By Right Development Next to Freeway Stirs Controversy

ANC 6D Report

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Proposed massing of 850 South Capitol Street SE. Courtesy WC Smith.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6D met July 12 over WebEx. Commissioners Andrew Bossi (6D01), Jared Weiss (6D02, Secretary), Ronald Collins (6D03, Treasurer), Andy Litsky (6D04), Fredrica (Rikki) Kramer (6D05, Vice Chair), Rhonda Hamilton (6D06) and Edward Daniels (6D07, Chair) were in attendance.

Developer WC Smith presented their initial plans for 850 South Capitol St. SE. This odd parcel abuts and extends underneath I-695 on the eastern side of South Capitol directly next to the northbound on-ramp. It is directly to the north of the Novell. It is zoned D-5 for high density development, which allows a building of up to 130 feet in height. It is also not subject to inclusionary zoning. However, it is included in the Capitol Gateway Overlay District. So the building’s design must be approved by the DC Zoning Commission (DCZC). The developers expect the matter to be taken by the DCZC in the fall.

Smith briefed the commission on the massing and general dimensions of the project. They propose a 13-story residential building with an FAR of 6.06 and 118,364 square feet. A substantial portion of the lot tucked beneath the highway would be used for delivery turnaround and other access. There would be no public alley access. The developer is currently negotiating with Tim Temple, the owner of Splash Carwash, to purchase his property. That would provide them with an access right of way to I Street SW. This is critical to the project and would provide 20 feet of frontage on I Street.

Smith presented no renderings, stating that the project was in its initial stages of design. However, due to its exemption from inclusionary zoning, it will be completely market rate. No details were available on the exact mix of units, although Smith stated that they prefer larger apartments. There will be three levels of parking using a 1.6 ratio of apartments to spots. There will be no penthouse, ground floor retail or ornamental neon. The roof will be used entirely for residential amenities. No new curb cuts will be required.

Commissioners were generally aghast at the lack of affordable housing. Several stated that they would not support the project on that basis. Commissioner Bossi also objected to the amount of planned parking, arguing that residential parking drives traffic congestion. Asked about a dog park, the developer stated they were considering adding that amenity.

““I am really going to need to see your transportation and design plans for this project,” stated Commissioner Collins perplexed with how the construction traffic would be able to navigate to the site particularly over the narrow Splash access road. The developer will return to the commission in September for final design review.

Commissioners voted to dispatch a letter to the DC Dept. of Transportation (DDOT) requesting more information on the agency’s redesign of South Capitol Street, which is supposed to bring the avenue to grade and rebuild the highway onramps. In particular, they requested specific plans for pedestrians and bicycles. They also authorized a letter to the mayor asking that she honor her previous commitment to hold an interagency meeting on transportation and parking in the commission’s jurisdiction.

The DC Bike Ride
Representatives of the DC Bike Ride asked the commission to approve the route for their event on Sept. 25. The route would close Maine Avenue SW until noon on a Saturday. A representative from the Wharf objected to the road closure on the busiest day of the week.

“It is the wrong thing to do for the Wharf and the wrong thing to do for Southwest,” stated Commissioner Litsky. He pointed out the negative impact on Wharf businesses, which are recovering from the pandemic. He also raised concerns about traffic congestion at the Southwest Fish Market.

Litsky offered a motion to oppose the event based on the Maine Avenue SE closure. It failed with two abstentions. He then made a second motion to support the race, but request a route changes. That motion passed.

Other Matters
Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Lieutenant George Donigian briefed the commission on public safety matters. June saw a slight increase in violent crime, he stated. There were five assaults with dangerous weapons including one stabbing and four shootings. There were five robberies including two carjacking. Property crime is trending upwards—mainly package and retail thefts. Stolen autos are also up slightly. MPD officers apprehended a group of juvenile girls after they used a Taser to try and carjack a car on 1200 block of NJ Ave SE.

Commissioners expressed their concern about the increase in juvenile crime, particularly involving Tasers. There is a citywide carjacking task force taking the lead on these cases in the DMV, stated Donnigian.

Southwest Community Center Board Chair Gail Fast gave an overview on the organization’s Civic Fellow Program. The organization has recruited high school interns to assist in the running of focus groups designed to gather data from community members about their thoughts on the center’s orientation. They hope to find five fellows. Look for their tent at the Farmers’ Market and the Friday Night Market. For more information, visit www.swdccc.org.

The commission authorized a letter to DDOT opposing the public space application for curb cuts for MRP’s development at 1700 Half St. SW, Lot 662 in the absence of a construction transportation plan. The commission plans to a review of the developer’s plan at its September meeting.

The Commission authorized Commissioner Kramer to testify or send a letter to the DCZC over commissioners’ concerns that Akridge’s The Stacks development will destroy trees and asking that the green space at the end of the site be preserved.

The new Washington Nationals Community Liaison Alex Robbins introduced himself.

The commission took the following actions:

  • approved the agenda;
  • supported the St. Jude Walk and Run on Sept. 25;
  • supported the affordable housing planned for 1530 First St. SW
  • approved the commission’s continued use of Zoom for public meetings beginning in September 2021;
  • supported Summer in Lansburgh on Aug. 28;
  • protested the Class B license for the Courtyard Marriott, 140 L St. SE, on the grounds of peace, order and quiet;
  • protested a tavern license for the Chicken and Whiskey, 1015 Half Street SE, on the grounds of peace, order and quiet;
  • approved an amendment to the community agreement for the Intercontinental Hotel, 801 Wharf St. SW, to make the third summer garden permanent and add a stipulated license;
  • opposed the proposed change to the route of the Southwest Circulator, suggesting DDOT improve the operation and promote the current route;
  • authorized ANC 6D to use and pay for Zoom starting in September.
  • approved letter to DCHA reminding them of the commission’s FOIA request.

ANC 6D meets at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of every month. ANC 6D does not meet in August. The next meeting is on Sept. 13.  For more information and links to join ANC meetings, visit anc6d.org.