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.

11 Replies to “ANC6B’s February Meeting”

  1. That often complaining organization EMMCA that tried to win my ANC6B seat in the November election but failed has called my concerns about a key building for the Lower 8th “nitpicking.” I prefer to think of my actions a “detail oriented” and don’t apologize for wanting the best for my Single Member District and the rest of the community.

    1. Hi Kirsten –

      Compliments on the blog – it’s a valuable addition to the community. I don’t think of EMMCA as “often complaining” group, I think of it as a voice for change in the community. I invite your readers to decide for themselves by checking out: http://www.emmcablog.org.

      I think Barbara Riehle’s comment about nitpicking refers to the amount of time and attention spent at the meeting on the proportions of windows and doors and, to be honest, it did seem to be highly subjective, given the CHRS Historic Preservation Committee did not mention the issue in its report. But then, Dave Garrison also gave the plans a careful going-over. I absolutely don’t think you owe anyone any apologies for wanting the best for your SMD and for Capitol Hill. Of course, there will always healthy disagreements over what is best and I’m sure you will welcome that conversation.

      Larry Janezich

  2. Stop blocking progress on Barracks Row. It could be the next Bethesda. You want it to stay as if it is 1990. Also limiting capacity of restaurants? If you want to limit the number of restaurants on the street that is the dumbest thing you can do. You just ensured that there will still be a ton of demand for more restaurants.

  3. I am not sure how trying to win a great design for a new building on Barracks Row is “blocking progress.” Whether or not the Capitol Hill community wants to become the “next Bethesda” is debatable. Limiting the capacity of restaurants is different from limiting the number of restaurants. Which one is “dumb”? And, how is either “dumb”? So, if my actions are causing a “ton of demand” for more restaurants, how are my actions a problem for you?

  4. What exactly is a “great design?” Has this ever happened with a DC restaurant? So long as the design is secure, meets the building code, and isn’t a total fug nightmare eyesore, what’s the problem? The design doesn’t need to be great. It just needs to be safe and functional. Or just let the owners get fed up with the death-by-a-thousand-cuts and take the whole business to another ANC. Plenty of neighborhoods would be happy to have a nice beer garden. H Street seems very happy with theirs.

  5. I am in favor of the project but appreciate your efforts to improve the design concept into something that will be an asset for the neighborhood whether one is a patron or not.

    Regarding the roof deck, if it faces 8th Street (which is commercial), wouldn’t that be a good thing w/r/t positioning sound from customers away from the residences that sit NW of the site as the deck would orient people to the East and South? Perhaps this aspect could include some type of “wall” not visible from street level to further abate the sound going to the North and West?

    1. Yes, it would be an improvement if the parapet was high enough to prevent patrons from being seen from the street, to prevent a drunk from falling off, and to help abate the noise. The Commission was not presented with the customary sight line diagrams so it is not clear what can be seen from the street. There is also a shelf of some kind on the roof deck side of the parapet in the concept designs that would enable patrons to elevate themselves higher.

      I have suggested that a false second story facade be added to the design as was done for the FedEx and Radio Shack infill building in the 700 block of D St SE. This might solve all these potential problems.

    1. Hey Beatbox. I am guessing you are responding to my focus on details. Well, the DC Historic Preservation Review Board agrees with me and others who asked for simplification of the building. New plans coming toward the end of this month. Hope you like them.

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