The ANC unanimously voted to appeal a building permit issued to DoorDash for interior construction at 1323 E St. SE, the blue building that served as the temporary location for Frager’s Hardware after the 2013 fire. DoorDash is building the location out to serve as a DashMart, a hub for order pick-up by last mile courier services (including by bike or foot) as well as by customers. But commissioners and the neighbors say the building does not meet all the DC Code requirements.
The ANC is appealing the permit based on what it says are unmet loading and parking requirements related to the use of the building for warehouse storage and distribution and the 45 percent expansion in use of space. The ANC also argues there are no legal parking spaces, pointing out that the three spaces on the site are likely outside the property line. Other issues include the loading berth, which Commissioner Corey Holman (6B06) said is required to be on the alley.
In support of the protest, the ANC showed photos of what they said were 40- to 48-foot trucks loading into the building without respect to public space, bike lanes and sidewalks. Holman said the trucks were “a real insight as to the potential impacts of this use.”
Attorney for DoorDash, Kyrus Freeman, argued that exceptions to these requirements had been grandfathered in, citing a zoning clause that allowed “an existing conformity to remain.” Freedman said there is no legal basis to file an appeal and that the company would view an appeal as abuse of procedure.
Attorney (and former ANC 6B03 Commissioner) James Loots spoke on behalf of property owner John Weintraub. Weintraub bought the property in 2014 to house Frager’s, which he then owned. Loots said during that 2014 acquisition, four legal parking spots and a loading dock in front were included in the permits. Loots argued that it was inappropriate to use the permit appeals process to control tenancy. He asked the ANC to consider the position of Weintraub as a reluctant landlord, who, Loots said, would never intentionally take any action to the detriment of the community.
“This isn’t about the property owner,” said Holman in concluding the discussion and recognizing Weintraub’s dedication to Capitol Hill. The commissioner argued that a 60-day period for appeal of permits was in fact part of the process.
Pointing out that DoorDash had not reached out to the community to discuss the impacts of the building use, Holman said claims that a DashMart at the site “wouldn’t be a detriment to the community are simply an insult to us as neighbors, us as commissioners and us as a community.”
*Update: on June 15th, a DCRA representative told the Hill Rag: ““The applicant was asked to submit a revision to the issued building permit to address the parking and loading issues and has agreed to do so. DCRA will review the revision and make a determination as to whether the parking and loading issues have been sufficiently addressed.”
Reluctant Support for Santa Rosa Taqueria Liquor License
After extensive discussion, the commission voted 6-1 with three abstentions to support a liquor license application for Santa Rosa Taqueria. The application is part of the restaurant’s relocation from 313 to 301 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. It comes with a signed Settlement Agreement (SA), but some neighbors and commissioners were disappointed that it does not include a requirement for interior trash.
Commissioner for the area Jennifer Samolyk (6B01) said when she joined the ANC seven years ago, the owners had a contentious relationship with neighbors, but since then have worked hard to address it. She said she has only had one complaint in the last year, from a neighbor who photographed overflowing bins. The family owns three restaurants on the block, including Santa Rosa, Good Food Eatery (303 Pennsylvania Ave. SE) and We the Pizza (305 Pennsylvania Ave. SE). Resident Ellen Opper-Weiner spoke at the meeting, saying that as the restaurant is now occupying a corner space, the impact on residents is increased with no sense of plans for the new taqueria, which does not require ANC review.
This SA is the first the ANC has had with the restaurant group. The neighborhood relationship with the Mendelson group has been fraught, Chair Brian Ready noted. Prior to the signed SA, there were two orders asking the applicant to comply with trash regulations, and Ready said the SA is a step in the right direction on what he hoped would be a path towards full resolution of neighbor concerns.
Short Term Rental at 818 Potomac
The ANC conditionally supported a request to the Board of Zoning Adjustment (BZA) to change the principal use for the building at 818 Potomac Ave.
Originally approved by BZA nearly 5 years ago as a 45-unit residential building, the applicant wants to change the use from residential to “lodging,” requesting relief from requirements for loading space and shower facilities. The building will be managed as a short-term rental by hospitality company “Sonder”.
Lodging is matter-of-right use in the zone, but because BZA has already approved the project, a change in use requires approval. If the applicant decides to revert to residential use in the future, requirements will revert to those first approved in 2018.
Commissioner Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04) proposed the commission support the change with two conditions: no ancillary non-residential or non-lodging use allowed in the building, to avoid additional requirements, such as loading; and support be conditional on the BZA requiring a reconsideration of the modification in five years. If the five-year reconsideration is not included, Oldenburg and Holman will enter discussions to ensure the final condition will protect the ANC against further changes made without consultation.
Former Corner Store Arts Renovation
The commission voted unanimously to support an Historic Preservation Application (HPA) concept design for renovations to 900 South Carolina Ave. SE, formerly Corner Store Arts and now a private residence.
Current owner Scott Patterson circulated plans prior to the ANC meeting and posted them in the building windows. Many small changes will make a big overall difference; the project calls for replacing windows, unboarding windows and doors and adding cladding and doorways to the rear one-story addition and the detached garage.
The building was purpose-built in 1870 as a first-floor grocery with a residential dwelling above, said Patterson. The original grocery entrance is hidden under the bay windows and is largely intact. Plans call for the bays to be removed, and the original entry be restored. A fully residential lawn in the front was questioned by Historic Preservation, so it was replaced in plans by an infill garden that allows the plaza to show.
The detached garage currently projects into public space with wood framing that will be removed to expose the brick garage. A larger opening will be added in the garage façade facing the home, with three door panels (reduced from four) like those in the first floor addition to the home.
Oldenburg said she was originally absolutely opposed to the changes to the front façade but was swayed by the comprehensive research on the storefront of this and other buildings.
In Other Business
Commissioners voted to support:
- A Concept Design for a new building at 733 Eighth St. SE to the Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) from architects Square 134. They propose a two-story and penthouse addition on the building at 733 Eighth St. SE, the former site of Howl to the Chief. The ANC asked the applicant to foster dialogue with the community. The structure has been deemed non-contributing to the historic character of the neighborhood and essentially will be reconstructed, retaining the façade and party wall.
- An application on behalf of South East Market and Liquors (1500 Independence Ave SE) for Renewal of a Class A Liquor License. Commissioner for the area Denise Krepp (6B10) said the owner-operator had agreed to the same Settlement Agreement (SA) as the ANC had with the previous operator of the market, which changed hands in 2019.
- An application for a Class ‘C’ Restaurant license for Harvest Tide Steak House (212 Seventh St. SE, formerly Acqua Al 2). Commissioner for the area Gerald Sroufe (6B02) said that the ANC has signed a six-page SA with the applicant, which includes indoor trash storage.
Appearing were Commissioners Jennifer Samolyk (6B01), Gerald Sroufe (6B02), Brian Ready (6B03), Kirsten Oldenburg (6B04), Steve Holtzman (6B05), Corey Holman (6B06), Edward Ryder (6B07), Peter Wright (6B08), Alison Horn (6B09) and Denise Krepp (6B10).
The next meeting of ANC 6B is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 13, 2021. ANCs do not meet in August. For the most up-to-date information on meetings and how to join a virtual meeting via Webex, visit anc6b.org.
Learn about Commissioners and committees and subscribe to the ANC 6B newsletter by visiting anc6b.org or connect with the commission via email at [email protected] or via @ANC6B on Twitter.