ANC6B’s February Meeting

The key community items on the agenda were the Bavarian Beer Garden (8th & L Streets SE) HP case and the VAs for Nooshi and Moby Dick restaurants (524 8th Street SE). Both located within 6B04.

On the historic preservation issue, I tried to convince my fellow Commissioners to cause a month delay in the HPRB hearing on plans for a rather unusual building proposed to house the new Bavarian Beer Garden. This delay would provide the HP office staff more time to work with the owner and architect to assure the new building would be “compatible” with its surroundings (the requirement for new construction in a historic district). But, I failed to convince more than 2 of my fellow Commissioners.  In the end, the Commission voted 7-3 to support the plans with some concerns noted.

My concerns about the design? Proposed is a one story building next to 2-story and 3-story historic buildings; a confusing statement of presence along 8th St SE, part of a two block segment of Barracks Row that already lacks any pedestrian level interest; two entry doors out of proportion to 3 large windows; no information provided about materials to be used except for and overuse of wooden rain walls; the “deconstructed” (CHRS description) tower at the corner; and on and on. In my view, the building begged for more simplicity to let its industrial style shine. BTW, the Vision for the Lower 8th report asks for “meritorious” developments in the area that “respect historic structures.”  I do not think this design meets that standard either and, as such, sets a low standard for what may be proposed for other lots in the area. Hopefully, the HP Office staff and members of the Historic Preservation Review Board will still have time to provide appropriate design critique when they review the application on February 24th. Anything is not better than Nothing.

While it wasn’t germane to the historic preservation issue, I am also concerned about the roof deck facing 8th Street SE that the owner sprang on the Commission with the building design. At no time during all the discussions on the application for the liquor license was the Commission informed about this aspect of the Beer Garden operation. Not being informed otherwise, my expectation was for an open area at ground level from which all the noise (loud voices and oompah band music) would be generated. The building design includes such a ground floor space on the L Street side of the building. But, a roof top operation will disburse noise in different ways. The Commission did express concern for the safety aspect of this open area.

The Voluntary Agreements for Nooshi and Moby Dick were approved by the ANC. Late last year, the ANC voted to protest these two liquor license applications, based on several factors including over concentration of licenses in the 500 block of 8th. A residents group also formally protested. Not mentioned at the ANC meeting was that the Commission had VA documents to vote on because the residents had decided not to fight this one to the bitter end. The owners’ lawyer had said during ABRA negotiations that he would advise his clients to not sign an VA with the ANC unless the residents group also acquiesced. Granted, it is the concessions that the restaurant owners agreed to which enabled the residents group to drop its protest, albeit reluctantly. I thank the residents for taking the difficult step they did on these applications. I do not expect this to be precedence setting, however.

Hine Redevelopment

Not unexpected, a large crowd (of maybe 100 or so?) turned out at the ANC6B hosted Hine Redevelopment Meeting on Wed 2 Feb.  Stanton-East Banc, the developers of the site, made an hour long presentation.  A Q&A session followed.

[The redevelopment of the Hine Jr High site will have a major impact on Capitol Hill, situated as it does in the 700 block of Pennsylvania Ave SE.  The project has been in play since early 2009 when the city “surplused” the school.]

Much has changed with the plans for a mixed use (retail, office, and residential) development on the Hine Jr. High School site since the original August 2009 plans submitted for the RFP.  (Not surprising, since much has changed in the marketplace during that time.)  The total size the project has been reduced by 85,000 square feet.  Two previously announced occupants of the office space (Shakespeare Theater and IRD, as well as the Tiger Wood Foundation) have had to pull out of the project because of their inability to secure funding.

Overall, I liked what I saw.  Instead of one building facing Pennsylvania Avenue, there will now be two, breaking up the mass along that block.  The building along 7th Street SE will be the retail and office component.  This building will have either a residential section or a boutique hotel at the corner of (newly opened) C at 7th Streets.  A residential building will line 8th Street; unknown yet whether the units will be condos or rentals.  A linear courtyard will separate the two buildings on the interior of the block.  A second residential building with retail on the ground floor will face south and be situated between an existing alley and a newly opened C Street.  There are still plans to accommodate the Sat/Sun flea markets by closing the 7th Street side of “new” C Street on the weekends.  Missing from the plans presented on Wednesday night were the architectural details of the building facades.  These drawings will be done in time for the historic preservation review, scheduled for March.

The developers are also conducting a required multi-faceted study to understand the transportation impacts of the development.  The presentation last night was focused on only the traffic circulation and parking portions of the study.  It seemed to generate the most questions of the evening.  Many others in the audience seemed to be interested in the residential units, especially the opportunity to move out of multi-story Capitol Hill townhouses and into flats.

What’s Next?  The ANC anticipates that it will be doing its formal review of the historic preservation aspects of the project during its March meetings (Planning & Zoning Committee, Tue Mar 1, and Monthly meeting, Tue Mar 8).  Then, possibly in the Fall, the zoning reviews of the development will commence.  This Planned Unit Development (PUD) process is rather complicated.  (Commissioner Metzger has posted a “guide” to PUDs on his blog <>)

When will the project become a reality?  Sometime in 2015.  Perhaps.