Hine Redevelopment Project Update

The Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) held its conceptual review of the developer’s plans for buildings on the 8th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue sides of the Hine site on June 30th.  I was unable to attend so cannot provide my impressions of the hearing.    Commissioner Norman Metzger (ANC6B03) was there, however, and here is his synopsis of the results:

“The HPRB unanimously supported the proposed height, scale, and massing for the parts of the project up for review today, and accepted the HPO Staff Report.  A number of design matters were raised that the Board will consider likely when the project returns after the PUD process is done; for example, the design of the corner at 7th and Pa to provide a visual bond btw 7th Street and Barracks Row, an issue raised by Ken Jarboe today and at [the ANC] Special Call meeting.  The 7th and Pa Ave height issue was hardly mentioned by the Board, other than by the Chair who emphasized that the approval of the height was not to be considered as a precedent, given the special nature of the site.  Next up for the July 28th HPRB is the remainder of the project. ”

On June 21st ANC6B voted 6-3 in support of a statement that was presented at the HPRB hearing by Commissioner Brian Pate (ANC6B05).  Commissioners Metzger, David Garrison (ANC6B01) and I (ANC6B04) had voted in opposition, fundamentally because the statement was crafted in such a way that would have required the 3 of us who voted against the first Hine resolution (April 26th) to abrogate that vote.  Thus, we provided our separate, individual non-ANC6B official testimony at the HPRB hearing on June 30; delivered by Commissioner Garrison.  [Note: Commission By-laws permit such testimony.]

As you can see from the above synopsis, the next step in the HP review of the Hine project will be a conceptual review of the height, scale, and massing of the balance of the proposed buildings on the site: North Residential and 7th & C.  Since HPRB is planning its review on July 28, it seems the ANC will have to schedule a special meeting in July on a date prior to the 28th.  In the Fall, we will all move into the PUD (Planned Unit Development) zoning phase of the project review where a whole different set of issues will be raised.  (If you want to know more about PUDs, go Commissioner Metzger’s <www.ancnorm.org>; for an excellent overview.)

For HPRB background information, such as the staff reports for both the April 28th and June 30th hearings, go to the Historic Preservation Office website <http://planning.dc.gov/DC/Planning/Historic+Preservation>; and click on HPRB Meetings.

ANC6B’s March Meeting

Unhappiness.  For me, that’s the word that best describes the 4-hour March 8 ANC6B meeting.  Some residents are unhappy about the impact on their lives of Barracks Row restaurants and others, over pending plans to build a mixed use development on the Hine site.  And, one resident railed against my recently announced proposal for changes to parking.  The 2011 Commission itself still struggles with its divisions.  Change is tough.

In the midst of all this, the Commission approved 3 historic preservation and 3 zoning cases and added a new consent calendar to its agenda in the hopes of shortening its meetings.  (Once the kinks are worked out with practice, this should indeed save meeting time.  It wasn’t clear to me that it had that affect on its first outing, however.)  The Commission approved a Voluntary Agreement for one more restaurant for the 500 block of 8th St SE (Pacifico) but did so without my vote because I do not think that the Commission ought to make a difference between the closing hours of sidewalk cafes and summer gardens (rooftop or otherwise).  Both generate noise that ends up keeping nearby residents awake at night.  [UPDATE: The protesting residents may have forced this equality to occur in their formal negotiations with the restaurant owner under the auspices of the Alcohol Beverage Regulation Administration.]

The Commission’s now disbanded 2010 Retail Mix Task Force brought some recommendations to the Commission but no votes were taken, primarily because Commissioners had not had an opportunity to read the task force final report because some of us had not been informed it was available.  Most of these recommendations were referred to relevant committees for discussion before they are brought up for a vote.  Even a committee that did not yet exist got a referral.

Speaking of committees, ANC6B added a new one to its existing two and established two new task forces.  The new Committee on Transportation will be chaired by Commissioner Oldenburg (that’s me); a Task Force on Capitol Hill East, by Commissioner Flahaven (6B09); and a Task Force on Outreach & Constituent Services, by Commissioner Pate (6B05).  All of these new entities have a potential to bring new ideas to the Commission and community but, in my view, they will also generate a lot of work and have the potential to further lengthen the monthly meetings.  In any one month, we could have 5 reports to deal with instead of our current two; from the ABC Committee and the Planning & Zoning Committee.  And, most challenging perhaps, where to find all the meeting space?

Toward the end of the meeting, there was a update on the Performance Parking Pilot (PPP) Program.  Part of that briefing involved the plans proposed for changes in part of 6B04 (see Parking tags).  But, the briefing also mentioned ongoing discussions with DDOT that might extend the PPP boundaries even further to areas of 6B03, 6B04, and 6B05 north of Pennsylvania Avenue.  And, sandwiched somewhere in the middle of the meeting was some time devoted to the Hine Redevelopment project but no votes … just speeches and announcements of process (see Hine tags).  The special meeting, approved by the Commission, to be held on March 15 is THE time for lengthy discussions.  I urge you to attend, if only to listen, because any write up on that meeting will be complicated indeed.

The New ANC6B?

UPDATE 29 Jan: The meeting referred to below was a 4-hour marathon.  While it did soften the 6 vs 4 split in the Commission, I am not sure about other accomplishments.  Time will tell.  Lots of talk about changing processes and setting priorities.  The former will be interesting experiments; the latter will be overtaken by events throughout 2011.  In my view, the Hine Redevelopment Project will be–by necessity–the main focus of ANC6B in 2011.  It alone once completed will have major impacts on all of us living on Capitol Hill.  The challenge for the ANC, working closely with the community it represents, is to assure the impacts are primarily positive.

Original Post: ANC6B is changing.  Most of the debate about how has been “behind the scenes” so far.  But, it will break into the open on Tuesday, January 25, at the ANC’s Executive Committee Meeting.   Generally, this rather dull meeting has simply set the agenda for the following month’s set of meetings.  But, with 3 hours added to the schedule of the January meeting, I am not sure what to expect.

These 3 hours were initially proposed by Commissioners now in control of ANC6B as a separate, closed meeting; a so-called “retreat.”  Those of us considered the “old guard” that had been accused during the election in 2010 of holding secret ANC meetings, pushed for an open meeting as required by our By Laws.  Surprisingly, we won the argument.

So, come and see the formation of the New ANC6B for yourself.  Or, stay home/stay warm and just read my report on the debates at and outcomes of the meeting next week.  I, for one, am more curious about substantive issues that may be proposed rather than procedural changes.

Clarification: Commissioner Frishberg wishes me to note that he never was in favor of a closed meeting.  My apologies.