Photo Essay – 43 Unit Project Near SE Safeway Headed to Zoning Commission

Sean Ruppert of Opal LLC, hold depiction of aerial view of Watkins Alley looking Northeast.  The large white structure at the top of the rendering is Safeway.  The white structure just below it is Frager's.

Sean Ruppert of Opal LLC, holds depiction of aerial view of Watkins Alley looking Northeast. The large white structure at the top of the rendering is Safeway with E Street running between it and the project.  Frager’s is hidden by the tallest structure with the green roof.

Rendering of the view from E Street.  The pass through permits resident and public access to the "North Courtyard."  Just visible through the opening is the single carriage house in the project - which Ruppert says zoning officials referred to as the "jewel" of the project.  In order to provide the pass through, designers had to eliminate one unit.

Rendering of the view from E Street. The pass through permits resident and public access to the “North Courtyard.” Just visible through the opening is the single carriage house in the project – which Ruppert says zoning officials referred to as the “jewel” of the project. In order to provide the pass through, designers had to eliminate one unit.

The Carriage House

The Carriage House represented by the tall narrow  grey rectangle just below the center in the first photo above.

View looking north from the North Courtyard near the carriage house.  The bridge between the buildings will span the southern end of the "Southern Courtyard" depicted below.

View looking north from the North Courtyard near the carriage house. The bridge between the buildings will span the southern end of the “Southern Courtyard” depicted below.

View looking west through the "Southern Courtyard."  Residents and public will have access from the entrance opening onto the the narrow alley that bisects the block north to south.

View looking west through the “Southern Courtyard.” Residents and public will have access from the entrance opening onto the the narrow alley that bisects the block north to south.

View of Watkins Alley looking north west, showing the entrance to the north courtyard.  The rendering does not show the parking lot for Signature Collision Center which would be on the right of the image.  That parcel is scheduled for development of residential units by Insight Development, who is also developing Buchanan School across the street.

View of Watkins Alley looking north west, showing the entrance to the “Southern Courtyard.” The rendering does not show the parking lot for Signature Collision Center which would be on the right of the image. That parcel is scheduled for development of residential units by Insight Development, who is also developing Buchanan School across the street.

Photo Essay – 43 Unit Project Near SE Safeway Headed to Zoning Commission

Developers See Ground Breaking in Spring, 2017

by Larry Janezich

Monday night, ANC6B’s PUD Subcommittee heard a presentation on the latest plans for the 43 residential unit project planned for 1311 E Street, SE, near the SE Capitol Hill Safeway.  Developer Sean Ruppert of Opal LLC told the Subcommittee that the project goes before the Zoning Commission next April for zoning relief to permit greater height and density than zoning currently allows.  He subsequently told CHC he hopes to break ground in the spring of 2017.  Plans for the project were reported first by CHC last January See here:  http://bit.ly/14qcnLZ

In return for increased height and density, zoning regulations provide that the community receives compensatory “benefits and amenities” and the PUD Subcommittee chaired by Commissioner Nick Burger is considering a list compiled after consultation with members of the community in subcommittee meetings in recent months.  Some of the items on the list include increased affordable housing, improvements to Potomac Avenue Metro Plaza, greenspace improvements, tree canopy improvements, modification of the fence around Potomac Gardens in accordance with Potomac Garden resident wishes, and improvements to Hopkins and Chamberlain School playgrounds.

There are three projects in close proximity seeking zoning relief and community compensation packages will be negotiated with each one by ANC6B on behalf of the community.  See here:  http://bit.ly/1Ste9jt

The three projects, the developers, and the number of likely residents are as follows:

1300 block of E Street, SE, Opal LLC, Watkins Alley residential project – 100 to 150 residents

1401 Pennsylvania Avenue, CAS Riegler, multi-story residential retail building – 400 residents

1300 block of E Street, SE, Insight Development Group, residential project – 350 to 400 residents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

16 Comments

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16 responses to “Photo Essay – 43 Unit Project Near SE Safeway Headed to Zoning Commission

  1. Tim Tom

    This is great news! Happy to see more folks on the Hill and happy to see energy and density moving eastward towards the river. This is a very positive development and Larry deserves a pat on the back for staying on top of what’s going in this area. I am so excited about these! Can’t wait!

