the first of what is likely to be two hearings on the application of Stanton-Eastbanc for a change in zoning for the Hine site.  The meeting will be at 6:30pm at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street, NW, Washington, DC.  The hearing is open to the public and likely to be well-attended.  It will be webcast live at dcoz.dc.gov.  Click the second button from the bottom on the right column.

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Capitol Hill Restoration Society Endorses Hine Project, With Reservations

  1. Tom

    Larry, a question: did the CHRS position on parking have to do primarily with ensuring vendors had enough parking?

  2. Bill

    inappropriate and incompatible with the historic district? has anyone looked at the varied and random architecture around the neighborhood?! The Hine School is an eyesore – anything that replaces it will be an improvement!

    • Tom

      Bill, structures in the Historic District are on the whole quite compatible, even with “random” architecture built before the HD was established, within the CHHD. Of course, you are right about the Hine sight (pun intended). But just because “anything that replaces it” will be an improvement doesn’t mean that the community should settle for incompatible architecture, half-hearted architecture.

      I for one am shocked that Amy Weinstein would let he name be associated with the current design, unless she is under terrible duress from Stanton. I’m surprised Stanton would want to be associated with the design as well.

  3. @ Tom. The report doesn’t mention parking as it relates to the vendors.

    • Tom

      Larry, you are right, there isn’t an explicit mention of vendor parking. I thought it was implied in the 10th principle on pg. 1, “so there is parking for the residential, commercial, and weekend parking for the Eastern Market.”

  4. John Bergin

    I am so disappointed in the Capitol Hill Restoration Society and our ANC member. Neither one of these parties has the slightest concern for our neighborhood and seems to be interested only in furthering the ambitions of a small minority who will not see this abomination from their front door. What happened to the original project that was not just acceptable but one that we really could support? This whole thing smacks of cronyism and has the same stench as the rot coming out of the District Building.

  5. Tom

    John, please do not put citizen organizations and the lowest level of elected DC officials in the same box as the money grubbing city councilors who have just gone to jail, or will soon. You may disagree with a group or an individual, that is what democracy is about, but they are your fellow citizens from the Hill, they volunteer for these positions, and they do not take money for their views or votes. And I know from personal experience they do indeed care about their neighborhood, which is an awfully good one.

  6. ccc

    How utilized is the parking at the Columbia Heights Mall? I hear that it is only ever half full, and that’s at the holidays. Is that accurate? Is that what DDOT predicts for EM?

  7. david c

    What exactly does parking have to do with historic preservation? Why is CHRS even weighing in on that? How does a large parking garage help to “protect the historic neighborhood’s architectural and residential character”? Talk about overreach.