City OKs Pop Up in Cap Hill Historic District – Orders Work Stopped – Now Wants Tear Down
by Larry Janezich
In February, the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) issued a permit for a pop up addition in the Capitol Hill Historic District and then issued a stop work order after the construction was well underway. DCRA issued permits to Blue Star Design Build, owned by Eric and Christal Goetz, for an addition to a townhouse at in the Capitol Hill Historic District at 231 10th Street, SE. Since the property lies in the Historic District, the permit application should have been referred to the Historic Preservation Board (HPRB) for review, just as a second application to construct a two story garage on the property had been. It wasn’t (perhaps this should have been a tip off to the developer who has done other projects on Capitol Hill), and the applicants proceeded with the work on the addition. After a stop work order was issued, Blue Star backtracked and filed a Historic Preservation Application with HPRB in March.
The plans call for the construction of a three story rear addition and one story roof addition extending onto the roof of the original house which is a “contributing structure” in the Capitol Hill Historic District,
As they do on all new construction in the Historic District, the Capitol Hill Restoration Society weighed in, pointing out that regulations provide that an addition must not be visible from public space, must be smaller than the original building, and must not be built over the main block of a historic house. The proposed project would violate all three. CHRS’ recommendation included language saying that “Removing the third story would correct the problems with visibility, subordination, and building over the main block of the house”, and urged the HPRB to order the removal of the third story addition.
When the Application came up before ANC6B at its April meeting, the ANC voted 7 – 0 – 1 to support the applicant’s case before HPRB, but offered no support for why they thought the project was consistent with Historic Preservation requirements; commissioners seemed persuaded by the argument that a mistake had been made by DCRA, and the applicants should not have to pay for it.
The Historic Preservation Office reviewing the application on behalf of HPRB, recommended that HPRB approve a modified permit that includes only a two story rear addition – meaning that they want the applicants tear down the new – but incomplete – construction on the project.
On April 27, the HPRB agreed with the HPO recommendation; “The [HPRB] found the concept for a two-story rear addition to be compatible with the character of the historic district, but found that the third floor roof and rear addition to be incompatible with the character of this property and the historic district. Vote: 9-0.”
The applicant has the option of appealing the HPO’s decision to “The Mayor’s Agent”, i.e., The Director of the Office of Planning, Eric D. Shaw, appointed by Mayor Muriel Bowser, and to the DC Court system, should Shaw back up the HPRB.
This is the latest instance in a series of errors over the past several months involving the issuing of permits and enforcement by DCRA. Capitol Hill Corner reported on several of these lapses by the agency. See here: http://bit.ly/2rkiUY9 http://bit.ly/2gKzbBd http://bit.ly/2r2EugS and here http://bit.ly/2lCPIbr
Update: Blue Star Design is also the architect of an alley dwelling at 205 Third Street, SE. See here: http://bit.ly/2rNxmFE