  2. Looks bulky. I would trade the compensatory benefits for deleting the unit above the pass through and less bulk pavers. Bricks are consistent with the neighborhood and castles in Italk where the horses passed through. Flagstone or pavers with ground cover between them may require up keep but would look more garden-like and add an interesting texture to the edifice.

    • Mary Lischer

      Bulky, indeed. The last drawing of the building on “Watkins alley looking north west” looks like the abandoned 20th c. mill buildings you pass driving up through Hartford, CT. This development has that all-too-familiar look of the townhouses put in 15-20 years ago around Old Town, Alexandria. If every last square inch of Capitol Hill must be developed, why keep repeating these “modernized brick rectangles” of townhouses attempting to look Victorian? Mixing a little modern aesthetic into the neighborhood would be a refreshing change and might just make the new unfortunate height limit less over-powering.

      Please tell me that adequate parking (one space, minimum, for each unit) is a requirement for these new developments.

      • Nancy Vogt

        I think I asked a similar parking question earlier (not sure if it was in this forum or not) and the answer was no (not a minimum of one space per unit). Someone can correct me if I’m wrong.

      • Corey H

        As Larry reported in the links above, there will be at least one spot per unit in this development. The latest zoning filing has 45 spaces for 43 units. The garage will be under the units that parallel E street in the Alley.

        The development would only require 14 spaces (7 once the new zoning code passes). But at $1m+ per unit, I’m guessing buyers demand that amenity.

      • Nancy Vogt

        Ah, thanks Corey. I see that the earlier comment I recalled was made in reference to three other developments in the area – the ones that would bring close to 1000 new residents. Still no answer on the number of parking spaces for those units.

      • Corey H

        For completeness sake, there are four major projects nearby (if you include the NY Pizza project):

        1a) Buchanan School by-right condo building (Building Permit B1508152, fronting E Street): 41 units, 14 spaces (14 required)
        1b) Buchanan School BZA townhouses (BZA Case 19035, Fronting 13th and D Street): 34 units, 32 spaces (17 required)
        1c) Buchanan School by-right townhouses (Fronting D Street): 18 Units, 9 spaces (This is a guess based on the initial proposal Larry reported on earlier, 9 space would be required if they’re all two-unit flats and they’re not currently seeking a variance)
        2) NY Pizza development (ZC Case 15-12): 174 units, 58 spaces (58 spaces required)
        3) Insight Project at 1339-1355 E Street: They haven’t filed their initial PUD/text amendment yet. All we have to go on is the earlier statement that they’re planning on a similar number of units to the NY Pizza development. They have over 41,000 square feet to work with on a largely rectangular lot so I think they could reach the required number of spaces (1 for 3 units, which would be reduced 50% if the PUD public hearing is scheduled 6 months after the zoning commission approves the new zoning code and the ZC doesn’t change the 50% reduction rule at final action)

  3. Bean's Mom

    I don’t have a problem with this development but do have some concerns (maybe thoughts is a better word) for lack of a better word.

    First, the look of the development from the pictures is in keeping with the neighborhood so they were smart to cut the aesthetics argument off because that would have definitely been an issue if they had designed something like what is being done in a lot of the larger NoMa projects. However, given the layout with the carriage way and interior courtyard, makes me wonder about any safety hazards for the residents. I know the developer doesn’t particularly care about at as long as the units sell. And maybe I shouldn’t “wonder” about it and let the residents deal with what ever may (or may not) end up being an issue.

