I reached out to Douglas Development for an explanation and received the following in reply:
"The existing condition of the carriage house and our proposal for construction are listed in the HPO staff report dated 25April13 - attached is the report for your reference. The west wall was not only bowing out towards the alley but the north wall was pushing into Bell Architect’s (1228) garage. Our architect has been working diligently with our General Constractor, Sigal Construction, in preserving and rebuilding the garage as part of the final approval for the project. The project’s approved scope included fixing the structural damage on the west wall and cutting large openings on the south and west walls. While this work was carefully being done, the remaining walls were in such unstable condition (significant deterioration of the mortar) the garage became an unsafe structure and demoing by hand was an immediate response. Sigal has also documented the garage, salvaged the bricks and terra cotta coping for replication purposes. We are working with HPO staff and will have a follow-up discussion with the ANC in the coming weeks.
Both Sigal and Douglas Development have years of expertise in historic rehabilitation and restoration throughout the District and there have been many instances in which we had to re-build significant portions of carriage homes and rowhomes. On each historic renovation our goal is to preserve as much of the original buildings as possible, and we pursue each project on a case by case basis. However, some structures are in such disrepair re-building may be the best option in order to withstand time and weather elements, protect immediate neighbor’s property and endure the structural impact of new construction. We did not anticipate the extent of deterioration and fragility and had to react quickly in the field in order to prevent the walls from collapsing into the alley or onto the neighbor’s building. Please understand our construction team has thoroughly documented and preserved the original building materials and have been working hard to preserve as much of the Gang of Three as possible. "
There intent is to recreate the facade using the original materials. My primary complaint here is this had to be discovered by walking through the alley, not by some notification from either the Developer or HPRB. I will raise this latter issue at the ANC level to ensure we once again communicate to HPRB that we expect to be consulted on this type of matter (we weren't consulted either on the major alterations to the facade of the carriage house where La Columbine is going).
Douglas assures me that the end product will not be any different from what we saw before. They have otherwise been the most responsive of any of the local develops in consulting us and keeping us informed.
Here is a pic of the finished product, the carriage house is the property on the left:
Badwolf.Blogspot.com has some picture of the carriage house that was demolished for those that want to see what it looked like, although as you can see above the original building was to be incorporated into the original project anyway and would not have been visible at the end of the development other than the alley facing facade.