Decision Summary HPA No. 06-280
- HPA Number
- Building Name
- Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company Warehouse and Repair Facility
- 1111 N. Capitol St. NE
2105 10th St. NW
- Date of Order
• The Mayor's Agent, citing Committee of 100 on the Federal City v. D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, 571 A.2d 195, 200 (D.C. 1990), stated the test for rulings based on special merit, i.e., that the Mayor’s Agent must balance the special merit of the proposed project against the historic value of the building/portion of the building to be demolished. In this case, where the Mayor's Agent was basing his special merit decision on grounds of public benefits, the proposed project must be found to provide public benefits sufficient to offset the District's stated policy of protecting, enhancing, and perpetuating the use of properties with historical, cultural, and aesthetic merit.
• The Mayor’s Agent concluded that the evidence in the administrative record sufficiently demonstrated that the proposed project is one of special merit by virtue of its numerous social, cultural, economic, and other benefits having a high priority for community services.
• Applicant had argued that the project’s design constituted a project of exemplary architecture. However, the Mayor’s Agent stated, having found that the project’s social benefits alone justified granting the application, that it was not necessary for the Mayor’s Agent to also address the issue of whether this project is also one that exhibits exemplary architecture.
• Staff of the Historic Preservation Office (David Maloney) took exception to the Applicant’s assertion that the project constituted exemplary architecture. Rather, staff testified that such a designation should be limited to extraordinary, world-class projects financed by large institutional applicants.
• The project, designed by local architect Shalom Baranes, would incorporate the portions of the original building to be retained in part by building an open-space atrium around it, thus exposing significant mushroom-capped columns of the original building, using original concrete floor slabs as balconies for the new space, and allowing the occupants to see the relationships between the old and the new, including enhanced access to the roofs of the landmark structure.
Project of Special Merit – Specific Features of Land Planning:
• The Mayor’s Agent found that proposed project would further a number of the objectives and policies set forth in the District's Comprehensive Plan and the NoMA Small Area Plan (specifically, goals of the Land Use Mix; Infrastructure and Transportation; Public Realm and Open Space; Identity and Building Design; Existing Neighborhoods; and Environment and Sustainability concepts). He reiterated that consistency with the Comprehensive Plan may provide the basis for a project's special merit, citing In the Matter of Calvary Baptist Church, HPA No. 00-601 (April 20, 2001).
Project of Special Merit – Social Benefits having a High Priority for Community Services:
• The Mayor’s Agent stated that the project’s preservation program for the building represented a significant public benefit to the District. The Applicant intended to retain more than fifty percent of the landmark building (amounting to more than 78,000 square feet of gross floor area), and such portions would be completely restored and rehabilitated. One hundred percent of the original building's street façades would be retained to a depth of one bay along Pierce Street and three to four bays along North Capitol Street, and at least fifty percent of the total building façades would be retained. Although the building structure and its shell were found to be generally sound, the C&P Warehouse's poured concrete façade finishes were cracked and spalled; the preservation program would treat and refinish this concrete, as well as paint the exterior walls to match the original appearance of the building. Additionally, the vehicle garage openings on the main façades of the building, which were closed in 1951, would be reopened and utilized as possible retail storefront.
• The project also included construction of a museum and outreach program. The ground floor would house a 2,000 square foot museum dedicated to the history of the C&P Telephone Company and its role in the District, and this exhibit would continue for 10 years. The museum space would also be made available for use by community groups, which the Mayor’s Agent found would further activate the streetscape along North Capitol Street and foster a distinct identity for the NoMA neighborhood. The Applicant would also produce an illustrated brochure on the C&P Telephone Company, featuring the history and background of the company, highlighting its collection of buildings, and discussing its role within the District.
• Both the Special Features of Land Planning and Social Benefits grounds of special merit were supported by the Historic Preservation Office and not opposed by any other party.