Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6D met on Sept. 11. Commissioners Gail Fast (6D01), Cara Shockley (6D02), Andy Litsky (6D04, chair), Roger Moffatt (6D05), Rhonda N. Hamilton (6D06), and Meredith Fascett (6D07) were on the dais. Commissioner Ronald Collins (6D03) was absent.
Opening The Wharf
Bob Rubenkonig, spokesperson for The Wharf, outlined the four days of festivities planned for the project’s opening starting Oct. 12. They include free concerts, boat rides, fireworks, and the blessing of the project.
Representatives of ANC 6D, the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA), the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), The Wharf, Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), DC Department of Transportation (DDOT), and DC Department of Public Works (DPW) have been meeting frequently to plan for increased congestion generated by The Wharf, stated Chair Litsky. He characterized the ongoing discussions as fruitful.
Zoning Relief at 100 K St. SE
GH Development (GHD) came before the commission to request relief from the zoning regulations requiring a side yard for a project on the site of the tire shop at the corner of First and K streets SE (100 K St. SE). The lot is very small, only 2,100 square feet.
The developer proposes to construct a 10-story building housing 34 condominiums with ground-floor retail. The height of the project is a matter of right. There is no requirement for either onsite parking or loading docks due to the project’s small size. However, its representatives claimed zoning relief from side-yard requirements is necessary to make the project financially viable. They asked the commission to support the application for a special exception.
The wrinkle is that 909 New Jersey Ave., the neighboring apartment owned by J.P. Morgan (JPM) and managed by Bozzuto, wraps the one-story repair shop on its north and east property lines. On the north side of the repair shop, 909 rises only a single story to a large pool deck that runs close to three-quarters of a full block. On the east side, however, it is 10 floors. Each level contains six sets of west-facing bays. These “at-risk windows” would have to be bricked up if the 100 K Street project was built. This would convert a number of two-bedroom units into one bedrooms, since the legal definition of a bedroom requires a window.
An attorney representing JPM argued that the GHD project failed the test for a special exception because of its negative impact on the tenants of 909 New Jersey. She advised GHD to site the property on K Street rather than First Street, which would significantly reduce the project’s height as a matter of right.
Commissioners were skeptical of JPM’s assertions. “When you built to the property line, you interfered with what they [GHD] cold do with their property,” stated Moffatt tartly.
“JP Morgan is trying to shift the cost of the at-risk windows to a small developer,” argued GHD’s zoning attorney.
Commissioners pointed out that the decision to build 909 right to the property line on the eastern side of the 100 K St. parcel had put the windows at risk. They asked whether a covenant had been entered to that effect. JPM’s attorney stated that none was required. A Bozzuto representative stated that tenants were warned under the general terms of their leases that windows might be a risk.
Yet, the commission remained sympathetic to the plight of project on the tenants of 909. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” argued one tenant against the GHD project, pointing out how the closing of the windows and the blocking of southern views would significantly reduce the value of his apartment. Other tenants bemoaned the loss of southern light on the pool deck, which they claimed was the hub of community life. “I won’t be able to tan anymore,” stated one woman.
The commission took no vote on the matter. It will be taken up again at the October meeting.
The commission listened to a presentation by Erkiletian and the Shakespeare Theatre Company of plans for the Bard development at the corner of Sixth and I streets SW. The partners will be applying for a planned unit development (PUD) to change the parcel’s zoning from R-4 to MU-4. This will provide a floor-area ratio (FAR) of 2.5, a maximum height of 50 feet, and a rear-yard requirement of 15 feet.
Designed by Shalom Baranes Associates, the project has not changed much from the plans unveiled at the June community meeting. It remains 40 feet tall. A second entrance on I Street has been added and materials on that side changed to glass for the office uses. The bridge between the buildings has been eliminated. Plans call for 39 parking spaces, and Shakespeare is looking to secure additional parking offsite to accommodate office staff.
“I am not sure the new design makes it feel part of the community,” stated Fast. Moffatt expressed concern that the design would extend into public space over the Sixth Street sidewalk.
Erkiletian plans to file the PUD application within three weeks. The commission took no position on the matter.
The commission again confronted a plethora of ABC applications. It unanimously chose to support licenses and community agreements for:
- Rasa at 1242 First St. SE
- Roti at 1251 First St. SE
- Anchor, a marine supply and food market, at 709 Wharf St. SE
- Homewood Suites, a hotel, at 50 M St. SE
- Potomac Distilling at 1130 Maine Ave. SE near the Fish Market.
Commissioners expressed concerns about the plans of Chloe, 1331 Fourth St. SE, for outdoor seating situated right under apartments. A representative of the restaurant stated the summer garden would only involve 34 seats and feature no music of any sort. She stated that the establishment remained open to working with the commission on noise mitigation strategies, but was not open to incorporating specifics into the community agreement. After some give and take, commissioners decided unanimously to add language to their letter of support expressing concerns over noise.
