Monday, August 18, 2014

Next meeting: 7-8PM Thursday 21 August 1327 10th Street NW

There are several typos I have corrected - the Colonel is at 9th and N, also the lot I am discussion is at 925 M Street not O street. Sorry for the confusion.

This will be a combined BANCA/O Street meeting to review plans for 928 O Street.  This is a non-contributing building so they intend to demolish it and construct a new building, please see the HPO guidance at the end of this message.  Since we last heard from them, the developer/architect has met with a small group of neighbors, some of whom are design professionals, as well as the Historic Preservation Staff.  This is an important meeting for neighbors to attend and key for providing your inputs and concerns before the design goes forward.  The next step after this meeting will be the Community Development Committee meeting on Wed August 27 and the full ANC will review 10 September.  Assuming the design is endorsed, then it will go forward to HPRB to request approval.

Following this the owner of 910 O Street will present her renovation plans.

Since no one came forward to host the meeting I will. I'll provide some beer and wine and would appreciate if others bring a few snacks.

Other items of interest:

The Colonel at 9th and N - I am still waiting for an update from HPO staff on this building where fake wood siding was installed instead of the required stucco on many of the sides and back of the building. HPO stays they will handle this - stay tuned.

I was just contacted by the new owner of 925 M  Street, next door to George's house and met with them this evening.  This piece of land is zoned R4 residential and given its size, can be two units as a matter or right.  They own only the grass part of the lot, the brick area at the rear is owned by George and is zoned C2A commercial.  Their intent is to build a residential building.  When they have a preliminary design ready a meeting will be held with the community to review the design before proceeding to the CDC/ANC and then HPRB.  They have had an initial dialogue with HPO staff.   Anyone who wants to talk with them now, let me know and I will connect you.

We usually have a picnic in September. Working on the date and location.  More to come.

HPO information on a non-contributing structure and its replacement:

Existing building is non-contributing. At the time the historic district was approved in 1990 by HPRB, 928 O Street was identified as a non-contributing building (see attached map from the nomination). The survey supporting the nomination identified 928 as an 1830’s structure, much altered, and the victim of a recent fire. There is no new information that would change its non-contributing  status. As a non-contributing structure, it can be demolished at the Staff level and the question of demolition does not require HPRB. Here are the pertinent sections of the HP regs:
701.4      A contributing or non-contributing determination made at the time of a historic district or historic landmark designation shall be presumed to retain validity unless a re-evaluation is warranted due to physical change, the availability of new information, or the passage of time since the designation was made.
705.1      Upon receipt of an application to demolish a building or structure that the Board determined to be non-contributing when it designated the historic district, the staff may certify the building as non-contributing on behalf of the Board and may process the demolition permit accordingly.
Primary question is one of new construction in a historic district. The gable massing and setback position of 928 O are remnant characteristics of the building’s historic form. If an owner wanted to reconstruct that, the Board could approve that as compatible with the district. But reconstruction is not the standard for new construction. Rather, new construction just needs to be not incompatible with the character of the district, which for street lots, generally means a rowhouse at the front property line.
There’s a lot of design work to do. I do have concerns already about the materials, height and massing of the rowhouse form the architect is starting with. The centered, all-glass bay contravenes the standard of off-center bays for rowhouses. The dark, rough masonry  is a stark contrast. While 3-stories is not completely foreign to the Blagden HD, this side of the street is distinctly 2-stories. But the other side of the street has enough 3-story buildings that that height is not completely foreign to the block. There are ways to mitigate a three-story building so it less ominous (like make the bay only two stories).
How important is the rear setback.  Alley buildings generally sit on the rear property line. This lot doesn’t have that condition. Does the new project need that to be compatible with the other alley buildings? Does this need a garage or brick garden wall? The owner has zoning issues regarding this question. It’s the sort of academic question we’ll consider as an office during peer review after the case is filed.

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