Decision Summary HPA No. 98-355 through 98-361
- HPA Number
- 98-355 through 98-361
- Building Name
- Brickyard Hill House, Georgetown Incinerator (among other buildings)
- 1003-1015 Wisconsin Ave. NW
3133 Copperthwaite Alley NW
3135-3141 K St. NW
3134-3136 South St. NW
Alley Square 1189
- Date of Order
Millennium Georgetown Development (“Applicant”) sought permission to subdivide all lots in Square 1189 into a single record lot for the purpose of developing a mixed-use retail, entertainment, hotel, and residential complex. The affected property is located within the Old Georgetown Historic District and also includes the Brickyard Hill House, an individually designated historic landmark. Although the project initially involved the demolition of seven buildings on the property, the Applicant withdrew its request for a hearing before the Mayor’s Agent on that issue. The proposed project contemplated the restoration of the Brickyard Hill House and the retention and adaptive reuse of the Georgetown Incinerator. The D.C. Historic Preservation Review Board (“HPRB”) adopted its Staff Report, which recommended approval of the project as one consistent with the purposes of D.C. Law 2-144. The Mayor’s Agent held that the subdivision was necessary in the public interest by virtue of its consistency with the purposes of the Act and because it was necessary to allow the construction of a project of special merit.
Consistent with Purposes of the Act:
- The Mayor’s Agent determined that the proposed subdivision would contribute to the preservation of the Brickyard Hill House by allowing the developer to transfer excess FAR allowances to other areas within Square 1189, thus removing development pressure from the landmark.
- Without the proposed subdivision, the Georgetown Incinerator’s off-street parking requirements can only be met by excavating underneath the structure and compromising its integrity. The proposed subdivision of Square 1189 would allow the required parking to be located elsewhere on the property. “[I]f the site is not subdivided, it cannot become part of the Incinerator project, will not be restored, but will continue to deteriorate. The connection between the subdivision and the retention and enhancement of the only landmark structure in the Square could not be more obvious.”
Special Merit- Balancing Test:
The Mayor’s Agent must balance the special merit of a project against the historical value of a landmark or contributing building within an historic district. See Don’t Tear It Down, Inc. v. D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development, 428 A.2d 369, 373 (D.C. 1981). The “benefits to be derived by the by the citizens of the District of Columbia from the project are so considerable that they more than outweigh any potential adverse consequences of subdividing the property.”
Special Merit- Land Planning, Specific Features of
- The Mayor’s Agent found that the proposed project is “precisely the type of ‘bridge’ which has been necessary between the retail and entertainment activity along M Street, and the waterfront, where the only major investment in any sizeable non-office use, the retail and residential portions of the Washington Harbor, have been isolated, and thus unable to make their full contribution to the economic vitality of the area.”
- In addition to directly providing up to 500 public parking spaces, the proposed project would free up additional public parking spaces by increasing evening and weekend activity south of M Street. The Mayor’s Agent found that “there are hundreds of vacant parking spaces which could be available to meet the demand, largely located in the newer office buildings south of M Street, but the building owners do not open them to the public at night, because of a perception that the spaces would not be used.” In addition to revitalizing the area between M and K Streets, the Applicant has “committed to meeting with the building owners and parking operators in an effort to have them leave their parking facilities open for the evening.”
Special Merit- Social or Other Benefits Having a High Priority for Community Services:
- The Mayor’s Agent held that the proposed mixed-use complex was a project of special merit because it provided a number of social and community benefits. These benefits included a 450-500-space parking garage, 100,000 square feet of condominium apartments, a 125-room boutique hotel, a 2,200-3,000-seat multi-theater, and 75,000 square feet of retail space.
- The proposed project “proposes a number of ‘preferred uses,’ i.e., uses such as housing, retail, hotel and arts, which are not generally considered to be as lucrative for a developer as office space, but which provide substantial benefits to the District in terms of tax revenue, employment of District residents, street vitality (especially in the evenings and on weekends), and new residents to participate in our civic life and take an interest in safeguarding and improving the neighborhood.”
- The Mayor’s Agent highlighted the significance of the fact that the Applicant did not request any zoning concessions in exchange for the provision of these preferred uses. The Applicant “has asked for no extra density or similar concessions to make it more financially attractive to provide these uses.”