The commissioners also endorsed a request by the owners of Potomac Riverboat of Alexandria to sell alcohol on their four new boats.
First Affordable Housing at Buzzard Point
DBT Development Group and TM Associates (DBT-TMA) pitched their vision for an affordable housing development at 1550 First St. SW. The site currently is occupied by an Indian restaurant, Lucky Time Liquors, and a small parking lot. DBT-TMA plans a 76-unit apartment building.
The project is 100-percent affordable. It consists of 48 one-bedroom, 19 two-bedroom, and nine four-bedroom units; 16 would be rented to those making 30 percent of area median income (AMI) and provisioned with wraparound services provided by the United Planning Organization (UPO). The remainder would be rented to families making 50 percent of AMI.
“I am excited about the 100-percent affordable housing. You guys are really stepping outside the box,” Hamilton stated.
The project will house 19 parking spaces along with a 19-station Bikeshare facility. Ground-floor, neighborhood-serving retail is planned. There will be 900 square feet of community space. The developers stressed their commitment to bold design as well as a positive pedestrian experience. They plan to put public art on the corner and respect the recommendations of the DC Office of Planning’s Buzzard Point Framework.
Hamilton reported that the developers had agreed to negotiate a community agreement with the commission covering construction traffic. A UPO representative stated that the organization was ready to provide applicants under First Source from their construction academy.
The commission unanimously endorsed the project, voting to provide a letter supporting the developers’ application for city funding.
Other Development News
The commission voted to support a modification to Douglas Development’s plans for a residential development repurposing the old Coast Guard building at 1900 Half St. SE. Douglas has decided to keep the existing elevators. This decision resulted in a redesign of both the mechanical facilities and penthouse community room. In addition, the number of parking spaces has been reduced from 312 to 246. Commissioner Hamilton voted against the measure because of the project’s insufficient commitment to affordable housing. The project is providing 10 units at 60 percent of AMI.
Lerner Enterprises asked the commission to support two applications it has made to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) for a 13-story apartment building at 1000 South Capitol St. SE. The developer asked for a hearing-time extension to complete the project. It also asked for approval of minor design changes that include flexibility on the penthouse height and the relocation of the lobby to the building’s southern side so that the northwest corner can accommodate ground-floor retail. The commission approved the extension and changes, with Fascett abstaining.
The commission, despite two abstentions, supported the replacement of seven existing curb cuts at 88 K St. SE with two new locations. The new K Street cut would accommodate a future parking garage. The new I Street cut would allow access to a future loading dock.
The commission was asked to support design changes to residential development at 25 M St. SE, including increasing the distance between the loading and parking entrances to accommodate ground-floor retail; eliminating the cantilevered window design; and changing the balcony handrails from glass to cables.
The commission objected strongly to the developer’s plan to provide three digital signs even though all of them would only face commercial properties. Digital signs on M Street SE are a “God awful idea,” stated Shockley, claiming they would distract drivers.
The commission voted unanimously to send a letter in support of the design changes but objecting strongly to the digital signs.
MPD Lieutenant Marquis Queen gave a report on public safety. Overall crime is down within the commission’s boundaries, he stated. Traffic congestion remains the biggest issue.
The commission discussed the route changes proposed by WMATA for the 52 and 74 bus lines. It unanimously decided to send a letter requesting the agency to increase their frequency. The route of the 74 should continue to go to Delaware Avenue SW to provide access to the nearby senior building. Also, the 52’s route should be extended to The Wharf.
ANC 6D unanimously approved the following:
- the July minutes
- supporting the Special Olympics DC Law Enforcement Torch Run on Oct. 6
- supporting the National Race to End Women’s Cancer on Nov. 4 and 5
- supporting the Waterfront Village’s application to the District for the funding of a senior shuttle
- renaming Second Street in honor of Richard Rausch
- requesting that Pepco post health warning signs on the benches built next to the new substation at 100 Q St. SW
- supporting plans for the installation of temporary racquetball courts at the Greenleaf Recreation Center as part of a Wounded Warriors project
- supporting the provision of a disabled parking space on Carrollsburg Place SW
- supporting MPD’s plans for a helicopter pad at 1724 South Capitol St. SE, with restrictions against operating on the Mall and in Southwest, as well as requesting adherence to R4 Zone noise restrictions
- supporting the Randall School Project’s approval by the Historic Preservation Review Board due to the relocation of the museum’s entrance to the building’s eastern side
- supporting the installation of planters in the public space adjacent to the new Spy Museum on 10th Street SW
- a letter complaining about pre-7 a.m. trash truck noise in the Capitol Riverfront
- supporting a sidewalk cafe seating 12 in front of Chipotle at 1225 First St. SE
- paying $250 to SWNA for video services
- continuing the commission budget for 30 days
The next ANC 6D meeting will be held on Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. at 1100 Fourth St. SW on the Second Floor. Visit www.anc6d.org/ for more information.