    There is a lot of development in basically 2 blocks across the street from each other. Just the ones mentioned in this post adds roughly 900-1000 residents. I assume all are going to be asking for some sort of zoning relief. Will each of these developments be looked at individually or will the bigger picture (i.e. all the projects) be factored into any thinking/decisions?

  4. Maggie Hall

    The genie on height and density control of buildings is out of the bottle. Thanks to Hine? Note these two statements: “…for zoning relief to permit greater height and density than zoning currently allows…”. and “….in return for increased height and density, zoning regulations provide that the community receives compensatory ‘benefits and amenities’….”

    • anon

      this is all chump change — the big underutilized parcel on E St. is the Safeway, which now seems all but certain to be redeveloped and the land under the surface lot better optimized

      • Tim Tom

        Yes, the Safeway redevelopment is going to be huge and it is going to happen. No way it can’t.

        And there is local precedent, too. Look at the Safeway up Wisconsin in Georgetown (the Social Safeway) which has underground parking, a HUGE shopping area, and also a sitting porch where you can eat the prepared food or just hang out. I could see a very similar model on the Hill East site. (Don’t know if the social Safeway has residential / office above.)

        But, like Ginsu ads, Wait! There’s more!

        Remember that there is the 1200 block of Pennsylvania Ave that Larry Quillian (the shotgun house guy) owns. Frager’s garden center is there right now but that could easily be redeveloped with some kind of retail and residential. And it has a curb cut on the PA Ave side (they appear to have taken away the curb cut to the shotgun house which connects to the PA Ave lot). Hard to see him kicking Frager’s off but Frager’s will move back into their old space eventually, one imagines.

        Safeway has two advantages vs. the 1200 block. The first is that they are outside of the historic district which diminishes the leverage that community activists of various stripes have. The second is that their lot is (I think) larger than the 1200 block. The advantage that the 1200 block has is the fancy PA Ave address though I don’t know how much that is going to move the needle in terms of development value. And, of course, Quillian would have to figure out a way to get along w/ the city authorities for anything to happen –that would be fun to watch.

        Exciting times. I just hope that the stuff that gets built is better than Amy Weinstein’s dreadful Hine design.

      • anon

        G’town Safeway is a terrible model. There’s a ton of wasted space devoted to parking, including the tallest interior of a parking structure I’ve ever seen (seriously, it’s like 3 stories high) with a parking deck above it as well. It doesn’t connect to the street at all. I’d rather see something like Safeway in NoMa, or even H St Giant or Harris Teeter down the street

        The only curb cut used to be on E St and you’re correct that it’s gone. It also lies in the Historic District and would be very different parameters for redevelopment.

  5. Tim Tom

    Maggie,

    Unless these things are fully approved then this is just an opening gambit from the developer. Classic case of asking for more than you think you can get so that even a compromise lands you in the acceptable range. I fully expect those designs to change in both style and substance.

    Separately, yes, the genie is probably out of the bottle.

    But the main precedent from Hine is appalling design. Our preservationist sachems –who will gleefully crush the average Capitol Hill homeowner under their boot for having the wrong door– have graciously allowed an enormous generic suburban office building to be erected in the heart of Capitol Hill.

    If you aren’t outraged you’re not paying attention.

  6. Maggie Hall

    Tim Tom, point taken on the strategy involved. As for Hine – I’m paying attention. Always did. Pity more of those among us didn’t or couldn’t be bothered. Love the “office building” analogy. And as one guy said at a meeting with Stanton and co, a couple of years ago: “Amy, do you want this to be your legacy?”

    • Tim Tom

      Ha! That’s a very funny question. I’m not a big fan of her work generally but that dislike has nothing to do with the Hine building.

      I remember in a meeting when she explained that her entire nod to the neighborhood’s architecture consisted of a few vertical wrought iron bars that were twisted for some modern flair. All I could think was, “Really? I mean, really?” If you’re going to muscle this through then at least don’t insult our intelligence in the process.