Update on the Thursday Night’s Zoning Commission Hearing on Hine
by Larry Janezich
The Zoning Commission hearing on Thursday night lasted almost five hours. This first of at least two hearings was devoted to procedural issues and presentations by Stanton-Eastbanc (SEB), the Office of Planning, and the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee presentation.
The Commission granted party status to Diverse Market Management (manager of the Sunday flea market), the Hine School North Neighbors, Eyes on Hine, and Eastern Market Metro Community Association, all in opposition. The neighbors representing the 300 block of 9th Street were denied party status in opposition. CHAMPS was granted party status in support.
Party status allows those granted it more time to make their case and gives them the right to cross examine other parties.
The hearing was attended by Chair Hood and Commissioners Cohen, May and Turnbull. Commissioner Schlater was absent.
Items of particular interest which came out during the hearing include:
- According to Eastbanc’s Joe Sternlieb, once the project is completed it will provide 700 new jobs and $7 million in annual sales and income taxes. In addition, SEB has a drawing showing the placement of 70 10X10 tents on 7th Street between C Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, if that portion of 7th is closed and used for the weekend flea markets.
- Nicole White of Symmetra Design, SEB’s Transportation consultant, will submit additional transportation study information to the Commission and the developer on Monday. Of particular concern will be a plan worked out with DDOT for unloading 55 foot trucks at the development and justification for the developer’s plan for parking appropriate to support project.
- Buwa Binitie, SEB’s affordable housing consultant, located 34 affordable housing units in the North Building, 4 in the Plaza Building, and 8 in the 8th Street Residential Building, for a total of 46. Half will be restricted to seniors.
Questions asked of the developer by Commissioners revealed their special concerns.
The genesis of many of the questions from Commissioner May appeared to be letters from the community. In particular, he was concerned about how the current project compared to the original design approved by the city council when the bid was awarded to SEB. Weinstein said that she would submit additional information to the Commission. May also questioned Sternlieb about the privatization of C Street, and Sternlieb appeared to be ambivalent about whether a 99 year lease of C Street was SEB’s preference, but stated that the plan was to make use of C Street and the Plaza a seamless experience and alluded to creative use of the space in ways involving art and culture. May was also interest in how the project compares to other large buildings up and down Pennsylvania Avenue and asked Weinstein to provide additional information to help the commission assess the project’s height and mass. May also asked Weinstein for an acoustic study because he was concerned about noise on 8th Street. May favored the extensive use of the green roof, calling in “unusual.”
Commissioner Turnbull raised concerns about the alley elevation of the North Building, saying this side of the building needed additional work to make it fit into the neighborhood. He also asked for a more extensive shadow study. Questioning Sternlieb about parking for residents of the North Building, he determined the new information that parking for these affordable housing units will be below the project’s South building.
Chair Hood questioned White about the still-being-worked-out 55 foot truck unloading issue, and questioned Sternlieb about the weekend flea market. However, he seemed most interested in SEB’s compliance with the First Source Agreement, providing that 50% of employees on the project be C residents.
Commissioner Cohen expressed her support for the number of affordable housing units and asked questions about location of the weekend flea market during construction and a green roof for the North Building. Regarding the latter, Weinstein noted that the upper floors of the North Building would be a wooden frame construction and as an architect she was unprepared to try to put a green roof on a wooden structure.
Thursday night’s hearing closed with testimony from Donna Scheeder, Chair of Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee. She expressed disappointment with the Office of Planning report and the DDOT transportation report. She urged the recommendation in the latter for a reduction in parking be rejected. Scheeder presented a case for the forthcoming new governing structure for Eastern Market – the “Trust” to assume control of the management of the two weekend flea markets as well as the arts and crafts vendors who operate on Eastern Market Square on the weekends. ANC Commissioners Ivan Frishberg and Brian Pate bolstered that argument with a series of cross examination questions which amounted to a colloquy supporting the ability of the Trust and an expanded Special Use District – both provided for in legislation working its way through City Council – to handle and accommodate the combined markets.
The hearing will resume next Thursday at 6:30pm, when Nicole White of Symmetra will continue her presentation with new information and the benefit of consultation with DDOT to resolve remaining transportation and parking issues.