ANC6C Votes Unanimous Support for MGM Lobby Shop Concept Design

Here’s the original concept design that MGM brought before ANC6C last month.

And here’s what ANC6B voted to support Wednesday night.

ANC6C Votes Unanimous Support for MGM Lobby Shop Concept Design

by Larry Janezich

Wednesday night, ANC6C – which had twice forced MGM back to the drawing board on its historic preservation design plan for its Stanton Park lobby shop – finally voted to support a last minute plan meant to address concerns of both the ANC and nearby neighbors.

There were two major concerns.  The 1600 square foot party deck and the exterior elevator tower and accompanying bridge which MGM had initially proposed for the south side of the building.

MGM had previously eliminated the party deck.  Late yesterday, they floated a proposal to address the objectionable external elevator.

The problem, according to MGM architects, is that DC regulations require two separate exits for the building.  Currently those requirements are satisfied by two separate interior staircases, separated by an appropriate distance.  MGM had proposed to meet ADA and company requirements with an exterior elevator.  ANC6C’s vehement opposition brought forth the new proposal.  In order to move the elevator inside the building, MGM said they had to put it in the place of an existing staircase.  The requirement for an additional exit, they say, requires a 9 X 19 foot (glass-enclosed) exterior staircase, which they propose adding to the rear of the building.  Putting the additional staircase inside, they said, would eliminate three offices on the first to third floors.

There was grumbling among the ANc commissioners.  Planning and Zoning Committee Chair Mark Eckenwiler noted that some of his Planning and Zoning Committee members were opposed to the new design.  But, he said, the new concept was an improvement and he was willing to support it after MGM agreed to eliminate some incongruous windows aligned with the exterior staircase.

Commissioner Scott Price, in whose single member district the project lies, said that the current design was far more tasteful than the original proposal.  He said that getting rid of the party deck and parking issue had been “great” changes, and though he didn’t like the exterior staircase, the DC government had done the same thing on the Northeast Library.

Scott subsequently issued the following statement explaining his reasons for supporting the new design:  “Tonight ANC6C voted unanimously to support the new design that I shared with you yesterday.  Important in my vote was the similarity between the new design and the external staircase in the NE Library.  The ANC voted to support the library’s external staircase in order to become compliant with ADA and other regulations, and I believe it is important for the ANC to be consistent in this and any future cases.  For people with remaining concerns, the HPRB hearing is on July 27.”

MGM put on its best public face, committing to continuing to engage the community and stressing they did not want to start the relationship with the neighborhood “the wrong way.”  Still, as Scott Price replied to MGM’s assertion that the process had worked – “From your viewpoint, that’s true, but it has been exhausting…and we’ve been asked to pass on this with one day’s notice.  I hope relations with MGM get better.”

Despite the uneasy era of good will, it seemed to some ears that a stake has not been driven through the heart of the party deck issue.

Capitol Hill Corner’s take is that the neighborhood will have to be particularly vigilant regarding requests to incrementally increase the use of the roof top which is begging to be used as entertainment space.  As they say, “Give a mouse a cookie, and he wants a glass of milk.”

For previous post, see here:


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7 responses to “ANC6C Votes Unanimous Support for MGM Lobby Shop Concept Design

  1. Craig D'Ooge

    Wow, I thought the only time they voted unanimous approval was for Heritage Foundation zoning variances and ex-Commissioner Tony Goodman’s party deck.

    • Ur-MOTH Roberta

      As you’ve been told before, neither of those votes was unanimous.

      • Craig D'Ooge

        Re approving his own party deck, Goodman abstained and one commissioner had the good sense to recuse his/herself. Who voted against? To my knowledge, ANC6-C has an unbroken record of unanimous approval of every request for a zoning variance ever made by the organization that gives them free rent every month, the Heritage Foundation. If you have minutes that show otherwise, post link.

      • Ur-MOTH Roberta

        Person making unsubstantiated accusations demands that others provide evidence disproving his false claims? Sorry, doesn’t work that way.

  2. anonymous

    The Northeast Library justification is not applicable here. Aside from the practical observation that tremendous goodwill comes with being a library, there was a requirement for an interior review, putting greater stress on relocating stairways to the exterior. In this case, there is no interior review and the interior is not historic. In addition, this stairway is a prominent feature of the south elevation, whereas the Northeast Library stairwell is far less significant as a design feature in terms of visibility or relative scale. Moreover, the historic preservation regulations are very clear that “Pertinent considerations about the relationship of a project to a historic district include its compatibility with its immediate context and not merely its consistency with conditions found elsewhere in the historic district.”

    Additionally, this justification was never put forward in any materials or discussion prior to the meeting of July 12 or during the PZE committee meeting which rejected the proposal 4-0.

    Will ANC 6C stop this item from being placed on the HPRB consent calendar given that “remaining concerns” are referred to the HPRB hearing?

    • Craig D'Ooge

      I’m hopeful that the HPRB will give the ANC6-C recommendations all the “light weight” they deserve. At least the people on the HPRB are professionally qualified, and are actually paid for their expertise.

  3. anon2

    It makes no sense to reward bad behavior from MGM and then expect it to improve.

    If we are comparing this to the Northeast Library, what public interest or public good is advanced by MGM?