ANC 6D Opposes Amidon Elementary Expansion Plan

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A rendering of the proposed Amidon-Bowen Childhood Development Center. Courtesy DC Public Schools.

Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6D (ANC 6D) met on Dec. 12 via Zoom. Commissioners Dr. Marjorie Lightman (6DO1), 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).

Goodbye
Commissioners Lightman and Litsky tendered their goodbyes. Both are leaving the commission at the end of their current terms. Litsky has served Southwest for 24 years. He is the District’s the most tenured commissioner as well as one of the most senior LGTBQ officeholders nationally. The Wharf and The Waterfront were developed under his watchful eye.

“It has been the greatest pleasure of my life to serve Southwest.” Litsky stated.

The commission will also lose Chair Daniels and Secretary Weiss, both of whom have been redistricted out of its boundaries.

Amidon-Bowen Child Care Center
Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has directed the creation of a 33,000 sq. ft. Childhood Development Center (CDC) on the Campus of Amidon-Bowen Elementary School. The new facility will be built on the grounds of the current playground which will be relocated. The CDC will be housed on the ground floor and two new pre-K classrooms will occupy the upper floor of two-story annex. Construction is slated to begin on Dec. 19 and completed on July 21, 2023.

DCPS Manager for Planning and Design Mark Dixon briefed the commission on the project’s design. Symetra Design’s Nicole White described the expected traffic and transportation challenges. The current PUDO (pickup/dropoff) zone on I Street SW has capacity for 15 cars, she stated.

Commissioners closely questioned White. Her firm, it turns out, had studied the existing conditions on a sunny day and had concluded their study at 3:30 p.m. Drop-off, the study found, is much less busy than pickup. Additional PUDO space, White stated, could be developed along the school’s eastern side on Fourth Street SW. She did not seem to be aware of the protected bike lane and Residential Permit Parking that currently occupies that curbside. DCPS is coordinating its plans with DDOT’s protected bike lane project.

Amidon-Bowen hosts a large aftercare program, commissioners pointed out, which releases students around 6 p.m. So, White’s study failed to truly capture the traffic. Commissioners also pointed out that PUDO operations for elementary children, who can be walked to and from cars, is quite different than infants and toddlers who must be carried or transported in strollers and car seats. Parents attending the CDC will likely take a much longer time to pick and drop off their kids, commissioners pointed out.

Commissioners were aghast at the project’s aggressive timetable, especially since this was the first public presentation by DCPS. Parents at the school remain very concerned about the safety of existing students, Commissioner Kramer stated. Why did the presentation contain no scope of work, no construction transportation management plan, commissioners asked? How would it impact the neighboring construction projects about to commerce at Westminster Church and on the Shakespeare parcel?

“You know there is inadequate parking. You don’t have a child at Amidon-Bowen nor do you live across the street,” pointed out Commissioner Lightman. This makes a mockery of community engagement, stated both Commissioners Kramer and Collins.

The commission unanimously resolved to oppose Amidon Bowen CDC Project in a letter to Mayor Bowser.

1250 Maryland Avenue SW
Lowe Development returned for a vote on its Portals office-to-residential conversion project located at 1250 Maryland Ave. SW adjacent to the Salamander Hotel. They intend to create approximately 440 residences. Approval is required from the Board of Zoning Adjustment to allow a rooftop restaurant, change the zoning use to residential and to alter the roof to allow two penthouses to house mechanicals.

While the project has no Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) requirement, Lowe has proffered 2,200 square feet of affordable housing. This would accommodate two family units at 50 percent of 50 percent of Area Median Income (AMI).

Commissioners largely did not object to the project. Rather, they pushed for further concessions on its affordability. “We are creating a wealthy ghetto in the northwest corner of our ANC,” warned Commissioner Litsky. “Think harder (about affordability),” advised Commissioner Kramer. The developer countered with the notion of subsidizing affordable units elsewhere in the neighborhood as an alternative to their offer, given the project’s constrained economics, promising to return with a proposal. The commission, in the meantime, voted to support the project with one no vote and two abstentions.

1301 South Capitol Street SW
Developer of 1301 South Capitol Street SW returned to the commission for a vote on their project. The commissioners’ major objection to the project involved its lack of onsite loading and lack of parking. The first floor of the building is slated for a liquor store and the second for office use. A proposal to create a loading dock off an existing alley failed due to neighborhood opposition. DDOT has approved curbside loading. Public space refused to approve a curb cut for onside zoning as well.

“This a completely unworkable situation” made worse by the plans for bringing South Capitol to grade,” observed Commissioner Kramer. While paying tribute to the developer’s efforts to create an onsite solution, Commissioner Hamilton concurred. The commission voted unanimously to oppose the project.

Other Matters
ABC. Two renewals. One substantive change, Residence Inn Marriot, 1233 First Street SE – no action. Residence Inn Marriot, 333 E Street SW – no action. The Lilly requests entertainment endorsement inside and outside, no response to ABC committee, protest recommended on peace order and quiet.

Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Lt. Megan Mulrooney briefed the commission on public safety matters. The shooting at Third and I SW left 38 bullet casings, she stated. MPD recovered the car involved.

The commission unanimously to:

  • approve a letter requesting the DC Auditor to audit DPW parking enforcement training;
  • approve a letter in support of District Waterways Management Authority Est. Act of 2022;
  • resolved to oppose Mayor Bowser’s proposed reduction of the DHA board;
  • invited DC Housing Authority Executive Director Brenda Donald to attend a future meeting;
  • approved FOIA resubmission to DCHA;
  • send the letter opposing use of Greenleaf Recreation Center as a Hypothermia Site.

ANC 6D meets at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of every month. Their next meeting is Jan, 9, 2023. For more information and links to join ANC meetings, visit www.anc6d.org.